Alice Mullaly

As It Was Contributor

Alice Mullaly was raised in the same Central Point home where she lives today with her husband, Larry. A graduate of Crater High School, Oregon State, and Stanford universities, she taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York.; Mill Valley, California, and at Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. She retired from Southern Oregon University where she trained new mathematics teachers. Mullaly’s husband was also a teacher as are her two daughters. Her husband is a Southern Pacific Railroad historian, and both of them enjoy hunting for “the story” in primary sources. Alice’s mother was an early member of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and Alice has been an SOHS volunteer for nearly 30 years. She enjoys the puzzles people bring to the Research Library, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.

In 1963, lightning struck the house of Charles and Ruth Capello in the small logging town of Butte Falls, Ore., burning it to the ground.  The community’s old fire truck had a dead battery and the Forest Service was not prepared to fight a house fire.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “Let Hercules himself do what he may. The cat will mew and the dog will have his day.” One of those days was in April, 1981, when the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland needed a dog for the play “Two Gentleman of Verona.”

How does a cook separated from his kitchen feed 40 hungry people while traveling in the mountains in a covered wagon train?

Ten-year-old Pete Scott won $25,000 and a role in a TV commercial in August 1981.  Born and abandoned in New Jersey, Pete had been adopted when he was young and moved with his family to Central Point, Ore.

It was late January 1881 when a woman who had imbibed “too much tangle-foot” became the first occupant of the jail in the new city hall in Jacksonville, Ore.

In the 1880s, Sterlingville, Ore., was a busy town of several hundred people working in the mines, farming and running businesses.  The town had a post office, school, shops, several saloons, and the largest hydraulic mine in Oregon.

Serving as either Medford mayor or Jackson County judge between 1948 and the 1970s, Earl M. Miller believed a healthy community must have good schools, good roads, and good water.

The orchard boom in Southern Oregon at the turn of the last century extended into the mountain valleys around Wolf Creek, where in 1907 a former Presbyterian minister, W.G. Smith, was selling land tracts.

The U. S. Congress encouraged settlement of the West by passing the Homestead Act in 1862.  People could file on unclaimed land, live on it, and then buy it for $2.50 per acre.  Within 50 years, virtually all land in Oregon had been claimed.

As many as 1,500 people gathered on Feb. 24, 1884, to view the first locomotive many of them had ever seen.  The Oregon and California Railroad was under construction toward Ashland to the south when Engineer Dan McCarthy drove a passenger train to the temporary terminus at Phoenix, Ore.

One old man who boarded the engine cab shouted,  “Thank God, thank God, I have lived to see this day.” 

Most Medford, Ore., residents worked passionately for the war effort in 1918.  Red Cross groups formed, young men enlisted in large numbers, and everyone was expected to buy liberty bonds.

To make ends meet during the Great Depression of the 1930s, rural families often lived lives similar to their pioneer ancestors, cooking and heating with wood stoves, using kerosene lamps and hauling water.

Railroad history in Southern Oregon is often thought to have had its beginnings in the 1880s, but the groundwork began nearly 20 years earlier.

The year 1912 was an auspicious one for the residents of Woodville, Ore.  The town’s original name had been Tailholt, but that changed to Woodville, in honor of pioneer postmaster John Wood, when the railroad came in the early 1880s.

The Holly Theater opened as both a stage and movie theater in Medford, Ore., on Aug. 29, 1930.  The first performance was a local production that played to a sold-out audience of 1,200 at $1 a ticket.

Jackson County, Ore., had more than 100 school districts in the 1920s, most consisting of a single one-room school for grade one through eight.  One of them was in Climax, an isolated community with just a few families living behind Roxy Ann Peak.

Brownsboro, Ore., rancher Floyd Charley has been described as “the patriarch of 4-H, who like a pebble in the center of a pond, caused a huge ripple effect through Jackson County.”

The Brown girls, Jennie, Mary and Emogene, were born in Oregon in the 1860s.  They grew up shifting summer and winter between the family’s two properties, spending winters on a gold claim on Sterling Creek out of Jacksonville, and summers on a large cattle ranch east of Eagle Point.

Growing up in rural Oregon communities in the early 1900s was a combination of hard farm and ranch work, a few months of school and lots of good times.  For the Charley family in Brownsboro, chores always came first -- and there were plenty of them.

The Rogue Valley’s orchard boom went bust after 1912.  A letter sent to the New York City Daily Worker in 1939 said land scams continued with slick guys deceptively promising riches through fruit-land speculation to strangers arriving at the Medford train station.  The writer enclosed a poem written by Mary Agnes Daily for the Ashland Tidings in 1918, which reads:

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