Laurel Gerkman

As It Was Contributor

Laurel Gerkman is originally from Canada. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. This fed a lifelong curiosity of observing physical and human landscapes—always wondering “why.” Laurel, retired from real estate sales, has lived in Gold Beach for 20-years. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. She remains intrigued by the hardy people who originally came to inhabit this rugged, isolated, and spectacular region, and enjoys seeking stories that weave these elements together. Laurel is the author of Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery, a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.

On Sept. 4, 1894, one hundred guests gathered for a double-wedding at the Guerin farm, near Port Orford, Ore.  The nuptials were for Harry Guerin to Ella Bigelow and Tom Guerin to Anna Tichenor.

In 1906, California timber baron John E. Brookings began investigating expansion opportunities along the Southern Oregon Coast.

When in late December 1959 Angie Hawkins responded to the call of the wilderness, she was reported missing from her grandson’s home in Gold Beach, Ore.

In 1935, Howard Newhouse began attending the Wedderburn Grade School with a dozen other children. The divided school had a classroom on one side and a playroom and woodshed on the other.  Wedderburn is on U.S. Route 101, separated from Gold Beach only by the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge that spans the mouth of the Rogue River.

For a girl on the Oregon Coast in 1895, Francis Hofsess, her most prized possession was a plaster of Paris effigy of a lovely woman’s head and bust.

In 1883, Ottilie Parker and her sister received an invitation to attend a spring wedding at Gold Beach, Ore., 70 miles from their home on the Coquille River.

The State of California ratified its constitution in 1879.  Its Article One, Section Eight required that each county form and summon a grand jury at least once a year.  The idea was to bring together discreet and thinking men to protect and defend the public interest.

Elmer Bankus was a land developer, businessman, and philanthropist who rebuilt the Brookings community after its mainstay employer, the C & O lumber mill, shut down in 1925.

Maude Walker was born in 1881 into a not-so-ordinary childhood at an isolated homestead overlooking Pistol River, on Oregon’s South Coast.

Baseball drew people together on Oregon’s South Coast in 1916, as people from all over took advantage of a rare opportunity to gather and become acquainted.  A game between Gold Beach and Brookings drew a big crowd in August.

The finest boatman of his time on the lower Rogue River, Reuel Hawkins, could thread the water like no one else; some even wondered if the river talked to him.

In 1917, families from all over the Southern Oregon Coast gathered in Harbor, at the Antler Hotel, for an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration.

In February 1918, two young men faced Justice M. T. Wright on a charge of disturbing the peace in Gold Beach, Ore.

Isaac Munsey is buried near his Curry County cabin and copper mine on the coastal trail between Signal Buttes and the North Fork of Hunter Creek, next to a small stream and under a large incense-cedar tree.

In 1930, Sydney Croft was a struggling farmer with failing health.  When his physician advised him to leave Michigan for a warmer climate, he relocated near Bandon on Oregon’s southern coast and began raising vegetables.

In 1893, John L. Childs installed improved printing equipment at the Crescent City News.  His previous press, a Ben Franklin model, was still serviceable, so he leased it to the Harbor (Ore.) Herald.

One autumn in the 1930s, the Colegroves who lived at Mountain Ranch, near Brookings, Ore., took a camping and hunting vacation on the South Fork of Pistol River.  They loaded their sedan with supplies and slowly headed toward the canyon with two riding horses in tow.

A small, bustling community emerged at the Wenger Mill as it reached full operation about 1900 at the upper end of Lake Earl, three miles north of Crescent City, Calif.

A widower from Maine, Lou Martin, came to the Rogue River Canyon in the late 1920s and lived alone until he died more than 50 years later.  Martin’s wife and baby had died in the flu epidemic in Maine.

For nearly a century, Charlie Jensen was known as “Mr. Music” on the Southern Oregon Coast.

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