As It Was

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Colorful vignettes dedicated to the regional history of Southern Oregon and Northern California. As It Was is an all volunteer effort -- produced by Raymond Scully and narrated by Shirley Patton in partnership with writers from the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

If you have a writing background and would like to submit an As It Was essay for consideration, email your written piece to

A collection of As It Was essays is available in a high-quality paperback book at the JPR Online Store.  Each episode is also available below.

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.

A meeting of genealogical researchers in 1964 in Gold Hill, Ore., led to the birth of the Progenitors Forum of Southern Oregon, precursor of the present-day Rogue Valley Genealogical Society.

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.

All-Star baseballer Charlene “Shorty” Pryer of Medford, Ore., learned to play in California from her father.  After high school, she joined the Marine Corps Reserve and became a vocalist with the Dick Jurgens Orchestra, entertaining troops and working as one of the first female DJs in the country.

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.” 

In 1932, Ted Jordan Jr. was a young black man on the way up, so he took a competitive examination for a better-paying Southern Pacific Railroad job.  He got a higher score than a young white man, but a special agent for the SP decided no black man should triumph over a white.

On March 7, 1911, President Taft mobilized 20,000 troops on the Mexican border with orders to cross into Mexico if needed to protect 40,000 U.S. residents and American businesses during the Mexican Revolution.

Some presidents play golf, others retreat to their ranches or luxury beach resorts, but the 31st president, Herbert Hoover, found relaxation in fly fishing.  He said fishing “reduces our egoism, soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness.”  Hoover grew up in Oregon and his favorite place to fish was the Rogue River.

Michigan timberman L. G. Porter was one of the first settlers in Medford, Ore., after purchasing timberland around Prospect in the 1890s. 

The Fort Klamath to Jacksonville Military Wagon Road that soldiers built in 1865 under the command of Capt. Franklin Sprague improved transportation routes in Southern Oregon.

In 1921, Oregon became the first U.S. state through its State Board of Aeronautics to begin licensing pilots and certifying handmade aircraft.  Five years later the federal Air Commerce Act declared the aircraft “unsafe and illegal,” and those who continued to build and fly them became known as “Oregon Outlaws.”

The U.S. Army rushed to build an airport in Lakeview, Ore., in 1942, completing two 5,200-foot-long runways in 18 months.

As World War II continued to rage overseas in January 1942, the U. S. Navy and other federal agencies called for assistance from regional and local groups.

Born in 1846, Annie Gaines loved the outdoors, and no obstacle seemed too great for her when she wanted adventure.

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.

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.

In 1944 during the Second World War, two Navy TBF Avenger bombers were flying over the Klamath Marsh area about 70 miles north of Klamath Falls, Ore., on a training mission from Pasco, Wash., to San Diego.

Gardeners facing problems of deer eating their roses might consider how one enterprising farmer in Curry County, Ore., persuaded the munchers to stay out of his oat field 100 years ago.

Eastern Oregon Rancher William “Bill Kitt” Kittredge was raised by pioneering parents.  His mother traveled by wagon on the Oregon Trail and his father emigrated West during the California Gold Rush of 1849.