Christopher Shockey

As It Was Contributor

Christopher Shockey lives on a 40-acre hillside homestead in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, where before on-line streaming, JPR Classics and News was the only radio station he and his family could capture. It played from atop the refrigerator all day, and he heard Carol Barrett and Hank Henry’s As It Was each morning. Shockey has been a long-time JPR contributor and enjoys supporting the Southern Oregon Historical Society and JPR by digging up regional stories. His days are a chaotic combination of parenting,  day job, and dealing with whatever the climate and a homestead in the forest flings his way. Every day is different. Christopher can be found with his wife Kirsten, watering, mucking stalls, preserving harvests, making cheese, cleaning, dancing on the porch, planting trees, chopping firewood, hiking, reading, or writing.  At the end of the day they go to bed exhausted and knowing life is good.

Deer are probably the most common garden invaders in the mythical State of Jefferson today, but 100 years ago in Bandon, Ore., gardeners had a domestic nemesis.  Cows and horses were ranging through the coastal town, chomping a smorgasbord of lawn, flower and garden vegetables.


The headline in the Lake County Examiner on March 26, 1914, proclaimed, “Murderer Caught.” The alleged murderer was E. C. Illingsworth, who had survived and fled the area after a shootout 13 years earlier that killed a popular police officer.  Now, it seemed he had returned – at least that was what many people were thinking.

The rumor that he was back started when Lake City resident W.S. Painter walked into Sheriff Smith’s office to report he had just spotted Illingsworth, whom he knew and had last spoken with the day after the murder.  Sheriff Smith told Painter to go back and make sure he was right.  Painter later called to confirm it was the murderer, who had abruptly quit his job on a nearby ranch and was headed out of the area in a hurry.  The sheriff overtook the suspect before he reached Cedarville.

At the time of the arrest, the suspect “appeared greatly frustrated” and denied being Illingsworth, though he did admit to going by several false names. 

 Iowa Slough is about 15 minutes by boat from the mouth of the Coquille River in Oregon and about half way between the towns of Coquille and Bandon.  Years ago it was called Dead Man’s Slough, taking its name from two miners who were killed by Indians.

 One of his generation’s most radical union leaders, Utah-born William “Big Bill” Hayward filled the halls with Socialists and workers for a series of speeches in March 1909 in the towns of Eureka, Fortuna and Arcata, Calif.  

 In 1908, neighbors eager to educate their children in the Green Springs area about 20 miles east of Ashland Ore., worked together to build a one-room schoolhouse along the Emigrant Trail. A path led to a “one-holer” out back.  The school, named after nearby Beaver Creek, had two-seater desks, a wood stove, a water bucket and dipper, and a blackboard.  Soon, it was remodeled to state standards, including an upgraded wood stove.

 In his report in 1876, the U.S. Internal Revenue Commissioner described moonshiners as “unlettered men of desperate character, armed and ready to resist the officers of the law.”  For the neighbors of Harry Scott of Derby, Ore., the description fit to a T.  

Traveling between the Oregon towns of Eagle Point and Butte Falls today is a scenic 30-minute drive along Butte Falls Highway. A century ago the route was a single-wagon trail, choked with dust in the summers and wheel-trapping mud in the winters. The only reprieve was the small town of Derby, which was centered about half way between Eagle Point and Butte Falls and about eight miles north of the junction at Hwy 62.  

Starting out at age 17 as a horse trader, James Everett Henry spent a lifetime building a lumber empire, buying forests in his native New Hampshire, building lumber and paper mills and power stations to run them and railroads to ship their products.  In his late 70s he retired around 1908 and handed his business empire to his three sons. They sold the business for millions in 1917, and one of them, John H. Henry,  retired to Pasadena, Calif., with his wife, daughter and son, John B. Henry.

Early Christmas advertising in Southern Oregon and Northern California is nothing new; it has been around since the late 1800s when some ads popped up even before Halloween. It got a boost in 1903 when the socialist co-founder of the NAACP, Florence Kelley, wrote a widely published essay advocating early shopping in support of her crusade for child labor laws and an eight-hour workday.

 He was visiting relatives in Medford when G. H. Smith heard a familiar sound outside their home.  It was his brand new 1919 Dodge Roadster starting up and driving away.

Victor Eugene “Slim” Warrens knew how to run a profitable saloon and he was fond of diamonds.  He didn’t take kindly to being robbed.

The front page of the Ashland Tidings on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 1918, caught up with the news that the small Oregon town had longed for.  The headline read: “The War is Over – Germany Accepts Allies Peace Terms at 12 O’clock Sunday Night.”

As It Was - Episode 2267

As It Was - Episode 2248 Famous for its runs of big Chinook salmon, the Rogue River draws fisherman from around the world anxious to apply their skills.  On an October evening in 1913 a monster fish put three regional businessmen to the test. Grants Pass banker Sam Baker and local clothier O. L. Ragan went fishing on the Jones Creek riffle after work.  Ragan soon hooked what he later described as a “whale of a fish.” Over 90 minutes, Ragan battled the fish to a draw, and as the day darkened he decided to tie his line to a nearby tree.