Kernan Turner

As It Was Editor & Coordinator

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP.  His assignments included the World Desk in New York City and 27 years as a foreign correspondent and bureau chief, living and working in Mexico and Central America, South America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula. His final assignment was as chief of Iberian Services in Madrid, Spain. He retired in Ashland, his birthplace,  in 2002, with his wife, Betzabé “Mina” Turner, an Oregon certified court interpreter.  He and his wife are active boosters of Ashland’s Sister City connection with Guanajuato, Mexico.

The Oregonian newspaper reported on June 12, 1867, that Capt. Franklin Burnet Sprague of the 1st Oregon Infantry had announced that land was available in Southern Oregon and Northern California south and east of Klamath Lake.

One of Ashland’s early pioneers, Capt. John McCall, settled in Oregon in 1852 on a mining claim along Jackson Creek in Jackson County.  By 1860 he had purchased an interest in the Ashland Flour Mill, and two years later joined the First Regiment of the Oregon Volunteer Cavalry.

In condescending, racially tinged language typical of the times, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1897 how the federal agent in charge of the Klamath Indian Reservation, Maj. C.E. Worden, was encouraging Indians to establish homes, raise cattle and grow crops.

In the First World War, Americans eagerly volunteered to support the troops who had been sent abroad.  People gathered scrap metal for war material, children sold bonds and stamps, and women filled vacant jobs in factories and shipyards.

Federal troops were so busy with the Civil War in 1863 that they enlisted the voluntary First Oregon Cavalry to build Fort Klamath.  Its mission was to contain Indian resistance to the loss of their homeland to settlers arriving by the thousands on the Applegate Trail.

The only Jackson County sheriff ever killed in the line of duty, August Singler, died in 1913 in an exchange of gunfire with 19-year-old fugitive Lester Jones.

All that remains of many early Southern Oregon and Northern California boom towns are charcoal, rotting timbers or dust.  One of them was Ayers, also known as Ayers Spur or Mistletoe, home during the early 20th century to the Ashland Box & Lumber Manufacturing Co.

In the summer of 1878, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey sent Benjamin Colonna to place precision instruments on the 14,179-foot summit of Northern California’s Mount Shasta.  He spent nine days and nights there, subsisting on cold food, except coffee and some toasted cheese.  He lost 15 pounds and yearned for hot soup.

Riding home by train in the early 1900’s, Sierra Club founder John Muir described to a companion a “little hike” he took around Mount Shasta.

Before the arrival in 1903 of the first automobile in Medford, Ore., pedestrians crossing the city’s dirt, and sometimes muddy, streets, had to dodge riders on horseback and horse-drawn wagons.  Runaways were frequent.

Three Southern Oregon landmarks straddle state borders.

The issue of what to do with transients is nothing new.  Thousands of unemployed, hungry men passed through the Rogue Valley during the Great Depression.

Brothers Hugh and Denis O’Connor emigrated from Ireland to America in 1907, settled near Merrill in Southeastern Oregon and developed an 800-acre ranch that at its peak raised some 3,000 lambs a season, plus alfalfa hay, grain and potatoes.

The usual explanation for why the railroad passes through Medford, Ore., instead of Jacksonville is Jacksonville’s failure in 1884 to pay a $25,000 “bonus” to the railroad toward anticipated construction expenses.

Early settlers traveling the Applegate Trail to Oregon passed within 100 yards of the present-day Tub Springs State Wayside alongside the scenic Green Springs Highway linking Ashland and Klamath Falls.

The Lava Beds National Monument in Northeast California has been called both “a place where time stood still” and “the land of burnt out fires.”

Two Irish brothers in their mid-20’s, Hugh and Denis O’Connor, arrived in America in 1907 to seek their fortune in Lake County, Ore., where two other brothers had already settled.

In 1852, a bachelor from Ohio, Jacob Wagner, built the first cabin in Talent, Ore., and a year later raised Fort Wagner around the cabin and an acre of land.

After traveling the Oregon Trail, Henry Clay Tison settled with his wife, Diega, and eight children in the Southern Oregon community of Drew on Aug. 1, 1897.  Drew is some 29 miles east of Canyonville on State Rte. 227.

When the U.S. Mint asked Gov. Ted Kulongoski to come up with something to serve as an iconic image of the state, he took his wife’s advice.