Maryann Mason

As It Was Contributor

Maryann Mason, who lives in Ashland, has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon, and as an English/history teacher she assigned the National History Day project to her students every year for many years.

A Forest Service employee who led pack trains in the Butte Falls region in 1953, Gordon Jesse Walker, liked to tell stories about fighting forest fires.  One of his favorites was about the harrowing experience of another smoke-chaser, Hal Von Stein.

The December 1902 Medford Mail newspaper featured an article touting the superiority of Talent over Ashland, Ore.

One of the Rogue Valley’s most famous residents is Don Maddox, son of a sharecropper and a country music legend at age 96.

A master mule packer for the Rogue River Forest Service for 31 years, Gordon Jesse Walker, was known for bragging at demonstrations of his work for local granges, schools, and nursing homes that he had packed everything except a meringue pie.

A Forest Service employee who wrote about his work in the 1950s, Gordon Jesse Walker, tells this story about a stray bullet:

Medford Mayor Dr. E.B. Pickel, proud of his new 1919 Packard convertible with luxurious black leather upholstery, took some visiting Portland doctors on a tour of the Rogue Valley.

Travel writer James Mason Hutchings, known as the “Father of Yosemite,” complained about Southern Oregon roads when he visited in 1855.

James Mason Hutchings, born in Towcester, England, in 1820, was a son of a carpenter and expected to become one, too.  But at age 23, George Catlin’s paintings of North American Indians excited Hutchings and he left for New York.

Many years later, George Porter recalled moving in 1890 with his family to the Rogue Valley.

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

In May 1948, the Republican candidate for President, New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, addressed an audience of some 2,000 at the Medford Armory. 

In 1853, Rachel Taylor left Illinois with her family, traveling to the Rogue Valley in what became known as the “Preacher Train” because five Southern Oregon preachers came on that same wagon train.

When Robert Erway Sr. returned as an adult to the Fall Creek Power House where he played as a 6-year-old, it brought back memories, not all happy ones.

Eighty-three-year-old Mrs. A.J. Russell recalled the Christmas of 1865 when she was 27, married and living on Ashland’s North Main Street.  The town had 16 business and professional men at the time.

An original member of the Ashland Highland Kilty Band, Gerald Gunter, had some fond memories of the early days.

Samuel Colver Jr. was one of Southern Oregon’s successful pioneers, an Ohio boy who studied law at Plymouth College in Indiana, excelled in debate, especially with his teachers, but left Ohio to become a Texas Ranger, an Indian Scout, and to serve with Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto.

The Klamath Reservation tribes were very proud of their kiuks, known by outsiders as Indian doctors or shamans.  One of the most respected was David Chocktoot, or Big Hearted Indian.

Music and politics seem to go together, but in 1904, a welcoming band received the bad end of the deal.

When the North American fur trade reached its peak in the 1800’s, European and American trappers encountered an abundance of sea otters, especially on the Oregon Coast.  It wouldn’t last long.

In 1907, George Taverner and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, moved to Ashland, Ore., and bought a home designed by Frank Clark, Southern Oregon’s leading architect at the time.