Sharon Bywater

As It Was Contributor

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management. Her husband, Peter Krasilovsky, is a media analyst. Sharon plays the recorder and volunteers for the Southern Oregon Historical Society. She enjoys the wonderful Oregon outdoors, as well as theater, and musical concerts.

In 1880, Rutherford B. Hayes visited Jacksonville, Ore., on an unprecedented tour of the West Coast.  He stayed at the U.S. Hotel owned by Madame Jeanne DeRoboam Holt.  Madame Holt came to town in the 1850s from France and became famous for her stylish hospitality.  She and third husband George Holt were putting the final touches to the new hotel when the President’s visit was announced.

Millie Perkins had never studied acting when she was selected for the title role in the 1959 film version of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Nearly 40 years ago the Southern Oregon Historical Society placed a historic marker on old Hwy 99 commemorating the Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road.

In the summer of 1884, a lady walked her poodle on a hill above the Siskiyou Toll Road House south of Ashland, Ore.  Her companions heard a shriek and ran to find the lady unconscious and her little dog missing.

When George Putnam took over as editor of the Medford Mail Tribune in 1907, he vowed to speak out against corruption. This soon led to his being thrown in jail for daring to accuse railroad baron W.S. Barnum of attacking Medford’s Mayor, J.F. Reddy, with an axe. The incident became known as the “Barnum-Reddy” fight.

In 1897, Henry Clay Tison and his sons used axes, picks and shovels to build a road to their home on Elk Creek near Crater Lake.  During the winter months, their rustic road was impassable except on foot or horseback, so Tison had to bring a supply of staple goods to last the winter.  The family lived mainly on venison, bread and blackberry pie.

Conscientious objectors staffed one of Oregon’s first smokejumper firefighting bases during World War II in the Redwood Forest Ranger District in Cave Junction.

Ashland, Ore., once produced championship peaches, especially on the “Peachblow Paradise” orchard at Liberty and Pracht Streets, home to owner Max Pracht who came to Ashland in 1886.  His peaches sold for above market value and won a gold medal at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

In 1985, a member of the Klamath Indian tribe, Edison Chiloquin, achieved his dream of gaining title to his ancestral home in Southern Oregon.

In the 1850s, most Southern Oregon men were miners seeking their fortunes in rough mining camps, while a few farmers planted crops on donation land claims.

Before he was a Civil War hero and President, Ulysses S. Grant spent a miserable assignment in 1854 at Fort Humboldt near Eureka, Calif.  Fresh from the battlefields of the Mexican War, the young Army captain often joined the remote outpost’s other bored officers in drinking whiskey and playing poker.

In 1871, authorities found the body of a man floating in shallow water near a railroad bridge in Vallejo, Calif.  He was dressed like a gentleman, with a diamond ring on his finger and money in his pockets.  He was later identified as Butler Ives, a surveyor of the Oregon Territory during its rough-and-tumble, early days.

Hailstorms frequently threatened Southern Oregon orchards in the early 1900s, damaging fruit every year but one between 1910 and 1948.  By 1951, farmers decided to do something about it.

Many of the beautiful hills and rivers in Oregon have devilish names, among them “Hellgate Canyon” on the Rogue River and the “Devil’s Backbone” at Crater Lake.  The idea proved upsetting to one early Oregon minister, the Right Rev. William H. Gross, Archbishop of Oregon from 1885-1898.

During early pioneer days, nearly every small town in Oregon had its own grist mill to grind flour for local farmers. In those days, flour was an important staple, and buying local was the only choice shoppers had.

The original jail of Port Orford, Ore., still stands, though quite the worse for wear.  Built in 1936 during the height of the timber industry, it was condemned in 1965.  Since then, its window grills have rusted, turning its white walls a rusty brown on either side of its weather-beaten front door.

When major U.S. cities were connected to telephone service in the late 1800s, small towns like those in Southern Oregon were left on the sidelines.  Most of them did not have power plants or sewer lines, let alone the money to build a phone network and pay royalties to Alexander Graham Bell.

Poltergeists are said to be mischievous ghosts with a variety of tricks, ranging from making loud noises, moving furniture, and knocking on doors to pinching, biting, hitting and tripping people.

The approach of Halloween is often accompanied by stories of ghosts and otherworldly spirits.

When major U.S. cities were connected to telephone service in the late 1800s, small towns in Southern Oregon were left on the sidelines.  They didn’t have electric power plants or sewer lines, and couldn’t afford to build phone networks and pay royalties to Alexander Graham Bell.