As It Was: Post Office Insistence Gives Town Its Name

Apr 25, 2019

In the late 1800s, William and Irene Willits quit their school teaching jobs to establish a new home in the Cascade Mountains.  Near Upper Elk Creek in Southern Oregon, they chose a site with mountain scenery, tall pines, beautiful wildflowers, streams and rock cliffs.

When the Willits first moved to their ranch, the nearest post office was 55 miles away in Jacksonville. They and more new settlers in the area began asking for a closer post office.  The government soon authorized post offices in the communities of Prospect and Trail, but the Willits and their neighbors persisted in pushing for town of their own.

Eighteen years went by before their request was granted in 1902.  The post office was housed at the Willits’ residence, with a store added later.  Willits became the first postmaster.

Judging by the insistence of the Willits and other settlers that a post office be opened in their area, there was only one choice when it came time to name their town.  It was called Persist.

The Persist post office shut down in 1935.


Sources:  "Persist Post Office." Southern Oregon Historical Society,,; "Persist, Oregon." Revolvy, Revolvy,; "Persist, Well Named Is In A Class By Itself." Southern Oregon History, Revised, edited by Ben Truwe, SOHS/Medford Mail Tribune, 13 May 1914,