As It Was

Classics & News: Mon-Fri • 9:30am & 1pm | News & Information: Mon-Fri • 9:57am

Colorful vignettes dedicated to the regional history of Southern Oregon and Northern California. As It Was is an all volunteer effort -- produced by Raymond Scully and narrated by Shirley Patton in partnership with writers from the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

If you have a writing background and would like to submit an As It Was essay for consideration, email your written piece to

A collection of As It Was essays is available in a high-quality paperback book at the JPR Online Store.  Each episode is also available below.

On Sept. 4, 1894, one hundred guests gathered for a double-wedding at the Guerin farm, near Port Orford, Ore.  The nuptials were for Harry Guerin to Ella Bigelow and Tom Guerin to Anna Tichenor.

Explorer Jedediah Smith’s party faced hard times in 1828 while making the first recorded Euro-American journey by land from the California Coast to Oregon.

Many places in Northern California and Southern Oregon honor the name of early explorer Jedediah Smith, including two rivers and the popular Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  But to the Mexican governor of Alta California, Smith was an outlaw.

In 1906, California timber baron John E. Brookings began investigating expansion opportunities along the Southern Oregon Coast.

In the early 1900s, Southern Oregon communities often held events to boost the economy and bring attention to their uniqueness.  One type of celebration, the industrial fair, publicized not only the civic organizations, but also the community’s businesses.

A 4-week-old baby was among the survivors of the steamer Crescent City that broke up in January 1903 on the rocky ledges of Fish Rock Island off Mendocino, Calif.

When in late December 1959 Angie Hawkins responded to the call of the wilderness, she was reported missing from her grandson’s home in Gold Beach, Ore.

One of the earliest pioneers of Shasta County, Calif., Alonzo Engle, was born in 1824 in Ohio.

In 1964, a Medford, Ore., watchmaker, George Grabow, found a basket in an old barn that contained pieces of what turned out to be a tall mahogany clock, mixed with pipe-organ parts.

In 1935, Howard Newhouse began attending the Wedderburn Grade School with a dozen other children. The divided school had a classroom on one side and a playroom and woodshed on the other.  Wedderburn is on U.S. Route 101, separated from Gold Beach only by the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge that spans the mouth of the Rogue River.

The great-great nephew of George Washington, Col. Benjamin Franklin Washington, headed West in 1849 at the height of the California Gold Rush.  He was born in Virginia, the great grandson of Lawrence Washington, became a lawyer and practiced law for many years before settling in California.

Pictures of Steve Oster show him with gold pan, pick and axe, a solitary prospector who mined in the Applegate area in the 1860s and 1870s.  Little is known about Oster, but many landmarks bear his first name.

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.

The town of Upton is among the many that no longer exist in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Just a year after establishment of the mining camp of Sailors' Diggings in a remote forested area of Southwestern Oregon near the California border, the usual mayhem of such places exploded with a mass shooting.

On June 16, 1883, the Del Norte Record newspaper published a column titled “News of the Week.” It offers a glimpse into early-day life on the Southern Oregon Coast.

When the twin-propeller steamer Mazama made the first trip up the crooked Wood River 110 years ago, the feat was hailed as an easy route to Crater Lake.

In 1877, three businessmen put up $1,500 each to start a new business in Redding, Calif.  The investors were Dr. Louis Wellendorf, James McCormick and Ruldoph Saeltzer.  A year later, Dr. Wellendorf sold his interest to Williamson Lyncoya Smith.

As Western gold miners moved inland, expanding their reach from coastal ports, it became necessary to build supply trails.

In 1945, Gloria attended her friend’s wedding in the Bronx, New York, and met her best man, Glenn Ray.