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Ashland Mills Gathers Peacefully on Christmas Eve 1859


When Oregon became a state in 1859, Ashland Mills – today’s Ashland, Ore. – had a lumber mill and a flour mill and only a scattering of homes on donated land claims.

There was no church, but the town was a settled place, and people felt Christmas should reflect it by avoiding the kind of drunken fights anticipated in the mining town of Jacksonville.

Christmas morning saw devotional services in several homes. In the afternoon, the whole town turned out for a turkey shoot above the mills. Ashland had its share of excellent shooters, but the winners of the turkeys were not recorded.

Eban Emery, one of Ashland’s earliest residents, hosted a Christmas Ball in the evening at the Ashland House stage stop. Folks came from nearby Phoenix and as far away as Yreka for the peaceful gathering. The Berry orchestra from Jacksonville provided music with two violins and a banjo.

As the last of the revelers left the hall, a soft snow was falling on Ashland, capping a Christmas to be remembered for a long time.

Source: "Celebration of Ashland's Initial Christmas." The Christmas Herald 21 Dec. 1896 [Ashland Oregon] : 1. Print. [Found in SOHS MS517 Box 3, Folder 18 p. 19 of a scrapbook]

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.