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Croaking Frogs Outwit Jacksonville Mayor

The croaking of the frogs in Emil Britt’s park-like grounds was more than he could stand. They were keeping him awake at night and making him too tired to do his job in 1903 as mayor of Jacksonville, Ore.

Britt was an inventive man with a reputation as a genius problem solver. After thinking it over and considering that the frogs were eating thousands of harmful insects in his garden, he didn’t want to kill them or chase them away.  He just wanted to get a good night’s rest.

Realizing that the frogs did not croak in the daytime, he floated a lighted candle mounted on a flat board in his lily pond at dusk. Then he went to his porch and waited.

All was quiet. Was his solution going to be that simple? Of course not! After a few minutes, the frogs silently swam around the contraption in their pond. Then they hopped on the board. And soon the chorus began again, if anything, louder than ever!

The Jacksonville Sentinel wrote about it under the headline, “Frogs Outwit a Genius.”

Britt probably had to wait for winter to send them into silent hibernation.

Source: "Frogs Outwit a Genius." Jacksonville Sentinel 26 June 1903: 7. Print.

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.