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Early Rogue Valley Preacher Faces Danger Bravely

An early Methodist preacher in the Rogue Valley, Thomas Fletcher Royal, faced danger bravely.

Perhaps his worst day was on Feb. 27, 1854, when Canyon Creek was rising and he had no choice but to wade and float downstream on horseback. 

Royal encountered dangerous rapids, floating logs, and a tree lodged across the creek. He jumped off his horse, Spotty, in time to save himself, and the horse was pushed against the tree and reached safety too.  

Preaching could be dangerous, too.  Royal rode from Jacksonville to Sterling one day, ignoring a warning that 500 drunken miners had been cursing Royal all night, blaming him for fines imposed against saloons that served drinks on Sunday.

When Royal reached the Fowler’s Corner building, he went in and began singing hymns to an empty room.  Soon a few women came in and men quietly followed.

Judge Deady, who had imposed the fines on the whiskey sellers, knew Royal had not reported them, but Deady did not correct their impression that he had, because, as Deady told Royal, “I thought your shoulders were as broad as anybody’s.”

Sources: unpublished papers, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS161, Folder 3, Item 4 and “Preaching Under Difficulties,” MS161, Folder 7, and Journal 3. 27 Feb. 1854.

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.