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As It Was: Grape King Subdivides Tokay Heights in Grants Pass, Ore.

Present-day Tokay Heights is a meandering street in the hills of Grants Pass, Ore., between Interstate 5 and Foothill Boulevard.  In 1908, it was a 350-acre tract of land owned by vintner W.B. Sherman, known at the time as the “Grape King.”

When Sherman purchased the land, an old stage house where Rogue River Indians killed the Jones family was still standing.  In April 1908, Sherman donated 15 acres surrounding the old stage house to the city for Tuffs Park, named after early settler Margaret Tuffs. 

The Tuffs home still stood nearby when the park was dedicated.  It had been a popular road house with a sign that read, “General Grant’s Headquarters,” although President Grant had never visited the region.  It burned down in 1911 during renovations.

In 1910, Sherman subdivided his land into 100 lots of one to 5 acres.  He said five acres of pear or apple trees was sufficient “to take care of you and yours in luxury for life,” and one acre could provide a family “with the necessities of life and little surplus to put in the bank each year.”

Sources:  "IS CHRISTENED "TUFF'S PARK"." Courier, 17 Apr. 1908 [Rogue River, Ore.p.1. Accessed 21 May 2017; "TWO LANDMARKS GO UP IN FLAMES." Courier, 1 Sept. 1911 [Rogue River, Ore.], p. 1; "W.B. SHERMAN'S SUB-URBAN ORCHARD HOMES." Courier, 5 Aug. 1910 [Rogue River, Ore.], p. 1. Accessed 21 May 2017; oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088281/1911-09-01/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1846&index=9&date2=2017&words=Heights+Tokay&searchType=advanced&sequence=0&lccn=sn96088281&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&pro. Accessed 21 May 2017.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.