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As It Was: Wolf Creek, Ore., Runs Land Speculator Out of Town

The orchard boom in Southern Oregon at the turn of the last century extended into the mountain valleys around Wolf Creek, where in 1907 a former Presbyterian minister, W.G. Smith, was selling land tracts.

The small town of Wolf Creek did not take kindly to Smith’s badmouthing of its residents.  In 1913, a woman sued him for defamation of character and won $500.

In June 1914, a representative of Wolf Creek told Smith he needed to leave town.  Coincidentally, Smith was taking the train to Glendale to meet his family.  The townspeople massed at the railroad station to make sure he left.  The Grants Pass newspaper reported the crowd showered him with epithets and what it described as “over-ripe hen fruit,” better known as rotten eggs.  One woman boarded the train with a horsewhip to emphasize that he needed to leave.

With the sheriff’s protection, Smith returned later to Wolf Creek and brought charges against three community leaders.  In the pre-trial, witnesses swore only one egg was thrown, and no one had threatened Smith.  The Grand Jury exonerated the accused. 

Smith’s reaction was not recorded.

Sources:  "Exiled Pastor from Wolf Creek Issues Warrant for Arrest Three Business Men." Medford Sun, June 1914, p. 2; "Ladies Carried Whips for Rev. W. G. Smith."  Mail Tribune, 25 June 1914 [Medford, Ore.], p. 3; "Local News." Roseburg Review, 19 Sept. 1914, p. 5.

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.