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As It Was: Sterlingville Girls Dream of Defeating Union School Boys’ Team

In the 1880s, Sterlingville, Ore., was a busy town of several hundred people working in the mines, farming and running businesses.  The town had a post office, school, shops, several saloons, and the largest hydraulic mine in Oregon.

For Edna Parks Buck, her fondest memories of the Sterlingville School included the ball team.  Buck’s father managed a lumber mill across the road from the school, and the workers spent their lunch hours watching the team practice.  She went home for lunch, but always returned quickly to the ball field.

Players practiced in a flat meadow, hitting a rubber ball, either right-handed or left-handed, to any part of the field.  Prominent families in Sterlingville were well represented on the team, including the Parks, Saltmarsh and Gilson children.

They had few competitors, but they knew if given the chance they could defeat the Union School boys.

That game never happened, but it would have been assured of a big crowd – the Sterling players were all girls, whose uniforms included large aprons to cover their dresses.

Source: Ziegler, Maude. "Rural Reflections." Medford Mail Tribune, 1964, found in the Sterlingville Vertical File at the SOHS Research Library.

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.