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As It Was: Faith Healer Brings Fame to Ashland, Ore.

Not long after faith healer Susie Jessel moved in the early 1930s to Ashland, Ore., people were waiting in line, seeking a cure for whatever ailed them.  She received them first at her home on Idaho Street and later at her Holly Street clinic.

Her “laying on of hands” soon gained national attention through magazine articles with headlines like “They Call Her the Miracle Woman,” and “The Lady With the Healing Hands.”  They brought fame to Jessel and to the village of Ashland, population less than 5,000. 

By the early 1940s, hundreds of people a day sought Jessel’s treatments.

Jessel told a daughter that Jessel’s parents recognized she had a special gift shortly after her birth in North Carolina in 1891.  Jessel said her earliest memories were of being carried through the night to lay her hands on those in need.

The Ashland Tidings quoted history writer Dennis Powers as saying that a Protestant church in Ashland scorned Jessel and suggested she was a heretic.

Powers added, “Jessel would dismiss the idea she was a healer, saying only that her creator did the work, and she would ‘make people feel more comfortable.’”

Sources: Watson, Louise A. "The "Faith Healer" of Ashland." Southern Oregon Heritage, vol. 2, no. 4, 1997, pp. 5-7, https://www.sohs.org/sites/default/files/magazines/1997-04.pdf. Accessed 19 June 2019; Darling, John. "Miracle woman." Ashland, Ore. Tidings, 4 June 2019, p. A4.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.