John Love House

October 15, 2019

John Love was a successful tin and hardware merchant and one of Jacksonville’s first trustees. He served on committees responsible for securing plans to build the town recorder’s office and fire station and inspecting and adopting the 1862 town plat. He was also instrumental in establishing the town cemetery. Around 1867, he built the house at 175 North 3rd Street for his growing family. Their stay, however, was brief. Within months John succumbed to tuberculosis; a year and a half later, his wife Anna Sophia and one of their daughters died in the smallpox epidemic of 1869.

Mary Ann Harris-Chambers House

October 8, 2019

The Mary Ann Harris-Chambers house at the corner of North 3rd and C streets was built around 1867, replacing her earlier home on this site. She moved to Jacksonville from a homestead north of Grants Pass after an 1855 Rogue Indian raid killed her first husband, George Harris, and her son. With her daughter reloading, Mary Ann had fired the family’s shotguns from various cabin windows, holding off the attack for over 5 hours until the Indians gave up and left. On Valentine’s Day in 1863, Mary Ann married farmer Aaron Chambers. They lived at this location until Aaron died 7 years later. This house remained in the family into the 1890s.

Minerva Plymale Armstrong

October 1, 2019

Minerva Plymale Armstrong and her husband Robert traveled with her parents and siblings from Illinois to Oregon in 1852 along the Oregon Trail. They settled on a farm 4 miles north of Jacksonville at the base of the western hills overlooking the beautiful valley to the east of Old Stage Road. One of their 11 children, Cornelius Jasper Armstrong, born February 24, 1853, is a contender for the title of “first child born in Jacksonville.” In 1890 the Armstrongs moved to town, purchasing the small “saltbox” style home at 375 E. California Street, historically known as the G.W. Cool house after the individual who constructed it around 1858. Cool had received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Baltimore College of Dentistry. He came to the West Coast in 1850, practicing first in British Columbia and then in Washington before settling in Oregon. The house was both residence and dental office. However, his practice appears to have been lackluster since a mechanic’s lien for construction costs was attached against the property. By 1861 Cool had moved on to Portland. The next decade saw him in San Francisco where he did experience success and was one of the first members of the California State Dental Association.

Patrick J. Ryan

September 24, 2019

Patrick J. Ryan was one of the most prolific “contractors” in early Jacksonville. From 1855 onwards he specialized in “fire proof” brick buildings. He’s responsible for at least 4 of the commercial buildings still standing in downtown Jacksonville including the 1873 Jacksonville Inn, the 2-story 1861 “Ben Drew Commission House” currently occupied by Quintessence, and the 1865 P.J. Ryan “Dwelling House on South 3rd, now home to South Stage Cellars. Little is known about Ryan himself. A native of Ireland, he had arrived in Jacksonville no later than 1853 at the ripe old age of 23. That same year he purchased the Palmetto Bowling Saloon and launched his career as one of Jacksonville’s earliest and longest-term commercial property investors.

Magnolia Inn

September 10, 2019

The Spanish Revival style building at 245 North 5th Street in Jacksonville was built in the early 1900s as a sanitarium and health spa. It was part of the “Wellville” movement pioneered by the Kellogg brothers. This approach to medicine advocated holistic treatments and vegetarianism, and such sanitariums typically focused on nutrition, enemas, and exercise. John Harvey Kellogg also created the “health food,” Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in hopes that it would reduce what he considered unwelcome sexual impulses. In the 1930s, the County began placing most of its poor in buildings in Jacksonville because property values were some of the lowest in the County and there were plenty of potential caretakers among the people looking for work. Mitchell’s was one of these “poor houses,” but it was as much hospital as sanitarium. Apparently, it was originally known as the Rogue River Sanitarium, but by the 1950s had been renamed the Mitchell Sanitarium. Today it houses one of Jacksonville’s popular bed and breakfast establishments, the Magnolia Inn.

John Boyer

September 3, 2019

The historic brick portion of the Bella Union Restaurant and Saloon at 170 W. California Street was constructed in 1874 by pioneer woodworker and builder David Linn after an April fire destroyed many of the original buildings in the western end of Jacksonville. That summer, John Boyer announced the opening of his “new store in Linn’s brick building.” Boyer, born in 1836 in Pennsylvania, had arrived in Jacksonville around 1871. Apparently, he soon became an active part of the community, opening a general store and joining the local chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows. By 1876 Boyer had been named a Grand Marshall of the IOOF of Oregon, representing Jacksonville around the state. A general store remained at the Bella Union location into the 1880s and 90s, but in 1879 Boyer accepted the position of confidential clerk at the Cornelius C. Beekman Bank, the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest located at 110 W. California. For some years, Boyer even lodged in the back room of the Bank. At some point Boyer also became the resident agent for the Fire Marine Insurance Company of San Francisco, possibly handling Beekman’s insurance business. Boyer died in January 1902, received a full ceremonial IOOF funeral, and is buried in the IOOF section of Jacksonville’s pioneer cemetery.

Rogue River Valley Railway

August 27, 2019

The Rogue River Valley Railway, which operated from 1891 until 1925, was Jacksonville’s attempt to maintain regional economic supremacy after the main Oregon & California/Southern Pacific railroad line by-passed the town in favor of the flat valley floor. The RRVR hauled gravel, bricks, timber, crops, livestock, mail and passengers over a 5-mile, single track spur line that connected Jacksonville with Medford. The Jacksonville Visitor’s Center at the corner of Oregon and C streets was constructed in 1891 as the depot for the Railway. The depot originally faced Oregon Street and a small railway switching yard occupied the present-day entrance to the post office parking lot. Today, the building serves as Jacksonville’s Visitors’ Information Center.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

August 20, 2019

Shortly after the discovery of gold in Jacksonville in 1852, Reverend James Croke celebrated the first Catholic mass in the home of a local resident.  In 1855, Croke reported to the Archbishop that he had counted 105 Catholics in the Rogue Valley alone.  In 1858, James Cluggage, donation land claim owner of most of the original Jacksonville townsite, deeded the 100’ x 200’ parcel at the corner of 4th and D streets for $5 for “the use and benefit of the Catholic Church.”  St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, dedicated November 1, 1858, was the first parish church built in Southern Oregon to serve the Catholic population and is the oldest Catholic Church still standing in the region. Father Francis Xavier Blanchet, shown here, was appointed parish priest in 1863 and served in that position for 25 years. In its early years, St. Joseph’s had many missions attached, some as distant as Corvallis to the north and Lakeview to the east.

Kubli Building

August 13, 2019

“What goes around comes around”! Where Willow Creek now sells jewelry, accessories, personal items, and an array of other indulgences at 115 West California Street in Jacksonville, J.S. Howard, the “Father of Medford” originally enticed customers with the merchandise in his “Crystal Bazaar.” When the building and all its contents were destroyed in the 1884 fire, Howard “abandoned shop” and moved to Medford, selling the lot to Kaspar Kubli. Swiss immigrant Kubli, who had found success in ranching, business, and politics, had the current structure erected at the same time as the adjacent Red Men’s Hall. Probably built by brick mason George Holt, the two buildings have almost identical facades. Originally, Kubli housed his tin shop in the ground floor rear. The front was occupied by Jeremiah Nunan’s Farmers and Miners Supplies through the turn of the century.

Peter Britt’s Gold Ingot

August 6, 2019
This small gold ingot weighing 2.2 grams was made from gold dug in Jacksonville by Chinese miners who camped on property owned by photographer Peter Britt. At a time when most Westerners treated minorities poorly, Britt was noted for his friendly dealings with the Chinese. The miners refined, cast and presented the ingot to Britt around 1854. The characters on the front translate as “Heaven Original” and “Sufficient Gold”; the back is blank. At the time coins were in limited supply and most business was done by barter or by payment in gold. This ingot would have been intended for use as money. According to Britt’s son Emil, it was given to his father as a token of appreciation.

Haines Building

July 30, 2019
The 1854 date on the historical marker on the building at the corner of California and Oregon streets is correct, but it was not the site of a butcher shop. The “fire-proof store” now home to The Cotton Broker was constructed in 1861 for Israel and Robert Haines, replacing a wooden building at the same location they had occupied since arriving in Jacksonville 7 years earlier. This one-story brick structure is one of the oldest commercial buildings to survive 3 major fires that ravaged the town. The brothers’ variety store occupied the building until the mid-1860s when they experienced financial difficulties. Robert went on to study medicine and relocated to San Francisco. Israel (shown here) read law. He moved to eastern Oregon where he became a prominent Baker City lawyer and politician and founded the town of Haines. Post-1866 records show a series of short-term occupants until Louis Solomon moved his mercantile business to this location following his $8,000 loss in the 1874 fire. He was still occupying the building in 1888 when another devastating fire wiped out much of that end of town. However, “the fire proof character of Solomon’s store building was fully demonstrated, as the flames were raging against the rear wall fully half an hour before being extinguished, without raising the temperature inside.”

Helms House

July 23, 2019
The Italianate style Helms House at the corner of South Oregon and Pine streets in Jacksonville was built in 1878 by Table Rock Billiard Saloon owner Herman von Helms (although the “von” was probably his own addition to imply descent from royalty). An existing cabin was incorporated as kitchen and pantry. After arriving in Jacksonville in 1856, Helms had purchased an interest in the Table Rock Bakery (the forerunner of his saloon), and in 1866 purchased this corner lot from William Hesse, the original owner of the Bakery. Helms marriage to Augusta Englebrecht in 1862 had been arranged through the Northern California and Southern Oregon German communities. Both Herman and Augusta were originally from Holstein, Germany, but they met for the first time the day before they wed. Their marriage appears to have been successful, but of their 9 children, only 5 survived to adulthood. Three daughters died in typhoid epidemics; a fourth was murdered by her sister’s estranged husband.

Weiss House

July 16, 2019
The Weiss House at 650 Sterling Street in Jacksonville has multiple “back stories.” In 1866, the City deeded a large parcel of land between S. Oregon and South 3rd streets to John Weiss, an immigrant from Alsace-Lorraine. He and his wife Elizabeth had arrived in Jacksonville in 1852 and had constructed the original farmhouse no later than 1873. The property was divided following Weiss’ death in 1895 and passed through multiple hands. The portion containing the original farmhouse was usually referred to as “the house near the end of South Oregon Street” since Sterling Street was not yet in existence. In 1943, the property was bought by A.L. and Olive Pearl Kitchen. They made the farmhouse their home while again dividing the property into what became known as “the Kitchen Subdivision,” creating Sterling Street in the process. The “Kitchen House” was sold to Alvin and Florence Minshall in 1948. Minshall was a building contractor and avid post-war recycler. In 1951, Minshall and his friends loaded two barracks buildings and a maintenance shed from Camp White onto a flatbed truck and brought them home. They are now the long great room and garage of the current residence. Camp White, now White City, had been deactivated in April 1946, but following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress had appropriated $27 million to transform the Agate Desert into Camp White as an Army training base. At its peak, the camp occupied nearly 50,000 acres and contained nearly 40,000 people, making it the second-largest city in Oregon at the time.

Carriage House #2


July 9, 2019
Last week we shared information abut the home at 460 East C Street in Jacksonville, know as the “Carriage House.” Most of the house was originally the barn and carriage house for Max Mueller’s estate which had spanned the entire block from California to C Street from the mid-1800s until the 1960s when the property was divided. The Mueller House portion, located at 465 E. California Street, is considered the best example of High Victorian residential architecture in Jacksonville. Max Mueller was a prominent Jacksonville merchant, the town’s first Postmaster, a City Trustee, City Treasurer, County Treasurer, and Jackson County Clerk. When Mueller purchased the entire lot in 1883, he and his family resided in the small cabin of the original owner. When the current home was constructed in 1887, it was attached to the older 1-story house, and the original structure became the dining room, kitchen, and back porch.

Carriage House

July 2, 2019
The lovely home at 460 East C Street in Jacksonville, known as the “Carriage House,” is actually a combination of structures. The property itself was originally part of Max Mueller’s 465 E. California Street home. Around the 1880s, Mueller, or an earlier owner, constructed the barn that comprises the central portion of the Carriage House. In 1908, after Mueller’s death, his wife, Louisa, sold the property to William T. Grieve, shown here. Grieve, a Jackson County Assessor, built the carriage house, the lower right portion pictured. In the early 1960s, George and Doris Brewer acquired the entire property, a derelict rental with a yard filled with junked cars. After restoring the Mueller House, they decided to divide the lot and construct the existing house. Before retiring, George had worked in the logging industry and then owned and operated Brewer Tractor Company. He tapped his experience and skills, jacked up the old barn, put it on skids, hooked it to his Jeep, and pulled it to a cement foundation he had poured. Using skids and a tractor, George and Doris moved the carriage house from its original location, turned it 180 degrees, and attached it to the barn. To create the “finished product,” they salvaged lumber from the old Table Rock Saloon, doors and hardware from a Medford home, 1800s Jacksonville brick from an Eagle Point hardware store, and remodeled the old outhouse into a garden house. Together, as leaders of the Pioneer Sites Foundation, they were part of the movement that led to Jacksonville’s Historic Landmark District. George was both Mayor and City Councilor and involved in the restoration of the U.S. Hotel and the Methodist Episcopal Church. Doris was instrumental in stopping the estate auction of all the original contents of the Beekman House, and together they assisted in restoring the Beekman House and opening it to the public.

Jacksonville Historic Cemetery #2

June 25, 2019
We jumped ahead of ourselves yesterday, but today really is History Trivia Tuesday! There are enough historic myths going around without Historic Jacksonville, Inc. adding to them, so we want to correct our June 18th post about the gates to Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery on West E Street. The cemetery’s Friends were kind enough to give us the true “skinny.” When James Napper Tandy Miller set aside the original cemetery acreage in 1859, he did require the cemetery to be fenced. A white picket fence was erected at the top of Cemetery Hill, but the original gates were probably wood. At some point the wooden gates were replaced with the familiar metal arch and gates. Photos show they were there no later than 1912 but did not date to the cemetery’s official opening in 1860. Later the original metal arch and gates were moved to their current location at the bottom of the hill—possibly in 1923 in conjunction with Alice Applegate Sargent funding the Cemetery Road wall in commemoration of her husband. Pieces were subsequently added to the arch and gates to increase their height and width, allowing motorized vehicles to pass through and under. The arch and gates that now sit at the entrance to the cemetery are the same arch and gates that originally sat at the top of Cemetery Road. In 2018, the City of Jacksonville paid for them to be restored to their original color and state—with one exception. The side pieces were angled to increase the structure’s stability, allowing an increase to the width of the entry of one of the oldest pioneer cemeteries in the Pacific Northwest.

Jacksonville Historic Cemetery

June 18, 2019
Have you had a chance to admire the new gate to Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery on West E Street? Installed in the fall of 2018, the new gate’s white lettering and black wrought iron replicates the original gate erected about the time the cemetery officially opened in 1860. When James Napper Tandy Miller set aside the original acreage for a town cemetery in 1859, he required the cemetery to be fenced to protect against the intrusion of wild animals. But when the cemetery opened, the gate was at the top of the hill! The dirt access road (now Cemetery Road) that led to the entry presumably followed an old Indian trail. In 1923 Alice Applegate Sargent funded the Cemetery Road wall in memory of her husband, Col. Herbert Howland Sargent. Around the time the wall was built, the original cemetery gate was replaced, and the entry relocated to the bottom of the hill. The 2018 gate replaces the familiar white iron gate erected in the early 1900s. The Jacksonville cemetery is one of the oldest pioneer cemeteries in the Pacific Northwest and has remained in continuous use since its founding. Join the Friends of Jacksonville’s Historic Cemetery for guided tours, evening strolls, workshops, and their annual “Meet the Pioneers” event. 

Eagle Brewery

June 11, 2019

The Eagle Brewery was probably Jacksonville’s first brewery, in operation no later than 1856 on the block between Main and California streets that now houses the Orth Building. By 1859 the Brewery was in existence at its current location, 355 S. Oregon Street, and under the ownership of German-born Joseph Wetterer. Two years later Wetterer “commenced the building of a large beer saloon in front of his brewery.” For the next 18 years, Wetterer and his wife Fredericka (show here) ran the saloon, advertising “the best lager beer in Southern Oregon.” Little is known of Wetterer; he seems to have been uninvolved in the town’s social, political or fraternal activities, and does not even appear to have owned a liquor license. Fredericka continued operating the brewery for a period after Wetterer’s death in 1879, but by 1892 the Eagle Brewery and its complex of buildings containing the “malt kiln,” “mash tub,” “cooler,” “furnace heat,” and “beer kettle” were no longer in operation, the saloon stood vacant, and the property was labeled “dilapidated” on local maps. In the 1960s, the complex became the studio and residence of nationally known artist Eugene Bennett, a far cry from its more raucous years as one of Jacksonville’s earliest saloons. It now serves as a private residence.

Karewski’s Grist Mill

June 4, 2019

The “unidentified” house at 890 S. Oregon Street in Jacksonville was probably constructed around 1889 although the builder is uncertain. Early photographs from this period for the town’s outskirts do not exist. We do know that the house was on property owned by Gustav Karewski that included his steam powered grist mill. Karewski had come from Prussia in 1853 in search of gold, but soon found there was more gold in selling shovels than in using them and opened his own dry goods store. When farming became more important than mining, he opened “Karewski’s Agricultural Implements”—the only dealer in the Rogue Valley for big farm machinery. By 1881, he also operated a steam-powered grist mill on this South Oregon Street property, one of the first ones in Southern Oregon. Within 3 years the mill ranked third in the state in flour production. In 1915, the grist mill was dismantled, moved, and reconstructed on North 3rd Street as Joseph Applebaker’s blacksmith shop. The house in question was sold in 1908 by Karewski’s son-in-law and has passed through numerous hands. Today it’s a private residence with owners who are passionate about gardening.

John Neuber

May 28, 2019

The building that is now the Blue Door Garden Store at 130 West California Street in Jacksonville was built around 1862 by German-born John Neuber to house his jewelry store. Neuber was Jacksonville’s first goldsmith and silversmith. He specialized in solid gold buckles for women’s belts. While running to fight one of the periodic fires that broke out in the town’s early wooden structures, Neuber incurred severe head injuries. In 1874 he was declared insane by the Jackson County commissioners and ordered to the state insane asylum where he died a year later.

Warren Lodge No. 10

May 21, 2019

Jacksonville’s Warren Lodge No. 10 of the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, founded in 1855, was the first Masonic order south of Salem to construct a meeting hall. The original 1858 lodge building stood on the block now occupied by new City Hall (the historic County Courthouse), and for a number of years leased space to Jackson County for offices and courtroom before selling them the building. The current Masonic temple at the corner of California and Oregon streets was constructed between 1874 and 1877 by brick mason, George Holt. Completed in 1877, it’s the oldest temple structure in Oregon in continuous use as a Masonic meeting hall. The lodge had acquired the property after an 1874 fire at that corner destroyed the “almost unimaginable conglomeration of frame shops, sheds, and outbuildings”— “many of the ancient landmarks” of early Jacksonville—including the notorious El Dorado Saloon. The saloon had stood on that corner from as early as spring of 1852, attracting “gamblers, courtesans, sharpers of every kind, the class that struck prosperous mining camps like a blight.” [We should note that even after the El Dorado was destroyed, there were plenty of other saloons remaining!]

Jacksonville Train Depot #4


May 14, 2019

The Rogue River Valley Railway’s first engine—Engine No. 1—was put into service in May of 1891 to haul gravel, bricks, timber, crops, livestock, mail and passengers over the 5-mile, single track spur line that connected Jacksonville with Medford. Nicknamed Dinky, the Peanut Roaster, the Tea Kettle, and the Jacksonville Cannon Ball because of its small size, Engine No. 1 soon proved too underpowered to haul the heavier freight loads up the 3% grade from Medford and was relegated to passenger service, pulling a single Pullman car. In 1895, the little 12-ton Porter engine was sold. It changed hands a number of times over the years until it was badly burned in a logging camp fire. In 1946, Helen O’Connor spotted the abandoned engine in Cottage Grove, OR, and bought it for her husband Chadwell, a steam engine enthusiast, inventor, and a Sci-Tech award and Oscar recipient from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The couple had Engine No. 1 rebuilt from the original Porter blueprints. Over the next 6 decades, the little engine saw new life as a private plaything, a Cottage Grove tourist promotion, transportation for families wanting to cut their own Christmas trees, and a “prop” in commercials and motion pictures until Mel and Brooke Ashland arranged for its purchase and restoration in 2014. Engine No. 1 now sits on original track on the Bigham Knoll Campus at the end of East E Street in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Train Depot #3

May 7, 2019

According to “old timers,” this 5-mile spur not only served as a railroad; it also became a “school bus.” Dates are unclear—it may have been around 1903 when the 2nd Jacksonville school burned; or around 1906 when the 3rd Jacksonville school burned; or it may have been because the Medford schools offered curriculum not available in Jacksonville; or it may have been during World War 1. Pick your time frame! Regardless of the date, we know the spur railroad ran a block away from Medford’s Washington School, constructed in 1896 on the site of the current Jackson County Courthouse. Kids could ride the train for 5 cents. And naturally kids would be kids. They would periodically put lard and grease on the train rails, causing the train wheels to spin. The conductor soon realized he had to carry a bucket of sand. When the train rails spun, he would jump off and sand the track.

Jacksonville Train Depot #2

April 30, 2019

From 1893 to 1915, the Jacksonville-to-Medford 5-mile spur Rogue River Valley Railroad was a “family affair.” In 1893, William S. Barnum leased the railroad from the RRV Railway Company, running the trains with the help of his 2 sons. His 14-year-old younger son, John Barnum, became the youngest train conductor in the nation! In the 1890s, you might have seen John, resplendent in his uniform, standing at the Jacksonville train depot at the Corner of N. Oregon and “C” streets. In 1899, William Barnum bought the railroad for about $12,000. Nine years later he added a gasoline motor car and 3 freight cars. In 1915, the family sold the RRVRR to the Southern Oregon Traction Company for $125,000—part cash, part mortgage.

Jacksonville Train Depot #1

April 23, 2019

When the Oregon & California railroad bypassed Jacksonville in 1884 in favor of the flat valley floor, the town struggled to retain its role as the hub of Southern Oregon commerce, government, and social life. Residents funded a spur line to connect the city to the main railroad in Medford, and in May of 1891, the Rogue River Valley Railway’s small steam locomotive, Engine No. 1, pulled into the Jacksonville depot. The railroad survived until 1925, but after a year, the undersized engine was relegated to hauling a single pullman car, and in 1895 it was replaced by 20-ton Engine No. 2. However, the depot, also completed in 1891 still stands at the corner of N. Oregon and C streets, although it has been turned 180 degrees. You know it as the Jacksonville Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce. We’ll be sharing more RRVR history in the next few weeks.

Kubli House Shed

April 16, 2019

The dwelling at 145 W. Pine Street is probably the oldest structure in Jacksonville known to have been built and used as a shed. It was most likely constructed around 1875 after the Kaspar Kubli family purchased the property and the adjacent “Kubli House” in 1872. Photographs of Jacksonville do not include this portion of town until the early 1880s. The building clearly appears on an 1883 map of the town, and in the 1890s the original small rectangular structure is positively identified on Jacksonville maps as a “shed.” Sometime between 1898 and 1907 the “shed” was converted to a dwelling with a small rear addition and porch. The Kublis undoubtedly used it as a rental.

Kubli House

April 9, 2019

The 1 ½ story wood frame structure at 305 S. Oregon Street in Jacksonville was acquired by Kaspar Kubli in 1872. Although built 10 years earlier, it’s known as the Kubli House since the family occupied the home for 25 years. Kubli had immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1852, arriving in Jacksonville a year later. After mining for 2 winters, he found greater success packing supplies from Crescent City in partnership with fellow Swiss immigrants, Peter Britt and Viet Shutz. With his capital he acquired extensive land holdings in the Applegate where he engaged in farming and ranching. Moving back into Jacksonville in 1872, Kubli purchased a tinsmith and hardware business. Its success led to his erecting the 2-story brick commercial building on California Street which still bears the Kubli name. Kubli was also an active public and civic servant, twice elected Jackson County Treasurer, elected Grand Patriarch of the International Order of Odd Fellows grand lodge of Oregon, and involved in the Presbyterian Church management.

Beekman’s Bank

April 2, 2019

Cornelius C. Beekman erected his second bank building in 1863 at the corner of California and North 3rd streets in Jacksonville. Begun as a gold dust office in 1856, Beekman saw over $40 million in gold cross his counters during Jacksonville’s heyday in the 1800s—equivalent to over $1 billion in today’s currency! Beekman’s Bank is the oldest financial institution in the Pacific Northwest and remains furnished exactly as it was when Beekman closed and locked the doors for the last time in 1915. Explore the “Secrets & Mysteries of the Beekman Bank” during 45-minute candlelight tours beginning at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. on April 5 and 6. Admission, $5. Reservations required!

Orth Building #2

March 26, 2019

The 2-story Orth building, located at 150 S. Oregon Street in Jacksonville, was erected in 1872 by German born butcher, John Orth. Prior to the building’s construction, Orth’s butcher shop had occupied a wooden frame building on the same site, sharing the block with the Palmetto Bowling Saloon, the Beard House and Eagle Brewery (later the Old City Brewery), and “an old hospital building.” When Orth razed the older buildings to make way for his new edifice, the Democratic Times newspaper noted that the site had been “devoted to almost every purpose except printing a newspaper and serving God.” The Democratic Times rectified one omission, taking office space in Orth’s new brick building.

Table Rock Billiard Saloon #2

March 19, 2019

The building at 155-165 S. Oregon Street in Jacksonville that now houses Good Bean Coffee was built in 1860 by German immigrants Herman von Helms and John Wintjen, partners in the “Table Rock Bakery.” This Italianate brick structure replaced their earlier wood frame bakery that also provided space for a butcher shop, groceries, and supplies. Helms and Wintjen may have operated their bakery into the mid-1870s. As entrepreneurs, it’s quite likely they became saloonkeepers after the 1874 fire destroyed all the adjacent wooden buildings, including the notorious El Dorado saloon, a Jacksonville “institution” as early as 1852. The “Table Rock Billiard Saloon” sign was painted on the building in the early 1880s by which time Wintjen had retired. The saloon became an informal social and political headquarters, home to business deals, court decisions, and even trials. It was also Jacksonville’s first museum, “The Cabinet” – a collection of pioneer relics, fossils and oddities designed to attract a clientele that stayed for the saloon’s lager. Herman von Helms ran the saloon until his death in 1899. His son Ed operated it until his retirement in 1914.

Lilac House

March 12, 2019

The “Lilac House” at 401 N. Oregon Street just outside the Jacksonville city limits was constructed in 2005 based on the 1909 plans of brothers Greene & Greene, influential early 20th Century architects whose Craftsman “bungalows” are prime examples of the American Arts & Crafts movement. Equally notable, the house stands on the site of an earlier landmark, the J.N.T. Miller house. James Napper Tandy Miller had arrived in Jacksonville in 1854 and taken out a land claim adjoining James Clugage’s claim encompassing the town’s historic core. By 1855 Miller had constructed a 1 ½ story wood frame Classical Revival style home for his family. Miller became a well-known figure in State politics, rising to the rank of Colonel in the Indian wars, elected a State Representative in 1862, and elected State Senator in 1866. He chaired the county’s Democratic Central Committee and began publishing the town’s Democratic Times newspaper. Miller was also a farmer, grazing cattle, planting 10+ acres in orchards, and establishing one of the earliest and largest vineyards in the county known for “the superiority of its fruit” that produced several thousand gallons of wine annually.

Benjamin F. Dowell

March 5, 2019

The Italianate style home at 475 N. 5th Street was built for Benjamin Franklin Dowell, named for his grandmother’s uncle, Benjamin Franklin. Dowell served as prosecuting attorney for Oregon’s 1st Judicial District and as U.S. District Attorney. For 14 years he owned the Oregon Sentinel newspaper, the first newspaper in the Pacific Northwest to support the abolition of slavery and the first to nominate Ulysses S. Grant for president. The is one of the earliest Italianate style homes built in Oregon. Constructed in 1861, it may also have been the first home in Jacksonville to be built of brick. Most homes of the period had wood burning stoves for heat, but this distinctive home has 4 fireplaces—one of black onyx and 3 of marble. The marble probably came from Dowell’s own marble quarry on Williams Creek. That same marble was also used for the porch steps and all the window sills.

Martin Vrooman

February 26, 2019

The vernacular farmhouse at 675 E. California Street was built in 1878 for prominent local physician, Dr. Martin Vrooman. Born in New York in 1818, Vrooman apparently did have formal medical training since an Oregon Sentinel article described him as a “regular graduate” and not one of the “guessing school of physicians.” But like many others, Vrooman heard the call of gold and headed west. In 1850 he was mining in California on the Middle Fork of the American River. He apparently alternated between mining and medicine, pursuing one or both in California and the Nevada Territory. Vrooman settled on medicine, arriving in Jacksonville in the early 1870s where he opened a practice. At some point he married divorcee Christina Strang—one source says early 1870s; a marriage certificate in the SOHS archives gives the date as 1878, around the same time his house was constructed. (The latter date would have been cause for scandal since their son Francis was born in 1876!) By 1881 Vrooman had added a drug store, the Jacksonville Dispensary. But when the Oregon and California Railroad bypassed Jacksonville in 1883, Vrooman moved his practice and his drugstore to the new town of Medford and sold his Jacksonville home. Unfortunately, his son Francis died that same year, 1884, 1 day short of his 8th birthday. Vrooman himself died 7 months later in 1885 from “bronchial consumption,” i.e., tuberculosis.

Addison Helms

February 19, 2019

The original 1-story, wood-frame farmhouse portion of the home located at 380 North 4th was built around 1866 for Addison Helms, probably soon after his marriage to Ann Ross. Helms had acquired the northern half of the entire block from James Clugage, the original donation land claim owner of most of the Jacksonville townsite. Although Helms was a resident of Jacksonville for over 30 years, little is known about him. He and his wife had no children. He was twice elected Marshall of Jacksonville but does not appear to have been employed at any single occupation for an extended period of time. He is listed in the 1860 census as a “trader”; the 1870 census as a “horse jockey”; and the 1880 census as “unemployed.” At the time of his death in 1886, the Oregon Sentinel wrote: “A fortune passed through his hands since he came to Jacksonville but with unselfish generosity that was the ruling characteristic of his life, his only appreciation of fortune’s golden favors was measured by his unstinted liberality to all.”

Frederick Frick Farmhouse

February 12, 2019

The wood frame 1880s farmhouse at 820 North 5th Street that currently houses Pioneer Financial Planning was originally built for Peter N. Fick (known as “Nicholas”) and his wife Henrietta Richtor. Both were born in Germany, meeting and marrying in Jacksonville in 1875. Nicholas first worked as a butcher with John Orth before acquiring land in the “east end of town.” By 1910 he was raising grains and livestock on some 150 acres that extended to Shafer Lane and had constructed a large family home on the current site of Wine Country Inn. Nicholas died in 1913. Henrietta outlived him by 29 years and by 1922 had reduced the family’s active holdings to 40 acres, renting out the remainder. The Fick’s younger son, Peter J. Fick born in 1883, apparently managed the property, operating a small-scale dairy. Peter J. also served on the Jacksonville City Council for 14 years and captained the town’s Volunteer Fire Department. Over the years, most of the original Fick holdings were divided and sold by the family’s heirs, however, Peter J. and his wife Zola retained ownership of the existing 820 North 5th Street parcel until their deaths. The Nicholas Fick farmhouse was demolished in the late 1880s, but the office of the Wine Country Inn is supposedly a replica. The Peter and Zola Fick house remains the only original property associated with the Fick family farm.

Frederick Frick

February 5, 2019

Frederick “Fred” Fick, born in 1878, was the oldest son of Jacksonville’s German butcher Nicholas Fick. At age 19, Fred left home to go into the “building business” and by 1906 is listed in local directories as a “building contractor.” He participated in many Rogue Valley construction projects including the 1908 Jacksonville school, now Bigham Knoll. Around 1909 he built the Fick House at 810 South 3rd Street in Jacksonville. For 25 years he owned and operated a hardware store at 125 W. California Street, now home to the Jville Tavern. He also served on the City Council and various standing committees. In 1920 Fred was a member of the temporarily successful committee charged with keeping the Jackson County Courthouse in Jacksonville; in 1926 he spearheaded a tree planting project on the “Jacksonville Highway” (North 5th); and in 1928 he petitioned the County Court to establish a museum in the U.S. Hotel. But in 1935 Fred saw the “handwriting on the wall” and moved his hardware business to Medford where “Fick’s Hardware was for many years located on West Main Street.”


January 29, 2019

We’re lightening Jacksonville’s January gloom with the story of how Chautauqua came to town! Chautauqua was a highly popular adult education movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that brought speakers, teachers, musicians, showmen, and preachers to cities and rural communities. President Theodore Roosevelt described Chautauqua as “the most American thing in America.” In 1924 and 1925, an inspired Jacksonville City Council persuaded enough backers to secure a week of entertainment from the Ellison-White Chautauqua Company. Lacking a grand auditorium or park, Jacksonville’s first season was held in the high school gymnasium; the second in the U.S. Hotel ballroom. Season tickets sold for $2, enough to secure “wholesome college-type entertainers who presented genteel program material.” One of the highlights of the first season was the Rouse “All Sisters Quartet,” 4 saxophone-playing sisters from Iowa. Regrettably, both seasons ended in a deficit. Medford was campaigning to become the county seat, Jacksonville was becoming a backwater, and citizens had become more concerned with necessities than culture. But for a brief period, Jacksonville still enjoyed a touch of glamor.

Thomas Kenney House

January 22, 2019

Since we featured the Thomas Kenney House in Kenneth Gregg’s photo painting for our Miscellaneous Monday, we thought we would provide a little more background for History Trivia Tuesday. The house at 285 North 4th Street, one of Jacksonville’s few Queen Anne style homes, was built around 1898 by Thomas J. Kenney. Kenney’s father, Daniel M. Kenney, had opened the town’s first trading post in 1852, a tent structure at the corner of Oregon and California streets. His mother was Elizabeth T’Vault, daughter of lawyer, politician, and newspaper publisher William T’Vault. At age 8, Thomas began working as a “chore boy” in a livery stable, became an apprentice harness maker at age 10, and at 25 opened his own harness and saddle store. He subsequently sold insurance, invested in mines, accumulated considerable property, and conducted a hardware and grocery business becoming one of the town’s leading merchants. He served on the school board and city council, was active in various lodges, and was regarded as one of Jacksonville’s legendary patriarchs.

Community Center #2

January 15, 2019

We hope you have a chance to tour the new Jacksonville Community Center—a lovely, multi-purpose facility. However, the remodeled and expanded Sampson/Miller building is not the town’s first gathering place. Local fraternal buildings and breweries served that function for years after the town’s founding. Then in 1947 when Camp White buildings were being sold after World War II, the City and/or the Lions Club purchased some of their “surplus” and constructed a community center at the corner of C and North 4th streets to serve as a meeting and social gathering spot for adults and kids alike. Longtime residents recall it being the site of after-school activities, teen dance classes, and community Christmas gatherings. The Presbyterian Women prepared monthly suppers for the Jacksonville Lion’s Men’s Club. A 1953 Mail Tribune mentions the Hall as the site of the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department’s annual November ball. However, by the 1960s, the Community Center was becoming run down and the Saturday night dances had become rowdy. Mayor Jack Bates bought the community center and the adjacent P.J. Ryan building and began restoration work on the latter—part of Jacksonville’s revival after becoming the first West Coast district on the National Historic Landmark registry. By 1968, Bates tore the old community center down to serve as a parking lot for his new Jacksonville Inn. Jacksonville’s original community center was a “thing of the past” by the time Jerry Evans purchased the Jacksonville Inn that we know…..

Community Center #1

January 8, 2019

After nearly 20 years of planning and contributions from 100s of people, Jacksonville’s new community center at the corner of Main and South 4th streets will celebrate its public Grand Opening this Saturday, January 12, from 4 to 7pm. Now officially the Jacksonville Community Center, the 1946 Sampson/Miller building that has housed the “Senior Center” and community activities since 1998 retains a piece of Jacksonville history in the remodeled and expanded structure. The property was originally part of “Gunsmith” Miller’s estate. The building at the other end of the block that formerly housed Jacksonville’s administrative offices is the bottom story of what was Miller’s elegant 3-story Queen Anne-style home built in the 1880s. The Sampson/Miller property was the site of Miller’s stable, shed, and orchard. A 1944 fire destroyed the top 2 floors of the Miller home. With post-war housing at a premium, in 1946 the Sampson/Miller property was sold to Jaftel L. Potter who built the original modest structure at the core of the new center. The property passed through multiple owners over the years, eventually winding up in the hands of Robert and Martha Sampson in 1994. In 1998 they sold it to the City of Jacksonville, and the rest is history—or at least “known history” in this case—and the building will continue to make history as it serves as a gathering place for people of all ages for years to come.

New Year’s Celebrations

January 1, 2019

Historic Jacksonville began wondering how the Victorians celebrated New Year’s. While we didn’t find any specific Jacksonville information, we did learn that New Year’s traditions changed significantly over the course of the 19th Century. Before Christmas made a holiday “comeback” (many thanks to Moores’ “T’was the Night Before Christmas” and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”), New Years was the primary gift-giving day. A favorite gift was an orange stuck with cloves, floated in the “wassail” bowl—i.e., a serving of spiked wine punch. In New York and some cities, it became a “Sadie Hawkins Day” when gentlemen were responsible for making social calls on the ladies rather than calling normally being the ladies’ role. Before long, the men apparently made it a competition to see how many visits to ladies they could rack up. (Of course, they were typically rewarded with sherry or eggnog at each stop.) Toward the end of the 1800s and continuing into the 1930s, the President even held a New Year’s Day reception at the White House—first receiving diplomats and government officials and then throwing the doors open to the general public, “who for the space of two hours paid their respects to the Chief Magistrate of the Nation.”

Pine Street Snow Sledding

December 25, 2018

We’ll wish you a Merry Christmas and some very happy holidays with this photo from the late 1800s of sledding on Jacksonville’s Britt Hill. The vantage point is the corner of Pine and South Oregon streets. Herman von Helms house is on the left corner with stables and a shed behind it, and Peter Britt’s house can be seen at the top of the hill on 1st Street.

Improved Order of Red Men

December 18, 2018

The Improved Order of Red Men was a popular fraternal society claiming descent from the instigators of the Boston Tea Party. Jacksonville boasted three tribes—the English-speaking Pocahontas Tribe No. 1, the German-speaking Stamm No. 148, and the Haymakers Association. In 1884, the societies jointly contracted with brick mason George Holt for the construction of Red Men’s Hall at the southwest corner of California and 3rd streets on the site of the former New State Billiard and Drinking Saloon. Sadly, the Red Men were unable to pay off their construction debt and relinquished title in 1891.

Matthew G. Kennedy #2

December 11, 2018

Constructed around 1855, the Matthew G. Kennedy house on North 3rd Street is the oldest Jacksonville residence still standing. One of the Valley’s earliest pioneers, Kennedy had been appointed town constable in early 1853 at the ripe old age of 23 and became the first elected Sheriff of Jackson County later that year. Kennedy also invested in Jacksonville real estate. He was the first Jacksonville settler to record his claim to a 100-foot frontage on the north side of California Street. Around 1854, he constructed 1 or 2 wood frame buildings that housed an “assemblage of shops” known as “Kennedy’s Row.” That site now houses The Pot Rack, The Blue Door Garden Store, Farmhouse Treasures, and the historic Beekman Bank Museum. But Kennedy also had a bit of the wanderlust. In 1857 he left Jacksonville to build a hotel called the Metropolitan House Hotel in Yreka, and by 1863, he had moved on to San Francisco.

Emil Britt

December 4, 2018

Michael Hafner shared this photo with Historic Jacksonville. He found it in an antique store and posted it on Forgotten Oregon. He thought the tree seemed very familiar. It should. It’s a photo of Emil Britt, the son of famed Jacksonville photographer and horticulturist, Peter Britt. Peter Britt himself may have taken the photo in the early 1900s. Emil is standing next to the Giant Sequoia his father planted in 1862 in honor of his birth. This majestic 200+ foot-tall tree, an official Oregon Heritage Tree, can still be found in the Peter Britt Gardens at the start of the Jacksonville Woodlands’ Sarah Zigler Trail.

Old City Hall #3

November 27, 2018

Jacksonville’s 1880 Old City Hall is the oldest government building in Oregon to remain in continuous use. It stands at the intersection of S. Oregon and Main streets, the heart of Jacksonville’s original business district, on the site of the 1st brick building in town–the 1854 Maury & Davis Dry Goods store. Reuben Maury and Benjamin Davis had run a very successful general merchandise building at this location until 1861. Their partnership ended with the outbreak of the Civil War when Maury became an officer in the Union Army; Davis, a nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was claimed by family ties. Various enterprises occupied the original building until a fire in October 1874 gutted the interior. The burnt-out building sat empty until the Jacksonville’s Board of Trustees purchased the site for a town hall. Bricks from the original store were recycled into the current building’s construction. Completed in 1881, Jacksonville’s Old City Hall still hosts City Council meetings, City commissions and committees, municipal court, various community organizations, and monthly movie nights.


John Hockenjos

November 20, 2018

In the spring of 1878, John Hockenjos purchased the 100’ x 100’ northeast corner property fronting 5th Street between D and E streets in Jacksonville. By fall, the Oregon Sentinel announced Hockenjos’s intention to build “a number of new residences on the vacant lot back of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he will offer for rent.” Hockenjos, a native of Baden, Germany, was a carpenter by training. He had arrived in Jacksonville by the late 1860s and for roughly 25 years was one of the town’s most active builders. He is reported to have made repairs to the early wood frame Jackson County Courthouse and the County Clerk’s office, to have built the Sexton’s Toolhouse in Jacksonville’s Pioneer Cemetery, to have erected the Methodist Episcopal parsonage, and to have constructed and rented homes throughout town. Although Hockenjos built the house at 345 North 5th Street as a rental, the family also occupied it for some period of time. Hockenjos died in 1894, but his wife Eva retained ownership of this house until 1915.

St. Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church #3

November 13, 2018

St. Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, now located at the corner of North 5th and D streets, was completed in 1854—the first church built in Jacksonville, the first church built in southwestern Oregon, and the oldest wood frame structure in town. At some point a parsonage was also constructed on California Street, just east of what became the site of the historic Presbyterian Church. As the Presbyterian Church neared completion in 1881, the Methodist Episcopal Trustees chose to sell the old parsonage and purchase the house at 325 North 5th, newly completed by local builder John Hockenjos. Hockenjos had purchased the entire northeast corner of the block in 1878 with the intention of constructing rental houses. What is now known as the Methodist Episcopal Parsonage may have been briefly rented before the Church Trustees purchased it in April 1881. The parsonage remained in the ownership of the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1921 when it was taken over by the county for back taxes. Sometime before the Church relinquished its title, a 1-story addition with a separate entrance was constructed—perhaps for parishioners visiting the Methodist minister at his home. The building is now a private residence.

James Cronemiller #2

November 6, 2018

James Cronemiller spent most of his life in Jacksonville, having moved here with his parents in 1864 when he was less than a year old. He followed in his father David’s footsteps as a blacksmith and then became a successful local merchant until he felt called to public service. Described as “honest, honorable, and upright,” he was named Deputy Sheriff by 1900. When Jackson County Treasurer Max Muller died in 1902, Cronemiller was appointed as his replacement and then elected to 4 terms of his own. He subsequently became Deputy County Assessor and also served as Jacksonville City Treasurer for over 20 years. Cronemiller was also active in lodge work serving s treasurer of Jacksonville’s Odd Fellows lodge for 13 years, secretary of the Warren Masonic Lodge for 14 years, and scribe of the Royal Arch lodge for 19 years. In 1908, when St. Mary’s Academy relocated to Medford, Cronemiller purchased the former school house for his residence. Located at what is now Beekman Square on E. California Street, his residence became part of Jacksonville’s pioneer “Millionaire’s Row.” Cronemiller died in 1923, “loved and respected by all.” The house burned in the 1930s.

James Cronemiller #1

October 30, 2018

James Cronemiller was born in 1863 a year before his father, blacksmith David Cronemiler, moved the family to Jacksonville. James initially followed in his father footsteps, working in the family smithy at the northeast corner of California and 3rd streets. An ambitious young man, James soon went out on his own. In partnership with George Love, he operated Cronemiller & Love from at least 1896 to 1899, offering dry goods and groceries. It was one of the many businesses that occupied the 1872 Orth Building on South Oregon Street. In this historic photo, you can see John Orth on the far left, James Cronemiller (3rd man from the left), and George Love (2nd man from the right). More on James next week as he becomes a notable public servant.