Virtual Walk Through History

Stop 4: St. Andrew’s Church

 

The Methodist Episcopal church building at 305 North Fifth Street, now St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, is one of a handful of churches claiming the title of “Oldest Protestant Church West of the Rockies.” It certainly was the first church built in Southern Oregon and is the oldest church building in Oregon in active use for church services.1 It is also the oldest original wooden building in Jacksonville.

When Jacksonville was being settled, the spring of 1853 saw a large religious element arrive in Southern Oregon. A section of this immigration came to be called the “Preachers Train” because of the large number of ministers it contained. Part of this train included the Reverend Joseph Smith, who became the first minister at St. Andrew’s. Under his leadership, construction began, but was not finished until 1854, with Reverend Fletcher Royal as the pastor and guiding force.2

1871 Reverend Thomas Fletcher Royal and family. Front row, left to right: Mary Ann (Stanley), Carrie C., Thomas Fletcher, Miller Gould, and Aeolia F. Back row: Forrester S., William Watson Ebey, Stanley D., and Anna Tema.
Photo Credit: OHS Reference Code ba001077

Jacksonville in the mid-1850s.   In the foreground are cabins in what became in the Chinese section of town. The “new” Methodist church sits before a temporary tentlike structure. Photo Credit: Peter Britt, SOHS #2980. Engeman, Richard H. The Jacksonville Story. Southern Oregon Historical Society, 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Saint_Andrew%27s_Church_(Jacksonville,_Oregon)#/media/File:Jacksonville,_Oregon_-_Methodist_Episcopal_Church_01.jpg

 

One story goes that Rev. Royal collected donations for the church from gold miners and gamblers, and when questioned about his willingness to use gambling proceeds, the Reverend replied “Oh, yes. And we would put it to a better use.” Still another story goes that Mrs. Royal and a Mrs. Overbeck raised seed money for construction by convincing miners at a local gambling parlor to place one night’s winnings into a hat. Church sources say it was Rev. Royal who passed the hat and the two women solicited donations at area gold camps.3

An excellent and thorough profile of Reverend Royal by Carolyn Kingsnorth can be found in the October 2019 issue of the Jacksonville Review, at http://jacksonvillereview.com/thomas-fletcher-royal-minister-and-educator-by-carolyn-kingsnorth/.  

Regardless of where the money for the church came from, the building was completed in 1854, with the lot donated by Jacksonville co-founder James Cluggage. The church was officially dedicated on New Year’s Day, 1855.

When constructed, the church faced North 4th Street, but when the new Jackson County Courthouse was constructed in 1883 and 5th Street became the main route to Medford, the church fathers turned the whole building around and moved it from the opposite end of the lot.

During its lifetime, St. Andrews has served as a community gathering place and housed the Presbyterian and Baptist congregations as well as the Methodists and now Anglicans. Prior to the construction of the county’s first courthouse in 1859, it was also the site of county court proceedings for at least the 1856 term.

Before we leave this stop, we would note that along the north side of the building is “The Old Rose Garden,” said to contain only varieties of roses that originated before 1867. The garden contains one headstone – a marker for Rector Paul Habliston and his wife Katherine. Rev. Habliston’s cremated remains where buried here with permission from the City of Jacksonville following his death in 1991. His wife’s remains were buried here in 1993.4

Our next stop: St Joseph’s Catholic Church and Rectory, and the story of the priest who in the 1850s managed to travel to nearly every town, hamlet, and community in Oregon to spread the word and raise money for churches, including our own St. Joseph’s. Be sure to join us next week!

 


1   https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2477150/saint-andrew%27s-anglican-church-rose-garden

2   Habliston, Paul. “A History of St. Andrew’s Traditional Episcopal Church.” http://www.standrewsanglican.org/history.html

3   https://www.ijpr.org/show/as-it-was/2015-02-25/two-women-promote-church-for-rowdy-jacksonville, citing Hanley, Alice. “Reminiscences of Early Days in Oregon.” Southern Oregon Digital Archives. Southern Oregon University, n.d. SODA. Web. 22 Jan. 2015; Habliston, Paul. “A History of St. Andrew’s Traditional Episcopal Church.” St. Andrew’s. St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2015. 

4    https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2477150/saint-andrew%27s-anglican-church-rose-garden

 


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