View of Rogue Valley from Wagner Butte

Diaries in Jackson County, OR : A Bibliography

Diaries and Memoirs of Jackson County: 
a Bibliography by Jan Wright 
Anderson, Charles T. (1857-1912) SOHS 
An 1882-1886 Diary of Charles T. Anderson, a Foots Creek Placer Miner. 

Anderson, Elizabeth Myer (1831-1921) SOHS 
    This diary written in the 1860s on the Anderson Donation Land Claim near Talent appears to be a note taking venture, is hard to read, and poorly written. It adds weight to the theory that frontier education was deplorable. 

Beeson, Ellis (1903 - 1989 ) JW 
     From September 1970 – April 1987 Ellis Beeson kept a daily diary. He began writing when his wife Carmen got sick and kept going to make a record of her care and treatment for the years before her death.  He measured her health by how well she puckered up to kiss him each day. Photo albums accompany the words to make this even more real. This record is especially revealing about the ups and downs of old age, drinking at the Talley- Ho, friendships, and looking back. No transcriptions have been made of these spiral notebooks. 

Beeson, Welborn (1836-1893) THS/UO 
    My favorite. The diary began when Welborn was a teenager living in Illinois in 1851 and ended just before his death on Wagner Creek in 1893. The Beeson family, John and Ann Beeson and their son, Welborn, came to Oregon in 1853 and settled on Wagner Creek near what is now Talent, Oregon. His diary is (and should be) regularly consulted as a cultural and historical resource. 
    The early diaries (1851–1856 & 1856-1859 ) were transcribed and given to the public libraries in manuscript form and can be checked out. The remaining years 1860-1893 have been transcribed by THS from the microfilmed originals and can be seen at the Talent museum.  University of Oregon, Special Collections has the originals. Plans to publish the entire diary are in the works. Volunteer proofreaders are needed to complete the project. 

Black, Mary Louisa  (1835- 1911) JCLS/The Oregon & Overland Trail Diary 
of Mary Louisa Black in 1865. by Bert Webber 
    John and Mary Louisa Black came from Missouri to Oregon in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. Mary's crossing-the-plains journal mentions a man named “Wat” who was believed to be one of their freed slaves. Family tradition states emphatically that Mary taught not only her own children to read and write but she taught her slaves and claimed that she treated them “as human beings”.  How slavery itself falls into the category of being treated as human is another question.

Briner, James W. (1855-1930) JW; originals; 1901, 1903- 1924; 
    James Briner was known as a hard-drinking prospector and ditch walker. He mined for gold, cinnabar, and whatever else he could find and did odd jobs in Klamath Falls, Coles Station, and Talent. The pre-printed day books are brief but very revealing of the underbelly of society. Jim was no saint and never made it on the list of founding fathers but he was well-loved and known for his independent character. His diaries were preserved and came to light in the Spring of 2009. They are in the process of being transcribed and will be posted on the wrightarchives blog when completed. 

Britt, Peter (1819-1905)  SOHS
   All the diaries are written in a Swiss/German dialect but if that gets deciphered - it could be extremely interesting. Peter Britt was a pioneer photographer and it is assumed that the people who came to get their pictures taken were noted in his diaries. 

Brown, Rev. George H. (1830-1867) 
    George Brown married Lizzie Anderson in 1858. She had been his student at the Umpqua Academy near what is now Roseburg. In 1862 he traveled with a group of men, including his brother-in-law, Firman Anderson to the Powder River country to try his luck at gold mining. During his trip he wrote daily letters to Lizzie that were preserved into a type of journal. The letters are an exercise in Oregon geography and interesting in its detail about the mining culture and the couple's relationship. 

Butler, America Rollins (1826-1910)  OHQ Vol XLI No.4  
    Written in 1852-1853 by Mrs. America Butler, this diary begins with an Oregon Trail story. But Mrs. Butler didn't stop writing after she landed in Yreka, CA and nearly starved in the winter of 1852. Lucky for us she kept on writing in 1853 when she and her husband lived along Bear Creek near Fort Lane where the Indians wars were underway. Her daily observations of the conflicts with the Indians are authentic, first-hand accounts well worth reading. 
     Mrs. Butler complained of the dreaded washing day and attended every party she could. One such party in Jacksonville she called a “grand dedication ball” and an “assemblage of beauty and soft nothings”. I consider this the best of the women's diaries. 

Carter, Frank H. (1849-1920) SOHS/typescript 
    The diary starts when Frank was married in 1874 and goes through 1920 when he died. The first years were in Elkader, IA but the family moved to Ashland, OR (by way of Mexico) in 1885 were Frank became president of one of Ashland's first banks. He and his family lived in Ashland on Mountain Ave in a place that is still standing today. The well-to-do Carter family had a big impact on the economic development of Ashland that's why it was surprising to me that the diary lacked business details. Frank wrote more about birthdays, camping and fishing trips, and pleasures than about the world of finance.

Constant, Isaac (1809 -1890)
    Written by Isaac's daughter, Lavinia, this account was recorded from memory long after the events took place. When there is no diary or daily record, this type of secondary document represents a springboard to further research. The Constant family settled in Central Point and played a big part in the development of that area. 

Crook, George (1828-1890) 
    Yes, this is the man who became General George Crook of Civil War fame. He was stationed at Fort Lane (briefly ) on two different occasions during the Indian Wars in the 1850s. He wrote a rough autobiography that wasn't even discovered or published until more than 50 years after his death. He helped round up the Indians and remove them from the Rogue Valley to Northern Oregon. 

Cummings, Charles (1839- 1911) THS/UO 
    The diary begins September 19th 1859, the day Charles arrived in the Rogue Valley and landed on the doorstep of his childhood friend, Welborn Beeson. While in Oregon he worked as a hired hand and miner and associated with the Coleman, Anderson, and Stearns families. He apparently left his1859-1860 journal with the Beeson family as it was included in the Welborn Beeson diary collection at the U of O library. Charles moved on to other mining areas in Oregon and Idaho and eventually settled in Iowa. 

Daley, Alice Catherine Simon (1865-1951) JW 
    This 1903 diary was written in Eagle Point, Oregon and reveals every day concerns and activities from a woman's perspective. Alice did a lot of sewing, washing, and ironing and had time to write about it in her journal. She attended many dances in Eagle Point and surrounding communities and enjoyed visitors and a bit of neighborhood gossip. Transcribed by Jan Wright from the originals, it is  posted on:  

Deady, Matthew Paul (1824-1893) JCLS/Pharisee Among the Philistines: The Diary of Judge Matthew Deady 1871-1892. Ed by Malcolm Clark. 
     Matthew Deady spent some time in Jackson County in the early pioneer period but lived most of his life in Portland as a lawyer and a judge. This diary was published with the above title and is available from the public library. He has a few things to say about the early political climate of Jackson County before statehood and during the Civil War. He was an influential Democrat in Oregon and supported both slavery and anti-Chinese legislation. In this diary he mentions an 1884 trip to Jackson county and recalls the old days when he lived there. 

    Mr. Dean came to Wagner Creek in the 1880s and fit right in with it's free thinking attitudes. He married Ursula Goddard Robison, widow of Robert Robison, and moved in to a house that is still standing on Wagner Creek Road. His house became a center of spiritualistic activity and his descriptions of the seances or “circles” held there are very unique. The populist opinions expressed in the diary were reflective of the times and place in which he lived. This thoughtful diary covers the years 1912-1918 and is one of the few diaries that goes beyond recording daily events and reveals the thoughts and feelings of the man who wrote it.  Ben Truwe has transcribed it and made it easily accessible on the internet. 

Dunn, Mary Hill  (1836-1933) JCLS/Undaunted Pioneers 
Gillette, Martha Louise Hill (1833-1920) JCLS/Overland to Oregon and in 
the Indian Wars of 1853 
Russell, Ann Haseltine Hill (1838-1930) 
    The three women above were sisters. Each of them wrote a version of their story and are posted on the websites as noted. This was a lively family, very southern, very opinionated. It is rare to find accounts from different siblings from the same family, sisters, Mary, Martha and Haseltine all thought their experiences were important enough to write them down.  Their cousin, Isham Keith, from Yreka was one of those killed during the Indian Wars. A cemetery where their cousin and several Indian War veterans were buried still stands on their father's old homestead near Emigrant Lake outside of Ashland. 

    Sabra was a teenager when she came from Missouri to Oregon in 1864.  She wrote the above document about 1915 as a memoir of her family's trip through Salt Lake City, Susanville, and the Siskiyou mountains to Southern Oregon.  They had planned to go to California but some from their wagon train had acquaintances in the Rogue Valley who persuaded them to try for Oregon. Sabra became Mrs. Hubbard Coleman one of her sons became a county judge. 

Gribble, John SOHS 
    These diaries are official U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service field notes made by John Gribble from 1907- 1927. He also kept personal records in these volumes which include hand- drawn maps, land surveys, forest fires, range disputes, cabin sites, flora and fauna on Forest Service land. The handwriting is easy to read and should definitely be transcribed so that it becomes more searchable. Gribble also took many photographs (like the above) which are referred to in his diaries. 

Griffin, John B. (1853-1939)
    If you like hunting stories, Griffin is your man. Griffin was the Nimrod of the valley. He worked his dogs and guns to bring down all sorts of critters and was very proud of his conquests. His stories appeared in newspaper accounts. 

Haight, Fred Alton (1877-1966)
      Fred had a music studio in Medford when he wrote this 1918 diary. He was  not powerfully self-confident but full of human frailties and set backs. He taught music at Jacksonville and Talent schools and gave private lessons. This diary is an interesting psychological study with glimpses of the valley culture and one of the few that I know of that forthrightly mentions sexual desires.  

    There are two different diaries by Abel Helman. The first one from the above link is titled Diary of Abel Helman's Journey from Oregon Territory to Ohio in 1858 and is an interesting reversal a crossing the plains story. The other is posted on the Helman family website as follows: 

Hillman, John Wesley (1832- 1915)
Reminiscences of a Famous Forty-Niner and the Discoverer of Crater Lake 
     Hillman tells a rich story about gold mining in California and taking various jobs in San Francisco and Yreka before coming to Oregon. He claimed the title of being the first white man to see the natural wonder of Crater Lake. He thoroughly enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame and it is not surprising that he documented his life to keep his accomplishments before the public.

Hockersmith, Martha Jane Gale (1826 - 1903)  1853 Crossing the plains diary is mentioned in a June 20th 1954 Medford Mail Tribune article - not sure where the original is. She was the wife of Jackson Hockersmith 

Hodges, Millie Pearl (1892-1964) SOHS /diaries 1910-1916, 1918 & 1920. 
     This is good diary that hasn't been fully tapped. It includes a record of events before and after she was married to Lee Walker in 1916. The heart ache of losing an unborn child and the uncertainty of having her husband serve in the first World War are a part of the diary.  

Hoffman, William (1801-1885) SOU/RVGS 
    The original diary was found in the personal effects of Irving Vining, Hoffman's grandson. A transcript done by Arthur S. Taylor and William N. McKinney can be found at SOU Hannon Library.  This is another crossing the plains diary written in 1853 on the “Preacher Train” who prided themselves in pausing from travel on Sunday when the other more wicked trains kept going. Hoffman was very observant about the landscape and trail duties but barely mentioned his wife and daughters on the 6 months journey. When he got to Oregon, he obtained a donation land claim but farming was not his forte. Luckily he gave up the farm and became a prosperous business man in Jacksonville. His 5 daughters all married well which gave him an honored place in Jacksonville society. 
     Another Hoffman diary written in 1873 can be studied at Rogue Valley Genealogical Society. The original is in the family and was transcribed by Marty Mingus. It documents a trip to Fort Klamath at the end of the Modoc War before Captain Jack and 3 other Indian men were hung. 

Jacobs, Orange (1827-1914   ) JCLS/Memoirs of Orange Jacobs  
     Orange Jacobs was well known in Gasburg,Oregon [Now Phoenix] where he lived during early settlement days and where he married the Tavern keeper's daughter. Orange practiced law and was involved in politics. His keen observations about political intrigue take us back to an earlier time. He left the valley and moved to Seattle where he became a Chief Justice of the  State Supreme Court and in 1880 was elected Mayor.  

Kahler, William (1816- 1895) OHS typescript 
    The author either quit writing after a few months of being on the plains on his way to Oregon in 1852 or parts of the diary are missing. Kahlers made Oregon their home and lived on a land claim close to Fort Lane in Jackson County. William's daughter (listed below) also kept a diary. He was buried in the Jacksonville Cemetery. 

Kahler, Rachel (1847-1895)  Private Collection-Robert Casebeer
    Rachel “Madie” Kahler 's diary and love letters are included in 3 volumes put together by a family member. This is a deeply personal and perplexing diary. It has feminist leanings because she insisted that marriage would end in unhappiness and that it benefited men more than women. Married women, including her own mother repeatedly told her that if she wanted to be happy she should never marry. It lacks obvious historical details but makes up for it in cultural and social issues. Much of it (after the first volume) was written in the hither-lands of Oregon outside of Jackson County. 

Klum, Charles K. (1830- 1911) SOHS 
     This is really only a fragment of a diary. It was written in 1862  while Charley Klum was on a trip from the Willamette Valley to the Rogue Valley. If you are looking for mile posts along the way, this may be one you will want to look through. 

Lindsay, William THS 
     Written while crossing the Atlantic by ship in 1873, this unusual little diary never mentions Jackson County but is included in this list because William's children and the little pocket diary ended up in Ashland. William was careful to make a notation in the first pages of his diary of the dimensions of the baby's cradle and other furniture that the family left behind in Scotland. 

Linn, Fletcher (1866-1953) 1889 Crater Lake Trip
    Used on a Crater Lake website, this diary includes some notable Jacksonville people who took a pleasure trip to see the most treasured landscape in our region. Miss Carrie Beekman, Fletcher's cousin, came along and set down strict Sabbath day observances and other rules for the assemblage to follow.  The original diary is at the Oregon Historical Society and typescript copy at the Southern Oregon Historical Society. 

McFall, George (1829-1908) RR/transcript  1851-1854 
    George came to Oregon in 1851. Instead of the usual account of crossing the plains this dairy starts after he got to Oregon. He got a job working for a surveyor and participated in the first surveys of  Oregon (including Jackson County) when it was still a territory. The diary is brief but loaded with juicy details in 1854 especially if read in conjunction with the surveyor's field notes at the Jackson County Surveyor's Office.   

Mattox, Levi Harper SOHS VF  

Myer, Nathaniel (1786-1870) OHQ/Journey into southern Oregon: Diary of a Pennsylvania Dutchman.  V. 60 
    Nathaniel Myer was an old man when he crossed the plains with his family. He knew he was participating in history and wanted to record the experience. His 1853 diary has been published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly and includes a detailed account of the murder of his son-in-law, Fruit Walker, by one of the hired hands who traveled with the family. The Myers obtained adjoining land claims north of Ashland in what is now called the Valley View district. 

Mickey, John Murray (1834-1924) SOU 
     John roamed around looking for gold and eventually came through Jacksonville, Oregon in the mid-1850s to do a little mining with his uncle. Murray stayed for about 3 years and had quite an mining operation on the Rogue River. This is a study in hope, engineering, and environmental damage. 

Oatman, Olive (1837-1903) The Blue Tatoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin 
    Nationally famous Olive Oatman, is included on this list because of her brief stay in the Rogue Valley with cousins who lived here. She was captured  in 1851 by Indians in the southwest while most of her other family members were killed. She reentered white society after 4 years of living with Native peoples and bore the tattoo marks on her chin for the rest of her life. She came to the Rogue Valley after her captivity and even taught some of the white women how to swim – Indian style. 

O'Flyng, Enos (1840-1930) Private Collection of Robert Casebeer 
    This is the man that Rachel Kahler (described above) married. His diaries and letters from 1862 are combined in the same volumes with hers.  Without his efforts to save all their correspondence and memories these probably would not have been preserved.  He and his wife both taught school until they married, then Enos got down to business and tried to make a living by ranching in Central Oregon. They were pioneers in their own right but eventually moved to Salem to avoid the isolation of homesteading.  
Oglesby, Roscoe C. (1833-1897) SOHS 
    Rev. Oglesby jotted down some of his thoughts and experiences as a minister to the people of the Rogue Valley. The Oglesby manuscript collection is more than a brief diary – it contains vital records for the family, a beautifully hand-painted marriage certificate and a few miscellaneous papers. 

Ord, Edward  (1818-1883) 
     Many military men cut their teeth fighting Indians in Oregon before they did battle in the Civil War. Captain Edward Ord was one of those who was assigned to keep Indians along the Rogue River under control. Part of the diary is posted on-line by the Curry County Historical Society. A Google search for the rest of the diary is in order. 

Ough, Alice Rockfellew Meacham Foster (1849-1935)        
     The Story of My Life written as a reminiscence that includes time spent in southern Oregon. Alice's father operated a toll road through the Siskiyou Mountains and Alice attended school on Wagner Creek in the 1850s. The family moved to Walla Walla but several of their relatives remained in southern Oregon. 

Peterson, Martin (1820-1889) SOHS / typescript 
     This 1877 diary is set in the Eagle Point area, thus giving a glimpse of that section of Jackson County. As a preacher, Martin visited other towns in the valley.

Peyton, Reuben (1856-) Private Collection. 
     I have only heard about this diary. Peyton came here in 1887 after traveling with a “wild west” Bigelow's Indian Medicine Show. The buckskin jacket he wore during the show is now in storage at SOHS. He lived on the upper Rogue and compiled what the family calls his “Journal” from his daily diaries. Evidently the diaries were burned in a house fire so it was fortunate that they had been compiled, transcribed, and distributed to various family members. 

Reinhart, Herman Francis (1833-) JCLS/The Golden Frontier: Recollections of Herman Francis Reinhart 1851-1869 
    The book is too detailed to be based on memory alone. There must have been a diary to feed the story line. Though Reinhart didn't spend as much time in Jackson County as the other diarists, it is full of historical details including crimes, vigilante justice, brawls, drinking, gambling – all the good stuff associated with mining towns. 

Robison, John (1799-1870) THS 
    Robison wrote this diary in 1851 through the Spring of 1853 in Linn County, Iowa. At that time, Robison was preparing to come to Oregon. It appears that there are missing sections of this diary before and after the transcribed segment. Though this diary was not written in Jackson County, it does uncover what preparations were made in order to come to Oregon.  To read the diary on line see 

Royal, James Basham (1829-)  SOHS 
    When James got word of his appointment for Umpqua Academy in 1854, he started his diary.  The Academy was an important educational institution for southern Oregonians. Several Jackson County residents obtained their education there. This diary provides good details about school curriculum. 

Royal, Mary Ann  SOHS 
    Not a diary but so special I wanted to include on this list. Mary Ann was a teacher and perhaps in that capacity she collected native plants. She put together a herbal scrapbook with pressed flowers and other plant samples collected in a notebook. It's easy to see the value of this fragile collection for those interested in what plants have survived landscape changes. 

Royal, Thomas Fletcher (1821-1911)  SOHS 
    Royal came to Oregon in 1853 and took an appointment as a Methodist minister. One of the most informative passages highlights Royal's visit to a mining town in the 1850s. He condemned the bad habits of the miners near Jacksonville but willingly took their money for donations towards building a church. 

Royal, William (1796-1870)   SOHS 
     This volume was started in 1832 by William Royal and because he only used a few of the pages, the blank pages in the back were filled up by William and his son,T. F. Royal at a later date. Of interest in this diary is a discussion that went on for some time about whether the preacher train stuck to their intended Sabbath day observances while they were crossing the plains. What might seem trivial to us now, was hotly debated in their time.  William wrote about the hurt feelings and the disputes that occurred in his diary. 

Stearns, Orson Avery (1843-1926) 
    Though Orson's Reminiscences were written down years after the actual events he describes, he was a lively story teller. His classic description of his first dance at the Samuel Colver house in Phoenix, Oregon and his school days in he old Eden School along Bear Creek are classic. His writings make early Gasburg (now Phoenix) come alive with timeless human emotions. He also wrote a life sketch of  Samuel Colver included in this volume. 

Steckel, Sam J. (1833-   ) SOHS  
    Sam operated a sawmill and a farm on West Evans Creek  and wrote a diary  from 1882-1883. 

Stewart, Joseph H. (1833-1906) Private Collection 
    This diary I have only heard about. A descendant of J. H. Stewart owns a diary written by him which may give us good details about the good business practices that brought the Stewart orchards (now the Eden Valley Orchards or the Voorhies winery) great prosperity.  Stewart was a hands-on visionary. He showed the tired old pioneer generation what the land they toiled on was worth and inspired them up to do more with it in the railroad era. Sometimes it takes an outsiders to show you what you have. 

Swedenberg, Dr.  Francis G.    SOU Archives 
    This collection was donated to Southern Oregon University in 2007 by Dr. Swedenburg's family. There are two boxes in the collection. The collection consists of 34 journals spanning 1890-1937, a doctor’s call book, a record book, and twelve family photographs, clippings, financial documents and other miscellanea. Francis Swedenburg was one of the many Swedish immigrants to settle in Oregon. He arrived with his family as a youth. He attended the University of Minnesota and graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago. He began his medical career in March 1907 at the Ashland Sanitarium, joining the founder of the sanitarium, Dr. Joseph Herndon. He became a prominent member of his field and began to search for his own local hospital. In October of 1907 he secured an office on Main Street, which was later moved to Second Street. In 1912 Swedenburg became associated with Southern Oregon University as his hospital began contributing to nurses training. According to Swedenburg's record book kept from 1911 to 1913, "several surgeries were executed weekly including appendectomies, tonsillectomies and surgeries for ovarian cysts, carcinomas, abscesses and broken bones." In 1921, Swedenburg’s friend Jesse Winburn retired in Ashland and the two purchased the Granite City Hospital and gave it to the city.

Sweitzer, Jacob Bowman SOHS Memoirs  
     A soldier who served at Fort Lane during the Indian wars in the 1850s wrote first-hand accounts from his perspective which often differed from the settlers, the volunteers, and the Indians. [There is some confusion about whether this diary was written by Jacob or his brother Nelson Sweitzer]

Tame, Lisle (1889-1980) THS/ My Memwars 
    Tame and his wife came to Talent during the depression and ran the Auto Camp on the corner of Talent Ave. and Valley View Road. He later became postmaster but was forced to move when a new highway went through town, ruining his business. He and his wife Irma purchased an old homestead up Dead Indian Memorial Road. He and his wife had no children but they served as foster parents to a couple of young girls who needed a helping hand to get through High School. His memoirs were written before, after, and during the great depression. He took a turn being mayor, helped solve the Talent water supply problems of his day, knew everybody who came into the post office and filled in many particulars about that time period. 

Taylor, David Hobart (1831- 1882) SOHS/OHS 
    This is one of the only known diaries written by a volunteer at Camp Baker. It contains historically important descriptions of  life there, the uniforms and equipment issued, the guard house, pillaging the town for food etc. The original was purchased by a university in Texas- shame on Oregon for letting it go to another state. 

Thornton, James (1827-1922) THS/Private Collection 
     James Thornton wrote a short diary while he lived on Wagner Creek from 1867 – 1868. At the time he was building a new home in Ashland, Oregon and James detailed in his diary about the lumber ordered and supervising the house building project. Many weather notes and business transactions. It would be possible to reconstruct an economic overview of Wagner Creek using his diary. 

Walrad, Jane Mullen (1823 – 1900) SOHS 
    This no-nonsense record was started in Tehama County, California where the Walrad family lived before coming to Jackson County, Oregon. They brought their family here in 1861 and became prominent in Ashland history.  Their grandson, Clarence Lane, became known as “Mr. Ashland” . He donated many artifacts, photographs, and this diary to SOHS. 

Williams, Moses (1811-1897) RVGS/SOHS 
     Williams was a very educated Presbyterian minister who traveled a circuit in the Rouge Valley. People opened up their homes to him and he in turn endured the bed bugs, bad manners, and reality of their lives. He did not hold back if he thought people were sinning but he also did not withhold his compassion if he thought he could help. This diary has been gleaned for its genealogical gems at funerals, weddings, blessings and baptisms but is also a wealth of information about cultural and religious values.  A typescript copy of this 1852-1897 diary is bound and indexed at the Rouge Valley Genealogical Society.

JCLS = Jackson County Library System 
JW = Jan Wright, Talent, OR 
OHQ = Oregon Historical Quarterly published by the Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR 
RVGS= Rogue Valley Genealogical Society, Phoenix,OR 
SOHS = Southern Oregon Historical Society, Medford, OR 
SOU = Southern Oregon University Archives, Hannon Library 
THS = Talent Historical Society, Talent, OR 
UO = University of Oregon, Special Collection