OrangeCounty.Net click for home page
Visitor Center
Fun Zne
Great Outdoors
Art & Music
Shop & Dine
Health & Beauty
Oregon Living
Real Estate

Site Map

History in Southern Oregon


Jacksonville - Great Basin - Douglas County

Jacksonville, Oregon
Southern Oregon's Rich Golden History

The Historic town of Jacksonville Oregon, located in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, was founded after gold was discovered in Daisy Creek in 1851 by James Cluggage, John R. Pool and ?? Sykes. Miners flocked to the area and Jacksonville grew out of the Shantytown once known as Table Rock City. Miners had arrived from all over the territories including a group of hard working Chinese Miners who were not well received at first by the whites in the camps.

Among the first settlers to arrive was 33-year-old Peter Britt, a Swiss born photographer who had come to America in 1845, settling in Illinois. A painter of portraits, Britt studied daguerreotyping, believing that American's would pay for photographs more readily than painted portraits. Peter Britt traveled west to Portland and South through the Willamette Valley then over the mountains, he found his beloved Jacksonville. In November of 1852, what he found were a few cabins and a large tent housing the general store where Whiskey, tools and heavy cloths were available. In Jacksonville, Britt took up a claim under the Donation Land Act, on a hill on the South West Corner of the Village where he constructed the log cabin that would be his home and work place. He had carried from St. Louis a wooden box camera fitted with a Voightlander lens and some developing chemicals.

Britt was followed shortly by 25 year old Cornelius C. Beekman who would become the towns banker and Mayor and other distinguished settlers such lawyer Benjamin Franklin Dowell. Soon Saloon's and Stores sprung up, farmers arrived to sell their produce to the miners and Jacksonville became the leading town in Southern Oregon, a hub of activity and became the County Seat. The Native American population, whose lives were disrupted with the influx of the settlers, were often at war with them.

One of the most remembered altercations with the Indians occurred……(Story you mentioned about the ladies fighting the Indians)

The Methodists were the first Christians to arrive in the area in 1852 when Rev. Joseph S. Smith was chosen at the Oregon Annual Conference to minister in the Rogue River Circuit. Rev. Smith preached to the miners, building the original church structure. Thomas F. Royal, his wife Mary Anne Royal and a lady named Mrs. Overbeck followed in 1853 taking over the ministry in Jacksonville. The ladies raised money to complete the church through Gold Dust contributions and it was moved to _________________.

The first baby was born to Doctor and Mrs. McCully. He was named James Cluggage McCully for town's founder and became the center of attention, and the godson of many doting miners.

In the 1800's the Rogue Valley was known as The Bear Creek Valley. The valley, surrounded by mountains was remote and lay at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains, crossed by the Rogue River and Rushing Bear Creek. Jacksonville was nested up against the Mountains on the Western side of the valley where it thrived as the leading town in the area until Medford was incorporated in 1885 with the coming of the railroad through the center of the Valley.

Many Jacksonville residents and merchants feared that Medford spelled the end of Jacksonville's prosperity, with the railroad missing Jacksonville, but the little town would survive and even held the County seat for 44 years after the incorporation of Medford.

Jacksonville had it's own paper published by William Green T'Vault which claimed to be "Independent on all subjects; Devoted to the best interests of Southern Oregon." In I880, the new United States Hotel opened after the first one had burned to the ground in a fire. Madame Jeanne Roboam who had operated a boarding house during the Gold Rush days had commissioned the hotel. Building contractor George W. Holt built the hotel and Madame Jeanne became his wife in the deal. Jacksonville then boasted a fine hotel, many saloons, two bakeries, stables, a furniture maker, over a dozen shops, several churches a school and even a bowling alley. In 1880, the town would proudly welcome a visiting president when President and Mrs. Hayes and their party stayed in the United States Hotel just newly completed, furnished with borrowed linens, with the paint still wet.

As Jacksonville flourished, Peter Britt captured it all in his photography. Indian Maidens, Miners, Soldiers, and the Families of Jacksonville. Parades and Events were also recorded with the areas rivers, flowers and mountains and the first photograph of Crater Lake taken in 1874. Peter Britt married his childhood sweetheart Amalia when he was 42. She was a widow with a small son Jacob Grob. The couple had three children of their own, Emil, Arnold who died as a baby and Amalia. Peter Britt died in 1905 at the age of 86. His children never married, and lived in the family home carrying out their father's legacy.

The things that Peter Britt celebrated in his life; Music, Family, beautiful things, the mountains, wine making (Peter had started one of the first wineries in Oregon) are all celebrated in Jacksonville today in the spirit of Peter Britt. Now the Britt Festival, one of the premiere music festivals in the West draws thousands to enjoy the place that Peter Britt loved.

The year Peter Britt died was also the year a young Jacksonville boy Vance DeBar Colvig made a trip to Portland that would change his life. Having grown up clowning around at school in Jacksonville, Vance, the boy with the freckled face, had earned the name "Pinto, the village clown". When his father took him to the Lewis and Clark Exposition, he was discovered. Later he would be given a new stage name as the original "Bozo the Clown". Known for his playing of the E Flat Clarinet, Bozo joined the A. G. Barnes Circus and in 1922, moved with his wife to Hollywood, where he worked for Walt Disney as the voices of" Grumpy" and "Sleepy" in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and as the voices of "Pluto"and "Goofy" in the Mickey Mouse Series. "Pinto" or "Bozo the Clown", was never forgotten in his hometown and children from around the world enjoy his exhibit at the Jacksonville Children's Museum.

Today, Jacksonville attracts visitors who learn it's rich Gold Mining history through The Jacksonville Museum and Children's Museum, which will soon once again house much of Peter Britt's photography of the founding families and Jacksonville past as well as much of his photography equipment. Currently, these collections can be seen at The History Center at 106 N. Central in Medford.

The Britt Music Festival draws headlining entertainment to Jacksonville for beautiful concerts under the stars all summer long. The Jacksonville Cemetery with it's weathered grave markers tells it's own story those who built Jacksonville and made it their home. Jacksonville is a celebration, not only of history but of nature, art, music, food, wine and most importantly family and relationships. The streets may hide hidden mysteries in the mineshafts below but the foundations of the town have never changed.

back to top

Great Basin

The high desert region is majestic and harsh. It is an unforgiving landscape where, at times, life is a scramble. For the Northern Paiute, Western Shoshoni, Bannock, Klamath, and Modoc, survival demanded unremitting labor and almost constant movement. While the Klamath and Modoc possessed staple foods such as suckers, trout, wocus (water-lily seed), and huckleberries, the tribes to the east had a more marginal existence. Their resilience in coping with high elevation, extreme temperatures, arid conditions, and isolation spoke to their time-tested survival skills in a challenging environment. The Klamath Basin peoples actually lived at a point of transition between Plateau, Basin, Coast and California lifeways, whereas the Northern Paiute, who held vast stretches of central and southeastern Oregon, were more closely tied to the basin environment.

Oregon's Great Basin peoples engaged in a seasonal round that often required 200 or more miles of travel per year. In winter they resided on the margins of lakes and rivers, seeking the lowest elevation and most moderate temperatures in harsh conditions. Their homes included rock shelters as well as lodges covered with brush and tule mats. In winters, confinement and the months of the long moons encouraged storytelling and necessitated tapping the food resources carefully stored in the previous seasons. When spring became summer, these people were on the move. They hunted waterfowl, antelope, and deer; gathered roots, berries, seeds, and nuts; fished; and traveled. They moved to higher and higher elevations, following food sources, until the aspen leaves turned to bright gold, telling them it was time to leave the high country and return to the winter encampments.

The peoples of the Great Basin traveled in extended family groups but sometimes gathered as bands for communal hunts. Women and children fanned out through the countryside and, moving slowly toward a ravine and making great noise, drove all creatures before them. Far down the trace, etched eons ago by erosion through basalt, the men stretched fiber nets. Here they clubbed frightened rabbits or, when lucky, killed deer and antelope with bow and arrow. Paddling carefully in the predawn cold onto the waters of the lakes in the middle of the High Desert, the men silently stretched nets between poles and, with a great noise, spooked the unsuspecting water birds. The birds rose to flee in the mist, only to become entangled in the mesh of netting, which the men then collapsed into the water, harvesting a bountiful supply of food for their families.

Great Basin residents practiced a mixed economy. They hunted, fished, trapped, dug, and picked food resources. They moved with the seasons in an almost continuous quest for subsistence. They covered a vast, open country, leaving their petroglyphs at sacred sites, caching foods, camping in rock shelters used by the ancient inhabitants of the region. Their finely developed survival skills enabled them to endure and prosper in a land that held them, at times, at the edge of existence.

The first inhabitants occupied three distinct biotic provinces or geographical areas. Their adaptation and mastery of the environment reached from the margins of the fog-shrouded and wet Pacific shoreline to the arid reaches of sagebrush and bunchgrass of the interior. Their subsistence activities took them from sea level to tree line in the Wallowas and on Steens Mountain. They were at home in the desert and in the grasslands of the Columbia Plateau. In the fall they set fire to the meadows to keep open the western Oregon valleys as well as to maintain the bald headlands along the Oregon coast. At the south-facing bases of the headlands they often erected their plank houses facing into the sun. They plied the rivers with dugout canoes; they hunted for ducks and geese on the lakes with balsa rafts made of dried tules.

The first inhabitants knew this land. They gave it names. They explained its features in their oral traditions, through experienced storytellers reciting the literature. They told of the myth age when only animals and no humans were in the land. They recounted tales of transition, when animals and humans interacted on a personal basis, a time when humans were not quite fully formed. They told of the historic past, of things remembered and partly remembered. They did this with gesture, eye contact, voice modulation, and sometimes by musical interlude wherein they or someone in the crowd sang a song relevant to the story. Their techniques varied. The Tillamook, for example, repeated stories line-by-line as they listened to the teller, thereby memorizing over a period of years the literature and history of their tribe. The challenge to the storyteller was thus to deliver with talent and stay true to the story elements, yet build the drama and unleash creativity.

The first inhabitants held a rich land. Its resources far exceeded their needs and their wants. They lived fully. While there is some evidence of migration and population dynamics, those tales of prehistory are lost in the mists of time. What is known is that Oregon was fully occupied by the eighteenth century. Indians of more than 30 different languages lived throughout the state. They knew and loved the land. It was their home.

Courtesy of Oregon Blue Book

back to top

Douglas County

The early history of Douglas County was closely tied to that of Umpqua County. Umpqua County, created in 1851, was located along the Umpqua River in southwestern Oregon. Gold had been discovered in the Umpqua region resulting in the rapid increase in settlement of the new county. The first meeting of the Umpqua County Court was in Elkton in 1852; later the county government was moved to Green Valley and Yoncalla.

Because the population of Umpqua County had rapidly increased and met the population requirements for a new county, a new county was created on January 7, 1852, out of that portion of Umpqua County lying east of the Coast Range. It was named Douglas County to honor U. S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois who was a congressional advocate for Oregon statehood.

Meanwhile, in Umpqua County the gold mining boom played out, and the population of Umpqua County decreased until finally in 1862 it was absorbed into Douglas County and ceased to exist. In 1856 the Camas Valley was annexed to Douglas County from Coos County and further boundary adjustments were made with Jackson and Lane Counties in 1915. Today, Douglas County covers 5,071 square miles and is bounded by Curry, Jackson, and Josephine Counties to the south; Klamath County to the east; Lane County to the north; and Coos County and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

In the county seat of Roseburg, courthouses were built in 1855, 1870, 1891, and 1929. The 1929 courthouse is still in use. Umpqua County never had a courthouse.

The first meeting of the Douglas County Commission was held at Winchester on April 4, 1853, with the three elected commissioners and sheriff in attendance. Winchester remained the county seat until 1854 when Deer Creek (renamed Roseburg in 1855) was made the seat by popular election. Douglas County had a county court form of government until 1965 when a board of commissioners was formed. Current elected officials include three commissioners, assessor, clerk, district attorney, sheriff, surveyor, and treasurer.

The county's population has increased steadily from 3,203 in 1860 to 100,399 in 2000, a rise of 6.08% over 1990.

The entire watershed of the Umpqua River lies within the boundaries of Douglas County. The heavily timbered county contains nearly 1.8 million acres of commercial forest lands and one of the oldest stands of old growth timber in the world. Approximately 25-30% of the labor force is employed in the forest products industry. Agriculture, mainly field crops, orchards, and livestock, is also important to the economy of the county. Nickel has been refined at Riddle since 1954. There is a significant federal presence in the region; the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management administer more than 50% of the county's land.

The Umpqua Indians of the Umpqua Valley belonged to the Chinook tribe. Following the Rogue River Indian War in 1856, all remaining natives were moved by the government to the Siletz and Grande Ronde Indian Reservations.

Douglas County History Courtesty of Oregon State Archives

back to top - Premier listings for all of Oregon.
Featuring information on Southern Oregon


Some of the history and photos courtesy of Oregon Blue Book

Online ordering available


Home - Visitor Center - Art & Music - Fun Zone - Real Estate - Great Outdoors - Oregon Living - Shop & Dine - Business - Education - Health & Beauty - Disclaimer

Site Owned and Operated by Purpose Media
For info on ad rates call 1.877.443.1323 or

© Copyright 2005 & Purpose Media.
No unauthorized duplication without written consent. Copyright violations are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.