If you’re planning a visit to Jacksonville and Medford, Oregon, you’ll probably find a lot to discover. These two historic towns are home to some of Oregon’s most fascinating history. Founded by gold seekers in 1852, Jacksonville is an historic district that’s now a National Historic Landmark. With its pristine fabric, it is one of the best examples of an inland commercial community from the late nineteenth century. Before the city became famous for its wine, it was the economic and political hub of the region.
The historic district of Jacksonville was once home to the first Chinatown in Oregon, founded in 1850 by Chinese immigrants from San Francisco. A few years ago, archeologists found evidence of this former Chinatown, including a scads of Chinese bowls, handmade bottles, opium paraphernalia, coins, and more. The area now boasts many museums and artifacts that date back to this era.
William Bybee, who married Elizabeth Walker in 1854, was an early pioneer of Medford. He acquired a portion of Jesse Walker’s donation land claim and continued to add to it over the years. By the 1870s, he owned more than half of Jackson County. In 1887, the local newspaper reported that Bybee owned more than 500 acres of land. A large portion of his land is situated approximately one mile north of Jacksonville.
The Frank E. Bybee House was constructed in the early 1900s. The architect of this house is unknown, but its symmetrical plan, steeply pitched gable roof, and turned porch posts and water tower are typical of the style. Its symmetrical plan and vertical one-over-one-hung sash windows are typical of rural Gothic architecture. The house has been refurbished several times but still maintains its integrity. The house has survived many years of ownership and is still considered a nationally significant historic property.
Several teachers returned to Medford after being hired from the San Jose, Calif., school district. Some of these women returned to earn a degree and began teaching. Others returned to college and completed their master’s degrees. Among them are Isabella Violet Armstrong and Florence Elizabeth Benson. In addition to Armstrong, she taught in a San Jose school for three years. And Irene Whitehouse Chittick, who taught in a San Jose school for two years, also taught in the city’s public schools.
Other notable teachers who returned to work in Jacksonville and Medford were Helen Martha Cobbledick and Mary Catherine Mullins. Both of these women taught in the city’s high schools and colleges. Mary Catherine Mullins was a Vice-Principal. She also taught in the University of Oregon and at the Jefferson Grammar school. While Marjorie Jones returned to college for a G.E. course, she also studied music.