Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4, 1884

July 4, 1884

Jacksonville, Oregon (aka Table Rock City)

Jacksonville had, by 1884, assumed an air of civility. Gone were the days of the Indian wars, mad scrambles to new diggin's, and living on the frontier in Oregon Territory. The thirty some years that had elapsed since the cry of "Gold, Gold, Gold" had echoed down the canyon of what is now third street had mellowed the town. Gone were the Fourth of July days of old, replete with public drunkenness, the shooting of anvils, gunfire, and celebration to excess. Nope, Jacksonville had grown up. And there were some who missed the "good old days".

Bum Neuber and Otto Biede were pals. Bum was the town marshal (and also a saloon keeper) and Otto was the town tinsmith and glazier; both were respectable sorts. Bum and Otto were "old timers" who remembered J'ville during the "good ol' days". And they missed them.

Jacksonville had a surplus cannon, used in both the Indian Wars and the Civil War, stuffed away at the fire hall, which was in back of the city hall on Oregon Street. Just before sunup, Bum and Otto, snuck into the fire hall, moved the ladder truck and hose cart out onto the road, and proudly wheeled the cannon out of the building. So far so good. Hose cart and ladder truck back in their respective places, they guided the canon north on Oregon and turned the corner at California, pointing the canon due east along the main drag of the downtown commercial district. One, two, three, four, five... yes six... woolen sox full of black powder found their way down the muzzle of the cannon. The morning summer sun comes up over a good sized hill due east of Jacksonville, called Roxie Ann. As the sun slowly peeked over the top of the ridge, an earth shattering blast was unleashed by Bum and Otto. And.. every single window on California Street for three blocks shattered into a thousand pieces.

Bum and Otto thought it jolly good fun. Otto gladly footed the bill to replace the window glass. And drinks were on the house for the rest of the day.

Happy Fourth!

(Several years ago a friend of mine and I obtained permission to dig the Armstrong House. It was one of the oldest wood framed homes still standing in J'ille, dating to the mid 1850's. We'd located an outer on the side of the lot almost into the city right of way on 6th Street. It was a no brainer since it probed sold glass. Funny thing, the first five feet of that pit were solid window glass. Old window glass, wavy, crude and full of huge bubbles. The first bottle out, beneath this layer was an E.C. Brooks Druggist Jacksonville. Easy to date this one, 1884. Yep, and guess who lived in the house at that time. Thanks Otto, for the memories.)

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