When Historic Jacksonville, Inc. opens the historic Beekman Bank Museum for “Behind the Counter” tours during Jacksonville’s Victorian Christmas celebration over the first three weekends in December, they will also be sharing an early Christmas present with the public. The Southern Oregon Historical Society is returning many of the original books that lined the bank’s shelves, just in time for the holidays. Among these are medical books from the mid-1800s including such tomes as The History, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Fevers of the United States (1847) and A Dictionary of Practical Surgery (1848).

The books belonged to Dr. Charles B. Brooks, one of Jacksonville’s earliest doctors. When Cornelius Beekman established his original Express and gold dust office in 1856, he shared the space with Dr. Brooks Drug Store.

Brooks had graduated from Centre College in Kentucky with a degree in “necrology.” Lured by the promise of the West, he joined a wagon train of settlers heading for Oregon, arriving in Jacksonville in 1853, about the same time as Beekman.

For the first two years, Brooks practiced “physic, surgery, and obstetrics” and ran a hospital at the corner of 3rd and D streets in “back of Union House.” When Beekman opened his Express Office in 1856 at the corner of East California and South 3rd streets, Brooks joined him, adding “drugs, medicines, perfumeries, oils, etc.” to his “well selected stock of patent medicine.” The partnership had ended by the time Beekman constructed the current Beekman Bank in 1863 since 1864 newspaper ads show that Brooks had moved his practice to the Dalles, Oregon.

No one knows why Brooks chose to leave his medical books behind when he moved to Wasco County. One hypothesis is that the books had become dated given the discovery of germs, new ideas on sanitation, and major advances in anatomy. Regardless of his reason, you—the public—are the beneficiary.

Between 11:00am and 3:00pm every weekend of Victorian Christmas, you are invited to explore 19th Century banking when you visit the Beekman Bank, the oldest bank in the Pacific Northwest. Located at the corner of California and North 3rd streets, the bank has been preserved intact as a museum since Cornelius Beekman locked the doors in 1915.

For additional information, contact info@historicjacksonville.org or 541-245-3650.