Many of us learned history as names, dates, places, and battles, memorized and regurgitated for a test, and then promptly forgotten.  But that’s only a very small part of history.  History is really about people and their stories!

The only things I remember from a U.S. History course is that there were four cows for every person in Vermont, and the Scotch-Irish who settled the Carolinas kept the Sabbath and everything else they could lay their hands on. That was what I found interesting.

Southern Oregon can boast a fascinating regional history: Native Americans who thrived on nature’s abundance; settlers who pursued the opportunity for free land and new lives; miners drawn by the glitter of gold; gamblers and courtesans who sought the riches of others; merchants who built fortunes supplying the miners and settlers; priests and ministers spreading the Word of God and the influence of their churches; conflicts between natives and newcomers; advances in transportation that spurred growth and reshaped the region; 20th Century gold in the form of orchards and timber; and the history we continue to make today.

Our local history includes priceless stories about people, art, music, architecture, transportation, industry, fashion, agriculture, literature, and so much more.

We do ourselves and our children a disservice when we reduce the rich fabric of our heritage to dry facts. Rudyard Kipling said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

That’s the goal of 15 Jackson County historical and genealogical societies that have united as the Rogue Valley Heritage District. Through museums, collections, artifacts, crafts, programs, events, and activities, they seek to bring local history to life, to preserve it and share our priceless stories with residents and visitors alike.

District organizations include:

Applegate Historical Society

Big Butte Historical Society

Buncom Historical Society

Eagle Point Museum

Gold Hill Historical Society & Museum

Historic Jacksonville, Inc.

Lake Creek Historical Society

McKee Bridge Historical Society

Phoenix Historical Society

Rogue Valley Genealogical Society

Southern Oregon Historical Society

Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society

Talent Historical Society

Upper Rogue Historical Society

Woodville Museum

Ballot Measure 15-164 asks you for 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value—an average of $8 or three cups of coffee each year—to cover the basic operating costs of these societies. It allows them to pay the rent and keep the doors open so they can focus on expanding and enhancing their programming. An independent board that you elect ensures district autonomy.

A Rogue Valley Heritage District will benefit every community in Jackson County by enhancing tourism, child and adult education, the arts and more, sharing the stories and collections that reflect our history!

Please vote YES on Ballot Measure 15-164!

Carolyn Kingsnorth