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Kershaw Road question draws pile of mail

Our Sunday Since You Asked column, titled “Kershaw Road name origins murky,” produced quite a response from people eager to confirm our suspicion that the road was named after the Kershaw family. Following are several of the responses, some excerpts, leading off with son Pete Kershaw, who also answers a question about his business:

It is true that Kershaw Road is named after my family, who had a pear orchard at the corner of what is now Kershaw and Corey roads. Also, I am the founder of Kershaw Knives. My wife, Judy, and I have lived in the Bend area for many years.

My grandfather, P.M. Kershaw, bought about 125 acres at that location around 1910 and planted 100 acres of it in pears. My father and mother, Gordon and Augusta Kershaw, owned and operated the orchard into the 1950s. My dad was on the board of the Rogue River Irrigation District for many years until his passing in 1979. After my mother passed away in 2001, my wife and I sold the property. I was born in 1938 and grew up there through the 1940s until we moved into Medford in 1951.

Here is a bit of history about that area of Jackson County: Around 100 years ago, the Medford Irrigation District and RRID canals were built to transport water from Four Mile and Fish lakes. That changed the area from non-productive dry land to very good land for pear orchards.

Up until WWII, orchards lined both sides of Kershaw and Corey roads. When Camp White was built in 1942, all the orchards on the east side of Kershaw Road were pulled out and artillery ranges were built. Anti-aircraft concrete bunkers were built around the edge of the hills just east and south of Kershaw Road. About three miles east a “German Village” was built. Very authentic-looking, with perhaps two dozen houses and various stores. Fixed machine guns fired over the troops as they crawled under the buildings.

The original Medford city water line from Butte Falls ran directly under the drive up to our house. That is where the Army got a lot of the drinking water for hundreds of troops every day. As a 4-year-old kid, I was fascinated with all the action. Between our house and the corner of Kershaw and Corey road (a half-mile) I was given many rides on tanks, half-tracks and trucks.

— Pete Kershaw

I’m sure there are others who know much more about the Kershaws, but here’s my contribution. My family moved here from Portland in March of 1960, and my father’s first job here was in Gordon Kershaw’s orchards. Although I was a little girl, barely 4, I clearly remember being in the car at their house on Corey Road, along with Mom, Dad and my three older sisters.

When “Gus” found out that my sister Trudy was turning 11 that day, she went back in the house for cupcakes. I recall being a bit nonplussed by the fact that this kind lady’s name was Gus, and their big male boxer dog was Clancy — my name!

— Clancy Rone, Medford

Was reading the article in today’s paper about the origin of the Kershaw Road name, and back in 2003 Pete and Judy Kershaw were clients of mine, and I sold the family property on the corner of Corey and Kershaw for them, and yes, Pete being the Kershaw of Kershaw Knives. I always assumed that Kershaw Road was named after the family.

Pete shared with me a funny story about their water and plumbing. According to him, the property was originally on a well, and when Medford was bringing in water from the Big Butte Creek ... evidently in exchange for getting easements through the properties, they connected the rural properties along the way to the water main. ... Pete’s father decided to surprise his mother with a new-fangled gadget called a “dishwasher,” and while his mother was in town shopping, Pete’s father and his friends installed the dishwasher.

When Mrs. Kershaw got home, Mr. Kershaw fired it up, but didn’t realize that the pressure coming from the water main was more than would be for normal household use, so more than the dishwasher could handle. That high-pressured water promptly blew the dishwasher door off and a jet stream of water came out of the kitchen and down the hall to the front door where she stood.

Needless to say they had to install something to reduce that pressure. When I sold the house in 2003, that original dishwasher was still there. All I remember about it was the weird thing that the controls weren’t on the dishwasher itself like they are now … they were installed on the wall next to it, then must have been wired to the dishwasher.

— Stacey Boals

As a boy in the 1930’s I lived on what is now Kershaw Road and Gordon and Augusta (Gus) Kershaw were our closest neighbors and also close friends. The area was mostly in pear orchards at that time and our two orchards adjoined. The main Kershaw orchard lay on the south side of Corey road near the corner with Kershaw Road and comprised about 70 acres. The white barn (or shed) that stands by itself on Corey Road was where their orchard equipment was stored, and the orchard lay to the south and east of that building. The house and other outbuildings were across Corey Road on the north side of the road at the back of a long driveway where a mobile home sits now. These country roads were unpaved and unnamed before the second world war.

A 1910 map shows the property was owned by P. M. Kershaw, a Medford businessman and Gordon’s father. The map also shows some adjoining property owned by “Smith” which was later acquired by Kershaw. Gordon and Gus moved to the ranch in about 1934 and took over the operation. The orchard was sold to Don and Bob Root in 1954, I believe, but Gordon and Gus continued to live across the road on their property until Gordon’s death in 1979 except for a few years in Medford while son Peter was in high school. Following Gordon’s death, Gus moved to Medford where she lived until her passing.

— David Chirgwin

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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