Mayor Mahlon Purdin led a diverse life

In the stories from 100 years ago, I was interested in the Oct. 23 article about the former mayor starting a "matrimonial bureau." Is there more on Mayor Purdin or his matching service?

— Sam F., via phone

Thanks to our helpful friends at the Southern Oregon Historical Society and the Rogue Valley Genealogy Library, we were able to find quite a bit on the life of two-time Medford mayor Mahlon Purdin, but sadly information about his matchmaking service just didn't seem to make it into any of the archives we checked.

A biographical document found at the Historical Society stated Mr. Purdin was born on March 22, 1853, on a property near Linneus, Mo., to parents Caleb and Rachel. After his family moved west when he was about 20, Mahlon Purdin moved to Eagle Point, where he worked as a blacksmith and later became a partner in a sawmill operation.

According to archives found on Ben Truwe's Southern Oregon History website, Purdin first served as mayor of Medford in 1890. By the time Purdin was appointed mayor again in 1913 to serve in place of deceased mayor W.W. Eifert, Purdin had studied law, earned a place on the Oregon State Bar and was a judge. His April 18, 1931, obituary shows he had also served as postmaster for a term.

The obituary also shows he owned the Nash hotel from the 1890s until his death, and that he was involved in numerous fraternal organizations, such as four years as worshipful master of the Masonic Lodge and as a member of the Medford Elks.

We may have come up short on his matching service, but a helpful Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer tracked down one eclectic detail from Mr. Purdin's life. He filed a patent application on Feb. 18, 1897 for a machine that made paper toothpicks.

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 We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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