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Two women promoted church for rowdy Jacksonville

There was a time when Jacksonville was one of the rowdiest towns in the Rogue Valley. With all the money flowing in from the gold rush, guns and liquor were always close at hand.None of this intimidated Emily Overbeck or Emily Royal, wife of the Rev. Fletcher Royal.Recently arrived from the East, the women saw a need for a Methodist church. Pioneer daughter Alice Hanley related in her memoirs how women raised seed money for construction by convincing miners at a local gambling parlor to place one night’s winnings into a hat. Church sources said it was Rev. Royal who passed the hat, and the two women solicited donations at area gold camps. Construction was completed in 1854.Hanley said the mixed congregation left the little Methodist church years later to join the Presbyterians in their new church. She said at the first wedding in the new church, a German-born musician sat down at the Melodeon organ to play the wedding march and continued playing for 45 minutes, despite the minister and groom ardently asking him to stop.The original Methodist church building still stands as the home today of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church.As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Methodist Church, Jacksonville, circa 1890s.