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Family feels game warden's death 100 years later

Evie Sherman’s thoughts last week were of her grandmother, Dora, who 100 years earlier had learned of the shooting death of her husband, the area’s first game warden. Arthur Hubbard was killed near Trail Dec. 14, 1914, leaving a wife and two small children.

“As I went to bed, my heart felt heavy. At this time of the evening she’d just found out,” said Sherman, of Medford. “One hundred years ago her heart was broken. How was she coping?”

Sherman and her brother, Joe Hubbard of Jacksonville, say that Arthur, then 37, was an active man involved in community affairs and noted for his vigorous enforcement of game laws. Clippings in family albums reveal community shock when, three months later, Arthur Hubbard’s killer, Loris Martin, was acquitted by a jury.

Hubbard and constable A. L. Irwin rode from Ashland to Elk Creek beyond Trail that day to serve a warrant on Martin for poaching. When they came upon Martin, Hubbard was shot just after he dismounted.

At the trial, Martin contended that he shot in self-defense and that Hubbard had his revolver in his hand. But Irwin testified and evidence suggested Hubbard’s revolver was still covered by his coat when he was shot. Newspaper reports described Irwin's testimony as contradictory under questioning by the defense. The family still has the revolver, a 32-cailber Smith & Wesson.

“A Travesty of Justice” was the headline on a Mail Tribune editorial following the verdict. The paper supported State Game Warden W.L Finley’s decision not to appoint another game warden in the area as the law provided no protection to law enforcement.

Joe and Evie’s father, Delman, was just 2 when he lost his father. His sister, Iris, was 4 years old. Arthur’s wife, Dora, provided for the family at a time when there was no regular system of state compensation. Dora supervised operators at Ashland’s telephone service and earned a degree from Southern Oregon Normal School, predecessor of Southern Oregon University. She later remarried.

“He was a good father and hard worker with two kids and was involved in civic affairs and trying to do a good job,” said Evie. Photos show him displaying his musical talent, playing a fiddle and a guitar as he performed with local groups. Other photos show him on skis and on horseback.

Hubbard lived in Ashland, where he belonged to the Elks Lodge. His funeral service was held there and he was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Born in Redding, Calif., in 1887, Hubbard moved to the Rogue Valley at age 15. He worked with his father, a carpenter. Later he worked for the Forest Service before being appointed game warden.

Early game laws represented a cultural conflict for many in the area accustomed to going into the woods at any time of year to hunt or fish for food for their families, Joe explained.

“There was some bad blood between them for a long time. Martin was defiantly angry about the game laws,” said Joe. Martin was found shot dead on the Umpqua Divide 16 years after being acquitted, in what was believed to be a murder.

Hubbard’s death had an impact on several generations and still leaves questions.

“I had a great dad. He was always there,” said Joe. “I think the reason was he never had a dad.”

Dora died at 88 when Evie was in her late twenties.

“When I was young, I wished I’d asked grandma more questions,” said Evie.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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Joe Hubbard
Arthur Hubbard