Rockford Area Historical Society news and updates for July 13, 2017

By Terry Konkle, President

Rockford area history is filled with interesting Events. Here are a few that were found by my wife and I during research a few years ago for the Rockford Area Museum:

1883- July 22, the Rogue River flooded and broke through the east side of the dam. The old site of Smith Lapham’s sawmill and Thornton’s machine shop were washed away. The flood also destroyed the bridge at Rockford and another bridge at Jerico.

1883 – On December 16, most of the buildings on both sides of Main Street between Bridge and Courtland plus several on Courtland west of Main were destroyed by fire. The building that today houses the “Corner Bar” survived because it was brick.

1896 – In April, W.F. Hessler purchased land (71 feet on Main Street and 106 feet on Courtland) for $1,000, which was step one in the process of the evolution of the “Hessler Building”.

1896 – In mid December, the Hessler Opera House had a grand opening with about 100 people in attendance.

1900 – On June 27, a small fire caused by a lightning strike occurred at Hessler’s Drug Store and water from buckets was used to combat and stop it.

1900- In October, four hundred dollars was paid to Burton Spring to purchase four acres of land at the North end of Monroe Street, so that an Athletic Park could be built there. An Athletic Association was formed to oversee the project. There was no opposition to this and later the area became very important in locating a new school in that area.

It is now time for the answers to the last “Nugget of Rockford History” quiz. (1). E -1865 was date of first known picture of Rockford, (2) L – 1871 a new three story brick school occupied, (3) A -1843 Smith Lapham completed a dam across the Rogue, (4) G – 1893 – Iron bridge built at Bridge Street, (5) C – 1922 – Rockford has a school with a gymnasium for first time, (6) I – 1903 – Hirth-Krause came to Rockford, (7) B – 1949 – City Mail delivery started (8) D – 2016 – John Sjogren statue displayed outside museum, (9) K – 2014 – Rockford’s New Museum completed, (10) H – 1967 – Rockford Area Historical Society founded. The letters (F) Present RHS opened and (J) Rockford Community Cabin dedicated were not used. My thanks to Sharon Berry, Carole Holden Christensen, Cliff and Nancy Hill, Cindy Hegle and Judy Roney for correctly completing the quiz. It is great to see their positive interest in Rockford area history.

Here is a new “Nugget” matching quiz for readers to tackle. Once again two of the letters will not be used.

  1. Rick Kreuger
  2. Jim DeRyke
  3. Fred Bartlett
  4. Clayton Cahill
  5. Roger Allen
  6. Audley Whittall
  7. Jim Thomson
  8. Tom Combs
  9. Arlo Elkins
  10. Steve Servaas
  11. Kept a bear in a cage
  • A.  Owner of Rockford paper
  • B. Rockford High School F.F.A. leader for years
  • C. Coach of Girl’s tennis at the University of South Carolina
  • D. Rockford Insurance agent
  • E. Owner of a motel
  • F. Rockford H.S. golf coach in 1966
  • G. Has a plaza named for him
  • H. Principal of Parkside School
  • I. Rockford teacher/coach who played for the Red Sox and Indians
  • J. Set a national record in archery
  • K. Kept a bear in a cage
  • L. Owner of a grocery store


Contact me by e-mail ( or by phone at 616-866-0530. As always your questions, concerns, comments and corrections can be sent my way. Have a great week!