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Her Name Was Alma

Good morning. It is Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Many years ago, I was the News Director at a local radio station. One afternoon I had an elderly woman call me and take me to task on something I had reported. If memory serves me correctly, I had done a story on the football field at our city high school. I had mentioned when it had gotten lights, apparently I was wrong.


Her name was Alma Fairfield, and she went on to tell me that she was a student at Grants Pass High School when the lights went up on the field in the early 1940’s; and she remembered it well.


That phone call began a several-year friendship. I interviewed her numerous times. I even took my video camera and visited her in her home to get more of her rich stories. She was a walking history book. She remembered when doctor so-and-so was upstairs above the such-and-such store downtown. She told me how her family lived off Riverbanks Road and how she had to find someone to board with, in town, during the week just so she could attend school. After all, riding a horse that far every day was out of the question. She told me how her father ran the ferry boat across the Rogue River where we now have Ferry Road. Fairfield Lane in Grants Pass is named in her family’s honor. She was a delight to talk with. Her memory was sharp as a tack, even in her 90’s. She recalled with great detail, rich pieces of her history and the history of our town.



How many times have we turned down streets and traveled roads and never once thought about how it got its name? I know my time with Alma Fairfield caused me to think more about the names of streets and of the people they represent.


And what about our town? Grants Pass. Do you know the history behind the naming of Grants Pass? I was told as a very young girl. What about our county? Josephine. Or the valley we live in? Rogue Valley.

Names are history.


Grants Pass was named in honor of General U.S. Grant’s 1863 victory at Vicksburg. Originally it was Grant’s Pass, but the apostrophe was dropped after 1900. Grants Pass was a stagecoach stop in the 1860’s. It became a rail head when the Oregon-California Railroad (now Southern Pacific) was completed in 1884. It is the Josephine County seat. The county is named for Josephine Rollins Ort, who came to the Illinois Valley with her father in 1851.

1843 - 1846 the Applegate Party. The brothers Jesse and Lindsay Applegate were part of a band of settlers traveling the Oregon Trail from Missouri. At the Columbia River crossing, they tragically lost their young sons and the raft carrying all their belongings. They vowed to backtrack and discover a safer route which would avoid the deadly river. Beginning at Fort Hall, Idaho, the brothers forged a new trail through Nevada, California and eventually through the Rogue Valley. The trail was on the south side of the Rogue River and crossed at Fort Vannoy about 5 miles west of present Grants Pass. The Applegate wagon train of emigrants made the first wagon tracks through the Rogue River Valley, heading toward the Willamette Valley.


1825 – 1843. Hudson Bay Trappers were the first white people to travel through the Rogue Valley. The Rogue Valley got its name from what settlers and trappers called local native tribes. The natives were called "the rogues," because they fought for their rights.

In 1851 a party of emigrants discovered gold in the Jacksonville area. Their find drew a large number of prospectors seeking their fortunes. Traveling with the party was Josephine Rollins Ort, the namesake of Josephine County. (Source: grantspassoregon.gov)


More rich history.


And what about your name. How did you get your name and what does it mean? I was named Jeanette after one of my mom’s favorite ice skaters. Jeanette means “God is gracious.”


My maiden name is Bartlett and there is a rich history behind this last name.

"Bartlett is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest of 1066 brought to England. It comes from the personal name Bartholomew, and in its altered form is a baptismal name meaning Bartholomew. As the naming tradition grew in Europe, baptismal names began to be introduced in many countries. Baptismal names were sometimes given in honor of Christian saints and other biblical figures. There are very few Christian countries in Europe that did not adopt surnames from these religious figures." (Source: houseofnames.com)


When I married, I took my husband’s last name: Stark. It has English origins and means Firm, Unwielding". In the German language it means strong or powerful.

There is another name, a name that is above all other names.


Philippians 2:9 tells us, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,”


That name is Jesus.


His real name in Hebrew was Yeshua, short for Yehōshu'a and means "salvation."

But what was Jesus’ name before he was born a baby? I’m not sure.


We know from scripture that Jesus is the Creator and John called Him the Word. John 1:1-5,

Isaiah called Him “Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”. Isaiah 9:6.


God the Father called Him "My beloved Son". Matthew 3:17.

We can call Him friend!


John 15:15 "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." NKJV

We can call Him our brother!


Matthew 12:50 "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” NKJV

One of my favorite songs is “There’s Something About That Name”. I have always called it “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. It is a very short song, but packed with good news


The lyrics go like this:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

There’s just something about that name

Master, Savior, Jesus

Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Let all Heaven and earth proclaim

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away

But there’s something about that name


Yes, there is something about THAT name. And that name has saved us from the death we deserve.


“…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11 NKJV

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