MEDFORD, Ore. — One of the most prominent families in the Rogue Valley, the Singler family, came to the area back in the early 1900s.
August Singler was an outgoing salesman, working hard to support his wife and 8 children.
“August Singler was a hustler, a mover, and shaker, a real energetic guy who sold sewing machines and patent medicines,” said Ben Truwe, a Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer and local historian. He says Singler ran for Jackson County Sheriff in 1912.
“[He] kind of campaigned against what was seen as the Jacksonville machine or the people who’d been running the government for a long time, he printed handbills that showed him and his family and under the handbill, it said ‘This is the Party I’m Working For’… his family, versus any political party.”
Singler was successfully elected sheriff, but tragedy struck only 4 months after he took office.
Truwe says the new sheriff was pursuing a 19-year-old ‘punk’ named Lester Jones, who was known around town for causing trouble.
“He [Lester Jones] was committing petty burglaries and theft and the word was that he was trying to put together a gang, he wanted to rob the Beekman Bank.”
Truwe says Sheriff Singler found out where Jones was staying and had a guide take him to the cabin to serve an arrest warrant.
“I guess [he/Singler] knocks on the door or opens the door with the pistol in his hand where Lester Jones shoots him, the first bullet goes through his armpit and both of his lungs, the second bullet destroyed one of the knuckles of his right hand so Singler had to shift the pistol to his left hand and fired all six shots of the pistol into Lester Jones and killed him quite dead.”
Sheriff Singler was able to make his way down the hill to his guide.
Truwe says Singler knew he was a dead man, and told the guide it was a fatal wound.
He was driven to the newly constructed Sacred Heart Hospital, where he said his goodbyes to his family.
He died the next morning.
“They had the largest funeral procession ever witnessed in this cemetery, this cemetery was full of people. He still lies here today looking down on the gravesite of Lester Jones, the 19-year-old punk who killed him,” Truwe said.
Much of the well-known large family still resides in Medford.
“The Singlers are still in the valley today, one of his grandchildren is buried next to him, Bill Singler [who] served on the city council in the ’60s and then was elected mayor in 1968 – and in turn, his grandson, Kyle Singler, is a professional basketball player.”
Even today, more than one hundred years later, local law enforcement agencies still gather to honor the sheriff who lost his life in the line of duty.
Each May, a Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony is held at Singler Plaza in Medford.
It’s located between the Jackson County Jail and the county courthouse.
© 2023 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.