Tales from the Grubby End: The turning point in the founding of Newberg
- Pamplin Media Group
- Newberg Graphic - Features
The decade of the 1880s is the turning point in the development of Newberg into something more than a scattering of farms.
It took money to complete the transition, money in quantity, money that came here as result of two events occurring earlier in that century.
The first we discussed in a recent column about the California Gold Rush (1848-1851). It impacted the state like nothing before it.
The second was the financial resources brought here in the 1870s by the arrival of the Quakers.
In the early 1880s, five local Quakers — the married couples William and Sarah Ruddick and David and Maggie Wood, with the fifth being Jesse Edwards —registered two separate plats (in 1881 and 1883, respectively) and it is from these we have the Newberg we see today.
The Ruddick/Wood location was a five-acre section bounded by familiar street names North Main to the east, West Illinois to the north, Morton to the west and the railroad tracks to the south.
Dayton hotel owner Marcus Blair invested here and "Father of Newberg" Jesse Edwards bought an entire block.
So what happened?
The railroad was supposed to pass nearby in 1881, yet didn't do so until 1887. By that time everyone had lost interest and moved on.
The Jesse Edwards plat was in the vicinity of today's Center Street. Development here in the late 1870s, with similar growth along North Main Street (south of the tracks), resulted in the two sections growing together. By 1889 there was enough growth to officially incorporate the community as the city of Newberg.
Friends Pacific Academy, now George Fox University, was founded in 1885. By 1891, it was financially stable enough to hold classes as an institution of higher learning. The financing came from both local sources and from funds recruited from the Midwest.
A few years before, in 1881, the Grubby End's first public school began operations in a little white school house at the northwest corner of what today West Illinois and North Main streets.
The Newberg Graphic was founded in December 1888. Earlier newspapers included the Newberg Banner, with William Noah Parrish as editor, and the Evening Star in 1885.
Banking first arrived in 1886 with the Bank of Newberg on Center Street. In 1909 the bank was in the Union Block building on East First Street, operating as the National Bank of Newberg.
The population of Newberg in 1882 was around 200. By 1890, it had doubled. It doubled again by 1900. Everyone looked around and said, "Where are all these people coming from?"
At the beginning of the 1880s most everyone farmed. By the end of the decade, local employment could be found in many new occupations, including tobacconist, druggist, banker, hotel operator, furniture sales, barber, doctor, agricultural implements, livery and so on.
In the 1880s, agricultural interests, still paramount to social and economic life, were well-served by a group known as the Newberg Agricultural Society.
In the 1880s the organization hosted a festival that would eventually lead to the present-day Newberg Old Fashioned Festival. It was named The Newberg Fair and was held at the location of the original Quaker church, on property just east of Church Street and north of Friends Cemetery. The fair closed in 1895 due to mounting debt.
At the beginning of the 1980s, there were three main roads in Newberg: the Old Military Road (today Highway 99W); Old Dayton Road, still the same, and West Chehalem Road, today Highway 240.
They came together, then split from one another, near city hall on East First Street. By 1890, there would be many more roads to help travelers go back and forth.
Let us also not forget that from 1885 to 1888, a future United States president lived here with his Quaker aunt and uncle, Laura and Henry Minthorn. This was Herbert Hoover. He remembered them as stern and inflexible.
Finally, it's fun to mention that one of the most popular social clubs in the 1880s was something known as the Newberg Wolf Club.
Organized in 1883, members hunted predatory animals for sport and profit. The pelts were worth money. Meetings were held in Henry Austin's blacksmith shop. Henry is the grandfather of Ken Austin Jr., co-founder of A-dec Inc.