Celebrating Newberg history
By Janice Allen
It is well documented that Newberg founding father Sebastian Brutscher was appointed the town's first postmaster on Nov. 5, 1869. What most people don't know is the role his wife, Mary, played in delivering the mail.
It became Mary's job to notify Sebastian whenever he needed to come in from his chores to deliver the mail to his patrons, since no one else was allowed to handle the mail. As he was often long distances away tending to crops, sheep and the sawmill on their 640 acres, Mary took to blowing long and hard on a cow horn to call him home.
This story was shared by Mary's and Sebastian's great-grandson Elton Brutscher, guest of honor at a gathering held at Newberg's Fernwood Pioneer Cemetery Saturday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Newberg post office and to honor the Brutschers, two of Newberg's leading citizens.
"Mail came over the mountain from Portland on horseback," Elton recalled. All the mail for the then small farming settlement was delivered to the Brutscher home, thus rendering it Newberg's first post office, he explained.
The three-story home with more than a dozen rooms and handsome fireplaces and ornamental hand-carved banisters, was located about one mile east of Newberg at the Springbrook intersection of what is now Highway 99W.
Soon to celebrate his 101st birthday on Nov. 3, Elton posed for photographs with ease amongst the Fernwood Pioneer Cemetery tombstones that mark where Mary and Sebastian and four of their 11 children were laid to rest.
The celebration, organized by Newberg resident and historian Ron Parrish, included comments from Newberg historian George Edmonston, Newberg Mayor Emeritus Bob Andrews, Newberg Councilwoman Stephanie Findley and Kelly Gibson of the Newberg post office. Gail Everest Duncan spoke in honor of Nathan Wesley Everest, murdered in a labor war in Centralia, Wash., in 1919.
Brutscher descendants who attended were Mary's and Sebastian's great-great granddaughters Barbara Brutscher-Leisman, Susan Lavier and Brooke Mill; Mary's and Sebastian's great-great grandson Ladd Brothers; and Mary's and Sebastian's great-great-great grandson Collin Brutscher.
Collin, 28, said he admires his great-great-great grandfather, who left Neuburg, Bavaria, Germany, at the age of about 20, stowing away on a sailing vessel and arriving safely in 1847 in New York. He said he can't imagine living the life Brutscher lived.
In 1849, Brutscher joined the U.S. Army and served under Col. W.W. Loring after the Whitman massacre. After his discharge he made his way to the Chehalem Valley and married Mary Everest, daughter of Richard and Jane (Cole) Everest. With $100 he bought squatter's right to 640 acres in what is today the east end of Newberg that includes Springbrook Plaza and Newberg Ford along Portland Road. In 1881 when Newberg founder Jesse Edwards platted his original townsite it was given the name Newberg, in honor of Brutscher's Bavarian hometown.
It took a great amount of strength and courage to survive during the days of Mary and Sebastian Brutscher, Edmonston said.
As for Elton, who graduated with a degree in forestry from Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) and got a desk job keeping track of funds for the Oregon State Department of Forestry, he may have inherited his pragmatic way of thinking from his ancestors.
"It is just history," he said. "I have never thought about it being really special - it just happened."
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