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A series of individuals attempted to literally put Newberg on the map



Parts of this column have appeared before. This time, let’s add some new elements to the previous ones and answer the following question: How did we evolve from a collection of farmsteads to a town?

The evidence suggests there were four attempts, with the final one serving as the impetus to produce the Newberg we see today.

Our story begins at nearby Rogers Landing on the Willamette River, named for Joseph Berry Rogers, who came to the Grubby End in 1845.PHOTO COURTESY OF GFU ARCHIVES - The first attempt to plat a town called Newberg came in 1881. Responsible were two enterprising young Quaker couples: William and Sarah Ruddick and David and Maggie Wood. The four purchased five acres from Elijah Hutchens for $125, property which had been part of the J.H. Hess Donation Land Claim.

An earlier version of a landing was already operating, owned by a French-Canadian known as Michel Placide (later Laferte). This was Placide’s Landing.

Placide sold his holdings to Rogers sometime around 1847. The new owner soon became interested in platting a town. He asked his neighbor, an Englishman named Sam Snowden, to do the work.

Rogers and Snowden chose the name “Chehalem.” Informally, some called it “Chehalem City.”

The plat was finished on Feb. 19, 1848. It was filed at Oregon City on June 13.

In addition to operating a ferry, Rogers added a store. Together, they gave the place a more permanent feel. The store was Newberg’s first business.

Rogers’ death in 1855 put an end to his dream, but wife Letitia kept things going until her passing in 1857. The idea of a town also died.

In 1869, another event took place which didn’t result in a town, but did offer a new name for this section of east Yamhill County.

At his farm where Providence Newberg Medical Center is today, Sebastian Brutscher operated a post office. He chose “Newberg” for the location, in honor of his hometown in Neuburg, Bavaria.

Hold on to this name because it will show up again in about a dozen years.

We now go a few miles west.

At the location which now sports a Walgreens, where Villa Road intersects with Highway 99W, there seems to have been another attempt to start something.

By 1878, Jacob Haynes Jr. and his wife Sarah were operating a small store in the vicinity. A blacksmith shop operated next door and there were several homesteads. The first Quaker church or meeting house in Newberg was just southwest of the store.

A church, a store, a blacksmith shop, homesteads: the beginnings of a town?

The first attempt to plat a town called Newberg came in 1881. Responsible were two enterprising young Quaker couples: William and Sarah Ruddick and David and Maggie Wood.

The four purchased five acres from Elijah Hutchens for $125, property which had been part of the J.H. Hess Donation Land Claim.

They hired county surveyor H.S. Maloney to do the map. On Feb. 24, 1881, he did so, calling the new community by the name Sebastian Brutscher had given his post office in 1869.

Maloney’s vision was bounded by Illinois Street (now West Illinois) on the north, the railroad tracks on the south, Morton Street to the west and Main (now North Main) to the east.

So what happened?

A railroad connecting Dundee to Portland, scheduled for completion in the early 1880s, didn’t materialize until 1887.

By this time, interest among investors had vanished, including one of the most historic figures in Newberg’s history, Jesse Edwards, who had bought several lots from Ruddick-Wood.

Edwards was a man of action. Even before letting go of his property, he was busy putting in motion his own idea for a town.

In 1883, Edwards and his wife Mary hired J.C. Cooper to plat a town site, the first of three they would devise to eventually encompass everything all the way south to the river.

Of these, the 1883 plat is the most important because it is the one that would eventually become the heart of our First Street business district. It is also the one that gives Edwards his moniker, “Father of Newberg.”

The plat was officially registered with the county on Sept. 15, 1883.

It was located several blocks east, west and south of the Center Street we know today.

A photo of Newberg taken in the 1887, housed in the George Fox University Archives, shows a concentration of wooden buildings along both sides of this early and important street, right square in the “center” of an emerging town.

Also here, Edwards helped establish The Bank of Newberg in 1886, the town’s first, on the east side of Center Street between First and Second streets.

With the arrival of the trains in 1887, the neighborhood along Main Street finally saw a surge of growth that would eventually spawn two hotels, a train depot, drug and furniture stores, a tobacco shop and other small businesses.

However, it was all to the south of the railroad tracks, not north, where the Ruddick-Wood team had dreamed of a town.

Now there were two “Newbergs.”

During the decade of the 1890s, a rivalry developed, with Main Street holding an early lead, only to be surpassed by First Street at the turn of the century to a position it never relinquished.

In a very real sense, Newberg came about as a result of the growth between the two rivals welding together to form a single town.

But Jesse Edwards made it happen.

Newberg resident George Edmonston Jr. is the retired editor of OSU’s alumni magazine, the Oregon Stater, and is a frequent contributor of history features to this newspaper. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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