Thursday, June 16, 2022


It's that time of year when you see people wearing black robes and mortarboard hats as students are graduating from college. High school graduations, at least locally, seem to favor brightly colored robes.

We have in our artifact collection a robe and mortarboard that were worn by a local woman, Jessie E.(Wilson)  Bump, who graduated from Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) in 1924.

Jessie Bump about the time she graduated from OAC.
Jessie Wilson first enrolled at OAC in 1896-1897 as a young woman of 16.

There she met Clarence Lee Bump, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1897.  They married after her sophomore year, in August of 1898. She dropped out of school.  In 1900, the first of her three sons, Victor, was born.  He was followed by Chester in 1903 and Wilson in 1907.  During her time raising the three boys, she kept thinking about returning to college.  

She finally did so first in 1918 and then again in 1923.  She graduated with a degree in home economics in 1924.  She said, “I think I am getting more out of college than I did 20 years ago.  Things have more associations and greater value to me.”  A woman then returning to college later in life was usual enough but what made Jessie's story even more so is that she did so at the same time sons Victor and Chester were also attending the same school.  That circumstance attracted attention and her story was written up and published in newspapers across the country.  In the article she said:

            “My boys are glad I am finishing my education.  They walk down the campus with me just as a proudly as if they were with the best looking girl in school.

            “It's all foolishness that older people can't learn.  I am keeping up with the times and in closer touch with my children. When one of them comes home grouching about an exam I can sympathize with him because I know exactly what he means.”

After her graduation Jessie taught for a year in Philomath.  In 1925, she and Clarence moved to Kings Valley and she began teaching extension classes. She died in June of 1971. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Egg Carrier

In 1903, the U.S. granted a patent (number 722,512) to Henry S. Jenne for a new style container for transporting eggs. He assigned this patent to John G. Elbs of Rochester, New York, who began producing the containers under the name Starr Egg Carrier and Tray Manufacturing.

Star Egg Carriers and Trays

Star Egg Carriers and Trays
The innovative feature of this egg carrier was the use of removable jute board inserts lining the sides and bottom of the wooden crate and dividers that created twelve individual sections. Jute board was used because the fibrous material was soft and absorbed shocks.  Circular holes in the bottom layer held the eggs in place. A cover was placed over the top and secured with the metal bar.  Once the eggs reached their destination, the case was inverted into the tray-like cover.  The purchaser kept the tray but the wooden crate and the partitions were returned to the seller.

Elbs touted the Starr Egg Carriers as saving the seller “thousands of dollars by eliminating breakage.” Company ads also noted that the design prevented miscounts, made handling quicker and easier  thus “reducing the cost of delivery by 16 2/3 percent.”  The ads also claimed more satisfied consumers.

The carriers did offer advantages and by 1919 Elbs claimed that his carriers were “used by 70 percent of all retail grocers.”

To see other items related to the buying and selling of goods, visit the new “Consumer Culture” exhibit at the Benton County Historical Society's Philomath Museum.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

Friday, June 3, 2022

Konick's Jewelers of Corvallis, Oregon

Photographs and objects in the “Consumer Culture” exhibit at the Benton County Historical Society's Philomath Museum show how the selling of goods to consumers has changed. The photos below show the evolution of one local business, Konick's Jewelers.  William Konick established the business in Corvallis in 1913 in the Occidental Hotel (later Hotel Corvallis) building on the southeast corner of Second and Madison.

As this photograph of the interior of his store soon after opening shows, Konick's sold clocks, silverware, watches, rings, and trophies. Mr. Konick is behind the counter talking to two unidentified men. 

In 1926, the business had to relocate temporarily as the hotel building was being remodeled.

By 1927, Konick's Jewelers was back in its original location with a remodeled store. The store was much roomier and Konick added a private “diamond room” for personal consultations and a gift room featuring items “of all sorts, to fit every  pocketbook.”  The store now carried glassware as well as silverware and jewelry.

In 1962, Konick's Jewelers moved to a new location on Third Street which offered about 50% more floor space. The company was now managed by William's son, Alvin Konick, and planned to offer additional services such as watch repair and a bridal registry.

The new location was lighter and brighter than the original store. What other differences do you see?

William Konick died in 1974 but the family continued to operate the store until 1984 or so.

Today, the neon sign from the business is on display in the gift shop of the Corvallis Museum.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Decorative Shell Art

 The last post featured a painting by Henri Jova entitled “Shell”.  It seems the shell's many curves inspired the painting. Other people have also been inspired by the shapes and colors of shells as evidenced by these objects from the Benton County Historical Society's collection. 

Corvallis fiber artist Salome (Sally) Formiller (1938-2019) used a slice of shell to form an interesting pattern in the bottom of her pine needle and raffia bowl.

A polished mollusk shell provided the pearly surface on which the artist carved a oriental scene of a woman and girl looking out of a house at three men in the garden. The carved figures were then painted gold.  The museum's collection contains a pair of these carved shells; the scenes are mirror images of each other.

Different types of shells cover two of the decorative eggs in the Harper collection.  Tiny shells cover the first and pieces of abalone shell cover the second, which is on display in the hall of the Corvallis Museum.

Do you have any shells or shell-covered items in your house?

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Artist Henri Jovi

 In 1943, the U. S. Army contacted the Portland Art Museum about conducting an art workshop at Camp Adair in order to give the soldiers something to do when they weren't actively training.  The soldiers who participated were a mix of those with some training in art and others who had never done any art work before.  Some of the work produced by those participants is in the collection of the Benton County Historical Museum.  One piece, a mural, is on display in the Corvallis Museum.

Another is this painting of a shell done in oil on masonite by Henri Jovi (1914-2014).

Jovi, then a private in the 70th Division, had been a student in art and architecture at Cornell University  prior to beginning military service. This painting and two others of his were part of the 1944  Portland Art Museum's All-Oregon exhibition. Works done at Adair were also displayed on the OSU campus and at the servicemen's center in Corvallis.

After finishing his training, Henri Jovi was transferred to the Army's Combat Engineers and served in the South Pacific.  After the war, he completed his degree at Cornell and then studied in Rome.

He became a noted architect based in Atlanta, Georgia where he designed the Colony Square, the Atlanta City Hall and the Carter Center.  He was also known for is leadership in developing the midtown area of Atlanta and in pioneering mixed used developments. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2021 Museum Artifact Donations

 The Benton County Historical Society continues to add items related to Benton County to its collection. Here are some that were donated in 2021.

“Flustered Four-in Hand” print

This chromolithograph print advertising the City Livery Stables is entitled “Flustered Four-in Hand.”

It was a popular print often used in advertising in the era when automobiles were starting at appear on roads along with horses. The print itself dates from 1907 but this poster was from 1909-1912 when Gray was manager of the livery stables. The City Livery Stables were located at Third and Madison in Corvallis.

This object may be familiar to some of you as similar items are still in use. It is a spiral horse grooming brush.  The circular steel blades are serrated on both sides. They are attached to the handle with a spring that allows it to be pulled and twisted to reverse the comb.  Grooming a horse with the comb removed mud and excess hair. It was used on the Wiese family farm which was located on what is now the Timberhill development.

Wiese Farm, Corvallis, Oregon

Appliqued butterfly quilt

This quilt with appliqued butterflies was assembled by Corvallis resident  Wilma "Billie" Josephine Finster Gretz in the 1940s or 1950s.  The antennae were hand embroidered.  Martha Marie Laack Finster (Wilma's mother) and her church quilting circle did the hand quilting. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon