Thursday, January 30, 2020

Monroe Postal Route II

This post continues with the reminiscences of L. A. Peek, written around 1916 about his years as a mailman on route one out of Monroe, Oregon. The last post ended in Glenbrook, after which Peek turns and moves along the north side of the valley past a large prune orchard.  He notes passing several farms, many of which, like those mentioned in the prior post, changed hands during the eleven years Peek delivered mail.  He continues his account:

“Next is the old Cross Roads Market, now on the rural map as Church.  Here, perhaps, is found the greatest change of any on the whole route.  In November, 1905, when Inspector Clements laid out this rural route, the Church was the only building near these cross roads.  Now a fine school house stands just across the road, and just beyond is the thriving little town of Alpine consisting of two general merchandise stores, one hardware store, post office, pool hall, barber shop, blacksmith shop, two churches and the S. P. depot. 
Alpine School, 1915
Alpine Railroad Depot, Benton Co., Oregon
“I do not suppose that Alpine will ever become a large city, but with its beautiful surroundings ad splendid natural resources, there is no reason why it should  not become a nice little residence town.  The founders of Alpine are the Webster Brothers, whose energy and enterprise have had much to do with the forward movement in this section, and Alpine in a few more years will be the center of a large orcharding industry.” Indeed, Peek mentions passing a big apple orchard of the Oregon Apple Orchard Co. just before arriving in Alpine and the Apple Orchard Applehurst as he leaves the area.  From Alpine he climbs a hill to his own home. “Here we stop twenty minutes for dinner, and change horses.”

The afternoon portion of the route takes him to Bellfountain.
“Bellfountain is a thrifty little village, has one general merchandise store, and a hotel and blacksmith shop.  Here also is located the central office of the Bellfountain telephone exchange.  But the greatest institution and the pride of the people is its school.  They have a fine modern school house and a large gymnasium.  Prof. L. Mack is at the head of the school and its success is largely due to his energy and ability.” [Note:  H.L. Mack was the father of Dorothy Mack, whose account of life there was featured on this site last fall.]

“Turning west, it is about half a mile to a group of boxes on a wheel and covered by a shed.  My former substitute, Norman Miller, called it “Tin Town,” and that name still clings to it.  Here we leave the mail for the Bunker Hall neighborhood of about a dozen families.

“And I want to say right here that I hope the day is not far distant when these people may have better mail facilities than they now have.  Some of them have to come three miles or more for their mail.”

After heading west past the Bellfountain park and the large prune orchard of the Sims Fruit Co., “the country becomes more rugged and tall fir trees begin to appear—the outer fringe of the forest` that stretches away to the summit of Green Peak, which is seen directly ahead....we come to the site of the old Oliver mill.  Here, many years ago, lived an eccentric old man by the name of S. H. Oliver, who built and operated the mill and for whom the stream was named.  No trace of the mill remains, and the queer old man, after squandering quire a fortune, finally died in the poorhouse....This is the end of the route in this direction and is also the terminal of the Bellfountain branch of the S. P. R. R. and is called Dawson.”

Peek then notes the households at each of the stops along the rest of the route until crossing the bridge over the Muddy River at Bailey Junction and passing by the “far-famed Oaco orchard” to “swing off down the hill to Monroe.”

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Monroe Postal Route

Sometime around 1916, L. A. Peek reminisced about his days delivering mail on horseback.

“Having completed eleven years of service on Route No. 1 out of Monroe, I bethought me this morning to note some of the changes that have occurred on the route during that time.

“The main thing I have noticed is a vast improvement in the roads out of Monroe.”  Later in his account, Peek notes that “a good gravel road that is a great contrast to the old muddy thoroughfare of a few years ago.”

“Arriving at box No. 1, I notice that instead of Amanda Kay the name is John Lemon.  No change in box No. 2.  At the next stop I reach for Green Ingram's mail, and then remember that he, like Grandma Kay, has passed on to his reward.  The next stop brings me to the farm of Hon. E. H. Belknap, now residing near Jefferson, but his son Harlan and his wife are running the farm.  The next stop should be at Ambrose Houck's, but he too, has moved away having sold out to the Kyle boys.  Next is W. H. McElroy, but he too, has moved away and the farm now belongs to A. R. McCallum.  The next stop would be at W. Loomis, but he too, is gone and the farm has been converted into a sheep ranch called the “Lonesome Fir Sheep Farm” where fine blooded sheep are bred under the direction of the manager, J. G. S. Hubbard.”
Hubbard family

Chauncey Hubbard showing an award-winning Southdown sheep at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco:
Chauncey Hubbard

Peek continues, noting the past and current residents at each stop. After stopping at the boyhood home of Congressman W. C. Hawley, he says, “looking to the north of the road we notice a mound of ashes newly burned, which is all the remains of the old log school of pioneer days.  The log school was moved from the original location and only used as a storage shed at this place where it was burned. The memory of this old school house is dear to the sons and daughter of the old pioneers.  I remember, a few years ago a lady from far away Southern California visiting friends and relatives here made a pilgrimage to the old school house and carried away a chip from one of the logs for a souvenir....I cannot pass this pace without recalling to mind the man who taught the school for twenty years. I refer to the Hon. Henry B. Nichols, who not only was the educator of a generation, but was also prominent in the county and state politics of that day. He was a member of the last territorial legislature and of the constitutional convention, and helped to frame the constitution of the great state of ours.... He was also a representative in the first three sessions of the state legislature.  He once told me that he could count fifty of his scholars who had gone out into the world in the high vocations, such as teachers and ministers, and other callings, and were scattered from British Columbia to Mexico.  He was one of the most optimistic men I ever met, and his faith in the future of the Pacific Coast was boundless....”

“My next stop is at the old home of Jacob Hammer. 
Jacob Hammer
 This was the first family to settle in this neighborhood. They came to Oregon in 1846 and stopped near Portland the first winter.  The next spring they came here and located on their donation land claim, living there until the death of Mr. Hammer.  I made my home with them for nearly four years.  Mr. and Mrs. Hammer were both kindly people, and I remember my stay with them with great pleasure.  The farm has passed from the family, and is now owned by the McClosky Brothers.

“Passing on, winding around the hill, the road becomes rougher; on the left rises a wooded hill which a few years ago was covered with a fine growth of fir timber; but the steel bands that like this little valley with the commercial centers [i.e., the railroad] has come and demanded its toll, and the ring of the axe and whistle of the locomotive have converted the quiet little valley of Glenbrook into a teeming one of industry.  Here is located the piling camp of George Keach, with M. W. Small as superintendent.

“We have now arrived at the foot of the Coast Range of Mountains the summit of which is only about one and a half miles away.  This is the limit of the rural route in this direction.”

Next week's post will contain more of Peek's reminiscences.

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