Columbia County Historical Society and Museum Association

Columbia County Historical Society and Museum Association We collect, display, preserve, and safeguard various artifacts, ephemera, photographs and research materials about the history of Columbia County, Oregon.
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We had some good guesses on our last post, and some of you got it right - the Yankton Grange!The original hall was built...
04/23/2020

We had some good guesses on our last post, and some of you got it right - the Yankton Grange!

The original hall was built in 1901 and underwent extensive remodeling and renovation in the latter half of 1940, with the grange members doing the majority of the work. The entire lower portion of the old hall was demolished and the upper floor was moved over onto a newly poured cement floor. Once rebuilt, the upper floor contained the auditorium and stage, and the bottom floor had a kitchen, dining room, restrooms, and dressing rooms with private stairs to the stage upstairs. The outside of the building was covered in cedar shakes that were painted gray, with red trim and a matching red roof. The new building was dedicated in grand fashion on February 23, 1941, and a moose head that was shot in Alaska was donated by Jesse Yoder for the occasion. If you've taken a drive through Yankton, you'll notice that the grange hall looks much as it did in 1941.

From the turn of the century up until 1940, you might have spent your Saturday nights in this Columbia County building. ...
04/22/2020

From the turn of the century up until 1940, you might have spent your Saturday nights in this Columbia County building. Who knows what it is?

ANSWER: This was the Yankton Grange Hall, before it was remodeled extensively in 1940/41.

St. Helens' namesake in England has both similarities, differences - Longview Daily News  - Feb. 1967 (for a larger, eas...
04/16/2020

St. Helens' namesake in England has both similarities, differences - Longview Daily News - Feb. 1967 (for a larger, easier to read version, click on the article and download it under Options)

This would have been a site to see! (5 Sep 1854 - Umpqua Weekly Gazette)
04/15/2020

This would have been a site to see! (5 Sep 1854 - Umpqua Weekly Gazette)

Wednesday at 6PM we'll be taking a look at some of the businesses along Columbia Blvd. in St. Helens in the early 1980s....
04/01/2020

Wednesday at 6PM we'll be taking a look at some of the businesses along Columbia Blvd. in St. Helens in the early 1980s. We hope to "see" you there.

Maybe you've had a little extra time at home lately. What better time to finally dig and sort through those boxes of "st...
03/31/2020

Maybe you've had a little extra time at home lately. What better time to finally dig and sort through those boxes of "stuff" that you inherited from Grandma.

We accept donations of items that help to preserve the history of Columbia County. That could include photographs, family histories, business advertisements, etc... We can also gladly scan the items at a high resolution and return them to you, and provide you a digital copy that can be shared with your family.

Please get in touch before tossing things in the trash to see if we might be interested. You wouldn't believe how often we hear, "I didn't think you would be interested in something like that," or sadly, "I used to have things like that but I threw them all away."

Preserving our history is a group effort. What kind of interesting Columbia County "history stuff" do you have tucked away?

Question of the Day: Who remembers the Lund Bros. Store in Warren?
03/30/2020

Question of the Day: Who remembers the Lund Bros. Store in Warren?

We honor all those who have served. Thank you!
03/30/2020

We honor all those who have served. Thank you!

Tune in tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:00 PM for a Live Video as we look back at some of the St. Helens businesses along Highway...
03/28/2020

Tune in tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:00 PM for a Live Video as we look back at some of the St. Helens businesses along Highway 30 in the early 1980's!

03/27/2020

Who's ready for a blast from the past? We're working on putting together a virtual tour of St. Helens in the early 1980's. We'll be doing several live videos in the coming weeks and want to know what you want to see first!

Columbia County Courthouse Plaza in St. Helens - early 1980's
03/27/2020

Columbia County Courthouse Plaza in St. Helens - early 1980's

Question of the day: How many of you have stopped here over the years?
03/23/2020

Question of the day: How many of you have stopped here over the years?

There seems to be some confusion about a photograph posted last week of the Happy Hollow School so here is a little more...
03/23/2020

There seems to be some confusion about a photograph posted last week of the Happy Hollow School so here is a little more information. Several individuals commented that the photograph was actually the Trenholm School and it is still standing. The Trenholm School was sold and converted to a residence many years, and is indeed still standing today. However, the Happy Hollow School, that was pictured last week is no longer standing. The two schools were built about the same time and nearly identical in appearance, but upon closer inspection you will note several differences, particularly with the bell towers.

Included are photographs of both school buildings. If you have more information about either of them we would love to hear from you. More information about the Trenholm School can be found in our biannual publication from the Winter 2016-2017.

Question of the day: Who is this woman and what was her contribution to Columbia County history?ANSWER: Pictured is Dell...
03/22/2020

Question of the day: Who is this woman and what was her contribution to Columbia County history?

ANSWER: Pictured is Dell (Caples) Houghton. She was the last member of the Caples family to inhabit the historic family home in Columbia City, and it was she who donated it to the Daughters of the American Revolution to be preserved as a museum.

Question of the Day: In 1909 and 1910, people were encouraged to move to this newly platted townsite in Columbia County,...
03/20/2020

Question of the Day: In 1909 and 1910, people were encouraged to move to this newly platted townsite in Columbia County, with street names of Main, Scappoose, Alder and Myrtle. Where was it?

ANSWER: This was the townsite of Spitzenberg, located about six miles from Scappoose via the Scappoose Vernonia Highway. The town itself, located near the intersection of present-day Cater and Alder Creek Roads, failed to materialize but many called the community home over the years. One of them, a Danish blacksmith named Ed Jepson, referred to himself as the "Mayor of Spitzenberg" since he proudly called the little valley home for sixty years.

A lot was going on in Columbia County 100 years ago, but the big news was the launching of the steamer Everett by the Mc...
03/20/2020

A lot was going on in Columbia County 100 years ago, but the big news was the launching of the steamer Everett by the McCormick Shipyards. Designed for off-shore trade, the Everett was the largest ship built by the shipyards up to that time.

Question of the day: Where was this Columbia County School located?ANSWER: This was the Happy Hollow School, located alo...
03/19/2020

Question of the day: Where was this Columbia County School located?

ANSWER: This was the Happy Hollow School, located along Milton Creek on Pittsburg Rd. between Yankton and Trenholm.

OTTO W. GODKIN & THE MILTON FURNITURE FACTORY     Otto Godkin was only in St. Helens for a short while, but left his mar...
03/19/2020

OTTO W. GODKIN & THE MILTON FURNITURE FACTORY

Otto Godkin was only in St. Helens for a short while, but left his mark on the community that he and his family called home from 1881 to 1885. Born to European emigrants on April 21, 1847, in Clarksburg, Virginia, he served for nine months with the 74th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Later he traveled west to the state of Washington where he married Theresa McDonald in 1877. They had two children, Alma and Norman, when they settled down in St. Helens, Oregon in 1881. Purchasing 30-acres from George and Mary Frantz on the banks of Milton Creek, soon the Godkins became known for their beautiful garden.

It took no time for the locals to discover that Mr. Godkin was also an extremely talented carpenter. The Columbian newspaper of October 27, 1882 reported, “Mr. Otto Godkin is very busy. He is making a chest of drawers to run through the whole length of G.W. McBride’s store. It will be a work of art when completed.” Just over a month later he had completed his work, with the news noting, “Mr. Godkin has put up the drawers in George McBride’s store, and Mr. McBride is dreadful stuck up about them, and we don’t wonder, they are handsome, and are full of goods, and handy as a pocket in a shirt.”

Before long Otto had more than enough business to keep him occupied and he employed the assistance of Joseph Harris. The following spring it was reported that he was teaching Edward Potter the cabinet maker’s trade. Otto’s labors were recorded in the news, including peavey sticks for the log drivers, mailboxes for the St. Helens Post Office and work on a new post office at Columbia City, and a combination desk and bookcase for a Mr. Hazen on the Washington side of the river, that was described as “a splendid work of art.” In August 1883, advertisements began appearing for the Milton Furniture Factory, where Otto crafted chairs with wood or rawhide seats, and other pieces made to order.

Theresa also kept busy and was active and involved in community affairs, in addition to her responsibilities at home with her family. She was a member of the local W.C.T.U., cared for sick friends and neighbors, and was learning German in her spare time. The local reporter stated, “Mrs. Godkin is a fine conversationalist and her children are intelligent beyond their years.” The Columbian of September 28, 1883, reported that Otto bought his wife a very nice, gentle horse that she enjoyed riding, and that “it gives her a change and takes away the monotony of everyday life.” Unfortunately, less than two months later she was thrown from the horse after it stepped in a hole in the bridge while crossing the swamp near Honesty Hill.

The news of October 12, 1883, exclaimed, “Mr. Otto Godkin is a splendid architect. If he is among people that do not appreciate his talents, that makes no difference in his ability.” Less than a year later he was building a porch on the Judge Moore’s residence on Honesty Hill, which was “indeed a work of art, and is entirely manufactured and designed by Mr. Godkin.” It reportedly had Ionic-style columns that would be “a constant advertisement of Mr. Godkin’s skill and taste.” Less than two months later he was completing a fruit dryer for A.H. Blakesley.

In December 1883, it was reported that “Mr. Godkin has made quite an improvement in his mansion on Milton Creek” Described as “very beautiful,” the adjacent railroad being completed by Chinese workers had reportedly “taken all the desolate look from the landscape.” Mrs. Godkin was recovering from an illness a month later when the news had the following to say about the Godkin children: “Their children are beautiful and healthy and show their parents take much pains in their training and nurture.” By February 1884, the Godkins had “fixed up their house in a very tasty manner. Mr. Godkin makes the best chairs for a dollar apiece we ever used. They are easy, handy and durable, and very simple apparently, but just fill the bill.” The following summer he had a surplus of furniture and was looking to sell them in Astoria or The Dalles. The Columbian advertised, “Mr. Godkin has much furniture to sell at reasonable prices. All should give him a call before purchasing elsewhere.”

In October 1884, Theresa and the children traveled to San Francisco to visit her sister and planned on staying the entire winter. The Columbian of October 24, 1884, stated, “Mrs. Godkin is a lady of superior talents, and will doubtless find the society of the Bay City very interesting by side of the quiet of Milton Creek.” In January 1885, the Columbian noted that Otto’s daughter was very sick in San Francisco, and that he was “very anxious to join his family there. He intends to rent or sell his place.” The last ad for the furniture factory appeared in the newspaper on May 8, 1885, and a month later it was reported that his home was left in the care of George Frantz during his absence. None of the members of the Godkin family would ever return to make St. Helens their home. Their home and property were eventually seized by the County Sheriff and sold at public auction in February 1887 to James and Charles Muckle. The Godkin place was located north and west of today’s McCormick Park, between the present park boundary and Milton Way.

The Godkin family left St. Helens, but not without leaving a positive impression. The local news editor proclaimed, “There are some people upon their first advent in a community make a great blow of trumpets but after a short time are compelled to take a back seat, not so Mr. and Mrs. Godkin. They have gradually and surely worked into the esteem of the community and spite of innate modesty are reckoned among our first citizens. They are people of culture and refinement….”

They may have wrapped up their time in St. Helens, but their story didn’t end there. Otto and Theresa went on to have another daughter named Daisy in 1887. That same year they were living in Berkeley when Otto applied for and was issued a patent for an “adjustable draining-lid for cooking utensils.” By 1890 the Godkin family was in Seattle, and also spent time in Dewatto and Hoodsport. Otto somehow learned that his father was allegedly the illegitimate son of an Austrian count and had been denied his share of the family wealth. Otto sought out to reclaim an Austrian title of nobility and a family castle that was worth millions.

In November 1893 he filed for a passport at Seattle, anticipating a future trip to Europe to investigate his inheritance. The application stated that he was 46 years old, 5 ft. 9 ¾ inches tall, and that he had blue eyes, light brown hair, a prominent nose and a small mouth. He traveled first to Virginia and the Confederate Veteran Magazine reported, “Otto W. Godkin is here looking for some information of his father, Christoph Joseph Godkin, who had been an officer in the Austrian army, but came to Clarksburg, VA., some time prior to the war, and from Clarksburg went to St. Louis, Mo. He left there in April 1862, to join Gen. T.J. Jackson and the record states that he was killed at the battle of Chancellorsville, VA. His son Otto was very young at the time and has no information as to what command his father belonged or what became of him definitely. Any information in regard to him will be cheerfully received.”

Otto’s search was featured in Seattle area newspapers in October 1894, and it was reported, “Mr. Godkin is still in Europe, having secured evidence of his right to the title of Count Van Galen of Austria, and is now trying to obtain the estate belonging to him. The father of Mr. Godkin was a count there, but was driven into exile and came to America, where Mr. Godkin was born. Political changes have taken place now, so that Mr. Godkin has a right to the position and estate occupied by his ancestors. The latter is said to be of great value, perhaps over a million. The card of Mrs. and Miss Godkin now reads Countess Theresa Godkin Von Galen, Alma Godkin Von Galen Baroness de Schoenau.” A Spokane newspaper added, “The family expect soon to remove from their ranch near Hoodsport to the old family castle in Austria.”

Unfortunately for Otto and the members of his family, nothing came of his European adventure. He never received anything for his efforts, including the castle and wealth that he felt were rightly his. His children married and started families of their own, and he and Teresa settled down in Tacoma where he worked as a carpenter, civil engineer and later a timber cruiser. Theresa died in Seattle in 1920 and Otto followed seven years later.

Article and Research by Brandon Sundeen

You got it Rick Wootan! The part of St. Helens that was once known as Honesty Hill was located on present day South 1st ...
03/19/2020

You got it Rick Wootan! The part of St. Helens that was once known as Honesty Hill was located on present day South 1st Street where it splits before entering the downtown area. Many prominent families once called this bluff their home, and perhaps it got its name from the fact that many of them served as judges, sheriffs and attorneys over the years. The name was widely used in the 1880's and continued to show up in the local news until 1900.

Included are two early views of Honesty Hill - one taken from the Courthouse looking at the homes on the bluff, and the other taken from the bluff looking towards the courthouse.

03/18/2020

Trivia Question: What part of St. Helens was once known as Honesty Hill?

Parents Die in Concentration Camp; German Boy, A Refuge In Switzerland, Hates GermansBy Jessica L. Longston, President a...
01/28/2020

Parents Die in Concentration Camp; German Boy, A Refuge In Switzerland, Hates Germans

By Jessica L. Longston, President and Publisher of the St. Helens Sentinel-Mist

One of my cousins is married to a Swiss and has lived in Zurich, Switzerland for the past 20 years. For the past three years, a German boy, Hans, has lived with her, her husband and son. Both boys are 16 years old.

Hans is a big blond German who is about 6 feet six inches tall. He was the only ‘blond German giant’ I remember meeting. Perhaps that is because he came from Prussia which is now in the Russian zone.

Hans’ father and uncle owned an airplane factory before and during the war. They were not nazis, but it was simpler, easier and much more profitable to coast along with the party in power in Germany. They had a lot of government contracts for planes and made a very great deal of money. But they weren’t happy about it. They weren’t proud of themselves. They didn’t like to manufacture weapons of war for the nazis but they didn’t know how to get out of doing it.

The older son, Hans’ brother, was in the German army. He hated it.

At last the whole family decided to make a break. The son deserted from the army and burned every shred of evidence that he had ever been in it. Hans, his father and mother, his older brother and a younger brother and sister, started out with the uncle from their home in Prussia for Switzerland. Hans’ mother had a sister there and they hoped to gain safety and freedom with her.

After traveling like fugitives at night they reached the Swiss border. Switzerland admitted deserters from the German army, minor children, or recognized fugitives who could prove their lives would be endangered if admittance were refused. But Hans’ brother had destroyed all evidence that he was a deserter from the army and had nothing to prove that he had been in it. So he was refused admittance.

Hans and his younger brother and sister were allowed to enter. But his father, mother and uncle were not recognized fugitives and they had no definite way of proving that they would be killed if they were turned back into Germany.

My cousin said that if it had been handled by different people they could perhaps have gotten into Switzerland. But the Swiss had to make restrictions or they would have been over-run – starved out by thousands of similar people.

So the brother, uncle and father and mother had to return to Germany.

Of course they walked right into the arms of the Gestapo. They were put into a concentration camp at hard labor. After months of hardship the uncle, father and brother had a chance to escape. But the father refused to go and leave his wife to an unknown fate in the camp.

So the uncle and brother tried to escape. The brother was killed in the attempt. The uncle made it. The father and mother both died or were killed shortly before the end of the war.

Hans hates the fact that he is a German. He despises the German people. He wants nothing more to do with Germany.

His aunt is bringing up his brother and sister and he is living with my cousin because his aunt couldn’t care for more than two. He is more fortunate than many of his compatriots because his family shipped a great deal of furniture, etc. to Switzerland before they tried to go there. His uncle has established legal proof of Hans’ ownership to the family property in his former home town. But it is held by the Russian and there is no telling if he will ever get it back again.
There are many Germans like Hans.

And of course there are also thousands of Germans who are proud of being German.

But Hans’ family was like many average, prosperous American families. They weren’t particularly interested in politics. They didn’t take much part in political affairs. They didn’t have enough backbone to stand up and defend their ideas of right and wrong. It was much easier, much more profitable to go along with the party in power. They didn’t approve but by the time they saw the real danger it was too late.

They paid for their disinterest, their lack of definite action with the loss of their own self-respect, and then with hardship, suffering, and finally… death.

Published in the St. Helens Sentinel-Mist on February 11, 1947

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230 The Strand
Saint Helens, OR
97051

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Thursday 12:00 - 16:00

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The Columbia County Museum Association was organized in 2007 to manage the historic Columbia County Courthouse Museum in St. Helens. We not only seek to collect and preserve our history, but also enjoy sharing it with all of you! We hope you’ll stop in and see us and consider becoming a member of our organization

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Comments

I believe the building on the checks is city hall. The last date in the check register is 12-21-1926
We would love to see a flag flying at our Courthouse....there hasn't been one for a couple months.
Thank you to all who shows up to the John Gum (one m) event... Such great stories!!
Does anybody know where the Peterson and Dering Nursery was located in Scappoose in 1950 - 1960's?
For National Siblings Day here are my fatherMillard Stevens and his siblings - Left to right Mildred, Edna (their mom), Millard, Minnie, Myrtle, Merle, Marie, and Mae - September 1959
Can you tell me if the old Condon school was named after Thomas Condon the famous Oregon Geologis?
WHERE to begin: My Grandmother, Gladys E. Peterson was an elected Columbia County Treasurer years back! I would like to find any articles that were printed about her - I unerstand she appeared in an Oregon publication as one of the first elected woman in politics in Oregon! Respectfully, Sharee Lee Peterson
Oh how I wish I could be there.
Article I found yesterday on Newspapers.com about the accidental death of Aaron Broyles ("Shocking Accident," The Daily Morning Astorian, Astoria, OR, Tuesday, 20 September 1887, p 3.), an early settler of St. Helens, in 1887. He lived with Henry Knighton at the time of the 1850 census. I saw a survey marker on a telephone pole along Columbia Blvd behind Ace Hardware referencing the Aaron Broyles DLC (Donation Land Claim) when I was out walking a while ago and became intrigued because the Broyles family and the Clore family came to America from Germany together in 1717. The families of Johannes Breyhel/Breuel/Broyles (Aaron's great-great grandfather) and Hans Michael Klaar/Clore (my 6x great grandfather) were settlers in the Second Germanna Colony in Virginia. The Broyles family was from the villages of Dußlingen and Ötisheim, Württemberg. I'm doing research on the Broyles family for the Germanna Foundation for a future publication. Always assumed Aaron Broyles died from natural causes since he was 70 years old. Thought I would share since it's part of our local history.
The latest edition of HISTORY Columbia County, Oregon Summer 2017 is very well written. I especially enjoyed the article on The First Columbia County Jail. Very interesting history behind this building with great pictures. Then the article on The Italian Importing Company was very informative with more great pictures. Followed by the article on Thomas McKay which brought to life one of the important historical characters in the founding of the area of Columbia County. The information is factual and the footnotes add so much to the details. The last article was Memories of Yesteryears about living in the Goble area in the early 1900s. I so appreciate all the work by the authors and look forward to reading more from them.
Has anyone in Saint Helen's ever saw or heard of this very sweet lady shoe? It is heavy in weight, 5 inches in length by 2 inches tall orange in color. Maybe it was from a bank of you opened an account or from our fair?? I'm guessing 1920-30-40? Printed on the side it says Souvenir Of St. Helens, Ore. I've had it 30+ years my mother and I use to go to garage sales. Any info is much appreciated Thank You