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P.O. Box 35
Philomath, OR 97370
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Benton County Historical Timeline: 1860s


Stagecoach service from Portland to Sacramento through Corvallis begins.



Corvallis has a population of 620 (four are free blacks and two are Native Americans).



Pioneers Elijah and Mary Liggett, who own a Donation Land Claim just south of Neabeack Hill (at the southwest corner of Bellfountain Road and Chapel Drive) sell 1.5 acres to the Church of the United Brethren. On that site, the United Brethren construct a church, "Bethel Chapel," that is probably the first structure built in the Philomath area for religious purposes.



J.A. Knight opens the Knight Furniture Factory. He not only manufactures furniture, he also runs an undertaking business.

Knight Furniture Factory, Corvallis, Oregon.    

Feb. 4, 1860

The Calliopion Literary Society is organized. Its object is to benefit the young men of the city and community and to establish and maintain a library. The Society is to meet "twice a month for the education of its members and the entertainment of its friends."



With the outbreak of the Civil War regular troops at Fort Hoskins are summoned east. State volunteers garrison the fort. The government's intent is to keep the secessionist movement in the mid-Willamette Valley from erupting into armed conflict. (The fort is permanently closed when the war ends in 1865.)



St. Mary's Catholic Church is built by Father Poulin. It is consecrated by Archbishop Blanchet.

St. Mary's Catholic Church. 1902 image of the 1861 church building taken by Noble William Leadbetter.    

April 1861

United States Civil War begins.

This Civil War Union army forage cap was given to the Horner Museum by General U. G. McAlexander.    


Chinese laborers, mostly men, come to Corvallis and work as cooks, railroad workers, servants, and laundrymen.

This image, circa 1885, is labeled:    


The Corvallis Gazette begins publication.



The Oregon Weekly Union, published in Corvallis, is suppressed by the United States government for pro-slavery beliefs.



Corvallis city fire department is organized.



A sawmill is established at the head of Pleasant Valley, about seven and a half miles from Philomath by Jesse Hoffman.



Job C. Eaton founds the Monroe Brick and Tile Works circa 1865.


Feb. 14, 1865

Thomas J. Connor, a United Brethren missionary and leader of the 1853 wagon train to the Marysville Settlement, gives the following significant statement at a community meeting: "By mutual agreement a number of citizens of Benton County, Oregon, met at 'Maple Grove' school house on the 14th day of February, 1865, to take into consideration the propriety of trying to build up a high school or an institution of learning of some kind in their midst." That dream eventually takes shape as the pioneer Philomath College.

In September 1865, the College Board of Trustees develops plans for a town to be called "Philomath" (meaning "lover of learning"). The original plat for the City of Philomath includes eight acres for a college campus, and 128 town lots. Lot sales were to provide significant funds for construction of the Philomath College building.


Dec. 1865

U.S. President Andrew Johnson signs an executive order that cuts the Siletz Reservation into two parts. The reservation loses approximately 239,000 acres.



The Corvallis/Yaquina Bay Military Wagon Road is built.



Congress aids the Corvallis and Yaquina Bay Wagon Road Company, organized by Benton County residents as a toll road, by granting lands to Oregon for the construction of a military wagon road from Corvallis to Yaquina Bay. When complete, the Corvallis and Yaquina Bay Military Wagon Road is the most important east-west route in Benton County during the 19th century. In the vicinity of present-day Philomath, the route follows Chapel Drive, skirts the south end of Mount Union (Neabeack Hill), turns north into Philomath, then heads northwest toward Wren, through the Blodgett Valley, over the summit of the Coast Range and on to the coast.



Construction of the Philomath College building begins in early 1866. The structure measures 40 by 60 feet; the east and west wings are added during the early 1900s.



The Evangelical Church is organized by the Reverend James Crossman. Services are held in the Courthouse.



Philomath, Oregon, Post Office is established.

Philomath Post Office, early 20th century.<BR> Postal cancellation from Philomath, Oregon, USA.    


The Philomath College building opens for the 1867-1868 school year. In October 1867, the educational institution opens with two teachers and an enrollment of about 100 students. (The pioneer structure now houses the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.)

The first building of Philomath College was built in 1867. According to internal evidence, this view appears to date very soon afterward. There is no landscaping; the surrounding land is covered with wild grass. The dress of one woman appears to have a hoop skirt, and her hair is done with ringlets, both characteristic of 1860s fashion. This is an oblique view from a foreground of unlandscaped land to just above the peak of the flagpole atop the tower. A group of about 45 women, men, and children pose in a line in the yard, and a few others in doors and windows. Most of the children appear to be of elementary or secondary school age, which is consistent with the first use of the building, and is also indicated by the presence of parents.    

1867 - 1868

Benton County experiences the coldest winter to date; "sleighing was indulged in for two whole weeks."



Corvallis College is designated State Agricultural College in 1862 under the Morrill Act.



Return to Timeline Homepage

1840 | 1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890

1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 |1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990 | 2000



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© 2008 - 2014 Benton County Historical Society & Museum
Philomath, Oregon
The Benton County Historical Society is a nonprofit corporation that operates museum facilities for the preservation of history and culture.  Its mission is to:

  1. Preserve the material and intellectual culture of Benton County, Oregon, by acquiring and caring for significant collections that illustrate and interpret the history of the area and its relationship to the world;
  2. Enrich people's lives through exhibitions and educational programs.