History of Sherwood Oregon

Graduation Thesis, Pacific College, Newberg, Oregon, 1936.

by Ronald Sherk

Transcribed by Clyde List, Sherwood Historical Society


Nestled in a protected valley in the southern part of Washington County lies the progressive little town of Sherwood.

The interesting, and often exciting, events of its founding and forty-odd years as an incorporated city, are recorded nowhere save in the minds of its older citizens.

That this story may not be lost to succeding generations, that the newer residents may read and enjoy the events of the past, and that the older residents may read and reminisce; I write this history of Sherwood.

Historical accuracy has been my aim. Dates, the authenticity of which can be proven by records or documents, are given as positive dates. Those which are in dispute are given as approximate dates.

If you find this story interesting, thank the people whose almost photographically accurate minds have preserved it thus far. They have aided me in every way possible; have cheerfully spent hours of their time in long interviews, and have loaned me old records and correspondence. Some have even come to me with facts which they had not remernbered when I first interviewed them. It is the cooperation and aid of these people which make this story possible.

Chapter 1

The Scene

This is the story of Sherwood. It is the story of hardy pioneers who faced real danger and hardship It is the story of town planning by farsighted men; of a city carved from a virgin fir forest. It is the story of gradual development; of civic pride and dchievement. In short it is the story of many a progressive little city in Oregon.

One hundred years ago the Tualatin Valley was a wilderness; uninhabited and virtually unexplored. The events which led to its settlement and development in such a comparatively few years form one of the most interesting pages in the development of this country.

The word "Tualatin" is an Indian word meaning lazy or sluggish in referring to a river; or in referring to the plains, Tualatin means "without trees." The first meaning is probably the correct one for this valley, for the Tualatin river which runs through the valley is by no means fast-running.

The Indians who lived here when the first white men came were found to be quite peaceable. Many arrowheads and spearheads have been found on farms adjoining Sherwood and these may have been used merely in hunting game. However the quantity of these relics to be found in a small area would give strength to the opinion that Indian battles have taken place in this valley in the days before the coming of the white man.

Many hundred arrow and spear heads have been uncovered on the farm of G.Hite and similar finds have been made on other farms near here.

This valley must have been a wonderful home for the Indians who lived here. Early settlers reported the forests alive with game, the streams full of fish, grouse, native pheasants, quail, and deer abounded. The beaver, muskrat, and other fur bearing animals were many, as evident by abandoned dams and burrows yet to be seen in almost any creek bottom.

While the red man was living in unmolested savagery, events were taking place which were to have a final result in his downfall.

From the time of the discovery of the New World, the Spaniards searched for a "strait", so that they might sail direct to the Orient. The discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Balboa made them more sure that the "strait" existed. As soon as they had secured a footing in the Pacific they determined to search for the passage from that side as well.

They paved the way for early Spanish exploration of the Pacific coast. Expeditions headed by Ulloa, Alarcon, and Gabrillo and Fereloo explored the coast as far north as the southern boundry of Oregon.

Page 2

The Spaniards Perez and Heceta, and the English Cook, later explored the actual coast line of what is now Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Cook, who had been sent out by the English government in 1776 to search for the Northwest Passage, discovered not that non-existant channel, but something which meant far more to the development of the Northwest; namely the possibilities for fur trade.

The years immediately following this discovery by Captain Cook were years of rapid development in the Northwest. Fur trading ships became familiar with the coast and its inlets, Captain George Vancouver gave to the world a great map of the Northwest coast. Captain Gray discovered the Columbia river, and, finally and of great importance, Lewis and Clark made their famous exploration.

Sent out by the United States government in 1803, they made their way overland to the mouth of the Columbia; completing the first reliable map of the interior of the Northwest region and, unknowingly, blazing the trail which the wagon trains of later years followed, The Lewis and Clark expedition had a great effect upon the Oregon country for through it the people of the United States began to become "Oregon conscious".

The twenty-five years which followed were years of fur trading and growing familiarity with the Oregon country. Fur ventures were made by the American, Astor, and by the British, Northwest Fur Company. The Hudson Bay Company was the one which dominated the field, and which merged with the Northwest Company in 1821, after the disappearance of Astor's company, to form the great monopoly which precticallly ruled the Oregon country for many years.

Fort Vancouver, situated on the north shore of the Columbia, opposite the mouth of the Willamette, became the head post of the Hudson Bay Co. Dr. John McLoughlin, factor of the post from 1824 to 1846, managed the company's business with great success. By his firm control over the Indians of the entire Oregon country, his kindness and hospitality to American traders, missionaries, adventurers and colonists, he richly deserves the title, "Father of Oregon", bestowed upon him by the pioneers.

Aside from the fur trade, which was the principal business, Vancouver was the center of other activities. Farming, dairying, and cattle raising were engaged in by the company. In 1829 Etienne Lucier, an employee of the Hudson Bay Company, received assistance in seed, food supplies, cattle, ect, to begin farming in the Willamette Valley. Other employees followed, until by 1843 some fifty families were living on French Prairie, near the present town of Woodburn, and a few others were scattered here and there over the valley plain.

American trappers, traders, and missionaries began to enter the Oregon county. A few Americans settled in the Willamette Valley, and finally in 1843, Dr. Elijah White came overland with about one hundred and twenty men, The party took wagons as far as Fort Hall, using pack horses from this place to the Columbia.

Page 3

1843 was the year of the first great wagon train In two sections, this great westward migration brought nearly a thousand new American settlers to Oregon, principally to the Willamette valley The emigration of 1843 was followed in succeding years by many wagon trains. The largest emigration was that of 1845 when nearly three thousand people crossed the plains and mountains to make new homes in Oregon.

The Oregon country was as yet jointly occupied by the United States and Great Britain. However, on May 2, 1843 a provisional government was voted at Champoeg, dominated by the American settlers.

The population of Oregon, doubled by the arrival of the emigrants of 1845, now numbered about six thousand. The settlers were located in five counties, all but one of which were located in the Willamette valley. These counties were Yamhill, Clackamas, Tualatin, Champoeg, and Clatsop.

The county which the provisional government had designated as "Yamhill" was the one in which the site of Sherwood was located, but there were as yet no villages in this area. The fertile plains of the Tualatin valley were known to the people of this time as the "Tuality Plains", and are so called in records of the provisional legislature of 1845.

The rapid settlement of these years brought to a head the long disputed Oregon boundry question, and on June 15,1846 a treaty was signed by the United States and Great Britain, fixing the international boundry at the forty-ninth parallel, This made the scene of our story a part of the United States and hence more desirable than ever to American settlers.

Congress passed the bill making Oregon a territory in 1848. The news reached Oregon in March, 1849, and a territorial government was proclaimed.

Thus Oregon was under territorial government of the United States when the first settler arrived on the site of Sherwood in 1853. The land had lain untouched for the three hundred odd years that had elapsed since the discovery of the Pacific coast. Only since the year 1800 had explorers, traders, trappers, and settlers come to the Willamette Valley. Hundreds of years of progress had been compressed into a few decades.

Chapter 2

The Pioneers

A. Z. Hall crossed the plains in 1852, and in 1853 took out a donation land claim of 320 acres. This claim took in all of the present site of Sherwood. The law which made a claim of this size possible, the Donation Land Law, was passed by Congress in September 1850, and expired by limitation in 1855. Under the terms of this law all of the most valuable farm lands in the Willamette Valley were taken up, and many other Donation Land claims were granted in this vicinity.

D. G. Olds, known to old timers as "Green" Olds, settled near Middleton. Nelson McConnell and his brother, James McConnell, had farms south of Sherwood a mile or so. Joseph Voss lived about a mile southeast of town. Part of his farm is now the farm of his son, Albert Voss. J. J. Hall lived north of town on what is now the Claus Borchers place. The Westfalls lived out toward Pleasant Hill.

Another early settler was D.S.Sebastion, who took out a claim east of town on what is known as the Gore place. Henry Beavert had a farm out the same direction, near where Archie Campbell now lives. Jack Hess lived near Cipole; and Charles True near Middleton.

The first white children born in the vicinity of Sherwood were the children of Mr. and Mrs. A.Z.Hall, some of whom are living here at the present time. The Hall house stood in what is now the "City View Addition", near the Hannold residence.

As time went on, the whole country around what is now Sherwood became the home of more settlers. Notable among these were the German families who settled north of town in the "Bluetown" district.

The life of the early settler was that of the real pioneer. The houses were built of logs, hewn from the forest of giant firs which covered all of this area. The land had to be grubbed out acre by acre, without benefit of dynamite or machinery; but the return was good. The newly cleared land was rich beyond belief, Mrs. John McConnell, daughter of A.Z. Hall says in regard to this:

"The ground was always best the first few crops. My uncle who lived on Parrott Mountain grubbed out some land, and the first crop of wheat which he put in turned out sixty bushels to the acre. One must remember also that this grain was flailed on the threshing floor and then winnowed, and much grain was lost that would be saved by modern threshing methods."

Indians were a common sight on the isolated farms, but were comparatively peaceful. That they were sometimes a nuisance is illustrated by this account by Mrs. Mary Heater, who was born on Parrott Mountain in the 1850's and has lived there ever since:

Page 5

"The Indians around here were friendly, but my mother was terribly afraid of them. Father used to laugh at her about it, but tales of Indian massacres and treachery refused to leave her mind. Because she was so afraid, we children were afraid also. Indians used to stop at our house on their way; to fish at Oregon city. They would ask for milk and bread, things which they did not have, and we would give it to them for we were afraid to refuse. My folks had no trouble with Indians when they crossed the plains in 1852, but the next year there was a wagon massacred."

The wants of the early settlers were few; and for that matter, had to be, for it was a long way to the nearest store. The pioneer raised most of his own food.. Little grist mills were operated by a few settlers around, and the grain was taken there and made into flour. Mrs. Heater says of this:

"We took the wheat to the mill and got back three products: the flour, which was a little darker than white flour; seconds, which was a darker flour; and bran. Good bread could be made from any of the three. We made better bread out of that flour. The flour we get now isn't nearly so good, for it has too much taken out of it. I would much rather have the old kind if I could get it!"

Beef and pork were slaughtered, and salted or smoked. Game was plentiful. There were many game birds, and deer were very common. Surplus food was canned away in tins with sealing wax. Later, crock cans were sealed in the same way. Most fruit, however, was dried fruit; and in the early days the only fruit of any kind were the ones which grew wild.

Many of the log houses were lighted in the evenings only by the fire-place. When there was other illumination it was usually candles made of beef tallow, or simply a rag wick in a dish of oil. Lamps with chimneys did not come into common use around here until after 1880:

There were a few supplies, of course, which could be obtained only at a stores and for this reason, the pioneers made one or two trips a year to Portland. In early days the trip was made by ox team. Horses were a scarcity and the roads, if they could be called roads, were bad. The trip to Portland usually took three days: a day to go, a day to trade, and a day for the return trip. Merchants patronized in Portland were Meier & Frank and S. Herman. Groceries were bought in wholesale quantities. Salt was bought by the hundred pounds, sugar (brown sugar) by the barrel, syrup by the five gallon keg.

Houses were far apart and there was little community spirit. People used to go to Portland for the Fourth of July sometimes. Mrs. Heater says that in 1862, when she was six, she went to such a celebration. They had a platform erected

Page 6

in the middle of Portland's one dirt street, and there were speeches and a program. There was a big crowd, several hundred people!

News from the outside took a long time to reach the frontier community. The only periodical in many homes was the weekly Oregonian.

Chapter 3

Before the Railroad

In the 1870's little Communities began to spring up around these parts. There was one at Middleton called "String Town" because it was built along one road. People in this vicinity used to get their mail at "String Town". There was a little store there run by John Winters. There was also a store at Tualatin, then called "Bridgeport", operated by a man named Orchard, and later by a man named Cummins.

The Mail came out twice a week, and later, and later three times a week. A man rode out from Portland on horseback as far as Dayton with the mail. It the only way he could get through in the winter time as the mud roads were virtually impassable then.

Trips to Portland became more common. Scotts and Calkinses and Vosses used to drive into Portland occasionally. They took farm products and socks, which the women had knitted, and traded them for things that they needed. They also took great platters of butter to trade. Sometimes this butter was quite old and not strictly grade A. Mrs. Joseph Voss used to card and spin wool taken from their own sheep.

Small sawmills were started around here and houses built of boards became more common. There was a sawmill at Durham and another at Newberg. A. Z. Hall built a sawmill on Cedar Creek about one hundred yards northwest of where the Sherwood grade school now stands. James C. Smock later ran this sawmill, and his wife, Mary Ellen Sebastian Smock, lived in a little house near the sawmill.

In 1868 Mr. Smock had bought the site of Sherwood (160 acres) from his step-father, A. Z. Hall. After living in the little house by the sawmill for several years, he built a new house in what is now the south corner of Sherwood. This house, moved and remodeled, still stands on First Street between Washington and Main. This is the oldest building in Sherwood.

About 1882 M.P.Atterbury built a house on the hill Just above Sherwood. About the same time, Noah Parrish started a black-smith shop near where the depot now stands.

J. C. Smock owned a grist mill about a mile north of town. In about 1883 it burned, and he rebuilt on the site of the "Clare Smock" house. It operated there for ten years or more. In the summer he took the engine out of the mill to operate his threshing outfit. He owned the first steam threshing outfit in this part of the country, and spent several months each fall threshing.

Page 8

Smock was a very capable and energetic man. His daughter, Mrs. Nettie Fitch, says of him: "My father always had a great many irons in the fire, in fact so many, that sometimes he had more to do than was humanly possible."

There was no school in Sherwood. The children of the Smocks and other families attended near-by schools, In 1876 there was a school across the road from what is now the "Walter Schmidt" place, north of town. This was known as the John Sax School. In 1880 a school was built about three hundred yards east of the Claus Borchers place. This school was known as "Yale College", and had a wide and enviable reputation. Later it burned. Children from the Sherwood territory also attended the school at Middleton.

Mrs. Heater says that the Pleasant Hill school, which she attended, usually had an enrollment of about sixty pupils. They came as far as five miles on foot to attend the little one room school, There was never more than five months of school., There were three months of school in the fall, attended by all the children, and two months of school for the little children in the spring.

So the countryside began to develope, and the beginnings of a community at Sherwood were discernible.

Chapter 4

The Railroad

In the 1880's occurred an event, the importance of which, we, in this era of automobiles and busses, do not fully realize. There were then no swift and convenient motor cars, no roads even reasonably good. Consequently the coming of the railroad meant much to the people of this district, and it is only natural that it should give an impetus to the growth of a community at the railroad station.

In 1883 a railroad company, with the pretentious name of "Oregon and Transcontinental" bought the right of way for a railroad from Portland to Dundee. The actual construction took place in 1885. J. C. Smock, quick to see the possibilities for rapid development, laid off the first nine square blocks of what was to be Sherwood, in 1885. These are the blocks which now contain most of the business houses in town. They are bounded by Railroad, Park, Third, and Pine streets. Mr. Smock called the town Ellensburg, after his wife, Mary Ellen Smock. The Post Office department pointed out that there was already a town of similar name in the state and requested that the name he changed. The name selected was "Smockville", and the town and post-office were known by this name until the early 1890's.

The building of the railroad meant the influx of hundreds of workers into this vicinity. There were no hotels, so the farmers opened their doors to the newcomers. Smockville became a community of boarding houses. Mrs. Archie Campbell tells that her mother, Mrs. Eldredge, kept the men who were cutting and hewing the ties for the railroad. The man in charge of this work was E. W. Creighton. Mrs. J. C. Smock boarded thrrty-five or forty of the railroad builders. The men slept in tents, in box cars, in barns, or anywhere they could. These men were all white men. There were a few crews of Chinese here when the grading was being done, but most of the actual laying of rails was by white men.

Mrs. Fitch thinks the honesty of these workers remarkable. She says concerning this: "A thing that strikes me is that there was very little stealing then, as compared to now. Even when all the strangers were around during the building of the railroad, we had no trouble with thieves and needed to take no precautions."

The railroad was a narrow gauge line and the engines were small; tiny they would seem to us. They were only about one-third the size of what is now considered a small engine. The depot was built on the site of the present one. It was simply a 12' by 15'' one room structure with a stove and benches. Tickets were sold in the store.

Page 10

The building of the railroad was an exciting time for the children of Smockville as well as for their parents. Mrs. Fitch says that the men on the work train were very friendly to the children of the town and used to take them to and from school at Middleton in the cab of the little engine. They would even stop for the children and pick them up along the way. This is the first record of "hitch-hiking" in Sherwood.

The first trains were mixed trains, freight and passenger cars being drawn by the same engine. The trip to Portland sometimes took as long as half a day; but usually the trip from Dundee, the terminus, to Portland and return was made in a single day. The railroad was known as the "Peavine" because of the crookedness of the track between Sherwood and Newberg. At first there were no switches. Produce to be shipped was hauled to a position near the track during the week and loaded on freight cars the following Sunday, when there were no trains.

About ten years later the tracks were widened to standard gauge, and the line was extended to Airle, and later still, connected with the Yaquina road. When the wide gauge road was being constructed the railroad track consisted of three rails instead of the usual two. This was so that both narrow and wide gauge equipment might operate at the same time.

The increased activity in Smockville warranted the opening of a store. In about the same year the railroad went through, R. H. Tyson built a store on the corner of Railroad and Main Streets, where the G. Hanke shoe shop now is. In 1889 J. C. Smock bought a half interest, In the same year Smockville got the post office and J.C.Smock was appointed the first post-master In 1890, Mr. Smock built a store building across the tracks from the first store, and the store and post-office were moved there.

Mr. Smock built a warehouse at the corner of Park and Railroad Streets in about 1888. This was on the site of the present C & S warehouse. It burned a few years later and was rebuilt. In 1891 C. Hanke moved to Sherwood and erected a shoe shop on the corner of First and Main Streets.

Quite a few houses were built in and near Smockville during the 1880's. About 1887 Rev. H. C. Plummer built the "Wilson " house. Baird and Dave Stevenson, Sons-in-law of Rev. Plummer built houses near by. In about 1882 M. P. Atterbury built on the hill adjoining the town to the southeast. Charles Hall built the "Jim Brown" house, east of town, about 1885. And Jim Beavert built the "Will Young" house, south of town, about the same time.

So Smockville, as the infant Sherwood was known, began and grew. The rail seemed a great impetus to growth, but the greatest was yet to come.

Chapter 5

The Brickyard

Nothing builds a city so quickly as a big payroll, and that is what came to Smockville in 1890. Four Portland business-men; Dr. Edgar Popplton, E.T. Johnson, J.H. Smith, and Robert Alexander decided to place a brick yard in Smockville. Matt Fitch was sent here by the Kennedy Co. of Chicago, manufacturers of press brick machinery. He set up the plant and turned out one kiln of brick. Then he turned the brick yard over to the owners.

The plant was situated near where the cannery now stands. It was no ordinary brick yard; but was a large scale manufacturing plant, employing about a hundred men, and running night and day during the first three years. The machinery was massive. The bricks were turned out under so great a pressure that the unburned brick could not be broken by any ordinary means. The pressure was so great in fact that the machinery often broke down and stopped the plant for a short time. There were five large kilns for burning the brick, tile, and building blocks produced by the plant.

The brick yard did a land office business and for three years had more orders than they could fill. Many of the old buildings in Portland were constructed with brick from that yard. The yard was supplied with clay from that yard. The yard was supplied with clay from the hill-side which now comprises the Epler addition. Great mounds of the topsoil, which were scraped up to get at the clay, are still visible in places. The wood for firing the kilns of the brickyard came from the forest which covered most of Smockville. The entire Sherwood acres flat was covered with a forest of large pine trees. Most of these were cut to provide fuel for the brick yard. A portion of this grove has been preserved and is now in the City Park.

All the money and man power which came pouring into the town as the result of this large industry tended to make the town grow in a big way. New businesses sprang up and also a number of saloons. The rowdyism and drunkenness which came as a result of these conditions tended to give Sherwood the reputation of being a tough town. An example of these conditions at their worst was the shooting of George Williams by Alvie Fields in a saloon. This happened in the building now occupied by George Saylor's jewelry shop about 1893. Fields was acquitted on of self defense. Gun play 'was not unusual and street brawls were very common.

Large scale production at the brick yard came to an abrupt halt in 1893 and the business had ceased operation completely by 1895. Just what caused this is not known, but it is generally supposed that mismanagement, coupled with the panic of 1893, caused the business to fail.

Page 12

The short but momentous life of the brick yard had a great effect upon the growth of the town. Besides accelerating business and building, it brought to the town many of the men who were to figure prominently in the development of Sherwood.

Chapter 6

Smockville Becomes Sherwood

In 1890 the only commercial buildings in Smockville were the depot, the Smock store, the Smock warehouse, the blacksmith shop, and few saloons. In that same year John Fitch and Lee Smock built a two story hotel and dance hall on Railroad Street between Washington and Main, on the site of the C&S furniture room. The following year the big livery stable was built on First Street between Washington and Pine, by Jim Parrott and Milton Parish.

To some of the citizens of this growing little town, the name Smockville did not seem quite dignified enough. Robert Alexander, one of the owners of the brick yard particularly disliked the name. Through the agitation of him and others, a mass meeting was called in 1892 to change the name of the town. Several names were suggested, but the one which caught the fancy of the meeting was "Sherwood". This name was suggested by Robert Alexander. He said the forest which surrounded the city was like Sherwood Forest in England. The new name was duly adopted. The town is referred to as Smockville in legal papers as late as 1896, however.

The town continued to grow and prosper after the brickyard closed, for the rich farm lands surrounding Sherwood were being more intensively farmed than they had been in former years. The country began to be more thickly settled as the large land grant farms of earlier days were split up into medium sized farms.

Building continued at a lively pace. Matt Fitch built the Emil Lawrenz house on the corner of First and Pine, for J. E. Morback in 1891. August Holznagel built a blacksmith shop (the one which still stands) in about 1893. About this time Sam Haugen built the building now occupied by the Mass restaurant. Mr. Brooks, prominent in the brickyard, built the house at First and Park, now owned by J. E. Morback. Robert Alexander then bought the house and lived there until the collapse of the brickyard. In 1891 J.C. Smock built a new house next door to the old one. The building now occupied by George Saylor was built for a saloon in the early 1890's. During the same period the depot was enlarged and a freight house added. The John Owens house south of town was built by Angus Atterbury about 1895. C. G. Reisner built the "Spath House" on First Street, and a hotel and saloon on Railroad Street on the corner now occupied by the Citizens Bank.

Conditions in the town in those times are described by G. Hanke, who came to Sherwood in 1891, as follows: "When I came here the roads were little

Page 14

more than paths. The road to four corners was so narrow that anyone traveling in a buggy or wagon needed to take care that the hazel brush didn't switch him in the eyes. Cows and pigs ran at large on the village streets. If you had anything left out on the porch they were likely to get it. The streets and roads were hub deep in mud most of the winter. There were board sidewalks down town and a few planks in the worst mud holes in the road. In those days every one had to work a day or two poll tax. Most of the time was spent in making road repairs. This was the only work done to the roads."

In 1892 the first resident doctor came to Sherwood. In the early days the only medical attention the settlers had was that of passing quack doctors. Dr. Lyle came to Middleton about 1883. Up to that time the only way to get a doctor was to go to Portland after one. There were a few who would come out for twenty-five dollars. It was with a great deal of rejoicing, therefore, that the people of Sherwood saw the advent of Dr. Rickard. Dr.Rickard's first office was in the hotel and dance hall building on Railroad Street. Soon J. C. Smock built an office on the east side of the Smock store, and there the doctor practiced until about 1902, when he built his own building which still stands on the corner of First and Main Streets.

The early 1890's saw the erection of a school and two churches. The school was built about 1894 on the site of the present grade school. It was later moved and was known as the "Prufo" building. It has recently been torn down.

The Friends were the first church to hold meetings here with any regularity. They started here about 1890 and in about two years built the first church in Sherwood. This building was used until destroyed by fire in 1904. It was located on the corner of Second and Washington Streets, on the site of the Olsen house.

In 1894 the United Brethren built the church now owned by the Methodists. Two years later this became a Congregational Church, and remained so until it became a Methodist Church in 1920.

The Lutherans built a church at Blue Town about 1890. Another Lutheran church was built in Sherwood, south towards four corners, about 1900. This building was torn down recently.

Chapter 7

The Big Fire

Nearly every town seems to have had a disaster of some kind in its history. Some fire, flood, tornado, or earthquake tears down part of the town. If the town is growing and progressive it usually builds up bigger and better than before. In the case of Sherwood that is exactly what happened.

In 1896 the business district consisted wholly of wooden frame buildings, inflammable to a high degree. There was no fire protection other than that of bucket brigades and similar crude methods, totally unable to cope with a fire of the magnitude of that of 1896. The wonder is that the entire town did not go up in smoke.

The buildings on Railroad Street between Main and Washington were: The Hotel and dance hall, a little store operated by Lawrence McConnell and John Iler, the Will Seyney dance hall, and numerous small buildings. A fire started in the store and burned out the entire block: The fire jumped across the railroad track and burned the recently improved depot. Sparks threatened the entire town, and it was only by heroic effort on the part of its citizens that the remainder of the town was saved from the conflagration.

Hardly had the ashes cooled when rebuilding commenced. The depot was rebuilt larger and finer than before. McConnell and Hall built the store building which now houses Herman Wagner's restaurant. The Ancient Order of United Workmen lodge built a one-story building on the site of the Carlson and Sherk furniture room. This was later raised to a two-story building, as it now stands. This building is still known to old timers as the A.O.U.W. Hall. A meat market was built between the two buildings by P.T. Meeks, and a few years later, about 1901, J. C. Smock built the big building on the corner of Railroad and Main Sts. which now houses the main store of Carlson and Sherk.

Meanwhile building was going on in other parts of town. Residences were springing up in too great a number for me to enumerate here. M. E. Buck built the building on First and Main Sts. now known as the Masonic Hall. He built it for an undertaking establishment and had a public hall overhead. For years this was the only public hall in town.

Buildings were built all along Washington St. between Railroad and first. These were small frame buildings and housed saloons and small stores. E.W. Johnson ran a store on the corner of First and Washington, now called the Colfelt corner.

The big fire of 1896 brought graphically to the attention of the citizens of Sherwood the need for adequate fire protection. Accordingly in

Page 19

1890 a seventy-five foot water tower was erected over a dug well on the city property off Main Street. An eight thousand gallon tank was mounted on this tower and filled by a hand pump operated by six men. The pipe lines consisted of eight hundred feet of bored wooden mains, two and two and one-half inches in diameter, connected to hydrants in the business district. The city also bought a hundred twenty-five feet of inch and one-half cotton hose and one one-half inch nozzle, sixteen inches long. This seemingly simple water system was nevertheless a big step in the way of fire protection in this previously unprotected town.

An interesting sidelight upon the building of the water tower is the story of John Woida, a saloon keeper. The tower was built with license money from the saloons in town and Woida, feeling that he had in a great measure, personally paid for the improvement, said boastfully; "I built the steeple on the town, I want to climb up and have a look at it."

Now Woida was a corpulent individual and the tower was tall and not easy to climb, so some of the men bet old John that he couldn't climb it. But climb it he did, one evening after supper. He got up all right and looked around, but when he attemptec the descent his nerve failed him and he pleaded for help. Four of the interested spectators: J.E. Young, Jim Anderson, Ora Johnson, and George Reisner went up to help him. They tied a rope around his rotund stomach and let him down the outside, kicking and sprawling like a big spider on the end of a cobweb. His cries were heard all over town and everyone came out to see the sport. A good time was had by all except, perhaps, John Woida.

Chapter 8

Continued Growth

About 1904 the old Friends church on the corner of Second and Washington Sts. burned. This was the first church in Sherwood, and one of the strongest denominations at the time. The fire was discovered about noon on a hot summer day. A spark from a passing steam engine evidently had lodged in the belfry, and by the time the fire was discovered it was too late to save the building. No other buildings were burned, although the church was near the inflammable downtown district. The air was so still that not even the wooden walk in front of the church was burned. The Friends held meetings in the Congregational church building for several years, alternating with the other church. In 1912 the present Friends church was built on the corner of Second and Pine.

The first bank in Sherwood was organized in 1906, by Lawrence McConnell, Arthur Hall and Fred Epler. It operated in the building now housing the G. Hanke shoe shop, off the corner of Railroad and Main Streets. This building

Page 20

was originally a blacksmith shop built by the Bristow brothers.

Street improvement up to this time had consisted mainly of brick bats from the brickyard which were dumped in the worst mud holes. The brick bats did not seem to have the staying quality they should have had, and the year 1905 found the streets in a very bad shape. Accordingly the city hauled in some. There were no rock crushers in those days, so the rock was brought in the form of boulders and the shopkeepers and other public spirited citizens broke up the rock in their spare time. All the down town streets were rocked in this manner. Sherwood must have taken on the aspect of a penal institution during the several months required for the rocking process.

In 1905 Lawrence McConnell built a one-story skating rink on the corner of First and Washington. This amusement proved very popular with the people of the town, for moving pictures and other non-commercialized amusements were strangers to the town. People had to find other ways to spend their leisure moments. One of the most popular of these was the race track run by Will Young. This was a non-commercial enterprise and the men around Sherwood derived a great deal of enjoyment from this sport. Baseball was popular in those days. Sherwood has been famous for its winning ball teams.

In about 1908 Arthur Hall went into partnership with Lawrence McConnell in the skating rink project. It was decided to raise the building and build a dance hall on the second story. The wiseacres about town said that it couldn't be done, that the building was too large to raise successfully. However McConnell and Hall called in Charles True and under his supervision the building was raised to its present height in a surprisingly short time. The roof was cut off at the eaves, and with the aid of several dozen jackscrews lifted up another story.

About this time J. E. Morback bought and enlarged the Smock store. Another new business was the lumber yard, started in its present location by Jack Balding. Balding was city recorder later.

This period saw the advent of telephone, electric, and water service; of which more will be told in a later chapter.

Chapter 9

The Building Boom

On the night of July 3, 1911, occurred the second major fire in the history of Sherwood. A fire originating in the livery stable on First Street between Washington and Pine, spread to the Colfelt saloon end other smaller buildings, burning out the entire half-block in which it was situated. This

Page 21

was the livery stable which was built in 1891 and had been owned most of the time since by Grover Hagey, although operated by different men, At the time of the fire it was owned and operated by the Melzer brothers, They were asleep in the barn and narrowly escaped being burned to death in the fire.

The fire was kept from further spread by the use of the city fire equipment. with the value of fire protection fresh in their minds, the city council soon afterward authorized the purchase of more equipment and the extension of the hydrant system. Another need shown by the fire was for fireproof building construction. Accordingly when the building boom of the years before and during the war came, most of the buildings were of that type.

Ed Colfelt rebuilt his saloon on the corner of First and Washington. This fireproof brick building is the one which stands there now. Carlson and Sherk Co, who had bought the J. E. Morback store in 1912, constructed the fireproof building which now houses their hardware department, in 1914. It was built originally for a post office and furniture store. In the same year E. W. Roellich built the big brick building on the corner of Washington and First Street, which now houses the Mansfield store.

The brick building on Washington St,, known as the "Weckert building" was built the following year. In the same year, 1915, Prank Colfelt erected what was formerly known as the Sherwood Hotel,now usually called the bank building. The erection of these modern buildings, coupled with the building of concrete sidewa1k by property owners, end street improvement by the city, gave an entirely new aspect to the town.

Meanwhile Civic spirit was keeping pece with the rest of the town growth. On October 25, 1911 the "Sherwood News Sheet" was started by E. O. Shepherd, The editor was a man of positive convictions, and among other things, was an ardent dry. Just what effect this paper had in this respect we do not know, but on Nov. 6, 1914, the notoriously wet Sherwood voted dry. This was a year before the state of Oregon took a similar step. this was a hard fought election and feeling ran high on both sides.

In 1915 a volunteer fire department was organized. The fire laddies selected W. P. Fisk for their first Chief.

The electrification of the railroad was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm by the citizens of Sherwood. This took place in 1913. Regular inter-urban service was commenced and specia1 excursion trains came out from Portland at intervals.

Page 22

On October 27, 1913, the office of the 1umber yard burned; This was a little building and not much material damage was done. But it happened that Jack Balding; who ran the yard, was also city recorder, and many of the city records were burned in that fire. This caused much confusion at the time.

Increased building in the residential district created a demand for new home sites. Accordingly, in 1911 Fred Epler laid out the Epler Addition on Washington Street hill. He had a few streets graded and he sold lots. In a short time this district was built up and now contains some of the nicest residences in Sherwood.

An interesting incident is related by E. W. Johnson concerning the residents of this new addition. There was no railroad crossing at Washington St. and it was necessary for vehicles to go around by the Main St. crossing. The city council petitioned the railroad company to no avail. They were advised by D. D. Hall, a local attorney, that if they could build a crossing and have it in use for twenty four hours, it would remain for all time. Plans were secretly laid and one evening after the railroad employees had retired, citizens armed with the necessary implements hastily constructed a crossing. When the railroad employees arrived in the morning they found a busy stream of traffic on the crossing; so busy, in fact, that it was impossible for them to tear the crossing to pieces. So it remained.

Another addition was laid out east of town by Thomas Ross. This was known as the Sherwood Acres Addition, and is the site of many nice homes.

In 1918 the Graves Cannery was built near the city park. This is the modern fruit processing plant which is now operated by the Portland Canning Company.

Chapter 10

The City of Sherwood was incorporated as a town in 1893. The former mayors of the city are as follows:

1893 C.G. Reisner
1894-95-96     J.C.Iler
1898 B.Janeway
1899 to1901 J.C.Smock
1902 P.T.Hanke
1903 to1905J.C.Smock
1906 to 1910 A.W.Hall

Page 23

In 1916 J.E. Morback was elected mayor of Shervood and has served continuously since then, except for a few months when he was in the hospital after losing his arm.

The city council has been composed of public spirited men who have done much to build Sherwood. The mayor and council serve without pay and give a great deal of their time to this civic work.

One of the first acts of the city government after its founding in 1893, was to build the city hall and jail. The need for a jail was much greater in those days, for criminals could not be easily transported to the county seat, as now.

The city was instrumental in paving the streets with brickbats which were furnished free of charge by the brickyard. This paving was not carefully done, and the bricks were not suitable for the existing conditions. They sank to the bottom of the very muddy streets and soon conditions were as bad as ever.

In 1898 the city built the water tower and provided the fire protection system referred to by John Woida as the "Steeple". Although a comparatively small water system, built exclusively for fire protection purposes, it was a big step forward, and undoubtedly saved much property in the two later fires.

In 1906 the city hauled in rock, which, after being broken to pieces by citizens with sledges, was used to rock the down town streets. Later cement cross walks were built by the city. The streets were kept in better repair as time went on. New gravel was placed on them and they were oiled nearly every summer. The residential streets, however, remained in their original state for many years.

In 1926 the city and the property owners were bonded for street improvement. At this time extensive improvements were made. Nine blocks of the down town district were paved and the residential district was curbed and macadamized. An extensive storm sewer system was installed to carry away the drainage. These improvements gave the town a much more modern appearance and enhanced the looks of private property. The system of paved and improved streets is as fine as that in any town of comparable size in the state.

The city operated the first water system in the early 1900's. The water was pumped first by steam and later by a gasoline engine.

In 1914 the city sold the water system to Mrs. Harry Hart. She later sold out to the Tualatin Valley Electric Company, and the city bought it from them in 1922. In that year the city was bonded for $12,000 to pay for

Page 24

the water system; drill an eight-inch well three hundred and twenty-five feet deep; build a one hundred and twenty-five thousand gallon cement reservoir on the hill and improve the system of pipe lines.

Mail from the Sherwood Post Office is distributed to a wide area, over four rural free delivery routes. There have been only four postmasters in Sherwood since the beginning, but that they have been a high type of citizen is evident from a glance at the list.

J. C. Smock; founder of the town, business man, and one time mayor.

Lawrence McConnell; business man, and builder of many of the town's buildings.

Matt Fitch; Supervisor of the building of the big brick yard; and builder of many of the houses in town.

W.P. Fisk; Mail carrier, Head of the C&S hardware and implement department for years.

Business carried on by the business firms of Sherwood is unbelievably large for a town of this size. Conservative estimates place the annual business at over half a million dollars


Thus Sherwood began, grew, and is growing; a city with an interesting pastó and an interesting future.

Personal Interviews

Mrs. Mary Heater of of Parrett Mountain

Mr. Archie Campbell of Sherwood

Mrs. Archie Campbell of Sherwood

Mrs. Nettie Fitch of Sherwood

Mr. G. Hanke of Sherwood

Mrs. G. Hanke of Sherwood

J. E. Morback, Mayor of Sherwood

Mr. A. E. Sherk of Sherwood

Mrs. A.E. Sherk of Sherwood

Mr. John McConnell of Sherwood

Mrs. John McConnell of Sherwood, daughter of the first settler

Mr. Grover Hagey of Sherwood

Mrs. Grover Hagey of Sherwood

Mr. E. W. Johnson of Sherwood

Mr. Lawrence McConnell of Sherwood



Bancroft, H.H.
History of the Northwest Coast -Vol. 1 and 2, Bancroft Co. 1884
History of Oregon Vol, 2.
Clark-Down-BluaHistory of Oregon, Row, Peterson & Company 1931.
Lockley, FredOregon Trail Blazers, Knickerhocker Press 1928.
Chapman, Charles H.The Story of Oregon and Its People, C. P. Barnes, Pub, 1909.
Horner, John B.Oregon, Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature, 1919.
Schafer, JosephA History of the Pacific Northwest, The Macmillan Co, 1922.
Steiner, Jesse FCommunity Organization, The Century Co, 1930.


Sherwood News Sheet: Oct, 26, 1911 to Sept. 1, 1915, inclusive.

Tualatin Valley News: Incomplete files from Sept. 1, 1915 to 1926.

Sherwood Valley News: Complete files from 1926 to 1936.

RecordsRecords of the City of Sherwood from 1893 to 1936.

Records of Sherwood United Brethren Church.

Records of the Sherwood Congregational Church.

Records of the Sherwood Methodist Episcopal Church.

Records of the Sherwood Mutual Telephone Company.

Abstract of property belonging to Mrs. Nettie Fitch.

Minutes of Council Meetings, City of Sherwood.

Records belonging to J.E. Morback,
    one-time owner of the light and power systems in Sherwood.

Records belonging to Carlson and Sherk Co., Inc.

Records of School District No. 88, Washington County, Oregon.


Clyde List's Website

City of Sherwood