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Albany, continued...



“In 1849, Messrs. Davis and Layton built a small house near the present (1878) site of the Albany City Mills. In this building they started the first store in Albany. After some time the goods wore sold out at auction by Mr. S. H. Baber, on which occasion calico sold as high as 37-1/2 cents per yard.  About this time, Mr. C. L. Burkhart started a store, located on the Hackleman claim, near to where now (1878) the Alden Fruit Dryer stands. This movement was not relished by the business men of the upper town, as they feared .the opposition of a rival firm in such proximity. The Monteith brothers thereupon entered into partnership with Capt. J. M. McConnell, and embarked in the merchandise business, their store being opened in a building belonging to Messrs. Monteith. In 1853, the citizens on the Hackleman claim got a bill through the legislature changing the name to Takenah, the consequence of which step was the engendering of a bitter feeling of rivalry between the two sections of the community. The town retained the name of Takenah until about the year 1855, when it was changed to Albany.

 “In 1852, the first postmaster was appointed, a Mr. James P. Miller. Prior to this time the mail had been brought from Oregon City on horseback, in a somewhat irregular manner. The postal regulations of those days were of the most primitive kind. The first justice of the peace was Squire Houston, who came across the plains in 1848. The first lawyer who practiced  in Albany was Squire Jesse Quin Thornton, who commenced in 1852. In the matter of the date on which the first circuit court was held, there are conflicting opinions; some say it was held in the Fall of 1851,  and was held In a building belonging to Mr. J. M. McConnell, which stood on what is now (1878) the corner of First and Ferry streets. Others state that it was held  in what is known as the Streignthon House [note:  spelled "Streighthoff" in 1878 Illustrated Atlas] , which occupied the corner of First and Ferry streets, nearest the river. Others again say it was held in a small building near the Ferry; nearly all agree that Judge Pratt, now (1878) of San Francisco, presided over the first temple of justice. A short time prior to the event we have been discussing, the United States government had sent out Judge Nelson, who, being a Whig, and the Oregon legislature being democratic, they would have nothing to do with him as a dispenser of justice, therefore they appointed Judge Pratt to fill the position. In 1851 and ‘52, the first school was opened by Dr. Hill; he was also the first practicing physician who started in Albany. His school was held in a small house, which stood on a place that is now (1878) the middle of the street in front of Ans Marshall’s livery stable. The doctor also officiated as a preacher of the gospel. It is said that Rev. Thos. Kendall, of the United Presbyterian Church, preached the first sermon to the community. He came to Oregon in 1845, and was a talented and cultivated minister.  On October 31, 1854, the people of the town of Takenah had a meeting for the purpose of arranging a school district; Mr. John Connor was presiding on the occasion; Messrs. Anderson Cox, James H. Foster, and George Cline were elected directors, and J. M. McConnell, clerk, but on account of’ some irregularities in the proceedings, the results were rendered null and void. Another election was held in November 23 off the sane year, which resulted in the election of the following named officers: James K. Foster, J. G. Lincoln, and Anderson Cox, directors; J. M. McConnell as clerk; Walter Monteith, James H. Foster, and J. N. McConnell were appointed to select a site for a new school-house, which they at once did, and made their report at the same meeting. They selected the lot now (1878) occupied by the Central School Building. The building was put up during the spring of 1855, and constituted the first public building in Albany of a permanent character.

 “On Jan. 6, 1855, the County School Superintendent organized the district, and named it Takenah. In 1852, the first steamboat came up the Willamette River, creating quite a sensation.  This boat was built in New York and brought in a ship (via Cape Horn) and put together at Oregon City.

 "When the first white settlers ascended the Willamette River, they pronounced it impossible to navigate it with steam boats. From the year 1852, the growth of Albany has been steady. In 1850 the first church was built under the auspices of the Methodists. It was first erected in the upper part of the city, but has since been moved to where it now (1878) stands.

 “In 1853 the first court house was built. It was a wooden structure octagonal in shape. The building was used for the purpose designed until the year 1861, when it burned down. During 1860 a very neat and comfortable church was erected by the United Presbyterians. In 1864 the Congregationalists built themselves a place of worship. In 1862 the building of the county courthouse commenced, but it was not completed until 1865. Its cost was about $35,000. It is a convenient and accommodating building. On the 8th of December, 1870, the city of Albany welcomed the advent of the iron horse in their midst, for which important privilege they paid the sum of $50,000, which was to compensate the railroad company for making a slight deviation in the alignment of the road so as to touch the city. As a natural consequence, the railroad brought great benefit to Albany. City property rose immensely in value, business of all kinds rapidly increased, and improvements of the most substantial character were made.

 “In August, 1872, the Santiam Ditch and Canal Company was organized, with a capital of $30,000, and the canal was commenced forthwith, and completed in the Fall of the same year. This canal taps the Santiam near Lebanon, and is carried a distance of’ twelve miles to the south side of Albany. It divides at the corner of Vine and Eight Streets, one branch running down Vine Street and emptying into Calapooia Creek, with a fall of thirty—two feet. The other runs down Eighth to Thurston Street, thence to the river, where it has a fall of thirty-six feet. The fine hydraulic power has almost superceded the use of steam in the city. It now (1878) runs about fifteen turbine wheels, and has a surplus power for a number more when required. The canal has a grade, for ten miles, of four feet to the mile, where the bottom width is twenty feet. The remainder of the distance it has a fall of ten feet to the mile, with a width of twelve feet, depth of water three feet. The experiment of boating on this canal has been successfully tried. Large quantities of grain have been brought down to Albany by this means. Logs, too, are floated down to the mills at Albany.

 “Mr. J. H. Foster has a dam on the Calapooia, which can afford a large additional water power over that now (1878) used. The above named stream is used for driving logs from the timbered regions of its headwaters, a distance of sixteen to eighteen miles.

 “Another substantial contribution to the material prosperity of Albany was secured by the construction of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain wagon road, which was begun in 1804, by a company organized for this purpose. The principal members of the company were Mr. Jason Wheeler, and L. Elkins. The road privilege and land grant have since been sold to parties in San Francisco. The land grant comprises about one million acres, being, for the most part, mountain, and covered with heavy timber. The benefits accruing to Albany, from the construction of this road, have been considerable, it having drawn hither a trade that could not otherwise have been obtained. It will  be easily seen that the substantial improvements enumerated above indicate a spirit of enterprise and degree of business sagacity that have well merited the marked success that have attended them. In thirty—three years existence, this city has acquired $1,115,444 of taxable property, the proceeds for which, for the most part, have been widely expended. During this year (1878) considerable improvements are being made in grading streets, and otherwise. The land titles, in and around Albany, have been free from the usual difficulties which trouble most new cities. The only semblance of anything of this kind was in the case of old Indian Joe, who claimed the land where Albany stands, but as Joe has departed for the happy hunting grounds, there remains no further cause for uneasiness.

 “Albany Fire Department ... Engine Company No. 1 was organized in 1869; it numbers at present (1878) some sixty—five members, and has a first class hand engine which won the prize at the State Fair in 1876.  Linn Engine Co. No. 2 was organized in 1875. The engine of this company is a steamer, and won the prize at a competition in Portland on July 4, 1876. It is the banner engine of the state. The city is well supplied with fire cisterns (1878), having eight of considerable size, besides several flumes which bring water from the canal and conduct it through the most thickly populated parts of the town, as an additional and very efficient precaution in case of serious conflagration.

"...(As to) manufacture ... the Magnolia Flouring Mills, situated on the Calapooia Creek, at the upper end of First Street, was begun in 1851, the original owners being Mr. J. Driggs, Samuel Hill, Samuel Althouse, and Walter and Thomas Monteith. The mill has been greatly improved since its first erection. At present (1878) it is three stories high, and has extensive storage rooms for flour and wheat, capable of containing seventy—five thousand bushels of wheat. The motive power is water, taken partly from Calapooia Creek and partly from the Santiam Canal. It has six run of burrs, its capacity is about three hundred and fifty barrels per day of twenty-four hours. The product of these mills is generally sent to European markets; its brands of flour are well known and esteemed.

 “Albany City Mills were built in 1865; they are owned by Mr. Thomas Monteith & Son, and are valued at $30,000; it has four run of burrs, with a capacity of over two hundred barrels per day; the flour made in these mills chiefly sold for exportation.

“Albany Customs Mills were first built for a warehouse in 1866; the machinery was put in in October, 1877; it is the property of Mrs. E. R. Cheadle.  Its capacity is about one hundred barrels per day, with two run of burrs; its value is about six thousand dollars; as its name implies, it is a custom mill, doing that kind of business only; it is run by water power.”

According to the above named source, Albany also had a bag factory, below C. D. Simpson's warehouse, near the wharf (1878). Also a sash and factory built in 1984, owned by E. Carter & Co.; a planing mill owned by Althouse & Co.; which was built in 1852 and run by water power. Albany Saw Mils, owned by Allen, Robinson & Co., built in 1875, employing 35 hands and paying yearly wages of $15,000 with a capacity of 32,000 feet of lumber per day and an invested capital of $35,000; the company also has a controlling interest in the Calapooia Boom Co., and practically controls the transportation of logs on the stream, besides owning some 70,000,000 feet of standing timber — a large portion of the surveyed forest on the Calapooia. 

 Then there was the Star Brewery started in 1870; a twine factory started in 1877; and many minor establishments and plants.

 It is generally agreed that Albany was named by the Monteith brothers after Albany, New York (59). The town of Takenah was started in 1849 and, by act of January 12, 1854, the legislature gave this name to both Albany communities (60), but in 1855 the name of Albany was registered to them. The post office came early in 1850 (52). 

 A quaint echo from the founding of Albany comes from the newly founded town of Milwaukie, near Portland (61): “ALBANY — This village, owned by Messrs. Monteiths, is pleasantly situated upon the bank of the Willamette river, twenty-five miles above Salem, at the mouth of the Callapuya river. There is at this time, one store, a grist mill and a saw mill, several fine houses - and is fast improving. The river at this point is navigable for steamboats. We expect one soon to visit us. Persons wishing to find a healthy business place convenient to the capital, will not forget Albany.  'Observer.  Let us hear from all the towns.’..."

The steamer Multnomah was the first boat to make a stop at Albany. It was a sidewheeler, 100 feet long, of Jersey oak, built in sections and brought to Oregon City on the bark Success (62). Her hull was barrel-shaped and hooped, and consequently needed no calking. She was portaged around the Falls in June, 1851, and was placed in service between Canemah and Corvallis (then called Marysville) in the fall of 1851. She was the first steamer ever to navigate the Willamette River as far as Corvallis. So far no large steamers had been built on the upper Willamette, but in the late summer of 1851 the sidewheeler Canemah was launched at Canemah and, Captain Absalom F. Hedges commanding, left on her first trip up the river past Albany, where at Corvallis Avery & Company engaged her to carry grain to Oregon City for 20 cents per bushel. Soon after the Canemah also became the U. S. government mail boat. Nathaniel Coe of New Jersey had been appointed Postal Agent of Oregon by President Fillmore and made his headquarters on the Canemah, sorting the mail for upper-river points while en route. The Canemah took her first mail to Albany in October, 1851 (63). A correspondent of the Oregon Spectator writes about the phenomenon of boats late in 1851 (64): “... for the first time since the settlement of the county (Linn), our citizens have been roused up with the puffing of the Steamer, as it plows its way up our beautiful river. Already things are beginning to assume a commercial tone.  One of the first effects of this new impulse given to trade is a marked advance in the price of produce. Our prices current compare favorably with your city quotations. Unfortunately, however, for the steamboat enterprise, at present nearly all the surplus produce of this county is taken off to feed the Digger tribe at Shasta...”

 And from the same correspondent shortly after (65): “Jan. 5, 1852  - Messrs. Editors: ... You are already aware that we are favored with the regular weekly ‘arrival and departure of steamers at Albany, the shire town of the county as they wend their way upwards towards the ‘head of navigation’. This is as yet the only point at which they touch. There is some hope entertained that they will be able to ascend as far as Burlington, if not all the way up into the forks in Lane County... There are small stocks of  merchandise offered for sale in every neighborhood in the county, and we are very much mistaken if this branch of business is not badly overdone... 

"... There are three flouring and four sawmills erected (in the county). There is a grist mill on the south fork of the Santiam (at Waterloo)  owned by Messrs. Keys, and another on the Calapooya (near Crawfordsville) owned by P. Findley. Both those are noble sizes, but the mills are constructed merely with reference to the most ordinary country work… 

 “The merchant mill, however, which is being put in operation by the Messrs. Monteith, of Albany, is deserving of passing notice, as one of the very best flouring establishments in the Territory. It is a large and capacious building, and its machinery is to be, when completed, of the most improved modern style, It is intended to manufacture for commerce as well for home consumption - and is the first mill of the kind that has been undertaken in the very heart of the wheat growing portion of the Willamette Valley... It is to be propelled by the water of our noble little Calapooya.”’


Albany Quick Facts

Location:  Twp 11S, Rge 3W, Sect 5-6, 7-8

Name Origin:  Albany, New York

Other Names:  Takenah, New Albany

Post Office Established:  8 Jan 1850

First Postmaster:  John Burkhart

Incorporation Date:  1864

Population 1999:  40,010


Sketches & Photos:   M.V. Brown, J.P. Finlayson, Magnolia Mills, Mrs. W. Monteith, Monteith & Sons, C. D. Simpson Albany Street Scene, Albany Construction Scene, Mills on Calapooia River

More Links:

Further Reading: (see bibliography for full citations)  

Remembering When, Vols 1-5, by Robert Potts -- Lots of photos!

Land of Linn, Floyd C. Mullen

Old Time Albany, Fred Nutting articles from the Albany Democrat-Herald



Town histories were  abstracted from:  "History of Linn County", Compiled by Workers of the Writer’s Program, Works Progress Administration, 1941.  See bibliography for above-cited references.  All photos from the collection of Lisa L. Jones, unless otherwise noted.  Lisa L. Jones contributed and is solely responsible for the content of these pages.  Copyright 2001.