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     The country adjacent to Lebanon was first called Kees Precinct, after Morgan and Jacob Kees (71), who settled there in 1848. The first elections were held in 1848 at the house of Morgan Kees, which stood on the site of Lebanon , the poll being 38 votes. Judges were Morgan Kees, Jeremiah Ralston and William Gore; clerks Elinor Galaher and Asa. H, Peterson (72).

      Jeremiah Ralston had the site of Lebanon surveyed and recorded in 1851, and named the town after Mount Lebanon in Syria (73). However, accounts of how the name originated differ.  It is claimed that Ralston named his town site after Lebanon , Ohio , from which place he started west (74). Also that he named it after his birthplace, Lebanon , Tennessee , near Nashville (75).

      An account of how the country around Lebanon looked in the early days is furnished by Mrs. Rebecca N. Bell Hope, a girl pioneer of 1851 (76):

      “The vast prairie from the Santiam to the Calapooya and further, was covered with native grass, tall and waving in the sea breeze wafted here from the Pacific Ocean . Small herds of Spanish cattle belonging to the settlers who lived along the timber and surrounding hills grazed unmolested.

      “The day was drawing to a close when we came to a log house. The road passed close by with no fence between. With a large wooden pump standing alone close to the house it looked inviting. We halted to drink from the well and to rest for a short time. This was the house of Jeremiah Ralston and family, the founder of our city of Lebanon .

      His son William, then a single man, owned a claim south of his father. His little house then stood between Mr. Ford’s dwelling and the road just beyond the (present) power station.

      “Lebanon in its infancy was by some named ‘Pinhook'.  It bore this name for a while before it assumed the name given it by its founder.

      “Peterson Butte was then Washington Butte and the post office was so called. The office was one mile out towards the Butte .”

     Jeremiah Ralston started for Oregon in the spring of 1847. He was born near Nashville , Tennessee , in 1797, and died near Soda Springs, this County, in August, 1877 (77). His wife was Jemima (Ashpaugh) Ralston of Hamilton County, Ohio, who died December 25, 1894 , aged 77. The couple had nine children. Mrs. Maud Ralston Kirkpatrick tells about their arrival in Oregon (75):

     “Jeremiah Ralston with his wife and four children started for Oregon in the spring of 1847. The children were William, Joseph, Jane and Jeremiah. Another son, Charles, father of Mrs. Kirkpatrick, was born during the crossing of the plains. When Ralston arrived at the site of Lebanon he had 12 yoke of oxen and three wagons. In those wagons, besides his household goods, he brought supplies and merchandise with which to start a store. On the site of Lebanon Ralston found two squatters living — Thomas Morgan and William Hawk, who had erected a cabin and made some improvements. Ralston traded $30 and a yoke of oxen for their rights.”

     Thomas Morgan was born in Iowa in 1835; he died at Plainview , Linn County , March 20, 1926 (78). William Hawk was born in Indiana in 1824. He came to Oregon in 1845, on Christmas Day, arriving in Oregon City . He went to the Cayuse war, and his claim with that of Wm. M. Smith, was occupied by the Messrs. Taylors, who wore notified to leave the land by the citizens of Linn County at a meeting hold April 9, 1848 , to protect war volunteers’ claims (79). He married Sarah Griffith, daughter of Elisha Griffith, in Linn County , after the war. The couple had 12 children, eight off whom were living in 1878. Ho was in the Rogue River War of 1856 for three months, come back to his farm in Linn County and stayed there (80).

      Mrs. Maud Ralston Kirkpatrick (75) goes on to say that of neighbors to the Ralston’s there were at that time none, though. shortly thereafter arrived Morgan and Owen Kees, Wm. B. Gore, Russell Hill and the Wassum family. Others who followed quickly were the Thomas Summers family, the Petersons, Cheadles, Parrishes and Settles.  The Kees and the Wassams, nearest neighbors, were distant relatives of the Ralstons. Jeremiah Ralston laid out and plotted the town of Lebanon in 1852. He and Morgan Kees each contrib­uted five acres of land, while Owen Kees gave $1,800 towards an endowment fund for a school, the Santiam Academy, which was duly incorporated by the

     Territorial Legislature on January 18, 1851 .  This school become an institution of considerable importance.

     At this period in the early history of the county, (72) the people generally were engaged in stock raising, that being at the time the most lucrative business available, as the price of cattle was high, and there was abundance of the finest pasturage everywhere. In 1851, the name of the precinct was changed to Lebanon , and it was about this time that the village of Lebanon was commenced... The first store was started by Messrs J. and William Ralston. In 1853 Mr. Leland built a store.

      “The village has a very pleasant location at the junction of the Albany prairie and the timbered lands bordering the south fork of the Santiam River . The surrounding country is very fertile and well settled up (1878). The Albany and Santiam Canal commences a short distance from the town, which furnishes a cheap mode of transportation in boats to Albany .

       “The Santiam Academy , which is under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1878), is one of the principal institutions in the county. It was founded in 1854, Professor L. Woodward being its first principal; the gentleman at present (1878) officiating in that capacity is Professor L.J. Gilbert

       “There is (1878) a good flouring mill, owned by Messrs. Jonathan Wassom, John Little, Richard Cheadle and James L. Cowen; it has three run of stones, with a capacity of 160 barrels of flour per day. There is also an excellent sash and planing mill owned by Mr. S. A. Nickerson; both these works are run by water power. There are three hotels in the town, and business houses of all kinds. It can also boast a fine hall, which was recently built by the Lebanon Cornet Band. This town is annually visited by numbers of people en route to the summer resorts of Soda Springs, Fish Lake , and various points in the adjacent mountains. There is a daily stage line to Albany . The Free Masons, Odd Fellows and Grangers have lodges in the town. There are also several churches and a handsome cemetery. The local trade is estimated to reach $150,000.”

      The U. S. Census of 1870 gave Lebanon precinct a population of 515. In 1880 the town of Lebanon was credited with 270 inhabitants. In 1890 the town of Lebanon was listed as having 829 people; in 1900 - 922; in 1910 — 1820; in 1920 — 1805; in 1930 — 1851. and in 1940 — ( Lebanon precinct, 859; North Lebanon precinct, 903; and South Lebanon precinct, 967).a total of 2,729.

      A post office came rather late to Lebanon itself, Washington Butte post office, near Lebanon , served the town for several years (81). Russell Hill was the first postmaster, followed by J. W. Bell. Lebanon post office was probably established about 1862. The town was incorporated in 1891. McKenney’s Pacific Coast Directory for 1880—81 lists Lebanon as having  jewelry store run by A. H. Peterson & Son; and a general merchandise store, owned by J. M. Ralston & Co. R. L. Polk & Co., Oregon, Washington & Idaho gazetteer for 1886—87 credits Lebanon with two Presbyterian churches; two; schools; a library with 300 volumes; two flour mills; a sash, door and blind factory; a bank, fire department and a sawmill eight miles southeast of town. The volume claims the first session of the U. S. Circuit Court west of the Rocky Mountains was held here.  In the Gazetteer for 1891—92 Lebanon is listed with a paper mill, a weekly paper and electric lights.

Lebanon Quick Facts

Location:  Twp 12S, Rge 2W, Sect 10-12

Name Origin:  Named for Mount Lebanon in Syria; possibly for Lebanon Ohio or Lebanon Tennesse.

Other Names:  Kees Precinct, Pinhook, Santyam, Santiam, Washington Butte

Post Office Established:  2 Nov 1859

First Postmaster:  James Elkins

Incorporation Date:  1878

Population 1999:  12,610

Photos:  Lebanon Main Street Scene, Lebanon Shortcake Festival, Lebanon High School

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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.