Near Crawfordsville was the cradle of the Linn County
milling industry. R. C. Finley was the mill builder. At a very
early date an I. O. G. T. Hall was erected there. W. R. Bishop, pioneer
Linn County educator and preacher, lived there for a number of years,
taught school and preached there. And the Linn County Pioneer
Association had its birth in Crawfordsville. It was largely the result
of agitation on the part of Robert Glass (120).
Crawfordsville was named for Philemon Vawter
Crawford. The town is on land owned by him, and previous to his purchase
by Timothy A. Riggs and Robert Glass. Mrs. Louisa Crawford Lewis of
Mable, Oregon, daughter of P. V. Crawford, is authority for the following
“I think it was in the year of 1869 that my father
bought ten acres of land from Timothy Riggs which may be called the
beginning of the town. It was named by W. R. Bishop, our old friend and
school teacher. J. V. Crawford was the first postmaster. The office was
kept in Mr. Heizler’s store at the intersection of the Calapooia and
Brush Creek roads, called the McCaw Lane, since the first place after
crossing Brush Creek was McCaw’s. Heisler’s store was there previous
to the town of Crawford.
“Robert Glass sold town lots on the south
side of the county road. He and P. V. Crawford made out the deeds to
read that if ever intoxicating liquor was sold on the land it would
revert to the original owners. Both were strong temperance men. Tom
Shanks, I think, had the first blacksmith shop, near Heisler’s store.
My brother, J. V. Crawford did not keep the post office long, but moved
to Waitsburg, Washington Territory, and my father kept it until he went
to Waitsburg in 1870 or 1871. Robert Glass kept it for many years after
that. My husband, T. A. Lewis, had the first shoe shop, in 1877, the
year we were married.
“I got most of my schooling in the schoolhouse of
District No. 3. Rev. Robert Robe preached there first and oftenest, but
I also heard Rev. Jas. Worth of Brownsville and Rev. Philip Starr, and
W. R. Bishop. Uncle Joab Powell preached there once, and also Carpus Sperry of
Brownsville. Everyone went to church; there was no other place to go.
Once in a while there was a Union Sunday School, but it was never
“Of Crawfordsville pioneers there were Robert
Glass, T. A. Riggs, John Johnson, Richard Finley, George Colbert,
William Robinette, Miles Carey, Joe Seely, William McCaw, Thomas Woodfin
— each man with a family. Asa Hull had lived there and returned in the
“P. V. Crawford was born September 24, 1814, near
Madison, Indiana. Ho crossed the plains in 1851, with his wife and five
children, and with Noah Shanks. He died February 1, 1901, in Eugene. His
wife Letitia Smith died Juno 13, 1896. Both lie in Crawfordsville
“One of the first sawmills in the upper Calapooia
Valley was the King & McDowell mill. The site was about halfway
between the present McKercher grist mill and Crawfordsville. When we
first went to the community it had what we called a sash saw.
“Timothy Riggs came to Oregon in 1846, starting
from Missouri in that year with a big party of emigrants, and with his
father, mother, brother and two sisters. His father died on the way. The
party arrived at the end of September at Foster’s place in Clackamas
County, and disbanded, the Riggs brothers finding employment
with Welch. They raised one crop for him and came on to the
Calapooia and in the fall of 1847 took up a donation
claim each near where Crawfordsville was to stand.
"Robert Glass and his brother William crossed
the plains in 1849 to the California mines, made some money, and came to
Linn County in 1850. Robert Glass took land at Crawfordsville and
William Glass east of Brownsville.”
James Vawter Crawford, grandson of P. V.
Crawford, and his mother, Mary F. Cowgill (Crawford) Coon, shed more
light on the life of the Crawfords and Crawfordsville (121):
"Being a machinist and millwright (Philemon Vawter
Crawford) bought certain lands and water power rights from Robert Glass
where the town of Crawfordsville now stands. Here he built, first a
sawmill and later a carding mill, for the preparation of rolls for
spinning. The power for the mills was furnished from a ditch running
from Brush Creek and discharging into the Calapooia River. A store was
soon opened by some of the Glass family, a blacksmith-shop helped the
growth of the place and at one time there was a shoe manufactory and an
establishment devoted to the forging of butcher and bowie knives. These
knives were of the best of steel and won a wide reputation. The
buckaroos from eastern Oregon would buy them and sharpen them to such a
keen edge that they could shave with them.
P. V. Crawford finally went into partnership
with Richard C. Finley and together they built a new mill east of Shed
on the Calapooia — the Boston Mill — and a town sprang up about it.
It burned in 1862, was rebuilt and is now running and owned by Thompson
Brothers. The town died soon after the railroad came to Shedd
John Glass, son of Robert Glass, tells of
Crawfordsville and the Glass family (122):
“My father’s name was Robert Glass, born Ohio,
1823. He died at Crawfordsville. Mother’s name was Jane Gray. Father
joined the gold rush for California from Warren County, Ohio, in 1849.
There were 14 men in his party. Father mined, then teamed, and made a
stake. When he came to Linn County he had between $3,000 and $4,000. His
claim extended from the present highway through Crawfordsville,
southward across Brush Creek. Unmarried,
he could take up only 320 acres.
“My mother, Jane Gray, came to Oregon in 1852, was
married in 1853, and was settled in a cabin on the south side of Brush
Creek. There was a spring there and an ash swale, which still may be
seen. I was born in the original cabin.
“The first winter in Oregon my father had
two-three other men with him in his bachelor cabin. Neighbors were few.
The most prominent were Wm. McCaw, Timothy Riggs, William Robinett,
Thomas Woodfin, and R. C. Finley.
“The R. C. Finley flour mill, built in 1848,
was in operation when my father arrived. When the present mill was
built, the old one was used for a hog-pen. The old mill stood slightly down the river
from the present mill and farther out on the rocks in the channel. My
father helped to raise the timbers of the present (now the John
McKercher) mill. He and the rest of the crew had got the frame partly
up, but were unable to push it farther, unable to let it down without
great danger of it falling on them, when Rev. Henry Harmon Spaulding
arrived, seized a pike-pole and added his strength to our push. The
heavy frame began to rise and soon was in place.
“Because of the floods of 1862—53 the
Finley mill could not be operated. The water came early in the winter
and took the dam out. In a very short while the settlers were out of flour. The older
people missed it, but the youngsters lived on corn. My father rigged up
a grater upon which he reduced the ears to meal.
“Very little hiring of labor took place in
the early days. Neighbor helped neighbor. When a man built a house, his
friends would help him ‘raise’ it. No pay was asked or received,
except that of similar good neighborliness when occasion required.
“My schooling began in 1861 with W. R. Bishop
as my teacher. He was a Cumberland Presbyterian educator, the father of
Charles Bishop of the Salem woolen mills. The school district was No, 3
and Mr. Bishop taught for six or seven years. Schools were not supported
by taxation. Each pupil was supposed
to contribute a certain sum.
“My parents attended the United Presbyterian Church
at Union Point, about three miles south of Brownsville. Rev. Wilson
Blain was the pastor. The church was a rather large building, but had
neither belfry, bell or steeple. It was boarded up on the outside but
not on the inside. The building faced the north and the pulpit was in the
south. There was a small
entrance hall, and one door leading from this to the main room.
One end of the entrance hail was partitioned off and used as a
sort of store room, for lumber, tools, paint, and such building
materials as were on hand. Whenever the church members had any spare
time, they would work on the church. The pews were homemade and
privately owned. Each church member built its own pew to suit their
needs. A big family had a long pew and a small one a short pew. Just the
same any stranger happening in never lacked room or welcome. The church
stood on a slope in a country of rolling hills. There was also a school
at Union Point, a store, a gunsmiths shop and a few dwellings. The place
began to decline when Brownsville was laid out. The man who ran the gun
shop was named “Gunder” Wilson, The residence of Wilson Blain was
there and the residence and workshop of Rev. James Wirth
who was a wagon maker. The "Big Gap Road” ran west of the church and a
lane from it ran up to the church front.
“The first sawmill was on the Calapooia
River, a little below town, where the Rodeo grounds now are situated. A.
C. Finley was one of the promoters. I recollect it first was run by
Kendall and Barter. It was an old—style “sash mill”, run by water
power from an overshot wheel. In a sash mill the saw blade is straight
and to give it strength and rigidity it is mounted in frame or sash. In
the simple old form the bottom of this sash is coupled directly to a
crank extending out from the main bearing of the water vehicle. As the
wheel revolves it causes the
crank to move the sash up and down. The log, on a carriage, is propelled
against this reciprocating saw blade. The cutting is done only on the
down stroke. It is all slow and primitive, but with time a great amount
of lumber may be cut. The movement of the carriage forward to meet the
saw is arranged by a gearing known as the ‘rag wheel’. In sawing
scantlings, as for instance 2 x 4’s, a cant was first cut four inches
thick and as wide as the log allowed. The cant was then cut into two—inch
segments, but the saw was never allowed to quite sever the piece. Before
the cut was complete the carriage was reversed and a new cut commenced,
again four inches deeper into the cant. This was continued until the
cant was used up, leaving a group of 2 x 4s
still joined by an unsawed fragment. The unsawed fragment was
known as ‘stub-shot’, and when the timbers were delivered, workmen
had to finish the ends by hand.”’
"The second sawmill on the Calapooia was five
miles up the river, a sash mill, but with a circular saw for finishing.
The first steam sawmill was built by Mr. Linville at the head of Brush
Creek. A later sort of sash saw was the “Muley” saw. The blade was
not mounted in a sash but given rigidity by a heavy spring at the upper
end, which also served to return the blade to its up-position after the
down stroke. Springs were often in the form of a long flexible pole, the
base rigidly fixed, the point bending to the motions of the saw."
The U. S. Census of 1880 gave Crawfordsville 58
inhabitants; from then on no numbers of population are given. In 1878
the place is listed as having a small planing mill, wool carding
machinery plant, and a tannery project (123). In 1880 the town is
credited with a sash and door factory, carding machine, blacksmith shop,
two sawmills, a general store, tannery, shoe-making establishment, and a
flouring mill (124).