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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 statements (120): 

“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 continuous.

“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 80’s.

“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 cemetery.

“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 station."

 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).


 Crawfordsville Quick Facts

Location:  Twp 14S, Rge 1W, Sect 18

Name Origin:  Early settler Jasper V. Crawford

Post Office Established:  8 Feb 1870

First Postmaster:  Jasper  V. Crawford



More Links:

Crawfordsville Covered Bridge


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.