An early image of Philomath College. (Photo/Benton County Historical Society)

It’s not often that we come across a story from the 1870s that goes into such detail on a Philomath event. In an article published 150 years ago, we get somewhat of a feel for the community — “not a drop of intoxicating liquor … is allowed to be sold” — and a very good feel for a particular event at the college.

Catching my eye in the following account was Miss Irene Smith’s class of “little ones” that put their level of knowledge on display by answering questions. The article also serves as an example of the writing style that you found in those days — lots of very detailed descriptive words (with commentary often mixed in).

The following account was published under the headline, “Our visit to Philomath” in the March 29, 1873, edition of the Corvallis Gazette:

“Philomath is a beautiful little village, handsomely and eligibly located on the foot-hills of the Coast range, seven miles west of Corvallis, and the site of a flourishing institution of learning — Philomath College — under the auspices of the United Brethren Church. The building is a handsome and substantial brick edifice, finished within and without in good taste. Its location is exceedingly fortunate — being surrounded by wealthy and well-to-do farmers, who fully appreciate the advantages of an institution where their sons and their daughters may receive a thorough college education, and at the same time be free from all the demoralizing tendencies and influences which so often poison the mind, blight the fairest hopes and expectations of the child, and send the parent in sorrow to the grave. Philomath is free from such corrupting influences. Not a drop of intoxicating liquor, as a beverages, is allowed to be sold in the place, and no saloon can be started there.

“Upon our arrival at Mr. Ichabod Henkle’s, (he made a special trip to Corvallis for us, without our solicitation or knowledge,) we found a sumptuous dinner ready and ‘waiting’ for us. After doing ample justice to the dinner, in company of the family, we repaired to the College Chapel, which we found well filled with the patrons and friends of the institution, eagerly waiting for the school exhibition to commence. The Trustees of the College, Rev. Mr. Harritt, Agent, Rev. T.J. Cooper and Prof. J.R.N. Sellwood, occupied chairs on the Stage.

“After prayer and music, the exercises, which were all wholly original, proceeded without interruption, and were characterized by a thoroughness and decorum alike creditable to pupils and teachers. The entertainment consisted of orations, addresses, essays, poems, etc., all of which, as before remarked, were original, and showed the mental calibre of each student. (We should like to refer to each, but space will not permit). The grand object of the teachers seems to be thoroughness in every department — no mere superficial polish. Never has it been our good fortune to attend a school exhibition which apparently gave more perfect satisfaction. We were informed, by some who were present, that we missed a rare treat by not being present at the examination of Miss Irene Smith’s department, in the forenoon. The ‘little ones’ acquitted themselves with credit. The promptness and ease with which they answered questions that would have puzzled older heads, was truly gratifying.

“The Concert of vocal and instrumental music, in the evening, was very good, indeed, and reflected great credit upon the musical talent of Philomath. The proceeds amounted to nearly sixty dollars, and with the organ fund already on hand, is sufficient to purchase a handsome organ for the College.

“The entire exercises, day and evening, were of the most pleasing, entertaining and chaste character, and were received in a decorous and appreciative manner. Long may this institution flourish — an honor to its founder, and a blessing to all around. Of abundant success it cannot fail, while surrounded with such kind, hospitable, generous and noble-hearted patrons.”

150 years ago

Concert attendee: Our partner to the concert at Philomath (see story above), last Friday evening, was Mr. Jacob Henkle a youth of eighty-five years. He is about as lively, and steps as spry as some youths of twenty. (Published March 29, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette).

125 years ago

College baseball: The OAC and Philomath college baseball teams played a tie game at Corvallis, Saturday, the score at the end of the 9th inning stood 12 to 12. Both teams were willing to “let it go at that.” The game was a very good one, considering the coldness of the air. OAC made 17 base hits and Philomath 8. Philomath had only seven errors charged against them, while the farmers made 13. The next game promises to be a very interesting one. (Published April 1, 1898, in the Corvallis Gazette).

100 years ago

City lawsuit: The case of Mrs. Thompson, of Philomath, against the city of Philomath, in which she sought to recover $7,500 damages as a result of the death of her husband from injuries alleged sustained from a fall incident to a defective wooden sidewalk, resulted in a verdict for Philomath, which throws the cost of the suit on the plaintiffs. The jury held that the plaintiff had not proved the allegation. (Published March 31, 1923, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

75 years ago

50th anniversary: Mr. and Mrs. William E. McIlwain of Philomath observed their golden wedding anniversary recently when a luncheon honoring the couple was given at the home of Mrs. George Johnson, a granddaughter. The couple was married in Kokomo, Ind., on March 23, 1898. Two years later they came to Salem to reside, remaining there unti 1942 when they moved to Philomath. Mr. and Mrs. McIlwain have two children: Mrs. S.H. Bennett of Philomath and C.L. McIlwain, Salem. Both were able to be present at the observance. There are also six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Mr. McIlwain is 74 and his wife 72 years old. Mrs. George M. Buckingham, a granddaughter, baked the wedding cake, which was decorated with a golf motif. (Published April 3, 1948, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

50 years ago

Frolic festivities: The 20th annual Philomath Western Frolic will be held June 6-10 with the theme “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” The theme was submitted by Melissa Theurer. President of the Philomath Frolic Committee is Terry Silbaugh; vice president, Ken Stueve; treasurer, Paul Kresge; and secretary, Virginia Silbaugh. Princesses have been selected from the high school senior class, sponsored by five different organizations. They are Kitty Lossett, by the Philomath Jaycees; Jeanne Gerding, IOOF and Rebekahs; Sheryl Hallam, Philomath Lions Club; Melinda Newell, Marys River Grange; and Hertha Grass, Philomath Volunteer Firemen. (Published April 3, 1973, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.