This week’s From the Past looks back at a Philomath schools graduation in April 1898. (Photo by Lalocracio/Getty Images via Canva)

Although the education scene in Philomath in the late 19th century revolved around the local college, there were classes for the town’s youngsters.

In 1898, there were two “graded schools” in Benton County — one at Corvallis and the other at Philomath. The school at Philomath consisted of two grades — advanced and primary. Professor A.C. Guthrie served as principal and Minna Bryan headed up the primary department.

Beyond the two graded schools, there were also 53 school districts in Benton County that employed 93 teachers — 73 women and 20 men. (It’s interesting to note that the average salary paid to the male teachers was $37.50 compared to the average salary of $30.49 for female teachers).

Following is a story on the 1898 graduation for Philomath’s graded school as published April 15 of that year in the Corvallis Gazette:

“The graduating exercises of the Philomath public schools were held Friday afternoon, April 8th, before a large and attentive audience. These were the first graduating exercises held under the county classification, and the results speak well for the present system.

“After an excellent literary program, in which the school and graduates took part, Supt. Denman presented in a neat speech the diplomas to Bessie Meats, Eller Alexander, Florence Clark, Faith Keezel, Oliver Woods, Nat Dixon and Arthur Boles. Rev. Pearl, of Corvallis, delivered a beautiful and impressive address to the class.

“There was abundant foot for the body as well as for the mind. Four long tables were spread with such a feast as has made the ladies of Philomath famous, and it is needless to say that every one gave evidence of their appreciation in the amount of substantials consumed.

“Prof. Guthrie and Mrs. Bryan deserve much praise for the careful training the pupils had evidently received. Prof. Guthrie is one of the most efficient and painstaking instructors in Benton county and a wise choice was made in re-electing him as principal for another term. Miss Lewis will be his assistant.

150 years ago

Temperance movement: On last Friday afternoon we accepted an invitation from Dr. John Boswell to accompany him to Philomath, where he was to deliver a temperance address before the Philomath Temperance Society. At 7 o’clock the meeting was called to order by Prof. Sellwood, President of the Society, and prayer offered by Rev. Mr. Palmer. Secretary — Miss Allen — read the minutes of previous meeting, followed by an appropriate temperance song by a select choir — consisting of four young ladies and Prof. Sellwood. After which Dr. Boswell was introduced and made a rousing speech on the subject of Temperance. … The Doctor and ourself enjoyed the hospitalities of J. Brownson and wife; after a splendid lunch at close of lecture, we drove home — arriving at 11 o’clock p.m. We had one of Houck’s 2:40 teams and the people at Philomath insisted on footing the livery bill. Long flourish the Philomath Temperance Society. Several signed the whisky and tobacco pledge that evening. (Published April 19, 1873, in the Weekly Corvallis Gazette).

125 years ago

District S.S. Convention: The convention met in Keezel chapel, Philomath, April 9, at 7:30 p.m., Rev. Jos. Taylor presiding. Devotional services were led by Rev. T.J. Cocking. The evening session consisted of literary and musical exercises, and discussion of various subjects, led by G. Corby, Miss Lewis, Mrs. Keezel and others. Sunday morning session opened at 9 o’clock with a half hour’s praise meeting led by Rev. Taylor. … The convention met in the afternoon in the brick college, Mrs. Bradford leading the devotional exercises. … The evening was devoted t prayer and song service and some excellent recitations. (Published Xxx. xx, 1898, in the Corvallis Gazette).

100 years ago

Water permit: A permit has been issued to W.S. Barclay of Philomath for the appropriation of water from Mary’s River to be used in irrigating 29 acres of land at a cost of $600. That’s all this valley needs in summer to make it blossom like the Nile at its best. Irrigation and drainage combined will some day be the salvation of this section which is even now blessed beyond most others on earth. (Published April 19, 1923, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

75 years ago

Phone rates: Rate increases boosting the annual revenue of the Coast Telephone company approximately $8,964 were authorized by Public Utilities Commissioner John H. Carkin Wednesday. The company provides service at Alsea, Kings Valley, Philomath, South Beach, Waldport, Yachats and surrounding country. Under the order 24-hour service must be provided in the company’s offices at Philomath and Waldport and new exchanges must be opened in Alsea, Kings Valley, South Beach and Yachts as soon as equipment and materials can be obtained. (Published April 15, 1948, in the Oregon Statesman, Salem).

50 years ago

Basketball coach: Lytle Cowell, Lebanon’s head basketball coach this past season, has resigned to take a similar position with Philomath High. The somewhat surprise move comes after one year as head boss here. Despite going from a AAA school to a AA school, Cowell cites “the ideal program” as his reason. “Being able to direct a total basketball program and run it,” explained Cowell, was the main reason. While Lebanon has nine different elementary districts, Philomath’s is one large district. This was one of the reasons Barry Adams left here for Hillsboro a year ago. Cowell is replacing Chuck Vaughn, who will become an elementary principal. Present baseball coach Gary Cox will take over the Philomath athletic director’s post. (Published April 13, 1973, in the Oregon Statesman, Salem).

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.