In the 1870s, washing clothes was a demanding chore. Water had to be brought in from the well or stream, heated up and poured into a tub. The process of soaking, beating, scrubbing and rinsing followed. It was a very long day.

The history of the washing machine in America dates back to 1797 with the filing of a patent and several variations followed in the 1800s. Steam power would first be used in commercial washing machine designs in the 1850s but the ones in homes were powered by hand.

In the Feb. 15, 1873, edition of the Corvallis Gazette, an advertisement appeared for a steam washer that had the promise of making the lives of launderers a lot easier:

“Woman’s Friend and Steam Washer, will clean your clothes without rubbing. No fluids or extra soaps used. It consumes less soap, less time, and less fuel, than the usual method. It saves Labor, Wear and Tear, and the Annoyance of Wash Day. It requires no attention while the process of cleaning goes on.

“For sale by W.H. McFarland, of this city. For particulars, address G.W. Mason, agent for Benton Co., Philomath, Oregon.”

It’s unknown if the machine sold much. The ad was published from January to May.

150 years ago

Farmers’ Club: The little tree of co-operation, first planted in this county by a meeting of the farmers of Philomath precinct, on the 11th ult., and watered by the more general assembling at the court house, on last Saturday, Feb. 1st, has already borne sufficient fruit to impel the movement forward to ultimate success. A deep interest has been awakened among the best and most intelligent farmers of the community, resulting in an interchange of opinion upon many questions of paramount importance — the appointing of a committee to draft a Constitution and By Laws for the permanent organization and government of a Farmers’ Club. (Published Feb. 15, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette).

125 years ago

Revival meetings: The revival meetings, begun in the first week of January, continue to grow in interest, with increasing unity among the Christians. The power of the Master is shown in the conversion of sinners, and the awakening of Christians to a sense of their duty, as never before in the history of Philomath. Over 45 souls have been saved and the penitent form is crowded every night. Rev. Cocking has instituted four daily prayer meetings. A few faithful Christians have been praying for years that God would unite his people here in Philomath, and it seems as if their prayers are being rewarded. Rev. Cocking and Prof. Emerick continue to work together an all Christians are uniting in meeting this revival a grand success. (Published Feb. 18, 1898, in the Corvallis Gazette).

100 years ago

Resident hospitalized: George Van Orden, who resides near Philomath, was taken through Corvallis recently to a Salem hospital where he is to remain for a time for medical treatment. Mr. Van Orden was injured several months ago while at work at a Benton county sawmill, a horse falling on him. Mr. Van Orden’s leg was broken in four places and the bones have refused to heal properly. (Published Feb. 16, 1923, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

75 years ago

School facilities: State Superintendent of Schools Rex Putnam informed the Philomath city school board that its elementary schools had been classified as non-standard and state support funds due Philomath would be cut off on July 1 unless the schools were made at least “conditionally” standard. … As Carl Haight, a former member of the Philomath school board and now on the Benton rural school board, put it, “We realize in Philomath that our schools must be improved and we are going to do something. But I can’t see how we can have anything ready to move into next fall.” Here, apparently, is what the majority of Philomath citizens are in favor of doing about it: they plan to build a new elementary school of six rooms, just about half what they need, and operate it on a double shift basis, not the best idea, they admit, but the only out they can find financially without consolidating with some bigger district (Corvallis is the only one indicated and whether Corvallis would take them or not is uncertain), which they do not want to do. (Published Feb. 14, 1948, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

50 years ago

Lions Club: Philomath Lions Club celebrated its 25th anniversary Tuesday night in the Fireside Room of the United Methodist Church with a dinner and program. Philomath Lions Club was chartered on Feb. 11, 1948, with 35 members signing the charter. Of those signing the charter, two are still active members of the club. Claude M. Hutchens and Ted Ward have completed 25 years of continuous service with the Lions Club. (Published Feb. 16, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

Valentine’s Carnival: A Valentines Carnival will be held at Philomath Junior-Senior High School Saturday evening. … On tap for the evening will be a general store, pillow fight, dart games, cake walk, archery, basketball and refreshments. Proceeds will go to the PHS student body. (Published Feb. 16, 1873, in the Corvallis Gazette-Times).

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.