SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Salem in 1881

World Events
  • James Garfield is assassinated; Chester Arthur becomes president of the United States.
  • Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross.
  • Tuskegee Institute and Spellman College, both for African-American students, are founded.
Mrs. Chloe Willson's home in 1858

The same residence as Lausanne Hall in early 1900s.

Images courtesy of Willamette University Archives and Special Collections
In Salem 
Almost thirty years before, Chloe Willson and her husband William, the founder of our city, had built their home on the northeast corner of Court and Capitol Streets. The property was part of their land grant, actually their allotment from the mission properties. Since the property was in both names, Chloe fought to retain her half after William's death ~ she won.  The image above was published in 1858 when Chloe lived there as a widow. By 1871 she had moved to her daughter's home in Portland. She died there in 1874.
In this year of 1881, Willamette University President Thomas Van Scoy purchases her "English Cottage" and has it moved to the campus as the Woman's College. Over the years it was enlarged, heightened, given a Mansard roof and, finally, a tower. In 1919 it was demolished for the construction of the present Lausanne Hall. The Chronicles of Willamette states, "The original of unit of this outworn old building...was the beautiful old Willson mansion but the numerous additions to it had long before made it into an architectural monstrosity and there was general rejoicing when it could be blotted out of the landscape."
The name Lausanne, given to this university building, recalls the ship that brought missionaries to the Oregon settlement in 1843: Chloe was one of these. She became one of the first teachers at the school that is now Willamette University.


When you visit
After the Willson house was moved to the Willamette campus, H. B. Theilsen and his wife Jennie purchased the property on Court Street where her house had stood. They built a home where they lived with their three children. In the 1930s, after possibly forty years, the house was demolished, although the family continued to own the land. For approximately seventy-five years, an automobile service station has occupied this historic location at the northeast corner of Capitol and Court Street.

Other events
  • W. Crawford is elected mayor this year.
Thomas Cronise photograph of Sung Lung Chinese Laundry at 105 Court Street, 1889
  • Chinese came to the Salem area in the 1870s and early 1880s with the Chinese population at its peak at 300. The First Baptist Church in Salem opened a Chinese mission school in Salem in 1877 and enrolled up to 40 at various times. Jeung Gwoon Jeu was made city missionary. The mission school was continued through this summer of 1881, but Reverend C. H. Mattoon, editor of the Baptist Annals of Oregon, sorrowfully notes: "Doubtless the only object of the pupils was to learn the language for personal and pecuniary benefits". The school may have closed when the pastor’s wife began conducting evening classes for the Chinese community. Forty pupils were learning about Christianity and to read and write English for a monthly tuition of one dollar.
  • Lucyanna Lee Grubbs, the only child of Jason Lee, died this year at the age of 39. Lucyanna was the daughter of Lee's second wife, Lucy Thompson Lee, who sailed to Oregon in 1839 on the Lausanne with the reinforcement of missionaries. Lucyanna was three weeks old when her mother died, and three years old when her lost her father. Adopted by Lydia and Gustavus Hines, she graduated from Willamette University in 1863, becoming a teacher, and then became Governess of Women when Chloe Willson resigned. Lucyanna married a classmate, Francis H. Grubbs, who also became a teacher. Lucyanne's students described her as being tall, with a slender, and stately appearance, her hair braided and wound around her head. A woman of superior knowledge, she was reserved and dignified, and a most devout Christian. A gifted teacher in many disciplines, her students recalled how they sat around a fire on winter days, eating their lunch while Mrs. Grubbs read aloud her favorite poem, "Evangeline." Exacting in her instruction and her expectations of her students, they also recalled she could be amusing, even slightly sarcastic at times, when calling a student’s attention back to the lesson.
    Professor Grubbs raised their daughter Ethel after her mother's death. Professor Grubbs taught at Willamette University for six years  and then in several other schools in the Pacific Northwest until poor health forced him out of his profession. Grubbs took part in various enterprises, finally going into a printing business in Portland. He died in 1911 when Ethel was in her thirties. Since Ethel did not marry, the Jason Lee family line did not survive into another generation.
  • Funds had been allocated for the Oregon State Insane Asylum the year before; the site selected was north of the state prison on a slight rise just east of Salem, its present location. Groundbreaking takes place in May of this year with much of the labor force and brick building material coming from the penitentiary. The Kirkbride Building, later known as the "J" Building because of its configuration, was completed two years after.

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