A second wave of settlement in Cedar Mill took place in the 1870s
after many donation land claims were broken into smaller parcels.
Much of the acreage was purchased by immigrants who had traveled
west in search of productive farm land. Since many of these tracts
had been logged off by local mills, the stump land here appeared
suitable for the arriving Europeans intent on farming.
The immigrants represented a variety of nationalities, although
most were from Germany, Switzerland and Ireland. Following lengthy
voyages across the Atlantic, they entered the United States at ports
such as New York or Boston. Some crossed the plains in wagons; during
the 1870s others came by the newly established railroad system.
Many came to Cedar Mill assured of food and shelter provided by
friends and family already in the vicinity.
In time, small groups of each nationality began to form in and
around Cedar Mill, and their cultural traditions enriched the community.
The Swiss worked together in dairy farming, the Irish helped establish
St. Anthony Catholic Church, and Germans contributed to the rising
Although most of the early Europeans intermarried with families from their
native countries, late generations tended to marry into other cultural backgrounds.
Some moved from the area, while others have remained for more than a century
since their ancestors arrived from the Old World. A few Swiss and German
immigrant descendants relocated at Cedar Mill from nearby Bethany. Surnames
such as Leahy, Murray, Stalder, Jenne, Hamel, Hickethier, Bauer and Katterman
serve as a reminder of the immigrant farmers who came to the area long ago.
Their stories provide and interesting study of the development of the land.
Settlers of Irish heritage were among the first immigrants to reach Cedar
Mill. Two of the earliest were Thomas and Ann Leahy from County Waterford,
home, built of board and batten construction, belonging to John
Leahy. (Courtesy Dolores DeYoung Fallon)
In 1852, the couple crossed the plains and settled in the Goose Hollow
area immediately west of Portland. By 1865, Leahy had moved with his wife
and infant son John to a sloping 160-acre timbered parcel on NW Leahy Road
that he purchased for $1,000. Leahy cleared some of the land and planted
various crops. Three more Leahy children, Hugh, Ellen and Thomas Jr., were
born in a small house built on the acreage. Although the house is gone, a
row of poplar trees on the west side of Leahy Road indicates the site.
Thomas Leahy died in 1894, followed by Ann in 1913. Ann's property was
divided among their children. John and Hugh logged the family property and
cut cordwood from the downed timber. The wood was sawed into four-foot lengths,
hauled by wagon over Cornell Road and sold to a Portland brewery. The Leahy
brothers also raised hay that they sold to the West Hills Dairy on nearby
John and his wife Kate had nine children including their oldest daughter
Maude Leahy Murphy. Maude recalled walking to Cedar Mill to bring the mail
home from the general store post office. On other occasions she was given
50¢ and instructed to purchase eggs at the store. The eggs were precariously
placed in her apron for the trek home and often many broke on the return
Ironically, both John and Hugh Leahy died in logging accidents on the family
property. John was clearing a path used by school children in 1929
when the tree he cut fell over him and killed him. Hugh died in 1940
from injuries he received while
prying bark off an old fir tree.
Leahy descendant Dolores De Young Fallon and her family continue to reside
on a portion of the original tract near 92nd and Leahy Road.
The name Murray Road serves as a reminder of one Irish immigrant family
who settled in the area. Owen Murray came to Oregon from San Francisco, where
he had become a citizen in 1876. The next year he bought a 200-acrea tract
in Cedar Mill.
The property purchased included the sloping forest area from NW Pettygrove
south to Highway 26. Probably not long after his arrival he built a two-story
frame home next to several sprawling oak trees on Cornell and NW Trail. On
the 120 acres they eventually cleared for farming, the Murrays raised horses
and a few cattle. A 20-stall horse barn -- rather large for those times ñ was
constructed to house the animals next to the family home on Cornell.
The Murrays belonged to St. Anthony Catholic Church, and, for a while at
least, son Joe attended the parochial school adjacent to the church. The
children were later enrolled at Union School, nearer their home.
Murray died in 1909, and his younger son passed on in 1915. The older Murray
son, Joe, raised dairy cattle on the farm he managed for his mother. Joe
also worked for other farmers in the area and was for many years a colorful
resident of Cedar Mill. He usually appeared for work wearing a soiled work
cap and in later years sported a long red beard. Children were both fascinated
and frightened by his unkempt appearance and flamboyant character. One of
the bachelor's habits was his weekend visits to Portland for entertainment ñ the
return to Cedar Mill was announced by his loud whistling as he drove his
team down Cornell Road.
In 1936, the consequences of the Depression and Joe's easy-going management
contributed to his financial ruin. But before he gave up the farm, Joe investigated
the legend of Owen Murray's gold. Supposedly his father had brought with
him $90,000 in gold when he came to the United States. Joe searched the property
in vain, looking for the fortune and, as a last resort, hired two men from
Portland to recover the sum. The men dug a large hole in the barn, but the
gold was never found.
Eventually, Joe was forced to sell his 200-acre farm to cover his debts.
Two Bethany brothers of German descent, Herman and Jack Jenne, secured the
tract in 1937. The property remained in the Jenne family until the last portion
was sold in 1961. This land later became the Terra Linda housing development
and the Sunset Mall shopping center.
Joe remained nearby in a small rented house next to the Stalder property
and continued to work for farmers in the area. Ed Lehman hired Joe to work
on his rented farm where Joe operated a mowing machine. One August day in
1947, Joe suffered a fatal heart attack as he was cutting hay for Lehman.
Fittingly, Owen, Mary, Joe, Thomas and Ann are all buried along Murray
Road in the St. Anthony cemetery.
Many immigrant descendants in Bethany and some in Cedar Mil trace their
origins through the 1876 Siegenthaler Migration, organized in Langnau, Switzerland.
Led by Samuel Siegenthaler, the group of 72 people from ten families began
their exodus in search of religious freedom and greater economic opportunity.
Before the party left, their Swiss leader corresponded with at least one
Tualatin Valley settler to arrange for the immigrants' arrival.
The families pooled their financial resources. Those unable to afford the
journey were assisted by Siegenthaler, who purchased all the necessary tickets.
After crossing the Atlantic to New York, the party took 12 days to reach
Philadelphia. From there they boarded a third-class immigrant railroad car
bound for Omaha. Few comforts were available on the train, which had no sleeping
or eating facilities. The immigrants were forced to rest on the floor of
the car, and food was obtained only when the train stopped at towns along
In Omaha, the group changed trains, to the Union Pacific, taking another
four days to reach Sacramento. A steamer brought the party from San Francisco
to Portland where they completed the five-week journey from Switzerland.
Once in Portland, they obtained lodging, and the following day Siegenthaler
and several of the men walked out to Cedar Mill. Prior arrangements had been
made for food and shelter, and when these had been assured, wagons were sent
to Portland for the remaining immigrants.
The Swiss purchased land immediately, and again Siegenthaler helped those
in the party who needed financial assistance. After it was cleared, the acreage
purchase by the families supplied excellent soil for dairy and general farm
crops. Milk, cream, cheese and butter produced on the farms were sold to
a ready Portland market, including several large hotels.
As the immigrants became prosperous, they purchased additional property
in the vicinity. John Siegenthaler, Samuel's brother, once owned a large
tract in the southwest portion of Cedar Mill. Another Siegenthaler descendant,
Louis, operated the Sun Rise Mill now standing unused near Highway 26 and
NW 158th. For many years local farmers took their grain to the mill to be
cleaned. Siegenthaler also sacked and sold excess grain he bought from farmers.
A number of families in Switzerland continued to communicate with Siegenthaler
and were encouraged to come to the Tualatin Valley. One such family was the
Stalders, John and Marianna, who left their homeland in 1878 and settled
in Bethany. Most of the land the couple purchased had to be cleared for farming ñ accounts
of task have been recalled by Stalder family descendants.
Holes were first bored into the trunks of standing timber which were packed
with live coals. It was never known which direction the old giants would
fall but once they were down, holes were bored all along the truck and more
hot coals were inserted until the trees slowly burned away. This would be
considered wasteful by today's standards, but to early settlers timber was
a hindrance to successful farming.
The Stalders continued to clear the land while raising their 12 children.
John Stalder had a downtown route for his produce and made regular trips
over Cornell Road to supply his customers, taking his gun for protection
from wild animals.
In 1906, the youngest child, Paul, married Maria Hansen of Danish descent.
They bought a 40-acre tract in Cedar Mill from the estate of Peter Senften
two years later. The parcel was located behind Sunset High School on property
that later became Sunset Science Park.
The young couple occupied the Senften home and gradually remodeled as their
family grew. Eight children were raised here, Madeline, Irene, Richard, Rose,
Marvin, Verna, Laura and Donald. Some of the land was already cleared of
timber, but a large section on the north remained to be converted into usable
farmland. During this time, Stalder engaged in various farming activities,
producing wheat, potatoes, loganberries, strawberries and dairy cattle.
After Paul died in 1945, the family home continued to be occupied by Stalder
children Verna and Marvin, while the farm acreage was leased to Ed Lehman.
In 1961, the property was sold for the Sunset Science Park development.
[Much more information in the
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