Our County Through Time: Tualatin Academy & Pacific University

By Liza J. Schade, Washington County Museum Curator

The particulars of how Pacific University started are interesting and already well known to most locals in Washington County. In the interest of those who may not know however, we will provide here a short blurb of that story. Then I wanted to talk about what we actually have in our archives regarding the school and a couple of its original key players.

As previously stated, here is the blurb from the book Land of Tuality: Volume III on page 38.
TextLand of Tuality also mentions that “nearly every settler we may find time to speak of” was in some way involved or actually attended the school. Elkanah and Mary Walker gave 12.5 acres of land to the school in 1850 and William Stokes willed land to the school, which was received at his death in 1859.

In our archive here at WCM, we have several documents relating to this history, which the public is welcome to come and research through.

  1. The Forest Grove Monthly was a publication out of Pacific University. We have eleven original issues in our archival records, ranging from June 1868 through May 1869. They had a two-fold goal; first to “bring our educational work here at Forest Grove before the public” and second, “to present something…of independent value…bearing upon the general interest of education.” Over half of the publication was advertisements for local businesses, which is always a great way to see what was available in town at that time, and the other half had articles, advice columns, poems and quips, speeches and commencements.
  2. We also have a photocopy in our files of the original land gift from Harvey & Emeline Clark to Pacific University. In the document, the Clark’s state the reason for selling the land for one dollar to the school was “our desire to promote the cause of education in Oregon.” Blocks one through thirty-four, as surveyed and platted by Israel Mitchell, along with land between blocks one and ten, were transferred to the President and Trustees of Tualatin Academy. The original deed and abstract of title to this land is held at Pacific University Archive’s Origins and Founding Documents Collection.
  3. We also have a collection of letters pertaining to Reverend Horace Lyman, Professor of Mathematics at Pacific from Dr. S.H. Marsh (and some other unknowns). They talk about a variety of topics, from church and school business to personal matters, such as finance and death.
  4. There is a lot of history written about Tabitha Brown. WCM’s old publication “Historian” has an article about Grandma Brown’s history in our Spring/Summer 2006 issue, written by Mary Jo Morelli. She can of course be found in a Wikipedia entry and on Oregon Historical Society’s “Oregon Encyclopedia” website. There is a great nine page article about her in their Oregon Historical Quarterly scholarly publication as well. It was written by her great-granddaughter Jane Kinney Smith in 1902, and has wonderful reminiscences of Tabitha. Jane describes Tabitha as “small and slight, not weighing over 108 pounds. She also walked with a cane, one of her limbs being weakened from paralysis. Above a delicate face, with blue eyes, there was gray hair; yet in manner and expression she was always young, and made herself a companion rather gab a disciplinarian.”
  5. WCM archive also has several other historical sketches on Tabitha “Grandma” Brown, all of which can be accessed by the public if interested. Such sketches include research by Inez Brownlee, Helen Krebs Smith, Pat Wells (Collections assistant at Pacific in 1993), and Rebecca Stefoff (American Profiles: Women Pioneers), and Mary Frances Farnham (Portland chapter of Daughters of American Revolution).
  6. Here are a few interesting photos from our collection as well!
Reverend Clark Brown Reverend Clark Brown (1771-1817), husband to Tabitha Brown
-Buried at Old Christ Cemetery in Newburg, Maryland
Tabitha Moffat Tabitha Moffat “Grandma” Brown (1780-1858). Buried at Salem Pioneer Cemetery
Harvey Clark Residence Harvey Clark residence. The Trustees of Tualatin Academy met here for the first time in 1848.
Reverend Harvey Clark Reverend Harvey Clark (1802-1857)
Buried at Mountain View Memorial Gardens in Forest Grove.
Students at Tualatin Academy Students at Tualatin Academy, about 1879.
Upper row: Albert Tozier (with book) and Bert Laughlin (with violin)
Middle Row: M.C. Adams (large book), B.H. Laughlin (books), James Miller, and James Sappington (violin)
Bottom row: Alex Sweek (seated wu/books), Charles Laughlin, James Alexander

Tualatin Academy Hall Fire

Tualatin Academy Hall Fire 2 Tualatin Academy Hall fire in 1910. This building was identical to Old College Hall, which is still standing today.

Want to learn more about Washington County History? Return to our History Page.