Local History: Our Town – Our Story: A Woman’s Work is Never Done: Part 7, Rest on Sunday

by Ann Koppy, BHSoc Historianbeaverton-historical-society-logo

Pioneer women followed a regular routine for household chores:

  • Wash on Monday.
  • Iron on Tuesday.
  • Mend on Wednesday.
  • Churn on Thursday.
  • Clean on Friday.
  • Bake on Saturday.
  • Rest on Sunday.
  • Sunday is for Resting

As the pioneers settled into their new homes in the wilderness, they followed their familiar Monday through Saturday work routine. But Sunday was set aside to reflect, rest, and socialize. In the earliest days, communities usually didn’t have houses of worship until after homes and schoolhouses were built. Congregations improvised and held services wherever possible: in neighbors’ houses,  schools, or groves of trees until land and funding could be secured. They traveled by foot, wagon, train, or horseback. Early places of worship in rural American were usually simple, one-room wood frame construction.  There were exceptions.

Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church

Many of the pioneer-era church buildings are gone, replaced by newer and more spacious structures. One of the most well-known that is still standing is the iconic Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church about four miles from Hillsboro. Familiarly known as the Old Scotch Church, it was completed in 1878. Its twelve charter members, immigrants from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, had organized five years earlier. They met at Columbia Academy schoolhouse until they could find a permanent site.

The congregation began their search for a suitable location for a church and cemetery. They settled on a wooded two-acre site owned by Jacob Hoover, near McKay Creek. He sold one acre for $25 and donated the other. Construction began without delay. Community and church members contributed much of the materials and labor. The expected cost was still about $2,000, which included stained glass windows imported from Scotland. Its distinctive eight-sided steeple, buttresses, and steeply-pitched roof may have been inspired by the Gothic structures of the Old World.

Today, the Carpenter Gothic style of architecture and white wooden frame distinguish it as both a National Register of Historic Places site and contemporary house of worship. 30685 Scotch Church Road, Hillsboro.

West Union Baptist Church

Washington County lays claim to the oldest Baptist Church west of the Rocky Mountains. In 1843, David Thomas Lenox, his wife Louisa, and their eight children left Missouri on the first wagon train over the Oregon Trail. As company captain, spiritual leader of a group of Baptists, and a man of strong faith, he refused to allow the journey to continue on Sunday.  He instead conducted services in a tent or under the stars.

Upon arriving in the Oregon Country, the family settled in East Tualatin Plains (now Hillsboro.) The congregation met in the log cabin Lenox had built as the family home for some time. Deacon Lenox eventually donated two acres of his land claim for a church and cemetery. Nine years later, on Christmas day in 1853, the West Union Baptist Church was dedicated by the Reverend Ezra Fisher. According to the Baptist Annals of Oregon by Charles Mattoon, cost to build the meeting house was $1,512.43, “free from all encumbrance.” It is a one-story structure, built of cedar and fir in the Classical Revival style, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places: 22365 NW West Union Road, Hillsboro.

St. Cecelia Catholic Church

St. Cecelia Catholic Church in Beaverton traces its beginnings to St. Anthony of Padua church in Cedar Mill. Beginning in 1876, Father Joseph Hermann celebrated Mass in a school, neighbors’ homes, and a vacant log cabin. Two years later, Bernard McKenna and John O’Brien donated timberlands for a church and cemetery. Archbishop Blanchet then bought an additional 1.4 acres for $14.  The 20’ x 40’ wood structure was moved from the west side of Murray Boulevard to the east side in 1882 and dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua in 1884. This original building was used until its demolition in 1922. The cemetery is located in the 300 block of SW Murray Boulevard.

The parish again relocated, this time from Cedar Mill to Beaverton, in 1908 to serve the town’s developing population.  Father L.A. LeMiller obtained a building, purportedly a former cheese factory, and moved it to the northeast corner of Hall Boulevard and Canyon Road. It was dedicated in 1908 to St. Mary. In 1913 a chapel and school were combined into a single, two-story structure, dedicated as St. Cecelia. The building was torn down in 1951 when an auto dealership built a garage and showroom. The parish house that had been built about 1915 adjacent to the church still exists: the back part of a bicycle shop on the 12300 block of SW Canyon Road.

At day’s end, pioneers had taken a break from their chores, worshipped, and socialized. They were ready for work the next six days.

Interested in more local history? Visit www.historicbeaverton.org