Wilsonville Grade School

Wilsonville School - 1910 original building

First Wilsonville School circa 1910. The structure was built in the late 1870s and demolished in 2003.  Photo courtesy of Wilsonville School Reunion Project coordinated by Charlotte Lehan and housed at the Wilsonville Public Library.

The first Wilsonville School was a one-room structure built in the late 1870s, just off Boones Ferry Road as it led down toward the Willamette River ferry.

As the area around the school grew, residents felt the need to build a newer, larger structure in 1913.  This two-room school boasted two teachers, two outhouses, an iron pump in back for water, and a bell tower.  The primary levels, grades one through four were taught on one side.  The upper levels, grades five through eight, on the other.

Wilsonville Grade School - original building

Second Wilsonville School circa 1913. Photo courtesy of Wilsonville School Reunion Project coordinated by Charlotte Lehan and housed at the Wilsonville Public Library.

After the second school opened, the original school was used for a wood shed. One of the student’s jobs each day was to carry in wood to feed the potbellied stoves, one in each room. A unique feature of the school was the large double-sided blackboard wall that went through the center of the building partitioning off the two classrooms. When an all-school event was held, students would go into the attic above and raise the blackboards to form one large room. For larger school meetings, assemblies, 8th grade graduation and the traditional Christmas play they used the meeting room of the Methodist Episcopal Church across the street.


Third and final Wilsonville Grade School circa 1951. Photo courtesy of Wilsonville School Reunion Project coordinated by Charlotte Lehan and housed at the Wilsonville Public Library.

In 1951 the Wilsonville School District was consolidated into the West Linn District and a new Wilsonville Grade School constructed.  If you look carefully in the picture you can spot the original 1870 structure behind the car. It remained on school grounds until 2003 when the property was sold to Fred Meyer Corp. and the buildings and playground demolished.

Only a small stand of trees remain to this day, surrounded by the asphalt of the Fred Meyer parking lot, with a small historic sign marking the spot of the former school.


Motorized Vehicles, Early School Buses


Wilsonville School Records 1945-1952

Photo timeline compiled using Clackamas County school records located at the Oregon State Archives and Wilsonville School photographs located at the Wilsonville Public Library.

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1945 Xmasprograma - circled

1946 First Second Gradesa - circled


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Dorothy Fergus – birthdate 8/14/36 (incorrect) – age 9 (incorrect), Darwin Fergus – birthdate 2/3/37 – age 8, Howard E. Fergus – birthdate 2/26/41 – age 4


1947 Lower Gradesa - circled


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Dorothy Fergus – birthdate 8/14/36 (incorrect) – age 10 (incorrect)

1947 5th & 6th Gradesa - circled

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Darwin Fergus – birthdate 2/3/37 – age 9, Howard E. Fergus – birthdate 2/26/41 – age 5

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1948 1st & 2nd Gradesa - circled


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Dorothy Fergus – birthdate 8/14/36 (incorrect) – age 12 (incorrect)

1948 5th & 6th Grades - circled

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Darwin Fergus – birthdate 2/3/37 – age 10, Howard E. Fergus – birthdate 2/26/41 – age 6

1948 1st & 2nd Grades - circledIMG_1055 (2)


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Dorothy Fergus – birthdate 8/14/36 (incorrect) – age 12 (incorrect)


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no Darwin Fergus listed, Howard E. Fergus – birthdate 2/26/41 – age 7, Monte (Monty) Fergus – birthdate 3/25/43 (incorrect) – age 5

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1950 5 & 6a - circled

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Dorothy Fergus – birthdate 8/14/36 (incorrect) – age 13 (incorrect)

1950 1st & 2nda - circled

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Darwin Fergus – birthdate 2/3/34 (incorrect) – age 15 (incorrect), Howard E. Fergus – birthdate 2/26/41 – age 8, Monte (Monty) Fergus – birthdate 3/25/43 (incorrect) – age 6

1950-51 School Year – school census records missing

1951 1st & 2ndab - circled

1951 7th & 8tha - circled

1951 Grada - circled

1951-52 School Year – school census records missing

1952 Grades 1 to 4a - circled

1952 Grades 5 to 8a - circled


Reference Information:

Clackamas County School District, Clerk’s Annual Census Records, accession 95A-26. Oregon State Library, 800 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR, 97301.

Wilsonville School grand finale [CD-ROM]: the reunion and celebration of a century. compiled by Charlotte Lehan, Wilsonville Public Library, 8200 SW Wilsonville Rd., Wilsonville, OR, 97070.



Rock Creek School

In 1943 the Fergus family moved again, spurred by the need for a larger home for their growing family and a desire to be closer to the bus line that carried Boyd to and from his job at the Portland shipyards.  So they rented a home in West Union, OR that was owned by the Sattler family.

The move necessitated a change of schools for Darwin as he began second grade and unfortunately it was a tough transition.  Columbia Academy, the school he transferred from had a reputation for providing a higher quality education, akin to a private school.  And his new school, Rock Creek, was still a small, country school with a brand new, rather inexperienced teacher.

Rock Creek School Dist 54 - WCHS coll-2 (2)

Rock Creek School, District #54

Take a listen as his mother Cleo and sister Dorothy discuss it during a 1992 oral history interview recorded on a drive visiting the old family homesteads in Washington County, OR.


The first one-room schoolhouse built on the site just west of Cornelius Pass Rd. in the community of Rock Creek was built by the local community in 1878.  The building, along with a community store and blacksmith shop comprised the “town” portion. An average of 35 students attended the area traveling to school by foot or on horseback.  Along with the building itself, local farmers also built desks and blackboards.

Rock Creek School Map

1937 Metzker map, Washington County, Township 1 N., Range 2 W., Section 11

As the population around the school grew, a small building was added to the original and a second teacher hired.  Then in 1915 a new two room school was built at the corner of Phillips and Cornelius Pass Road.  Attendance grew to 75 students from grades 1 thru 8th.  At this time a school bell was added, which is now housed in the collections of the Washington County Historical Society.  For many years the bell was featured in the annual Fourth of July parade in Hillsboro.  Hauled on a trailer and rung at key points along the parade route.

The school officially closed in 1945, the year after Uncle Darwin attended (1944-45) as the school district consolidated.  The structure itself is still in existence, but has been turned into a private residence.

Rock Creek School - modern view


Columbia Academy

After the Fergus family moved to the True farm in Roy, OR their oldest child Darwin started school.  The year was 1942 and the school was Columbia Academy.

The academy was located just off Milne Rd. on the property line dividing the James Imbrie and Thomas Cornelius land claims.  At the time, Milne was the main road between Hillsboro and Mountaindale in the upper valley. The west side of the roadway along the school was planted with native Big-Leaf Maple trees stretching for a half mile or more, spaced thirty feet apart.

Columbia Academy map

1937 Metsker map, Washington County, Township 1 N., Range 3 W.W.M., Section 4 historicmapworks.com

The first building was built in 1855, a smaller version of the old College Hall on the Pacific University campus in Forest Grove.  Originally the community intended the school to be the center of secondary education (9th – 12th grades) and to serve a large area stretching from Glencoe (later renamed North Plains) to Mountaindale.  Their grand plans never materialized however, once Hillsboro and Forest Grove built their own high schools and university. So the academy remained a grade school surrounded by a grove of old oak trees that provided shade for many a recess and community picnic.

Lester Mooberry, a former teacher at the school, described the inside of the building in his memoir titled, “Memories of Old Academy Linger with Community”.

“One of the downstairs rooms served as the classroom and the other was used as a woodshed and storage room. The upper room served as a play room for the children on stormy days and as a community center when church services were held there on Sunday or programs during the week.”

Prior to the turn of the century, the building was home to the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church, Columbia Grange #89, and a fraternal order called the Independent Order of Good Templars.

Columbia Academy School - Darwin (2)

1903 photo of the original Columbia Academy building.

The second schoolhouse was built in 1909 and sited just in front of where the original stood.  It was a modest one-room country schoolhouse with the usual school furnishings including a blackboard, wood stove, bell tower.  One rather odd feature though, the building had no windows on the front (east side) or south side where the best source of natural light would have been.

2nd Columbia Academy School 1909

Second Columbia Academy school, District #21

In 2010, Melvin Van Domelen shared a school memory from his cousin John Crocker in The Beacon, the local North Plains newspaper. Melvin and John graduated from Columbia Academy in 1946.

“One favorite recess and noon activity was trying to see how far they could walk along the top board of the fence that went around the school grounds.  It was fairly easy along the driveway where the top boards were two inches thick. The hard part was when the fence turned to go behind the woodshed and the top board went down to one inch in width. The children became proficient enough at this to be able to meet and pass one another at a fence post.”

According to Van Domelen, the second Columbia Academy building was dismantled sometime between 1953-1955. All that remained was the old well, now capped, and a play shed that crumbled under a load of snow in February 1990. The current property owner has planted an orchard, but the capped well is still visible.

Columbia Academy School - current location b (2)

2017 view of the Columbia School site.





Ewing Young School

17600 NE North Valley Rd., Newberg, OR 97132

1846 to 1953

the original Ewing Young School (West Chehalem School)

the original Ewing Young School (West Chehalem School)

Ewing Young School, the first school in the Chehalem Valley, was originally built in 1846.  The student body included children from the whole valley.  An 1865 map indicates the school was sited at its current location and known as West Chehalem School.  A two-room wood-frame structure was constructed in 1914.  Improvements and additions continued until 1951.

Ewing Young School 1B

New school in the background and the old school building in the foreground.

From 1914 to 1951 the second school building served the residents of this area well. In the early years the school served both elementary and secondary students. In 1941 the school joined the Newberg School District and was renamed Ewing Young. In the picture below you can see the new school in the background and the old school building in the foreground.

After the new school was built the old building was used as a play area. In 1953 the old buildings were removed and the current school was built. Many of the trees seen in both pictures here are still on the property. The bell from the original school proudly rests outside the school today.

present day Ewing Young School

present day Ewing Young School

For more about Ewing Young, early Oregon pioneer and his role in Oregon’s statehood click here.