Churches of Christ & Christian Churches
in the Pacific Northwest
founded before 1898
Dr. L.L. Rowland
Novembe 4, 2005
Northwest Christian University
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The Disciples believed in education, started a number of schools, and dreamed about others. Dr. Levi Lindsay Rowland is pictured above because he represents pioneer Christian Education in the Northwest. L. L. Rowland was an overland pioneer, arriving in Yamhill County, Oregon in 1844. As a youth, he was challenged to attend Bethany College in West Virgina. Returning to Oregon, he became the first president of Bethel College and later, first president of Christian College at Monmouth. Transferring to Salem, he became a medical professor at Willamette University and was Oregon's first Superintendent of Public Instruction. During this time, he was an elder at the Salem Christian Church. L. L. Rowland was an educator noted for his powerful and extensive preaching throughout Oregon.
There is a separate profile of Dr. Rowland.
Before the first college, there were hopes for a college. John Alkire Powell, writing in the Christian Record (February 1854, page 61) writes:
At our annual meeting, embracing the first Lord's day in September, we divided the Valley into two districts, and have engaged to support an evangelist in each the coming year. Eld. John Rigdon for the first, or Western District, and brother A. V. McCarty for the second or Eastern District. We also appointed a committee on Education, to take into consideration the propriety of building up an institution of learning to meet the rapidly inceasing wants of this great and prosperous country. And their report being favorable, we have determined to try to build an institution to be called "Oregon Christian University." It however remains to be seen how well we shall succeed in our effort. So far, our beginning promises well.
Historian Robert Carlton Clark, writing in the History of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, Vol. 1, page 595ff, reports:
Early in the '50s the leaders in the Christian Church attempted to organize a school at Bethany, near Silverton, to be known as Bethany College. Thomas C. Shaw, for many years one of the leading citizens of Marion County, was a prime mover in the project, assisted by Rev. G. O. Burnett, a Mr. Gherkin, Peter Cox, Fones Wilbur, and Elias Cox. The town was platted, and the burning of brick for the building was under way when tbe project was abandoned through the lack of capital. It has been claimed that the project was then transferred to Polk Co., and resulted in the establishment of Bethel Institute.
There is certainly merit to the rumor because Glen Owen Burnett was involved in college planning at Bethany and subsequently at Bethel in Polk County.
Visit to Amity and Bethel - 66 seconds
The reader may want to check out the origins and location of the Bethel Church and then return to this College page.
Schooling at Bethel begain when Nathaniel Hudson, A.M, M.D., built a log schoolhouse on his claim and conducted classes there during the late spring and summer of 1852. It was named Bethel Academy. When young people finished the under-college-level, a new institution to be named Bethel Institute, was envisioned.
Bethel College, Bethel, Oregon
A four-year college was built, financed by the selling of 200 acres given by two pioneers of 1846 - Glen Burnett and Amos Harvey. Some view it as the first college of any kind in Oregon. A town was platted and property was sold on contract at $100 for 2.25 acres. Two dormitories and a two story school building were built (pictured at right). The structure was 36 feet by 44 feet with 29 large glass windows. The lower floor had a 12 foot ceiling while the upper floor was ten foot. Total cost was $5,000.
There are profiles of Glen Burnett and Amos Harvey.
Material was purchased and hauled by volunteers to the construction location. Then on July 4, 1855, the framework was raised by volunteers who had come from far and wide to celebrate Independence Day, to have dinner on the grounds, listen to some invigorating speeches and to raise the building.
The two main speeches were presented by W. L. Adams and A. V. McCarty. The full text of Adam's speech is carried on the front page of the Oregon Argus, July 21, 1855. The full text of Mr. McCarty appears a few weeks later. Brief comments were also made by Glen Owen Burnett and Dr. James McBride. The Argus is available on microfilm from the University of Oregon.
Historian John Smith writes:
By the close of the afternoon the framework of the building together with its covering structure were well advanced toward completion, and the happy people turned homeward with a deep feeling of thankfulness for the great accomplishment of the historic occasion, a feeling of buoyant exhilaration - the cumulative product of unified cooperation.
Bethel College before Bethel, the town
Jesse Applegate, of the Applegate Trail fame, was a member of the board of trustees from 1857-1860. The Applegates and the Burnetts had been friends in Missouri and traveled to Oregon in the same wagon train.
The school calendar for 1860-61 includes the following: "Students APPLYING for admission will be required to have a thorough knowledge of the English branches, Elementary Algebra, Caesar, Virgil Aenid, Cicero's Orations, the Greek Reader and the four Gospels." Sports were not included.
Professsors included William Thompson Haley, Levi Lindsay Rowland, John H. Hall and Nathaniel Hudson. Amos Harvey taught spelling and emphasized its importance. An interesting feature of the school week was the Friday afternoon spelling match.
Some all-girl classes were taught by Mrs. Jemima Nevins, sister of Dr. Hudson. A class in surveying was also offered. In 1860 the school name was changed from Bethel Institute to Bethel College. Attendance according to historian John E. Smith, a graduate, reached 160, including the Academy. The school was funded by tuition and tax money was not involved.
Tuition was $32 per year. For those who could not afford the tuition and living expenses, these would be provided by the College Board after careful examination of the request. Because of a change in the local economy, the college closed after a few years of operation and merged with the new college at Monmouth.
The dirt wagon track from Amity to the south passed through Bethel. However, the narrow gauge railroad, being built from Portland through McMinnville and south to Corvallis did not deflect the one mile east to Bethel. This eventually proved to be the death-blow to the once-flourishing town as both merchants and the post office moved west to McCoy in 1880. By 1886, only 34 registered voters remained.
Today the town of Bethel is gone, replaced by tilled fields. A marker at the only building left in Bethel reads,
THIS PLAQUE MARKS THE SITE OF
FOUNDED IN 1855 AND DISCONTINUED
AS A COLLEGE IN 1862
There is a three year difference between the date of closing listed on the plaque and the records at Monmouth University. The lower grades continued to be taught at this location.
Glen O. Holman, a native of Yamhill County, attended Bethel Institute and Bethel Academy in his early years. Later a practicing attorney, he wrote these words when he saw the Bethel College building had been taken down:
Several years ago, when I came over the hills to Bethel from Spring Valley and saw that the old college building had been torn down, I just stopped and let the tears flow. To me it was a sacred edifice. I was glad that the old hills still stood. Whenever I passed along the road in sight of those hills, I looked at them with worshipful eyes.
The educational leaders at Bethel College were direct disciples of Alexander Campbell, having studied at the newly established (1840) Bethany College in West Virginia. L. L. Rowland (see "Monmouth" below) was first a student in the Bethel Academy, then returned from Bethany to be president of Bethel College. W.L. Adams had been a Presbyterian, but was won to the view of being a Christian only. After studying at Bethany, he came west, purchased a newspaper and became Secretary of the Board at Bethel. William Thompson Haley had studied at Bethany, then came west to teach at Bethel and Monmouth.
There is a profile of W. L. Adams.
During its short life, this outpost of Bethany College in W. Virginia turned out graduates that were among the leaders of the west.
Three became gospel preachers. (Peter R. Burnett, I. N. Richardson, L.L. Rowland)
At least 10 graduates became teachers. (Wm. A. Susick, Lucy Durham, Charles Galloway, Wm. Galloway, Margaret Harvey, Jane Harvey, John H. Hawley, H. H. Hewitt, James A. Waymire)
One became State Superintendent of Schools. (L.L. Rowland)
Two became dentists. (I.N. Richardson)
Three became doctors. (L.L. Rowland, Wm. A. Cusick, J.A. Richardson)
Thirteen entered the field of law. (Glen O. Holman, Albert Burnett, Wm. Galloway, T. A. McBride, Jesse A. Applegate)
Eight served in the State Legislature. (G. W. Richardson, John B. Hawley, A.M. Holmes,T.M. McBride, T.R. Harrison, F.D Cornett)
Two served in the State Senate. (J.A. Richardson, William Taylor)
One was appointed Governor of the Utah Territory. (Utah and Nevada.) (George L. Woods)
One became governor of Oregon. (George L. Woods)
One became governor of Idaho. (William McConnell)
We leave it to the reader to imagine the impact of Bethel College had it been able to continue another 20 years. In 1865 steps were taken to unite Bethel College and Monmouth University.
Pioneer Reminders: Bethel Road, monument in the school yard, the pioneer cemetery.
Visit to Monmouth, Oregon - 61 seconds
In addition to Bethel College was Monmouth University at Monmouth, 14 miles south of Bethel in Polk County, founded in 1856.
Monmouth was named by settlers from Monmouth, Illinois. They had been associated with Abingdon College in Monmouth, Illinois and moved to Oregon for the express purpose of establishing a Restoration college. Plans to come to Oregon had been laid at the home of Ira F.M. Butler, County Clerk and County Sheriff of Warren County, Illinois. Some historical writers believe the original idea of setting up a college belonged to Tyrus Himes, who later settled near Olympia, Washington.
Ira F.M. Butler|
at age 96.
Among those coming in August of 1850 were Butler, Elijah and Margaret Davidson, Squire S. and Elizabeth Whitman and Thomas H. and Sarah Lucas plus a few companions. They came, not just to claim the 640 acres per family, but to establish an institution "where men and women alike might be schooled in the science of living and in the fundamental principles of religion." Elijah Davidson was born in 1793, so was advanced in years when he had the vision of what could be accomplished and made the grueling journey over the Oregon Trail. Whitman was born in 1818 and Lucas in 1824.
Gifts of land and money enabled the fledgling school to get under way. The first teacher was Judge J. W. Cowls. He carried on his work in a 20-by-30 wooden building that also served as the church meeting place. It was built in 1856. The school is now Western Oregon University and lists eleven Christian men as founders.
Western Oregon U. lists its founders here.
Since the two institutions depended on the same churches for support, Bethel closed its doors in 1865 and joined with the Monmouth school. Levi Lindsay Rowland (1831-1908), president of Bethel College was the new president and Nathaniel Hudson was his assistant. The combined institution was known simply as Christian College.
There is a profile of Dr. Levi Lindsay Rowland.
T. F. Campbell
Mr. Rowland served from 1865 to 1869. Before leaving the leadership of the Monmouth school, L. L. Rowland asked his old teacher, Alexander Campbell of Bethany, West Virginia for the name of a person who might replace him. Campbell recommended another graduate, Thomas Franklin Campbell (not closely related), a Bethany College graduate of 1852. In 1869 Thomas Franklin Campbell became president of the Monmouth school. His wife, Jane Eliza, was a niece of Alexander Campbell and had also attended Bethany College. (That school of 151 students in 1852 was fully co-educational.)
The Campbells had lived for a time at Helena, Montana where T.F. preached, practiced law, and maintained a boys' home. According to the Montana Historical Society, he performed the first baptism in Montana. When he was chosen to head the Monmouth school he solved the transportation problem by purchasing a Holladay Concord Coach (selling it after reaching Oregon), coming via the Mullay Road to Walla Walla and on to Monmouth. That was a trip of 1,000 miles.
For more details about the Coach and the pain it inflicted, see the Holladay Concord Stage Coach web site .
Campbell Hall, 1888
During Campbell's tenure as College President (1869-1882), the three-story brick structure was built that set the pattern for all successive buildings on campus. The brick for this new building was prepared on the grounds by the boys of the school. The design is modified Gothic architecture, built in 1881-1882 when the attendance was 230 students. Later it was named Campbell Hall in his honor. Those close to Campbell claimed the building was modeled after Old Main on the Bethany College campus. Readers on the web can check for themselves.
-- Link to an 1860 lithograph of Bethany College by Strobridge and Co.
-- Campbell Hall has recently undergone strengthening in case of an earthquake.
The Pacific Christian Messenger was printed on the campus and carried this note from T. F. Campbell in August of 1871:
The New College. -- Work has been commenced, by digging the trench preparatory to laying the foundation for the building, and in a few days the brick masons will begin operations. Mr. Simons has the entire framework ready for raising, and the doors and windows and other parts of the woodwork, are daily arriving from Salem, where they are manufactured. It is thought the building will be ready for use by Christmas or very soon thereafter.
A token of Mr. Campbell's work can be seen on a plaque in front of Campbell Hall. It is the graduating class of 1873 and include George H. Burnett, Albert Campbell and Glenn O. Holman.
The class of '87 planted a Sequois Gigantea there and erected a monument that includes the names of B. F. Mulkey and Ira Powell. (The tree is pictured in the video described above.)
Campbell Hall, 1910
T.C. Campbell was very effective as a traveling representative of the school. He was successful at fund raising and also edited a Christian periodical while functioning as school president, in addition to his duties of preaching in the Monmouth Church.
Campbell was an unsuccessful candidate for State Governor in 1874, but did receive a substantial portion of the vote.
There is a profile of Thomas Franklin Campbell.
The school had rules of conduct which included:
Every candidate for admission into the College must present evidence of good moral character. It is required that every student be diligent in study and punctual in attendance; that he neither introduce upon the premises nor use any intoxicating beverages; that he abstain from profanity, gaming, card playing; that he do not visit a drinking saloon, attend any ball, billiard saloon or other improper places of amusement; that he shall neither keep in his possession or use firearms, a dirk, a Bowie knife or any other kind of deadly weapon; that he do not loiter on the street.
In 1871 Campbell asked Eliza's brother James Carr Campbell, then in Kentucky, to join the faculty of Christian College as Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy. James Carr soon moved his family west where, in addition to teaching, he served as Associate Editor of the Christian Messenger. This Campbell was a nephew of Alexander Campbell.
(Quoted from the graduation thesis of Victor Emanuel Hoven, 1918, page 37.)
The next school president was David Truman Stanley, another Bethany College alumnus. The influence of the Restoration Movement on early Oregon was profound.
After graduating from Harvard University, Prince Lucien Campbell, son of T.F. Campbell, became school president, then was selected to be the president of the University of Oregon, a position he held for 23 years.
Today the Monmouth University survives as the Western Oregon University.
See a photo of Campbell Hall more than a century later than the one we show. It is now the oldest building in the Oregon State System of Higher Education.
Pioneer Reminders: Butler Drive, N. Warren Street, Davidson Road, N. Whitman Street, Campbell Hall.
About 1855 a school was founded at McMinnville by Sebastian Adams, brother of W.L. Adams. The faculty included John Wesley Johnson, a graduate of Yale University, who later became the first president of the University of Oregon. Mr. Johnson was the son-in-law of W. L. Adams and taught Greek and Latin. Students included John R. McBride, L. L. Rowland and George L. Woods. The school was not envisioned as a preacher training center.
After about a year and a half, the school was turned over to the Baptists for lack of adequate funding. Its six acres of ground, a building and equipment were transferred on condition that it would be kept as an institution of higher learning. It is now beautiful Linfield College.
There is a profile covering both W. L. Adams and Sebastian Adams.
Northwest Christian University link
In 1895, Eugene C. Sanderson established the Eugene Divinity School. He was converted in Christ in 1878, began preaching in 1883 and married Prudence Putnam in 1885.
Mr. Sanderson attended Oskaloosa College, Drake University in Iowa and Willamette University in Salem. He received his LL.D. from Drake.
There is a profile of Mr. Sanderson.
The site selected for the Eugene school was across the street from the University of Oregon. The student body on opening day was seven. There were three full-time instructors: Sanderson, David C. Kellems and Earnest C. Wigmore. There were also part-time teachers. In 1908 the name was changed to the Eugene Bible University.
We believe the top building at the right was rented and later replaced by the one below. According to the Mulkey family history, Willis Mulkey, brother of I.N. Mulkey, built the building in the lower photo. The picture is dated 1916.
One of the assets of the school has been its fine library and serious researchers on the history of the Restoration in the Northwest should check there. After several changes of name and administration, it is known as Northwest
Christian University. In addition to a broad academic offering, it serves as a training center for church leaders and workers. The school is supported by both Independent and Disciples congregations.
Publications have always been a part of the Restoration Movement and the expansion into Oregon was not an exception. The historian's problem is to pin down dates and editors. This is difficult with journals that were bought, sold, moved, changed editors, changed names, and it seems that at times, one man edited two journals. Swander aptly observes: "The journalistic cemetery is full of deceased periodicals." Even in
Swander's time (1928), it had become difficult to know who had edited what and when.
In 1870 President T.F. Campbell installed printing equipment in a small wooden building at the back of the Monmouth campus and began the publication of the Christian Messenger. This was a church and family paper designed to bring Christian College closer to its supporters and to aid in the growth of the church. At first, Mr. Campbell was the editor.
W. K. Pendelton, then editor of the Millennial Harbinger, wrote:
"THE CHRISTIAN Messenger" - another weekly, by Bro. T. F. Campbell, published at Monmonth, Oregon. Brother Campbell graduated many years ago at Bethany, and since, has had experience in almost every legitimate calling of the scholar. We did not expect to see him settle down to the closet work of the quill, but knowing his talents we shall expect a good paper. It seems to us adventurous to undertake a weekly so far from the centers of patronage; but our cause is gaining so rapidly with the free and vigorous populations of the far west, that we are prepared to think them capable of almost any Christian enterprise they may undertake. May this last labor of Brother Campbell be his best. W. K. P.
Millennial Harbinger, 1870, page 651.
At the time this note was penned, W. K. Pendleton did not know that it was his publication that would not survive the year and that of T. F. Campbell would survive, under one name or another, for nearly 30 years.
By 1876, D. T. Stanley was the editor. Pictured is the August 4, 1876 edition. Volume IV, No. 22. The masthead reads, "Christian Messenger, published every Friday by D.T. Stanley, Monmouth, Oregon is devoted to the cause of Primitive Christianity and the Diffusion of General Information."
One front page article discusses the need for families to send their children to college where their own family values are upheld.
We can speculate that "Pacific" was added to the title to avoid confusion with the Christian Messenger published at the same time in Toronto, Canada.
The first issue of 1878 has in the heading that it is published in Monmouth and Colusa.
By 1887, the masthead reads,
Pacific Christian Messenger. D. T. Stanley, editor. Associate Editors: T. F. Campbell, L. L. Rowland, G. O. Burnett.
By this time, Glen O. Burnett was living in northern California a provided a very active link with the development of the churches in that pioneer area.
Selected years of the Christian Messenger, Pacific Christian Messenger and Christian Herald are on microfilm at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon.
G. K. Berry
For a few months in 1885, D. T. Stanley merged The Christian Herald with the Christian Standard of Cincinatti and was responsible for the OREGON DEPARTMENT section of the Standard. Later in 1885 the column ceased and was replaced by a lesser entry entitled Pacific Wavelets, also submitted by Stanley.
G. K. Berry was the Portland editor of the Christian Messenger in 1901.
Then came the Harbinger in 1891, edited by D.T. Stanley. Evidently Stanley had launched a separate journal. (Note that Alexander Campbell had edited the famous Millenial Harbinger for many years prior.) About 1893 the Harbinger was moved to San Francisco.
W.B. Berry and J.F. Ghormley purchased the paper prior to 1900, continuing to publish from San Francisco while keeping a Portland office for editorial work. Eventually it was sold and ceased publication.
It is curious to note that the State Board of the Disciples of Christ in 1907 launched a publication entitled The Apostolic Appeal.
By now, the mark of the Sage of Bethany on the educational system of Oregon is becoming unmistakable. Bethany graduates were on the front lines of developing the Oregon Territory. W.L. Adams was Secretary of the Board of Bethel College, L. L. Rowland and the unpopular William Thompson Haley were at Bethel as well. Adams edited the Oregon Argus that reached into the White House in Washington. His brother Sebastian was the founder of McMinnville College. L.L. Rowland, T.F. Campbell and D.T. Stanley were the leaders at Christian College in Monmouth. While he did not come west in person, the influence of Alexander Campbell, Bethany College and the Millennial Harbinger paper had a profound impact on the Willamette Valley.
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