Oak Grove Trolley Trail Fest – July 15th

Oak Grove Trolley Trail Fest

Saturday, July 15th from 12 noon to 4pm on Oak Grove Blvd
(between the United Methodist Church on Rupert St and the Trolley Trail at Arista Ave)

The Oak Lodge History Detectives will be participating in this summer’s Oak Grove Trolley Trail Fest with one of many booths.

Mark you calendars — Saturday, July 15th from 12 noon to 4pm — for a fun filled Neighborhood Summer Celebration in the heart of Oak Grove, meeting your neighbors and learning more about your community and your community’s history.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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In memory of Jim Tompkins

The Oak Lodge History Detectives is saddened by the recent news of the passing of Jim Tompkins the weekend of June 3rd.

Jim was well known throughout the heritage community for his teachings, publications and classes on Oregon history. Jim was a sixth generation Oregon pioneer, a member of Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers, a board member of the Oregon Trail Foundation, taught history for over 27 years, and was a long time member and board member of the Clackamas County Historical Society.

Jim authored several books on history related subjects and was active in many other organizations. He had recently attended several OLHD meetings and was scheduled to teach history classes at the Oak Lodge Library this fall.

He will be sorely missed by our historical community.

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OLHD June 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.​

14496 SE River Rd. @ Maple St.


Our last meeting before the summer break will be on June 8th. In addition to reviewing recent history-related events and efforts we will be having Greg Hemer from the Milwaukie Museum talk to us about ​their Lot’s Loop Walk (as in Lot Whitcomb) project and how OLHD can play a small part in it. This is a walk around Lot Whitcomb’s Donation Land Claim in Milwaukie with several information stations with signage along the way. This is a fun project and we hope it will serve as a great example to help jump start a similar project in Oak Lodge.

Join us June 8th and help us share our community’s history.

Mike Schmeer,

Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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URGENT: National Preservation Month!


Call to Action – Email Letters to Ask for Historic Preservation on ERC Property in Jennings Lodge

May is National Preservation Month! An opportunity has presented itself to ask that some of the historic resources on the Evangelical Retreat Center property in Jennings Lodge be preserved.

There is a possibility that we may be able to save some of the historic buildings and landscape features on the Evangelical property – or at least get more substantial mitigation for their loss. Each and every person’s emails to the key state and federal organizations by close of business Friday, May 19th, can help.

Why Now?

This opportunity came about because the US Army Corps of Engineers has to issue a permit for certain work related to the proposed development. Through community outreach, the Corps was informed there are significant historic resources on the site (as was the State Historic Preservation Office), and surveys were done. The result was that 17 of the buildings on the property were deemed to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a district, and measures for avoiding, reducing or mitigating the adverse effect (of demolishing them for a subdivision) must be considered.

Thanks to Community Members

More community outreach put us in touch with national organizations who have a stake in historic preservation, and who have now sent letters to the Corps to get information and get involved! From them, we learned that the 100% destruction of a National-Register-eligible district (as is proposed for this property) is extreme and very unusual, and alternatives should be considered. We also learned that two organizations besides the Corps will also need to sign off on any agreements reached – the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington D.C. and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.

What Can You Do to Help?

It’s important for all of us to let the three organizations know (in your own words) that you/we have a stake in the historic resources on this property (whether because you live here, or you care about preserving historic resources for future generations. or both).

Also Include One or All of These Points in Your Email

  • The historic resources on the property are eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places as a district. The project proposes to demolish 100% of the district, which is extreme, and doesn’t adequately recognize or preserve the local and national significance of this historic site for future generations. Modifications to the project need to be considered that would avoid destruction or reduce the adverse impact to some or all of the district.
  • The groves of trees on the property are also part of the historic landscape, and an important part of the historic national camp meeting movement (the camp meeting movement being one reason why this site qualifies as a district), and need to be included as a contributing historic resource.
  • The interiors of the buildings are also part of the historic resources, so reducing the impact to them should be considered, too. [If you know anything about the interiors, or know that items have been removed from the buildings, you could describe that.]
  • Ask the State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation not to approve the memorandum of agreement on the plan for the historic resources unless these issues have been adequately addressed.

If you simply don’t have the time to compose your own letter, here is a sample ​letter​ that you can type your name into at the bottom and send in to the three email addresses. Though a personal email is preferred we understand that not everyone has the time​, and a sample letter is better than NO letter​.

Here is a summary of the events leading up to this.

How to Label and Where to Send Your Email

In your subject line, refer to the case description and number:

Re: Proposed Jennings Lodge Estates Outfall and Subdivision, Section 106 Coordination (NWP-2016-495)

Send your email to these three people/groups:

Dominic P. Yballe, US Army Corps of Engineers, ​ ​Dominic.P.Yballe@usace.army.mil

Anthony G. Lopez, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, ​ ​alopez@achp.gov

Jessica Gabriel, Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, ​ ​Jessica.Gabriel@oregon.gov

It would be helpful if you copy us (gennutt@gmail.com), so we can keep track of the communications.

Remember, our deadline is close of business Friday May 19th.

Thank you for caring about historic preservation and our community, and thank you for your help at this crucial time.


Mike Schmeer, Chair
Oak Lodge History Detectives

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OLHD May 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.

14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.


Is it Spring yet? There are signs that the winter weather is behind us and Spring may have sprung. Lets keep our fingers crossed for many more rainless days in the days and weeks ahead.

We will be meeting again on May 11th and, among other things, reviewing the “Bricks and Mortar Chapter II” presentation and continuing our Historic Houses At Risk discussion. The evening program is T.B.A., (as yours truly has been exceedingly busy).

If you have any agenda items please send them to me before the end of this week.

Join us May 11th and we’ll continue our investigations into our Oak Lodge history.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Oatfield House Demolition – Reprieve?

Image of Clackamas Review front page cover story - Oatfield House Reprieve, page 1Greetings:

Word has been received that the applicant, Paul Matveev, has WITHDRAWN his application to demolish the Historic Phil Oatfield house on Oatfield Rd. See the attached DECISION.

The hearing on this application, before hearings officer Fred Wilson, was held on April 20th. Clackamas County Planning, and the applicant Paul Matveev, testified in favor of demolishing the house. Opponents testifying were Mike Schmeer, representing the Oak Lodge History Detectives (OLHD) and the Oak Grove Community Council (OGCC), and Lisa Bentley and Pat Kennedy representing the Oak Lodge History Detectives.

This decision to withdraw the application follows the rather poor testimony on the part of Clackamas County and the applicant, and persuasive testimony in opposition by OLHD and OGCC. It is the opinion of OLHD that the application stood an excellent chance of being denied by the Hearings Officer, based on a number of omissions of the required steps in the review process by the applicant and Clackamas County, and the failure of the applicant to provide testimony in support of his own application. A denial by the Hearings Officer is final, and the only recourse the applicant would have had would be an appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. Withdrawing the application allows the applicant to re-apply if he wishes to do so.

A newspaper article about the hearing from the Clackamas Review is attached in two parts. It came out Wednesday April 26th.

OLHD anticipates that the applicant will now submit a new application for demolition in the coming weeks, starting the process all over again, but likely satisfying the applicable zoning ordinance requirements better.

This all means that there is still time for a preservation minded individual to come forward and save this house! Please spread the word.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

Image of Clackamas Review front page cover story - Oatfield House Reprieve, page 2

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Oatfield House Demolition Update




On April 20th a hearing was held regarding the proposed demolition of the Philip Oatfield house in Oak Grove.  The hearing was held before Hearings Officer (H.O.) Fred Wilson, and was hosted by Clackamas County Planning & Zoning.

Arguments in support of the proposed demolition were presented by Senior Planner and Historic Review Board liaison Linda Preisz, presenting staff’s recommendation to approve.

Testimony in opposition to the proposal was given by Mike Schmeer on behalf of OLHD and the Oak Grove Community Council, as well as Lisa Bentley and Pat Kennedy both of OLHD.  No rebuttal was given by owner Paul Matveev.

The Hearings Officer has until May 5th to render his decision.  Below is a link to the article about the hearing written by Peter Wong for the Portland Tribune, which describes the hearing fairly accurately.


Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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The Oak Grove Girls Band

“In Buttons and Bows They Beat and Blew”

The Oak Grove Girls Band

Few people today will have any idea who, or what, the Oak Grove Girls Band was.  But between 1911 and 1914 this group of girls was a local sensation.

Oak Grove Girls Band photo 17 Feb 1911

The brain child of local resident Louis E. Armstrong the band consisted of twelve to 16 Oak Grove girls between the ages of 7 and 15. Armstrong “corralled a bevy of Oak Grove beauties” and organized them into “a kind of a band” in June 1910. The band, led by Ben Driscoll, made its first public debut at Concord School Dec. 20, 1910, subsequently playing at the Multnomah Co. Fair in Gresham, the Canby Fair, Rose Festivals, Elks Conventions, and community affairs and parades.

Photo of the Oak Grove Girls Band ca. 1912

They “became famous up and down the coast as the Oak Grove Girls Band – the first and youngest of its kind.”   It was reported that it was “the only organization of its kind in the state of Oregon,” and that “there are only four or five other little girls bands in the United States.”  Newspapers in Portland, Gresham, Oregon City and elsewhere published the schedules that included when the band would be playing.

Oak Grove Girls Band ad 1911- cropped

The majority of its life the band was led by Professor Ben Driscoll, “a musician from the old Baker Theatre” in Portland (established in 1901).  Driscoll and his wife Cerena lived in Portland and he would have commuted to Oak Grove via the Oregon City trolley.  At various times others such as Roy Searles and Professor York of Portland led the band while Louis Armstrong served as Business Manager and Treasurer.  Parents often accompanied the band to its performances.  In 1915 the band was merged with a Portland group and ceased to exist as its own band.

Members of the band held at least two reunions – one in 1954 and another in 1960 –  the women bringing their instruments and posing for photos.

Oak Grove Girls Band reunion; 25 April 1954

From the newspaper websites of The Historical Oregonian 1861-1987 and Historic Oregon Newspapers, combined with various genealogy websites, we know the names of most of the girls in the Oak Grove Girls Band.  In alphabetical order by their last names they were:

Hester Armstrong Hyde [dau. of Louis & Mattie; hus. Albert J. Hyde]
Ethel Bigham Lowry [dau. of John B & Cora; hus. Charles A. Lowry]
Madge Ellis Shrock [dau. of Arthur & Maud; hus. Melvin John Shrock]
Edith Griffith Williamson [dau. of Ernest & Agnes; hus. Harold]
Frances Griffith Crampton [dau. of Ernest & Agnes; hus. Don]
Margie McLees Dye [dau. of Edward & Lizzie; hus. Ernest H.]
Maud B. McLees Pomeroy [dau. of Edward & Lizzie; hus. Omer L.]
Katie (Kathryn) Oetken Shrock [dau. of Wm F. & Emelia Oetken; hus. Marvin]
Dorothy Spidell Mewhirter [dau. of Charles & Nancy; hus. Max]
Jesse Spidell McArthur [dau. of Charles & Nancy; hus. Leslie McArthur]
Ada Starkweather Johnson [dau. of Harvey & Mary Alice; hus. Louis M.]
Jean Starkweather Vermilye [dau. of Harvey & Alice; hus. Hobart P.]
Edith Turner DeWert [dau. of Nelson & Louise or Charles & Ann; hus. Elmer E. DeWert]
Bessie Vigles Moltzner [Mary Besse Vigles; dau. of James and Anna; hus. Jay S. Moltzner]
Ellen Worthington Oetken [dau. of Theodore R. & Mary; hus. Wm.]
Ruth Worthington DeFord [dau. of Theodore R. & Mary; hus. David]


Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives
April 2017

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OLHD April 2017 Meeting

7:00 P.M.

Oak Lodge Water Services Offices
14496 S.E. River Rd. @ Maple St.

April 2017 meeting announcement for Oak Lodge History Detectives

Greetings: At long last the snow and ice that plagued us from Old Man Winter
is behind us and we are ready to present Bricks & Mortar, Chapter Two.
What began as research into the history of a house in Jennings Lodge has led
to a fascinating story about a long forgotten and heretofore unknown brickworks.

Join us April 13th and discover how this neighborhood mystery was unraveled.
We are sure you won’t be disappointed!

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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Photo of Oak Grove (late 1920s)

The Oak Lodge History Detectives would like to expand our collection of photographs from Oak Grove, and we are searching for additional photos. In partnership with the newly formed Oak Grove Historic Trolley Trail Association, OLHD will be making historic photographs available for the purpose of raising  awareness of Oak Grove’s history.

If you have any photos, or know someone that does, we would very much appreciate your sharing them.  They can be sent digitally to  Gennutt@gmail.com   or loaned to us to be scanned, with the assurance of our returning them.

Oak Grove has a rich history.  Please consider being a part of preserving it for everyone to enjoy.

Mike Schmeer
Chairman, Oak Lodge History Detectives

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