About Oatfield Ridge

Oatfield Ridge consists of a ridge of elevated land running in a northwest- southeast direction between Kellogg Lake in Milwaukie on the north, and Gladstone to the South. Oatfield Road runs along its flank on the west, while its eastern boundary is Kellogg Creek, and it more or less parallels the Willamette River to its west.

Because of its distance from the Willamette River, Oatfield Ridge was not the first choice of early settlers arriving in Oregon. They chose land along the river for the ease of transportation and it being more level and fertile. But free land was a powerful draw and as more and more settlers arrived they took up claims on less desirable land, either with the hope of farming or turning a profit by selling it.

Among the first settlers along Oatfield Ridge were the Kelloggs. Between Orrin Kellogg and his sons Joseph, Elisha and Jason Kellogg they settled more than 1600 acres of land in parts of Milwaukie and south toward Oak Grove. Each of these men left their mark in the history books. Orrin Kellogg's DLC included much of Oatfield Ridge, from today's McLoughlin Blvd. east to Aldercrest Rd. His tannery once stood on the S.W. corner of Oatfield and Concord Rds. His son, Jason Kellogg, had the DLC to the south of his, as far as today's Roethe Rd. Elisha took up a claim on the north side of Orrin's, encompassing today's North Clackamas Park. Joseph Kellogg, probably the most notable of the Kelloggs, ended up with a huge area of land to the north and west of Orrin, all the way into Milwaukie, and a narrow strip along the north edge of today's Evergreen St. which projected west all the way to the Willamette River.

William R B Cotton also took out a claim on Oatfield Ridge just east of Oatfield Rd., from Hill Rd. north almost to Lake Rd. Unfortunately for Cotton he lost his claim due to an unpaid debt, and as his land was the only thing he owned of value it was sold at auction by the sheriff to Joseph Kellogg thereby contributing to Kellogg's vast holdings.

James McNary and his wife Nancy settled on the more southerly portion of Oatfield Ridge. His claim covered the area from today's Roethe Rd. south to Glen Echo in Gladstone, and from Harold and Portland Avenues east almost to Kellogg Creek. They are perhaps most notable as being the grandparents of Hugh L. McNary, a famous Oregon politician. James and Nancy did not stay on Oatfield Ridge long and moved to the Keizer area in Marion Co. before 1870. They sold part of their claim first to John Packer in 1859 and the rest to a wealthy Portland businessman named Bernard Goldsmith in 1870.

A latecomer to Oatfield Ridge was Michael Oatfield, originally from Austria. Michael headed west from Union Co., Illinois about 1859 and secured employment in a sawmill owned by Joseph Kellogg in Milwaukie. He rented property from the Kelloggs south of Milwaukie near today's Concord Rd. In four years, "after hoarding his earnings he was able to purchase property". In 1867 he bought 540 acres from Orrin and Jason Kellogg, and over time increased his holdings to about 600 acres. His farm consisted of the area between Hill Rd. on the north, to Thiessen Rd. on the south, and Oatfield Rd. east to Kellogg Creek. Michael married Minerva Jane Thessing in 1867, a daughter of Dr. John Thessing, an early settler in Oak Grove. The Oatfields were well respected residents of Oatfield Ridge and their names appear in countless early records of the area - not the least of which was the sale of the 1 acre parcel for Concord School in 1890, and having a road, a hill, and even a fault line named after them. There once was a cemetery at the top of "Oatfield Hill" behind their farmhouse, but the remains were removed in later years. In 1903 Michael and Minerva divided up their land among their 6 children, but lived out their lives on their homestead. Though none of the first three generations of Oatfields are alive today there are many descendants scattered about the northwest.

Another latecomer to Oatfield Ridge was Henry Thiessen. Thiessen was originally from Schleswig-Holstein and arrived in Portland from San Jose, CA in 1879. He bought 180 acres near today's Thiessen and Wallace Roads in 1879 and his descendants continued to own portions of that original parcel until 2005. Henry Thiessen's original home still stands on the S.E. corner of Thiessen and Wallace Roads.

In the early days much of Oatfield Ridge was forested, making farming a challange. Most farming required much clearing first. Development of this area was slower than the areas on either side of the Interurban railway line and nearer the Willamette River, but gradually the old farms were platted into smaller and smaller lots, giving way to more and more urbanization. Though not technically a place name, the term "Oatfield Ridge" is still used by area residents and planners.