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The Early Settlers

In this section you can find information on many of early settlers of the area.  For families that we have a photo collection, you can view that, too!

If you don't see someone here and would like to have it added, please let us know.  Also, if you have a photo collection you'd like to share, we would most definitely like to work with you on digitizing the images and/or documents and make that available, as well.

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Period photo



The Dibbles


The Sawtells


Eby School

Voice Recordings

In 1968 Tony Hemphill and Wayne Herring, just college students at that time, embarked upon a project to make voice recordings of some of the remaining elders of Molalla and thereby captured on reel-to-reel tape the only known historical recordings of memories of our earliest times.  They created The Willamette Valley Historical Tape Library as a name for their project.  It started out with just a few people to interview, but they leaned at each about more people who would be interested.  


MAHS was gifted with their collection of tapes and were squirreled away in a box for decades.  In 2022, they were uncovered and a project to digitize them was started.  The results of this effort can now be made available to you.  Each tape is about 1 hour, and the quality ranges from bad to horrible, but you can usually make it out.  These have been reprocessed using an AI voice enhancement program.  They provide not only recollections of the early history, but the color and personality of each person being interviewed.  Recordings are presented here in parts due to file upload limits. Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

James, Alma

Postmaster, Beavercreek

Austin, Eldon

Dibble, Ina

Dicken, Frank

Dickey, Leslie

Russell, Ed & Nettie

Sharp, Robert

Shaver Alfred

Tony Hemphill IMG_4521 2.jpg

Settlers of the Molalla Area

Earliest Non-Native Permanent Settlers in the Molalla Area


Year Settled Names How Land Was Settled

PLC=Provisional Land Claim

DLC=Donation Land Claim


1844 1 William H. & Susan M. Vaughan PLC & DLC

1845 2 Harrison & Lavina Wright PLC & DLC

1846 James & Evaline Officer PLC & DLC

1846 William & Elizabeth Russell PLC & DLC

1846 3 William & Martha Engle PLC & DLC

1846 John K. & Martha Dickey PLC & DLC

1846 Alfred & Olive Marquam PLC & DLC

1846 4 Richard & Cynthia Howard PLC & DLC

1846 Michael & Malvina Whitlock PLC & DLC

1847 William & Julia Bunton PLC & DLC

1847 Hugh & Jane Gordon PLC & DLC

1847 Rachel Larkins PLC & DLC

1848 Joseph & Hannah Wingfield PLC & DLC

1848 John & Anna Klingler PLC & DLC

1848 John & Amanda Wright PLC & DLC

1848 Charles & Lucy Sweigle PLC & DLC

1848 Mathias & Sarah Sweigle PLC & DLC

1848 Thomas P. Zamry Jackson PLC & DLC

1848 Sylvester & Esther Nickolson PLC & DLC

1849 Benjamin & Nancy Jackson PLC & DLC

1849 Jeremiah & Susanna Jack PLC & DLC

1849 George & Emerit Jackson PLC & DLC

1849 Andrew & Mary Baty PLC & DLC

1849 Charles & Abigail Cutting PLC & DLC

1850 William & Allyzana Woodcock DLC

1850 Stephen & Maria Farrow DLC

1851 Maxwell & Eliza Ramsby DLC

1851 Clifton & Christina Callahan DLC

1851 Ezekiel & Elizabeth Burbage DLC

1860 Joseph & Melinda Austin


1 William Vaughan arrived in Oregon in 1843 and in 1844 became the first non-Native permanent settler in the Molalla area. He was the first person to hoist a wagon over the Oregon City bluffs and brought the first wagon to the Molalla area. The Vaughan house, built in 1882-1885, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


2 Harrison Wright arrived in Oregon in 1844 and settled his land claim in 1845. He had a supply store at Liberal, operated a ferry on the Molalla River, & was the first Postmaster of the Molalla Post Office.


3 The Engles arrived in Oregon in 1845. In 1846, they were the first permanent settlers within what is now the city of Molalla. The Molalla Public Library sits on the Engle donation land claim.


4 The Howards operated the Howard Grist Mill in Mulino, also known as the Mulino Flour Mill. The mill, built in 1851, is the oldest surviving commercial building in Oregon and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Note: Provisional land claim(PLC) were land claims made under the Provisional Government of Oregon between 1843 and 1849. Donation land claims (DLC) were made under the Donation Land Act of 1850.

Other Notable Settlers of the Molalla Area



Settled Names How Land Was Settled


1862 1 Daniel Albright Purchased from Hungate family

1853 2 William & Harriet Bagby DLC

1847 3 William Barlow PLC

? Daniels ?

185? 4 Horace L. & Julia Dibble Purchased from Larkins family

? August Erickson Purchased from JT Howard

? Hechard ?

? Hoffman ?

? Lucht ?

? Yoder ?

1860 5 Jacob & Sarah Robbins Purchased from Charles Sweigle

1860 Joesph Austin purchased the Ben Jackson land claim at the west half of Molalla for $5000.

1857 Asa & Abbie Sanders Purchased from Mathias Sweigle

1853 6 Alfred & Eliza Sawtell Purchased land south of Molalla

1864 Alfred & Margaret Shaver Purchased from George Jackson

185? 7 William Starkweather Settled on the Gordon DLC

1852 Gabriel Trullinger DLC


1 The Albright house farm group, built between 1865 and 1904, is listed on the National Register of Histroic Places.


2 Bagby’s son, Robert, discovered the famous Bagby Hot Springs and Bagby’s son, John, helped discover the Wilhoit Hot Springs.


3 In 1847, William Barlow (the son of Samuel Barlow of Barlow Road fame) settled a Provisional Government land claim (PLC) adjacent to William Vaughan’s land claim on the Molalla Prairie. In 1848, Barlow relinquished his land claim to Mathias Sweigle & settled a DLC near Canby.


4 The Dibbles originally settled a donation land claim in 1855 south of Canby, and in 1856 moved to Molalla where they had the Dibble House built in 1856-1859. The Dibble House is the oldest surviving intact house in the Molalla area and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


5 The Robbins arrived in Oregon in 1852 and after first settling in Marion County they moved to the Molalla area and purchased land from Charles Sweigle. Robbins’ descendants owned and operated the famous Robbins Brothers Store in Molalla.


6 The Sawtells were famous for growing teasel. Alfred’s two brothers arrived in Oregon much earlier and settled donation land claims in the Molalla area in 1853 and 1854.


7 William Starkweather married Eliza Gordon. He was the first school teacher in the Molalla area, and became a land surveyor, register of the Oregon City GLO Land Office, and was elected to legislative positions in the Territorial government and State government.

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