The Thomas Otis & Mary Elizabeth Ridings House
221 South Molalla Avenue
by Gail J. McCormick
The Thomas Otis & Mary Elizabeth Ridings House is located at 221 South Molalla Avenue in Molalla, Oregon. The architectural style is the Craftsman Bungalow. This unique version of the Craftsman Bungalow Style house has multiple front gables, large knee brackets, decorative gable supports and brick piers at the front entry porch. The original front windows have been replaced. In June of 1919, Thomas purchased Lots 5 and 6 of Block 2, of the Gregory Addition. This addition was the first plotted land in the new Molalla City. The house was built in 1919. According to Thomas Otis Ridings' granddaughter, Ann Wellman, he most likely built the house himself, because he was very particular. Today the house is privately owned.
T. O. Ridings
Thomas Otis Ridings was born in 1872, at Glad Tidings, Oregon. Glad Tidings is three miles north of Marquam, Oregon, on Highway 213. His parents were Oregon Trail pioneers, Peter Joseph Ridings and Caroline Jones Ridings. Thomas was the fourth of their ten children. Peter Joseph Ridings, who was from Missouri, crossed the Oregon Trail in 1859. He stopped along the way, in search of gold, but eventually settled at Glad Tidings. In 1865, Peter married Caroline Jones. She was born at Missouri, in 1842. Her parents, George Washington Jones and Susan Van Houston Jones, emigrated and settled in Salem, Oregon. In the early years, Peter was a gold miner and farmer. In 1886, he entered the general merchandise business as manager of the Butte Creek Grange #82 Store in Marquam. He bought the store in 1892, and continued operating it, as the Marquam Store, until 1902, when his son, Frank Ridings, took over.
One newspaper article on Thomas Otis stated that he "was all his life a successful farmer in the Molalla section". Most of the friends of Thomas Otis called him T. O. but a few called him Tom. In 1898, T. O. purchased a 107 acre farm on the southeast corner of Vick Road and Highway 213 in Molalla. In 1905, he purchased an additional 70 acres. He raised oats and wheat and, later on, grass seed. In 1900, T. O. married Mary Elizabeth Taylor, who was born in Canada, in 1877. Her parents were John and Mabella Taylor. The Taylor family immigrated from Canada, in 1882. They lived in Molalla, where John Taylor made wooden pumps and coffins.
When T. O. and Mary moved to the house on South Molalla Avenue, they continued to operate the farm on Vick Road. They rented out the Vick Road living quarters. T. O. and Mary had one child. Harold Forbes Ridings was born in 1903, at Glad Tidings. At the age of 26, Harold purchased the property, east of Molalla town, known today as the Coleman Ranch. Harold farmed and owned this property until the 1950s. At that time, the ranch included a park, known as Riding’s Park. It included picnic grounds on the banks of the Molalla River where large Ridings’ family reunions were held. Harold’s farm was run much the way T. O.’s was. T. O. helped Harold farm this land until he passed away in 1944. His wife, Mary, died in 1951. T. O. served on the Molalla School Board and was a member of the Oddfellows and Masons Lodges. Mary, was a member of the Rebeccas.
In 1929, Harold married Dorothy Saradel Bean. Dorothy, known as Dorothy Del, was a commercial teacher at Molalla High School. She taught typing, shorthand and bookkeeping. She often had teas, at her home, for her students. Dorothy Del was also very active in the Molalla Area Historical Society and contributed many Molalla area artifacts during her lifetime. Harold died in 1993. Dorothy Del died in 1988.
Many thanks to Ann Wellman, Harold and Dorothy Del’s daughter, who furnished much of the information for this story.
“Dorothy Saradel Bean”, U. S. Census: 1910 Prosper, Oregon; 1920 Beaverton, Oregon; 1930 & 1940 Molalla, Oregon, Ancestry.com
“Glad Tidings Farm”, Family History for Shavers & Ridings, No author or date listed
“Harold Forbes Ridings”, U. S. Census: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 Molalla, Oregon, Ancestry.com
“Peter J. Ridings”, Portrait & Biographical Record, 1903
“Thomas O. Ridings”, Grantee, Clackamas County Deed Records, Book 66, Page 455; Book 91, Page 512; Book 93, Page 277; Book 153, Page 531
“Thomas O. Ridings”, Find A Grave.com
Unrecorded interview with Ann Ridings Wellman, November, 2018
© Gail J. McCormick, 2019