History of the Bethany Community
and the Naming of
Springville K-8 School Summarized from "Names for New Elementary School:
Historical Survey and Recommendations," written by Sally Bunnell, local
Settlement of the Bethany Area
Settlers began arriving in eastern Washington County in the 1840s.
Pioneers gravitated first toward the open plains near present-day
Hillsboro and Forest Grove. One early map of the Cedar Mill area
describes the local soil as "2nd rate" with ample timber including fir,
oak, and maple. Eventually, however, settlers began clearing the hilly
and thickly forested land.
In the 1850's Jacob Brugger and his brothers Peter and John
laid claim to land in the area. The Bruggers came to Oregon from
Switzerland and became US citizens. In addition to farming their
property, John ran a flour mill and Peter worked as a sawyer, cutting
logs into lumber as a local sawmill.
In 1876 Jacob sold land to families from Switzerland, led by
Samuel Siegenthaler. Others who bought land from Jacob include Ulrich
Gerber, Sam Joss, John Stalder, and Johann Graf.
Gerber became the area's first postmaster and his home at the
intersection of Kaiser and Springville Roads became the community's post
office, stagecoach stop, and general store. The house still stands
today and is identified by a historical marker.
Johann Graf established one of the area's most successful
farms, producing hay, livestock, fruit, potatoes, and dairy products.
He also served as pastor in one of Bethany's two Baptist churches.
Farming continued in the Bethany area well into the 20th
century. A cluster of businesses sprang up near the intersection of
West Union and NW 185th Avenue, called "New Bethany." Today the Mad
Greek Deli occupies the site of the original general store.
Springville Road was one likely reason for the settlers' choice
of the Bethany area. This route connected the Tualatin Valley Highway
with the Willamette River to the east. Pioneers improved the original
Indian trail in the 1850s. The road remains well-traveled to this day.
Settlers arriving in the Bethany area in the 1870s were within the
boundaries of the Union School District, the sixth to be recognized in
Washington County. Union School was located in the western part of
Cedar Mill, along what is now 143rd Avenue. In 1865 there were 54
students in the school. By 1883 enrollment had increased to 124
The Bethany area became populated enough to have its own
school. Bethany School first opened in 1888 on land obtained from
Casper Bauman. A new school was needed just a decade later, and in 1898
local leaders accepted an offer of land from Johann Graf. The second
Bethany School was built along Springville Road, east of the current
THPRD sports complex. The second Bethany School served students from
1900 to 1948, when the Bethany district merged with Union School. The
combined students went to school at Sunset Valley on Murray Road.
German was the first language for most of the Swiss
immigrants. They wanted school lessons conducted partly or wholly in
German, but the beginnings of World War I led to German vanishing from
Recommendations for Naming the Newest School in the Area
As a result of this history gathered by Mrs. Bunnell, she
recommended six names for the new K-8 school to be opened in the fall of
2009. Four names represented important
|Samuel Siegenthaler School|
|Ulrich Gerber School|
One name honored the area's first major roadway:
A final name commemorated the long history of Bethany as a farming community:
Naming of the New School
At the May 2008 school board meeting, the board members reviewed Mrs. Bunnell's report
and recommendations, considered other submitted names, and settled on the name Springville