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Springville K-8
6655 NW Joss Avenue Portland, OR 97229
Office 503.356.2480  |  Fax 503.356.2485
Attendance 503.356.2481

Area History


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 historian


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.


School History

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 students.

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 public schools.

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 early figures:

Brugger School
Graf School
Samuel Siegenthaler School
Ulrich Gerber School
One name honored the area's first major roadway:

Springville School
A final name commemorated the long history of Bethany as a farming community:

Farmstead School

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 K-8 School.