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History of Donald, Oregon

Established 1912

Donald Livery, Feed & Sales Stable

The Oregon Country was known as an area between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This area was inhabited by the Kalapuyan Indians. The Pacific Fur Company and Northwest Fur Company explored and trapped in the Willamette and Columbia River Valleys. Most of these people were French Canadians and later settled on the prairies which later became known as French Prairie. The town of Donald as we know it today came from a piece of two different land claims. Claim 61 was land of Willard H. Rees and consisted of 640.67 acres. Claim 62 was land of Gustavus A. Cone and consisted of 673.31 acres. A few other first ambitious pioneers, cowboys and farmers in the Donald area were Francis X. Matthieu, William Whitney, St. M. Fackler, James E. Hall and William M. Case.

Donald Livery, Feed, & Sales Stable

Gustavus A. Cone House

Gustavus A. Cone House

Gustavus A. Cone

Gustavus A. Cone possessed the admirable qualities of the western pioneers. His grandchildren regarded him as the embodiment of all that was honorable. He owned 640 acres of land where he successfully raised grain and general produce as well as devoting much of his time to breeding short horns and other high-grade stock. He was business savvy, and this led him into a General Mercantile business in Butteville with his eldest son, Benjamin F. Cone, as his business partner. He was instrumental in bringing about the Farmer’s Warehouse Association and filled many positions of trust in the community as an active Republican.

Gustavus A. Cone

Francis Xavier Matthieu

Francis Xavier Matthieu was a French-Canadian pioneer who became one of the last surviving members of the first emigrant train to cross the plains. He was one of the most knowledgeable of the history during an interesting period of time and events which led up to the statehood of Oregon. He received a badge as a mark of distinction to the last survivor of the 52 people who voted for the first provisional government west of the Rockies on May 2, 1843. It was known as the Provisional Government of Oregon. Matthieu settled on French Prairie and owned a general merchandising business in Butteville, a small town which he founded located in rural Marion County. On April 12, 1844, he married Rosalie Aussant, and the couple would have 15 children. In 1846 Matthieu filed a provisional land claim on 640 acres nearby, later refiling as a Donation Land Claim in 1850. In 1873 Matthieu was elected the first president of the newly reorganized Oregon Pioneer Association. He would remain a stalwart member of that organization, attending virtually every one of the group's annual meetings up to the time of his death. He was also a Mason from 1855, helping to organize the first Masonic lodge in Oregon. Matthieu died on February 4, 1914, at a daughter's home in Butteville. He was the longest-surviving member of the 102 participants at the 1843 Champoeg Meetings. Matthieu Street right here in Donald is named after him. Sources: Wikipedia

Francis Matthieu
Construction of Donald Substation in 1906

Construction of Donald Substation 1906

Donald's first schoolhouse 1867-1911

Donald's First Schoolhouse 1867-1911

Donald's second schoolhouse 1911-1938

Donald's Second Schoolhouse 1911-1938

Oregon Electric Railway

Donald has a rich history in agriculture, industry, business and family. Sometime between 1840 and 1860 Donald was settled by farmers and loggers from the Midwest. By the early 1900’s, Donald was a main station for the Oregon Electric Railway. The city was named after R L Donald who was an engineer of the construction company that built the railway. Donald was built from Donation Land Claims sold by R L Donald to the Donald Town Lot and Land Company in 1908. The original community was centered on agricultural land growing hops. The town grew primarily on the hop crop until the Oregon Electric Railway located a substation and depot in Donald. It was part of the railway between Salem and Portland. The substation was completed in 1906. The post office was established April 13, 1910 and the town was home to the Donald Brick and Tile works from 1911-1923. The completion of paved Highway 99E negatively affected the railway ridership. The last electric railway ran through Donald on May 14, 1933. At this time the population was 300 and dropped to 100. In 1947 the railway transitioned to steam and in 1948 to diesel. In 1981 it incorporated with Burlington Northern. The railway is still heavily used today.

Donald Substation as it stands today

Donald Substation still stands today

North Marion School District

Donald's schools were part of District No. 1, Marion County for 108 years, from 1853 to 1961.The first schoolhouse was built in 1853 for a cost of $200. It was used from 1867 to 1911. A second schoolhouse was built in 1911. It was known as the Donald Grade School, District No. 1 and was located on the SW corner of Butteville Rd. and Yergen Rd. This building burned down in 1938. While the new school was being built, school carried on at the Methodist Church. The third school was built from 1938 to 1939 at the same sight. This school was closed in 1961 when our school merged with North Marion School District. This building is still in use today and is now home to Bear Electric. The North Marion School District is on both sides of Grim Road and is a complex of buildings, The District Offices, Primary School, Elementary School, Junior High, and High School.

Aerial photo of North Marion School District today

North Marion School District today

Historical Businesses of Donald

What is now known as the Donald Tavern was originally Mays, Carver and Groff Store in 1903. They moved across the street and the old store became the Marty Saloon. The Hoskins and DeSart building still stands today and has been remodeled into the Center Market. Half of the building was J L Busick, which was a flour and seed business. The other half of the building was the General Merchandise business of Mays, Carver and Groff. The Donald Masons were in the upstairs of the Hoskins and DeSart building in September of 1916. Wilco was a feed and seed cleaner from 1940 to 1945. It became the Donald Coop from 1945 to 1967. In 1967 was the year it became known as Wilco Farmers. The Donald Coop was purchased by Wilco Farmers for 60 million dollars. The Wilco facility in Donald has five grass seed cleaning lines which process 20 million pounds of seed per year. It is the largest grass seed cleaning facility in the state.

Hoskins & DeSart Building

Left: Hoskins and DeSart building. Now the Center Market

Marty, Carver & Groff Store. Now the Donald Tavern.

Right: Marty, Carver & Groff store. Now the Donald Tavern

Donald Skate Park

The Donald Skate Park

The story of the Skate Park in Donald is a great one! The youth of Donald wanted a skateboard area so they asked the Mayor about building a Skate Park in Donald. The Mayor gave his blessing and gave them a slab of asphalt for them to cover with as much skate able structures as they could build. They worked for months on their projects. Later Donald applied for and received State grants to make a concrete skate park. This just goes to show that it doesn’t hurt to ask for what you want and in this case all the hard work paid off and this little town got a great Skate Park. This is another example of Donald’s spirit. The young people who participated in this project are: Chris Besabe, Justin Brant, Lacy Marrow, David Trumps, Ian Merrick, Adam Chapman, Josh Swain, Colin Hill, Jacob Taylor, Colt Powell, Charlie Ballew, Bjorn Day, Bea Powell, Dan Spotanski, Kasey Spotanski, Tyler Frame, Donavan Bryce, Jesse Cunnally, Jason and Jarrod Harman, and Ty (last name unknown).

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