Jesse Edwards

Jesse Edwards. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society.

Jesse Edwards. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society.

The Hover-Minthorn House Museum was built in 1881 by Jesse Edwards who is considered the “Father of Newberg.”

Jesse Edwards followed fellow Quaker, William Hobson, to the Newberg area to establish a community of Friends. When Edwards arrived in Portland, he took a steamer down the Willamette River to Dayton. He purchased a non-productive wheat farm from Peter Hagey. The property had been the northern part of the Joseph Rogers Donation Land Claim. Edwards proceeded to break up the property into lots for a town. This eastern part of Newberg became known as “The Godly End,” and for a time, competed with a separate community at the western end known as “Froggy End.”

Jesse Edwards house on College Street was built in 1883.

Jesse Edwards house on College Street was built in 1883.

Eventually the two towns grew together, but the influence of conservative Quakers long remained in many of the deeds in the Godly End. Edwards had added a provision when he sold home sites that if alcohol was found on the premises, the deeds would revert to the grantor! Newberg was a dry town until 1966.

The Friends Pacific Academy, established in 1885, was originally at the site of the Newberg Friends Church, and moved to the current site of the George Fox University campus in 1892. It was damaged in a fire in 1947 but stood on the site of the Hoover Academic building until 1955.

The Friends Pacific Academy, established in 1885, was originally at the site of the Newberg Friends Church, and moved to the current site of the George Fox University campus in 1892. It was damaged in a fire in 1947 but stood on the site of the Hoover Academic building until 1955.

The Newberg Friends Church was built in 1892.

The Newberg Friends Church was built in 1892.

Edwards became a prominent businessman in Newberg. He founded and was president of the First U.S. National Bank of Newberg and owned a brick-yard company, a sawmill, a drain-tile factory, a mercantile store, and a warehouse for handling wheat. He also contributed to the town’s social fabric. He established the Friends Pacific Academy, twice served as mayor of the town and was a member of the school board for many years.

Edwards built a number of houses in Newberg in addition to the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum. In 1883, he built a large house on College Street that is now used as a residence by the President of George Fox University. In collaboration with Portland cardiologist Albert Starr, Edwards’ grandson, M. Lowell Edwards, developed the artificial heart valve. Lowell Edwards invented many other devices and when he died in 1982; he had 63 registered patents.

Selected References:

  1. Tom Fuller and Christy Van Heukelem. Images of America: Newberg (Charleson: Arcadia Publishing, 2010).
  2. George P. Edmonston, Jr. Newberg: Stories from the Grubby End (Newberg: The Oregon Press, 2014)
  3. George P. Edmonston, Jr. “The Tinkerer” at http://osughost.imodules.com/s/resources/templates/login/index.aspx?sid=359&gid=1&pgid=509