Saturday, April 28, 2018

Peeling a Cookie in a Wagon

Sometimes the best history is the micro-history. You know, the stories that you heard your grandpa or grandma tell.
This one happens to be about a neighboring town close to my house, Canby. It is now a growing  city booming with industry.
But up until 1838, it was nothing but wilderness. James Baker moved in and built the first house. And ten years later Philander Lee and his wife Ana along with a pile of children moved into the neighborhood. The Lee’s took up residency by claiming “squatters rights.”

More and more people gathered. Soon there was a store, a postmaster, a school clerk, a sheriff, a druggist, a blacksmith and some carpenters. The area flourished and drew the interest of the train companies.

The Lee’s proved up their claim and became candidates to own the land they inhabited via the Donation Land Claim Act. That claim gave them ownership of 647 acres. 647!

Philander and his family planted apples on 80 of those acres and soon they were one of the main supplies of apples to California for the miners working the gold rush. When the harvest was on, the Lee’s loaded their wagon and drove the apples along the winding roads to Oregon City, where they could be shipped down the Willamette River and on to California.

Lee and his sons were irritated by the fact that when they reached Oregon City they had to drive six to nine miles out of the way in order have enough room for to turn the wagon and the oxen around because the streets were so narrow and crowded.

So when the train company offered to buy 111 acres to plot this new city, Canby, Philander Lee said only if the streets were built wide enough to turn an oxen-pulled wagon. Herman Lee, Philander’s son, hitched a team right then and there and peeled a cookie right in the dirt.

The distance was measured and the streets widths were marked down as eighty feet wide. The plans for the town of Canby went forward. And Philander’s son Herman Lee became the first Mayor.

I wish you had time to tell me about a local piece of history that charms you. I look forward to reading your comments.

Thank you for stopping by.
I started a podcast. If you are a podcast listener and you need a dose of joy-meets-common sense, and some author interviews come on over to Life Caraphrased.

Cara Grandle is a Historical Romance Novelist who prefers to write about the early settlers of the Pacific Northwest. Think trappers and loggers and scroungy-backed woodsmen. She is represented by the Steve Laube Agency. Cara leads the author4TheAuthor writers group on Facebook, home to 190 writers. Together they're pressing back on busy and making a space for their dreams.  Cara is currently out on submission. Follow her journey on her Facebook author page. Prayers much appreciated.


  1. I love these little tidbits! Thanks. Near my home town in Vermont, there is a stone called "The Indian Stones", which were commissioned by a woman who had been taken captive by Indians who raided a fort in nearby NH. While in captivity she had a daughter and later in her life had the means and desire to commemorate the event by erecting these engraved stones. While she wanted to put one of them in the exact spot of her daughter's birth, that didn't happen, and the stones stand near a brook that passes through the woods where she actually gave birth.

  2. Some of those pieces of history or so easy to read and move on past, but stolen by Indians and giving birth in the woods alone. Two major events. No wonder she wanted to leave a memorial.

  3. Hi Cara. Interesting post. But I still don't get the "peeled a cookie." What does that mean? Never heard it before.

    1. Haha. Sorry for the confusion. That must be country girl talk. It means to peel out in a vehicle in a circle.

  4. Like peeling out in the car? Doing a doughnut in the snow? Peeled a cookie?

    1. You’re right. Doing a doughnut in a car, only this time in a wagon.

  5. Interesting historical tidbits. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your interesting post.