Cottage Grove

From Lane Co Oregon

The Cottage Grove post office was at one time a moving target. It was established at the present site of Creswell in 1854, then moved to the present site of Saginaw in 1861 and finally four miles further south to its present location in the 1860s.

The Church of Christ was established in 1890. Our material is largely drawn from the church's own 100 year history Remembering Our Past to Strengthen Our Future, compiled by Joanne Skelton.

Services had been held for some time prior to the formal establishment of Cottage Grove as a town in 1887. Sometimes there were union services but in 1890 the Church of Christ built its own quarters and with minor exceptions, has occupied the same parcel of land since. The photo was taken in the early 1900's, but shows the original building.

An earlier church existed three miles south of Cottage Grove on Sixth Street in Latham. At the formation of the Cottage Grove Church, Joseph, Phebe, and Viola Sharp lived at Latham. Seven charter members, including the Sharp family were listed as from the "Old organization." While others transferring in were admitted with a "Letter from _____", these seven were not transferring from an existing congregation but were bringing the church with them.

Further corroboration is found in the Church Record book of the new Cottage Grove church. Its first entry begins on page 157 of the Record Book. Each page had printed across the top in a beautiful scroll type.

What was on the earlier 156 pages of the Cottage Grove Church Record? The book would not have been from the Hebron Church because it continued to exist and I.M. White transferred in from the Hebron church with a "Letter from Hebron." This group of seven had been attending somewhere and we believe that it was a now-forgotten church at Latham. They simply brought their old Church Record book up 6th Street when they started at Cottage Grove.

The organizing preacher was the remarkable Abram D. Skaggs. Dr. Ross Griffeth writes that Skaggs "is credited with having spent forty-three years as a local minister and seventeen years as an evangelist. During these sixty years he organized 162 churches, baptized 22,202 persons and united in marriage 12,603 couples." Vancouver newspaper reporter Ted Van Arsdol reports that Skaggs claimed 7,393 baptisms and 6,193 marriages. Either number makes A. D. Skaggs remarkable.

Ted Van Arsdol in Vancouver on the Columbia published by Windsor Publications.

Special Gospel Meetings:

About 9 out of 10 additions were by immersion, the rest were by transfer from another congregation.

1890 A. D. Skaggs 15 added

1894 A. J. Armstrong 20 added

Page 157 of the Church Record reports,

"Bro. A. D. Skaggs of Pleasant Hill, Oregon commenced a meeting at this place, Cottage Grove, on Monday December 15 - 1890 and continued to the 28 of Dec. and effected an organization with 50 members, 15 of (them?) were baptized by min. with Joseph H. Sharp, and Rufus G. Callison as Elders; and Oscar F. Knox and Chas. S. Smith, as Deacons."

How many present day churches would have a gospel meeting the last two weeks of December?

David Wetzel, then of Portland, preached at the church's opening day services and called for the retirement of the church debt. That was early in December of 1891. The money was given at that time, leaving the congregation free of building debt.

The early congregation had close ties with the Pleasant Hill Church of Christ. Darwin Bristow, Elijah Bristow's grandson and son of the Honorable William Wilshire Bristow, located in Cottage Grove and was a member of the congregation. The Callisons, mentioned below, were from Pleasant Hill. A. D. Skaggs was living at Pleasant Hill at the time he organized the Cottage Grove Church.

Among the overland pioneers starting the Cottage Grove Church in 1890 were Oscar P. and Sarah Cornwell Adams (1854), originally from Pennsylvania; Rufus G. and Martha Willis Callison (1852) from Illinois and Missouri respectively; Oscar F. and Sarah Churchill Knox (1853) from Schuyler County, Missouri and members of the McFarland family. James Henderson McFarland and Sophronia Knox McFarland both crossed the plains in 1853, but married in Oregon. Sophronia's younger sister, Laura Knox McFarland (1853) was married to James Henry McFarland but he is not listed among the founders of the Cottage Grove Church. Some of these folks had been members of the Hebron Church prior to moving to Cottage Grove.

The first vocational minister may have been Joseph Higber Sharp (1834-1918), who also came overland by wagon in 1852. He had lived in Lane County for many years, being associated with the Hebron and Latham churches before the Cottage Grove congregation was established.

J. H. Sharp was truly a pioneer preacher and had a clear view of the model of the New Testament Church. He worked full-time with the church until 1897. Both Joseph and Phebe are buried on the highest promontory of land in the Taylor-Lane Cemetery off London Road.

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