Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Minerva Kiger Reynolds Oral History Interview, July 1975

Oregon State University
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

Minerva Reynolds: Oh, when my brother, Dick Kiger, was married and moved down here, he planted two fir trees in the front yard and a small Norwegian pine tree. He brought the fir trees from the bottomlands up on his horse and planted them. And I don't know just exactly where he - where he did get the Norwegian pine. I think he bought that probably at some greenhouse or someplace.

Interviewer: How large were they when he planted them?

MR: Oh, they were just small trees, about two or three feet high, I guess.

Interviewer: Okay.

MR: And they're huge trees now.

Interviewer: Could you mention the typhoid epidemic here?

MR: In 1898 there was a bad epidemic of typhoid fever. They had been using the 00:01:00water directly from the Willamette River for drinking purposes without sterilizing it in any way, so this epidemic of typhoid fever broke out and Doctor Farrow [?] declared it was from the water. I don't know whether - they must not have had any means of examining the water there. But anyway, then they - they put in a water system and brought water from Rock Creek over from Mary's River, or Mary's Peak.

Interviewer: Did a lot of people die?

MR: Yes, lots of people died from that dip-or that typhoid fever. But whole families would die from it. But that stopped it. After they changed the water and they got that pure mountain water, they didn't have any more typhoid fever.

[Tape cut]

--evidently was from the river.


Interviewer: Oh, you mentioned that there were barns on every block because people in town kept cows.

MR: Well, they kept cows and horses. You see, horses were the only means of transportation they had. And there were all the way from one to maybe three barns on every block, and not very many houses, maybe only two or three houses. But people kept a horse to get around with. And bicycles became popular in about 1900, too. But of course, it wasn't everybody that rode a bicycle.

[Tape cut]

Well, do you know exactly where it is?

Interviewer: Yeah, it's on Harrison. That's the one-

MR: There's a barn still remains on Harrison. It was Skelton's barn. Professor Skelton lived in that block and it - that was his barn. It's still there.


Interviewer: Did he teach at the college?

MR: Hmm?

Interviewer: Did he teach at the college? Professor Skelton? He's-

MR: Professor Skelton's barn. He owned the barn and his house was just across the alley. I don't think there was an alley there then, but it was on the east - east side of the block.

[Tape cut]

There was a service station I think, 4th and Washington. We were on the, let's see, the southwest corner of 4th and Washington. I think there's a - isn't a Texaco service station there? Yes, that's there.

Interviewer: Did the people build the courthouse, or who built the courthouse? Do you know?

MR: I don't know. Mr. James Dixon, he owned that land, and he donated a block to the city for a courthouse, and that's a - they - he - they built it. I think the city built it. I don't know. It wasn't built by - privately.


[Tape cut]

Or use it for something else. Have you seen the woodwork and all inside?

Darrell Wolfe: Yeah, I saw it, it's beautiful.

MR: It's beautiful. Mm-hmm.

Darrell Wolfe: I don't think they take care of it as well as they should. I think a lot of the inside rooms are cut up into smaller rooms.

MR: I suppose so.

Darrell Wolfe: It's [unintelligible].

MR: I think the rooms were always pretty small there. High ceilings.

Interviewer: Were there Indians around here in Corvallis when you were a girl? Indians? Were there Indians here?

MR: Well no, the Indians were all peaceful, but there was usually about, in the summertime, two or three Indian camps up along Mary's River just east of the bridge. They would camp along there and they sold Indian baskets that they'd made through the winter.

Interviewer: I see. And what did they sell them for?

MR: Well, at first they would trade them for old clothes, but the white women really cheated them. They sold - they traded them clothes that they couldn't 00:05:00possibly wear, and they weren't as dumb as the white women thought they were. First thing you knew, they'd say, "Money, money," and they wanted money for their baskets and they really received it.

Interviewer: Good to know [laughs].

[Tape cut]

What are your childhood memories of your father? Did he take you with him [unintelligible]-?

MR: Oh yes, all the time.

Interviewer: Do you have any fond memory that stands out in your mind of your father?

MR: Oh, I was my father's angel child and he spoilt me to pieces, but my mother took it out of me by spanking me about three times a day. But he would take me up the racetrack and he'd take me to the farm, and I declared I'd never go to school. I didn't go to school until I was eight years old. And Mother feared to force me to go, but I just didn't have any interest. I knew they'd go to the farm, you know, every day or two, and I enjoyed that, and I knew that when I went to school I wouldn't get to go with them to the farm, so I just - school 00:06:00was out. I wasn't going. And Mother became quite concerned about it. She thought I would just be as dumb as [laughs] I could be for the rest of my life.

And finally a little friend came past and she said, "Toodles, come go to school with me." Well, I wasn't anything doing that day and it kind of appealed to me, so I ran in the house and told Mother, "I'd like to go to school with B," and she got me ready in a hurry. And I went down there and she had warned the teacher - we had first grade in an old church just south of the courthouse on 4th street there, and Miss Nolums was the teacher there and she roomed nearby and she knew how I objected to going to school, so she made up her mind if I 00:07:00ever did come to school, she'd make it pleasant for me. So, they did entertain me royally, and when I came home at noon I told Mother if she'd get me a book, I thought I'd go back to school. Well, she didn't lose any time getting me a book, and I never wanted to miss a day after that. But I don't know, I was pretty dumb.

Interviewer: Well, you lived in town on 4th and Washington and then your father would go out to the farm three or four times a week?

MR: Yes, he went to - oh, he went every day to the farms, and when the boys were old enough to take charge of the farms, he still supervised. And I had one brother, Dick, that was a very fine farmer and a fine businessman, but my other brother wasn't so good, so he lived at the other farms, first one place and then another, but father supervised them. But Dick run this farm down here.

Interviewer: Well, can you tell - what was the name that the little girl called 00:08:00you? Was there a pet name?

MR: Is what?

Interviewer: Did you have a pet name?

MR: Toodles.

Interviewer: Toodles was your pet name? Why'd they call you that?

MR: Well, it originated from a Tiddlywink game that I enjoyed to play with. They got to calling me Tiddly and Winky and Toodly, and finally ended up in Toodles [laughs].

[Tape cut]

--body called me that. I have some [stumbles] - some cousins who still call me that. But Grant Elgin and John and Alan and all those old timers used to always call me Toodles. I roamed the streets.

[Tape cut]

--if you want to record that or not. I'd go to the farms with Father and I had a little riding horse, mare, that little gentle old horse that Mother would let me ride, and Father had high stepping horses and he was always planning to raise me a fine saddle horse. So he would have them up at the racetrack and I'd go up 00:09:00there, I'd ride up on my little old mare and he'd take the saddle off of her, and the bridle, and put it on any of the other horses, and I'd ride round and round the track until I tired. Then I'd come in and he'd put the saddle back onto my little mare and I'd go trotting home. Mother was never the wiser. That's the way he spoiled me [chuckles]. So...

[Tape cut]

--got so they were pretty daredevilry with it and they would have hore races, and the most daredeviling trick they could think of what put the horses into a run and then throw the lines out and let them run. Well, they invariably crippled the horses or hurt their selves, so Father told them that if they wanted to they could come up and have their races on the racetrack, but no 00:10:00stunting. It was to be pure and simple racing. So they accepted that and that ended the daredevilry tricks on the highway. But they had to race and they had to go fast.

Interviewer: Did most people ride around on just a horse or did they go with a carriage?

MR: Oh, they had carriages and buggies. Most people had a buggy and a team, or even one horse on a buggy, even a carriage. But the - there was a lady's riding club in early days in Corvallis. A number of the women rode in that. I had a picture of that someplace but I don't know where it is.

Interviewer: Was there ever any trouble here? Like you see in the movies where wild shootouts, you know?

MR: Oh, no.

Interviewer: Would - did you ever see anything like that in Corvallis at all?

MR: No. They had three saloons there and quite a bit of drinking but really, oh, 00:11:00there'd be a fist fight once in a while or occasionally a little shooting, but not - nothing to amount to anything.

Interviewer: No murders?

MR: No, mm-mm.

Interviewer: Where were the three saloons?

MR: Well, the one was about where Benson's paint shop is, and one that was Westerfelt's saloon, as I knew it. Then a block below, in the middle of the block was Tommy Whitehorn's saloon. Then over on 1st and Adams, on the southwest corner of 1st and Adams, was Ben Walt's saloon. Those were the three. Of course in the bootleg days, they still had liquor selling in a number of places. They found one of the biggest stills in the county right here on our place.


Interviewer: Who was running it?

MR: Oh, I don't know who run-

[Tape cut]

MR: --born in Knoxville, Illinois, and when he was 12 years old he worked his way across - had a chance to work his way across the plains on a wagon train. So, his folks objected at first but he just grieved so about it that they consented to let him come. So he worked his way across and was - he came to Oregon City and from - with the wagon train - and then they gradually settled along the road and he was left alone from about Salem on.

He walked on up and he came to Corvallis. And he saw a little eating place and entered and asked if he could get some work for something to eat, or do some work for something to eat. So they told he could - there was a sink full of 00:13:00dirty dishes, to get busy. Well, when he finished there was an old Negro cook. He came and - with a dish heaped up with steaming food and it was the first food the boy had had all day. So the Negro talked to him a little bit and he finally said, "Where you going to sleep tonight?" and he said well, he didn't know but he thought he'd go and try to get consent to sleep in the hay at the livery stable. And he says, "Would you sleep with a nigger?" He says, "I sure would." "Well," he says, "You come upstairs; I have a room upstairs, and sleep with me."

So he slept that night with the Negro and the next morning he got up and the proprietor didn't - hadn't come, but he went down and split the wood, filled the wood box for the day, and when the proprietor came he made arrangements for the boy to stay there and gave him a room beside the old Negro upstairs and he washed dishes and split wood for his board and room. Then he obtained a job at 00:14:00the livery stable washing buggies. And he worked at that livery stable; when they found out how good he was with horses he received a permanent job there. And he worked two years and saved his money and sent back to his parents to buy a team and wagon and come west. So they came back, came to Corvallis in the 1860s and opened a - well, they bought an old hotel that was rundown there and fixed it up. It became the - known as the O.K. House and later the Vincent House. Maybe you've heard of the Vincent?

Interviewer: Where was it? Oh, excuse me.

[Tape cut]

MR: Between - let's see, between Jackson and Monroe and 2nd and 3rd Street. About the middle of that block was this old hotel in the early days, and it 00:15:00later became known as the Vincent House. You've heard of maybe the Vincent House. There was a group of old houses in there, a schoolhouse and a... and a church, and this old hotel. They've all been torn down now, years ago.

Interviewer: When your father first came over, what year was it when he left home?

MR: Well, it was - he came in a '51 I think, 1851, here to Corvallis. He was born in 1838 and at 12 years old he started across the plains, so it was about '51 or two when he arrived.

Interviewer: Okay.

MR: And he liked Corvallis and he had a job there, so he remained there. And he eventually bought this livery stable and it was on 2nd street between Madison and Monroe on the east side.

Interviewer: And when did he buy Kiger Island?


MR: I don't know exactly when he bought Kiger Island. He came - this was my grandmother's donation land claim here. You'll notice that century farm out there. I don't - I'm not sure where there's any other century farms in Benton County. I think Edith Buckingham had a century farm. A number of years ago when Governor Holmes was in office he set a day aside at the state fair for these century farms, and if I remember correctly, there were about 120 or 25 of them then, but there are fewer of them now. This one had been - my mother was born on this place in 1850.

Interviewer: Is the old home gone?

MR: Is what?

Interviewer: The home, that was here, is it gone?

MR: Yes, the old house was over there. And Father built the first sawed lumber resident farmhouse in Benton County. Now, there was one south of town, the 00:17:00Tunison House, but it was called a suburban home, so this was the first farmhouse, and it burned down in about 1895 or six.

Interviewer: When did he buy Kiger Island?

MR: Well, I don't know just when he bought that, but it was real early, but not as early as they settled here. That is, he and my mother weren't married until 1866 and he'd been married sometime - he came back from Harney County - he went over in Harney County in 1872 and was there six years, and then he sold out to Pete French and returned to the valley and he bought up all the land around this neighborhood. And then he bought - he cleared off 100 acres of land in the 00:18:00bottom. I think he worked about 10 years at that. First, he sawed - took the sawed timber off, cordwood. And they didn't have anything to work with much, you know, just an old handmade stump puller. And after the Yaquina Railroad was finished, the Chinamen were out of work, and they worked for practically nothing, just in order to have a home. They didn't want to go back to China. And he hired 40 of them. They formed a camp in the bottom and cleared that land.

And he had it all sewed to wheat. I was a very small child and he'd come up and take Mother and I down once in a while, Mother mainly, to show her the progress they were making. And I remember going down there and seeing this beautiful field of wheat. The wheat was up several inches, and he was so proud of it. He had worked about 10 years on it. My brother had been crippled permanently. He 00:19:00hauled 100 cords of wood to the college, donated it to them, and the team ran off and threw him off the wagon and broke his leg and it crippled him for life. And Father was struck in the side with the stump puller and I think it eventually caused his death. But anyway, he was awfully proud of this field of wheat. And then high floods came and they washed that loose soil down the bedrock, took it right out. That's 10 years work washed way in a week's time I guess, or a little more.

Darrell Wolfe: The wheat too went with - it took it entirely?

MR: Oh, yes. It took all the soil and the wheat right down to the gravel.

Darrell Wolfe: Oh.

MR: Well, Father was awfully discouraged but it was then that he bought Kiger Island. He went up and bought Kiger Island and he began clearing that, and it didn't happen to wash away for us.


Darrell Wolfe: When you say the bottomland, where do you mean?

MR: Well, that's where the land here - we're on a ridge here.

Darrell Wolfe: Oh, I see.

MR: And it - it drops about, oh, 50 feet, anyhow. You can see it over there. And that is bottom land and it's - it overflows in the winter. Sometimes it's, oh, six or eight feet deep over there, but it never gets over this upland.

Interviewer: What was Kiger Island like in those days?

MR: What, what?

Interviewer: What was Kiger Island like? Did you go and play there as a child?

MR: Kiger, you don't - haven't you been to Kiger Island?

Interviewer: Yes, but was it different?

MR: Oh, it was just un-cleared, a lot of it, and Father - now, there was a farm at the south end of it. The Gayhearts had a farm there. And then the Howells and Winkels had small farms at the north end. But Father took the middle of it and he cleared that off and he put out 3,000 peach trees and a big prune orchard and 00:21:00he raised potatoes on a large scale. It's very rich ground there. But we ferried across it and later when my brother inherited it, he got the county road put in there and then a bridge, and he put electricity into it, in Kiger Island, and tracked off some of it. And that's the way it is today.

Interviewer: Well, speaking of electricity, do you remember when the first electricity came to Corvallis?

MR: I don't remember exactly but I know the first house electrified in Corvallis was the B. W. Wilson house on... on 5th and Jefferson.

Interviewer: Is that still standing?

MR: No. No, it was torn down in 1908. And do you know where Fred Fischer lives in town? Well, visit - you know where the Gathercoals have a house there, don't 00:22:00you all? On-

Darrell Wolfe: I know where that is.

MR: Well, it was across the street from - to the south of that. And that was the first house electric-residence electrified. They had some electricity up at the college, but that was it. And this was the first farm electrified in Corvallis.

Interviewer: Did your father build any more houses or anything in Corvallis that are still standing?

MR: No, there's nothing that - they lived at 4th and Washington but - he lived - When they were first married, they lived right next to the old opera house there on 4th and Madison, you might say.

Interviewer: Could you tell me anything about the old opera house, like what went on there, and do you know when it was built, or...?

MR: Yes, it was built in 1872, I...

Interviewer: Excuse me, could you say the name, the opera house?


MR: The opera house was built in 1872, and at that time it was the only public meeting place they had. And the college also entertained there. They had even basketball games. And when I graduated from public school, I - my graduating exercises were in the old opera house.

Interviewer: Was it ever used for an opera house?

MR: Oh yes, yes. It was used - they had plays and basketball games and dances, parties of all kinds there. And the college entertained there as well. But when they built the present gymnasium up there - it was the armory then - that gave them a meeting place of their own, so they quit using the opera house.

Interviewer: Well, do you know when the opera house was built?

MR: Where it was built?

Interviewer: When.

MR: In 1872, I think.

Interviewer: The opera house was built?


MR: Mm.

Interviewer: Okay.

MR: But it was torn down, well I don't know just what year, but after the Majestic Theatre, and there were other meeting places, they didn't use it so much. It was used just for operas. And the stock companies would come and put on plays there, oh every few weeks. And Mother didn't care very much for them, but Dad and I liked them. We never missed one.

Interviewer: Do you know who built it?

MR: Who built the-?

Interviewer: Who built the opera house?

MR: No, I don't who built it. It was built by the [stumbles] - people of the community, you see. And I don't know who the contractor was, but in later years Frank Groves was manager of it. And I think the Groves bought it finally. I think they owned it. And it was razed when Safeway built their first store in Corvallis. It was used for a parking lot.


Interviewer: I'm sorry to see that go.

MR: So...

Interviewer: Well, can you tell me anything more about your father and what kind of fellow he was?

MR: What-

Interviewer: What kind of man he was?

MR: Well, he was a... [stumbles] - he had never been able to go to school much. He was self-educated here and he went to Harney County in 1872. He was there six years through the Indian Modoc War. Then he returned here to the valley and he bought up all this land around this place. He had 1,400 acres here. He bought Kiger Island and a place up by Bellfountain. There was three farms, about 3,000 acres that he run.

So after the boys were old enough to take over the farm work, he sort of retired and raised fine driving horses. He built a racetrack a mile above Corvallis 00:26:00where he trained and exercised his horses, a big stable, big barns there, and a racetrack. And then he sold his driving horses. People in those days liked fast horses. They just have the knack of driving fast, I guess. Now they can go in automobiles and then they wanted fast horses.

Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit - I - on the other tape there was a story about your father throwing the peaches at that - the Holy Rollers or something. He wanted to find out if they were hypnotized.

MR: Mm-hmm.

Interviewer: Could you tell me that story?

MR: Well, now listen, that would be a long story. I don't think I could tell that very well. I've written it up in this story that I wrote, and if you want to read that sometime, why, when I get it compiled...

Interviewer: I was just interested in your father's personality.

MR: Yes.

Interviewer: Could you tell me some things about his personality? The kind of things he would do like that?

MR: Well, he was a horse lover. He liked to race horses. He didn't really make 00:27:00that a... an occupation, but he did racehorses once in a while. And I remember these horse races he had. They were fantastic. And I think he had more runaways than any man in town because he had to - when he trained these horses, he broke them to drive, he had to introduce them to the city. Well, it wasn't a city: a town. And then they didn't seem to take to the town very well, and always ran off. When he brought them into town and we'd hear a racket and here he'd come with a horse that's just a - [stumbles] - as fast as they could run. The faster they would run, why the better it suited him.

Interviewer: Well, do you remember the first automobile in town?

MR: Yes.

Interviewer: Could you tell me that story?

MR: I remember the first one that came to Corvallis. It just went through Corvallis.

Interviewer: Oh, could - would you mind answer with using the word "automobile"? 00:28:00I mean so that it-

MR: Well, it was the first automobile to pass through Corvallis and I was - we lived at 4th and Washington and I saw a big crowd coming up the street and a horse - or a buggy in the [stumbles] - on the street - and when there was a little excitement, it attracted everybody, so I had to go out to see what was going on and I ran down to meet it. And I stopped. I was surprised there wasn't any horse hooked to the buggy.

And the youngsters running along the walk, and the grownups too, they saw that I was puzzled and they says, "It's an automobile! It's an automobile!" Well, I'd heard of automobiles. So, I joined the parade and they came up, and they had made the mistake of getting on 4th when they wanted to get on 3rd Street where the bridge was and go through town, so at Washington Street, they turned and 00:29:00went down to 3rd Street. There's a railroad track along there so they went on the left-hand side of the track. And they had only gone a little ways when they dropped into a mud hole and got stuck, killed the engine. Well, they couldn't start it. They were just stranded there in the mud hole, and there were men enough following it to run up and just took hold of the wheels of that automobile and set it over on dry land.

Well, then the men appreciated the fact that they'd helped them out of the mud hole, so they showed them the engine. It looked to me like a tin can, but I wasn't interested in the engine. And they went on down to 3rd Street and on out of town. But that was the first one that came into town that any of us had seen.

Interviewer: I'll be darn. Do you know what year that was?

MR: No, I don't know who they were. They were strangers. They - just going 00:30:00through town.

Interviewer: Would you know what year the - what year it was when the first automobile came to Corvallis?

MR: No. Mark Record brought the first automobile into Corvallis, and I don't know when it was but it was, oh, I'd say around 1900 or something in that time.

Interviewer: Who was Mark Record?

MR: Well, he later run the Buick garage here. They were pioneers of south of town, the Records were, and he - he bought the first automobile. He owned the first automobile here. And he was where the Buick garage is now.

Interviewer: That was after when you saw the automobile, the first one?

MR: Oh, yes.

Interviewer: That just went through town?

MR: That just went through town. But later he bought an automobile and brought it here, and then he opened the garage there and run that.

Interviewer: Could you tell me about the ferry?

MR: About the ferry?

Interviewer: The ferry, that somebody built a ferry here, didn't they?

MR: Yes, that was built in 1850-


Interviewer: Excuse me, could you say the ferry was built? I'm sorry to keep [unintelligible]-

MR: The ferry was built in 1850, I believe it was, by St. Clair and - well, he had someone that worked with him, but it was really St. Clair that built the ferry. And it ran until 1913, and that's when the bridge was built, the Van Buren Street Bridge. But the old ferry was in operation all those years, and...

Darrell Wolfe: Would you know about the carriage factory that was here?

MR: Yes, the carriage factory was built out at 13th and A in 1892 and it was razed in 1902. Let's see, I - 18...1902, I believe it was. I wouldn't say for sure. But it was complete failure. They had expected to use the oak timber that 00:32:00was around here to make the-

[Tape cut]

MR: --complete failure. They had expected to use the oak timber that was around here to make the vehicles and the vehicles that they were using, the buggies and carriages and wagons were shipped in from the east and they were made of eastern maple and it was very different from the western maple. They couldn't cure it, so be a while, it would chip and crack after it was in the vehicle, even. So it - it was a failure. And another thing: the hardware man who sold vehicles of that kind had long contracts with the eastern firms and they couldn't have 00:33:00bought from them anyhow, so that was another factor in the failure.

Interviewer: Did you know the Avery family?

MR: Well, quite well. I knew Punderson Avery. Of course the early ones I - were before my time.

Interviewer: Oh, I wanted to ask you - oh, I wondered what your mother was like.

MR: My mother?

Interviewer: Yeah.

MR: Well, she was - I kind of describe just an ordinary housewife, and she went to eastern Oregon with my father and she was the one that became dissatisfied up there and caused him to return to the valley. But she was born here in 1850.

Interviewer: You think - do you think your father was glad that he came to Oregon?

MR: Was he glad?

Interviewer: Yeah.

MR: Oh yes, yes he was glad and brought his whole family out here, you see, and 00:34:00they lived in Corvallis. So...

Interviewer: Do you like - do you like Corvallis now better than the old days?

MR: No, I like the old days best [laughs].

Interviewer: How come?

MR: Well, I knew everybody in those days. There wasn't just so many. You knew everybody and they were friendly. We didn't have any entertainment like they have now. It was just kind of among ourselves, and I liked it. I'm just old-fashioned. I can't get used to the new ways.

Interviewer: I was wondering at the - when your mother was cooking, you know, I - was it a lot different, cooking back then was a lot more difficult, cooking in the kitchen, than it is now?

MR: Well, they had wood stoves, and at first they had tanks, water tanks on the back of the stoves to heat the water. Then they had the water coil, heating - coils in the heat - in the wood stoves, and they had - and then a hot water 00:35:00tank, and that made it more convenient. But they washed in old - with old tub and washboard and ringer and they hung them on the line to dry and all that kind of - ironed with old flatirons that they heated on the wood stoves. And then finally they had detachable wooden handles, they weren't so hot. You had to hold the old irons that - handles that were welded onto the iron with a cloth pad, you know. Take them back and forth to the stove and - to exchange them for a hot one, and all that was hard work.

Interviewer: It sure sounds like it.

MR: But at the same time, I think people were friendly and enjoyed life more than they do now.

Interviewer: Why is that?

MR: You say why is it?

Interviewer: Yeah.

MR: Well, they were more congenial. There were - everybody seemed to be a friend. Nowadays you don't know people when you go to town. You go to town, you 00:36:00didn't get very far; you stopped to visit in the stores.

Interviewer: It sounds like a good time.

MR: Well, they had parties and things in their own homes, but-

Interviewer: Did your father enjoy parties?

MR: Yes, he was a great waltzer in early days. And when the railroad - [stumbles] - when the railroad when through, the men building it made Corvallis their home and they gave - they were royal entertainers. They had big parties and grand balls in those days. And they met - had their parties in the second floor of the City Hall, which has been torn down now. That was on 4th and Madison just across from the opera house. And there was a nice banquet room above and the fire department below.


Interviewer: Do you remember - I don't know when - no, you wouldn't be around then. When the courthouse was built in the center of town, do you remember?

MR: I don't remember when it was built. It was - that is, I wasn't born until '92 and it was built several years before that. 1888, I think.

Interviewer: Could you - could you say the courthouse was built. I'm sorry.

MR: The courthouse I think was built in 1888.

Interviewer: Do you have any memories of anything about it?

MR: Yes, I remember the courthouse. In fact, when I graduated from public school, they took us down to the courtroom to take the final examination and almost frightened us to death. But they had this - the jail was on the south side of the courthouse then, and I have seen pictures of the courthouse with a fence around it. Now, I don't recall a fence. There was never a fence there that I recall, but there were hitching racks for horses and a watering trough on the 00:38:00- on the north side of the courthouse, in the street, and people could tie their horses there and go shopping.

Interviewer: Did you ever go up in the bell tower?

MR: To what?

Interviewer: In the bell tower? Up in the bell tower?

MR: Oh no, I never went up there, no.

Interviewer: Is it working now, that you know?

MR: That's where they had - the clock was, you see, so I don't think that was open to the public.

Interviewer: Was it working then, the...

Darrell Wolfe: I've never heard a bell. The clock is...works.

MR: The what?

Darrell Wolfe: The clock on the courthouse still works. The clock-

MR: Oh, yes. It-

Interviewer: I don't know if there is a bell. Was there ever-?

MR: Oh, I didn't mean bell, but it was the courthouse clock up there and that was a sort of private entrance to it. I don't think they allow people in there.

[Tape cut]

Interviewer: What about the Chi-you mentioned there's a Chinese section of town?


MR: Well, the - the Chinese were at a loss after the railroad finished, for work, and there were a number of them that opened a laundry at the corner of - let's see, it was the southeast corner of 2nd and Jefferson. We called it Chinatown because of the Chinamen that lived there and did laundry. And I don't remember there was a group of - I think there were little old shanties there, but it could have been all under one roof. But they all lived there and they did washing. And it was a common sight to see a Chinaman come trotting in balancing a pole on his shoulder and a bag of laundry on each end of it. And then in Chinese New Year's they presented their customers with a Chinese [00:07:37 lunar?] bulb and we'd put it in a bowl of water and support it with pebbles and 00:40:00it would bloom and scent the whole house with its fragrance.

Interviewer: What about - you said on the tape something about tomatoes. Did you grow the tomatoes, or the Chinese grew tomatoes and they were considered poisonous [unintelligible]-

MR: No, my father told that. When he was a child, they raised tomatoes but they were afraid to eat them and they thought they were poisonous and they just used them for decoration, put them - set them on the mantle and rot.

Interviewer: When did they discover they weren't poison?

MR: I don't know. I don't know, somebody probably accidentally ate one or tried to commit suicide and it didn't work [all laugh].

Interviewer: That's a good one. Eat a tomato so I die [laughs].

[Tape cut]

MR: He retained his best cutter. He had 26 sleighs that he rented in the sixties, 1860s he run that livery stable, and it shows how the climate has 00:41:00changed here. They must have traveled entirely on sleighs in the wintertime.

Interviewer: Oh-

MR: And I have that old sleigh yet. It's kind of in rather bad repair. I've intended to refinish it and I thought maybe if the centennial was having a parade, maybe I could get it finished for the parade.

Interviewer: Yeah-

[Tape cut]

MR: Well, shut that off a minute.

Interviewer: Okay, sorry.

[Tape cut]

MR: --father, when the old house burned down in '90-about '96, he built a house just for the boys to bach in. It consisted of two rooms downstairs, a living room and a kitchen and dining room combined, with two rooms above. Then when my brother was married and moved down here, he added to that house. First, he built a kitchen on the back and a front porch. Then every year he added to it, and 00:42:00we've been adding to it ever since.

Interviewer: Okay. I wanted to ask you something about Oregon State University because you graduated from there. What are your memories? What buildings were up when you were there?

MR: Well, there were just really three main buildings. There was the old administration building in the middle which is still there, and the science hall to the south, and a mechanical hall to the north. Mechanical Hall, the first building, burned down. I think it was in '98, and it was rebuilt that same year.

But those were the three main buildings. Then in the back - and they built the gymnasium, which was an armory then, and they had Cauthorn Hall for the boys' dormitory, and Waldo Hall had been built, well, right in about that time. And it 00:43:00was under construction in 1905, I remember and was finished right away. Then they built, they called it the Agronomy Building, which is a - one L of the Agricultural Hall now. And all those buildings have been built since. There was a - a building, a wooden building they called Alpha Hall where they taught pharmacy for a while, and a little mining building, and I think that was about all.

Interviewer: Could you say, "I graduated from OSU" and then what year?

MR: Yes. I graduated from OAC in 1912 and my husband, Jay Reynolds, graduated in 1910, two years earlier.

Interviewer: Oregon State was called?

Darrell Wolfe: Oregon Agricultural College.

MR: Oregon Agricultural College.

Interviewer: Oh, could you say that in one sentence?

MR: Or-OSU was then Oregon Agricultural College, OAC.


Interviewer: Okay.

MR: And the boys drilled - so the cadets drilled on the campus and they also practiced football just south of the Science Hall. Sometimes they played in the water.

Interviewer: When was the Memorial Union built?

Darrell Wolfe: '26.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

MR: Well, I don't know just what year, but that was quite a bit later.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

MR: We had Shepard-

[Tape cut]

--a YMCA building built on the campus.

Interviewer: Shepard Hall?

MR: Shepard Hall. That's - well, it was just a small hall about where, oh... I don't know what building would be there now.

Darrell Wolfe: Well, it's still there.

MR: Oh, is it?

Darrell Wolfe: Uh-huh. It's where Speech is.

MR: Oh.

Darrell Wolfe: So, it's still a small - smaller building next to the other...

MR: Yeah. I thought they tore it down, but-

[Tape cut]

--up the second floor of Shepard Hall.

Darrell Wolfe: Sounds like that was like the Memorial Union maybe. Student activities.


MR: Mm-hmm. Yes, that's it. It just served - it was small but it - the enrollment was small in those days, so...

[Tape cut]

--Hi, I'm Mrs. Jay Reynolds-

Interviewer: Oh sorry, can you start again? It has to warm up.

MR: Okay. I am Mrs. Jay Reynolds, originally Minerva Kiger, and I'm 83 years old.

Interviewer: And could you tell who your father was?

MR: My father was Reuben Kiger, R.C. Kiger, and he came to Corvallis in about 1851 or two and lived there all his life.

Interviewer: And where did he live?

MR: He lived - we lived on 4th and Washington. And he run three farms, but we lived in town.

Interviewer: And could you mention about Kiger Island?

MR: He... bought Kiger Island and a farm of about 800 acres up by Bellfountain.