History in the News
William Cornell, pioneer preacher
by Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill
Cornell Road is named after
William Cornell, early contributor to the taming of the Cedar Mill
area. His story is impossible to untangle from the story of the religious
needs of the early community. He was probably the first licensed
preacher to reside in the vicinity. He arrived in 1852 and took up a donation
land claim along the road that bears his name, just east of what became the
Multnomah county line. Many of you go to northwest Portland via that route.
It is how the settlers took their produce to a growing Portland market and
how the Cedar Mill took it’s lumber to
the booming housing industry. But who was this person, Cornell?
Episcopal quarterly conference records indicate Cornell was a “Sabbath
School“ teacher at Union School in 1858. That
meant he taught Sunday School. It is not known when he became an
ordained minister but the records reveal his license to preach was
renewed in 1860.
Early meetings were held in family homes and the Union Schoolhouse
but the population was growing and Cornell undoubtedly longed
for a church building. In 1867 Wesley Chapel was constructed at the cost
of $700. The small building stood a few blocks west of the junction
of Cornell and Murray. It served the needs of the community for 24
eventually moved from the area and served as minister in the Innes
Chapel, closer to his new home which was over by present-day Washington
Square in Beaverton.
|The second Wesley Chapel, built in 1891, was located
on Cornell west of Murray, and lasted until 1965
It is interesting to note that Wesley Chapel served the
Cedar Mill citizens until the Owen Murray family purchased the land
where the building stood. For some reason the Catholic Murray’s relationship
with the Methodists soured and in 1891, the Methodists were asked
to vacate the premises. JQA Young’s son Jasper donated some land on
Cornell Road just east of the original building and a new chapel
was built. This second Wesley Chapel served the community for over
40 years. After that it stood vacant for a number of years, life swirling
and growing around it where it shared space with an advertising board and
tall grass. I remember seeing it when we moved here in 1964. It was demolished
Cornell eventually moved to Salem where he became involved in
the growth of Willamette University. He is buried in that city.