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Alvin (A.T.) Smith (1802-1888) arrived in what is now Forest Grove, Oregon, in 1840.



"The oldest (European) American settler in the State of Oregon was the late Alvin T. Smith, whose house, occupied as a residence, stood near the present site of the Forest Grove railroad depot. this old-time citizen died about a decade ago, his widow still surviving him...This was in 1840, and he often related to his friends how he camped, the first winter, under the friendly branches of a big fir tree, in proximity to Gales creek, a cool, sprightly stream with bears the name of an early navigator, who settled near the point where the Haines mill now stands." Forest Grove Times Supplement, 7/27/1899 (EGS Box 1, Folder 5, position 12-17)


Dr. Peg Gilbert, Pacific University and Forest Grove: A Look Into the Past

"[Photo 33] The log cabin built by the Rev. Harvey Clarke in 1846 on his Donation Land Claim. This cabin was still standing in 1896 on the SW corner of present Elm Street and 15th Avenue. Note the electric pole standing outside the fence -- the city put up light poles along Elm Street in 1896. The cabin was torn down soon after that date. Harvey Clarke died in 1858, and his wife Emeline sold her land to Robert Painter in 1865.

[Photo 34] The first Post Office for West Tualatin Plains. Both of the log buildings in the photo were built by A.T. Smith, the first settler of the future Forest Grove region. In 1850 Smith was appointed Post Master by the U.S. Government. He used one of his extra log cabins as post office (the left one in this picture), and the other for storage, perhaps later for a small store. In 1859 Smith turned over the postmaster job to Joseph Rafferty. At that time the name of the settlement was officially changed to Forest Grove.

[Photo 35] The third house built by Alvin T. Smith for his wife and himself. In his diary he tells about working on "his new house" through 1852-53. In 1854 he seems to be living in the new house. This house still stands beyond the south end of Elm Street, in the location where it was built in 1854. It has been occupied as a farm home most of the intervening years. It is the oldest house in the Forest Grove vicinity. The oldest building in Forest Grove is Old College Hall, on the campus."


Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Sept. 1938)pp. 222-234
Letter from Mrs. Alvin T. Smith

"A Letter written in 1845 by Mrs. Alvin T. Smith, then connected with the Presbyterian mission at West Tualatin (aka Forest Grove) suggests other reasons why the work of the missionaries might not have been successful.:

'You have perhaps heard that we have given up our Mission among the Indians; but we still live in the same place which we selected for missionary operations. The Indians were not willing to stop and cultivate the soil. Emigrants are rapidly coming in and taking up the country. The Methodist Missions have also given up their operations. We have much reason to mourn over Zion; the spirit of the world previals here too much, even in the hearts of the Christians.' "