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Emily Peterson

Our Stories - People

(Ed. Note: Orginal story by Judy Gates Goldmann)

A buggy is a four wheeled, horse drawn vehicle. This one is light weight, with hard rubber tires on the delicate wheels. It is black, with red wheels. Maybe the wheels were carmine to begin with. This buggy was probably bought new in about 1900- 1910 by Adam Young of Hillsboro, Oregon. Adam had come from Sweden at age 17. He married Emily Peterson in Minnesota where they lived for about 20 years. He came to the Hillsboro area in 1889, Emily may have died in Minnesota.

In 1900 they lived north of Hillsboro on “The North Plains Road,” what is now Glencoe Road. Adam’s family was listed in 1900 as Adam Young, age 48, widowed, with two daughters, Cora Dell and Emily Elva Young, and his sister Emma Young.

The North Plains road was a market road, probably very rutted and muddy in the winter months, dusty in the summer. The buggy was a smart, lightweight single seater, built to be pulled by one horse. A good trotting horse could cover many miles on good roads. Alas, the roads were bad most of the year in Washington County, rutted by wagons with loads of grain and produce. In the winter the buggy might have been left home, and the horse ridden to town. The horse was likely a bay, weighing about 1000 pounds. Bay, a shining brown coat with darker tail and mane, was the most common color for a light driving horse. The harness was leather, perhaps with a collar to capture the power at the horse’s shoulders. Other harnesses had a breast collar, which was simply a large band of leather that fit across the horse’s chest. This band formed into tugs, or traces that attached to the buggy’s single tree. The tugs, being most important in transferring the horse’s pulling power into forward movement, fed through the belly band which carried the shafts. The crouper which also buckled to the shafts, stretched around the rear of the horse to transfer stopping ability, acting as brakes to slow forward movement.

The harnessing of the horse and hitching up must have been a daunting chore for a schoolmarm on those cold fall mornings. Miss Cora and Miss Emily were left on their own when her father died in 1904. Adam is buried in the Young family plot at the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

In 1910 Cora was the head of household, and was listed as a teacher, and Emily was at school. Aunt Emma Young was also living in the home. Many teachers boarded with a family near their school. It was not common to travel home daily if the job was in a country school.

The automobile slowly took over the county’s roads, and the buggy fell into disuse. Miss Emily taught school in the Hillsboro area. In June 1935, Emily was “showered” by her teaching friends at Peter Boscow school as she retired to get married. Emily had been teacher since 1906. In an article in the Hillsboro Argus June 6, 1935, she told of plans to travel east to visit friends in Philadelphia and Long Island, New York. When she returned, she married Will Robb at the age of 52.

Will Robb was a farmer, age 67, widowed in 1933. He and his first wife, Bertha Hanley, had three children. He came to live with Emily, leaving the place near Centerville where he had farmed with his brother James. When Will died in July 1945, Emily put the buggy up for sale. Johnnie Gates, a neighbor, bought it, took it home, and painted the wheels bright red. He had the dashboard re-covered with leather at Ferdinand T. Spicker’s leather shop.

Emily lived until 1968 at the farm home along the North Plains road. That site is now filled with houses, just south of Glencoe High School.

John trained the family’s spotted riding horse to tolerate and pull the buggy. Named Ramona, this pinto mare pulled the buggy in several Fourth of July parades in Hillsboro. When’s Ramona’s colt Cheyenne matured, they became a team.

The Gates family – John, Ruth and Judy – had the pleasure of driving the team in the 1950s in the Pacific International Livestock Exposition horse show. When it snowed, an ancient sleigh was pressed into service, during the winters of 1950 and 1951. When Ramona died in 1960, Cheyenne was sold to another, younger, horse enthusiast. Miss Emily’s buggy was again put into storage at the Gates’ family Century Farm. The buggy was taken down in 2014, re-assembled, and made ready to go to a new home with owners who appreciate the delicate transportation of an earlier age. Those new owners are David and Mary Jo Morelli of Forest Grove, where they plan to use the buggy in historical displays. The traditions of Miss Emily’s times will be shared with new generations when the Morellis will take the buggy around to historical events in Forest Grove.

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About Mary Jo Morelli

History is one of Mary Jo's passions! Especially Oregon history and specifically Forest Grove history. Her personal roots go back to 1852, when ancestors on her mother's side settled in the Gresham, OR area. She was on the committee that drafted the letter for 'Charter' membership in Friends of Historic Forest Grove. She has been on the Board of Directors since that time and performed a variety of roles as needed by the organization over the years. Her interest with the Smith House started in 1991 when she was Chair of the Forest Grove Historic Landmarks Board. It was 10 years later that she took a phone call on the FHFG phone that led to the opportunity for FHFG to purchase the Smith House. It is the interrelationships that are found in doing historic research that really fulfill Mary Jo. Co-authoring the Images of America: Forest Grove book with Lisa Amato demonstrates the relationships that brought us to 2015! Mary Jo is now referred to as the Forest Grove Historian even though she did not grow up here!