The History of Beaverton, Oregon- Rose Biggi

Rose Merlo lived with her family until 1920 when she married a young Italian man who worked for her father, Louie Biggi. When her father retired, the Biggi’s bought 14 acres to farm near what is now Cedar Hills Blvd. Seven years later Louie died, leaving Rose to raise and support three children-and 14 acres full of vegetables. Three acres were the winter crop: horseradish. Rose had a friend who made a little grinding machine, and she ground the root grown on her farm in Beaverton. She traveled to Portland, Hillsboro and around Beaverton with her basket of ground horseradish. It began to catch on. A savvy businesswoman, Rose saved her profits little by little and began to buy the land surrounding their existing acreage. Rose eventually built a larger home and building which housed the Beaverton Horseradish Factory. The demand for Rose’s product continues today, with her children and grandchildren running the company. Beaverton Foods products are shipped all over the world, from the same location on Cedar Hills Blvd. in Beaverton.

The History Of Beaverton

Spurred on by a railroad into town built in 1868, the small farming community west of Portland began to grow. By 1893 the City of Beaverton was formally incorporated with a population of 400. Alonzo Cady, a local businessman became the first mayor.

In 1872, George Betts became the City’s first postmaster. The post office was located in a general store that he owned. The current post office is located on Betts street, named in honor of the first postmaster.

Beaverton’s first library opened its doors in 1925 on the second floor of the Cady building. Over the years the library has been housed in several different locations. The Library was taken over by the City government in 1941 and rehoused in the old firemen’s hall. Then in 1948 it was moved to a building on first street, then again in 1958 to a location on Hall street where it stayed until 1980. It was temporarily located in the Hall Street Station for four years. In 1984 the Library was moved to a different location on Allen Boulevard where it stayed for a number of years until a new Library was built at the intersection of Fifth Street and Hall Boulevard in September 2000.

The Explorers and Pioneers of Beaverton, Oregon

It was not until 1792 that westerners first visited the Pacific Northwest when American Robert Gray sailed into the Columbia River and opened the door to exploration. Later that year, British Lt. William Broughton, serving under Capt. George Vancouver, explored 100 miles upriver. Along the way, he named a point of land along the shore in honor of his commander.

The first overland expedition to the northwest came when American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark visited in 1806. On the return trip, they camped near what is now Vancouver, Washington. Lewis characterized the area as “the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.”

In the spring of 1847, the first land claim (comprising 640 acres of beaverdam) located in what is now Beaverton was taken up by Lawrence Hall. He and his brother built a grist mill near present-day Walker Road. Their mill along with others that were soon built in the area was instrumental in supporting Oregon’s early agriculture communities.

The other important industry in early Oregon was logging and wood products. Thomas Hicklin Denney and his wife Berrilla came to Oregon in 1849 and quickly established the first sawmill in what is now the Beaverton area.

As more people came into the area, it became increasingly important to provide a system of roads to transport agricultural and wood products to Portland for shipment. In 1850 the territorial government created the Portland-Tualatin Valley Plank Road Company to build plank roads from Portland to Hillsboro along Canyon Road. The road was completed as far as Beaverton by 1860 despite various financial setbacks.

The Early Years of Beaverton, Oregon

The Tualatin Valley and Beaverton area was originally the home of native people who referred to themselves as “Atfalati”. Westerners later mispronounced the name as Tualatin. The tribe was a hunter-gatherer group which relied more on plants than animals for their food. They made use of various plant materials for making their clothes, houses and other personal effects. Although prosperous, the Atfalati population declined significantly starting in the late 1700s.

The Native Americans occupied a village located on the Beaverton and Fanno creeks that was called “Chakeipi” Although the name meant “Place of the Beaver”, early settlers called the village “Beaver Dam” and this was later changed to Beaverton.