The circa 1890s photo of the first general store and post office in Garden Home shows Mr. Lumen H. Nichols standing against the picket fence. The building has a cough remedy poster and a typical “Wanted” poster attached to the front of the store.
This store and the William Clemmens home are the only two buildings noted on the 1886 Re-Survey of the 1857 Millers-Ferry road. This survey shows the east-west road as “Nicholl Street”, presumably after the Nichols family, different spelling. The northbound road is listed as “Rex Street.” Rex Hill is between Newberg and Sherwood off of Pacific Highway 99 and the name of a well-known winery. Marge Davenport quotes an early club president of the 1905 Portland Automobile Club in her book Best of the Old Northwest as saying “…improvements were needed to get Portland ‘out of the mud.’ W.J. Clemens also cited work on the Rex Hill, south of Tigardville (now Tigard), which was notoriously bad, as needed ‘to give Portland an opening into the Willamette Valley and to allow tourists from California and Southern Oregon to come to Portland without being mired.”
The store and post office are believed to have been on the SE corner of the intersection. Ginny Mapes notes in The way it was that “Chris Jager moved the old Nichols building across the road to the Huffaker place” which was located just west of the school property. He then built the two-story white building on that SE corner of the intersection of what became Garden Home Road and Oleson Road.
The photo of the original post office can also be found in The Oregon Companion: An Historical Gazetteer of the Useful, the Curious …, By Richard H. Engeman, Pg 149 with the following caption:
A Multnomah County suburban district with a “mildly sentimental” name, Garden Home gained a post office in 1882, and an inter-urban electric railroad to Portland in 1908. Garden Home became the junction point for the Oregon Electric Railway’s lines west to Forest Grove and south to Salem and Eugene. By 1915, with a population estimate of 350, it was reported that “many Portland office men make this their home. Dairying, farming, fruit growing, poultry raising and gardening.” The Portland Hunt Club and the Portland Golf Club were nearby. Garden Home’s exclusive cachet has diminished, the trains went in 1933, the post office closed in 1954 [*], and the area is engulfed in a more generalized suburbia.
* Today, the post office continues inside Lamb’s Garden Home Market.
Lumen Nichols is incorrectly listed as Leeman Nichols on recent documents although he is listed in some older documents and on his gravestone as L.H. Nichols. The Oregon Post Offices 1847-1952 book by Richard Helbock lists him as Lumen Nichols as does the following book.
Lumen H. Nichols is profiled in the History of Oregon, an 1893 publication by Rev. H.K. Hines D.D., of hundreds of Oregon’s leading citizens of the time. Lumen, the eldest of 11 children, was born in 1832 in Vermont and was “economical and industrious” as a child. His first wife died after 5 years of marriage. In 1863 he married Anna Thurston. During the civil war he was listed as a sutler, a person who maintained a store on an army post to sell provisions and supplies to the soldiers. He also owned a home and carpenter shop for large manufacturing and coopering (building barrels and casks.)
In 1867 Lumen and Anna came to Oregon “by water” as did many other people who were not driving cattle and carrying farm equipment. He initially bought property in Oswego and then in 1871 came to the Garden Home area where he bought 85 acres of “rich land in a choice locality” on which he resided.
From Oregon Post Offices 1847 – 1982 by Richard W. Helbock, PhD:
[Lumen] built a good store, and in this he keeps a general stock of goods, and attends to the duties of the post office, as he has been the efficient Postmaster for the past ten years…They are highly respected people through the county and are deeply attached to the State where they have passed the last twenty years.
At the Crescent Grove Cemetery on Greenburg, Lumen’s gravestone reads: July 17, 1832-Oct. 17, 1902. His wife Anna’s stone reads: Dec.-27-1840-Dec.-4-1933. Their daughter Nellie died after a horse accident, her stone reads: 1875-1890 and shows a horse and girl and tenderly lists her age as 15 years, 6 months, 13 days.
Lumen’s brother George’s tombstone reads: Jan. 4, 1846-May 29, 1876 with this inscription: ‘Tis hard to give thee up dear brother/ To know that we no more shall meet/ Until we too shall cross the river/ Our loving parents there to greet.
Clara Kear is quoted about the store in Garden Home, the way it was by Virginia Mapes as “It carried all kinds of foodstuffs and tools. It supplied the staples a family would need like sugar and flour… Outside under the trees were two huge barrels. One was for vinegar.”
Chris Jager was a young Danish man who apparently jumped ship and found his way to Garden Home where he lived with the Nichols. He was given Power of Attorney for Mrs. Nichols in 1907, after L.H. died in 1902. He platted the first lots and is listed to act for Mrs. Nichols in subsequent land sales. He was said to be “adopted” by Mrs. Nichols and he cared for her as she became more disabled. She enjoyed time on the front porch with her parrot who famously greeted ladies with “Hello girls, Hello girls.” The parrot would set up a crying to mimic the sound of a young neighbor boy confined by the fence, to create a great racket. Chris was a talented civic minded man who built a two-story store with living quarters in the back and community space on the second floor. This was used for events, dances, church, and the first class of Garden Home school children. This store was referred to as the White Store to differentiate it from the “Red Store” which was further east on Garden Home Road, across from the train station and switching tracks. It later became known as Upchurch’s and Throckmorton’s. Click here to read more about Chris Jager and his store.
The Chris Jager tombstone at the Crescent Grove Cemetery reads: Christian N. Jager 1868-1937. Chris dug a large well at the back of the property and connected pipes to the community for their use. When problems occurred, the well water was shut off to the community. Chris was an important resident in developing early Garden Home.