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The 1800's


Sublimity had its beginnings as an Indian village and then a trading post. Originally named “Hobson Corner” after Hadley Hobson, a brickmaker from North Carolina who came to the area in 1848. This was after getting his directions confused and ending up in California instead of Oregon. Mr Hobson made the best of the situation by gold mining until the fall of 1848, when he boarded a sailing vessel in San Francisco and arrived in the Columbia River after five weeks of seasickness. He took up a claim on Mill Creek, north of Stayton, building his home on what has since become known as the Miller Place, where he settled with sheep and cattle and raised a family of ten.

The hamlet received its official name when a US Post Office, one of the first six post offices in the US, was established. The name Sublimity was selected by James Denny because of the “fine vista and sublime scenery” in the hills around the town. Sublimity has the unique distinction of being the only place in the United States that has this name. James Denny became the first postmaster, and the post office was located in Denny’s Store until the 1870s. It was then located in the Hobson Store, where Mr. Denny distributed mail from the office window. Mail from the east came by way of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands) and took six months to deliver.

Sublimity School District #7 was organized. The school constructed that year cost $500 and served until the end of the century.

Sublimity College was established by the territorial legislature and operated by the Church of United Brethren (aka the Mennonite Brethren in Christ from Indiana). This gave Sublimity the early distinction of being a college town. The first teacher and president at the college was Milton Wright, father of Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the “Flying Machine.” Mr. Wright later became a Bishop in the United Brethren Church.

Sublimity’s population was 1500 when the Civil War broke out. It consisted of a Chinese laundry, five stores, gun maker’s shop, public school, college, Methodist Church, United Brethren Church, hotel, post office, public well and a furniture shop. The Civil War caused a severe decline in Sublimity’s population as settlers returned to their native states to fight. The hamlet became deserted, and depression set in, from which the town never fully recovered.

Sublimity was resettled by German immigrant farmers. They were an industrious and persistent lot, and their arrival eventually transformed the depressed hamlet into a busy rural village, supplying trade to the area.

Nearly all the abandoned farms in the area were possessed by these new people and the town grew rapidly. Many of the new settlers came from German colonies that had previously been located in Minnesota. Several were Catholics and thus, a new faith was brought to the area.

The town was surveyed by the government, which divided it into 20 city blocks and seven main streets.

The first Catholic service was held.

The Catholic Church purchased the college and turned it into a convent.

Ditter’s Store is started by John (Jack) Ditter in partnership with George Bell. John Ditter came from Wisconsin.

St. Boniface Catholic Church was established. (Its historic building is still in use today and very much in its original condition.)

After a series of small farm fires, a group of farmers organize the “Farmers Relief Association,” in an attempt to provide better means of protection from such losses. It was a mutual fire insurance company whose members could be assessed at various times of need to help cover fire losses of fellow members.


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