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From Our Vault: Shipley-Cook farm plays key role for generations

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Property is one of the featured stops on this year's Oswego Heritage Council Historic Homes Tour

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE COOK FAMILY - Sheep graze below the Shipley barn in this early view from Stevens Meadow.Adam Randolph Shipley and James Preston Cook were two early settlers who made significant contributions to the history of Lake Oswego. Both men traveled from Ohio across the Oregon Trail to settle in Oregon.

Shipley, his wife Mary and their son came in 1852; Cook came in 1883.

In the early 1860s, Shipley established his farm complex on one of the largest pieces of acreage in the area then known as Hazelia — property that extended from south of McVey to the Tualatin River. His barn was the first building he constructed — even before the farmhouse.

Shipley, who took a keen interest in agriculture and horticulture, was one of the first to import and grow grapes in the area. Fondly called "Father Shipley," he helped launch Oswego Grange No. 175 as a place for social events and a schoolhouse for local children. Shipley was the first Oswego Grange Master and he was twice elected State Grange Master, serving from 1875 to 1880.

Shipley also served as second Postmaster of Portland for several years and was a Sunday school leader at Oswego's First Methodist Church. In addition, he was a charter member of the Odd Fellows Lodge. And in 1891, he was appointed to the Board of Regents at the State Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), where he also served as librarian for a time.

Cook came to Oregon after hearing about the need for iron workers in Oswego. He worked at the foundry for a while, on the Shipley farm and at various other jobs — including construction on the railroad from Portland to Dundee (Cook Station is named after him) — before finally earning enough money to purchase the farm in 1900 from Shipley.

The butte west of the farm complex, where Cook raised livestock, is still known as Cook Butte.

The Cook farm was often a gathering place for the community. In fact, James and his wife Susie started a Fourth of July gathering with homemade ice cream that is still celebrated by the Cook family today.

Susie and James Cook had one child, William B. Cook, who married Sarah Ethel Baker. The young couple had two sons, William B. Cook Jr. and James Hugh Cook. Like his father, the senior William Cook was active in the Grange, Odd Fellows and the school district. He was also a local historian and a charter member of the Oswego Fire Department.

The family cultivated fruit trees, grew a variety of crops, raised livestock and sold cream to a local dairy. William took over the farm after his parents died (James in 1931, Susie in 1947); when he and his wife died (William in 1960, Sarah Ethel in 1967), their sons inherited the farm.

James Cook eventually bought out his brother and then deeded the farm to his son, Rick Cook, in the mid-1990s. Rick Cook still lives on the Shipley-Cook farmstead, where he grows Marechal Foch wine grapes.

Learn more

The Shipley-Cook farmstead is one of the featured stops on the Oswego Heritage Council's Historic Homes Tour, which is scheduled from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Rick Cook and other family members will be on hand to share stories, history, quilts, wine and candy-making recipes, all of which have been passed down through the generations.

Tickets for the tour can be reserved now at www.oswegoheritage.org or by calling 503-635-6373.

"From Our Vault" is written by Nancy Dunis for the Oswego Heritage Council, using materials she's found in the council's archives; look for it every month in The Review. Have something you'd like to add to the vault? Leave a message for Dunis at 503-635-6373 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..