From the Oregon Encyclopedia:
“An 1874 summer camp to train Methodist Sunday school teachers seems an unlikely beginning for a cultural phenomenon that would spread across the country from Lake Chautauqua, New York, to towns such as Canby, Oregon. But rural America embraced summer Chautauquas, and communities vied for the opportunity to host the ten to twelve days of sermons, lectures, and music.”
The first Chautauqua gathering in Clackamas County was held in Canby in 1885 but the program did not become an annual event until several years later.
The first Chautauqua Circle was formed in Oregon City in September 1893. The society began by holding sessions in the homes of the members, providing lectures and entertainment and following the reading program of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878. The first president was Eva Emery Dye, local author, who would remain involved in the local Chautauqua association as it grew to a major annual gathering.
Oregon City Enterprise, Friday, September 29, 1893
A Chautauquan circle was organized at the home of H. C. Stevens on Tuesday evening with Mrs. C. H. Dye as president and Miss Mary Conyers, secretary. The circle will meet once a week.
Oregon City Enterprise, March 16, 1894
The Chautauqua held a delightful session at the residence of H. C. Stevens last week. Mr. Stevens had out his valuable collection of Indian curios that are worth several thousand dollars. His collection of jewel-like arrow heads is one of the finest in the country and will undoubtedly go to swell the museum of some institution of learning.
A portion of the Harley Crawford Stevens, Sr. collection was donated to the Clackamas County Historical Society by his daughter, Muriel “Mertie” Stevens, a founding member of the Society. Items from his collection are also exhibited at Harley’s home, the Stevens-Crawford Heritage House. Many other items from the collection were sold by Harley, Sr. and are in other museum and college collections.
Oregon City Enterprise, May 25, 1894
The Oregon City Chautauqua circle closed a very profitable year’s work on Tuesday evening this week at the home of Miss Mertie Stevens. The house was beautifully decorated for the occasion and a short program of music and speeches was followed by an elegant banquet for twenty-seven members. The work pursued consisted largely of Roman History, Roman Literature and Art, Medieval Song and Legend and Ely’s Outlines of Economics. A good deal of faithful work has been done and the discussions have been highly instructive. There is a prospect of largely increased membership for next year. There is also talk of branch circles among those too far away to attend the central circle. The club adjourned to meet again the last Tuesday in September.
This meeting was held at the Stevens home on 7th and Washington, where the I. O. O. F. building now stands. Before the construction of the I. O. O. F. building in 1922, the house was moved to 923 9th Street, where the greatly altered house still stands. In 1908 the Stevens family had moved to the house now maintained as the Stevens-Crawford Heritage House. This house was the fourth house the family had lived in, and the first that was designed and built for them instead of having been previously owned by others.
Plans to adjourn for the summer ended quickly and soon plans were underway to expand the Chautauqua Circle:
Oregon City Courier, June 22, 1894.
THE CHAUTAUQUA MEETING
This week Friday evening a meeting takes place at the residence of E. E. Charman of the Chautauqua Circle. The subject that will come up for consideration is the enlargement of the sphere of influence and usefulness of the Circle. Rev. J. S. Smith, manager of the Southern Oregon Chautauqua Association, who recently visited us with the object of scanning our local advantages and opportunities, is of the opinion that Gladstone Park is the proper place for the headquarters of the Chautauqua Circle of the Willamette valley and urges that steps be taken by our citizens to make this desirable possibility a reality. Selah W. Brown, John DeWitt Miller and Prof. S. W. Staub, the musical genius, have offered their services for $75. If we make Oregon City a Chautauqua Circle it will prove of great advantage to us in many ways. Now is the time for our citizens to display public spirit.
In less than a month the group secured a campground and speakers to host their first regional event at Gladstone Park in July, 1894.
Oregon City Courier, July 6, 1894.
THE CHAUTAUQUA CAMPAIGN.
A thousand seats are ready on the grounds at Gladstone Park for the meeting of the Chautauqua Circle. The East Side motor line has given special rates and agrees to put 20 incandescent lights on the ground. A. S. Dresser will have charge of the orchestra. July 24th will be Sunday School Day, for young people’s societies, etc.; July 25th, Patriotic Day, for the G. A. R. and kindred orders; July 26th, Educational Day. Prof. Gray, Supt. H. S. Gibson and Rev. G. W. Giboney form a committee to work up an interest among schools, colleges, teachers, etc. This Chautauqua assembly promises to be the greatest and best advertising medium for Oregon City’s resources and beauty ever organized or devised. Everybody in favor of education is interested in Chautauqua. Several musical clubs and bands of music are expected. Col R. A. Miller makes a splendid chairman of the Executive Board. The following committee on entertainment has been selected to look after distinguished guests and find them suitable stopping places: Mrs. J. W. Norris, Mrs. Sidney Smyth, Miss May Kelly, Mrs. Laura E. Pope and Mrs. M. L. Driggs. The speakers, of course, are the city’s guests.
From this start the Chautauqua grew quickly. The newly formed Willamette Valley Chautauqua Association obtained a 50-year lease on Gladstone Park from Judge Harvey Cross and began improvements on the property, including a covered meeting hall that was ready for use in July 1895. Gladstone’s Chautauqua Park eventually grew to be one of the largest permanent Chautauqua assembly parks in the United States. By 1917 the daily attendance had grown to more than 50,000 and a new, larger meeting hall was built with space inside for 6,000 people. With the advent of radio, vaudeville shows featuring well-known stars and the new “moving pictures” the Chautauqua crowds began to wane in the 1920s. In 1927 the Willamette Valley Chautauqua Association declared bankruptcy. Coincidentally, 1927 also marked the passing of Judge Harvey Cross. A few years his death his heirs sold Gladstone Park, its buildings and Chautauqua Lake, to the Western Conference of Seventh-day Adventists who still own the property today.
Although the last July Chautauqua gathering was held at Gladstone Park in 1927, there was one effort made to continue the educational program.
Morning Oregonian, June 2, 1928.
CHAMPOEG HAS PROGRAM.
History of Oregon Country Will Be Outline in Detail.
An Oregon historical Chautauqua will be held this year at Champoeg, historical shrine of the Oregon Country, July 16 to 24. When it was decided not to hold the Willamette Valley Chautauqua this year the historical features of the program already had been completed. This program will be transferred to Champoeg and with other added features will make up a great pageant of Oregon history.
There will be classes each day in Oregon history with teachers for both adults and children. One night program will picture the stirring events of May 2, 1843, when the provisional government was started.
Many famous orators, poets and performers appeared at the Gladstone Park Chautauqua over the years, including Rev. Billy Sunday, three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and Oregon poet Joachin Miller. Eva Emery Dye shared a story with the Oregonian about one who was not yet famous …
The Sunday Oregonian, October 16, 1927
FAMED CLASSIC DANCER ONCE SUPPLIANT TO PATRONS HERE.
Oregon Writer Recalls Day When Isadora Duncan Sought to Open School in Portland, Only to Fail.
Portland could have been the home of Isadora Duncan. This woman, who turned to the study of nature and remolded the dance of two continents before her tragic death at Nice in September, came here as a girl years ago, recounts Mrs. Eva Emery Dye, well-known Oregon write, to found a dancing school.
But Portland, like many other cities of that time, was not quite ready. Isadora Duncan moved on, to gain fame in other places years later.
“The numerous stories now current concerning Isadora Duncan, who recently lost her life in France, remind me that a few years ago, how many I have forgotten, she was in Portland with her brother Raymond, vainly endeavoring to establish a school of classical dancing,” says Mrs. Dye.
“As a lover of Greek language and literature, her effort appealed to me,” the writer continues, “and with someone, possibly the secretary of the Gladstone Chautauqua, we went down to investigate the nature of her work.”
“We found Miss Duncan, dressed in the usual loose Grecian garb, and her brother Raymond in toga and sandals, perplexed, wondering if anyone in Oregon understood or cared for the classic art. Eagerly they talked to us, and we accompanied them to a performances that afternoon, a presentation of figures from ancient vases, living, breathing grace in airy flight.”
Mrs. Dye was quite delighted. She helped arrange for a visit to the Chautauqua grounds.
“A few days later both appeared at Gladstone,” she says, “tripping under the trees in their sandals, asking about children and platforms and possibilities of establishing a school. But the more we thought of it, the more visionary it seemed and impossible, simply because people in general had not yet come to understand that the Chautauqua itself was an American adaptation of Plato’s school in the groves of Athens 2000 years ago.
“With reluctance we gave it up. People would not understand, and yet, now, with our greater freedom it would not be so difficult. In fact, the historical pageant given by Mr. Evans at Gladstone this last summer had many of the features outlined by Raymond and Isadora Duncan,” she admits.
“When we consider that the story of our Oregon pioneers combines all the Homeric essentials of the Greek drama, that our own heroes of 60, 70, 80 years ago were in no wise different from the heroes of classic times, and that today the whole world has adopted the Duncan view of graceful interpretation, the plan does not seem so visionary after all.”
“Practically penniless the, depending on a few pupils for maintenance, Isadora Duncan rose to fame as an artist of undying aspiration. She broke the shackles and gave the world a new idea of art.” Mrs. Dye concludes.
So now as we are in July, let us plan to “attend” the Chautauqua – 120 years ago this month…
In addition to daily athletics and classes, special musical programs and lectures were scheduled each day. Following is an abbreviated program for 1896:
Oregon City Enterprise, July 3, 1896
Program for the Ten Day Meet at Gladstone.
The Willamette Valley Chautauqua Assembly will meet at Gladstone Park, Oregon City, July 7 – 17. It will be a great event, and will attract thousands of people. Reduced fares have been offered on all the railroad and steamboat lines. The programme follows:
OPENING DAY, TUESDAY, JULY 7.
11:00 – Music, Corvallis Ladies’ Band; invocation, Rev. W. C. Kantner, D. D., Salem, Address of welcome, Colonel Robert A. Miller, president; response, Rev. Thomas Van Scoy, D. D., Portland University; Introduction of heads of departments; announcements of classes.
2:00 – Music, Chemawa Indian band; Chautauqua chorus, led by Prof. W. H. Boyer; reading, “The Boy at the Circus,” Mrs. Alice Hamill-Handcock; lecture, “The Devil in Politics,” Dr. Carlos Martyn, Chicago.
4:30 – Athletics
5:00 – Chautauqua Round table, J. R. Greenfield, state secretary C. L. S. C.
7:00 – Corvallis Ladies’ Band.
7:30 – Grand oratoria “The Creation,” conducted by Prof. W. H. Boyer, assisted by Prof. R. A. Heritage, Miss Rose Bloch, the Apollo Club of Portland, and the conservatory of music singers of Salem, with orchestral accompaniment.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8.
7:30 – Popular lecture, “Husbands and Wives,” Dr. Carlos Martyn, of Chicago.
THURSDAY, JULY 9.
2:00 – Chemawa Indian Band, Chautauqua chorus; road congress, Oregon Road Club, Hon. Eugene D. White, president; speakers, Hon. W. B. Chase, Senator Dolph, General Beebe and Col. Jackson; music by the Road Club orchestra and glee club.
4:30 – Bicycle parade.
7:30 – Humorous lecture, “Is Music a Failure?” Frank Lincoln, of New York City.
FRIDAY, JULY 10.
11:00 – Chautauqua chorus, led by Prof. Boyer; lecture, “The Monroe Doctrine and the Nicaragua Canal,” President W. C. Hawley, of Salem.
7:30 – Grand concert, arranged by Prof. W. H. Boyer assisted by Prof. R. A. Heritage, Prof. Emil L. Winkler, Prof. Anton Zilm; Shakespearean readings the closet scene from “Hamlet,” the sleep-walking scene from “Macbeth,” Mrs. Alice Hamill-Handcock, of Chicago.
SATURDAY, JULY 11.
2:00 – Chemawa Indian band; Chautauqua chorus; poem by Ella Higginson, “Sunrise on the Willamette” and “God’s Creed”; lecture, “The New Man,” Rev. Anna Shaw, of Philadelphia; solo, by the child pianist, Beatrice Barlow.
SUNDAY, JULY 12.
5:00 – Vesper service, Auditorium.
7:30 – Sacred concert and praise service.
MONDAY, JULY 13.
11:00 – Chautauqua chorus; lecture, “The United States Weather Bureau and its Work,” B. S. Pague, of the United States weather bureau.
TUESDAY, JULY 14
2:00 – Chemawa Indian band; Chautauqua chorus; reading, “The Bird Song,” Mrs. Alice Hamill-Handcock, of Chicago; lecture, “The Age We Live In,” Mrs. Marion b. Baxter, of Chicago; reading, “Aux Italiens” with piano accompaniment, Beatrice Baxter of Chicago.
7:00 – Corvallis Ladies Band; Chautauqua chorus; lecture “American Shrines,” with stereopticon, Dr. Elbert R. Dille, of San Francisco.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15.
11:00 – G. A. R. drum corps; Chautauqua chorus; “America” with Chautauqua salute; lecture, “Our Duty Toward Cuba,” President W. C. Hawley, Willamette university.
2:00 – Chemawa band, G. A. R. drum corps; grand Chautauqua chorus, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with everybody in chorus; bands, drums and salute; patriotic address, “The New America,” Edward Davis of Oakland; Chautauqua chorus, “Marching through Georgia”; bands and salute.
7:00 – Band concert, patriotic airs; Chautauqua chorus, “Hail Columbia.”
7:30 – The continental congress, by 25 young men in colonial costume; scene – Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1776; tableau – Signing the Declaration; music, “The Red, White and Blue”; bands, red fire, liberty bells, and salute.
THURSDAY, JULY 16.
2:00 – Chemawa Indian Band; grand march of Chautauquans; Chautauqua chorus, “Ho, Ye Comrades,” (tune, “Tramp, Tramp”); recognition address, “The Building of a Man,” Dr. Elbert R. Dille, San Francisco; presentation of diplomas, Col R. A. Miller; Chautauqua song, “C. L. S. C.,” (air, “John Brown”); presentation of certificates to children of junior normal.
7:00 – Corvallis Ladies Band; Chautauqua chorus; solo, Mrs. W. A. Wetzell, of Portland university; brief Chautauqua speeches, by Dr. Dille, Edwards Davis and others; stereopticon exhibit, “Columbia River”; scenery painted by Mrs. Alice Aubrey Weister, art instructor at Portland university; solo, Mrs. W. A. Wetzell, of Portland university; Chautauqua bonfire, bands.
CLOSING DAY – FRIDAY, JULY 17.
11:00 – Chautauqua chorus; lecture “Physical Culture,” (illustrated by class), Prof. J. R. Wetherbee, of State university.
2:00 – Chemawa Indian band; Chautauqua chorus; lecture, “The Sciences of Art,” (illustrated), Edwards Davis of Oakland; stockholders’ annual meeting; election of officers, Auditorium.
4:30 – Athletics
5:00 – Round table.
7:00 – Corvallis Ladies’ Band; Chautauqua farewell chorus; grand closing concert; Y. M. C. A. athletics; fireworks.
W. M. Robinson, proprietor of the Electric hotel has secured the exclusive restaurant privileges in Gladstone Park during the Chautauqua assembly. The restaurant will be conducted in connection with the Electric hotel, and guests of that popular hostelry can take their meals at the Chautauqua restaurant, if they so prefer, remaining at the park the entire day. The restaurant will be supplied with the best the market affords, and excellent meals will be served from 25 cents up.
Oregon City Courier, July 17, 1896
Changes to Better the Permanent Chautauqua Accommodations.
The Chautauqua Assembly grounds at Gladstone Park have been considerably changed since last year’s meeting. One of the most important improvements is the new bicycle track, that was carefully surveyed and graded, and is now being finished at a heavy expense. It is a quarter-mile track, and will probably be the best in the state for its purpose. Within the bicycle course is a baseball diamond, also carefully planned and measured. The additions to the water service include a standpipe and sprinkler to keep every part of the grounds dustless. The pump formerly used has been replaced with one of capacity four times as great – enough, in fact, to supply a city of 5000 people – and the cool Clackamas will yield of its sparkling current to every Chautauquan who will turn the faucet. In the main auditorium seats for 200 persons have been built on the rear of the rostrum, calculated to accommodate a large chorus. The old auditorium has been more than doubled in capacity, and large locker added, and it will be ample for classes of the most numerous membership. The electric lighting has also been greatly improved and arranged for permanent service.
SPECIAL HEADQUARTERS TENTS.
There are fifteen special tents on the Assembly grounds, designed to attract and serve the public to a great extent. The state headquarters of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle is in charge of Secretary Greenfield and occupies a position near the main auditorium. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union has a large tent a little further up the avenue and is in charge of Mrs. Mead. Mrs. Judge Ward is the leader of the equal suffragists and takes delight in welcoming people to the headquarters of that association. The Congregationalists and Seventh Day Adventists are the only churches with established denominational headquarters in the park. The educational institutions having special quarters are the State University, Portland University, Willamette University, McMinnville College, Pacific College (Newberg), State Agricultural College and Holmes Business College. Mrs. Haynes and Miss Woolfolk are in charge of the Art Headquarters. The Corvallis Ladies Band and the Chemawa Indian Band have their respective headquarters, and the kindergarten tent Miss Wall has a class of wee folks that is one of the most pleasing of the Assembly.
Oregon City Enterprise, July 24, 1896.
Echoes From the Assembly at Gladstone Park.
Closing Features of the Most Successful Chautauqua Assembly Ever Held in Oregon.
The class features of the Chautauqua Assembly, which was a very important part of the program, was not appreciated by the majority of the visitors, who did not have the inclination, or possibly the time to take advantage of the class lectures and instructions. The class features alone, to say nothing of the splendid platform program, was worth ten times the price of admission. Prof. Boyer made a good conductor and instructor in music, and Prof. Heritage, who acted as conductor a considerable portion of the time, is his equal in every way, and an experienced leader, instructor and singer. The chorus singers had the advantage of eight extra drills, under the best trainer and the leading pianist of Portland. Art received attention in class work from competent instructors. Miss Eva M. Woolfolk had a very interesting class in landscape drawing and figures. Mrs. J. T. Hayne instructed an interesting class in oil painting. Mrs. Hamill-Handcock, had a large and enthusiastic class in elocution and Shakespearean reading. During the assembly Mrs. Handcock was the guest of Prof. C. W. Durette, who received instruction in elocution from her father, and a portion of the time was in the same class with that distinguished and talented lady.
President Hawley, of the Willamette university, who has made the study of history a specialty, had a very large and interesting class, numbering about 200. His lectures on that subject are said to have been literary gems alone. His methods of instruction, too, were such as to distinctly impress the different epochs and periods of history upon the mind in a most entertaining way. Prof. Weatherbee, of the state university, conducted the class in physical training, which was so large that it had to be divided into two regiments, in order to do them justice. Prof. Shaw, of the state agricultural college, is one of the best instructors in chemistry in Oregon, and the apparatus he used in illustrating certain features of his work, added much to the interest and entertainment feature of his lectures. He taught the practical application of chemistry to every day life, instead of dry theories. Among the instructive features of the state agricultural college, was a farmer’s institute, and lectures were delivered by President Bloss, Prof. G. W. Shaw, Prof. H. T. French and Profs. Cordley and Hedrick. However, owing to the busy season, but few farmers were in attendance to get the benefit of this excellent and valuable course of lectures. This institution had on exhibition samples of mechanical work, the handiwork of the pupils, also specimens of drawing made by students from natural objects, photograph work and entomological specimens, magnified manikins of plant life, and crayon and pastel pictures by first year students.
Another feature of the educational work was the W. C. T. U. headquarters, under the direction of Mrs. Anna J. Mead, of Mount Tabor. The school of method was conducted daily by that lady, assisted by superintendents of the various departments. Mrs. Marion B. Baxter, of Chicago, the noted lecturer, materially aided in the work of this department. Mrs. Wallis Nash and other prominent Portland ladies, were present a considerable portion of the time, and lent valuable aid to the work. In fact, woman’s work was one of the notable features of the assembly.
The Equal Suffrage headquarters, presided over by Mrs. Judge Ward, of Portland, secretary of the state association, and of which organization Mrs. A. S. Duniway is president, was another place that proved an interesting educator. The most brilliant and talented women in Oregon made this tent a place of consultation and social conversation, and visitors, both ladies and gentlemen, were cordially received. Many bright things were said at the afternoon meetings, held between the hours of one and two, and among the speakers were Rev. Anna Shaw, Mrs. Duniway, Miss Rinehart, Col. R. A. Miller and others.
Levi Johnson, general secretary of the Oregon City Y. M. C. A., had charge of the athletic sports, which proved an interesting feature of the assembly, notwithstanding the extreme hot weather. The first attraction was an intensely interesting game of basket ball between the Oregon City and East Portland teams. The game resulted in favor of the latter by a score of 4 to 3. The Chemawa Indian boys badly worsted both the Oregon City school boys and the Monograms of Portland, in a game of baseball. There were interesting things every day at the bicycle track and baseball ground. One afternoon there was a variety of races. The fat man’s race was won by Mr. Johnson, of Clackamas, who carried off a prize $3 watch and chain donated by Burmeister & Andresen, Oregon City jewelers. There was also a game of basket ball between Portland and Oregon City, which resulted in a score of three to one in favor of the former. One of the most interesting events was the bicycle races last Thursday afternoon, in which Huntley’s Victor bicycles scored all the prizes, or at least the winner rode Victors. Joseph Goodfellow, of the West Side, won both the novice one and five-mile races, and received as prizes a $6 turtleneck sweater from Huntley Bros., and an elegant foot pump from H. C. Stevens.