Heritage Museum Society

Heritage Museum Society

HMS Corner - Harold & Barbara Locke

HMS Corner - Harold & Barbara Locke

When you visit the “War Comes to Independence” exhibit at the Heritage Museum, you will find the names James Locke (USN), Hugh Locke (USMC), and Austin H. Locke (USN) featured prominently on the American Legion Honor Roll of local men and women who served in the U.S. Military. These men are relatives of Independence resident Harold Locke. 

During the summer of 2015, Harold and Barbara (Sahnow) Locke visited the Heritage Museum. It was during that visit that we began to learn about their deep roots with the Independence community and the Independence First Baptist Church. The Independence First Baptist Church was founded in 1889 and later, in 1976, became the home of the Independence Heritage Museum.

Harold Locke was the youngest of 10 children born to Nora and hop grower Austin Locke. He was born in Salem in 1934 but grew up in Independence. After graduating from Central High School he served in the U.S. Air Force.

Barbara was born in Portland in 1942. Her dad Vern worked as a Radio Technician/Announcer at KSLM in Salem. Her family - she was the oldest of 6 children - moved to Independence when she was a teenager. Shortly after relocating she was invited to join the Independence Baptist Church youth group and was later baptized and joined the fellowship there.

In 1959, like all Independence citizens, she and Harold looked forward to the Oregon Centennial Celebration Parade and the Independence First Baptist Church’s involvement. Harold and other youth group kids, along with Barbara’s father, represented a pioneer family in the parade and read the Bible on the church float. Barbara’s father even grew his beard to look more like a pioneer.

Soon after, both graduated from Central High School and went on to college. Barbara attended Oregon College of Education in pursuit of a teaching degree and Harold attended Oregon State College, where he ultimately majored in Industrial Arts Education. Prior to this, and after his discharge from the service, he attended the Oregon Technical Institute in Klamath Falls where he studied woodworking. In 1963 they were engaged and were married between their junior and
senior years in college at the Independence First Baptist Church.

Five decades later they are known as the ‘Purple People’ wearing the royal color of purple as “King’s Kids” and rejoice in “serving the Lord”. “The Independence Baptist Church played an important part in our lives and holds a special place in our hearts.” ~Harold Locke


The House at 86 3rd Street, scheduled for Monday, April 24th at 7:00 PM has been CANCELLED. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Heritage Museum YouTube Channel

Check out our new YouTube channel. There you’ll find videos from our 40th Anniversary celebration, a recent presentation about Independence from 1945 to 1950, and a conversation with a couple who were married in the church that houses the Museum.

Heritage Museum Channel

Heritage Museum Society Update

Heritage Museum Society Update

In this season of gratitude and giving, the Heritage Museum Society has much to be proud of and thankful for. We begin with an expression of gratitude for this space in the Independence Heritage Museum newsletter to announce our new logo and share what we’ve been doing!

The Society has been working hard this year to move forward our goal to “bring the public to the Museum and the Museum to the public”. As such, we begin our winter media campaign by announcing a December 5th celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Independence Heritage Museum. The museum opened on July 4th, 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial; since then it’s been a favorite place for historians, students, curious residents, and travelers.

Key to our efforts is maintaining and promoting the material value of inviting hands-on learners to engage close up and face-to-face with the resident experts, artifacts, memorabilia, and historical footprint of the Willamette Valley. We hope to expand our capacity to reach history buffs, digital natives, and media savvy life-long learners by using the tools of the Internet and social media. Additionally, we will work to expand our outreach and educational efforts plus invite the community to volunteer, contribute, and secure the future of this cultural and historical anchor of the Independence community. The Heritage Museum Society is particularly interested in expanding the Museum’s Internet and social media presence. To that end, we’ve introduce our Heritage Hoppenings blog (, where you can keep up with Society news. We will also continue to host, support, and make available on YouTube, the Museum’s speakers series. Most recently the Museum hosted Al Oppliger’s talk about Independence, 1945-1950 (video soon to be posted). In January, the Museum is working on a presentation based on Gregory Nokes book, Breaking Chains: Slavery On Trial in the Oregon Territory.

Additionally, we’re pleased to announce the publication of the Independence Heritage Museum 40th Anniversary Digital Tour which is now available for download from iTunes. A year and a half in the making, this media rich edition uses movies, music, interviews, and photo galleries to share the narrative of the Independence Heritage Museum. Embedded text, primary and secondary documents, transcripts, plus touch screen ‘widgets’ invite distant users to learn about, visit, and support the Museum.

We look forward to sharing more information about all we’ve discussed here at the 40th Anniversary on December 5th and meeting the Museum’s loyal fans!

The HMS gratefully acknowledges Anderson Photography & Design for the HMS logo.

Rogers Road - a new publication

Rogers Road - a new publication

Check out this new book by Jo Rogers Veatch. It’s a history of life on a century farm near Independence and Monmouth. Jo is the daughter of former Polk County Representative, Joe Rogers, Jr. and the great-granddaughter of former Monmouth mayor, George Rogers.

Joe Rogers, Jr. owned and operated the Independence Creamery on Main Street in Independence from 1937-1942.

You can purchased an on-demand print version of the book at Click on the Bookstore tab, select Search, and enter the book name - Rogers Road.

Ms. Veatch has generously pledged $1 for every book sold to go to the Heritage Museum!

Buena Vista Pottery

Buena Vista Pottery

Amedee M. Smith, raised on the Iowa frontier, started for the west coast in 1865 along with a family group. They came to Oregon by way of Panama and San Francisco. The group, which included Amedee’s parents, stayed together in Albany for a time, but in 1866, Amedee and his wife and child left Albany and settled in Buena Vista.

Soon after, his brother Freeman, and later his father, joined him in Buena Vista. Aware of workable clay in the area, the three men opened a pottery factory. Amedee had learned the pottery trade under his brother Freeman who had owned and operated a pottery business in Iowa.

The family initially had difficulty establishing the business. Howard McKinley Corning in his book, Willamette Landings, noted the following:

He (Smith) hauled his first load of earthenware to Albany, where he found the merchants skeptical of being able to dispose of it. After repeated attempts to deal, Smith in discouragement was about to haul his unsold load back to Buena Vista when a merchant, John Conner, motioned him to take the entire lot of stoneware to the store’s back door. Impulsively, Conner had decided to buy the entire lot and take a chance on selling or trading it away. Eventually Conner paid him at the rate of fifty cents per gallon capacity.”

The pottery plant, on land where the Methodist Church is now, was an industrial powerhouse in Buena Vista. At its height the plant employed four artisans and ten Chinese workers to mix the clay. In 1870, Amedee purchased his father’s and brother’s business interests and in 1881, established a headquarters in Portland, renaming the company the Oregon Pottery Company. According to Blaine A. Schmeer’s Pottery on the Willamette, sewer pipe became its principal product. This was due in part to the fact that glass containers had replaced stoneware in most Oregon homes. In 1873 the plant manufactured pipe for Portland’s Stark Street sewer. 

The Portland plant was destroyed by fire in 1890, but Smith soon rebuilt, this time with brick. He continued on as company president until he was succeeded by his son. At that time, in 1897, the company was reorganized and renamed Western Clay Manufacturing Company.

Amedee had much to keep him busy in retirement. According to family papers, he was, throughout his adult life, involved in politics, charitable organizations, various businesses, community activities and institutions, and labor issues, including the 1934 Portland waterfront strike. His various interests were the Masons, the Manufacturing Association, the Republican Party, Multnomah County Commissioners, Realty Associates, Willamette Iron and Steel Corporation, Oregon Terminal Company, Willamette University, YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, Farm and Home Owners Association, Oregon Society Sons of the American Revolution, First Methodist Church, and the Arlington Club.

Despite the fact that the Buena Vista pottery plant is no more, crockery can still be found in the area and is considered quite collectable because of its hand-thrown primitive charm.

Buena Vista’s Founding Father: Reason B. Hall

Buena Vista’s Founding Father: Reason B. Hall

Reason Bowie Hall, according to family legend, got his middle name from family friend Jim Bowie of Bowie knife and Battle of the Alamo fame! R.B. hailed from Kentucky by way of Georgia where he was born in 1794. He later moved to Illinois. He most likely served in the War of 1812 and again in the Black Hawk War of 1832. While in Illinois he met and married Martha Wright, his second wife, in 1823. He and Martha had 10 children; 8 of them survived to adulthood.

In 1846, with Martha pregnant with twins, R.B. and his family crossed the plains from Illinois headed for the Oregon Territory. Upon arrival, R.B. took possession of a large donation land claim along the Willamette River in Polk County. He established the town of Buena Vista, naming it first Liberty, then later changed it to Buena Vista, some say after the U.S.- Mexican War’s Battle of Buena Vista to honor family members who had served. At any rate, the name translates to “beautiful view” and such surely was the view from the banks of the Willamette.

In 1852, R.B. established a ferry service in Buena Vista. This service is still in operation today and is considered one of Oregon’s longest, continuously operated ferry services. R.B. died on his donation land claim in 1869. Martha passed away in Marion County in 1887.

Hours & Admission

1 - 5 pm Wed - Sat
1 - 4 pm Occasional Sundays (Call ahead to check)

$3 admission for adults, children FREE
Everyone FREE second Saturday of the month

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Heritage Museum

Site Address: 112 South 3rd Street
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7
Independence, OR 97351
Phone: (503) 838-4989
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