Welcome to The La Center Historical Museum





Magilbra Anderson and Caroline Williams wed on November 22, 1855 in Carbondale, Illinois. In 1864, together with Caroline's sister Mary and brother-in-law John Bartlett, the families decided to join a wagon train west. At the last minute John's brother Riley and wife Martha also joined the train. They left Cairo, Illinois on April 14, 1864. When they reached the fork of the road leading to Oregon or California, they learned if they chose the California trail, they must travel alone, so they stayed with the wagon train to Oregon.

In June 1865 he came by river steamer to La Center from Sauvie Island where he had been working. Here he caught up with the Bartlett's. The two families were among the first in the La Center area. He filed a homestead claim adjoining the Bartlett property and in the fall brought Caroline and the family to La Center by steamer. The homestead cabin stood just south of Kent Anderson's poultry houses. The property is now owned by the Perrot family.

In a few years the family outgrew the cabin and in 1870 Magilbra began to build the family home. Caroline inherited eighty acres across the road that originally belonged to her brother Charles. This enabled Magilbra to increase the orchards and his dairy herd. Caroline worked in the milk house making butter and cheese. The family packed the butter into earthen crocks. They sold any surplus in either La Center or Portland. 

The early pioneers were very self-sufficient, but there were plenty of hardships. One of the worst was going to St. Helens for supplies. Often the Columbia River was too rough for a small boat to cross, and sometimes they had to wait several days before making the trip.

From 1865 through the 1880's other immigrants settled in the La Center area, and were given a warm welcome by the community. Some of them were housed by the Anderson's and Bartlett's until their homes were built. This old-fashioned hospitality often meant survival for many families.  Magilbra and Caroline lived out their lives on the homestead and are buried in Mt. Zion cemetery in La Center.


Interview ca 2008 - 2012 by Candy Falk