Polk County Historical Society

A group met December 18, 1958, to formulate a Polk County Historical Society. Mrs. Clares Powell invited fourteen ladies to her home on January 1, 1959 to explore interest in organizing a society.

Iris Powell was appointed temporary chairman and Emma Henkle was the temporary secretary. On January 21, 1959, a permanent organization was formed. A constitution was adopted and officers elected. Those elected were: Francis B. Haines, President; Mrs. Delwen Reinemer, Vice President; Mrs. Leland Prather, Secretary; Mrs. O.G. Lyday, Treasurer.

In an April 23, 1959, news article, Dr. Haines stated there were ninety-five signed as charter members.

Meanwhile, the Polk County Museum Commission had dreams of sharing their love of all things historical with residents and visitors alike, long before there was any building to call home. When the Commission disbanded in 1989, the Museum Association continued fundraising efforts while reorganizing into a non-profit organization. Until a permanent building could be realized, the Association became temporary tenants in the 1912 Carnegie Library Building provided by the City of Dallas. On February 16, 1991, the Polk County Museum opened for business.

The Museum Association had been collecting treasures, both donated and on loan, for years. These treasures were now available to be seen and shared with the public, no longer hidden in attics, garages and sheds. The artifacts and documents collected reflected the diversity of cultures and people of the Polk County area. Opening ceremonies included talks by local collectors and historians, performances by local musicians and songs sung by Grand Ronde elders to the beating of a skin drum.

Today, the Polk County Historical Society is a public-benefit, non-profit corporation managed by a Board of Directors consisting of the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, nine Directors and the immediate Past President. Board members are elected to the Annual Membership Meeting held each January. The volunteer Board of Directors meets monthly to implement the pronouncements comprising the PCHS Mission Statement.

Fourth of July is a day to celebrate not only freedom, but our history. I encourage you to visit the Polk County Historical Society, and remember just what it is our ancestors fought and died for; what soldiers today continue to fight to protect. Thank you to those who have served, and thank you to those that work to preserve our history.

City of Dallas

Dallas was settled in the 1840s on the north side of Rickreall Creek and was originally named “Cynthian” or “Cynthiana”. A 1947 Itemizer-Observer article states: “The town was called Cynthiana after Cynthiana, KY, so named by Mrs. Thos Lovelady.” The History of Polk County Oregon, 1987, Page 12, states: “To Mrs. Thomas J. Lovelday was given the honor of naming the new settlement and she selected the name after her home town of Cynthiana, Kentucky.”

Another source claims that the origin of the name may have been Jesse Applegate’s wife, Cynthia Ann. However, she lived in the Salt Creek area of northern Polk County and, according to the 1850 Federal Census, had already left Polk County by 1850.

Dallas post office was established in 1852.

In 1856, the town was moved more than a mile south because of an inadequate supply of water.

Dallas was in competition with Independence to be the county seat and the citizens of Dallas raised $17,000 in order do have a branch of the narrow gauge railroad come to their town, thus securing the honor. The line was built from 1878-80. A more suitable name for a county seat was needed, and since George Mifflin Dallas was vice-president under James K. Polk, for whom the county was named, “Dallas” was a natural choice.

Dallas was incorporated as town in 1874, and as a city in 1901.

Today, located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Dallas is the heart of it all. Just 13 miles west of Salem, close to the coast, and an easy drive from beautiful vineyards and wineries, we think you’ll find just what you are looking for in Dallas.

Dallas has many treasures, with many beautiful city parks, the Aquatic Center, and small town charm. A short drive away is the 2,500 acre Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, the Black Rock trail system – Oregon’s first free ride area for mountain biking, and award-winning wines.

Not only family friendly, Dallas is business-friendly too. With sites from 1 to over 20 acres, with access to highways and rail service, Dallas is ready for employers and can offer incentive packages, streamlined permitting, friendly community, and a supportive business environment.

Dallas is truly a hometown gem!