What is in a Name? We drive by places around town all day long, and we see schools, parks, and streets, and rarely ask who these things are named after. Well, in this special installment of the Hillsboro Herald, we take a look at one of Hillsboro’s best and oldest parks and how it got its name! Come in for a quick read and share this story with your friends. Our special reporter and local historian, Jeff LeRiche, shares a fun history post with us today! Jeff is from Hillsboro and lives in Cornelius, Oregon now where he is growing the Cornelius Historical Society with his excellent work. Up your local history IQ points and share this story with your friends and family. Look for more great history stories in the future!
What’s In A Name? Bagley Park Revealed- by Jeff Leriche
Bagley Park was Hillsboro’s second park, with Shute Park being the first. The half-block park at Northeast Second Ave and Jackson St. opened in 1926. In the early 1930s, it was dedicated to County Circuit Court Judge George Bagley, and a baseball diamond was added. The next improvements were in 1949, when additional playground equipment was added from donations and fundraisers. Perhaps this is when the metal slide with the roller coaster bumps was put in that I so enjoyed as a little fella, except on hot days! Further improvements have been made over the decades.
So, how did this half-block, two-acre park come to be? If you were to read about Judge George Bagley Sr. on Wikipedia, you would learn that the Judge sold the land to the city for one dollar. While this may be true, as is usually the case, there is more to the story, and I learned this from articles in the Hillsboro Argus.
In 1925, Hillsboro was all in on putting in curbs and paving city streets. This came with considerable expense, and those who lived on a street were assessed a fee to help pay for it. Many residents enthusiastically supported the road paving, but it was not universally appreciated due to the cost. One city councilman, Elmer Johnson, offered his resignation in protest and sued the city to stop paving on the part of Oak Street where he lived before coming to a compromise with Mayor Mason Cady.
Judge Bagley also balked at the plan of paving the streets that bordered his half block, particularly Edison Street, which he contended was unimportant in the main travel for public use and the proposed improvements were improvident and unjustifiable. He alleged that the cost of the improvements amounted to confiscation of his property as the fees amounted to more than the fair market value of his property. Judge Bagley hired local heavy hitter lawyers William G. Hare and Edward Tongue, to represent him in his suit with the city.
Eventually, Judge Bagley put forward a compromise. He offered to give the city the 2 acres of land in lieu of the amount owed for improvements, and the city accepted. No mention was made of the one-dollar sale price, but perhaps it was required legally to seal the deal. At the time of the compromise, no plans were set for it to become a park, but it did not take long before it would become one, and generations of families have benefitted by being able to enjoy this half block. I played in the park as a kid and again with my sons, and now visit with my granddaughter.
While the real story is not quite as charitable at the beginning as reported by some, I would like to think that the Judge was glad to see it become a park, and perhaps it is a story of all’s well that ends well.
Before The Park Was A Reality –
Editors’ BONUS CONTENT from Dirk Knudsen: Catch Sarah Robinson Bagley in a reenactment by our Hillsboro Historical Society members – this is Judge George Bagley’s mother brought to life by this fine program! Listen to her story!
Here is a photo of George’s Son, Cliffton Bagley, as he signs up for WW1 in front of the Liberty Theater in downtown Hillsboro in 1917 – seen here with Verne McKinney, the son of the great Emma McKinney – Editor of the Hillsboro Argus. Verne would make it home and ended up running and owning the paper with his infamous Mother. Young Bagley also came home and went on to have a long, prosperous life, passing on in 1979.
[back b] First Volunteers from Hillsboro for WW1 . [back c] Carlson, Verne McKinney, Cliff Bagley, Atha Russell, Vernon Olson, Glen Powers. March 29, 1917. Guy Edson at the desk. The Boys signed up at the Washington Hotel and joined Company B, according to the 1917 Hillsboro Argus that covered the big day.
The good Judge and his family are buried at the Old Scotch Church Cemetary; nearly a dozen are buried around this classic monument. The family name lives on here as the park that has the family name associated with it.
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