Brownsville Historical Marker

Long before the first pioneer settlers arrived here in the 1840s, the Brownsville area was occupied by the ancient Mound Builders and then the Kalapuya Indians.  The relative ease of finding food in the valley made the Kalapuya vulnerable to intruders, including other tribes, because they did not need to fight or go very far for food.  At the time of Lewis and Clark, about 2,000 natives were distributed in 40 villages in the valley. The town was first called Kirk’s Ferry when Alexander Kirk established a ferry there.

When Henry H. Spalding (earlier a missionary to the Nez Perce) was appointed first Postmaster in 1850, the name changed to Calapooya.  Linn County’s first organizational meeting was held in Spalding’s Schoolhouse in 1849. In 1853 James Blakely laid out a town plat on his claim south of the river, naming it for Hugh L. Brown, his partner in the Brown & Blakely store located along the east side Territorial Road.

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National Geographic