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Home arrow Opinion arrow MY VOICE arrow Where was the first store in La Grande?


Where was the first store in La Grande?

The first store was located along what is today A Avenue in south La Grande. It was opened in the fall of 1862 by Edwin Patterson, according to a story in the Dec. 10, 1946, edition of The Observer. The store was located in a small dugout on the side of a hill. 

It carried brown sugar, coffee, syrup which was sold in 5-gallon kegs and other staples. 

Patterson moved his store into a building he built on C Avenue in the spring of 1863. 

What was the first Fourth of July
celebration in Union like?

The Fourth of July celebration of 1863 is the earliest one we have a record of in Union or any other community in this area. A brief account of the 1863 Fourth of July festivities in Union is provided in the book “Oregon’s Flamboyant Fourth 1876,” by Doris Huffman. 

Huffman writes that Union was decked in homemade flags made from bed sheets and dresses. The American flags were particularly significant at this time because the Civil War was raging and Union was filled with patriotic supporters. Union derived its name because of the strong patriotism of its residents during the Civil War.

The 1876 Fourth of July celebration in Union is covered in considerable detail in Huffman’s book. The celebration was a major one because it marked our nation’s centennial. Celebration highlights included a program featuring music, toasts, dinner, an hour-long address by L.O. Stearns, a judge from the Baker City area and a Fourth of July ball.

Stearns’ address held the 2,000 people in attendance spellbound for an hour, Huffman wrote.

A centerpiece of the 1876 celebration in Union was a huge centennial cake baked by W. H. Reed. Its circumference was 8-1/2 feet, and had a diameter of 32-1/2 inches. The cake weighed 95 pounds and cost $52. It was cut into 1,000 pieces.

Another highlight of the Fourth of July celebration of 1876 in Union, was an appearance by a man known as Prof. Jackson, the “corn doctor.” Jackson sold a liniment he promised would cure ranchers and miners of the enormous discomfort they were experiencing due to corns and bunions on their feet. Their “tortured” feet were the victims of awkwardly fitting boots.

Jackson did “a landslide business,” Huffman wrote.

Jackson arrived in Union after an appearance in Baker City a few days earlier.

Union had a population of about 300 at the time. La Grande had about 400 people. 

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason. 


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