From Our Vault: Bickner family was among LO area's first shopkeepers
At one point in early 1900s, pioneering clan owned two general stores
Joseph W. Bickner Sr. and his wife, Victoria, were both born in Prague and came to Oregon from Minnesota in the 1880s. They settled with Victorias sister and brother-in-law, Clara and Henry Gans, who owned the general store in South Town near what is now the intersection of McVey Avenue and Erickson Street.
The Bickners bought the general store and living quarters all one building from the Gans family around 1892. Their five sons and two daughters Mary A., Joseph Jr., Henry B., William E., John, Lillian and Charles all helped run the store.
In 1903, Bickner and three of his sons John, William and Charles bought an old hotel in New Town, which was located on State Street between A and B avenues. The hotel was remodeled into a general merchandise store called J. Bickner and Sons, and for a short time, the Bickner family owned two stores.
The lower level of the State Street store contained groceries and dry goods; the balcony contained hardware. To the rear was a barn for three horses, two delivery wagons and a hayloft. The front of the building, which was one level, was used to store grain and supplies and housed the refrigerators. Some years later, a walk-in refrigerator was installed so that both Bickner and Sons and Bethkes Meat Market next door could use it.
Joseph Bickner Sr. died in 1921 at age 78, but the Bickner brothers kept the store going until Safeway purchased it in 1938. In the years that followed, Safeway moved out of the building and Freda Bain opened a dress shop, which was later replaced by another dress shop called Lucilles.
The Tate family, owners of Tims Germs, purchased the building from the proprietor of Lucilles and operated a jewelry store upstairs in the building. They leased the street-level area to Imperial Flowers and Heads-Up Stylists. According to Tim and Nadeen Tate, the adjoining section of the building housed an auto parts store.
The Bickners after whom a street just south of McVey Avenue in modern-day Lake Oswego is named definitely were one of Oswegos prominent and influential families in the early days.