Aloha resident traces evolution of farmland into busy bedroom community

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Author Janel Josephson stands in the front yard of her Aloha home. Her book, 'Images of America: Aloha-Reedville' is out now in paperback.To say Janel Josephson's sought out to capture the essence of the Aloha-Reedville area in her new illustrated book would be a stretch.

Truth is, the Portland-area native kind of fell into creating "Aloha-Reedville," part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series.

"This was kind of by accident," says Josephson, 60, an Aloha resident since 1998. "I didn't set out to do a book. When I was working 40 hours a week, I was hard pressed to see the insides of my eyelids I was working so hard. Once I wasn't working that full-time job, I started looking for things out in my community."

Josephson will be signing her book during First Friday on Aug. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Beaverton Substation, 12448 S.W. Broadway St.; at the Tigard Costco, 7850 S.W. Dartmouth St., on Aug. 3, and at the Aloha Community Library, 17683 S.E. Farmington Road, in conjunction with the Aloha Days event on Aug. 17.

She got involved in community and Neighborhood Association Committee meetings in Cedar Mill, which led her to the committee working on the Aloha-Reedville study, a three-year effort to address future growth, transportation and other quality of life issues.

Wanting to know more about the area whose future she was addressing sent her to the Washington County Museum in Hillsboro and the Beaverton Historical Society. The research reminded her of a job she had at a land title company while in high TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Janel Josephson wrote 'Images of America: Aloha-Reedville.'

"I couldn't figure out why anybody would be interested in this land," she says. "It got me thinking back to high school, how things were back then and how they are today."

Inspired by Colleen Medlock's Arcadia book on Beaverton published last August, Josephson morphed from a dabbling dilettante to the unofficial scribe of Aloha-Reedville's history.

"It was one of those 'jump into the deep end of the pool' moments,'" she says with a laugh. "The challenge was lining up photographs and negotiating rights to use them for the book while being able to to tell enough of the story. You're pretty limited on what you can write. The photo and the caption have to tell the story."

Founding families

The book traces the area's evolution from the earliest known inhabitants, the Northern Kalapuyan band — known as Tualatin, Faladin or Alafati — settling near the Tualatin River to the Lewis & Clark Expedition's Northwestern explorations to the gradual attraction of European settlers by the mid-1800s to the vast expanse of rich farmland.

With the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, which designated 320 acres of free land to unmarried white males 18 or older, the white population continued to crowd out natives as the encroaching Southern Pacific Railroad further increased the farmland's value.

"Aloha and Reedville are near the geographical center of Washington County," Josephson observes. "For generations it's been a crossroads. This area has always been a center of transportation."

Josephson found ample information on prominent farming families — Buck, Huber, Wheeler and Ladd among them — whose names and memories still reverberate in the area. Among her personal surprises were the connection of the Ladd family and Reedville's namesake family to the development of Southeast Portland's Reed College.

When Amanda Reed — the wife of family patriarch Simeon Reed, who died in 1895 — passed away in 1904, her will endowed a board of trustees to establish a Reed Institute. The college was established on Crystal Springs Farm land the Ladd family donated.

"When (Amanda Reed) died, she gave each of her heirs $25,000, which is a pretty significant amount of money," she says. "But she left so much more to charities."

On a more personal level, Josephson, while researching real estate transactions in the Reed College archives, stumbled upon ties to her own family tree.

"I mentioned to the historian that my great aunt graduated from Reed in 1914," she says. "She said, 'What was her name?' I told her. She walked about 20 feet, and there's my great aunt's thesis from 1914. That one still sends chills up and down my spine."

Cooperative community

Josephson was further reminded of her childhood as she talked with Hazeldale residents reminiscing about wheat threshers and early farming life in the Tualatin and Willamette river valleys.

"It was like listening to my mother's family tell stories," she says. "It was like, 'Oh, I know where this one is going.' When you sit and talk to older people and they start recollecting and coming alive with memories they hadn't (discussed) for years, they really started to enjoy themselves. People sharing their stories is that really special part of it."

From clearing heavy timber and stumps to building a railroad to establishing lasting learning institutions, Josephson remains awed by the sheer gumption, perseverance and foresight it took just to survive and make a go of it from little more than soil, streams and vegetation.

"It's hard to wrap your head around some of the people and the stuff they did," she says. "The railroad was financed with private money. What people would be able to accomplish that today? People really cooperated together to get things accomplished. The generosity, supporting of education and philanthropy, those themes really stood out to me."


What: “Images of America — Aloha-Reedville” an illustrated history of central Washington County

Who: Author Janel Josephson, an Aloha resident since 1998

Publisher: Arcadia

Book signings: Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Beaverton Substation, 12448 S.W. Broadway St.; at the Tigard Costco, 7850 S.W. Dartmouth St., on Aug. 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and on Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Aloha Community Library, 17683 S.E. Farmington Road

To purchase: Visit Jan’s Paperbacks, 18095 S.W. Tualatin Valley Highway, other area bookstores or visit

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