St. Paul is the core area of French Prairie. The earliest farmsteads dating to 1828 lay along the bottomlands of the Willamette River, with the greatest concentration clustered around St. Paul. Here the French-Canadian employees of the fur companies retired and began to settle on the lands. All the Canadians were one nationality, language and religion with native wives and mixed-blood children. They formed a prairie island in the midst of vast forests.
In later years, Irish and European immigrations added to the ethnic background of the Prairie population. Where the first farming in Oregon was began over 175 years ago; the St. Paul community remains a firm and common bond of family and agriculture.
The St. Paul Mission Historical Society was founded in 1976. We began our efforts with the goal to preserve historic homes and as a resource for history of the French Prairie area.
Three of our founding board members were Helen Austin, Catherine Zorn and Joe McKay. These “French Prairie pioneers” were instrumental in forming the society. They guided the society for many years and the community greatly benefited from their strong beliefs in preserving the history of French Prairie. Founding President Joe McKay devoted over 22 years to the preservation of the museums and artifacts. Today, the society continues the tradition of preserving the history of French Prairie.