Matthias Spurgeon

Spurgeon was a prominent name in agriculture west of Vancouver from pioneer times until the decline of the prune and nut industry. Matthias Spurgeon settled on Vancouver Lake years before the prune boom. a son was a leader in agriculture for many years.

Matthias Spurgeon was born in Iowa in 1838 and was an orphan about 14 years old when he decided to cross the Plains with an uncle. The boy drove a yoke of oxen on the trip west.

Spurgeon lived for a while near the mouth of the Willamette River. In the early 1860s he went east of the mountains to look for gold and worked hauling freight by wagon during part of this time.

He returned in the mid-1860s and purchased part of the Petrain donation land claim at the southeast side of Vancouver Lake. He later bought more. The land belonged originally to Joseph Petrain, who came to Clark County about 1848 or 1849.

Matthias was married in 1877 to Nancy Olive Dillon.

In later years he retired from the farm and moved to Vancouver, where he died in 1918. His wife died in 1940.

Among the Spurgeon children was John Randolph Spurgeon, one of the last people in the county to operate a prune drier for local growers.

Spurgeon, born in 1882, was on the board of the Washington Growers Packing Corp., a predecessor of Washington canners co-operative. The corporation processed prunes for a large percentage of Clark County prune growers, after residents had decided on a cooperative to replace the private packing plants formerly buying prunes.

Spurgeon served with several other organizations, mostly related to agriculture.

One of Spurgion’s accomplishments was the development of a superior walnut, called the Spurgeon Special and Bruce-Spurgeon. The Bruce name was from J.B. Bruce, who bought Spurgeon’s orchard and helped bring the nut to the public’s attention.

Spurgeon also filled the county assessor’s job from 1939 to 1947.

He died in 1965. His wife was the former Julia Scott, a Clark County native, they were married in 1906.

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