The area where the town of Halsey is now located was settled as early as the mid 1840's. It became part of the Burlington Precinct that was organized in 1850. In 1857, the town of Peoria was organized and the district was renamed the Peoria Precinct. Halsey was removed from this precinct in 1872. The first map of the blocks and streets of Halsey, and depot grounds of the Oregon and California Railroad was filed in Multnomah County, Oregon on May 18, 1871 by William L. Halsey, Vice-President, Willamette Valley Railway Company. This company built the railroad through the Willamette Valley in 1870 and 1871. It was completed to Harrisburg in June 1871. The first four additions to Halsey were filed in Linn County, Oregon, on June 6, 1871, by E. Hayes; on April 19, 1876, Seth W. and Seth S. Hayes filed the second addition. The D.M. Cooper addition was filed on January 13, 1877, and the southern addition was filed on. Or before, June 29, 1882. This completed the general shape of the City of Halsey that we know today. William Lucas Halsey, for whom the town was named, died in Rochester, New York, on February 5, 1884. He had lived there since 1878. He last visited Oregon in September 1881, and owned considerable property in Portland. By 1878 about 400,000 bushels of wheat were being shipped yearly from Halsey. There was also a Planing Mill, a Grange Warehouse, and a Store. In 1880 the town had 306 residents. In 1900, it had 294. The next 20 years was apparently a time of growth and by 1920 the population had grown to 573. It remained fairly constant in the years after that. In more recent years, rye grass has become the leading farm crop shipped from the warehouse in and around Halsey. This area leads the world in the production of this agricultural seed product and it is shipped throughout the United States and to many foreign countries. In 1889, Halsey's first weekly newspaper, the "NEWS" was started, lasting only a few years. The "ENTERPRISE" began in about 1912 and was published until January, 1929. In August 1932, the "HALSEY JOURNAL" was founded. It was sold in February 1938 to Virgil Averill and renamed the "REVIEW." It continued to be published by him until the summer of 1951, when because of poor health, Averill sold it to Leo Giles. Various members of the Giles family ran the paper until June 13, 1963, when it ceased publication. The first school in Halsey was begun in 1871, before a school district was organized, and was private. In 1888, the school district built a school on the east side of the railroad, across the tracks from where the International Seeds, Inc. main building is now located. It had four rooms and four teachers. In about 1920, two more rooms were built for high school students. In 1930, a basement was built and electricity and a furnace were installed. The original part of the present Grade School was completed in 1936, to replace the old school building. Until 1957, the new school was used for both grade and high school classes. The last graduation from the Halsey Grade school took place in June, 1957. Consolidation with the Brownsville and Shedd School Districts created the Central Linn School District and a new High School was built east of Halsey. It opened in September 1958. For a few years the building in Halsey was used as an elementary school. It was remodeled and enlarged to the present size to be used as a middle school, opening in September 1977. With the closing of the Brownsville and Shedd Elementary Schools, at the end of the 1993-4 school year, the Halsey school became the only elementary school for the district. For many years, the biggest event at the school was the "Achievement Day" that was held near the end of the school year. This event was first held on May 21, 1927. A parade of floats constructed by school children and teachers went through the streets of Halsey. Members of the 4-H clubs exhibited their projects, including sewing, cooking, gardening, sheep, cattle, and horses. School work was also displayed. Prizes were given for the best work. Usually, a baseball game was played in the afternoon. Beginning in 1929, a king and queen, and their court were chosen by popular vote of the hight school. They presided over the events of the day. Halsey has had a bank since at least January 15, 1910, when the Halsey State Bank's "Articles of Incorporation" were filed with the Office of the Secretary of the State or Oregon. The founders of the bank were F.E. Stewart, Alex Power, C.H. Koontz, D. Taylor, and D.L. Stewart. For many years the bank was iin the brick building on West 1st Street, next to the old Library building. The Citizen's Valley Bank organization eventually bought the Halsey State Bank. A few years later this group of banks became a part of Key Bank of Oregon. In 1997, Key Bank of Oregon closed the Halsey branch. In March 1998, Pacific Continental opened a branch inside the Halsey Select Market. After a couple of years, this also closed.Before the Interstate 5 freeway was built in 1967, the main north-south highway through the Willamette Valley was 99E, which goes through the center of Halsey. It was a dirt or gravel road until it was paved with in 1937. The City Hall was on the west side of Highway 99, in the center of town. It was blown down in the Clumbus Day storm of 1962. For many years after that, Halsey used the old City Library building, that was built on West 1st Street in 1929, as a City Hall. In 1997, members of the Planning Commission considered converting the old Halsey Southern Pacific Depot into a new larger City Hall. It had not been used as a depot since the mid 1950’s when passenger service was halted in Halsey. In 1998, Smith Seed Company donated the empty Depot building to Halsey. It was moved in March of 2000 to City property at the intersection of Highway 99E and American Drive. It was finally completed in December 2012. Please read more about our Depot Project here.There is some misunderstanding as to the correct prounounciation of “Halsey.” It is easy to tell an old-timer from a newcomer. Most new arrivals say “Halsey” as if there is a “z” in it. It should be said as if it is spelled “Hall-See.”
“This farming community of 900 people has been linked with the railroad that runs through the heart of town since 1871, when William L. Halsey, vice-president of the Willamette Valley Railway Co., mapped out its first streets” -Alex Paul, Albany Democrat- Herald, December 11, 2012
Halsey in 1920
This aerial view of Halsey was probably taken from the top of the old water tower.
City of Halsey
A Short History of Halsey, Oregon
by Eldon Albertson
Used with permission by Mr. Eldon Albertson of Halsey, OR. All rights rewerved.
Photo of William L. Halsey, courtesy of the Yates County Geneological & Historical Society, PennYan,NY