Gideon Lantz, whose wife was
Katherine Yoder of Pennsylvania, came to Clackamas County,
Oregon in 1873. Mrs. Lantz had a niece, Mary Yoder Swartz, and a
brother and three nephews who were interested in Oregon.
It was Mrs. Lantz's letters to her
niece that decided the Yoder folks, consisting of Jonathan S.
Yoder and wife with a family of six boys and three girls; Levi
D. Yoder and wife and family of five girls and three boys;
Joseph Swartz and wife and family of four girls and Asa J. Yoder
and family of five boys and three girls all from Dade County,
Missouri, to locate in Oregon.
Then John P. Yoder and family came
to the community 'in 1892. He bought his land in 1888,
consisting of 80 acres.
The niece, Mrs. Joseph Swartz, and
family came to Oregon in 1887 and bought 80 acres at Yoder.
In June of 1888, J. S. Yoder came
on a visit and located an 80 acres adjoining the Swartz 80 acres
that he would buy, provided he could sell his farm in Missouri.
By September of 1888 J. S. Yoder sold his farm and the plans
were made to move to the Yoder community in Clackamas County,
On March 4, 1889 J. S. Yoder and
family and Asa J. Yoder and family arrived and bought land in
the present Yoder district.
J. S. Yoder brought sawmill
machinery and at once began to erect a small sawmill on the site
where the present Yoder Mill is located. By midsummer the mill
was producing lumber for the neighbors.
The Yoder school district No. 92
was formed in 1889 and the Yoder mill furnished the lumber for a
school house. J. P. Yoder donated the site.
In 1890 the Smyrna Church was
organized and by much donated material and labor the church was
built and occupied by early 1891. During the 1890's the roads
were just dust and mud and all but impassible during the winter
months. The Yoder sawmill furnished sawdust for the mud holes
and slabs to form sidewalks all up and down the road from the
homes to the school and church. Mode of transportation was
afoot, horseback and horse drawn wagons.
Times were hard in those early days
and farm fields were small and stumpy. W. H. Yoder turned to
brick making and burned two kilns. The bricks were sold in the
neighborhood for chimneys and foundations and for walling
shallow wells. In 1897 the times were so hard that J. S. Yoder
sold his lumber for $5.00 per M. and at last, there being no
market for lumber, he acquired W. H. Yoder's brick making
equipment and turned to brick making as a means of livelihood.
The sawmill was maintained all this
time and earned what it could. In August of 1901 the original
sawmill burned, but the iron parts of it were salvaged and soon
the new mill was built. This was a larger mill with more power
and a planer was added to its equipment.
In July, 1914 this second mill
burned and again the irons were salvaged and put back into the
third sawmill on this same location.
By this time Aaron L. Yoder came in
as a partner with his father and for a time they sawed fir
shingles and ran a chop mill that ground grain for the neighbors
far and near. One night in the fall of 1934 the third mill
burned and for a time Yoder was without a sawmill, but not for
A. L. Yoder's son Nolan was now
ready to help his father rebuild, so the same old irons were
again salvaged from the ruins and today they still do duty in a
bigger and better Yoder Mill that is now operated by the
grandsons of J. S. Yoder, the man who came to Oregon with parts
of a mill to start the Yoder community 68 years ago—same
location, same mill, same owners, only of a third generation
Thus Yoder was started. In 1914 the
Electric railroad from Portland to Mt. Angel was built and
operated for some 10 or 12 years, but it had to give way. to
paved roads, trucks and automobiles.