It was the lure of land that enticed settlers to what would later be known as Gresham. The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 granted 320 acres of free land to pioneers who wanted to homestead.
Before 1884, Gresham was named Powell Valley after one of the first settler families in the area.
Many early pioneer family names are still recognizable as street and road names including: Powell Boulevard, Regner Road, Roberts Avenue, Palmquist Road and Shattuck Way.
Becoming a City
In 1884 business owner Benjamin Rollins petitioned Postmaster General Walter Q. Gresham for a post office. Rollins suggested naming the burgeoning town after the postmaster. A second petition was circulated to have the town named “Camp Ground” instead. The postmaster was swayed by the suggestion to the name the community in honor of him.
Gresham elected its first mayor and city council in 1904. Permission to incorporate Gresham was granted by the state on Feb. 11, 1905. Gresham’s first city hall was built for $3,000 in 1912 at the corner of Powell and Roberts.
Explore Gresham’s History
To learn more about Gresham visit the Gresham Historical Society, located in the historic Carnegie Library building at 401 N. Main Ave.
To see how early Gresham families lived tour the historic Zimmerman House. The Zimmerman family lived on the farm continuously from 1869 until 1992. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
See Our History