Recently, this column ran the following squib from the Jan. 18, 1889 edition of The Daily Morning Astorian: “A post office has been established at Columbiaville, Columbia County, and John A. Walsh appointed postmaster.”

But where is Columbiaville? An internet search revealed zip. Nada. Just to give you some idea of what is involved to research such a nugget:

Betty Huber, the Columbia County clerk and recorder, had never heard of Columbiaville, either, and recommended asking the local historical society. Erin McCown of the Columbia County Museum Association was equally stumped, and asked the museum board. The president, Joanne Pellham, is going to look into it further. One director thought Columbiaville might have been Columbia City’s original name.

The museum association curator, Les Watters, referred the Ear to Ray Palmer, who has an interest in the history of the postal service. He’s away, but will look into it when he gets home, and in the meantime, alerted Ted Shepard, another member of the Pacific NorthWest Postal History Society, who offered to help.

Mr. Shepard was not able to come up with anything about Columbiaville or Postmaster Walsh, and suspects the post office order was rescinded — but there’s no record of that, either. Once again, Columbia City came up, having been re-established on Dec. 10, 1889, but the postmaster didn’t match.

Finally, the Ear contacted Shawna Gandy at the Oregon Historical Society. Columbiaville does not appear in “Oregon Geographic Names,” which means it’s very obscure, but the reference desk is going to do some research.

With all these fine researchers on Columbiaville’s trail, hopefully someone will find it. Stay tuned.

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Daily Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or

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