Glendale celebrates Jewish heritage

The historical marker tells the story of the founding of Glendale by a Jewish immigrant in 1859 and a communitarian agricultural settlement called New Odessa in 1882.

Glendale is getting a physical representation of its tie to Jewish American history with a historical marker downtown that tells the story of the town’s founding.

The city will celebrate its history on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. in Memorial Park with cake and refreshments.

“It means a lot to us,” Glendale City Recorder Dawn Russ said. “It’s our history and we’re proud of it. We’re more than happy to share that with people and celebrate Glendale for the great little city it is.”

The marker placement was initiated in October 2017 by Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. He reached out to Glendale with the proposition to pay for a marker if the city would put it in a central, visible location and mention its Jewish ties — Solomon Abraham and New Odessa. The marker cost about $2,500, according to Russ.

Glendale was founded by Abraham, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who initially settled with his brother in Roseburg when it was just a few houses along the Umpqua River.

Abraham claimed 160 acres just south of Roseburg in 1865, which he called Julia after his wife, and built a sawmill with the intent to provide lumber for the California and Oregon Railroad construction. A disagreement with the chief engineer of the railroad ended with the town’s name changed to Glendale.

Only a few miles from Glendale, a group of Jews who immigrated from Russia with a utopian dream founded New Odessa, the first communitarian agricultural society in the U.S. They believed that life as farmers was redemptive, but the land did not have to be in Palestine, so they moved to America and got help moving West. Sixty to 70 men and an unknown number of women settled into communal living in 1882 on 760 acres of land Abraham directed them to buy.

The land was less than ideal for even experienced farmers and only 160 acres were cleared. They struggled to keep their communal ideas in an individualized country and had philosophical differences with a new leader, so they disbanded in 1887.

“We are celebrating the history and the marker,” Russ said. “Everybody’s really excited because we are part of history.”

Russ said Abraham’s great-granddaughter will be in attendance to mark the event. The date itself has no historical significance.

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is a reporter at The News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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