Henderson Luelling began his trip West in 1847, a journey that would take him and his family across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Their wagon train contained several hundred fruit trees. They endured numerous hardships, but were driven by Luelling’s desire to grow fruit and nursery stock in Oregon. Lot Whitcomb, captain of the wagon train that brought them to Oregon, already owned the property along the Willamette River that is now the City of Milwaukie. In 1848, Henderson Luelling paid $500 to buy the land immediately north of the Whitcomb property from a Mr. Wilson. On February 5, the Luelling family moved onto what is now the Waverley Country Club property
To prepare the land for their orchard, they first had to clear it. During the spring—with axes and fire as their primary tools—they worked from four in the morning until ten at night and eventually cleared five acres. About 350 trees (out of the 700 estimated to have begun the wagon crossing) had survived the trip, and there were seeds also to plant for root stocks. Among the apple trees to survive were Gravenstein, White and Blue Pearman, Red Astrachan, Winesap, Baldwin, Gloria Mundi, Red Cheeked Pippin and a few others. Fall Butter, Winter Nellis and Seckle Pears, a variety of cherries (including the Bing cherry named after the Luelling’s giant Chinese foreman), peaches, grapes and plums, and a single prune. This orchard was the first of its type west of the Rocky Mountains and the first known orchard where grafting occurred. It was located in the area where the Waverley practice range can be found today. To the East of the range a residual collection of old fruit trees still remains.
Remnants of these orchards can also be seen in the pear trees left of the 10th green. In a letter written by George H. Himes, Assistant Secretary and Curator of the Oregon Historical Society to W.M Whidden, Waverley Secretary in 1910, Mr. Himes requested Waverley to provide a plot of land to mark forever the location of the first grafted fruit trees west of the Rocky Mountains. It is believed the Harry and David fruit tree line began from the Luelling’s original fruit stock. Mr. Himes stated at the end of his letter, "There are many historic spots in Oregon which ought to be marked, but none more than this." Waverley’s response was not found in historic documentation. Since the monument does not exist, it is presumed that Waverley politely declined this request.
Arboreal Ambitions Branch into an Empire Bearing Fruit
The Sunday Oregonian – August 24, 2003
To others along the way, Henderson Luelling’s 1847 trip west perhaps seemed like the Oregon Trail equivalent of carrying coal to Newcastle.
Nobody until Luelling thought to bring a wagonload of trees to America’s latest Eden, for obvious reasons: Oregon teemed with trees of seemingly infinite variety, shapes and sizes. But Luelling knew from experience the kind of trees Oregon lacked. Besides, like many other Easteners, he was afflicted with Oregon fever.
‘From my earliest recollection, my father was an enthusiastic admirer of Oregon as represented in the accounts of the travels and experiences of Lewis and Clark, and the reports of the emigrants of 1834-44 who wrote to the papers of the western states,’ Luelling’s son Alfred later recalled.
In 1845-46, Luelling sold off his holdings near Salem, in Lee County, Iowa in preparation for the trip west. In 1847, he packed his wife, Elizabeth, and their eight children and his future into four wagons, and the journey began.
‘Two boxes that would fit into the bed of a large wagon were built and filled with compost of charcoal and earth, a combination that Henderson had found would hold water better than earth alone.’ Thomas C. McClintock wrote in the June 1967 edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly. ‘In these boxes were planted about 700 grafted trees, including apple, pear, quince, plum, cherry, black walnut and shell-bark hickory nut, plus a few grape vines and gooseberry and currant bushes’."
A. T. Huggins, S. Graham Bowley, Joseph Pebbles and David Norris brought the game of golf to Portland by laying out a nine-hole course in the Piedmont District.
In April, Huggins and Bowley gathered with 23 other golf enthusiasts to form a club consisting of a level course of nine holes in the Portland’s Waverly-Richmond district. Waverly Golf Club was born. It became one of the oldest country clubs in the United States and the oldest continuously operated golf course west of the Mississippi River. The course layout was a task originally assumed by members. Later professional help was enlisted. Within two years they group had outgrown the modest course. Members, who paid a $1.00 entrance fee and $.25 monthly dues, decided to move the golf club to a better location.
Robert Livingston: Waverley's First President
Please click to view Past Board Presidents | 1896 - Present
On a rain swept Saturday in April 1896, Waverley Country Club was founded at the office of Robert Livingstone, thus becoming one of the oldest country clubs in the United States and the second oldest regulation golf course West of the Mississippi. Robert Livingstone was duly elected Waverley’s first President at a meeting of the founding members. Those charter members included Robert Livingstone, Robert Miller, Walter Burns, William MacMaster, Herbert C. Cambell, W.J. Honeyman, William R. McKenzie, J.I. Dunlap, S. Graham Bowley, W.J. Curtis and Charles E. Swigert. As the "Oregonian" mentions, most of the first members of Waverley were old country Scots and English who had played golf before coming to the Northwest.
The Waverly Golf Club came into being that day at Mr. Livingstone’s office. Originally known as The Club and then Portland Golf Club, it eventually gained the name Waverly. The "Oregonian" had called the club Portland Golf Club up to October 17, 1896 when the headline in that day’s edition stated "Handicap Tournament Begins at Waverly Links." This name appealed to the Scots since it is the name of Sir Walter Scott’s famous historical novels, the first of which is entitled "Waverley". Interestingly, in the novel, Mr. Waverley is an Englishman. Later the spelling was changed to Waverley.
1897 Waverley's Blyth Tournament
Please click to view Past Blyth Champions | 1897 - Present
Waverley’s Blyth is the oldest amateur tournament west of the Mississippi River. It was first played on May 1, 1897 between members of Waverley Country Club and their guests from Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. This international match predates the May 21, 1898 tournament between Royal Montréal Golf Club and the Country Club at Brookline, Massachusetts by one year and twenty days. The Massachusetts match was previously thought by the USGA to be the first international match in the United States.
The Blyth Medal
First awarded on May 1, 1897, the historic Blyth medal is one of the earliest known golf medals or trophies in the United States, and is possibly the oldest. The original medal is on display in Waverley’s history museum. The original was struck in Scotland and was presented to the club sometime after the first tournament by Percy Blyth’s uncle, Edward Blyth of North Berwick Scotland. Inscribed on the medal are the Latin words "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit". Translated, it means "no one provokes me with impunity." The phrase dates back to 809 AD to the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle and represented the highest honor in Scotland. Legend has it this order was founded when Achaius, King of Scots, formed an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne. On three occasions the Scottish government had to get permission from the Order of the Thistle to print "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit" on the Scottish pound. How this phrase was chosen for Waverley’s Blyth medal remains a mystery.
The Blyth Jacket
A highlight of the Blyth Tournament is the annual awarding of the green jacket to the new champion. This inevitably prompts comparison with the green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club. Augusta’s green jacket dates back to 1937. That year, members of the club wore green jackets during the tournament so that fans in attendance could easily identify them if they needed to ask questions. In 1949, Augusta members began the tradition of awarding the green jacket to the winner of the Masters Tournament. That year, Sam Snead won the Masters and became the first non-member to receive the green jacket. That tradition continues to today.
Waverley presented the first Blyth Champion’s green jacket in 1930. Interestingly, Bobby Jones was close friends with a number of Waverley members in the late 1920’s and visited Waverley on several occasions occasion to play with his friends including Sissy Green and E.E. "General" Johnson. Jones also spent a significant amount of time with Oscar "Doc" Willing and Don Moe as members of the 1930 Walker Cup Team. Following a lengthy voyage to England and after playing numerous practice rounds as a team, Captain Jones chose Waverley’s Doc Willing as his Walker Cup playing partner. Willing’s strong performance contributed significantly to the U.S. victory that year. Waverley member Don Moe traveled with Jones on every stop along the way to his historic Grand Slam and kept a wonderful journal of this journey. Portions of his journal can be read in the history display on Don Moe located in the Men’s Locker Room. On the day of Bobby Jones ticker-tape parade in New York, Don Moe was riding in the car behind Bobby Jones with Jones’ mother and father. Waverley’s History Committee has collected photographs of the Walker Cup team as well as photos of Jones with Chandler Egan and Lawson Little who were also close friends. Recently the Club discovered a book on the golf swing highlighting Mr. Jones and Waverley member Frank Dolp. It is suspected Jones may have got the idea for the Augusta jacket from his longtime association with Waverley and his friends who were members.
Waverly Golf Club was relocated along the East bank of the Willamette River, between Sellwood and Milwaukie, on what was formerly the Luelling orchard. This orchard was the site of the earliest grafted fruit orchard west of the Mississippi River. At that time the course went by two names, the "Riverside Links" or the "Portland Golf Club". Articles appearing in The Oregonian newspaper referred to it simply as "The Links". At first, nine holes were designed. Soon thereafter it was expanded to eighteen.
A clubhouse, rare for golf courses at the time, was erected and included one of the first Pro Shops in the United States. This modest facility was located about 35 feet south of Ochoco Street between 10th and 11th streets near what today is the north edge of the property. The practice putting green was located where the 15th green is today. By 1902, the clubhouse added a dancehall, lounge and grill and a women’s locker room on the second floor. This early clubhouse made it possible for the growing membership to hold social events, such as dinner dances, holiday parties, teas and luncheons for members and their guests.