By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Back, and Forth: For centenary reasons, ’22 a Linfield landmark

Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##This 1922 commemorative stone is located at the northwest corner of the Linfield University oak grove.
Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##This 1922 commemorative stone is located at the northwest corner of the Linfield University oak grove.

The year 1922 has a rich yet muted meaning for my alma mater, Linfield University.

The school reached a milestone two months ago, and there’s an echo of it in a remote corner of campus, a place I discovered on foot a few months ago.

It’s an engraved stone that thousands of motorists pass every day heading north on Baker Street, but few know is there. It lies at the far northwest corner of the historic oak grove — an open but rarely visited place in my Linfield days.

The stone reads:

“This stone marks the spot where the board of Trustees met August 2, 1881 and took action which resulted in moving (McMinnville) Linfield College from 5th & C streets to its present location, actuated by the gift of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Cozine. Presented by Class of 1922.”

To me it is one of the campus’s most hallowed spots, thus deserves attention as part of a greater centennial for the school.

To read the plaque, one must walk under some low branches and turn and face east to the Oak Grove, though I presume that 100 years ago, the rock was out in the open.

An early-20th century group of young people placed a solemn and permanent marker to honor a gift the Cozines made 41 years earlier. Were they moved to action because they themselves had been witness to results of a landmark gift in college history shortly before their graduation? 

According to  “Inspired Pragmatism,” Dr. Marvin Henberg’s illustrated history, published in 2006, the founding date of Linfield’s earliest forerunner, the Baptist College of McMinnville, can be considered 1849, 1856 or 1858 for various historic reasons. It became McMinnville College in 1898, Linfield College in 1922 and Linfield University in 2018. 

The renaming to Linfield College came on Jan. 10, 1922, based on a game-changing gift from the Linfield family.

I learned of the milestone date from “The Roaring Twenties at Linfield,” appearing in the Winter 2022 edition of the college magazine, which didn’t reach me in the mail until the centennial had passed. The article  was written by Rick Schmidt, director of archives and resource sharing.

Surprisingly, the centennial of the name change passed with scant attention from Linfield or the greater community. Other than the magazine piece, I am not aware of any note being taken.

But it was front-page news in its day. The Jan. 13, 1922, edition of the Telephone-Register, a precurser to this newspaper, reported, “Linfield Trustees hold best meeting in years; $250,000 puts McMinnville College on sound basis.”

George Linfield’s widow
bestowed on the school a historic gift: the value of property in Spokane, valued at $250,000.

Mrs. Linfield, then serving as dean of women in addition to holding a seat on the board, stipulated the Baptist-affiliated college must uphold its traditions as a Christian institution. She promised the money would be transferred in exchange for the name change.

The gift allowed the financially struggling college to retire its $10,500 debt and build important new structures, including Melrose Hall in 1929. 

According to Henberg’s book, “On Jan. 10, 1922, President Leonard Riley disclosed to the full board the terms of the agreement with Mrs. Linfield and Rev. A.J. Hunsaker elicited a unanimous vote for his motion that the institution’s name become Linfield College.”

The Telephone-Register reported that a trustee said during that day’s announcement in the college chapel, “The prayers of those who have labored before us as well as our own are today answered in presentation of a memorial gift of such proportion that will warrant another action we have long contemplated, namely changing the name of McMinnville College.” 

After lengthly applause, Frances Linfield told the assembly, “A person is running a race with himself, today is to be made better than yesterday and tomorrow is to be made better than today. I’ve been made wonderfully happy by the way the gift has been received and my only regret is that it is not larger.”

The administration declared a class holiday that culminated in a bonfire. The newspaper reported, “The new grandstand was occupied and many college yells were given and the new songs were tried. Truly it was a great thing for Linfield College and a great thing for the entire community.”

Here’s hoping the new Class of ‘22 hereby gains a clearer view of its centennial place in Linfield’s history.

Contact Kirby Neumann-Rea at or 503-687-1291.


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