Plans for a sawmill were developed in 1855 by John Halsey Jones, seven miles west of Portland in what became Cedar Mill, a heavily timbered squatter's tract. Jones and his father purchased 183 acres from the squatter and later filed a donation land claim for the property near NW 119th Avenue and Cornell Road. Since Jones had previously received all the free land to which he was entitled, his parents, Justus and Lois, filed the claim. John and his eight-year-old brother, Elihu, moved to the area with their parents.
A small sawmill was built by Justus and John. Their mill, as indicated on an old road survey map, stood on the south side of Cornell near a 32-foot drop of Cedar Mill Creek. According to family accounts, power for the mill was supplied by a large overshot water wheel below the falls. Above the mill site, the meandering creek was dammed in a natural basin to form a mill pond.
John Quincy Adams Young was the youngest of six children when he arrived in Oregon with his family from Ohio in 1847. They made their way to Oregon City, and then finally to the Tualatin plains, where they settled on a Donation Land Claim near Orenco.
By 1869 JQA Young had married and moved to the Cedar Mill area, where he partnered with William Everson, another Ohio native, and purchased the sawmill from the Jones family.
Young and his family first lived in a log cabin on the mill site. He then built a salt-box style house nearby. In 1874, he sold his interest in the mill, and moved his family to a larger new home across Cornell. The original salt-box style house was converted to being used as the local post office and general store. This home is what we now call the John Quincy Adams Young House.
On January 29, 1894, JQA Young was appointed postmaster for the growing community. Cedar Mill History says, “Young’s small store, on the ground floor of his two-story former home, served as the first post office. Here the postmaster constructed a pigeonhole cabinet where patrons received mail delivered weekly from Portland. For his postal duties, Young received a commission based on the number of 2¢ postage stamps and 1¢ postcards sold."
The post office was later moved to other establishments, but the house survived. The property was eventually purchased by Stanley Russell, who built a new house next door and rented the house to a Mr. Peterson. It was added to the Washington County Cultural Resource Inventory in 1983. In 1993 the property was bought by the Cedar Mill Bible Church. The church adopted a master plan for expansion in 1997 which included plans for moving the house off the property.
Members of the community were alarmed to learn that the church had advertised the house to be free to any party who would move it to a different location. They felt that part of the historical value of the house was its location adjacent to the mill site. In November 1997 Sue Conger helped form a group that came to be called “Friends of the JQA Young House.” The group contacted the church to request them to preserve the house. Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) expressed interest in acquiring the house plus the adjacent Cedar Mill Falls in order to develop a unique community park.
In February 2005 the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District acquired the house and the a half-acre of land on which the house sits in a property exchange agreement with Cedar Mill Bible Church. In March 2006, THPRD's Board of Directors adopted a management plan for the house. Future plans call for fundraising programs to help renovate the house.