A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

An Albany park’s name: Who was Eleanor?

Written March 28th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The plaque at Eleanor Hackleman Park looked like this in 2019. It probably still does.

In a story a few days ago I mentioned Albany’s Hackleman Park. But as I typed the words, I remembered the full name, Eleanor Hackleman Park.

Then I thought back to a photo I had taken a few years ago of the memorial tablet at the park’s southwest corner. The names on the tablet are D.D. and Louisa Hackleman, husband and wife. So where did Eleanor come in?

As is the case with many questions about Albany, the answer was in the files of Albany papers available on newspapers.com, in this case in an editorial of the Democrat-Herald that appeared on Friday, Sept. 13, 1929.

Two days before, the city council had accepted the gift of two city blocks from Mr. and Mrs. Denver D. Hackleman. The land was between Sixth an Seventh streets (they were streets then, not avenues) and Main and Pine streets.

They gave the city the land, said to be worth $3,000, “to be used for a children’s playground and city park to be supervised and controlled by the city council.” That’s how another Albany paper, Greater Oregon, put it, also on Sept. 13. “The donors reserved the right to name the park.”

Greater Oregon didn’t say what Denver and Louisa intended to call the future park. The editorial in the D-H did:

“It will be of interest to many person, we are sure, to state that the two blocks of land are part and parcel of the original donation land claim of A. Hackleman and Eleanor Hackleman, which formed, with the Monteith claim on its west, the site on which the city is located.

“More than this, the two blocks of land that comprise the gift are a portion of the Hackleman donation land claim that belonged to Eleanor Hackleman, who was Denver Hackleman’s mother and the first white woman ever to live in Albany.”

The editorial writer added that Denver Hackleman was born on that land “in the year in which Oregon was admitted to the union.” So, Denver was 70 when he and Louisa made their gift to the city in 1929.

The paper concluded: “It is entirely proper, therefore, for Mr. and Mrs. Hackleman to name the playground ‘Eleanor Park.’ It will be of interest to know that they are planning to so name it.  Particularly fitting will it be to perpetuate the name of that pioneer woman who braved the hardships of the early days and whose fortunes, with those of her husband, were so closely wrapped up in the history of Albany.”

During the century since, everything in the neighborhood has changed. The huge Veal Chair Factory to the north has been gone for 40 years. Now, a block to the north along Pine, volunteers are working to turn the old Cumberland Church into a community center.

As Eleanor’s name lives on in the park, the Hackleman spirit of benefiting the community does too. (hh)

Not much was going on at Eleanor Park on Tuesday, a cold day in March.




18 responses to “An Albany park’s name: Who was Eleanor?”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    Top notch story Hasso. Keeping in touch with history is a duty of citizenship, even though many pay scant attention, as is their right.

    But a park lives forever. Generations will benefit from you words and curiosity, because posts on the internet live forever too.

  2. Cap B. says:

    Thanks, Hasso, for your research and consequent story on Eleanor Hackleman Park.

  3. HD says:

    What happened to the rose garden that was part of this park for many years? It had so many varieties and lovely scents.

  4. Anony Mouse says:

    I wonder why the 1929 editor pointed out that D.D.’s mother was “the first white woman ever to live in Albany”?

    I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked by this given the racist history of Oregon, Albany, and the Hackleman district.

    White privilege was the law in mid-19th century when Albany was founded.

    And it looks like it was alive and well in 1929 when the editor chose his words.

  5. Sharon Konopa says:

    Excellent story, Hasso!

  6. CHEZZ says:

    I hope the plaque can be cleaned so we enjoy this family history and generousity.

  7. M.S. Campbell says:

    Yeah,I like bits and pieces of history too.
    Thanks for doing the legwork and sharing

  8. Verna Loveall says:

    Our whole family spent a lot of time at Eleanor Park. Many family reunions, Easter and summer get togethers and finally wakes as those that held us all together finally left us.
    Great story. Love the history and updates of Albany.

  9. David Morton says:

    Always enjoy your human interest, with a splash of history, stories of Albany and surrounding areas. I moved here in ‘90 believing this community to be merely a short pit stop on my road of life.
    33 years later, still here and loving this city and it’s fascinating history.

  10. Micheal Martin says:

    Hasso, my wife Kathy is a direct descendent and has tons of information on the Hackelman’s settlement and generations hence. She would be happy to share information on the park and other aspects of her ancestors if you wish.

  11. Connie Nelson says:

    HD in answer to your question regarding the roses at the park, the Albany Rose Society
    had cared for them for many years. The club ended up disbanding for lack of members.
    Those of us remaining were too old and too few to continue. Shirley Pierce was a
    fierce leader of the group and truly tried to keep it going until 2014.

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      That’s usually the case with most events and amenities that folks remember fondly. Usually a labor of love by many committed volunteers. When the thing goes away folks ask why but when the call is made for more folks to step up, crickets.

  12. Daniel Murphy says:

    Great story.

  13. Lynn Burkhart says:

    That was my favorite park as a kid we called it curly slide park, hence the curly slide that was once part of the playground, and it was one of the parks in town that had one of the small cement swimming pools that they would fill with water during the summer for kids to play in. Thank you H.H. I love the history of our town and have learned so many interesting things reading your articles.


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