1844-1847: Chloe Clarke Willson

Chloe Clarke Willson

Chloe Clark was born on April 16, 1818, in Connecticut. She came west on the Lausanne in 1839 as a teacher/missionary assigned to work under Jason Lee. Initially she was stationed at the Nisqually Mission on Puget Sound. There she met Dr. William H. Willson, one of that mission’s founders; they were married on August 16, 1840. When the Nisqually Mission closed, they moved first to Willamette Falls (now Oregon City), then to Chemeketa Plains (now Salem). Mrs. Willson opened the Oregon Institute in August, 1844 and was its sole teacher for the first three years of its existence. Leaving the Salem area after the death of her husband in 1856, Willson returned to the then chartered Willamette University in 1864; she served as Governess of the Ladies Department for three years, providing board at her home for female students. Her house, later named the original Lausanne Hall, was moved onto campus in 1880 to become the Willamette Women’s College. She died in Portland on June 2, 1874, at the age of 56.