With Philomath's beginnings deeply rooted in the establishment of the United Brethren Church, it's a given that many of its early prominent residents were associated with the religious organization.

Nicholas Castle (1837-1922) was well-known throughout the country with "an enviable reputation as a gospel preacher," an obituary published in the Oregonian reads.

"He traveled over the coast territory by boat and horseback before there were any railroads," the obituary reads. "He was a great friend of Philomath College, and by his generous gifts had often aided that institution as well as nearly every church that has been built by his denomination in this territory and many elsewhere."

Castle was born Oct. 4, 1837, near Bristol, Indiana, and grew up in that state, with part of his education in a frontier schoolhouse. He entered the United Brethren ministry at age 19 in 1857 and served as a traveling pastor and presiding elder in southern Michigan and Indiana.

"I cannot remember a time when I was not impressed with this duty," Castle is quoted as saying in "Life of Bishop N. Castle," a book written by William M. Bell and published the year after his death. "I seldom, if ever, heard an evangelical sermon that did not move me to the conviction that the ministry was to be my work. When I was fully converted, these convictions deepened and became more authoritative."

In 1877, he was elected bishop and assigned to the pioneer missionary district on the Pacific Coast.

Castle lived in Philomath and spent the rest of his life in the small community, although he spent part of his time serving as bishop in other parts of the conference.

"Philomath is a little college town located in a beautiful valley in northwestern Oregon," Bell writes in his book on Castle. "The town is a quiet, refined place, just such as suits the nature and disposition of the bishop and Mrs. Castle."

The biographer described Castle as enjoying a simple home life with a "peculiar love for the snow-capped mountains that constitute the eastern boundaries of the Willamette Valley, and the whole glorious panorama was always in view from his front veranda."

Based on the book, it was clear that Castle loved where he lived.

"His home was at the foot of Marys Peak, and he often remarked that it was his wish to die with these great views at hand, since they reminded him of God and heaven," Bell wrote.

Castle died in Philomath April 18, 1922 and was buried in the family plot at Mount Union Cemetery.

"The day was beautiful and fitting for the last sad rites for such a beautiful character," the Religious Telescope wrote about his funeral. "The body lay in state in the Philomath College chapel from 12 until 2 o'clock. Many friends came quietly, and reverently took a last look at the cold form of him whom they had known and loved so well."

This is the first in a series of stories on prominent Philomath citizens. Readers are invited to suggest a subject by emailing the editor at news@philomathexpress.com.


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