Zena, Oregon

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Spring Valley Presbyterian Church and cemetery

Zena is a former community (now considered a ghost town) approximately 10 miles northwest of Salem, Oregon, United States, in Polk County. The community was established in 1858, originally called "Spring Valley". It was renamed "Zena" by Daniel Jackson Cooper and his brother Jacob Calvin Cooper, pioneers from Missouri. In 1866 they built a store and obtained the post office there, renaming the community in tribute to their wives (and sisters), Arvazena Spilman Cooper and Melzena Spilman Cooper.[1] Zena is home to the historic Spring Valley Presbyterian Church. The 1992 novel The Road to Zena by Joel Redon is set in Zena and nearby Lincoln.

Arvazena Cooper[edit]

Arvazena was born in 1846 in Cherokee County, North Carolina. She spent many years in Missouri and married Daniel Jackson Cooper in May 1861. Two years later, the family moved west and settled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. She and her husband had 15 children born in Missouri, Oregon and on the journey to Oregon. Arvazena died in 1929 and is buried in The Dalles, Oregon.[2]

According to Arvazena Cooper:

Grandpa [Elbert Emmerson Cooper] went over into Polk County during this week and got a place to stop at from Bolivar Walker. Afterward he bought a place from Nels Walling, paying for it with his outfit he crossed the plains with. It was at a place afterwards called Zena, near a church where Grandpa preached for several years."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Polk County Place Names Archived October 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Guide to the Arvazena A. Cooper Papers 1845-1900
  3. ^ by Nancy Cooper Thomas, Arvazena's daughter, in an addendum to Arvazena Angeline Spillman Cooper's Our Journey Across the Plains. This tells the story of the covered-wagon trip undertaken by Daniel Jackson Cooper, his wife Arvazena, their 18-month-old daughter Belle, and Daniel's father, Elbert Emmerson Cooper, across the plains from Missouri to Oregon during the "War of the Great Rebellion".

Further reading[edit]

  • Seven brothers and three sisters: Oregon children and descendants of Elder E.E. and Nancy Cooper. by J C Cooper; M P Cooper. McMinnville, Or.: J.C. & M.P. Cooper, 1913

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°00′32″N 123°07′42″W / 45.00889°N 123.12833°W / 45.00889; -123.12833