Gervais is located within French Prairie on the Peter Depot land claim, Gervais was named after Joseph Gervais, who was a member of the 1811 Hunt party of the Astor enterprise. For a number of years he was a trapper and ultimately became one of the first settlers on French Prairie where he resided until his death July 13, 1861. Towns sprung up in this area in the 1850's from the Donation Land Claims act passed in Congress.
The pioneer, Sam Brown, one of the employees of the Hudson Bay Company, founded the City of Gervais (Jerva'). The city was named after him, and when the railroad came in 1870, businesses moved to Gervais. The family home, built in 1858, still can be seen located on 99E. Gervais farmed in the Willamette Valley between 1828 to 1832. 1874 the first town council was formed to deal with problems of law enforcement, streets and sidewalks. Gervais became incorporated by the State Legislation in 1878.