Collection: History of Portland Oregon

Portland Oregon’s Ships and Commerce

Many vessels crossed the bar of the Columbia in 1849 and a number came up to Portland. Of these none was more serviceable than the Madonna, from New York, under Captain Couch. This was his third trip out, and by far the most successful. His cargo of mixed goods was disposed of in part at San Francisco, his lumber selling for $600 per thousand. On board were W. S. Ogden, a prominent merchant of early times, and G. H. Flanders, a sea captain, before this in the employ of John and Caleb Cushing. Capt. Flanders is a man whose energy and enterprise have done much for Portland’s commerce. Reaching the city once more, Couch had his land surveyed and platted. It is said that in laying off a street he gave his half for the use of the public, but Stark refused to meet him half way; thus making A street but half width. It is also reported that upon the surveyor finishing the job, worth about $700, Couch offered him for his pay, two blocks on Second and Third streets-which were refused. The Madonna was run on the route to San Francisco by Flanders, and the firm of Couch & Co. were so prosperous as to be able to dispatch in 1850 the brig Emma Preston to China-the first from Oregon to China. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started....

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History of Portland Oregon Unitarian Churches

In the year 1878-79, the present edifice on the old site, was completed at a cost of $20,000. The former church building is now the chapel and Sunday School room. In addition to the Christian Union, above named, there are connected with the church a “Postoffice Mission” for disseminating religious literature, and the W. G. Eliot Fraternity of Young People. The society also supports a Mission Sunday School in South Portland with ten teachers and sixty scholars. The Unitarian Church of America, originating in the New England Controversy of 1820-30, is a small, loosely organized but powerful body, identified everywhere with intellectual freedom, the progress of science, and spiritual religion. It is a church eminent for philanthropy and great scholarship, and numbers among its members, numbers of the leading authors and reformers of the age. The German Lutheran Church was organized in 1868 by Rev. H. Meyers. Services were first held in Trinity Methodist Church. The first officers were: F. T. Lauterwausser and John A. Fisher, Elders; C. H. Meussdorffer and Henry Lansen, Deacons. The present house of worship, corner of Fifth and Taylor, was completed in 1870. It has a seating capacity of five hundred. The following have served as pastors: Revs. H. Meyers, C. S. Spricher, Henry Gans, G. P. Weaver and A. Meyers. Rev. Henry Doering is the present pastor. The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church...

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Value of Portland Oregon Property

“Between Portland and Astoria, one steamer, much smaller than the boats of today, made three trips each week and did all the job towing on the Columbia below Rainier. On the same route now two large boats ply regularly on alternate days, and over forty tugs and smaller steamers are engaged in towing and general work. ” The valuation of property reached twelve million two hundred and ninety-one thousand three hundred and fifty dollars. Wheat and flour exports were estimated at a value of about three million dollars. The population was estimated at nineteen thousand one hundred and twenty-eight, but this was undoubtedly an over-estimate, as two years later it was found to be but a little over seventeen thousand. The statistics which we have given of population have been taken from the directories of the consecutive years, and it is probable that owing to the excess of adults, too high proportion of total population to names was assumed. During 1879 improvements still increased, reaching a value of one million one hundred and sixty-two thousand and seven hundred dollars; consisting of two hundred and seventy-six dwellings, sixteen brick blocks, fifty-eight stores, eight hotels, six docks and warehouses, fourteen shops and stables, two schools, two planing mills, one brewery and the Mechanics’ Pavilion. The buildings of a value exceeding ten thousand dollars may be named as follows: The Union block,...

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Value of the Labor of the Oregon Pioneers

In the work of the pioneers, whose efforts we have been tracing up to this period, we have seen that already the country was practically the territory of the United States by the highest and best title in existence, the actual occupation and control of it by her citizens. This question was, therefore, virtually settled by the inauguration of the provisional government in 1843, but from that time until the treaty of 1846 was signed it was a prominent issue in American political life. Mr. Polk, the democratic candidate for President, made his campaign on a party platform, which declared that our title to the whole of Oregon up to fifty-four degrees and forty minutes north latitude was “clear and indisputable.” Negotiations were promptly resumed after the inauguration of President Polk, but the government elected upon a pledge to support and maintain the claim of the United States up to the latitude of fifty-four degrees and forty minutes, abandoned its position and made the offer of a line on parallel forty-nine, which Great Britain at once accepted, with a modification that all of Vancouver Island should be left in British territory. A treaty on this basis was concluded and ratified June 15, 1846, whereby the long disputed question of title and joint occupancy was settled. This acknowledgment of the American claim to Oregon was only a formal recognition of...

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History of Portland Oregon’s Educational Institutions

St. Helen’s Hall opened September 6th, 1869, in the building then known as St. Stephen’s Chapel, standing at the southwest corner of Fourth and Madison streets. There were fifty pupils on the opening day. By November 1, the number had increased to eighty and the principals, finding that they had more than they could do, called Miss Atkinson, now Mrs. F. M. Warren, Jr., to share their duties. Since then, the Misses Rodney have constantly taught in the school and continued to direct it, having had a gradually increasing corps of able assistants. Of them, Miss Lydia H. Blackler and Mrs. Mary B. Clopton may be especially mentioned, both having been very efficient in their departments; the one giving thirteen years of service and the other ten. Miss Rachel W. Morris, the very capable and energetic sister of the bishop, had much to do with the planing of the building and the organizing of the domestic department; and Mrs. Morris, the bishop’s wife, in the twelve years of her residence in the school, was also a zealous worker in behalf of the school. The main dwelling, which was to be occupied by the bishop’s family and the boarding department of the school, was not finished till November 27, 1869. The funds necessary for this building and for the various additions made to it, all came from friends of the church...

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Statistics of Portland Exports

Noticing some of the imports we find ten thousand bricks from England-evidently brought by way of ballast. Bags, also, were brought from England to the value of $79,086. The trade from China was very largely in rice, a considerable portion of which was for the Chinese consumers in our midst; 731,926 pounds. From the Sandwich Islands there were imported 160,839 pounds of rice; of sugar, 3,353,552 pounds; of molasses, 1088 gallons. This is evidently before the monopoly of Spreckles in California. During 1876 business rapidly revived and the general enthusiasm prevailing throughout the entire United States did much to inspire our merchants with new energy and confidence. More interest was taken in collecting reliable statistics and in showing the world what we were capable of. It was found that the exports of Oregon averaged three hundred and eighteen dollars to each man in the State. “With a population of forty thousand men, Oregon’s export of wheat equals one-seventh of the total export of the United States.” Eastern Oregon and Washington had now begun to raise wheat in large quantities. Wool figures as a very valuable product-the export being for that year 3,125, 000 pounds, worth $600,000. The salmon catch was also rising and exports from this source were assuming large proportions. In 1875, 372,000 cases were put up, and in 1876 this was swelled to 480,000 cases. Seventy-two vessels...

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Status of the Courts Prior to Territorial Government

The book was brought to Oregon in 1843; it was called the “blue book,” and was bound in blue boards. On the 27th of June, 1844, the Legislative Committee adopted an Act “Regulating the Executive Power, the Judiciary and for Other Purposes,” of which Art. III, Sec. 1, was as follows: “Sec. 1. All the Statute Laws of Iowa Territory passed at the first session of the Legislative Assembly of said Territory and not of a local character, and not incompatible with the condition and circumstances of the country shall be the law of the government, unless otherwise modified; and the Common Law of England and principles of equity, not modified by the Statutes of Iowa or of this government and not incompatible with its principles, shall constitute a part of the law of the land.” After the Organic Law had been remodeled in 1845, and the Legislature convened in August of that year, it was deemed advisable to re-enact the Iowa Laws, lest any doubt of their binding force under the new provisional government be entertained, and accordingly a bill for that purpose was passed, August 12, 1845. 1Or. Archives, page 101. At this time there was no printing press in Oregon, and though many laws were enacted it is not to be presumed that they were very widely promulgated, and perhaps the maxim that ignorance of the law...

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History of Portland Oregon’s Settlement

It is to be borne in mind that there was in Oregon an ancient circles of cities whose rise and growth belong to a day earlier than that of Portland. By reference to the chapter upon the earliest times and the provisional government, one will see that Astoria, down near the Ocean, had already been flourishing, amid its gigantic spruce trees and sea breezes, for more than thirty years, and for a part of the time figured as the sole American city on the Pacific Coast. It had furthermore so far attracted the attention as to have become the subject of one of Irving’s historical romances, and was reckoned along with Mexico and Cuzco as one of the great cities of Western exploit and renown. Vancouver, the most distant seat of the great English fur monopoly, whose proprietors sat in Parliament in London, and had Princes on the list of their business progenitors and patrons, had been in existence twenty years, and the chief factor who sat in its office and looked up and down the broad Columbia for the coming and going of his bateaux and the motley fleet of Indian canoes and pirogues, had grown white-headed in this long expanse of historic time before Portland had its first cabin. Oregon City, five years later (1829), was selected as a site for a city by Dr. McLoughlin, and...

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Portland Oregon Social Features and Noted Public Events

Portland Oregon Social Features and Noted Public Events: The Cosmopolitan Character of Portland-Changing Character of its Early Population-Their Vices and Habits-Moral and Social Conditions of Early Days-General Stability of Present Society-Culture and Refinement of the People-Public Amusements-Excursions, Public Festivities and Celebrations-Events Connected with the Celebration of the Completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

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River Navigation

In approaching this subject one finds that, as in all other lines, Portland has gradually become the center of all the navigation companies of Oregon. To indicate the sources of her present facilities it will therefore be proper to mention the efforts made in other places in our State which ultimated upon Portland. This can be done in no manner so satisfactorily as by inserting here two extracts; one of them being from a speech of Senator J. W. Nesmith, and the other from Hon. Win. Strong, before the Oregon Pioneer Association. The former is a racy narrative of the very earliest efforts at navigation; and the latter shows the origin of our steamboat companies. Both the men named were personally cognizant of the facts in the case. Says Nesmith: It is my purpose to speak briefly of the inception of our external and internal commerce, as inaugurated by the efforts of the early pioneers. Forty years ago the few American citizens in Oregon were isolated from the out-side world. Some adventurous and enterprising persons conceived the idea of a vessel of a capacity to cross the Columbia river bar and navigate the ocean. Those persons were mostly old Rocky Mountain beaver trappers, and sailors who had drifted like waifs to the Willamette Valley. Their names were Joseph Gale, John Canan, Ralph Kilbourn, Pleasant Armstrong, Henry Woods, George Davis...

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Provisions of the First Railroad Bill

The point of value in the bill was its land grant. Opposition to the giving of the public domain to corporations had not yet developed, and the subsidy worth $5,000,000 at the least was sufficient to induce capitalists to lend money on a work costing not more than $30,000,000. Great stress was laid in arguing for the bill on the fact that the Pacific sea-board was open to the attacks of a foreign enemy, and that to make the Union and Central Pacific railways effective in repelling invasion there should be a rail line parallel to the coast to allow the speedy dispatch of troops to any point threatened. As our relations with Great Britian were not very friendly in 1866, and France and Spain were also held as invidious, this reasoning had weight with eastern statesmen. Bankers seeking investments for the bonds and notes they held of the Government were readily led to look into the merits of such a road as that proposed. The point of difficulty was to get means to build and equip the first twenty miles. While the matter of $15,000,000 looked indescribably easy as it rolled off Colonel Barry’s facile pen, the matter of securing $40,000 in Oregon in ’68 was a herculean task. Most of the farmers thought they were doing well if they could produce one hundred dollars on demand. Of...

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History of Portland Railroads

  Portland is now well supplied with railway connection, not only with all parts of the Northwest, but with the whole of North America. She is the terminus of three transcontinental lines-the Northern Pacific, by the O. R. & N. and the Oregon Short Line, and the Union Pacific systems, respectively, and of the Southern Pacific by the Oregon and California Railway. She is also a terminus of the Northern Pacific on its own rails across the Cascade mountains and by way of Tacoma and Kalama, and, by the routes on Puget Sound, communicates directly with the Canadian Pacific. The Oregon Pacific, which is pushing out across middle Oregon for a junction in Idaho with still another continental line, although maintaining a terminus at Yaquina Bay, will also seek Portland, making the fifth line from across the mountains that ultimates upon our city as the chief, or at least co-important, objective. The next line from the East will probably come down the north bank of the Columbia, reaching our depots by way of Vancouver. Aside from these main lines, our city is also served by a number of local roads. Standing first among these is the Oregon Central,, to Corvallis, on the west side of the Willamette, operating a line ninety-seven miles in length. A still greater mileage is run by the Oregonian Railway Company’s lines, the Portland and...

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Reorganization of the Judicial System after the Creation of Oregon Territory

Judge William Strong arrived by water in August, 1850, and Judge Nelson in April, 1851. On the same ship with Strong came General Edward Hamilton, territorial secretary, who subsequently took up his residence at Portland and became an active member of the bar there. He was associated for some years with Benjamin Stark, under the firm name, Hamilton & Stark. Judge Strong’s district was the Third and was wholly included within the present State of Washington, and he took up his residence at Cathlamet on the Columbia. Chief Justice Thomas Nelson had the first district, but when the controversy about the “Steamboat Code” and the location of the State capitol was at its height, his district was cut down by the legislature to Clackamas county, only. He was a man of rather small stature, mild in manners, but firm in his opinions, and prompt and accurate in his decisions on questions of law. He was thoroughly educated, having graduated at Williams college and taken a course of medical lectures and spent some time in European travel before adopting the law as his profession. At this time the administration of justice by the Courts was much interfered with by the violent political controversies and partisan warfare that divided the judges as well as the body of the people. Amory Holbrook, of Portland, the District Attorney of the Second District, was...

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History of Portland Oregon’s Press

Portland has always had an industrious and vigorous press. The fathers of the city were not slow to perceive that among the things necessary to build up the city and make it known to the world was an active and enterprising press, and very soon after the city was started there was an effort to establish a newspaper here. The project was talked of for a considerable time before means were found of carrying it into execution. It was no easy matter to find a man who would undertake the publication of a newspaper in so young and small a community, and who at the same time possessed the ability and energy necessary for such a work. In those days there was not a newspaper in every village, as now. The business was yet to be created. Finally, towards the end of the year 1850, Col. W. W. Chapman, Hon. H. W. Corbett and others resolved that Portland must not wait longer for a newspaper, and that measures must be taken to establish one. In the autumn of 1850, Messrs. Chapman and Corbett were in San Francisco on a variety of business relating to the new city of Portland. The newspaper was not forgotten. Their desire was to find a man who had the means of establishing a weekly newspaper and experience in conducting the business. Such a man...

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Prominent Railroad Managers of Portland

There have been but very few important changes among those officials who have had to personally superintend the actual and practical operations of the road during the past twelve or fourteen years. Mr. E. P. Rogers enjoys the distinction of being the ” Pioneer of the road.” Most of those prominently connected with the early organization of the road are dead. Among those may be mentioned J. H. Moores, I. R. Moores, E. N. Cooke, Joel Palmer, J. S. Smith, S. Ellsworth, James Douthitt, J. H. D. Henderson, Greenberry Smith, A. L. Lovejoy, A. F. Hedges, W. S. Newby, J. P. Underwood, Gov. Gibbs, and last, but by no means least, Ben Holladay. To Mr. Rogers belongs the distinction of being the eldest officer now connected with the operating department of the road. He first came to Portland in 1870, and assumed the position of general freight and passenger agent, and the exacting duties of that position he has for the past seventeen years discharged with strict fidelity to the best interests of the corporation, and to the satisfaction of the general management. Mr. John Brandt is also an old and efficient officer of the company. Mr. Brandt came to Portland in 1873, and in July of that year assumed the position of general superintendent of the road. This position he has filled proficiently for the past fourteen years....

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