Biography of Hiram Terwilliger
Oregon Biographies





HIRAM TERWILLIGER.
The student of history cannot carry his investigation far into the records of Oregon without learning of the close connection of the Terwilliger family with the development and upbuilding of the state. Hiram Terwilliger was long associated with mining and ranching interests here and from pioneer times representatives of the name have taken active part in the work of public improvement along many lines. They were Illinois people who cast in their lot with the early settlers, becoming associated with the first white men who took up their abode in the Willamette valley. Prior to living in Illinois, the family had come from Ohio and it was at Vernon, Knox county, Ohio, that Hiram Terwilliger was born on the sixth of March, 1840, his parents being James and Sophronia (Hurd) Terwilliger. Both of his parents were of Dutch descent and the Terwilliger family, as indicated by early colonial records, were among the first settlers of New York. The great grandmother of Hiram Terwilliger in the paternal line was owner of a large tract of land on the site where New York City now stands. James Terwilliger, the father, became a blacksmith of Knox county, Ohio, where he resided until 1841, and then removed westward to Illinois, settling in Hancock county on the Mississippi river. This attractive district had already won the favorable attention of the Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, who there established a colony of the Latter day Saints, who at Nauvoo erected a temple and planted homes. This aroused great antagonism among the residents of that section of the state, but for several years the Mormons continued to arrive and settle there from the east end of Europe. At length James Terwilliger sold his farm and joined the Latter day Saints on their emigration to the northwest. This was before the time of the gold excitement, and farming, fur trading and merchandising constituted the only business pursuits known in the great region between the Mississippi river and the Pacific coast. Mr. Terwilliger started upon the long journey with a team of four oxen and an emigrant wagon, in which were his wife and four children. He left his old home in April and it was not until October that he reached his destination, and his wife had succumbed to the hardships of the trip, dying while en route. On reaching the Willamette valley James Terwilliger erected a log cabin, on what is now the corner of First and Morrison streets in Portland, and also built a blacksmith shop, being the first to open a smithy in this city, which at that time was a tiny hamlet giving little promise of its future development and growth. In 1847 Mr. Terwilliger was married to Mrs. Palinda Green, and in 1850 the family home was established in South Portland on a tract of six hundred and forty acres of land that is now within the corporation limits of this city. He afterward obtained the property as a donation claim and eighty one acres of the original tract was in possession of Hiram Terwilliger to the time of his death and was the site of his home. The growth of the city greatly increased the value of the property and portions of the original claim were sold from time to time for residence purposes.

Mr. Terwilliger was keenly interested in public affairs in the early days and did not a little to shape public thought, action and progress. He served as a colonel of the State Militia and enjoyed the highest respect of all of his associates, who were among the substantial citizens of Portland. He died in 1890 at the advanced age of eighty four years, and thus passed on one who had been a connecting link between the pioneer past and the progressive present. The tract of land now known as Terwilliger Park was originally donated to the city for cemetery purposes but later was dedicated to its present use and is a permanent monument to a man who was the first to discern the possibilities of Portland as an attractive site for a growing city.

Hiram Terwilliger was but five years of age when he accompanied his parents on the long arduous journey across the plains and over the mountains to the beautiful Willamette valley. During his lifetime he witnessed a marvelous transformation in what was first a wilderness, and lived to see a flourishing and beautiful city rise on the site of the old homestead farm which he occupied in his boyhood days. He pursued his early education in the public schools of Portland and at Forest Grove, and continued to remain in Oregon until 1862, when he went to the mines of Idaho and later spent four years in a logging camp in Oregon. He likewise devoted three years to a seafaring life, sailing along the coast, and for a year and a half, beginning in 1869, he conducted a feed and grocery store in Portland. In 1870 he became interested in the dairy business in Tillamook county, where he continued for four years but finally took up his abode in Portland on a beautiful tract of an acre and a half, which he owned until his death. He was likewise the owner of seventy five acres of valuable Portland property and had an interest on the corner of First and Morrison streets, where his father had originally opened his blacksmith shop. He was one of the men of affluence in this city and at all times carefully and successfully managed his business affairs.

On the 12th of July, 1869, in Tillamook, Oregon, Mr. Terwilliger was united in marriage to Miss Mary Edwards, a daughter of Joseph and Margaret Edwards, who crossed the plains in 1862 and settled in Tillamook. Mrs. Terwilliger was born in Keokuk, Iowa, and has now passed away. They became the parents of four children: James and Joseph, both of Portland; Charlotte, the wife of Frank Butz, and the mother of two daughters, Latha and Ethel; and Virtue, the wife of Edward Rogers of Portland, her family now numbering three children, Ruth, George and Mildred. The death of Mr. Terwilliger occurred April 18, 1918 while his wife survived a little more than a year, passing away October 26, 1919.

When Mr. Terwilliger had been a resident of Portland for seventy years the Oregonian wrote an interesting article concerning him as follows: "To practically every inhabitant of Portland the name of Terwilliger is known, largely through its association with the modern drive, Terwilliger boulevard, that winds in and out in the hills of South Portland; but to a scant hundred persons the name of Hiram Terwilliger is inseparable from the history of Portland since its foundation. For just seventy years ago he came to Portland, or rather passed through the dense wilderness where Portland now stands, and at the age of five years began a career probably unequaled by any other living man. As a child he had only Indians for playmates and he learned to 'speak jargon better than English.' Mr. Terwilliger does not see Portland as it is today, he remembers only the time when 'Uncle Johnny' Stephens lived across the river; when Clinton Kelley lived farther east; when Phineas Carruthers lived north of his father's homestead and when a G. H. Quimby, Mr. Pettygrove and all the others were Portland's first citizens. Hem is a republican but never sought political office. He ran for the legislature one session, was defeated by one vote, so decided that was enough for him He decries modern social and political conditions and wishes that the whole scene could be changed and he could 'live again the days when every one was a neighbor to every one else; when each man had an equal amount of property and privilege and no one was trying to wrest what you had from you through legal technicality!'" Through his entire life Mr. Terwilliger enjoyed the confidence and goodwill of those with whom he had long been associated. That his lift was an upright and honorable one is indicated in the fact that his stanchest friends were those who had known him from his boyhood days, and it was with deep regret that Portland chronicled the passing of this honored pioneer settler.

From:
History of Oregon Illistrated
Vol. 2
BY: Charles H. Carney
The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company
Chicago - Portland 1922


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Oregon
Biographies

Online
Biographies

California
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012