The Borthwick family papers includes diaries, letters, and business papers of Alexander E. Borthwick. His diaries and letters cover all the activities of his life.
In addition there are forty volumes of miscellaneous ledgers, cash books, journals, and copybooks relating to his various enterprises. Also included are the letters (1902-1948) of his son, William L. Borthwick, an engineer and Klansman. William Borthwick was married to Ruth Millard, stepdaughter of Alban G. Saunders of Redlands, California, and the letters and diaries of the Saunders family (1887-1920) are included in the collection.
The Borthwick photographs consist of a dozen family portraits and two albums: a portrait collection dated 1874 (tintypes and albums) and a snapshot album of Western mines c. 1910.
Alexander E. Borthwick was born Feb. 22, 1835 in in Schoharie county, New York, to William and Maria (Bushnell) Borthwick. He enlisted Nov. 16, 1861, in the Civil War in Company B, Fourth New York Artillery, and served until discharged on account of disability, August 28, 1862. On Oct. 1, 1863, having recovered his health, he reenlisted at Saratoga Springs, New York, in Company C, Second New York Veteran Cavalry, serving until Nov. 27, 1865, when he was honorably mustered out at Albany, New York. He took part in the Red River and Mobile campaigns and in several important raids in which he displayed the qualities of a true soldier. He was twice wounded, first at Marksville, Louisiana, and again at McLeod Mills, Mississippi, on the Davidson raid.
Following the war Borthwick After the war he attended school, first at Ft. Edward Institute, Ft. Edward, N.Y. then at Eastman's Business College, from which he graduated. In 1867 he went west. He assisted in building the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railways and was present on that historic occasion at Promontory Point, Utah, May 9, 1869, when the last spike was driven connecting with bands of steel from New York and San Francisco. In May 1869 he went to Nevada, worked in various mining camps, and then migrated to Canyon City, Ore., thence to The Dalles and Portland.
In Portland he worked three months as a school teacher and for a short time as stationery salesman. He was then employed by the Oregon and California Railroad on a survey crew. In 1870 he did survey work for the Willamette Valley Railroad, and on the Northern Pacific Railroad out of Kalama, Wash. Terr. In April 1871 he was appointed county clerk, Multnomah County, Ore., a position he held for three years, during which time he was married to Alice Case of Salem, Ore. In 1874 he was elected assistant clerk of the House, Oregon State Legislature. In 1875 he left Oregon, clerked for a time in Walla Walla, took an agency for a sewing machine company out of Walla Walla, and worked in various mines in eastern Oregon, notably the Virtue Gold Mine, near Baker.
In 1876 he returned to Portland and resumed duties as a county clerk, serving to July 1882. In 1883 he established himself in Portland as a real estate agent and sold land and homes in the Portland area. In 1896 he was appointed superintendent of the Multnomah County Poor Farm, a position he resigned in 1899 when he moved to Spokane, Wash. From 1899 to 1905 he dealt in mining properties in Idaho, eastern Washington, and Nevada, traveling frequently to inspect mine properties as far south as Goldfield, Nev. In 1905 he returned to Portland and picked up his real estate business, continuing in it until his death. Borthwick was an active member of the G.A.R., attended the theater frequently, and was active in the social life of whatever community he was in.
William L. Borthwick (1881- ), son of Alexander E., attended the University of California, 1902-1906, and became a civil engineer. From 1915 to 1918 he was employed in river and harbor work by the U.S. Army Engineers on the Columbia River and along the north Pacific Coast. He was later an employee of the Bureau of Construction, Portland. He was active in politics, and joined the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. William L. Borthwick was married to Ruth Millard, stepdaughter of Alban G. Saunders of Redlands, California.
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[Identification of item], Borthwick and Saunders Family papers, Ax 016, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.