William M. King Papers, 1832-1873  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
King, William M., 1800-1869
Title
William M. King Papers
Dates
1832-1873 (inclusive)
Quantity
2 cubic ft., (3 document cases, 1 flat box)
Collection Number
Mss 1142
Summary
Papers of a merchant, civic leader, and territorial legislator of Portland, Oregon. Includes correspondence, financial records, notebooks, and ledgers. Materials relate to King's enterprises, including the firms of Butler & King, King & Kittridge, and a lawsuit concerning King's work on the Erie Canal.
Repository
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
97205
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
libreference@ohs.org
Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for preparing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

William M. King, of English-Welsh ancestry, was born March 4, 1800, in Danbury, Connecticut. He lived later in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and finally Oregon. He married Mary Hadley of Middlebury, Vermont, by whom he had six daughters and a son.

In the course of his career, King was involved in a large number of business and civic ventures. He is first identified between 1832 and 1840 with the firm of King & [Hiram] Hammon, doing contract work on the Pennsyvania extension of the Erie Canal. During this time (1834-1836) he was a contractor at Rutland, Washington County, New York, supplying water, lime, and plaster for small jobs in that area. In 1837, with two other men (Joel Murray and Jared House), he bought a sawmill at De Witt, New York, sawing lumber and manufacturing water cement. King bought part of a mill at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1839, and in 1842 he purchased land in Palmyra, Missouri.

While living in New York, King was appointed a major in the 176th Infantry (June 27, 1835) and colonel in the 170th infantry (June 24, 1839). He was known as "Colonel King" during his later life in Oregon.

King brought his family overland to Oregon from Missouri in 1848, and settled at Portland. The following year he built Portland's first sawmill, but it was destroyed by fire shortly after completion. In the same year, he erected a frame structure at First and Oak streets which was known for many years as "The School House," because of the school opened there by the Rev. Horace Lyman in the winter of 1849-1850. Between 1850 and 1855, King was in the mercantile business, first in partnership with J. B. V. Butler (1850) and later with George Kittredge (1854-1855). King was a member of the Portland and Valley Improvement Company, and later he suceeded Thomas Carter as president of the Portland and Valley Plank Road Company.

In 1850 King was appointed Surveyor and Inspector of Revenue for the Port of Portland. He also served in the Oregon legislature of 1850, and again in 1857. The 1852-1853 legislature appointed King, Shubrick Norris, and Samuel Parker to act as a board of commissioners "to build and locate a penitentiary." In 1854-1855, King and Kittredge were suppliers to the Penitentiary Company.

An active Democrat, King was caricatured along with several other leading Oregon Democrats in 1852 by William L. Adams, in a locally famous satire, "Treason, strategems, and spoils." King was one of the nine anti-organization members of the legislature who, in 1857 and 1858, called a convention of National Democrats for the purpose of nominating candidates for state office. He died in Portland on November 8, 1869.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of correspondence, specifications, contracts, accounts of costs, bills, receipts, and papers relating to a lawsuit concerning the Erie Canal. Also included are pocket notebooks; accounts of the Portland mercantile firms of Butler & King, and King & Kittredge, a supplier for the construction of the Oregon's first penitentiary; and papers relating to King's partnership with Hiram Hammon, with whom he contracted for work on the Pennsylvania extension of the Erie Canal, the Chenango Canal, and the St. Lawrence Canal. Of special note is a toll book, 1850, of the Portland ferry across the Willamette River, and King's estate papers.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

William M. King Papers, Mss 1142, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series A:  Pennsylvania-New York papers, 1832-1846Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Letters
1834-1841
1/2
Letters
1842-1847
Hammon & King (Pennsylvania Canal)
Box/Folder
1/3
Contracts and specifications
1838-1841
1/4
Costs and lawsuit
1840-1842
1/5-6
Accounts, bills and receipts
1836-1842
Box/Folder
1/7
Legal documents, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri
1835-1843
1/8
General accounts, receipts, and other financial records
1832-1846
1/9
Pocket notebooks
Nine notebooks containing notations, mostly in pencil, including accounts of expenses, list of names (possibly laborers), and materials purchased. Probably used by King and Hammon as contractors for various canals in New York and Pennsylvania.
1837-1840; undated

Series B:  Oregon papers, 1849-1873Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/10-11
Letters to William King
Arranged alphabetically by correspondent, as follows:
  • Adair, John. 7 letters. 1851 July-December
  • Anderson, John A. 1 letter. 1850 October 19
  • Apperson, Milton. 1 letter. 1849 December 5
  • Bennett, Charles. 1 letter. 1850 September 26
  • Bush, Asahel. 1 letter. undated
  • Campbell & Boise. 1 letter. 1851 November 11
  • Chapman, William Williams. 1 letter. 1850 December 19
  • Conser, Jacob. 1 letter. 1850 December 9
  • Cooley, Randolph M. 1 letter. 1852 November 5
  • Deady, Matthew Paul. 1 letter. 1852 May 5
  • Dyer, Thomas Jefferson. 1 letter. 1852 December 30
  • Hastings, Loern B. 1 letter. 1850 December 17
  • Huntress, F. D. 2 letters. 1851 March 5 1852 November 3
  • Lane, Joseph. 1 letter. 1852 August 16
  • Lownsdale, Daniel H. 1 letter. 1850 January 13
  • Lynde, J. B. 1 letter. 1850 December 22
  • McEwan, William Layton. 1 letter. 1857 December 13
  • May, Samuel E. 1 letter. 1862 November 3
  • Moore, James M. 1 letter. 1850 June 21
  • Post, John Dennison. 1 letter. 1861 January 23
  • Powers, Trueman P. 1 letter. 1853 January 15
  • Pratt, Orville C. 1 letter. 1852 April 8
  • Reed, Cyrus Adams. 1 letter. 1850 July 3
  • Shannon, Wesley. 1 letter. 1850 March 30
  • Sherman, George. 1 letter. 1851 September 24
  • Simpson, Ben F. 2 letters. 1851 February 7 1852 October 13
  • Stark, Benjamin. 1 letter. 1851 November 12
  • Sugler, Abraham. 1 letter. 1851 March 23
  • Thurston, Samuel Royal. 2 letters. 1850 June 30
1849-1862
2/1
Deeds and leases
Includes list of selected lot purchasers in downtown Portland, 1851-1869; and deeds for Portland property purchased by William M. King from Daniel H. Lownsdale.
1851-1871
2/2
Legislature, Oregon Territory
undated; 1849-1857
2/3
Legal papers, general
1848-1869
2/4-5
Estate papers
1869-1873
2/6
Portland and Valley Plank Road
Summons to William M. King to work on a portion of the road.
1869
2/7
General bills, receipts, promissory notes, and other financial records relating to Oregon.
Includes an invoice to William M. King from Francis W. Pettygrove and Company, Portland, listing supplies purchased, 1849 Mar. 8.
1848-1872
2/8
Surveyor and Inspector, Port of Portland—Ship masters' protests
Includes certificate of appointment of William M. King, 1850.
1850-1851
2/9
Portland ferry toll book
Includes letter of transmittal stating that Uriah Williams, who had operated the ferry, was leaving for the California gold fields and thus entrusting the toll book to William King.
1850-1851
2/10
King & Kittredge papers
Primarily invoices, receipts, and other financial records.
1852-1860
2/11
Penitentiary Company—Invoices, bills, and receipts
1854
2/12
Ledger
Contains alphabetical list of grocery items and purchase prices.
undated
2/13
Payroll time book
1867-1868
2/14
Ledger—purchases for house and penitentiary
ca. 1851-1853
2/15
Ledger containing payroll information and other expenses
1861
2/16
Notebook with grocery account
Small notebook published by the Charles E. Hires Company, 1891, as advertisement for Hires Root Beer. Only one page of entries. Includes calling cards for Alex McAyeal, Dr. C. R. McAyeal, and Mark Schlussel, all of Portland.
ca. 1891
2/17
Payroll book
undated
3/1
Butler & King account book
Bound account book containing detailed entries for mercantile sales in Portland.
1850-1853
3/2
King & Kittredge ledger
1854-1855
3/3
King & Kittredge—Penitentiary Company ledger
1854-1855
3/4
King & Kittredge day book
1854
4/1
King & Kittredge day book
Includes William M. King Estate inventory and accounts, 1870-1872.
1854-1855; 1870-1872

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Canals--New York (State)
  • Canals--Pennsylvania
  • Ferries--Oregon--Portland--History--19th century
  • Plank roads--Oregon--History--19th century
  • Corporate Names :
  • Portland & Valley Plank Road Company--Archives
  • Geographical Names :
  • Chenango Canal (N.Y.)
  • Erie Canal (N.Y.)
  • Portland (Or.)--History--19th century
  • St. Lawrence Canal
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Contracts
  • Daybooks
  • Ledgers (account books)
  • Legal documents
  • Letters
  • Notebooks
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Butler, Joseph Bradley Varnum, 1809-1879 (creator)
    • Hammon, Hiram--Archives (creator)
    • King, William M., 1800-1869--Archives (creator)
    • Kittredge, George, fl. 1854-1855 (creator)
    • Lownsdale, Daniel H. (creator)
    • Corporate Names :
    • Hammon & King--Archives (creator)
    • Butler & King--Archives (creator)
    • King & Kittredge--Archives (creator)