Bill Failing Jr. genealogical research collection, 1850-2017  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Failing, Bill, Jr. (William Latimer), 1940-
Bill Failing Jr. genealogical research collection
1850-2017 (inclusive)
1979-2012 (bulk)
1.63 cubic feet, (2 legal document cases, 1 slim legal document case, and 1 oversize box (13 x 16))
Collection Number
Coll 804
Materials related to the Brewster, Henderson, Holman and Failing families. The collection includes original historic documents created by family members, as well as topical materials related to genealogical history compiled by Bill Failing Jr. Correspondence, photographs, diaries, and articles make up a majority of the collection, frequently focusing on prominent local historical figures within the families.
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Henry Failing, his father Josiah, and younger brother John arrived in Portland in 1851 from New York. The Failings opened a small mercantile store, J. Failing & Co., on SW Front Street (now Naito Parkway) near Oak Street. In 1853 they were joined by Josiah's wife, Henrietta, and their three other children, including Edward (1840-1900). The business was a rapid success, and Josiah Failing was elected to serve as Portland's fourth mayor in 1853. Henry Failing later became majority owner of the business, focusing on hardware and iron supplies. In 1871, Henry Failing and Henry Winslow Corbett consolidated their hardware businesses, forming Corbett, Failing & Co. This business in turn would be consolidated in 1893 with Foster & Robertson to form Corbett, Failing, and Robertson. In 1858, Henry Failing married Emily Phelps, the sister of Henry Winslow Corbett. His younger brother, Edward Failing, married Olivia Burch Henderson in 1866.

William "Bill" Latimer Failing Jr. is a direct descendant of the Henderson, Holman and Failing families through through the marriage of his great-grandparents Edward Failing and Olivia (Henderson) Failing. Olivia was born in 1846 to Robert Henderson and Rhoda Carpenter Holman while they were en route to Oregon in a wagon train. She grew up on her family's farm in Yamhill County before moving to Portland in 1860. Bill Failing Jr. also maintained ties to Portland's Brewster family and extended relatives. His great-aunt, Elizabeth Ann "Lizzie" Failing, married John Conner of Albany, Oregon. Their daughter Elizabeth "Beth" Failing Conner was born in 1867, and married William Lewis Brewster in 1896. Bill is an active member of the Portland civic community, serving as president for the Oregon Historical Society Board of Trustees and chair of the capital campaign for the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation, in addition to other organizations.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection includes correspondence, original photographs, diaries, and articles regarding specific family members and general family history. A majority of the materials are contemporary documents created or collected by Bill Failing, often in the form of correspondence and written histories. Also included is a small amount of materials created by past family members, including Mary Forbush Failing, the daughter of Henry Failing and Emily Phelps (Corbett) Failing. Of particular interest are the diaries of Edward Failing on his ship journey to Portland in 1853, original letters regarding Henry Failing, and photographs of Josiah Failing. Also of note are several family trees, that trace individual lines to their Oregon arrival.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society owns the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Bill Failing Jr. genealogical research collection, Coll 804, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Brewster family collection, 1850-2012,   (bulk 1979-2007) Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Brewster, general family history
1 2
Brewster, Nan Montgomery
1997, 2005, undated
1 3
Brewster, William Lewis, Jr.
1979-1993, undated
1 4
Clark, Ann Brewster
1989, 2000-2003, 2012, undated
Conner, John
1850-1852, 1902
1 6
Rocchia, Elizabeth Brewster
1990-2007, undated

Series 2:  Henderson and Holman families collection, 1923, 1951, 1999-2017Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 7
Buell, Tom and Joan
2002-2006, undated
1 8
Deady, general family history
1 9
Deady, Lucy Ann (Henderson)
circa 1923
1 10
Deady, Matthew Paul
1 11
Henderson, general family history
1 12
Hoff, Clementine Elmer
2002-2006, 2012, undated
1 13
Holman, general family history
1951, 2007, undated
1 14
Strong, Curtis Clark
2002-2003, undated
1 15
Strong, general family history
1 16
Wright, Elisabeth (Strong)
1999, 2007

Series 3:  Failing family collection, 1853-2017Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
Cabell, Emily Corbett (Failing)
1872-1894, undated
1 18
Cabell, Henry Failing
1896-1898, undated
1 19
Cabell, Millie
1 20
Conner, Elizabeth (Failing)
2 1
Failing, Edward
1853, undated
2 2
Failing, Edward, photograph albums
2 3
Failing, family tree
1874, 1983, undated
2 4
Failing, general family history
1976-1995, undated
2 5
Failing, Henrietta Ellison
2 6
Failing, Henrietta Henderson
2 7
Failing, Henry
1864-1881, 1916, 1955-1985, 2009, undated
2 8
Failing, Henry "Harry" Robertson, Jr.
1918, 1978, 1993-2011, undated
2 9
Failing, Henry Robertson
2 10
Failing, Jane Johnson (Conner)
circa 1855
2 11
Failing, Josiah
1869-1881, 1969, undated
3 1
Failing, Mary Forbush
1920-1937, 1987, 2004-2017, undated
3 2
Failing, Olivia (Henderson)
circa 1901
3 3
Merrill, Henry Failing
3 4
Ritz, Katherine Fredericka (Failing)
3 5
Shepard, Ann

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Families--Oregon--Portland
  • Pioneers--Oregon--Portland
  • Social networks--Oregon--Portland
  • Personal Names :
  • Failing, Henry, 1834-1898
  • Failing, Josiah, 1806-1877
  • Failing, Mary Forbush, 1862-1947
  • Geographical Names :
  • Portland (Or.)--History
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Failing, Edward, 1840-1900 (creator)