- King, William M., 1800-1869
- William M. King Papers
- 1832-1873 (inclusive)18321873
- 2 cubic ft., (3 document cases, 1 flat box)
- Collection Number
- Mss 1142
- 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.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
- 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
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The collection is arranged in two series:
Series A: Pennsylvania-New York Papers
Series B: Oregon Papers
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
Hammon & King (Pennsylvania Canal)
Contracts and specifications
Costs and lawsuit
Accounts, bills and receipts
Legal documents, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri
General accounts, receipts, and other financial records
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.
Series B: Oregon papers, 1849-1873Return to Top
Letters to William King
Arranged alphabetically by correspondent, as follows:
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.
Legislature, Oregon Territory
Legal papers, general
Portland and Valley Plank Road
Summons to William M. King to work on a portion of the road.
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.
Surveyor and Inspector, Port of Portland—Ship masters' protests
Includes certificate of appointment of William M. King, 1850.
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.
King & Kittredge papers
Primarily invoices, receipts, and other financial records.
Penitentiary Company—Invoices, bills, and receipts
Contains alphabetical list of grocery items and purchase prices.
Payroll time book
Ledger—purchases for house and penitentiary
Ledger containing payroll information and other expenses
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.
Butler & King account book
Bound account book containing detailed entries for mercantile sales in Portland.
King & Kittredge ledger
King & Kittredge—Penitentiary Company ledger
King & Kittredge day book
King & Kittredge day book
Includes William M. King Estate inventory and accounts, 1870-1872.
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Canals--New York (State)
- Ferries--Oregon--Portland--History--19th century
- Plank roads--Oregon--History--19th century
- Portland & Valley Plank Road Company--Archives
- Chenango Canal (N.Y.)
- Erie Canal (N.Y.)
- Portland (Or.)--History--19th century
- St. Lawrence Canal
Form or Genre Terms
- Ledgers (account books)
- Legal documents
- 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)
- Hammon & King--Archives (creator)
- Butler & King--Archives (creator)
- King & Kittredge--Archives (creator)