L.B. HASTINGS. – Under the bluffs on the sandbank at the old place that the Frenchmen called La Dalles, in the autumn days of 1847, a company of wayworn immigrants was lying along the river side, the women at the tents, the children playing with the dogs and romping on the shore, and the ponies and cattle feeding upon the mountain. The men were at work day after day a whole month, with their axes and hammers, in making a flatboat from the pines that they cut form the hills. This company of sixty wagons had just come out of the infinitely long distance to the eastward; and when the craft, made with the woodman’s rude skill, was done, tents, wagons, equipages, women and children were all packed on board; and the clumsy, square-headed barge was set afloat, drifting down the wide river between stupendous mountains. Past Mimmeluse Island and past the beetling crags of Wind Mountain, it approached and reached the dangerous Cascades. Here was the portage. below that was the drifting and rowing to Linnville, and along the thickly wooded shores of the Willamette to the spot where Portland now stands, which consisted then principally of Pettygrove’s cabin; while behind it rose the forest giants, “black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream.” These amphibious travelers, or voyagers were LB. Hastings and company, – Hastings, the pioneer of Portland and Port Townsend.
There are men who would not given a nickel for all that a crow could fly over in a day of such a country as Portland and vicinity appeared to be in 1847. Hastings was not one of these. He bought a lot on the original townsite, and put up a log cabin. His first work was a contract to furnish supplies to the troops on the way to the Cayuse war. The following year the California gold excitement lured the Portlander to set out to dig for his fortune; but a detention of thirty days at the mouth of the Columbia decided him to postpone his trip until the next year. He then made ten thousand dollars in the mines, merchandising, not digging, and invested this capital in our city, purchasing a new stock of goods and buying more lots. But the summer backwater of the Columbia and the dense woods on the shores were proving unhealthful; and in 1852 Mr. Hastings purchased a schooner and embarked for the Sound. F.W. Pettygrove, T.A. Ross, T. Tallantacre and David Shelton with their families, and Mr. Hastings, sailed down the river and around to the Strait, finding a location at Port Townsend, Washington territory. Mrs. Hastings was the first white woman to set foot upon the beach; and the first house in the city was in process of construction. There the Hastings domiciled themselves.
Beginning now to create a city, Mr. Hastings entered into a partnership with Pettygrove in the merchandising business, and also took a contract for piling for loading vessels. he continued the mercantile business twenty years, until, in 1872, he felt the encroachments of age, and laid upon his sons his public cares. During his long residence there, he assumed his full share of public duties, serving a term in the territorial legislature, and as sheriff, probate judge and treasurer of Jefferson county. Subsequent to 1872 his large property interests required his attention. In 1881 he received a stroke of paralysis, which caused his death the following year.
He was born in Vermont in 1814, and spent his life on the frontier. The trade which he learned was that of dyer and wool carder; and he also taught school to assist him in acquiring an education. At La Harpe, Illinois, he met and married Miss Lucinda Bingham. Their children are all people of ability and distinction: Oregon C. Hastings, a photographer at Victoria; F.W. Hastings, L.B. Hastings, Jr., and Warren I. Hastings, respectively real-estate dealer, steamboat owner, and attorney at Port Townsend. His elder daughter, Mrs. D.M. Littlefield, also lives at Port Townsend, and the younger Mrs. A.G. Allen at Astoria.
Through his long and eventful life, Mr. Hastings was in the van of all progressive efforts, and sustained an unblemished reputation.