Biography of Henry D. Green

Green, Henry D., for many years a prominent figure in the commercial affairs of Portland, was born in Tompkins county, New York, October 16, 1825. Shortly after attaining his majority, in 1853, he came to Oregon and established himself at Astoria, in partnership with W. Irving Leonard. This firm purchased the mercantile
business house of Leonard & Green, which was established at that point in 1850, by John Green and H. C. Leonard, at that date the only mercantile house, except the Hudson Bay Company’s trading post, at the mouth of the Columbia river.

He remained at Astoria until 1856, when he closed out his business and removed to Portland. The city was then just beginning to be a place of commercial importance and his natural business abilities found a congenial field. In 1858, he procured from the legislature of the State and the city council of Portland the franchise for the present gas works of the city, and in connection with his brother, John Green, H. C. Leonard and Captain Wm. L. Dall, of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, completed, in 1859, the erection of the first gas works in Oregon, and third upon the Pacific Coast, those of San Francisco and Sacramento City being the only ones at that date in operation. He was the superintendent and general manager of the Portland works from their inauguration until his death and the prosperous financial history of this corporation was largely due to his sagacious generalship.

In 1861, Mr. Green, in connection with his brother and H. C. Leonard, purchased the Portland water works from the original grantee, Robert Pentland. At that time the whole plant consisted of less than one mile of small wooden pipe, and the source of water supply was the small stream in Caruther’s canyon, where a pump was located in the saw mill at the foot of Mill street. Mr. Green at once commenced the foundations of the present water system of the city. He was president of the company and at the date of his death, the corporation had grown to be one of the strongest in the city. The plant had been yearly increased to keep pace with the growth of the city until over thirty miles of iron mains, from three to thirty inches, had been laid within and without the city. The three reservoirs now in use and the substantial pumping works, with a daily capacity of 12,000, 000 gallons were constructed under his personal supervision. Besides these two corporations, he was one of the principal promoters of and a director in the original Oregon Iron Works Company, at Oswego, which company erected the first works for smelting iron ores and the manufacture of pig iron on the Pacific Coast, and which is now merged into the extensive Oregon Iron and Steel Company.

In all of the various public enterprises to which Mr. Green devoted the prime of his life, he exerted a powerful influence, and was one of the most public spirited citizens of Portland. He was a man of excellent business judgment and far-seeing sagacity, and one to whom the management of large enterprises furnished a fitting scope for his wonderful physical and mental energies.

The death of this successful and popular citizen was most sudden and unexpected. In the month of February, 1885, while apparently in his usual robust health, he made a trip to the Atlantic States. In March, while in New York, attending to some business engagement and expecting soon to start for his home, he was stricken down and died before any of his family knew he was ill. The news of his death was a shock to the entire community where for nearly thirty years he had been such a well known and prominent character. Thus suddenly ended the career of this genial hearted pioneer of Portland. Nature had dealt kindly with him, indeed. He was a man of commanding figure and unusually graceful person. He was a self poised character, a man who rose to wealth without resorting to oppression and one whose courage was only equalled by his modesty. Faults he had, as men have had before him, but they were those common only to men of generous natures. Kindly will he be remembered by all who ever knew the sterling worth of his character ; by all who came within the influence of a nature as frank as a boy’s and of a heart as warm and tender as a woman’s.

For years Mr. Green resided with his family in the lower part of the city, but, in 1873, he purchased at the head of B street one of the most picturesque of the many sunny slopes which girt the western limits of the city, known as “Cedar Hill.” Here with spacious grounds beautifully laid out, he erected a house, which for the majestic panorama of river, mountain and forest it commands is not excelled on the Pacific Coast. The adornment of this delightful site was an unfailing source of pleasure to him and the superb taste he displayed is evinced on every hand. It was, indeed, the fitting abode of a man whose chief delight was in his home and whose friends were a loyal legion.

Mr. Green was united in marriage in Portland, in 1863, to Miss Charlotte Jones, who, with four children-two sons and two daughters-survive him, and reside in the lovely home his artistic eye had designed, and which is hallowed by so many pleasant memories.


Biography, History,

Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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