Biography of Hon. Josiah Failing

HON. JOSIAH FAILING. – The name brought to our state by this venerable pioneer, now no longer living, will always be revered by reason of the virtues of the man himself, and of the extensive reputation of the family which he founded upon our coast. His great-grandfather came to America from the Palatinate on the Rhine, and settled in the Mohawk valley west of Albany, New York, in 1703. Mr. Failing was born on his father’s farm July 9, 1806, at Canajohane, Montgomery county, New York. When quite a young man he removed to New York City, where he married Miss Henrietta Ellison, with whom he lived as one flesh and bone for over forty-nine years. In 1851 he came to Portland, Oregon, and successfully engaged in the mercantile business until 1864, when he retired in favor of his son and partner. Mr. Henry Failing, now president of the First National bank. In 1853 he was mayor of Portland, and was a delegate from Oregon to the national Republican conventions of 1864 and 1868.

At a very early day Mr. Failing gave his attention to the subject of public schools in Portland, and during his life was a constant and firm friend of the same. Indeed, he may well be called the father of the public schools of Portland. Appropriately to his services in this regard his name will be popularly spoken for all the future as the designation of the public schools of Portland. Through his days Mr. Failing was distinguished for honesty, industry and for having consideration for the rights and interests of others. His life, prolonged even beyond the three score and ten of the psalmist, has been an example of well doing, which is a rich legacy to the city of Portland and the whole state. He was the first member of the Baptist church in this place, and was always one of its most liberal and firm supporters. His philanthropic and public-spirited labors may well be studied with a view to imitation by a people studied with a view to imitation by a people desirous of progress; for they are of that useful character which makes a city great and worth living in. His sons Henry, Edward and James F. at present occupy leading and honorable positions in the business and society of the Northwest, the former being one of the men of the city whose fortune is reckoned by the million; and, worthily to be added, his mind and character are deemed by the public to be a possession to them of even greater value.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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