Biography of Francis W. Pettygrove

FRANCIS W. PETTYGROVE. – The greatest respect and admiration is due the memory of the men and women who came to the Pacific Northwest when it was the home of Indians, and mountain men and a few traders, almost as wild, to plant homes and lay the foundation of the empires of Oregon and Washington, now so prosperous, and in fact fast verging into the garden spots of the union. They dared much when they accepted the role of pioneers. Among those who came in the earlier emigrations was the gentleman whose name heads this brief sketch. He was a native of Maine, having been born at Calais in that state, in 1812. From that time until 1842 his time was taken up in securing an education, and in fitting himself for an active, useful and honorable future career.

In the latter year he accepted an offer of a mercantile firm in the East to bring to Oregon a stock of goods, open up a store and act as their agent. After getting the merchandise on board of the ship Victoria, he set sail in her for the far-off West via Cape Horn and the Sandwich Islands. On his arrival at the islands, he transferred his goods to the bark Farna and not long thereafter found himself in the Columbia, the vessel having anchored near Vancouver. There he was compelled to remain for some two weeks on account of lack of transportation facilities for getting his goods up the Willamette to Oregon City, his ultimate destination; when he secured the services of a small schooner from the Hudson’s Bay Company and embarked for his adopted home.

On his arrival there he opened out his wares, and until he disposed of his tore met with flattering success. In connection with merchandising he interested himself in the fur trade, and erected a warehouse at Champoeg and controlled the wheat yield of French Prairie. He was one of the first owners of the claims on which Portland now stands, and has the honor of having named that foremost metropolis of the Northwest. At the time of founding that city, he wished to call it Portland after the capital of his native state; and A.L. Lovejoy, who was part owner in the property, desired that it should be christened Boston after the “Hub.” To settle it they agreed to toss a penny, the winner to name the town; and our subject proved to be the fortunate winner.

In 1844 there was formed the Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club, its objects being to discuss the whole round of literary and scientific pursuits, as well as matters of local moment. On the roll of membership were the names of the most foremost of the pioneers. The scheme to establish the Provisional government was first discussed in that society; and, when such régime was inaugurated, its members were the foremost in shaping its destiny and upholding its authority.

In 1851 Mr. Pettygrove sold out his interests in Portland and removed with his family to Port Townsend, where he resided until his death in 1887. He was united in marriage in 1842 to Miss Sophia Roland, just prior to his leaving the East for Oregon, the fruits of the union being seven children, three sons and four daughters.

Few men of those early days did more or exerted a wider or deeper influence upon the times and people than Mr. Pettygrove, either socially, morally or for the welfare in anywise of the community. And in his death the Pacific Northwest lost one of her best and most sturdy, capable and upright citizens.



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

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