Historical Tour

Historical Tour: Explore Portland's Rich History


Back in 1882 a group of Portland families organized the non-profit River View Cemetery Association - mutually owned by those who choose this as the eternal resting place for loved ones.

These Portland people were leaders in the community and many streets and buildings carry their names today Corbett, Ladd, Failing, Benson, Terwilliger, Pittock, to name a few.

River View was to be the primary cemetery for the growing riverfront town of Portland.


River View Cemetery Founded




George Abernethy was born on October 7, 1807 in New York City. Abernethy travelled to Oregon in 1840 and was placed in charge of the Methodist Mission's mercantile business in Oregon City. Among his early accomplishments were building the first warehouse in the Oregon Territory and establishing the first newspaper, the Oregon Spectator in the Oregon Territory.

On June 3, 1845, Abernethy was elected to serve as first Provisional Governor of the Oregon Country, defeating Osborne Russell, a member of the outgoing Executive Committee. As provisional governor, Abernethy worked to build roads, levied the first property taxes, and sent representatives of the Provisional Government to Washington, D.C. to lobby for official U.S. territorial status. He was reelected in 1847 with the endorsement of the influential Dr. John McLoughlin over Asa Lovejoy, co-founder of Portland. The Abernethy administration ended in 1849.

Abernethy died March 2, 1877 and he was transferred from a Vancouver area cemetery to River View Cemetery for re-interment in 1883.

Today, the Abernethy Bridge in Oregon City is named in his honor. The end of the Oregon Trail, also in Oregon City, lies near an area known as Abernethy Green.


George Abernethy
Oct. 7, 1807 to Mar. 2, 1877
(Re-interment at River View Cemetery in 1883)
Provisional Governor of Oregon Country




Born on October 3, 1809, New York native James Terwilliger filed a property claim in 1846, immediately south of the Caruthers property. Within the Portland townsite, he also bought four lots from Francis Pettygrove and built a blacksmith shop and the second log house in Portland, near First and SW Yamhill streets, where he resided before joining the California Gold Rush in 1848.

Returning in 1849, with a modest supply of gold dust, he and his family settled on his wooded claim, which he filed under the Donation Act. Reporting property assets of $10,000 in 1860, he farmed his land, ran a small tannery and regularly visited his Portland holdings. Terwilliger Boulevard is named after him.

Terwilliger died on September 1, 1892.


James Terwilliger
Oct. 3, 1809 to Sept. 1, 1892
Portland Land Owner




William S. Ladd sailed for Oregon from New York in 1851 at age 24. Determination and hard work brought rapid success to his mercantile business, which was further strengthened by forming a partnership with Charles Tilton, a San Francisco businessman. In 1859, they formed Ladd & Tilton Bank, a bank that played a large part in the growth and industrialization of Portland.

In 1853, he was elected to the Portland City Council and in 1854, became mayor. He was active in real estate, owning many lots and buildings in Portland, and numerous farms around the state. He once controlled three-quarters of the entire flour-milling business in the Pacific Northwest and a controlling interest in Oregon Railway and Navigation Co. Renowned for his honesty, it was said of him that "his word was as good as another man's bond." Known as a friend of churches and charities, his gifts and donations were many, including establishing several scholarships at Willamette University; and providing strong support for the Portland library Association. Along with several other Portland pioneers, he helped establish the River View Cemetery Association and served as the first Vice-President of the Board of Trustees, from 1883 until 1892.


William S. Ladd
Oct. 10, 1826 to Jan. 6, 1893
Charter Trustee and Vice-President
River View Cemetery Association Board of Trustees




In 1851, at age 17, Henry Failing came to Portland from New York with his father, Josiah, who opened J. Failing & Co., a wholesale farm-supply company. Having worked the five previous years in a leading New York dry-goods house, Henry was well trained to assist his father. Within two years, they had cornered the nail market in Portland and were soon selling large quantities of imported ironware.

He took over his father's business at age 30 and operated it alone until forming a partnership with Henry W. Corbett in 1871, known as Corbett, Failing & Co. they purchased a controlling interest in the First National bank of Portland, the Northwest's largest bank of the time. He was active in politics, chairing the Oregon republican committee from 1860 to 1862. In 1864 and again in 1875, he was elected Mayor of Portland. Although he did not pursue the positions, he was prominently considered for the U.S. Senate and as Secretary to the Treasury in President Harrison's cabinet. In 1858, Henry married Henry Corbett's younger sister, Emily, further binding the two families whose influence on Portland's history lasted for over a half century. He helped establish River View Cemetery Association and served as a Trustee on the Charter Board of Trustees, from 1883 until his death in 1898.


Henry Failing
Jan. 17, 1834 to Nov. 8, 1898
Charter Trustee
River View Cemetery Association Board of Trustees




Henry W. Corbett came to Portland in 1851, embarking in the general mercantile business. He prospered quickly and along with a number of other local businessmen, dominated the economic, political and social life of early Portland. He was an original stockholder and later President of First National Bank of Portland, the largest Northwest bank at the time.

His many activities included: serving on the Board of Directors of the City & Suburban Railway Co.; President of the Lewis & Clark Exposition Board of Directors; President of Willamette Steel & Iron Works; and assisting with building the Portland Hotel Co., on of the west coast's finest hotels. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1867 to 1873, securing appropriations for Oregon, such as the Portland Post Office and the Astoria Custom House. An indomitable, energetic, resourceful pioneer, he contributed to the development of Portland to a degree surpassed by few others. Recognizing Portland's need for a quality cemetery, he and several other area pioneers established the River View Cemetery Association. He sold the Association the parcel of land that became River view Cemetery and served as President of the First Board of Trustees from 1883 until his death in 1903.


Henry W. Corbett
Feb. 18, 1827 to Mar. 31, 1903
Charter Trustee and President
River View Cemetery Association Board of Trustees




Henry Weinhard was a German-American brewer in Oregon. He worked for others in the beer business before buying his own brewery and founded Henry Weinhard's and built the Weinhard Brewery Complex in downtown Portland.

Weinhard was born and raised in Germany. In 1851, he immigrated to the United States, landing in New York City. Weinhard moved to Philadelphia where he worked for a year in the brewing business before moving west to Cincinnati, Ohio. After two years in Ohio, he moved west again to St. Louis Missouri, where he stayed until 1856. During this time in America he worked as a brewer for others while preparing his own beer recipes.

In 1862, Weinhard permanently moved to Portland and bought the Henry Saxer Brewery and then partnered with George Bottler to build a new brewery in what is now Northwest Portland. He also bought Portland's oldest brewery, the Liberty Brewery, and continued expansion of the Portland operations, then called the City Brewery. By 1890 the brewery was the largest in the Pacific Northwest and had grown from producing 2,000 barrels per year to 40,000 barrels that year.

In 1859, Weinhard married Louisa Wagenblast, and they had two daughters. A Mason, he was also a member of several German societies in Portland. This included helping to found the Portland German Aid Society, with other civic activities including providing funds to build a church adjacent to the brewery. Other business interests outside of the brewery included stakes in the Portland Hotel, the West Side Railway, and the New Grand Central Hotel. Although declined by the city, Weinhard offered to pump free beer to be used in the Skidmore Fountain for its dedication in 1887. Henry Weinhard died on September 20, 1904 at the age of 74. The brewery he built remained open in Portland until 1999.


Henry Weinhard
Feb. 18, 1830 to Sept. 20, 1904
Founder of
Weinhard Brewing Company




Virgil Earp, born on July 8, 1843, who survived the famous 1881 gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona without a scratch, rests beneath a variegated holly tree in River View Cemetery. Earp's first wife, Ellen, was told that her husband Virgil, a Union soldier, had been killed in the Civil War, so she remarried and moved to Portland with their young daughter, Nellie Jane, in 1864. The family was reunited when Virgil Earp visited the Rose City in 1899. He died of pneumonia on October 19, 1905 in Goldfield, Nevada, and was returned to Portland for burial by his daughter.


Virgil Earp
Jul. 8, 1843 to Oct. 19, 1905
Law Enforcement Officer



1911 (June)

David Campbell was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1864. He came to Portland in 1878 and shortly afterward became a member of the volunteer fire department, being assigned to duty in Engine Company No. 4. He served the three years required to earn an exemption certificate.

In 1892, Campbell re-entered the department as a member of Engine Company No. 1, and was appointed as a foreman. In 1895, Campbell was appointed Fire Chief by Mayor Frank, and after serving 15 months he was replaced by order of Mayor Pennoyer. He was again installed as chief by Mayor Mason in 1898, a position he filled until his untimely and tragic death.

Chief Campbell spent nearly thirty years of his life as a fireman in the City of Portland; fourteen of those years were spent as department chief. In 1903, when a new city charter went into effect with civil service provisions, Campbell set about the task of re-organizing the half-pay department into a full-pay department. His ability as a leader was shown by the rapid success he attained in training his men and acquiring cutting-edge equipment for the department.

By 1906, Portland's first fireboat was operating with efforts underway to add more. Cisterns and hydrants were being upgraded annually. The alarm system was upgraded so that all circuits terminated at city hall central station and the city could route alarms through a private telephone system.

Campbell quickly came to be recognized as the leading fire chief of the Pacific Coast and among the foremost in the nation; he was unanimously elected by his peers as president of the Pacific Coast Fire Chiefs' Association in 1906. In 1909, Campbell bought his first staff car. His advocacy led to the Fire Department's transition from horse-drawn apparatus to American-LaFrance chemical and hose engines capable of traveling at 45 mph. As fire horses Jerry, Roachy and Colonel would find out, this was only the beginning.

On June 26, 1911, an alarm came in from E. Salmon and Water Street shortly after 7:45 a.m. An oil pump at the Union Oil distributing plant had thrown a spark, igniting gas accumulated in its motor pit. As he got into his automobile, Chief Campbell knew the fire would be hot. One of the first at the scene, he began directing arriving engine companies. By 8:30, every fire company in the city was on the line, an incredible jumble of men, machines and horses, slipping in inches of water as they tried to position themselves.

Realizing that the fire was out of control and their only hope for controlling it would come with an interior attack, Campbell borrowed a turnout coat from one of his men and disappeared into the building. At 8:39, there was an ominous rumble from the basement as accumulated gases approached their flashpoint. Bodies were hurtled across the street, tank heads flew 200 ft. in the air, the north wall was tossed across the street and the roof fell back to the ground. Campbell was last seen silhouetted against the flames, holding up his arms to brace against the falling roof.

By 10:15 a.m. when the fire was brought under control, word had passed from engine company to engine company that Chief Campbell had gone into the building before the explosion and had not come out. Rescue efforts began, and his body was found huddled in his borrowed turnout coat with the letters "F.D." still visible on the buttons.

The passing of David Campbell signaled the end of an era. Campbell had successfully straddled the cusp between the old and the new in terms of manpower organization and technology.

After Campbell's untimely death at the age of 47, the public came out in droves to mourn the hero they fondly knew as "Our Dave." Over 150,000 citizens crowded into downtown Portland streets for Campbell's funeral, which to this day is the largest number of people that have ever gathered for a similar occasion in Portland's history.


David Campbell
1864 - June 26, 1911
Portland Fire Department Chief



1911 (October)

Albertina Kerr, known by her family as Tina, was born on July 13, 1890. Her parents were Louis and Christina Sechtem. Her father was from Germany and her mother from Sweden. Louis and his brother Fred owned the Quelle Restaurant, which was quite famous for crawfish at the time.

Albertina attended Couch Elementary School. According to her sister, Hilda, she could sing, dance and "be kind of funny." While quite young she played Little Eva as a substitute in a traveling company's performance of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Her father died in 1894. Consequently Albertina and her brother and sisters went to work before or right after graduating from Lincoln High School to help support the family. Albertina went to work at the Kerr Glass Company where she met Alexander Kerr. They married on September 29, 1910 and moved into the house at 129 14th Street. Albertina and Alexander's son, John, was born in June of 1911. Shortly after John's birth they traveled to Camp Rilea and Long Beach, Washington. It is thought that she contracted Typhoid while in one of those beach areas. She died on October 17, 1911 at home after a short illness and is buried at River View Cemetery in Portland.

To honor her and her charitable works, Alexander donated their home to the Pacific Coast Rescue Society to be the Albertina Kerr Nursery for all the city's homeless children. It opened in 1913. The home quickly became too small, and Alexander, along with his new wife Ruth Kerr, fundraised to open the Albertina Kerr Nursery, which was built on NE 22nd and Sandy Avenue in 1921. The Albertina Kerr Nursery operated until 1967 when the organization moved to a foster care model of care for children. Today the entire organization is known as Albertina Kerr Centers, and the mission is to help children, adults and families in Oregon who face mental health challenges and developmental disabilities, empowering them to lead fuller, more self-determined lives. The original nursery re-opened in 1981 as Albertina's Restaurant and Shops, completely volunteer-run businesses with proceeds going to the organization.

For a self-guided walking tour to locate Albertina Kerr's grave, please stop by our office during regular business hours.


Albertina Kerr
Jul. 13, 1890 to Oct. 17, 1911
Portland Philanthropist




Born in 1834, Abigail Scott Duniway was known as a writer, newspaper publisher, pioneer, teacher, and promoter for women's rights. Buried here at River View Cemetery in 1915, she made her mark in Oregon History as the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County.

As an overland pioneer in 1852, she went into business where she flourished and started publishing The New Northwest Newspaper, which helped women's rights. Her brother, Harvey Scott, was also buried here at River View Cemetery in 1910. He also became well known as an editor and eventually became part owner of The Oregonian newspaper.


Abigail Scott Duniway
Oct. 22, 1834 to Oct. 11, 1915
Portland Suffragist/Journalist




Henry Lewis Pittock was born on March 1, 1835. In 1853, at age 17, Henry Pittock travelled by wagon train from Pennsylvania to Oregon, where he began to work for the weekly Oregonian newspaper. He took ownership of the paper by 1860, and began to build a local empire that included real estate holdings, banking, railroad and steamboat investments, silver mining, and entries into the pulp and paper industries.

Henry Pittock was a member of the first party credited with climbing Mt. Hood. A famous quote attributed to Henry Pittock during one of these climbs, when it was suggested the climbers rest, "The man who sits down never reaches the top." The home Henry and Georgiana Pittock built is open to the public as The Pittock Mansion. Henry Pittock died on January 28, 1919..


Henry Lewis Pittock
Mar. 1, 1835 to Jan. 28, 1919
Portland Suffragist/Journalist




John Heard Couch was born on February 28, 1811. He was an American sea captain and pioneer in the Oregon Country in the 19th century. Often referred to as Captain Couch, he became famous for his singular skill at navigation of the mouth of the Columbia River. He was one of the early residents and founders of Portland.

The contribution to Portland for which he is most remembered today is the platting of his land claim in Northwest Portland, which stretched from Burnside Avenue north for 1 mile (1.6 km), between Northwest 23rd Avenue and the Willamette River. In laying out the streets, Couch named the east-west thoroughfares in alphabetical order as A Street, B Street, etc. The streets were later renamed, retaining the alphabetic ordering, with "C Street" renamed "Couch Street" in his honor. "F Street" was named in honor of his business partner Flanders. Couch Park in the district is also named for him. The park was formerly the estate of Cicero Hunt Lewis, who married Couch's daughter Clementine. The area has become known more recently as the Alphabet District.

John Couch died January 19, 1870, and was moved to River View Cemetery for re-interment in 1920.


John Heard Couch
Feb. 28, 1811 to Jan. 19, 1870
(Re-interment at River View Cemetery in 1920)
One of Portland's Founders




In 1891, lumberman Simon Benson bought $6,000 worth of used iron and built a railway into his Washington timberland. Over the next 18 years, Benson changed Pacific Northwest logging by introducing steam power and ocean-going log rafts. With his new technology, Benson developed a large lumber operation spread over thousands of acres. After selling his company in 1909, he became involved in civic affairs as promoter of the Columbia River Highway and benefactor of Benson High School.

Born Simon Berger Iversen in Norway in 1851, Benson moved with his family to the United States when he was sixteen. After settling in Wisconsin, the Iversen family changed their name to Benson and filed naturalization papers.

Over the next few years Benson learned English and worked various farming and lumbering jobs. He married Ester Searle in 1876. That year he opened a store and operated it profitably until it burned down in 1879. Hoping to find work in a logging camp after the store burned, Benson traveled with his wife and child to Portland. He found a job near St. Helens. In 1880 Benson bought 160 acres of land and started his own business. He was forced to sell in 1883 when his wife became ill. After she died in 1890, Benson started another logging operation. He married Pamelia Loomis in 1894. The two divorced and in 1920 Benson married again, this time to Harriet King, whom he later divorced.

In 1891, Benson began to mechanize his logging operation. He built railroads into the forests to carry logs to the Columbia River where they could be shipped to mills. In the late 1890s he became the first lumberman in the Pacific Northwest to use steam power to yard felled trees. With this new technology Benson cut his expenses and expanded his holdings. In 1902 he sold his Washington land and began buying land in Oregon, eventually owning 45,000 acres. Hoping to cut down on transportation costs to the California market, Benson developed a successful ocean-going log raft in 1906. These rafts were often 1,000 feet long and contained 6 million board feet of lumber. In 1909, Benson sold his holdings and retired from the lumber business.

In 1912, Benson built the Portland hotel bearing his name. That same year he donated 20 bronze drinking fountains to the city of Portland—quickly nicknamed Benson Bubblers—hoping to provide people with an alternative to taverns. In 1915, he donated money to build Benson Polytechnic School.

Benson later claimed that his donations had practical purposes. He hoped that the fountains would reduce drinking and associated accidents at his logging camps. Benson also hoped that his trade school would curtail the influence of the Industrial Workers of the World (then unionizing Pacific Northwest loggers) by imbuing young people with conservatism he associated with learning a trade. Benson also promoted the construction of the Columbia River Highway, donating land for Benson Park and Multnomah Falls along the road. In 1921, he constructed the Columbia Gorge Hotel near Hood River.

Benson moved to California in 1920 after marrying Harriet King. He lived there for the next 22 years and developed land in Beverly Hills.

Simon Benson died in 1942. Benson High School, the Benson Hotel, Benson State Park, and the Benson fountains are named for him.

Used with permission from The Oregon Historical Society.


Simon Benson
1851 to 1942
Logging Industry Mogul




Aurora Matilda "Lola" Greene Baldwin began her career as a teacher. After her 1884 marriage, she volunteered as a social worker with troubled young women in several eastern cities. Her Traveler's Aid Association protected young female visitors to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland. When the exposition closed, she continued providing policing services for young women through the YWCA, and later, through authorization from the Portland City Council (which stipulated that she and her assistants pass the police civil service exam).

On April 1, 1908, Lola Baldwin was sworn in as the nation's first policewoman and joined women in the fields of social work, public health and juvenile justice to exemplify the Progressive Era notion of the "City Mother." Baldwin went on to organize the Portland Juvenile Court in 1905, and was named its first probation officer for girls.

An ardent suffragist, Baldwin advocated for pay equity and a living wage to keep young women workers from lives of prostitution or crime.

After retiring from the Portland Police Department in 1922, she served several terms on the Oregon Parole Board and the National Board of Prisons and Prison Labor. Baldwin remained a tireless lobbyist for policewomen's issues, both locally and nationally, until her death in 1957.


Lola Greene Baldwin
1860 to 1957
Country's First Sworn Policewoman




Carl William Mays was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. He is remembered for throwing a "beanball" on August 16, 1920, that struck and killed Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, making Chapman only the second person to die from an injury sustained while playing major league baseball.

Mays had a 15-year career playing for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants. He compiled a 207-126 record with 29 shutouts, 862 strikeouts and a 2.92 earned run average when the league average was 3.48. He also recorded 110 runs batted in, and had a lifetime .268 batting average – unusually high for a pitcher.

Following his career as a player, he worked as a scout in the major leagues for Milwaukee and Cleveland.

Mays died on April 4, 1971 at the age of 79.


Carl William Mays
Nov.12, 1891 to Apr. 4, 1971
Major League Baseball Player




Lyle Martin Alzado was a professional American football defensive lineman of the National Football League, famous for his intense and intimidating style of play. He played 15 seasons, splitting his time between the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and most famously the Los Angeles Raiders, with whom he won a championship in Super Bowl XVIII.

Alzado pursued an acting career in both movies and television, appearing mostly in youth-oriented comedy and adventure roles. His most notable film roles include the bully construction worker in "Ernest Goes to Camp" and the unstoppable killer in "Destroyer". He appeared in "Stop the Madness", a 1985 anti-drug music video sponsored by the Reagan administration. Alzado was also an amateur boxer, and in 1979 fought an exhibition match against Muhammad Ali.

Alzado died after a battle with cancer on May 14, 1992 at the age of 43.


Lyle Alzado
Apr. 3, 1949 to May 14, 1992
National Football League Defensive Lineman




River View Cemetery
Phone: (503) 246-4251


300 South Taylors Ferry Road, Portland, OR 97219
(Physical Address)

8421 South Macadam Avenue, Portland, OR 97219
(Mailing Address)

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