The Weatherford Family

Dear Liza,

While you were visiting, we hung out with the Dead People at the Lone Fir Cemetery. I took some pictures of a monument I hadn’t noticed before, and decided to do some research by way of the online Historic Oregonian website.

This is the Weatherford family memorial, with four family members buried in the one plot over the course of twenty- six years.

First is William Weatherford, who was born in Virginia in 1814. His family moved to Iowa when he was very young, and he met and married Mahala Harris in 1839. They had five children and then decided to move west. In 1852 they began the arduous six-month trek overland to Oregon. They were authentic Oregon Trail pioneers.

Once the family arrived in Portland, William set up shop as a pharmacist on Front Street, just south of Yamhill. They built a ‘small, stylish’ house at the northeast corner of Third and Salmon in downtown. Five more children were born to he and Mahala, bringing the total to ten.

William G. Weatherford, son of William and Mahala, died in 1862 at the age of 18 and was buried with his father. William drowned in the Willamette River. I haven’t been able to find out any details if his death. Was he swimming? Did he fall off a boat? I wish I knew. New information, see below.

///Weatherford, William
On the 1st inst. Wm. Weatherford was drowned at Portland, while crossing the river in a skiff, in company with several other persons. The river was rough, and the boat dipped water and went down about the middle of the stream. [Source: The State Republican (Eugene City, OR) Saturday, August 9, 1862]///

Thanks, John Hamilton!

In 1873, the family house and business were both destroyed in a great fire that consumed 21 square blocks of mostly-wooden downtown Portland. Like many, the family re-built and carried on.

The eldest son, J.W. Weatherford, became his father’s business partner and they ran the business together until his father’s death, when J.W. took it over. After the fire, he had moved to Salem to continue the business for a few years (perhaps while downtown Portland was being rebuilt), and died of a heart attack in his Portland office in 1893 at the age of fifty-one.

Finally, Mahala Weatherford, having outlived her husband and five of her children, passed away in 1906 at the age of 84 at the home of her daughter Ella Steele in the town of Condon. She had crossed the country by wagon train, founded a business and raised ten children. She took in boarders to help the family finances, and built and re- built homes. She had served her community by ministering to the poor and it was written in her obituary that she was “truly a mother in Israel who exemplified in her life all the graces which ennoble true womanhood.”

I love meeting new friends at Lone Fir!


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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