The Tibbetts Family : New Friends at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Now that the weather is less awful, we are getting out for walks. We stopped by Lone Fir Cemetery on my birthday, to visit the dead people and get some perspective.

We visited our favorites, of course. Dr. Hawthorne, who treated the patients in his mental hospital with uncommon respect, the Fleidner family, who built a building that still stands Downtown, and Lou Ellen Barrel Cornell, who lead an unconventional life.

(Photo Credit : Find a Grave website)

And we met some new folks. This tall monument has always caught my eye because the family name, Tibbetts, was used by local author Beverly Cleary for one of her characters. This time, I took pictures of the stones around the tall marker and did some research on my favorite research site, The Historic Oregonian.

In his obituary, we learn that the patriarch, Gideon Tibbetts, was familiarly known as Father Tibbetts. He was originally from Bangor, Maine, and married his wife, Mary, in Indiana. Their company of wagons took nine months to cross the country from there.

They rafted down the Columbia and originally settled in Corvallis, then moved to Portland.

They started their family, but childhood diseases took four of their six children between 1853 and 1859. I cannot imagine the sadness.

Gideon bought and developed property east of the Willamette, creating Tibbetts Addition, which covered the area from the Willamette River to 20th Street and between Division and Holgate, just south of Ladd’s Addition. This area is now known as the Brooklyn neighborhood. Two streets in that area, remember him: Gideon Street runs along the railroad tracks, and Tibbetts Street runs east-west between Powell and Division Streets.

Mary outlived Gideon by 14 years, living well in their family home. I am still searching for information of her two surviving children. Her daughter, whose name I haven’t found, married a Judge Kennedy from Walla Walla Washington.

As much as I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of early Portland, the practice of individuals (Like Ladd, Couch, Tibbetts, and others) organizing their own developments within the city is what lead to our weird street numbering system, which needed to be adjusted in the 1930s.

Every time I get to know about a previous Portlander, I learn more about the city and how it grew. And there’s 180 years worth to learn!


Grandma Judy