Chapman Street

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As printed originally in the Oregonian, November 14, 1921[1], origin of Chapman Street's name.

One of a group of several men who are rightfully termed the fathers of Portland is Colonel W. W. Chapman, and it is not saying too much to assert that he was the leader of the group and that Portland owes to him and his patriotism a large share of the success which attended her growth to a thriving and solid city.

He was born in Clarksburg, Va., August 11, 1808, and, losing his father at the age of 14 years, made his own way as a clerk in a law office until he had read enough to pass the bar examination. Almost from the very start of his professional career he achieved marked success. Being a pioneer and from pioneer stock he kept moving always westward toward the frontier of the country.

Moving to Illinois in 1833, he gained legal prominence there and in 1836 moved to the Dubuque in what afterwards became the state of Iowa. His career in that state was highly useful in many ways toward its development until in 1847, with his family, he started across the plains for Oregon, arriving here in November the same year.

It was not, however, until after he had returned from a mining expedition in the 1849 gold rush that he took up his residence in Portland, purchasing a third interest in the town site from Steven Coffin and D. H. Lownsdale, and leading in the fight against rival cities along the Columbia and Willamette rivers, which resulted in victory and success for Portland.

His private pursuits were largely of the agricultural nature, although he was interested in many public ventures. In the Indian wars of 1855-6 he took a prominent part, gaining the rank of colonel. He also took a part in bringing the railroad to Portland and in many other projects which meant life for the city.

His political career and the list of offices held is too long to detail in this brief summary, but it spreads from local public positions to that of the United States senator. His life parallels the early life of the city, for his hand was always among those at the helm in guiding Portland through her early struggles.