Corbett Street

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As printed originally in the Oregonian, November 15, 1921[1], origin of Corbett Street's name.

The name Corbett is so closely connected with Portland history and its own history is so well-known here. Corbett street is named after Henry Winslow Corbett and constitutes a small honor in comparison with the deeds of the man. He is known well for his work for Portland, better than for his personal history which will be given briefly in this sketch.

Henry Winslow Corbett was born at Westborough, Mass., February 18, 1827, and spent his youth near the place of his birth, going to New York when he was ready to begin his commercial career. His ancestors, who settled in Massachusetts in the 17th century, traced their descent from Roger Corbett who was a military leader under William I in the conquest of England. A grandson of Roger Corbett accompanied Richard I to the siege of Acre, bearing on his coat of arms two ravens which are still the crest of the family.

Henry Winslow Corbett obtained a clerkship in the firm of William, Bradford & Co., New York, and after seven years of service in this firm fitted out a vessel with cargo and started him off to the Columbia. He arrived in Portland March 4, 1851, and set up a store at the corner of Front and Oak streets. In slightly more that a year he sold his stock and after forming a partnership returned to New York for a year.

Coming back to Portland he dissolved the partnership and conducted the business alone.

In 1869 he and Henry Failing purchased the controlling interest in the First National bank of Portland.

His commercial career, however, is second to his public life and pursuits. He was interested in the establishment of river navigation and in brining the railroad to Portland. He ran the stage-coach mail line between Portland and San Francisco and had a hand in many other important projects.

At one time he was requested to run for governor of Oregon, but having no ambitions in this direction, declined. He did, however, accept the nomination for United States senator and took up his duties in Washington in 1867, where he conducted himself with great distinction, actively participating in the passage of a number of important bills.