People in Portland History

Photo of John McLoughlin
Are you studying Portland history? Read on to learn more about famous Portland residents, past and present.

Long before white settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail, the Portland area was home to the Multnomah people, a band of the Chinook Tribe. One of their leaders was Chief Kiesno (sometimes spelled Cassino).  Tragically, many of the native inhabitants of our area died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

John McLoughlin is often called the Father of Oregon. He moved to the area in 1824 and established Fort Vancouver just north of Portland. Later, his general store in Oregon City became the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

Photo of Abigail Scott Duniway
By 1845, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy owned land in the area and flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygrove won the two out of three tosses, and since he was from Portland, Maine, he chose to name the new city after his hometown.

Abigail Scott Duniway is famous for fighting for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. After many tries, she finally succeeded in Oregon in 1912.  Intriguingly, Abigail’s brother, Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian newspaper, was opposed to letting women vote. This blog post will introduce you to other important women in Portland’s history.

McCants Stewart was the first African American lawyer in Portland and started a newspaper, The Advocate. Dr. DeNorval Unthank is well-known for his role in fighting for civil rights for African Americans and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. A park in North Portland is named for him. 

Some other famous Portlanders include children’s author Beverly Cleary, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), and Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike.

For more information on famous residents of Portland, visit the Oregon History Project’s biography page, or search the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Comments

John McLoughlin - creepy father of Oregon
Link update for "Phil Knight" in this article: https://sos.oregon.gov/blue-book/Pages/explore/notable/knight.aspx

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