Robertson, Burns, and Failing families papers

Mary Caroline Wilson Burns Mary Caroline Wilson Burns Walter John Burns Arriving in San Francisco Emma Ruggles Corbett Henry Winslow Corbett Caroline (Flanders) Couch with Caroline (Couch) Wilson and Mary Caroline (Wilson) Burns Caroline Elizabeth (Couch) Wilson and Anita Burns Davis Wedding of Mary Couch Robertson and Donald Butler John Robertson Wood with dog Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition stockholders ticket Kathleen (Burns) Robertson and daughter Mary Couch Robertson Mary Corbett Robertson Mary Freeland (Corbett) Robertson Sarah Adams (Wood) Robertson on her wedding day Letter from Henry Failing to Thomas Robertson, death of Mary Freeland (Corbett) Robertson Thomas Robertson Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition season commutation ticket William Edie Robertson William Edie Robertson with David Robertson William Edie Robertson mayoral run Nan Robertson and Mary Robertson in Japan Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers certificate, Nan Robertson David Robertson (1856-1881) William "Billy" Robertson Warren Death notice for William "Billy" Robertson Warren

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Coll 784

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Robertson, Burns, and Failing families papers


  • 1786-1988 (Creation)


9.46 cubic feet, (13 legal size document cases, 5 oversize boxes)

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The Robertson family arrived in the Portland area in 1856, when Thomas Robertson (1817-1900) and his wife, Mary Freeland (Corbett)Robertson moved from New York to the area. Joining Mary Freeland's brother Henry Winslow Corbett, Thomas Robertson formed Robertson Heavy Hardware. The Robertson family remained influential in the Portland area through multiple generations, forming business partnerships with the Corbett and Failing families.

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Many of Portland's early settling families created long-lasting ties with one another through marriage and business relationships. Often leaving areas such as New England and San Francisco, the first generation of transplants found Portland to be a small town of new opportunities for trade and business from 1840-1855. Family relationships, such as those seen between the Robertson, Corbett, and Failing families beginning in the 1850s, often lasted for generations. Starting with the joint venture between Henry Winslow Corbett and brother-in-law Thomas Robertson (1817-1900), multiple other partnerships were later formed, including Robertson Heavy Hardware, Corbett, Failing and Company, Foster and Robertson and Corbett, Failing, and Robertson.

The Robertson family represented a crossroads of Portland familial relationships. Beginning with the arrival of Thomas Robertson and his wife Mary Freeland (Corbett) Robertson, from New York, multiple generations of the Robertson family went on to marry into different branches of other old Portland families, such Couch, Lewis, and Reed. Through these relationships, they also gained ties with several family lineages from the East Coast. Individuals in these families later attended elite schools, traveled widely and participated in family businesses to great success. They also contributed to Portland's civic life, becoming city or state officials, and serving as early supporters for institutions such as the Portland Art Museum and Reed College.

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  • English

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Online collection contains a selection of items from the full collection. More information about the full collection can be found here:

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  • Citation: Robertson, Burns, and Failing family papers, Coll 784, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

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