Hilgard, Union Co., OR
Donated by Donald E. Watson, Jr.
If you can identify any of the people, please contact Donald
How did Hilgard get it's name?
Donald sent this. A big thanks is in order!
Henry Villard (1835 - 1900) was a journalist, railway promoter, financier,whose name was originally Ferdinand Heinrich Gustav Hilgard, was born in Speyer, Rhenish Bavaria, the son of Gustav Leonhard Hilgard and Katharina Antonia Elisabeth (Pfeiffer) Hilgard.
Upon landing at New York in October 1853, he proceeded to the West by easy stages, spent some time in Cincinnati and Chicago, and eventually arrived at the home of relatives in Belleville, Ill. Fearing that his father would have him returned to Germany and placed in the army, he adopted the name Villard, which had been borne by one of his schoolmates at Phalsbourg
Villard's love was the Oregon country. On his first visit to the region he had been very favourably impressed with its possibilities and there gradually developed in his mind the idea of building a railway empire in the far Northwest. Perceiving the great strategic value of the south bank of the Columbia River as a railway route, he purchased the Oregon Steam Navigation Company from Simeon Gannett Reed and his associates in 1879, organized the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, and proceeded to construct a railway eastward from Portland along this route. His plan was to make this line the Pacific Coast outlet for any northern transcontinental railway which might be built, and to concentrate the trade of the Northwest in Portland.
During the years 1879 to 1883 Villard was probably the most important railway promoter in the United States. In those years he was frankly aiming at a monopoly of transportation facilities in the Pacific Northwest; yet he showed no disposition to take unfair advantage of such a position, or to victimize the people of the region.
Source: Dictiionary of American Biography