John C. Ainsworth

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John C. Ainsworth
John C. Ainsworth house in Oregon City

John Commingers Ainsworth (June 6, 1822 – December 30, 1893) was an American pioneer businessman and steamboat owner in Oregon. A native of Ohio, he moved west to mine gold in California before immigrating to Oregon where he piloted steamships and became a founder of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company and several banks.

Early life[edit]

Ainsworth was born in Springboro, Ohio, on June 6, 1822.[1] His parents died while he was 13 years old, so he went to work for his uncle in Farmington, Iowa.[1] They became partners in a business selling goods from boats along the Ohio River, but soon he split from his uncle and bought a store with a partner, which was sold at a good profit after only one year. He married a young woman, Josephine Augusta Kendall, who died fifteen months later. All of this took place before Ainsworth turned twenty.

American West[edit]

Ainsworth was not done partnering with his uncle. In 1844 they bought a steamboat and started a successful packet delivery service along the upper Mississippi River. Then the Gold Rush hit in 1849, and he sold his share of the business to go to California. The Gold Rush did not live up to his expectations, so he found a job piloting a steamer on the Willamette River in Oregon.

In 1851, he married the daughter of Judge S.S. White, and built a house in Oregon City.[2] In late 1860, Ainsworth and several investors started the Oregon Steam Navigation Company (OSNC).[1] The OSNC controlled the shipping routes of steamers, railroads, and freight lines in Washington and Oregon. By 1869, the OSNC monopolized the Columbia River transportation market. In April 1879, Henry Villard purchased the OSNC for its full value of $5 million. Ainsworth retired to Oak Lawn, California, after the sale.[3]

Later years and family[edit]

After selling out, he entered the banking business in 1883 with the Ainsworth National Bank in Portland.[1] In 1892, he started the Central Bank of Oakland.[1] Ainsworth had four children: George, John, Harry and Daisy. Ainsworth was a Freemason, and eventually the third Grand Master of the Oregon Masonic Lodge. After retiring to California he wrote his autobiography. He died near Oakland, California, on December 30, 1893.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 5.
  2. ^ National Register of Historical Places - OREGON (OR), Clackamas County
  3. ^ Guide to the John C. Ainsworth Papers 1858-1911

External links[edit]