William H. Boring

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William H. Boring
Birth nameWilliam Harrison Boring
Born(1841-02-26)February 26, 1841
Greenfield, Illinois, U.S.
DiedDecember 1, 1932(1932-12-01) (aged 91)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Place of burial
Damascus Pioneer Cemetery, Damascus, Oregon, U.S.45°25′03″N 122°27′32″W / 45.417621°N 122.458978°W / 45.417621; -122.458978
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861–1863
UnitIllinois 33rd Regiment, Illinois Infantry
Battles/warsSiege of Vicksburg
Sarah Elizabeth Wilder
(m. 1867; died 1922)

William Harrison Boring (February 26, 1841 – December 1, 1932)[1] was an American Union soldier who fought in the American Civil War, and who was a member of the distinguished battalion in the 33rd Illinois Infantry Regiment that helped lead the capture of Vicksburg in 1863. Boring later came to be known as a pioneer after settling Boring, Oregon in 1874, which took its name from him.[2]


Early life[edit]

Boring was born in Greenfield, Illinois on February 26, 1841. His mother was originally from Tennessee, and his father was from Maryland.[3] He had one elder brother, George Boring (1838–1916), who was also a pioneer and settler of the town of Clarence, Missouri.[4] Boring enlisted as a Union soldier during the American Civil War with the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, beginning in 1861 under Bvt. Major General Charles Edward Hovey and Colonel Charles E. Lippincott.[5]

He was a member of the battalion that distinguished itself in the capture of Vicksburg in 1863, during which 11 of its 32 members died in battle.[6][7] Boring sustained near-life-threatening injuries to his face and throat in the Siege of Vicksburg,[8] which led to his discharge.[7] The severity of the scars he received from his battle injuries led him to wear a beard for the remainder of his life.[8]

After his discharge, Boring returned to Greenfield, where he worked on his mother's farm. On December 11, 1867, Boring married Sarah Elizabeth Wilder in Greene County, Illinois.[7][9]

Settlement of Boring, Oregon[edit]

In the early 1870s, president Ulysses S. Grant began offering incentives to homesteaders in the Western United States, which attracted William Boring; he and his wife Sarah left Illinois for San Francisco, California, and then traveled north to Portland, Oregon. William's elder half-brother, Joseph (b. 1829), who had traveled across the Oregon Trail in 1853, had already settled there and been living in the area for nearly two decades.[10] William and Sarah joined Joseph at his home in 1874, twelve miles east of Portland. There, William and Sarah settled on 160 acres (65 ha) of land.[11] They had two children: Elsie in October 1875, who only lived for nine days; and Orville, born in 1879.[7]

The settlement occupied by the Boring family came to be known as Boring, Oregon[12] after William donated land for a schoolhouse to be built in 1883,[13][7][14] By the turn of the twentieth century, the town had become a thriving logging community, and the construction of an interurban railroad to the town by the Portland Railway, Light and Power Company brought further residents and business.[15]

Later life and death[edit]

According to the 1910 U.S. census, William (then aged 69) and Sarah (then aged 65) shared their home with son Orville, his wife, Lucy, and the couple's three-year-old son, Lester. Also living in the home was Thomas Field, a hired handyman from Minnesota, and Robert Bishop, a boarder from Maine.[16] Boring was widowed after Sarah's death on February 12, 1922.[17] He relocated to Portland sometime between 1923 and 1930, moving into the home of close friends Lester and Emma Armstrong.[3] Boring died in Portland in 1931 at age 91, after an undisclosed eight-month illness.[18]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "William Harrison Boring". Ancestry.com. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  2. ^ Curry, Colleen (April 26, 2012). "A Dull & Boring Story". Good Morning America. ABC News. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "William H Boring in entry for Lester C Armstrong", United States census, 1930; Portland, Oregon; page 4A, line 14, enumeration district 26-406.
  4. ^ "George W. Boring, Pioneer Citizen, Died Thursday". The Clarence Courier. Clarence, Missouri. September 13, 1916. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  5. ^ "Soldier Details: Boring, William H." National Park Service (NPS). Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  6. ^ Huttes, Celeste (Summer 2011). "In Tune with History". Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine.
  7. ^ a b c d e Bosserman 2014, p. 15.
  8. ^ a b Bosserman 2014, p. 17.
  9. ^ "W H Boring and Sarah E Wilder". Illinois, County Marriages, 1810–1934. Greene, Illinois, United States: County offices, Illinois. December 11, 1867. FHL microfilm 1,310,037.
  10. ^ Bosserman 2014, p. 16.
  11. ^ Metzler 1986, p. 146.
  12. ^ Engeman 2009, p. 53.
  13. ^ Hathcock, Marcus (August 22, 2006). "A tale of two Borings". The Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  14. ^ Campbell, Glenn (August 8, 2014). "Dull, Scotland, makes Boring, Oregon, more interesting". The BBC. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  15. ^ McArthur 2003, p. 100.
  16. ^ "William H Boring", United States census, 1910; Boring, Clackamas County, Oregon; page 3B, line 65, Family History film 1,375,292, National Archives film number T624.
  17. ^ Bosserman 2014, p. 22.
  18. ^ "William H. Boring Dies". The Morning Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. December 1, 1932. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 4, 2018.


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