Profiles in History: William (John) Livingstone
February 25, 2010
William Livingstone was born into slavery in 1836 in Missouri. At age 12, he was sold to a man who lived in Hannibal, Mo. and is said to have grown up as a boyhood friend of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).
He was later sold again to Judge Joseph Ringo for $850 and freed in 1863 during the Civil War but came to Oregon with the Ringo family in 1864. The family settled in the Oregon City area where the former slave was given a 40 acre tract near Clarkes.
Livingstone was a very industrious man who worked at several jobs to make a living, including working as a hostler, buying a team of horses and transporting wood and lumber from the bluffs in Oregon City as the buildings and sidewalks were being built.
He continued to farm and acquire property, adding another 180 acres in Eastern Oregon. He was a prominent member of the State Grange and a well-respected business man. When he died in 1912, he left an estate of about $15,000 and hundreds of people attended his funeral. He is buried in the Clarke’s Cemetery.
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