Guide to the Simeon Gannett Reed Papers

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Reed, Simeon Gannett, 1830-1895
Title: Simeon Gannett Reed papers
Dates: 1864-1931 ( inclusive )
1864-1896 ( bulk )
Quantity: 4.5 cubic feet (10 document cases containing 36 volumes, 1 reel microfilm)
Collection Number: Mss 1117
Summary: Typescript copies of the letters and private papers of a businessman, entrepreneur, railroad magnate, and land developer of Portland, Oregon, active in the late 19th century. Subjects include mining, railroad ventures, land development, livestock breeding, shipping and steamships. Prominent correspondents include John C. Ainsworth, William S. Ladd, Ladd & Tilton Bank, and Martin Winch. Also included are letters from Victor M. Clement of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Co., 1889-1891. A small number of original receipts have been added to the collection.
Repository: Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Contact Information: Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Languages: Materials in the collection are in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical Note

Simeon Gannett Reed was one of the most important figures in the economic development of Portland and Oregon in the late 19th century. He was born in East Abington (now Rockland), Mass. in 1830. After finishing his education at 15, he worked in a dry goods store in Boston and as a shoe cutter in East Abington. He entered the grain and flour business in Quincy, Mass., and later married Amanda Wood, who was a member of a wealthy and prominent Quincy family. The Reeds came to California in 1852 and soon departed for Oregon. After a number of ventures, Reed became a clerk for the Portland, Or. general merchandise firm of W.S. Ladd and Company. He purchased the firm in partnership with William S. Ladd's sons, forming Ladd, Reed and Company in 1859. He invested money in steamship ventures and, in 1860, became a partner with Captain John C. Ainsworth and others in the Oregon Steam and Navigation Company, the principal shipping firm on the Columbia River. In 1879 the company was purchased by railroad magnate Henry Villard and merged with the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, and Reed became vice-president and manager of the new firm. Reed also invested heavily in railroad, mining, land development, and industrial ventures, including the Oregon Iron and Steel Company at Oswego. Among his mining interests was the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Company in Idaho. He took an active interest in livestock breeding and owned the Ladd and Reed Farm Company, along with William S. Ladd. The Company possessed large tracts of farm land in the Willamette and Tualatin Valleys.

As Reed's health declined, he and his wife moved from Oregon to Pasadena, Calif. in 1892. He planned to build a large house there at Carmelita, but died in 1895 before it was completed. His wife, Amanda Reed, lived in the house until her death in 1904. Reed had wanted the bulk of his estate to be used in establishing a college in Portland, however, after the death of Mrs. Reed, the couple's legacy became entangled in litigation. It was only through the efforts of Mrs. Reed's nephew, Martin Winch (who had managed the Reeds' finances for many years), that funds were finally secured for the building of what is now Reed College.

Content Description

The collection consists of bound typescript copies of the letters and private papers of Simeon Gannett Reed. (The original papers are located at Reed College in Portland, Or. See "Custodial History" for more information.) Subjects include mining, railroad ventures, land development, livestock breeding, shipping and steamships. Prominent correspondents include Amanda Wood Reed, John C. Ainsworth, William S. Ladd, Ladd & Tilton Bank, and Martin Winch. Also included are letters from Victor M. Clement of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Co., 1889-1891.

A small number of original invoices have been added to the collection by the Oregon Historical Society, along with a letter from Captain W. R. Thomas regarding the steamer S. G. Reed.

Volumes 38 and 39 are missing from the set of transcripts.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

The collection is open to the public.

Restrictions on Use :  

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any publication use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation :  

Simeon Gannett Reed papers, Mss 1117, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The collection is arranged generally in chronological order, with some overlap in dates from volume to volume, and separate volumes for incoming and outgoing letters.

Custodial History :  

The typescripts in the present collection were made in 1940 from original papers in the possession of Reed College. The project was funded largely by the U.S. Works Projects Administration, with additional funding from the Library Association of Portland and Reed College. Mimeograph copies of the typescript were distributed to various institutions, including the Oregon Historical Society.

Location of Originals :  

Originals of typescripts are housed at Reed College, Portland, Or.

Additional Reference Guides :  

Subject and correspondent indexes are provided at the back of each bound volume of typescript copies.

Detailed Description of the Collection

1/1-2 Vol. 1: Letters to Reed (two copies of vol. 1) 1864-1872
1/3 Vol. 2: Letters from Reed 1864-1872
1/4 Vol. 3: Letters from Reed 1868-1877
2/1 Vol. 4: Letters to Reed 1871-1872
2/2 Vol. 5: Letters to Reed 1866-1875
2/3 Vol. 6 (part 1): Letters to Reed 1873-1876
2/4 Vol. 6 (part 2): Letters to Reed 1873-1876
3/1 Vol. 7: Letters from Reed 1872-1877
3/2 Vol. 8 (part 1): Letters to Reed 1874-1877
3/3 Vol. 8 (part 2): Letters to Reed 1874-1877
3/4 Vol. 9: Letters to Reed 1878-1879
4/1 Vol. 10: Letters from Reed 1877-1880
4/2 Vol. 11: Letters to Reed 1880
4/3 Vol. 12: Letters to Reed 1881-1882
4/4 Vol. 13: Letters from Reed 1880-1883
5/1 Vol. 14: Letters to Reed 1882-1883
5/2 Vol. 15: Letters to Reed 1883
5/3 Vol. 16: Letters from Reed 1883-1886
5/4 Vol. 17: Letters to Reed 1884
6/1 Vol. 18: Letters to Reed 1885
6/2 Vol. 19: Letters to Reed 1886
6/3 Vol. 20: Letters to Reed 1887
6/4 Vol. 21: Letters to Reed 1887
7/1 Vol. 22: Letters from Reed 1887
7/2 Vol. 23: Letters from Reed 1886-1889
7/3 Vol. 24: Letters from Victor M. Clement of Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Co. 1889
Microfilm Vol. 25: Letters from Victor M. Clement 1887-1888
7/4 Vol. 26: Letters from Victor M. Clement 1890-1891
Microfilm Vol. 27: Letters to Reed 1888
Microfilm Vol. 28: Letters to Reed 1889
8/1 Vol. 29: Letters to Reed 1889
8/2 Vol. 30: Letters from Reed 1889-1895
8/3 Vol. 31: Letters from Reed 1890-1894
8/4 Vol. 32: Letters to Reed 1890
9/1 Vol. 33: Letters to Reed 1891
Microfilm Vol. 34: Letters from Reed 1892
9/2 Vol. 35: Letters to Reed 1892-1893
9/3 Vol. 36: Letters to Reed 1893
9/4 Vol. 37: Letters from Reed 1893-1895
10/1 Vol. 40: Letters from Martin Winch 1895-1896
Microfilm Miscellaneous papers 1871-1876
10/2 Original invoices 1882-1883
10/2 Letter from Captain W. R. Thomas to Mrs. S.G. Reed regarding the steamship S.G. Reed
Amanda Reed died in 1904. It is possible the date on this letter is erroneous.
1931 October 10


The collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings:

  • Personal Names :
  • Clement, Victor M.--Correspondence.
  • Ladd, William Sargent, 1826-1893--Correspondence.
  • Reed, Amanda Wood, 1832-1904--Correspondence.
  • Reed, Simeon Gannett, 1830-1895--Correspondence.
  • Winch, Martin, Jr., 1858-1915--Correspondence.
  • Family Names :
  • Reed family.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Co. (Idaho)
  • Ladd & Tilton Bank (Portland, Or.)
  • Ladd and Reed Farm Company (Or.)
  • Ladd, Reed & Company (Portland, Or.)
  • Oregon Iron & Steel Company (Lake Oswego, Or.)
  • Oregon Railway and Navigation Company.
  • Oregon Steam Navigation Company.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Portland (Or.)--History.
  • Subject Terms :
  • Livestock--Oregon--History.
  • Mines and mineral resources--Idaho--History.
  • Railroads--Oregon.
  • Shipping--Oregon--History.
  • Steamboats--Northwest, Pacific--History.
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Letters (correspondence).
    • Other Creators :
    • Reed, Amanda Wood, 1832-1904.
    • Reed, Simeon Gannett, 1830-1895.
    • Winch, Martin, Jr., 1858-1915.

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