George P. Walling, manager and proprietor of the most extensive carpet and rug manufactory on the Pacific coast, comes of a family represented in all of the important wars of the country, and also creditably enrolled among its educators, legislators, farmers and builders. He was born on a farm near Monroe, Green county, Wis., October 1, 1846, a son of J. R., and grandson of Gabriel Walling.
Gabriel Walling was born near Versailles, France, and when a young man came to America with his father, who served in the Revolutionary war. The grandfather was an educator of some note, and became one of the pioneers of Illinois and Iowa. Not less patriotic than his father, he served with courage and distinction in the war of 1812, and while still in Iowa was a member of the legislature of that territory. After crossing the plains in 1847, he located near Oswego, on the Willamette, cleared a plantation and engaged in farming. The sterling traits of character which had already been recognized in Iowa were appreciated to an even greater extent in the unsettled conditions of Oregon, where there was urgent need of so strong and reliant a character, and where conservative eastern forces tempered a tendency to rapid development. He served for one term in the territorial legislature of Oregon, and after assisted in organizing the state, and in framing the first laws of Oregon. He was judge of Clackamas county for two terms, and was variously associated with fraternal and social organizations, including the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Walling died in Polk County, Ore.
J.R. Walling was born near Buffalo, N.Y., in 1813, and learned the carpenter’s trade near Canton, Fulton county, Ill. True to the tradition of his family, he also became familiar with tented field and roar of cannon, for no more patriotic soldier donned the uniform in the Black Hawk war. His regiment was the same as that which was honored by the valor of Lincoln, the great emancipator. After the war, Mr. Walling removed to the vicinity of Davenport, Iowa, and in 1840 removed to Green county, in time constructing the third house in the village of Monroe. He continued to live in the growing little town, and is responsible for a considerable portion of the early upbuilding thereof. Well content with his success he returned to Fulton County in the spring of 1849, and April 29, 1854, started across the plains with his wife, arriving at Amity, Yamhill county, Ore., September 1, 1854. In his adopted western home he engaged in building and contracting, and at the same conducted a farm and nursery, the latter especially being carried on a large scale. These combined interests yielded him a satisfactory income, and he was engaged thereat until his death in 1891, at the age of seventy-eight years. In his young manhood, he married Mary Long, who was born in Virginia and whose paternal grandfather, Ware Long, was born near Paris, France, and immigrated to Virginia. Mr. Long finally became a pioneer farmer on Indiana, from which state he removed to Illinois, his final home being Wisconsin. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and was a member of the Baptist Church. Mrs. Walling, who died in Yamhill county, Ore., July 21, 1900, was the mother of the following children: Gabriel, who was born in Fulton County, Ill., in 1836, became a lumber manufacturer in Linn and Polk counties, Ore., and is now engaged in jobbing and contracting in Portland; Nancy, who died in Wisconsin in 1849; William, who died in infancy; Phoebe, who is now Mrs. Burton [sic], of Lewiston, Idaho; George P.; Cynthia, Mrs. McCarthy [sic], of Lewiston, Idaho; and Otto, who is a musician in California.
The carpet manufacturer of Portland recalls very little of his life on the parent farm in Green county, Wis., for he was but seven when he became a small member of the train of emigrants bound for the western coast. At the little old Mount Hood schoolhouse near Amity he imbibed such knowledge as a very busy childhood permitted, and his youth passed by uneventfully until the breaking out of the Civil war. In 1864 he volunteered in Company B, First Oregon Infantry, and for twenty-two months served on the plains against the Indians, taking the place of the regulars who had been ordered back east. He had many thrilling adventures and many hair-breadth escapes, but escaped bodily injury and in due time was mustered out of the service in Vancouver, Wash.
Returning to his home, Mr. Walling was apprenticed to a tinner at Salem, Ore., worked at his trade thereafter, and in 1871 started a tinware and hardware store in Amity. At the end of a year he removed to Placerville, Cal., engaged at the same business for three years, and finally removed his stock to Lodi, Cal. Upon returning to Oregon he conducted a tinware business at Newport for fourteen years, and in 1894 settled in Portland, where he became interested in the carpet business. From a comparatively small beginning, the merits of the commodities manufactured have so increased the demand, that at the present time there is no more extensive concern of the kind on the coast, or in fact this side of the Rocky mountains. The custom extends all up and down the coast, and eight looms are kept busy the year ’round. In addition to carpets and rugs, the firm manufacturers silk portieres five feet and more in length, and some of their carpet is as wide as nine feet. The manufactory is located on the corner of Union avenue and Sacramento streets.
In Lafayette, Ore., Mr. Walling married Dora Clark, a native of Plano, Kendall county, Ill., and a daughter of David Clark, a farmer who removed to California in 1860, and to Oregon in 1866, settling in Dayton, Yamhill county. Mr. Clark engaged first in the manufacture of agricultural implements, but later contracted and built up to the time of his death in Santa Barbara, Cal. He married Harriet Colburn, who was born in New York and died in California, and who became the mother of four children, three of whom are still living: Thornton, a resident of Santa Barbara, Cal.; Mary, now Mrs. Porter of Eldorado county, Cal.; and Dora. Mrs. Walling was reared and partially educated in Illinois, and crossed the plains with her parents, thereafter attending the public schools of California. She came to Oregon in 1868. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Walling: Nora, who is now Mrs. Richardson, of Fort Stevens; Otto, who is a barber of Portland; Omar Clyde, who died at the age of ten months; Lena, who is the wife of Newton Anderson, of Portland; Walter, who is clerking in Portland; and Mary, who died while a baby. Mr. Walling is a Republican in political affiliation, and is associated with the George Wright Post, G. A. R.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Portland and Vicinity (Oregon). 1903. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company.