William H. Boring

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 fall of Vicksburg in 1863. Boring would later come to be known as a pioneer after settling the town of Boring, Oregon in 1874, which took its namesake after him.[2]

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
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861 – 1863
Unit 33rd Regiment, Illinois Infantry
Battles/warsSiege of Vicksburg
Sarah Elizabeth Wilder
(m. 1867; died 1922)


Early life

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 fall 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 would lead 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.[9][10]

Settlement of Boring, Oregon

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.[11] 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.[12] They gave birth to 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[13] after William donated land for a schoolhouse to be built in 1883,[14] after which the community was granted the name "Boring."[9][15] 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.[16]

Later life and death

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.[17] Boring was widowed after Sarah's death on February 12, 1922.[18] 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.[19]

See also



  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. "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.
  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. Bosserman 2014, p. 15.
  8. Bosserman 2014, p. 17.
  9. Bosserman, p. 15.
  10. "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.
  11. Bosserman 2014, p. 16.
  12. Metzler 1986, p. 146.
  13. Engeman 2009, p. 53.
  14. Hathcock, Marcus (August 22, 2006). "A tale of two Borings". The Portland Tribune. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  15. Campbell, Glenn (August 8, 2014). "Dull, Scotland, makes Boring, Oregon, more interesting". The BBC. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  16. McArthur 2003, p. 100.
  17. "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.
  18. Bosserman 2014, p. 22.
  19. "William H. Boring Dies". The Morning Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. December 1, 1932. p. 1.


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