Laying out towns at Vancouver and several other early Pacific Northwest communities was part of a long surveying career for Peter Crawford. Two of his sons enjoyed successful business careers.
Peter Crawford, a Scotland native, arrived in Oregon Territory in 1847, and the same year he laid out and platted Oregon City. He visited Cowlitz County in 1847 and in 1848 surveyed a town site at what is now Vancouver.
He is also reported to have platted St. Helens, Ore., and other towns.
After going on the California gold rush in 1849, Crawford returned to Cowlitz County and took a donation land claim. The 1870 census listed Crawford as a farmer, living with his wife, Zillah, and children. Crawford served as Cowlitz County surveyor for many years and did much work for the U.S. Land Office. He also founded the town of Kelso.
About 1881, Crawford moved to Vancouver, where he was a city surveyor and Clark County surveyor.
“To intending settlers, he was always a guide, giving freely all the information he possessed,” one writer noted.
In 1881 Crawford’s son, William Patterson Crawford, came to Fisher’s Landing in Clark County and operated a general merchandise store. He moved to Vancouver about 1883, and with his brother, Edward G. Crawford, bought out a grocery firm and started W.P. Crawford and Co.
F.N. Marshall became a partner in 1886, and the name was changed to Crawford, Marshall and Co.
Zillah Crawford died in 1888 and her husband, Peter, in 1889 in Vancouver.
The sons were civic leaders in addition to continuing with the general store. W.P. Crawford was a director of the Commercial Bank, a city councilman, Commercial Club charter member, and Vancouver school clerk.
The two brothers also were among the organizers of the Vancouver National Bank in 1901. This was merged with the Citizens National Bank in 1910, and the new institution was known as Vancouver National Bank.
E.G. Crawford served as a lumber company president, Vancouver mayor and a school director.
Their store at 513 Main St. was dissolved after about 27 years, and about 1910 E.G. Crawford was named vice president of the Lumbermen’s National Bank at Fifth and Stark streets in Portland. He was selected as president in 1916.
W.P. Crawford was vice president of the Washington Exchange bank for several years.
The will of E.G. Crawford and his wife, Ida, — he died in Portland in 1923 and Ida in 1924 – set aside $10,000 to construct a fountain in Esther Short Park, to be known as the Crawford Memorial fountain. Sculptor Avard Fairbanks, formerly of the University of Oregon, was chosen to design the memorial.
A committee decided that the memorial should symbolize the pioneer spirit, as personified by Esther Short. The committee noted the Short had not only defended her home and children against Indians but against “encroachments by the Hudson’s Bay Co.”
The bronze for the pioneer mother statue was cast Italy under the supervision of Fairbanks, and the memorial fountain was dedicated on July 21, 1929.