The early- to mid-1800s was a rapidly changing time in US history. By 1860, the population had nearly quadrupled from what it was in 1814, the people had spread across the whole continent, the telegraph connected the entire United States, and businesses shifted from agriculture to machines. Some settlers on the Oregon Trail traveled to start their own businesses in the West. Others set off for different reasons but soon discovered opportunities that led to new business ventures.
William John Livingstone is a great example of a pioneering businessman—in more ways than one! He was born into slavery in Missouri in 1836 but was freed during the Civil War. He made his way to Oregon in 1864 and settled in the Clarkes area, southeast of Oregon City. Livingstone worked at many different jobs. As a hostler (someone who cares for horses), he worked at a stagecoach relay station, caring for the horses as the stagecoaches changed teams. He also worked at a lumber mill and, eventually, saved enough money to start his own successful business .