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A leading representative of the commercial interests of Hailey is R. W. Berry, the well known proprietor of a hardware store. He is an enterprising and progressive business man, whose well directed efforts, sound judgment and capable management insure him success, and today he is numbered among the substantial and valued citizens of Blaine county. A native of Maine, he was born in Augusta, on the 25th of March 1842 and is of Scotch lineage. His father, Arthur W. Berry, was born in Maine and married Miss Lucretia Jane Marble, also a native of the Pine Tree state. The father was for many years engaged in journalistic work as the publisher of the Gospel Banner. He died at the age of thirty-two years, leaving a widow and one son, the subject of this review. The mother lived to be fifty-seven years of age and died in Boise. After the death of Mr. Berry she married again and with her second husband removed to California, locating in Yuba County in 1857.
In the public schools of his native state, R. W. Berry acquired his education, and when fifteen years of age began to earn his own living. He accompanied his mother to California. Attracted by the discovery of gold, he went to Washoe, Nevada, where he engaged in prospecting and mining. He also entered land from the government and followed farming for a time, but subsequently abandoned that occupation and returned to San Francisco, where he accepted a clerkship in the Washington market, where he was employed for four years. In the fall of 1864 he went to Portland, Oregon, and the following spring made his way to the Oro Fino mines, following placer mining there and meeting with satisfactory success in his undertakings. In the fall of 1865 he sold his claim for one thousand dollars and with a party crossed on the Lolo trail to Helena, Montana, and thence to Fort Benton, where he took a Mackinaw and proceeded down the Missouri river to St, Joseph. From that point he retraced his steps to his old Maine home, and spent four years in his native state. In 1869 Mr. Berry became a resident of Boise, Idaho, where for several years he acceptably filled the office of assistant assessor of internal revenue. He was also engaged in cattle raising and owned as high as one thousand head at a time. In the spring of 1881 he received the appointment of collector of internal revenue from President Garfield, and was also engaged in the drug business at Boise for six years, as a member of the firm of W, H. Nye & Company.
In 1886 Mr. Berry came to Hailey. The town was then at the height of its prosperity, silver bringing a high price, and the mines producing largely. He purchased an interest in the hardware firm of Coffin & Company, and the following year the business was incorporated, the principal incorporators being E. C. Coffin and R, W. Berry. Two years later a destructive fire swept over the town and with many others the company lost heavily. They carried insurance to the amount of thirty thousand and five hundred dollars but their losses above that were estimated at sixty thousand dollars. Four blocks of the enterprising little city were swept away by the fiery element, and many merchants were thus badly crippled financially. Almost immediately, however, a new business center rose phoenix-like from the ashes. Hardly had the smoke cleared away when Coffin & Company, on the site of their old store, began the erection of a good building, thirty-five by one hundred and twenty feet, refitted it with a well selected stock of hard-ware, and in the fall of the same year Mr. Berry bought out the other members of the corporation and became the sole owner of the business, which he has since successfully conducted. He keeps a large general stock of hardware and mining supplies, and now enjoys a liberal patronage which comes to him not only from Hailey, but also throughout the surrounding country. His pleasant manner, his courteous treatment of his patrons, and his honorable dealing have secured to him a large trade, and he justly merits his prosperity.
In 1875 Mr. Berry was married and has two daughters. The elder, Mary, is a stenographer for the civil-service commission at Washington, D. C.; and Louise, a graduate of the State Normal School at New Paltz, New York, is now a successful teacher in Ulster county, that state. In 1863 Mr. Berry was made a Mason in San Francisco Lodge, No. 1, F. & A. M., in California; has held various offices in the order, and is now affiliated with Boise Lodge, No. 2. In politics he has always been a Republican, but since 1896 has supported the silver wing of the party. He ranks very high as an honorable and successful businessman, and well deserves mention among the representative citizens of his adopted state.