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Wallowa county had been signally favored in having within her borders a generous quota of sturdy pioneers, but she is fortunate in having also some of the most enterprising men of younger years that are in northeastern Oregon, who brought into the veins of commerce quickened blood and vigorous methods that have placed them in the front ranks and have made their respective lines very successful. Such a one is the subject of this sketch, and to his credit be it said of him that not alone in the commercial world has he been eminently successful but also in the profession of the educator he has gained signal honors and made a record for himself that compares favorably with any one in the state, and to such a gentleman we are pleased to allot space in this history, since also he has displayed an upright character and maintained an unsullied reputation in all of his activities.
Mr. Ratcliff was born in Russiaville, Clinton County, Indiana, on March 18, 1872, being the son of Thomas A. and Elizabeth J. (Irby) Ratcliff. His early life was spent on the farm with his parents and when he was seven years old, the family removed to Cherokee county, Kansas, and in 1887 they came to LaGrande, Oregon. In the various places where they resided the son attended the common schools, and also gave much time in addition to the pursuit of knowledge, thus demonstrating both his precocity and his diligence. When they came to Enterprise, in 1888, he attended the academy. Upon examination at different times he won all the grades of certificates that are granted by the county and on March 2, 1899, he won the state diploma. As soon as age permitted he began the business of instruction and steadily he pursued his profession until he stood at the top and gained a reputation that was second to none of his associates. For six years he was one of the leading educators of this part of the state but in September 1900, he departed from his first love and launched into the commercial world. In this field the same vigor and diligence have been manifested and he stands today the leading furniture dealer in the county. He has a fine stock of furniture, a good store building, and a comfortable residence, and does the leading business in his line in the county. His uniform uprightness in dealing and his deferential treatment of customers, together with skill in handing the articles needed, have built for him a trade that is large and lucrative, and which is constantly increasing.
On December 16, 1896, Mr. Ratcliff married Miss Rachel E. daughter of Jackson and Phoebe Johnson of Wallowa, and two children have gladdened this union, Namely, Ivan J. and Leola. Mr. Ratcliff is a member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge No. 153 of Enterprise. Mr. Ratcliff’s parents lived in Enterprise until December 1901, when they rented their farm and sold their town property and removed to Salem, this state, where they now reside. The father served in the Civil war, in the One Hundred and First Indiana Volunteers. He participated in the battle of Chickamauga, receiving there a wound and is carrying the bullet to this day. He was also with Sherman in his immortal march to the sea and was honorably discharged at the close of the war. He is now a member of the G.A.R. and is a also a Republican. He and his wife are active workers in the Christian church and display a life of faithfulness. Our subject and his estimable wife are valuable members of society and have the confidence and esteem of all who may have the pleasure of their acquaintance.