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Biography of Hon. George A. Steel

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HON. GEORGE A. STEEL. – The subject of this sketch was born in Stafford, Ohio, on April 22, 1846. Coming to Portland in 1863, he soon received an appointment to a clerkship in the Portland postoffice. Afterwards, accepting the secretaryship of the old Oregon Iron Works, he gave such satisfaction that Ladd & Tilton offered him a situation as accountant in their bank, a position which he held for five years.

In 1870 he was elected treasurer of Multnomah county, a place he filled with general approval. During the first year of his official life, he and J.K. gill purchased the book and stationery business of Harris & Holman; and for many years the firm of Gill & Steel, in spite of the rather unpromising name, won golden opinions throughout the country as one of the most thoroughly reliable in the metropolis. They increased their business by the purchase of the rival firm of Bancroft & Morse, Mr. Bancroft becoming a member of the firm. The business having reached great magnitude, Mr. Steel bought out his partners, and conducted the business himself under the name of G.A. Steel & Company. In 1872, having invested heavily in real estate, he became financially embarrassed, but with the high sense of honor characteristic of him made no assignment disadvantageous to his creditors, but met his obligations dollar for dollar. From this severe trial he emerged with a name untarnished.

In 1876 Mr. Steel began an active political career, and was chosen chairman of the Republican state central committee. He did distinguished service for his party during that campaign. In January, 1877, he was appointed special agent of the post-office department for the Northwest coast. In that responsible position he well sustained the name already gained for ability and energy. After two years of hard work in that office he resigned and was appointed deputy collector of customs by Honorable John Kelly. In that position he remained until September, 1880. He received the commission of postmaster at Portland in the following March, at the beginning of the Garfield administration. He held the place under reappointment from President Arthur till November 30,1 885. He turned his office over to his successor with the proud satisfaction of knowing that it had been well administered, and that the public had appreciated the fact. In June, 1886, he was elected state senator from Multnomah county.

During his public life he has handled over twenty million dollars, every cent of which has been accounted for. Through wise investments in real estate, Mr. Steel has acquired a handsome fortune, one sufficient to place him among the foremost of the moneyed men of the state. A magnificent fruit farm on the Willamette river, about seven miles south of Portland, attests his enjoyment of farm life. He has spent a large sum of money on it; and it promises corresponding returns. Since his retirement from the postoffice, he had been engaged with his brother James in the insurance business, much profit to both having resulted. He is now president of the Metropolitan Railway Company. This organization is building an electric railway from Portland southward.

Mr. Steel was married in 1869 to Miss Eva Pope of Oregon City.


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