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Biography of Hon. Rufus Mallory

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HON. RUFUS MALLORY. – Mr. Rufus Mallory, one of the most prominent members of the legal fraternity in the State of Oregon, is of New England stock, his parents having been born and raised in Connecticut. Our subject himself was born on the 10th of June, 1831, at Coventry, Chenango county, New York, from where he moved with his parents in the fall of that year to Alleghany county, and six years later to Steuben county in the same state. In the latter place he resided until 1855, when he went to New London, Iowa, where he remained until 1858. In September of that year he started for Oregon, reaching Jacksonville on the 1st of January, 1859. From there he proceeded northward as far as Roseburg, where he remained until the fall of 1862, when he moved to Salem, having in the meantime married, June 24, 1860, Miss Lucy A. Rose, daughter of Aaron Rose, founder and proprietor of the town of Roseburg. From 1862 until December, 1887, he maintained his residence at Salem, when he moved to Portland, Oregon, and has since made that city his home.

Having thus given a brief outline of Mr. Mallory’s career, it will be most interesting to go back to his earliest days and follow his life through its devious windings up to the present time. That portion of New York to which his parents moved from Connecticut was new, rough and heavily timbered, offering but little opportunity for anything but hard work. There was but small chance for schooling; but such as there was our subject took eager advantage of, and after he was fourteen years of age attended the Alfred Academy in Alleghany county three terms in as many years, one of the terms lasting an entire year. The winter he was sixteen he taught a country school for a short time with such success that he was employed the next winter at the same place for a longer period. About 1851 he went to clerking in a small store in the little town of Andover, and there found an opportunity to gratify, in a small way, his greatest ambition.

It had always been his desire to study law; but his parents were not able to educate him for that profession. Neither were they much inclined to do so if they had been able; for they were quite impressed with the idea that a lawyer’s chance for honor was much less favorable than if he followed almost any other profession or trade. However, at the store where he was clerking, he found a copy of Blackstone’s commentaries. He also found that one of the partners in the store was a learned lawyer; and under his directions, and by the aid of his instructions, he applied all his leisure moments to reading law. When he went West he followed teaching during the season schools where carried on, and worked at whatever he could find to do when not teaching, and in the meantime read law whenever opportunity offered itself.

Upon his arrival at Roseburg, Oregon, he engaged in teaching, which avocation he followed for fifteen months. It was at Roseburg that he met Hon. S.F. Chadwick, afterwards governor of Oregon, who, learning of his desire to prosecute his law studies kindly tendered him the use of his office, and books to read. The offer was gladly accepted; and in the spring of 1860 he was duly admitted to practice in the district court. In June of that year he was elected prosecuting attorney of the first judicial district, embracing Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties. In 1862 he was elected by the Union party to the legislature from Douglas county.

The legislature of which he was thus a member was the one which elected Hon. B.F. Harding United States senator; and Hon. J.G. Wilson was made judge of a new judicial district which was formed of the counties east of the Cascade Mountains. Harding and Wilson were practicing law at Salem, having the leading law business there at that time. Wilson was prosecuting attorney for the third district, composed of Marion, Linn, Polk and Yamhill counties. The election of Mr. Harding to the Senate, and the appointment of Mr. Wilson as district judge, not only broke up the law firm, but made a vacancy in the office of prosecuting attorney. Messrs. Harding and Wilson thereupon offered Mr. Mallory their legal business; and Governor Gibbs offered him the office of prosecuting attorney if he would move to Salem. The two offers were accepted; and he was soon installed as the leading lawyer of the Capital city. In 1864 he was elected to the office which he had so acceptably filled by appointment, holding the position two years longer.

In 1866 Mr. Mallory was elected, as a Republican, to represent the State of Oregon in the lower house of Congress. He served the state faithfully and well, and returned to Salem in 1869 to resume the practice of his profession. His political life had not ended, however; for in 1874 he was appointed by President Grant to the office of United States district attorney for Oregon, and was reappointed in 1878 by President Hayes. In 1882, after his second term as district attorney had expired, he was appointed special agent of the Treasury Department to go to Singapore, India, on some business connected with that department. he found when at Singapore that he was nearly half way around the earth, and so kept on traveling westward until he navigated the globe in just four months’ time. His actual traveling time was seventy-eight days.

On his return he resumed the practice of his profession in Portland, and brought his family to that city from Salem in 1887, where he is still engaged, composing one of the law firm of Dolph, Bellinger, Mallory & Simon.

Of his political faith, Mr. Mallory says: “As long ago as I can remember anything of politics, I was a Whig. My first vote was for General Scott for President in 1852. Since the overthrow of the Whig party, I have acted with the Republican party.”


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