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The subject of this sketch was born in Franklin County, Ohio, on the 23td day of June, 1837, and came to Oregon by way of the Isthmus of Panama, in 1855. Educational advantages were offered him in select schools in his native State, where he gained a thoroughly practical business training. Upon arriving in Oregon, and incidentally meeting with some of the public officials of the day, his superior clerical abilities were very soon recognized, and he received the appointment of clerk under Captain (now General), Robert McFeely, U. S. A., and Quartermaster P. H. Sheridan, then a comparatively unknown soldier. Mr. Earhart remained in the service of the military department until Quartermaster Sheridan left this coast, in 1861, to take part in the war of the rebellion. During this period occurred the Yakima Indian war, in which he rendered valuable aid to the officials under whom he served.
In 1861 he engaged in general mercantile business in Yamhill and Polk counties, in which he continued until he was appointed United States Indian Agent at the Warm Springs Agency, to succeed Colonel Logan, where he remained until the appointment of Captain John Smith, 1865. For some time thereafter he served as chief clerk and special Indian agent under Superintendent Huntington, and was Secretary of the Board of Commissioners appointed by the General Government to treat with the Klamath and Modoc Indians. In 1878 he again engaged in the mercantile business in Salem, in which he continued until 1872. In conjunction with other citizens Mr. Earhart was active in maintaining peace and quiet at the capital during the troublesome times when the civil war was raging, and when an outbreak might have occurred but for the courage and coolness of a few citizens who were prepared for active service and could be ready for any emergency at a moment’s notice.
He represented Marion County in the Legislature in 1870, and was instrumental in securing the first appropriation for the erection of public buildings in the State. At the close of his term he removed to Portland where he has since continued to reside, and for some time was engaged in the business department of the Daily Bulletin. In. 1874 he was appointed chief clerk of the Surveyor General’s office, which position he held until 1878, when he resigned to accept the office of Secretary of State, to which he had been elected. He entered upon the duties of that office in September of that year, and at once thoroughly reorganized and systematized the business pertaining to the office and so acceptably did he discharge his official duties during his term of four years, that he received the unanimous vote of the Republican State Convention for renomination, and secured a majority of over 2,500 votes at the general election in June, 1882. His second term like the first was eminently satisfactory to the people, and upon his retirement from office-perhaps the most responsible in the State Government-his administration was heartily endorsed both by political friends and those of opposite political faith. From 1885 to 1887 he was Adjutant General of Oregon, and in 1888 was elected a member of the Legislature from Multnomah County, in which position he is at present ably serving the public. For several years he has been actively engaged in business in Portland, and is now manager of a large corporation organized by Portland capitalists.
Mr. Earhart has taken active interest in the Masonic order for many years, having been a member of this order since 1863, and has held every office within the gift of the fraternity. He was elected Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge in 1872, and served until 1878, when in recognition of his past services in that body he was elected to the high and honorable position of Grand Master, and was re-elected in 1879. He has also been Sovereign Grand Inspector, and has attained to the thirty-third degree of the Scottish Rite in the State of Oregon. He assisted in the organization of the first Commandery of Knight Templars established on the North Pacific Coast, and served for four years as its Eminent Commander, being presented upon his retirement from that office with a beautiful Masonic jewel. Mr. Earhart, in now Grand Commander of Knights Templar of the State of Oregon.
For the last quarter of a century Mr. Earhart has been almost constantly in the service of the public in some capacity, and in every place he has been called to fill he has increased his hold upon the good opinion of the people. Indeed it would be difficult to find one better fitted by nature for the duties of public office. He is a careful, thorough business man, punctual in the discharge of every duty, and under all circumstances can be implicitly trusted. He is firm when he takes a stand he believes to be right, is always courteous and possesses that personal magnetism which effects to a more or less degree all with whom he conies in contact. He easily wins and holds the confidence of all with whom he associates, and for his intimate friends has a frank, warm and loyal attachment -as Warmly and loyally reciprocated. He is accustomed to look upon the bright side of life and at all times is brimming over with geniality and good humor, which flow from him as naturally as light from the sun. He is an engaging conversationalist, his descriptive powers being vivid, which, added to his heartiness of manner, make him a most popular and entertaining companion. He has been more than ordinarily successful in business, which can be ascribed to keenness of perception in financial matters, and well directed and persistent work. He has ever been ready to cooperate to the extent of his ability with Portland’s most public spirited citizens in any project for the benefit of the city, and during his residence here, according to his ability to do, and to give, the city has had no more helpful friend. Mr. Earhart is of ordinary height, stout build, with a full kindly face and sparkling eyes through which are displayed the cheerful and social nature, determined to extract all the good out of life consistent with right living.
He was married on July 2, 1863 to Miss N. A. Burden, daughter of Judge Burden, of Polk County, Oregon. They have four children, all daughters.