Rufus Mallory is of New England ancestry, and descended from a strong and hardy stock, well fitted for the furnishing of such elements as are needed to command success and produce laudable results in the new but rapidly growing country in which his lot was cast and where modern civilization has come with such splendid strides.
About 1816 his parents left their home in Connecticut for the West, as New York State was then called, and settled in the town of Coventry in Chenango County, at which place the subject of our sketch, the youngest of a family of nine children, was born, June 10, 1831.
Five or six months after his birth the family removed to Steuben county. This county at that time was new and thinly settled, and the disadvantages that existed were almost as great as a few years later confronted the pioneers in opening up the country of the far West. Railroads had not reached this part of the country, and communication with the outside world was extremely difficult. School houses had been built, but instruction was limited to the common branches, and often entrusted to unqualified persons.
It was amid these surroundings that the youth of our subject was passed. Being the youngest of the family his labors on the farm were less demanded than that of the older boys, and when school was in session he usually attended, but considering the character of the school this cannot be said to have been much of an advantage. When he had grown old enough for his labor to be of value on the farm, this condition of things was changed, and he was obliged to work during the summer, and his school privileges were confined to the winter months. Even at this period, and with his indifferent surroundings and opportunities, he made some progress and showed a decided aptitude for acquiring knowledge, taking rank among the first at school. At Alfred Center, eleven miles from his father’s farm, was an institution known as Alfred Academy. To attend that school was the especial ambition of every youth in the vicinity who desired to gain an education. The winter that young Mallory became fourteen years of age, he was sent to this Academy and remained during a term of thirteen weeks, which constituted the first real systematic course of instruction he had ever received. This was supplemented by two more terms during the following two winters, which completed all the educational advantages he ever enjoyed. He however made good use of his opportunities and obtained a fair English education, taking advantage of which, like so many country-bred American boys, at the age of sixteen he obtained a position as teacher, and was thus employed for several winters, working on the farm during the other months of the year.
Although there was little in his surroundings to stimulate his desire to enter the legal profession, young Mallory had an ambition to become a lawyer. He had not the means necessary to permit him to pursue the required study, and his parents were not only financially unable to assist him, but were not disposed to encourage what they deemed an unworthy ambition. Both of his parents had been reared under the old Puritanical theories respecting religious and secular affairs, and they were firmly convinced that a lawyer’s chance for honor was small indeed.
These discouragements and difficulties, however, did not cause young Mallory to abandon his cherished desire to become a lawyer, and an opportunity to make a start towards this end soon presented itself. In 1851 he became a clerk in a store in the small town of Andover, about four miles from his home. One of the partners in the firm was an old gentleman named Jonathan Everett. He was an excellent scholar and a well read lawyer, and had been a practitioner in New Hampshire at the same bar with Daniel Webster, on several occasions having been associated with him in the trial of cases. He had quite a number of law books, the use of which he kindly-loaned to Mr. Mallory. Here our young clerk began the study of Blackstone during the leisure moments when not employed at his duties about the store. Mr. Everett was of great assistance to him, and did much to properly direct his studies.
Mr. Mallory remained at Andover, spending the little time he could spare from his work in reading law, until the spring of 1855, when he was placed in charge of three flat boats, loaded with sash, doors and blinds, and proceeded with them down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers, selling them to the towns on the way until he reached the mouth of the Ohio river. Returning home he came by railroad from Cairo to Chicago, and thus had an excellent chance to see the West. This trip determined him to settle in the West, and in the fall of 1855 he located in Henry county, Iowa, where he taught school and read law until 1858, when he started for Oregon, reaching Jacksonville on the 1st day of January, 1859, a few weeks before the bill admitting the State into the Union was signed by the President. He first located in Roseburg, Douglas county, where he engaged in teaching, and continued his law studies in the office of Ex-Governor S. F. Chadwick, who was then practicing law at that place. In the spring of 1860 he was admitted to practice in the Circuit Court, and in June of the same year was elected for a term of two years Prosecuting Attorney for the first judicial district, composed of the counties of Douglas, Jackson and Josephine, and during his administration of the duties of this office, established a reputation as an attorney and counsellor which was highly creditable, and to which succeeding years and experience have constantly added new laurels.
In 1862 he was elected a member of the legislature from Douglas county, and in the fall of the same year removed to Salem, where he was appointed by the Governor Prosecuting Attorney of the Third District, comprising the counties of Marion, Linn, Polk and Yamhill, Vice Hon. J. G. Wilson, who was appointed first Circuit Judge of the Fifth Judicial District. So satisfactorily did Mr. Mallory discharge the duties of this office, that in 1864 he was elected to succeed himself for a full term of two years.
At the general election in 1866 Mr. Mallory was elected Congressman from Oregon, and for two years worthily represented his State at the National Capital. At the end of his term he returned to Salem and resumed the practice of law. In 1872 he represented Marion county in the State Legislature, and was elected Speaker of the House, in which position he was noted for the fairness of his rulings, and displayed a high order of executive and parliamentary ability.
In 1874 he was appointed United States District Attorney for Oregon by President Grant, and reappointed in 1878 by President Hayes. In 1882 he was appointed Special Agent of the Treasury Department to go to Singapore, India, on business connected with that department. On completion of his business at Sangapore, he reeturned home by continuing his journey westward, and thus circumnavigated the globe, his actual travelling time being seventy-eight days.
On his return to Portland Mr. Mallory resumed the practice of his profession, remaining alone until the fall of 1883, when he entered into partnership with C. A. Dolph, ExeJudge C. B. Bellinger and Joseph Simon, a legal firm which from that time to the present has commanded a large and most lucrative practice.
Mr. Mallory was originally a Whig in politics, but since the overthrow of that party he has acted with the Republican party.
As a lawyer, Mr. Mallory ranks among the best in the State. His legal abilities have been tested in many important cases which have attracted wide attention because of new and novel questions involved, and on no occasion has he failed to acquit him-self admirably. His painstaking industry, his power of incisive analysis, his large knowledge of the principles and precedents of the law are conspicuous in all the fields of litigation, but appear to best advantage in the trial of cases. As a pleader, he particularly excels, his style of speaking being always clear, pointed and forcible. He has always been a hard worker in his profession, thoroughly knowing that the lawyer who fails by severe application to keep abreast of the constantly changing conditions pertaining to the practice of the law. must be content to occupy a secondary position. It has been mainly through this element of his character, with unlimited love for his calling, and a worthy ambition to excel, that his high position in his profession has been obtained.
Mr. Mallory was married June 24, 1860, to Miss Lucy A. Rose, daughter of Aaron Rose, of Roseburg, Oregon. They have one child, a son.