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Biography of Sigismund A. Heilner

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SIGISMUND A. HEILNER. – This leading merchant, who is described as one of the most energetic, broadminded, and liberal citizens of Eastern Oregon, exhibits in his life that romance of business which has made many of the phases of Western life so fascinating to the young men of our state.

He was born and educated in Bavaria, and in 1853 came to New York, repairing soon to Washington, District of Columbia, and within two years more to Crescent city, California, and Althouse, Oregon. At that point he was engaged in business, and was there during the war of 1856. As commander of an expedition for packing arms and ammunition to the volunteers, he saw active service, and was barricaded for some time. Upon this packing trip he found one man killed and another wounded by Indians, who had surprised them on the road; and his report of this outrage was the news which precipitated the war in that section. He saw service thereafter under Captain Driscoll.

In 1865 Mr. Heilner left merchandising, and being unsuccessful in quartz mining came up to Portland in search of an opening. Taking a stock of goods, he set out for the wild region at the Little Dalles, and thence passed to the Big Bend country. Thereafter he penetrated as far as Bear Gulf, Montana, and there disposed of the remainder of his goods. He now showed his facility by taking up a business which he had learned in the Old Country, that of landscape and portrait painting. In this pursuit he was successful; but it did not last long, and he returned to Portland, where he found employment with the Alaska Fur Company.

Upon his return some years later from the north, he was married to a lady of recognized position in Portland; and he engaged in business at Sparta in Union county, but subsequently removed to Baker City, Oregon, where he is at the present time successfully engaged in the forwarding and commission business, and the renting of several fine business houses. A magnificent design for a structure, in the hands of architect A.M. Milwain of Portland at present, will be erected during the season of 1889 by him; and he is always on the alert for improving Baker City.

His two oldest sons, Jesse and Joe, are cadets in Bishop Scott’s Academy, Portland, Oregon.

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