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Biography of Syrenous Burnett McCord

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S.B. McCORD. – Syrenous Burnett McCord, one of the leading hardware merchants of Eastern Oregon, was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, in 1842. He went with his parents to Wisconsin when a youth, and lived there several years. At the age of eighteen he entered into an apprenticeship in a blacksmith shop in the city of Black Jack, his boss being the Honorable George W. Strong; and there he served out his time and came out a good workman.

He crossed the plains in 1864, leaving with Colonel Flurney’s train. At Baldock’s ranch, in the Powder river valley, Oregon, he at once entered into the blacksmithing business at Pocahontas, seven miles northwest of Baker City. He came down the valley the next spring, and started the little town of Wingville, which he named after a little town near his old home in Wisconsin. At Wingville, too, he plied the art of Vulcan, but in 1868 came to Baker City and engaged in his trade in partnership with his brother, R.D., who was there before him. The brothers dissolved partnership in 1871; and S.B. entered the hardware business on his own responsibility.

He was a member of the first city council of Baker City, and in 1886 was elected county treasurer on the Democratic ticket, being re-elected in 1888. He was was also elected the first mayor of Baker City in 1887, and was re-elected in 1888. He takes special pleasure in remembering the fact that he was the first to advocate bringing in and operating a water system for Baker City. In that effort he encountered the heavy opposition of a company of capitalists, who desired a franchise for a private enterprise. Clearly seeing the danger of putting so important a public matter in any other than city control, Mr. McCord exerted all his efforts in opposition, and was successful; and the citizens of the city may well thank him for his great service.

He was married in 1871 to Miss Angie Speelman, daughter of a pioneer of 1862; and they now have a family of seven children.

Mr. McCord believes that the resources of Baker city and county are great enough to insure a flourishing future. The combination of mining, farming, lumbering and grazing interests points to a diversity of industries and a consequent large population.

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