Edward James Northrup was born in Albany, New York, July 4th 1834, and was a son of Nelson Northrup, long known as a merchant in old Oregon. He spent several years of his early life in school, but when quite young began his business career as a clerk in a book store in Boston, where he remained until 1852, when he came to Portland. Here he entered the general merchandise store of Northrup & Simonds, of which firm his father was senior member, remaining with them as clerk until 1856, when associating himself with James M. Blossom, he succeeded to the business of the firm, under the firm name of Northrup & Blossom. Through several changes of partners Mr. Northrup continued as leading partner until 1878, when failing health compelled him for a time to retire from business. The house was then under the name of Northrup & Thompson. He then sold out to his partner when the firm of Thompson, DeHart & Co. was established and succeeded to the business which he had for so many years conducted, and which is still continued under the firm name of Honeyman, De Hart & Co. A year’s rest fully restored his health and he began business anew as a dealer in hardwood, lumber and wagon supplies, in which he continued alone until a few weeks before his death when he associated with him J. G. Chown and J. Hazeltine. It was while reorganizing his business, after the admission of the partners named, and moving into new quarters that Mr. Northrup met with an aocident which caused his death. While busy in arranging his stock, on April 9th, 1883, he accidentally fell through a trap-door, which had been recently cut through the floor, falling a distance of twenty feet and sustaining injuries from which he died a few hours later. The entire community in which he was so well and favorably known was shocked by his sudden death, and the expressions of grief and sympathy were sincere and profound. The public press of the city voiced the sentiments and feelings of all who knew the sterling worth of his character when it said: ” He was one of the most valuable of our citizens. He was actuated by a high public spirit, was noted for conscientious devotion to duty in all relations of life, and always bore a part in every movement for promotion of the interest of the community both in a moral and material way. He was one of the men whom the community, which is fortunate to possess them, can least afford to spare.”
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Mr. Northrup died in the prime of life and at the inception of the grand results of a noble and useful career. As a business man he was noted for a high order of ability, united to energy and strict integrity which made his name stand as the synonym for commercial honor. He was modest and retiring in disposition and had no taste for public life, and although often importuned by his fellow citizens to occupy public positions, he always declined. He, however; was a man of great public spirit, and took deep interest in everything pertaining to the best interests of the city materially or morally. The only political office, we believe, he ever accepted was that of delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1880, which nominated the lamented Garfield.
For many years Mr. Northup was a consistent and leading member of the Methodist church, belonging to the Taylor street church, where for several years he held the position of trustee. In deeds of charity, cause of temperance and promotion of Christianity, he was a quiet, but earnest and faithful worker. He took a deep interest in the Young Men’s Christian Association, and for a long time was one of its active managers. He was long one of the publishing committee of the Pacific Christian Advocate, and at the time of his death a member of the Pacific Advocate Publishing Company.
Mr. Northrup was married in 1856, to Miss Frances C. McNamee, who with five children survive her husband. The children in order of birth are: Ada F., wife of C. A. Morden; Clara E., Frank O., Edwin P., and Ellen A. wife of J. Millard Johnson.
Among the active and enterprising men, who in the early history of our city organized its institutions and gave character to its government and commercial affairs, none are entitled to more of honor than Mr. Northrup. Unpretentious, a practical business man, his whole life was passed on a high plane, and the influence he exerted was such as flows from a symmetrical, wholesome and Christian character.