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Among the young business men of Portland none have exerted a more powerful influence toward advancing the material progress of the city during the past few years than George B. Markle. The various projects he has been largely instrumental in creating and successfully carrying out, have been far reaching in their wholesome effect upon the prosperity of Portland, and justly entitle him to a prominent place in the commercial and financial history of the city.
He is a native of Pennsylvania, having been born in Hazleton, Lucerne county, on the 7th of October, 1857. Until the age of twelve he received the educational advantages of the private and public schools of Hazelton. He then passed four years in a boarding school at White Plains, New York. His parents removed to Philadelphia, in 1874, and after one year’s attendance in a preparatory school in this city he entered Lafayette college, graduating from this institution in 1878. After graduation he was employed in the Anthracite coal mines at Geddo, Pennsylvania, which were owned by the firm of G. B. Markle & Co., his father being the senior member of the firm. In 1880, his father’s health having failed, young Markle entered the employ of the banking house of Pardee, Markle & Grier, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and also continued with their successors, Pardee & Markle, as representative of his father’s interests. In 1882, the older members of the firm retired and the firm of Markle Bros. & Co. was formed, of which Mr. Markle was the managing partner until 1886.
Mr. Markle’s desire to locate in the west led him, in the spring of 1886, to make a tour of inspection, which embraced Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. A careful examination of all this region convinted him that Portland offered the best inducements as a business point, combined with all the advantages of an old settled community, and in the fall of that year he permanently located in this city. He immediately became a factor in the busy life around him, and displayed a business generalship which marked him as a man of unusual power, and gave him a place among the foremost business men of the city seldom accorded in any community to one of his years. A bare mention of the enterprises in which he is interested and largely assisted to organize and place upon a prosperous basis will give an idea of his energy and clear business foresight. With others he organized the Oregon National Bank, of which he is vice president; also the Ellensburgh National Bank, the Northwest Loan and Trust Company and the Commercial Bank of Vancouver, being president of the last three corporations named. He was one of the purchasers of the Multnomah Street Railway; reorganized the” company and ever since has been its president. This company owns the extensive system of street rail-ways on Washington, B, Eleventh and Fifteenth streets. He is also president of the Portland Mining Company, owning the Sunset group of mines in the famous Coeur d’Alene district. He was one of the leading spirits in organizing the great enterprise of the North Pacific Industrial Association; purchased the land upon which to erect the necessary building and secured a large number of subscriptions to its capital stock.
One of the most important services rendered by Mr. Markle was the part he bore in the organization of the Portland Hotel Company. Mr. Henry Villard, then president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, began the erection of a hotel in Portland, in 1883, such as the importance of the city demanded. His financial embarrassment, which occurred soon after, put a stop to the work, and for years thereafter, although the lack of a hotel, such as Mr. Villard proposed to erect, was one of the greatest needs of the city, no one seemed to have sufficient courage to undertake the enterprise. It was left to Mr. Markle to take hold of the matter, and in his energetic and practical manner, in a few days a large number of subscriptions to the capital stock of the Portland Hotel Company was secured. The company was soon after incorporated and work began upon the building, which has since been completed, giving to Portland one of the finest hotels on the Pacific slope.
Mr. Markle is also a stockholder and director in the Columbia Fire and Marine Ins. Company, and has extensive real estate interests, including a share in various tracts near the city, aggregating several hundred acres, and in the Portland Addition to the city of Vancouver, Washington.
At an age when most men are only beginning to see their way clear toward the substantial things of life, Mr. Markle has already achieved a well earned success. He not only has the ability to project great schemes, but what is more essential the nerve and energy, the courage and financial skill to carry them to a successful issue. Young in years, strong in intellect, in the full vigor of life, and buoyant in hope and aspiration there can be but a career of usefulness and prosperity before this gentle-man, especially in a region where the greatest scope is open to one possessing the prescience to perceive, and the talent to improve the great opportunities the future so abundantly promises.
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Mr. Markle is of ordinary height, heavy built with a full ruddy face indicative of good health, and a hearty, robust constitution. He is mature in appearance and gives the impression of being older than his years. He is cool and deliberate in manner, and under the most exciting circumstances would not be apt to lose his equilibrium. He is a man of positive convictions and is not easily turned aside from an undertaking his judgment approves, no matter how difficult the consummation of his scheme may at times appear. It is this quality of persistence, added to the ability of being able to promptly provide means to meet emergencies, which is the strongest element in his character, and to which more than all else is due his success in life.
Mr. Markle was married on June 4, 1889, to Miss Kate Goodwin, daughter of Lieutenant W. P. Goodwin, of the United States Army. They have a fine residence on Portland Heights, which commands a magnificent view of a wide extent of country unsurpassed for great natural beauty.