Biography of Harrison B. Oatman
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HARRISON B. OATMAN. – This gentleman, a pioneer of the early days, and at present one of the capitalists of Portland, was born at Cortland, New York, in 1826. As a child he moved with his parents to Ohio, and at the new home in Bellevue attended school, laying a good foundation for his later study and information. At twelve he removed with his parents to Rockford, Illinois, and was married there in 1847 to Miss Lucena K. Ross.
In 1853 he made with his family the toilsome journey to Oregon, crossing the plains with ox-teams, and establishing his home in Jackson County. The early days of his residence there were spent in mining, and in trading and packing. He was closely associated with the lamented Fields, whose massacre at the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains in 1853 was the real beginning of the general Indian war. Indeed, Mr. Oatman was a member of the party to which Fields belonged, and was with him on that lonely mountain; and by only a chance, running between the arrows, he escaped to the settlers and gave the alarm, in response to which a company was gathered and the mutilated body of Fields recovered. Mr. Oatman remained in Southern Oregon fourteen years, coming thence to Portland, where he has since resided. On arriving there he went into the grocery trade, which he gave up after a number of years and confined himself to speculations in land. Being bold, keen and strong handed, he has carried on his operations with great success. Of late years he has invested his capital largely in the Coeur d’Alene mines, and has realized large returns.
He has an army record worthy and significant. In 1865 he joined the First Oregon Infantry, and after serving two years was mustered out in 1867 with the rank of first lieutenant and with numerous commendations for gallant conduct upon the field.