HON. A.R. BURBANK. – Mr. Burbank, a founder of society and business upon the Pacific coast, was born April 15, 1817, near Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the son of Major Daniel Burbank, an American officer in the war of 1812, who came with his family in an open boat down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers as early as 1814, and made a home on its northern shore near the present metropolis. The Major was from Williamstown, Massachusetts. His wife, Margeret Pinchen, was from Atica, New York. In 1818 a further move was made in the family boat down the Ohio to Shanetown, Illinois, thence to McLanesburgh, and in 1825 to Exeter, Morgan county, in the same state. Here, at the age of nine, A.R. Burbank, the subject of this sketch, who was the youngest of a family of six sons and five daughters, met with the loss of his mother by death, and six years later was called upon to bid his father the last farewell, and follow his body to its resting place in the grave.
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Having received very careful religions and moral training from his parents, and having acquired habits of thrift and industry, he began while still a boy to make a career and carve out for himself a fortune. As a clerk in a store he acquired an insight into and a grasp upon business affairs. At the age of twenty-six he rose to the position of partner in the firm of Hollandbush & Burbank, which did a heavy business in the town of Naples, Illinois. At the age of twenty-eight, on May 1, 1845, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Eckles, in the town of Jacksonville, and made his home in Naples. In 1849 he was led by reports from the Pacific coast to make an excursion hither, and, in the company of Reverend Isaac Owens of Indiana, performed the long and eventful journey. He acted as quartermaster on the first stages of the journey, and later as captain. Johnson’s ranch in the Sacramento valley was reached September 21, 1849, after a journey of four months and fourteen days. After a visit to the gold mines he spent the winter at Sacramento City, and subsequently engaged in merchandising and mining at Nevada City. In 1851 he made the return trip via Panama to Illinois, and once more took up business in that state at the town of Bloomington.
The Pacific coast, however, still had a fascination for his mind; and in 1853 he set out with his family for Oregon, making the journey via New Orleans and Nicaragua, and arriving at Portland May 30th of the same year. He soon went to Lafayette, and engaged in merchandising with W.S. Hussey. While at this point he was elected to the House of Representatives, and served during the session of 1855-56. While a member of the legislature, he moved the adoption of a bill for cutting a ditch from the Santiam to Mill creek, thereby giving Salem a permanent water-power. The plan was put into execution; and this was the beginning of the manufacture of woolen fabrics and of flour for which Salem has become so well known. Mr. Burbank was for a time a member of the woolen mills company. In October of 1857 he moved to Portland, and in July of the next year went north to Victoria and engaged in the mercantile business, but returned in the autumn to Portland by Puget Sound. The next autumn he opened a hotel at Monticello, in Cowlitz county, Washington Territory. In June, 1859, he was elected a member of the territorial council from that county, and served three years, acting as president of that body during the last session. In August, 1867, he returned to the place of his first choice at Lafayette, Oregon, and resumed his occupation as merchant. His popularity increasing, he was again elected, in 1872, as member of the House in the Oregon legislature.
In 1885, Mr. Burbank, having been relieved of the necessity of active business, and having property interests requiring his attention, retired from his store and has since made his residence upon a small farm adjoining Lafayette. He has ever been fully identified with religious interests, having formerly been a member of the Methodist and latterly of the Episcopal denomination. In politics he began as a Democrat, but, in anticipation of the danger of the dissolution of the Union, became a Republican, and was an organizer and the chairman of the first meeting held on the Pacific coast to organize this party, at Monticello, Washington territory. Besides the offices mentioned here as held by Mr. Burbank, he has held many minor government and state positions.
With his great natural force and high moral training, Mr. Burbank has been a prominent and necessary figure in the development of the Pacific coast in the three great states, California, Oregon and Washington. He is extensively known throughout the Pacific Northwest as a public man, and a staunch, good citizen and firm partisan. He is still a healthy, active man, although now approaching advanced age, and enjoys life at his beautiful home. Of his children but one grew to adult life. Miss Eva L. Burbank, who was drowned while bathing on the north beach at Seaview, Washington Territory. Her death was noted with great sorrow by the whole state, and was deeply mourned by her parents.