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VAN B. DE LASHMUTT. – The present mayor of Portland exemplifies the versatility characteristic of the early pioneers. As journalist, merchant, real-estate dealer, capitalist, banker and miner, he has been able to bring to bear his large abilities with equal facility. He is a native of the Hawkeye state, having been born at Burlington in 1842, where he passed his early years on a farm, – the best of all places to develop muscle and nerve. He reached Oregon in 1852, and when a youth of fifteen entered the office of the Salem Statesman, having a latent ambition for journalism, and was treated with fatherly consideration by Asahel Bush, the editor. Upon the outbreak of the Civil war, he left his prospects at our capital, and, enlisting in the Third California Infantry, served his term with General Conner’s command in Utah. When mustered out in 1864, he again directed his attention to journalism, being publisher and editor of the Times at Washoe, Nevada. Even while in the army at Salt Lake he had been concerned in publishing the Vidette, the first daily in the Mormon capital.
In 1865 he had reached Oregon once more, and found employment in the office of the Oregonian. Although displaying the qualities which constitute a journalist, he sought a freer and more remunerative field in the business world. with unusual sagacity he saved his earnings, and with a Mr. Hibbard, and later with H.B. Oatman, carried on a successful business. In 1870 he diverted his capital into a general real-estate and brokerage line. This was a time in the city’s history analogous to the present; and the careful investments made by Mr. De Lashmutt multiplied his fortune many fold. He is now regarded as the owner of more improved property than any other man in our metropolis.
In connection with Judge Thayer and others, he incorporated in September, 1882, the Metropolitan Savings Bank, which, though at first beset with difficulties, won for itself through his able management an enviable repute as one of the most stable and prosperous institutions in Portland. Encouraged by its success, he organized in 1886 the Oregon National Bank, of which he was elected president, and conducted its affairs with such ability that it has ever since been recognized as among the soundest and safest in the state, its business increasing to vast proportions. Thus Mr. De Lashmutt has gained for himself an established reputation as one of the most able financiers on the pacific coast, being elected president of the Ellensburgh National Bank, the Arlington National Bank, and the Miners’ exchange Bank at Wardner, and also being connected with the Northwestern Loan and Trust Company.
Perhaps Mr. De Lashmutt is best known outside of the city for his extensive mining enterprises. He early made large investments in the Coeur d’Alene region, and now owns a controlling interest in three of the largest mines in that wonderfully rich quartz district, – the Sierra Nevada, Stemwinder and granite. At their present valuation, these mines are worth one million dollars; and two of them have declared dividends amounting to twenty thousand dollars. These mines will be source of wealth for many years to come. Their productive capacity will be so largely increased by their further development that annual dividends amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars may confidently be expected.
It was in connection with these enterprises that Mr. De Lashmutt rendered the city of Portland and the people of Oregon and Washington a service too valuable to be computed. When, by the proposed joint lease of the Oregon Railway & navigation Company to the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific, the interests of this region were threatened with the stoppage of competitive transportation and the cessation of construction of much-needed lines of railway, he stepped to the front and assumed the expense and responsibility of securing an injunction. Others indulged in protestation and argument; but nothing but effective action could satisfy him. In spite of fair promises from the promoters of the joint-lease scheme, he adhered to his position until it had the effect of defeating the proposed action. The results are already apparent in the renewed activity of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company to secure new territory and push its line to Spokane Falls and the Coeur d’Alene mines.
In February, 1868, Mr. De Lashmutt married Miss Kelly, a native of Kentucky, who came with her parents to Oregon in early infancy. Her father, Albert Kelly, was a Methodist clergyman. It is almost unnecessary to say that she is a lady held in very high esteem in the social circles of Portland, as well as in its religious society. Of their five children, two sons and one daughter survive. The elder son, an energetic and studious youth, with decided literary tastes, is receiving his education at Leipsic, Germany. The younger is at Portland, and the only daughter at Wellesley College.
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In physique and appearance, Mr. De Lashmutt is a man somewhat above medium height, with a slender but well-knit frame, upright in carriage, quick of speed and agile in motion, with black hair and eyes, and a luxuriant growth of beard. In his regular and well-chiseled features, his lofty forehead, and his clear, prominent eye, there is an expression of kindliness and benevolence, of strong intelligence, and a keen sense of humor.
He has not until recently been concerned in politics. But in 1888 the circumstances demanded his presence; and he was elected by the city council as mayor of Portland, and was afterwards re-elected by the people by a majority of 1,071, the largest ever recorded in the political annals of our metropolis. Of this victory he is justly proud, as an indication of the esteem and respect in which he is held by the community. He is still a man in the prime of life; and the nerve and foresight which have given him such substantial results hitherto will undoubtedly lead to even greater things.