William C. Noon was born in Leicester, England, in 1835. At the age of nine years he came with his parents to America, settling in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father found employment at his trade in a woolen mill. He received the benefits of a common school education until thirteen years old when he began to work in a woolen mill at Andover. He was employed for several years thereafter in similar mills at Lawrence and Worcester, Massachusetts, and for some three or four years in the State of Maine. During this period he acquired a very thorough knowledge of the business and became very proficient, especially in carding and spinning.
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The memorable financial depression of 1857 was particularly severe on the eastern woolen manufacturers and all of them were either forced to suspend operation or continue their business on the most limited scale. Nearly all the weavers in the Eastern States were thrown out of employment. Mr. Noon not being able to secure work at his trade sought new avenues in which he might gain a livelihood. At this time the discoveries of gold in California were attracting immigration from all parts of the country, and in the spring of 1858 Mr. Noon started for the Pacific Coast, at the time having only sufficient money to pay his fare. He arrived in California via Isthmus of Panama, in the spring of 1858, and from that time until the spring of 1861, was engaged in mining and ranching, on the American River. In the latter business he was particularly unfortunate, the great flood in the spring of 1861 destroying his entire herd of stock which he had gained at the end of three years of the hardest kind of toil. He was thus reduced to the same financial condition in which he had come into the State. After working a sufficient time to gain the necessary money to pay his fare to Oregon, he left California, and in February, 1862 arrived in Portland. The woolen mills at Salem had then been in operation but a short time, and here he soon after obtained employment. He remained in Salem until the fall of 1863, when he went to the Salmon River mines, and for four succeeding seasons was engaged in mining, during the. winter being employed in the Oregon City mills.
In 1869 Mr. Noon came to Portland and entered the employ of J. W. Cook, a bag, tent and awning manufacturer. This branch of business was conduced at this time on a very limited scale in Portland, but Mr. Noon, with his practical experience with machinery and his knowledge of cloth manufacturing, saw its possibilities if properly managed. In 1873 he purchased Mr. Cook’s interest in the business and under his management it has grown to be one of the largest manufacturing enterprises in the State. For eleven years Mr. Noon conducted the business very successfully alone, but since, it has been operated by the firm of W. C. Noon & Co. Their factory is the oldest of its kind in the city and its capacity is now more than all the other similar factories in the northwest. It gives employment to seventy persons and is equipped with the most expensive and latest improved machinery of every description. The building occupied by the firm stands on the corner of First and C streets, is four stories high and one of the most substantial pieces of architecture in the city. The four floors and basement are occupied, and every facility is afforded for making the lightest summer oiling cover to the heaviest canvas for the largest public gathering, besides sails of all sizes and weight. Year by year their trade has extended until at the present time they not only supply the field of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, but also sell largely in British Columbia, Alaska, Montana and Utah.
The building up of this large business within comparatively a few years has almost solely devolved upon Mr. Noon. He has been, and is still, the practical business head of the concern, and it has been almost entirely owing to his exertions that such a high degree of success has been attained. He has not only had many years experience in this line of work but possesses a high order of mechanical ability. These requisites, added to constant and unflaging industry and honorable business methods, explain the develoment of an enterprise which has grown to be an important factor in Portland’s material prosperity.
Mr. Noon has been a consistent member of Grace Methodist Church for many years, and is one of its trustees. He was married in 1867 b Adeline Good, of Oregon City, who died in 1870, two children having been born to them. Mr. Noon’s present wife was Miss Emily Southard of Norwich, Connecticut. They have had four children of whom three are living, In all that relates to Portland’s growth and prosperity, during nearly two decades, Mr. Noon has borne a part of far-reaching influence. His labors have contributed to the now well recognized and acknowledged commercial supremacy secured by Portland over a wide territory, and it is largely owing to the efforts put forth by men such as Mr. Noon that the city will continue to hold the bulk of trade of the Pacific Northwest.