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Biography of Edward James Jeffery

Edward James Jeffery was born in Oneida county, New York, April 23, 1835, and is of English descent, his parents having been born in England. During his infancy the family moved to Lenawee county, Michigan. Here he resided on a farm and obtained a limited education in the district school until the spring of 1852, when he started across the plains for the Pacific slope. In October following, after a journey of more than six months, he arrived at Placerville, California, where, until the following spring he engaged in mining. He then went to Stockton where he was employed in a brick yard for a season. In the fall he went to Tuolumne county, and worked in the mines until 1856, when he located in Shasta county, and for two years was engaged in farming. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now Upon the breaking out of the Fraser River gold excitement in 1858, he started for that region, taking passage on the Cortez on the first...

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Biography of Harrison B. Oatman

Harrison B. Oatman, of Portland, was born in Courtland county, New York, February 25, 1826. His father, Harvey B. Oatman, died one year after the birth of our subject. One year later he accompanied his mother to Bellevue, Huron county, Ohio, where the family remained ten years and then settled in West Liberty, Ohio. Here they remained four years, after which they removed to Elgin, Illinois, and a few years later to Ogle county, in the same State. The latter place was at this time a new country and here Mr. Oatman commenced life on his own account as a farmer on land obtained from the government. On December, 25,1847, he was married to Miss Lucena K. Ross, a most estimable lady, who from that day to the present time has not only shared his fortunes, but has been a most excellent wife and mother and in its highest sense a worthy helpmate and companion. He remained at Ogle until the fall of 1852, when he removed to Des Moines, Iowa, and the following summer (1853) with his brother, Harvey B. Oatman, and their families, started on the long journey across the plains to Oregon. After several weary months of traveling they arrived in the Rogue River Valley, in the fall of 1853, and here the two brothers and their wives took up a claim of 640 acres to...

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Biography of H. Y. Thompson

H. Y. Thompson was born at Senecaville, Guernsey county, Ohio, June 4, 1845. He was favored with a liberal education in the public and high schools of his native town. With the hope of improving his health, which had become impaired, in 1862, he undertook a trip across the plains and during the winter of 1862-3 was engaged in mining in Auburn, Baker County, Oregon. In the spring of 1863 he went to Idaho City and for three years carried on his mining operations at that place. His health not improving, he determined to try the climate of the valley region of Oregon and in 1866 came to Salem. He soon after obtained a position as a teacher in a school near Silverton, Marion County, at which time he began the study of law, having made arrangements with Shaw & Holman, attorneys of Salem, for the loan of the necessary books. He continued to teach and at the same time pursued his legal studies for one year near Silverton, when he secured a position in the city school of Salem, where he taught and read law for another year. He was then admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession at Salem in partnership with Sylvester C. Simpson. At this time, the Recorder of Salem having resigned, Mr. Thompson was appointed for the unexpired term and...

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Biography of George A. Steel

George A. Steel, the present Postmaster of Portland, was born in Stafford, Ohio, April 22, 1846, and is a younger brother of James Steel, whose biography appears elsewhere in this volume. At a period when most boys have only fairly began to lay the foundation for their after career, he was thrown on his own resources. The most limited opportunities were therefore afforded him in youth for acquiring even a practical education. The school of experience and self study have been the chief means of preparing him for the part he was to perform in life’s battles. At the age of sixteen he came to Portland, where he first secured employment as clerk in a commission house. In 1865 he was appointed clerk in the Portland Post office, which position he resigned to accept an appointment as secretary of the Oregon Iron Works. He afterwards secured a position in the banking house of Ladd & Tilton as accountant, and was thus employed for nearly five years. In 1870 he embarked in the wholesale and retail book and stationery business with J. K. Gill, under the firm name of Gill & Steel. This partnership was continued for some time, but finally Mr. Steel assumed sole charge of a portion of the business. In January, 1877, he was appointed Special Agent of the Post Office Department for the Northwest Coast. He...

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Biography of Samuel Coulter

Samuel Coulter was born in Tyler county, Virginia, August 20, 1832, and is a son of Samuel and Sarah (Rodes) Coulter. His father’s parents were natives of Wales and at an early day settled in Virginia, while his maternal ancestors came from England. At the age of four years he lost his father and soon thereafter the family moved to Van Buren county, Iowa. When be reached the age of twelve his mother died, after which he went to live with his half brother, Capt. B. L. Henness, who now resides near Mt. Tabor, Oregon, who kindly offered him a home and such educational advantages as the place afforded. In 1850 he drove an ox team across the plains to Oregon, arriving at Oregon City on the 12th of September, 1850, his entire possession at the time outside of a scanty wardrobe being two dollars in money. But he was not discouraged and soon after his arrival he secured employment and in April, 1851, was able with six others to purchase a wagon and six yoke of oxen and complete outfit for the mines, it being reported at the time that good mines had been discovered near Yreka, California. The excitement caused by the discovery of gold in California was then most intense, and young Coulter determined to try his fortune in this direction. His mining venture was rewarded...

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Biography of William Lincoln Dudley

William Lincoln Dudley was born at Yreka, California, June 29, 1864. His father, John Dudley, for several years was engaged in the manufacture of woolen goods at Lowell, Massachusetts. He came to California in 1861, and from that time until 1867 was engaged in mining at Yreka. In 1868 he came to Portland. and has since been Superintendent and Manager of the Portland Gas Company, and held the same position in the Portland Water Works Company, until the property was sold to the City in 1885. The subject of this sketch was educated at the public schools of Portland, graduating from the High School in 1879. In 1880 he was appointed Assistant Cashier of the Portland Gas Company, serving in that capacity until 1887, when he was nominated on the Republican County Ticket as candidate for Recorder of Conveyances for Multnomah County. He was elected by a majority of more than 2,600 votes, receiving the second highest number of votes on the Republican ticket, and has now nearly completed his term as Recorder, his administration having been in every way highly satisfactory to the people, irrespective of party lines. He has recently been nominated by his party for a second term, and as these sheets go to press, the election is only a few weeks distant. In 1886 Mr. Dudley was the leading factor in the establishment of the...

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Biography of Charles M. Wiberg

Charles M. Wiberg was born in Norkoping, Sweden, 1820. His youth and early manhood were passed in different parts of his native land, engaging in various occupations until he became an apprentice at the shoemakers’ trade. After acquiring his trade he, in 1841, went to London, where he was employed for nearly three years. He then came to the United States, landing in New York in 1843. From that time until 1850, he worked at his trade in New Milford, Connecticut, New York City, Milwaukee and Janesville, Wisconsin, and New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1850, he started in business for himself at Milwaukee, but had only gotten fairly underway when he was burnt out by the great fire of 1851. With his entire capital destroyed and several hundred dollars in debt, he determined to seek a new home in Oregon, and in 1852, he started for Portland via the Isthmus of Panama, arriving here July 6, 1852. For a short time after his arrival he worked at his trade, but in December, 1852, opened a boot and shoe store, the first in this line of trade ever started in Portland. He began on a small scale, but fortune favored him and in a short time he was doing a prosperous business. The first money he could spare from his business he used in paying the indebtedness he had incurred at...

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Biography of Edward James Northrup

Edward James Northrup was born in Albany, New York, July 4th 1834, and was a son of Nelson Northrup, long known as a merchant in old Oregon. He spent several years of his early life in school, but when quite young began his business career as a clerk in a book store in Boston, where he remained until 1852, when he came to Portland. Here he entered the general merchandise store of Northrup & Simonds, of which firm his father was senior member, remaining with them as clerk until 1856, when associating himself with James M. Blossom, he succeeded to the business of the firm, under the firm name of Northrup & Blossom. Through several changes of partners Mr. Northrup continued as leading partner until 1878, when failing health compelled him for a time to retire from business. The house was then under the name of Northrup & Thompson. He then sold out to his partner when the firm of Thompson, DeHart & Co. was established and succeeded to the business which he had for so many years conducted, and which is still continued under the firm name of Honeyman, De Hart & Co. A year’s rest fully restored his health and he began business anew as a dealer in hardwood, lumber and wagon supplies, in which he continued alone until a few weeks before his death when he...

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Biography of Laurits Walse Therkelsen

Laurits Walse Therkelsen was born in Denmark, twelve miles east of Copenhagen, in 1842. He had limited educational advantages and early in life became apprenticed to the carpenter’s trade, at which he worked in his native town until he arrived at the age of eighteen years when he came to America, and, in 1861, landed in San Francisco. Here for the next ten years he followed his trade with the exception of one year at San Jose, when he engaged in contracting. In 1871, he came to Portland and for ten years following was largely engaged in contracting and building in the city and vicinity. During this period he erected Trinity church, Bank of British Columbia, First National Bank, Bishop Scott Grammar School, United States Government building at Vancouver, woolen factory at Oregon City, Centennial Block, part of Union Block and hundreds of private residences and other business blocks. From the first his business assumed large magnitude and he not only soon became the largest contractor in the city, but his operations were nearly equal to all of the other builders combined. In 1881, he made an extended trip to Europe with his family, and after an absence of several mouths returned to Portland and organized the North Pacific Lumber Company. The progress of this company has been remarkable. The mill was started with a capacity of about 25,000...

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Biography of Joseph K. Gill

Joseph K. Gill, one of Portland’s well known business men, was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1841, and is the eldest of eleven children of Mark and Amelia Gill. In 1854 he accompanied his parents to America, locating in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he attended the city schools until he had reached the age of eighteen, when he entered Worcester Academy, continuing at this institution but spending most of his time at work to assist in the support of the family, until he had attained his majority. He then entered Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, a preparatory school, with the idea of fitting himself for a collegiate course. While pursuing his studies, however, his eyes failed him, and he was forced for a time to abandon his plan. At Wilbraham he boarded with the wife of Dr. W. H. Wilson, one of the earlier missionaries in Oregon. From her, and also from J. S. Smith and Joseph Holman, of Oregon, whom he met at her home, he learned much of our then young State, which fact added to his having been advised by his physician that a sea voyage might be beneficial to his eyes, led him in 1864, to come to Oregon by steamer. He located at Salem, where he continued his studies at the Willamette University, and also acted as assistant teacher, under Prof. Gatch, then President of that...

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Biography of Rockey P. Earhart

The subject of this sketch was born in Franklin County, Ohio, on the 23td day of June, 1837, and came to Oregon by way of the Isthmus of Panama, in 1855. Educational advantages were offered him in select schools in his native State, where he gained a thoroughly practical business training. Upon arriving in Oregon, and incidentally meeting with some of the public officials of the day, his superior clerical abilities were very soon recognized, and he received the appointment of clerk under Captain (now General), Robert McFeely, U. S. A., and Quartermaster P. H. Sheridan, then a comparatively unknown soldier. Mr. Earhart remained in the service of the military department until Quartermaster Sheridan left this coast, in 1861, to take part in the war of the rebellion. During this period occurred the Yakima Indian war, in which he rendered valuable aid to the officials under whom he served. In 1861 he engaged in general mercantile business in Yamhill and Polk counties, in which he continued until he was appointed United States Indian Agent at the Warm Springs Agency, to succeed Colonel Logan, where he remained until the appointment of Captain John Smith, 1865. For some time thereafter he served as chief clerk and special Indian agent under Superintendent Huntington, and was Secretary of the Board of Commissioners appointed by the General Government to treat with the Klamath and...

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Biography of William C. Noon

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. 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...

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Biography of William Wallace Spaulding

William Wallace Spaulding was born at Chalmsford, Massachusetts, near the city of Lowell, in 1839. He is of English descent, his ancestors having emigrated from England and settled in Chalmsford several generations ago. His early life was spent at home on a farm, during which period he received a good common school education which was supplemented by one year’s course of instruction at an academy in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire. After leaving school he went to Boston, where for four years he was employed in a butcher shop. He then purchased his employer’s business and conducted it for a year, when, his health failing, he was forced to abandon it. With the hope of finding a climate more congenial to his health -and where he might better his worldly fortune, he and his wife started for the Pacific slope by the way of the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in San Pranscico in the spring of 1862. In the following fall he came to Portland, at the time of his arrival not possessing a dollar in the world. Among strangers and without money, with himself and wife to support, his prospects were anything but encouraging, but with a disposition not easily discouraged and a willingness to labor at any honest work which would promise a livelihood, he soon found employment. For one year he was employed by the firm of...

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Biography of Charles Adolph Alisky

Charles Adolph Alisky was born near Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, October 6, 1840, and is a descendant of an old and highly honorable German family which for several generations has resided at or in the immediate vicinity of the place of his nativity. His father, William Alisky, was a native of Mayence, and early in life exhibited rare musical talent, at the age of seven years playing a flute solo at a concert in Mayence. His genius for music attracted the attention of the Grand Duke of Hessia under whose protection he was sent to the Conservatory of Music at Paris. Here he became a classmate and intimate friend of Richard Wagner, the celebrated composer, and Karl Maria Von Weber, who at that time were pursuing their musical studies at Paris. After completing his musical education at Paris he became musical director of the Theatre at Darmstadt at that time one of the largest and finest in Germany. While thus engaged and giving promise of a brilliant future in music, the Grand Duke of Hessia died. With the death of his protector and. benefactor, his professional career came to an end and he was obliged to seek new means of gaining employment. He thereupon embarked in the music printing business, which he carried on only for a brief time, when he sold out and established a summer resort at Bergen, near...

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Biography of Frank Zan

Frank Zan, the subject of this sketch, is of Slavonic descent and was born in 1851 in Stavigrard, Dalmatia, while that county was under Austrian rule. After completing his education in the public school of his native town, he was admitted to the Convent of the Dominican Fathers, with the intention of becoming one of their order. After studying theology for nearly two years at that school, he concluded to abandon the idea of devoting his life to ministerial work; and- not wishing to be drafted into military service, to which duty every young man is subject in that country, but desiring to become a sea faring man, he accordingly arranged matters with a sea captain to ship with him for nautical instruction. For nearly a year he followed the sea, but finding such vocation too monotonous for his naturally energetic nature, upon reaching the port of New York he bid farewell to the life of a sailor and started out to try his fortune in the “land of the free.” From New York shortly after landing, he came to San Francisco where his older brother, M. Zan, his present partner, was then located engaged in business. After living in San Francisco a short time he came to Portland in 1870, at that time being but nineteen years of age, to take charge of a branch house in the...

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