Biography of Col. Henry Landes
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COL. HENRY LANDES. – The subject of this sketch is prominent and noteworthy, even among the foremost self-made men of the great and growing Pacific Northwest, – a section so progressive and promising that it has attracted the most vigorous minds and the ablest men throughout the country. He was born in a small town in Germany on the 8th of October, 1843. In 1847 his father and family emigrated to Kentucky, Henry being then four years old. There the boy grew almost to the years of manhood, and developed in a marked degree the spirit of adventurous ambition which led him on the 1st of October, 1861, to break away from the restraints of school and enlist in a Kentucky Federal regiment of infantry, being then but eighteen years old. In that regiment he served his country faithfully and well for over three years, covering nearly the whole period of the war of the Rebellion, and participating in all the principal battles from Shiloh to the capture of Atlanta. He was honorably mustered out of the service of the close of his term.
The close of the war left him with his love for adventure intensified; and, like many another young man, he started out to seek fame and fortune single-handed, without prestige or assistance, but with a courage and industrious determination that amply equipped him to grapple with fortune. Naturally enough he turned his face towards the new El Dorado of the West. Arriving on the Pacific coast, he proceeded to the gold fields of British Columbia, then famous and alluring. There he delved laboriously but unsuccessfully as a miner. Returning to Washington Territory in 1870, he was appointed Indian trader for the Makah tribe of Indians at the Neah Bay Reservation, which position he held for nearly six years.
In 1876 he returned with his family to Port Townsend, Washington Territory, where he established himself in business and became, naturally enough from the start, one of the leading citizens and most enterprising business men of the city. Elected president of the Port Townsend Board of Trade at its organization, he has held the position eve since by unanimous re-elections each year. He served four years as a member of the city council, during which period he was many times acting mayor, and was always industrious and painstaking in the discharge of his public duties. He was the moving spirit of the city government while a member thereof, and, although neither visionary nor moss-backed, was at once safely conservative yet enterprising and progressive. He served three years as city treasurer, and three years as member of the public-school board. During his incumbency of the last-named position, a marvelous transformation took place, largely through his efforts, in the public-school, – the old building giving place to a magnificent new one, and the school itself becoming graded nearly to an academic standard.
In June, 1884, Colonel Landes was appointed by Governor William A. Newell to the important position of member of the board of commissioners to locate the new territorial penitentiary. He performed the delicate and difficult duties of this position with his usual practical sagacity, and with entire public satisfaction. In March, 1885, he was appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury a member of the board of commissioners to locate Port Townsend’s present government buildings. In September, 1885, he was commissioned by Governor Watson C. Squire a member of the governor’s military staff, as assistant adjutant-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In February, 1886, he was appointed by Governor Squire a commissioner to select a suitable site for the deaf mute, blind and feeble-minded youth of Washington Territory, the duties of which position were performed in the usual satisfactory manner. He was one of the incorporators, and was elected treasurer, of the Port Townsend & Southern Railway Company, which was organized in1887 with a view to building a road from the strait of Fuca to Portland. On April 29, 1889, he was commissioned by Governor Miles C. Moore, quartermaster-general, with the rank of colonel, of the National Guard of Washington Territory, and holds this honorable position at the present time.
Colonel Landes’ greatest achievement, however, was in founding and successfully establishing the First National Bank of Port Townsend, of which he is the largest stockholder, and is also president. The institution was organized in March, 1883. Located in its three-story stone building, it is the pride of Port Townsend. Under the conservative and able management of its president, it has no peer on Puget Sound.
Personally, Colonel Landes is prepossessing, with a commanding presence. Genial, broad-minded and energetic, he is the complete type of the cultivated gentleman. He has large property interests in Port Townsend, Seattle and various other places in Washington, and is a director in several corporations. He is a natural leader, and is instinctively foremost in all local public affairs. His pleasant home and family are surrounded with all the comforts of refinement and ease.