Biography of James A. Masterson

JAMES A. MASTERSON. – It now becomes our pleasant privilege to outline the interesting career of the estimable gentleman, whose name is at the ehad of this article, and who stands as one of the prominent and representative men of Union county, being also aheavy property owner, and having manifested since an early day here ability that was master of the situation and has acuumulated his holdings from the raw resources of the county, while also he has maintained an untarnished reputation and has done much for the advancement of the county, being really one of the builders of Union county.

In Lexington, Kentucky, on October 10, 1842, our subject was born to William A. and Elizabeth J. (Violet) Masterson, natives respectively of Kentucky and Pennnsylvania. The father was a mill wright and went to Lexington, Missouri, in 1843, and as early as 1851, brought his family over the barren trail to Lane county, Oregon. He took a donatin claim and gave his attention to farming and stock raising until September 8,1890, when he was called to the world beyond. The mother is living in Lagrande, being a property owner of the city. In 1863, our subject stepped from the parental roof and launched out into life’s activities for himself, mining first and then returned in fall of 1864, to the Willamette valley and fitted out, in connection with his brothers, wagons and came to The Dalles and they engaged in freighting from there to the mines of Idaho. Seven years were spent in this vigorous and arduous work, and then he sold his interests to his brother, also a blacksmith shop which he had been operating in Cove, and went to Wallowa valley, taking the first wagon into the valley in 1872. He carried the first plow with him and struck the first furrow in that fertile country.He took a homestead between Lostine and Wallowa, that is the sites of those towns, no settlement being there then, and engaged in raising stock. He remained there for nineteen years and then hadmuch property besides his four hundred and eighty acres of land. He was, during this time, the first postmaster, but resigned in favor of another man, and from 1888 to 1890 he was county commissioner of Wallowa county. In 1891, he came to Elgin and in partnership with his son-in-law, Robert Mays, opened a mercantile establishment and warehouse. The mercantile establishment was soon sold to D.B. Hendricks, but the warehouse is under the management of Mr. Mays. Mr. Masterson has also found time to take an active part in the banking business of Union county, being at the present time president of the Stockholders Bank of Elgin, and his ability, and keen foresight have been in inestimable value to that institution. He also owns three quarters of a section of good timber land in this county and a fine home of modern design and provided with all conveniences of the day in Elgin.

On January 21, 1869, Mr. Masterson married Miss Almira, daughter of Chancey and Sarah (Ryan) Blanchard and the following children have come to gladden the union; Hattie J., wife of Robert Mays, of Elgin; Daniel, died November 18, 1879, aged seven years; H. Gibens, Rena C. Mrs. Masterson’s parents are natives of new York, the father being a sailor, and they came to oregon in 1867, settling in the Cove, whence five years later he went to sea and there died, being buried in the Pacific ocean in 1875. The mother is married again and lives in Boise, Idaho. Mrs. Masterson was born August 28, 1840, in New York. Mr. Masterson is affiliated with the Masons, Elgin Lodge, No. 98; with the Blue Mount Chapter, No. 52, I.E.S.; with B.P.O.E., at Lagrande. He was in Alaska in 1898 and engaged in the hay and grain business for one year. Went to Cape Nome and engaged in the butcher business and in 1901 returned home.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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