Biography of Capt. John Harford

CAPT. JOHN HARFORD. – This distinguished captain, whose portrait is given here, is now a resident and one of the principal owners of the townsite of Pataha City, Washington, and was born in Westchester county, New York, February 14, 1828. In 1842 he removed to Kendal county, Illinois, and in 1850 journeyed westward to the city of San Francisco. In 1852 he located in Placer county, California, on a ranch where now stands the little city of Lincoln. He removed thence to Marysville, where he engaged in the butcher business until 1855. There he purchased a band of sheep at ten dollars per head which had been driven from Ohio. After the investment, he again became a rancher, and soon afterwards married Miss Maggie Harris, a woman who has proved herself a model wife and mother, and whose kind and winning ways have ever made for her household a home of happiness and love.

In 1862 the captain removed to San Louis Obispo, where he erected the first wharf and the first warehouse building in that now Port Harford. He also became a member of the firm of Schwartz, Harford & Co., lumber dealers. With a capital of but five hundred dollars each, the partners retired in nine years with a nice little fortune. Captain Harford then commenced building a railroad from Port Harford to the city of San Luis Obispo, and after completing one mile associated himself with the noted steamship firm of Goodall, Perkins & Co. under the firm name of the San Luis Obispo & Santa Maria Valley Railroad Company. This fir constructed a railroad from San Luis Obispo to Port Harford (named in honor of the captain), a distance of nine miles. When the steamship company disposed of their interests in that county, the partner in whom we are interested retired from the business. In 1882, with his wife and two sons, he removed to his present location, and engaged in the banking and milling business. He owns a beautiful home, a commodious bank building, and a roller-process flouring mill, with a capacity of one hundred barrels per day, under the firm name of House & Harford. In connection with the mill, he owns all the water rights and grounds controlled by virtue of the improvement.

Although never seeking political preferment, he held the office of county commissioner in San Luis Obispo county for four years. This was time spent in laboring for the public welfare rather than for his own public advancement. He was also, for nine years, captain of the port of Port Harford, California. Four children have blessed his married life; Frederick, who is cashier of Harford & Son’s bank; Harry, a hardware merchant; Emma, the wife of W.H. Bogardus, a business man of Seattle, Washington; and Maggie, who still resides at his home.

Mr. Harford has many interesting reminiscences of his trip across the plains, and of the pioneer days in the West and Northwest. Most Americans have heard of a young man who started westward across the plains vowing that he would shoot the first redskin he met. This proved to be an Indian woman; and he promptly put his resolve into execution. For the offense he was captured by the Indians and skinned alive. Mr. Harford was one of a company’s train to which the young man belonged, and vouches for the accuracy of this almost universally discredited story. The vent occurred on the sink of the Humboldt, August, 1850.

Honest to a penny, and generous to a fault, Captain Harford has gathered about him a circle of friends only numbered by his acquaintances. He has virtually retired form the active pursuits of life, having amassed a handsome competency, gained wholly by a strict observance of those primary principles which ever carry with them success. His life exhibits a career worthy of honorable regard, and of emulation by all those engaging in business.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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