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 Frankfort-on-the-Main-known as Bellevue-a place celebrated for the beauty of its scenery. The latter venture was in advance of the demands of the times and was not particularly successful. He continued in this line of work but a short time when he disposed of the main interest in the venture and invested most of his capital in a Belgian Company, which had been formed for the purpose of building a canal across the Isthmus of America, intending to commence operations on the Atlantic side at the city of Santa Thoma on Turus Bay, Guatemala. With his wife and children he proceeded to the scene of operation, but the vessel in which they sailed and which contained supplies for the work, was wrecked at the mouth of Montagua River, Guatemala. The family was saved but all of them endured great hardships. In attempting to save the goods in the vessel, Mr. Alisky exerted himself excessively, which with the exposure to which he was subjected during the storm brought on an illness which terminated in his death at the age of thirty-seven years. All of the family passed through a period of sickness, and besides the father, one of the sons died. Mr. Alisky was a man of more than ordinary force of mind. He had been liberally educated while his musical training had been most carefully and thoroughly conducted. Had he devoted himself exclusively to music he would undoubtedly have taken a high rank in his profession. Not only was he a performer of great ability, but his musical compositions possess merit of a high order. He was also a man of practical ideas and of enlarged views and had he lived to carry out his projects would have achieved for himself a highly creditable place in the business world.

At the time of the death of his father, the subject of this sketch was four years of age. The family, at this time consisting of five children, after a short stay on the Isthmus, returned to Germany, settling at the old home near Frankfort-on-the Main, where they were surrounded by their relatives who were well-to-do people. Here and at Mayence and Bergen the early life of our subject was passed. He received a good practical education, while the naturally artistic side of his nature was cultivated and developed by instruction in drawing. At an early age he entered the confectionery store of an uncle at Mayence, where he served a regular apprentice-ship as a confectioner. From Mayence he went to Frankfort-on-the-Main, where at the age of seventeen years he became foreman in a confectionery establishment. This service was followed by a brief period of service as foreman in a similar establishment at Weisbaden, a popular bathing resort. When nearing his eighteenth year he withdrew his allegiance from his native country, actuated at the time with the purpose of making a home for himself in the new world. For a short time there-after, however, he worked at his trade at Hamburg. In 1859 he came to America, and for a time continued at his trade in the service of an uncle in New York city. He then went to Macon, Georgia, and for a few months was confectioner in the Linear House, the leading hotel of the city. It was during this period that he had an opportunity of seeing the great evil of Negro slavery in the South, which ultimately made him a strong supporter of the Union cause during the war and an ardent member of the republican party. After his experience in the South he joined his brother Edward in California, where for four years he engaged in mining in Tuolumne county.

In 1863 he went to San Francisco, where he again took up his trade, being employed by Peter Job, at that time the best known confectioner in California. He remained but a short time in San Francisco, and came to Portland in the fall of 1863, where for a few months he followed his calling. He then went to Victoria, British Columbia, and established a confectionery store. In 1866 he returned to Portland and established a manufacturing confectionery store. For three years he conducted it alone, after which Charles Hegele became a partner and so continued until 1872, when Mr. Alisky assumed sole control. Perhaps Mr. Alisky will be always best known in Portland in connection with the confectionery and restaurant which for so many years he conducted on First street. He was the first to put this business on a high plane, and during all the years he was connected with it, it was the leading establishment of this kind in the city. This branch of his business he disposed of in 1886, but it is still known as the “Alisky Restaurant.” In 1887 he established the Alisky Candy Manufacturing Company,- but sold out his interest in 1888, and has since devoted his time to the management of his extensive real estate interests.

From the time he located in Portland, Mr. Alisky has had unbounded confidence in the city’s growth, and from the beginning of his business career he freely invested the profits of his business in real estate, most of which he still retains. These investments have proven the wisdom of his judgment and have made him a large fortune. He is at the present time owner of some of the most valuable business property in the city. For thirteen years he was a member of the volunteer fire department, and at one time was assistant engineer of the city department. He is a member of the various German social, dramatic and singing societies of Portland, and of some was one of the founders. For thirteen years he was president and treasurer of Turn Vermin society, and was the first president of the Arion society. He has always been a liberal supporter of the various aid societies. He is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and of the Knights of Pythias, in the former having received the highest honors of the subordinate lodge.

The most conspicuous attribute in Mr. Alisky’s character has been that of energy. From the time he started in business for himself until his practical retirement, about three years ago, few men could have pursued their plans and work with more untiring and steadfast industry. This has been the main secret of his success. He has always been a firm believer in Portland’s destiny and has shown his faith by his works. He has ever been a free and liberal contributor to every deserving public enterprise, while to benevolent and charitable efforts, regardless of creed or seat he has been equally generous. His entire business career has been above reproach and he rightfully stands high in the estimation of the business community. During recent years he has made an extended visit to Europe, spending considerable time amid the scenes of his early youth, and while the Fatherland will ever have a warm place in his heart, he is proud of his adopted country and rejoices that his lot was cast among the most progressive people of the world.

Mr. Alisky was married, in 1862, to Miss Caroline Francisca Hegele. They have one son, an artist of much promise, who is pursuing his art studies in Europe under the best masters of Dresden and Munich.


Biography, History,

Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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