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 broom manufacturing business, started in this city a year prior by two brothers, Vincent and George Zan. Business at this time was not very encouraging and the two brothers named sold out the Portland branch to the present firm of Zan Brothers (M. and Frank Zan). The management of the business in Portland was entrusted to Frank Zan and under his charge a high degree of success was attained. At the end of a few years it had grown to such magnitude that his older brother moved to this city, and two years later they dissolved with their San Francisco partner, he taking the California business and Zan Brothers the house in this city. Since that date Portland has been the headquarters of their business.

From a small and unpretentious beginning their business has grown to large pro-portions and to-day occupies a conspicuous position in the industrial life of the Pacific Northwest. Two manufacturing establishments are constantly operated by the firm, a wooden-ware factory located on the east bank of the Willamette River about four miles north of the city, and a broom and willow-ware factory at No. 14 North Front street. These factories are the largest of their kind on the coast. Port-land is the supply depot of three branch houses of the firm located at San Francisco, Seattle and Melbourne, Australia. Goods are shipped all over the coast from Los Angeles on the south to Alaska on the north and as far east as Salt Lake and Denver, while their trade is gradually extending even farther eastward and toward the south.

The building up of this large business within a comparatively few years represents on the part of the members of this enterprising firm not only untiring energy but united and harmonious co-operation and sagacious business generalship. Both brothers have been indefatigable in their exertion, and each has contributed his full share toward the success attained, the work of the one admirably supplementing that of the other.

Mr. Frank Zan has traveled extensively in the interest of the firm and has visited every important business center in the United States. His varied experience has naturally broadened his views and liberalized his ideas concerning men and affairs. He is enthusiastic in his belief concerning the ultimate destiny of the Pacific Coast as a great commercial, manufacturing and agricultural region and in his individual capacity is doing much to hasten the time when this part of the Union will rival the Atlantic States in wealth creating enterprises. He is public spirited but extremely modest and retiring in his disposition and seeks to avoid rather than court positions such as would place him before the public. He is a hard worker, a man of exemplary habits and possesses the knowledge and experience which with his vigorous health give promise of still greater achievements in the years to come.

He was married in 1875 to Miss Jennie Donovan, of Portland. They have two children, both boys.


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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