Biography of Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid

HARRISON RITTENHOUSE KINCAID. – This well-known journalist of Oregon, the emanations of whose pen have appeared either originally or as selections in almost every newspaper of the state, is the eldest son of Thomas and Nancy Kincaid, pioneers of 1853, and was born in Madison county, Indiana, January 3, 1836. At the age of seventeen he came with his parents to our state, and with them made his home in Lane county. Among his early labors was work on the mill-race at the present site of Springfield.

In 1855 he made a trip to Southern Oregon to operate in the mines, but was soon after driven out by the Indians. He was led by this venture to a journey on foot to Crescent City and a voyage the next season to San Francisco in a little steamer known as the Goliah. The wandering life of the miner was hereupon assumed; and manual labor of all kinds was resorted to as a temporary means of support. The typography, general resources and society of California on the American Sacramento and Yuba rivers, and at length at San Francisco, were very thoroughly examined. From the Golden City he returned to his home in Oregon in 1857, and, being desirous of improving the home place, set to work logging with oxen, and thereby obtained from the mill sufficient lumber to build a house into which his father’s family moved and made their home in 1860.

In 1859-60 he attended what was known as Columbia College, which held its sessions in a stone building on a hill a mile south of Eugene. Among his classmates were Joaquin Miller, W.H. Byers, J.J. Blevans, J.F. Watson and J.B. Matlock.

His career as printer and journalist began during the breezy, political days of 1860; and his first work in type-setting was done on the People’s Press, a Republican paper published at Eugene by Joel Ware. It was the recognized organ of the party throughout the county. In 1862-63 he entered the office of the State Republican as compositor, and also assisted in editorial writing. During the summer of the latter year he took a rough journey across the Cascade Mountains with a pack train, passing over snow ten feet deep on the north side of the Three Sisters, and at Cañon City made the acquaintance of Thomas H. Brents, since distinguished as delegate from Washington Territory to the United States Congress. Returning to Eugene in the autumn, he found work on a little paper, The Union Crusader, published by a man of radical opinions, a Universalist preacher, A.C. Edmunds. While employed at the desk, he also composed the political editorials of the paper, and in 1864, out of this as a nucleus, with the pecuniary help of others, he founded the Republican paper, the Oregon State Journal, a name known the whole state over. Of this journal he has been editor and proprietor for more than twenty-five years. During the first year he had Joel Ware as partner; from 1866 to 1869 he was assisted by his brother John S Kincaid as business manager, and thereafter until the death of the latter in 1873 as associate editor. He was also aided in his undertaking by his youngest brother, Geo. S. Kincaid, as publisher and associate editor, and received him into the business as partner in1882, but was also deprived of his companionship by death in 1885.

In the political field Mr. Kincaid has been very prominent, – one of the stalwart Republicans. He has several times represented the Republicans as delegate in the county and state conventions, and in the national conventions, – at Chicago in 1868, and at Philadelphia in 1872. In 1870 he was nominated for state printer over Henry Denlinger of the Statesman and H.L. Pittock of the Oregonian, and, although not successful, was beaten by the smallest majority of any on the ticket, – 493 in a total vote of 22,809. In 1866 he took a tour with Congressman Henderson and others to the Capital by way of San Francisco, Panama and New York, experiencing off Cuba the peril of fire on shipboard, from which the vessel narrowly escaped destruction. He spent the winter following at Washington, and in the autumn of 1867 visited nearly all the important cities at the east, happening also to be on the steamboat Dean Richmond, which was run into and sunk by the Vanderbilt on the Hudson. With the rest of the passengers he escaped with no loss but that of baggage.

Attending upon the Republican national convention in 1868, he visited his old home in Indiana, and the next year was appointed, by recommendation of Senators Williams and Corbett, as one of the clerks of the senate, and retained that position for ten consecutives years, until the change of officers on political grounds. During that period he wrote editorials and letters for his own paper, and part of the time was regular correspondent of the Oregonian, and later of the Bulletin, of Portland, and of the Sentinel of Jacksonville. While thus at the national Capital, he had rare opportunities, such as are always enjoyed by men of culture, to visit points of interest in the United States, and spent as many as six vacations at his home in Eugene.

He was married in Wichohat county, Michigan, in 1873, to Miss Augusta A., youngest and thirteenth child of Stephen and Diana Lockwood. In 1881 they returned to Oregon and have since resided at Eugene, where their first child, a son, was born September 19, 1889, in the house where the family has lived since 1860.



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

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