In the last half century, especially, it is seldom that one wins prominence in several lines. It is the tendency of the age to devote one’s entire energies to a special line, continually working upward and concentrating his efforts toward accomplishing a desired end; yet in the case of George E. Erb it is demonstrated that a leading position may be reached in more than one line of action. He is an able educator, a successful stock-dealer and business man and a recognized leader in political circles. By reason of his prominent connection with the public life and interests of Lewiston, and on account of his reputation, which extends far beyond the confines of the city, he is well entitled to representation in this volume.
Mr. Erb was born in Lafayette County, Missouri. April 26, 1866, and is of German descent. His father. Maximum Erb, was born in Germany, and when a young man crossed the Atlantic to the United States. He served throughout the Mexican war as a loyal defender of his adopted land, and then took up his residence in Missouri, becoming one of the enterprising farmers of that state. He married Miss Mary A. Ferguson, and died in 1878, at the age of fifty-six years. The widow with her five children, four sons and a daughter, crossed the plains to Oregon in 1884, and she has since resided near Weston, that state.
George E. Erb, the eldest son, attended the public schools until thirteen years of age, but after that had no opportunity to acquire further education in the schoolroom. Study, reading, experience and observation, however, have made him a well informed man, and his literary tastes and attainments have gained him entrance into the cultured society circles. He began his business career as a stock-raiser in Oregon, and in 1889, when but twenty-two years of age, he walked to the city of Lewiston to try his fortunes among this enterprising people. He had no capital, but was energetic, progressive and willing to work, and he soon secured a position at manual labor. His real worth of character was recognized by the Rev. John D. McConkey, rector of the Episcopal church, who took a deep interest in the young man and acted as his tutor for a few months, thus enabling him to satisfactorily pass an examination and secure a teacher’s certificate. His appetite for learning has never been satiated, and through the passing years he has continually added to his store of knowledge, until he is now a man of scholarly attainments. After securing his certificate, he successfully engaged in teaching for four years, and then had the honor of being elected county superintendent of schools and ex-officio probate judge, which office he filled most ably until the close of the term. He was then for three and a half years the deputy district court clerk, having charge of all the legal business of the court. He had the honor of serving one term, for the year ending June 30, 1897, as mayor of the city of Lewiston. On the expiration of that period he became extensively engaged in the butchering business, including the packing and curing of meats and dealing in livestock, as a member of the firm of Dowd, Shaw & Company. After a year this firm sold out and Mr. Erb has since been engaged in stock raising, in connection with his brothers-in-law, the Dowd brothers. They have one fine ranch of seven hundred and twenty acres, on which are three excellent artesian wells. On it are six hundred head of cattle and from three to four hundred head of horses. Mr. Erb is also the special right-of-way agent of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company for the counties of Idaho and Nez Perces. He has also acquired valuable interests in some promising mining properties in the celebrated Buffalo Hump mining district of central Idaho.
On the 14th of June, 1893, Mr. Erb was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Dowd, a daughter of Michael Dowd, one of the honored pioneers of Idaho, who was engaged in mining at Pierce City and afterward in farming and stock-raising in Nez Perces county, Idaho. Mrs. Erb was one of the first white children born in Pierce City. By her marriage she has become the mother of a son and daughter, Charles Frederick and Mary Ernestine.
Mr. Erb is a prominent member and the grand vice-chancellor of the Knights of Pythias fraternity for the state of Idaho, and adjutant of the First Regiment of the Idaho Uniformed Rank of that order, in which he stands very high. He is also a member of the Rathbone Sisters and of the Woodmen of the World. In politics he has always been a stanch Democrat since casting his first vote, and has done effective service for his party. As chairman of the Democratic county central committee, he ably managed the campaign in this part of the state, and did effective work in the interests of Democracy during the last campaign. He was appointed by Governor Stennenberg a member of the board of trustees of the State Normal School, in January, 1897, to serve for a term of six years. His deep interest in the cause of education well qualifies him for the position. In his own home he has a fine library and some of his most pleasant hours are spent with the companionship of the master minds of both this and past ages.