Biography of Lewis Fleischner

Fleischner, Lewis, one of the leading merchants of Portland was born in the village of Vogelgesang, Bohemia, in 1829. He was educated in his native village and at Tissan a small town near his home. At the age of fifteen years he came to America, and for a short time remained in New York City. He then went to Philadelphia, where he was employed for five years by a dealer in horses and cattle. At the end of this period, in 1849, he came to Drakeville, Davis County, Iowa, and for three years was engaged in merchandising. In 1852 he started across the plains for Oregon, with an ox team. The land immigrants of this year experienced unusual hardships. Disease killed all of their cattle, while many of the immigrants perished from the cholera. After weary months of suffering Mr. Fleischner arrived in Albany, Oregon, where he embarked in the mercantile business, and for the following seven years did a very successful business. In 1859 he sold out and for one year conducted a store at the Oro Fino mines. In the fall of this year he took a stock of goods to Lewiston, Idaho, arriving on the first steamboat which landed at that place. There he remained until 1863, when he came to Portland, and entered into partnership with Solomon Hirsch and Alexander Schlussel, and bought out the wholesale general merchandise house of Haas Brothers, at which time the firm of L. Fleischner & Co. was established. Their business increased rapidly and at the end of a few years had grown to large proportions. In 1869 they sold out and soon thereafter under the same firm name embarked in the wholesale dry goods business. In 1875 Jacob Mayer became a partner, at which time the present firm name of Fleischner, Mayer & Co. was adopted. All of the original partners are still connected with the firm, and but few other changes have occurred in the firm membership, the present partners being Louis Fleischner, Solomon Hirsch, Alexander Schlussel, Samuel Simon and Mark A. Mayer. The success and growth of the business of this house has been very remarkable, and for several years the firm has ranked among the first in the State and outside of San Francisco unexcelled on the coast, in the extent of annual sales. This gratifying condition of its affairs has in no small measure been due to Mr. Fleischner’s exertions, his constant watchful care and the exercise of a high order of business ability, no less than his well recognized high personal integrity of character. The demands of this business has engrossed the greater share of his time and attention, but he has also been an extensive and successful speculator in real estate and at different times has been director in several Portland banks.

Mr. Fleischner has always been a zealous democrat, but has never desired or sought political preferment. On his return from the East, in the spring of 1870, he was, however, nominated for State Treasurer. The honor was entirely unsolicited and was conferred upon him solely because of his acknowledged fitness for the position. His personal popularity and the confidence reposed in him by the people regardless of party lines, resulted in his election by a large majority. For the four years he filled the office of State Treasurer it is only simple justice to say, without intending to cast the least reflection on any of his predecessors or successors, that the State never had a more conscientious or useful official. At the time he entered upon the discharge of his duties the State had loaned out over $500,000 of the funds realized from school, State and mineral lands, on what was at the time considered worthless security. Indeed the whole plan of loaning these funds had been loosely conducted and the State was placed in a condition where the loss of a large sum of money seemed imminent. With the eye of a business man Mr. Fleischner turned his attention to the correction of these abuses. Under his administration all of the doubtful securities were collected, rules and regulations were adopted regulating the loans of the funds named and the whole system reorganized. Ever since that time the plans outlined and put in practice by Mr. Fleischner have been carried out by his successor and beyond question the State has been a gainer by hundreds of thousands of dollars by the wise policy he inaugurated.

In April, 1888, Mr. Fleischner started for Europe and made an extended tour of the Old World, returning home in August, 1889. During his trip he made a visit to his old home in Bohemia and in a hospital, a few miles from his native village, made arrangements whereby, at his expense, four beds should forever be maintained for the people of Vogelgesang. This generous act was in accordance with the natural kindness of heart of the man, whose many acts of benevolence are so well known to the people of Portland. He is president of the Hebrew Benevolent Association and all works of charity have ever found in him a generous contributor.

Mr. Fleischner has led a remarkably active life, has a natural capacity for business, is noted for the soundness of his judgments, is a plain and unpretending man, possesses great force of character, has innumerable friends and no enemies. His health, until his visit to his old home, had been declining, but during his sojourn abroad it was quite restored, and he now has promise of many years of active life.


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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