Biography of Henry Drum

HENRY DRUM. – Among the progressive, intelligent and enterprising business men who are lending their energy and strength to the constant and rapid development of the great resources of the State of Washington, no name stands higher, or is more widely known and deservedly popular, than that of Henry Drum. No more conspicuous example of the results of careful attention to business, probity of character and steadfastness of purpose, can be cited than the brilliant career of Tacoma’s ex-mayor. It is to this class of young, keen and active workers that the great Northwest is to-day indebted for its magnificent prosperity and unparalleled growth. Always foremost in every enterprise for the upbuilding of the city and territory at large, he has achieved a name and reputation that many men of the allotted three score years and ten might well feel proud of. Although but thirty-two years of age, no name is better known in Western Washington than that of the young senator from Pierce county. The same strength of purpose and untiring pursuit of objects aimed at having characterized him from boyhood to the mature man; and the earnestness of youth has been combined with the calm judgement of riper years to create the pushing but prudent business man and careful financier and adviser.

Mr. Drum was born in the town of Girard, Macoupin county, Illinois, on November 21, 1857, and is therefore but thirty-two years of age. He attended the public schools of Girard during his childhood; but, not content with the education to be received from that source, he set earnestly to work to fit himself for teaching as a stepping-stone to higher attainments, and at the age of sixteen secured a certificate and began to teach in one of the schools of Macoupin county, holding the school until the end of that term. The following year he used the money he had earned in teaching to enter the Illinois State University at Campaign, and remained there for two years, after which he again taught another year, and again re-entered the university, continuing his studies and working during the interval to earn sufficient funds to continue his self-education, until he had finished the course.

In 1880 he removed to Farmer City, Illinois, and there engaged, in company with R.J. Davis, now of Tacoma, in the manufacture of brick. This first business venture not proving as profitable nor furnishing as large a field as he anticipated, he gave it up and moved to Hebron, Nebraska, where he again resumed the profession of teaching, being very successful in that occupation, for which he displayed great natural aptitude, and a sincere liking. After his first term in Hebron, he was offered a position in the bank of Honorable Walter J. Thompson of that city, which he accepted, and from which time until the present he has remained the warm friend and business associate of Mr. Thompson. The year following they bought a large amount of land in Nebraska and engaged extensively in stock-raising, in addition to their banking business.

In the fall of 1883, after investigating the resources of Washington territory, and being convinced that it had in store a splendid future, both he and Mr. Thompson decided to close out all their business interests in the State of Nebraska and remove to the then small and comparatively unknown village of New Tacoma, arriving in the City of Destiny on Christmas eve, 1883. They soon afterwards bought the bank of New Tacoma, the oldest financial institution in the young city, and immediately reorganized it as the Merchants’ National Bank, of which Mr. Drum became first assistant cashier, and soon afterwards cashier, in which position he has grown familiar to every resident of Pierce county, as for several years he was unremitting in the faithful performance of the duties of his position, being always at the counter of the bank and attending carefully to every detail. He is now the vice-president of this bank, although for some time he has not attended to any of the clerical duties, his watchful eye and keen judgment being continually exercised in looking after and carrying forward its business interests. In the year 1887 he was elected a member of the school board, his previous experience as a teacher and his fine business qualities eminently fitting him for that position, which he has ever since retained, being now president of that body.

In May, 1888, although a staunch Democrat, he was elected mayor of Tacoma, over a strong and popular opponent on the Republican ticket, that party at the same election giving a majority of about three hundred for all its other candidates. As chief magistrate of the young city, Mr. Drum gained universal respect and admiration for the prudent, conservative and, at the same time, broad and energetic policy of administering the city government; and it is probably no exaggeration to say that the trying position occupied by him was never filled in a more satisfactory and efficient manner. Col-headed and non-partisan, he won the encomiums of both parties, and all factions. At the end of his first term, it was not strange that men of all stations and political faiths should desire his re-election to the same office; but constantly growing business interests, demanding ever-increasing attention which could not be ignored, compelled him to decline the nomination for re-election.

Mr. Drum has always been an ardent worker in the Masonic order, being a charter member of all its organizations in this city. besides occupying several offices of the local chapter and other lodges, he is at present grand treasurer of the grand chapter of Washington.

Besides his interest in the Merchants’ National bank, Mr. Drum is a large stockholder and director in the Skagit Railway and Lumber Company, Washington Loan and Investment Company, Fidelity Trust Company, Tacoma Wood-working Company, Pacific Navigation Company, and many other of the prominent enterprises of the city of Tacoma and of his large real-estate investments, make it necessary that he should be constantly alert and active. That his business ability is kept continually in demand goes without saying; for nothing but commercial talent of the highest order could care for and assist in the management of so many diverse and important enterprises and industries.

In 1884 Mr. Drum married his present wife, a sister of Honorable Walter J. Thompson; and their elegant home is among the handsomest and most beautifully situated of the many costly and modern residences which now occupy the points of vantage and commanding sites on the hills overlooking the beautiful waters of Puget Sound, and the inspiring scenery of mountain and forest, valley and river of picturesque Washington.

Mr. Drum’s faith in the future importance and prosperity of the city of Tacoma has never faltered since his first knowledge of the advantages of its location and of the illimitable resources surrounding it; and he is earnest in the belief that his most sanguine expectations in the past will be largely exceeded in the future.

In religion, as in business, and in every other relation of life, Mr. Drum is broad minded and liberal, and willing to accord to everyone a perfect right to entire freedom of belief and action. He was one of the first promoters of the Unitarian church in Tacoma, and together with a few others was mainly instrumental in organizing the First Unitarian Society of that city, and contributed largely tot he erection if its church and in placing the society upon a firm basis.

He has always been recognized as a man of the people and a constant friend of the wage-earner, with whom he has the most sincere sympathy, – born of his own early struggles, – at the same time fully appreciating and recognizing the rights and advantages of the more favored classes.

Although generous to a fault, his reputation for being fair-minded and just is recognized by every class; and this all-pervading sense of justice is probably the dominant characteristic of the man, and that which more than any other one element in his character has resulted in his universal popularity and respect. During the stirring times of the anti-Chinese excitement, he was among the foremost in his determination to remove from the fair city of his adoption the baleful curse of coolie labor and Mongolian vice. His efforts in this direction were but the result of his earnest interest in the welfare of the laboring masses.

At the recent election of the organization of the new State of Washington, he was the unanimous choice of his party to represent it in the senate of the new commonwealth; and although the overwhelming Republican majority almost completely annihilated the Democratic candidates throughout the length and breadth of the territory, yet Mr. Drum, in spite of the overpowering odds, came off victorious, for the second time beating a popular Republican candidate, backed by a supposed invincible majority, and earned the well-merited distinction of being the only Democrat elected to the higher branch of the legislative body.



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

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