Biography of Hon. Daniel A. McAlister

HON. DANIEL A. McALISTER. – Perhaps there is not another man living to-day in the Grande Ronde valley who is so popular with people and so great a favorite in Union and Wallowa counties as the subject of this sketch. And be it said to the credit of Mr. McAlister that in all his long public career he has nobly earned every encomium that has been given by an appreciative and discrimnating people. He is a man of large caliber, with vigor to sustain his untiring activity and integrity to maintain his position of uncompromising uprightness, while he is possessed of a practical judgment, keen foresight and executive ability that combined eminently fit him to fill the prominent place that he has enjoyed not only in the two counties mentioned, but in the estimation of the leading men throughout the state.

Daniel A. was born in Coles county, Illinois, on February 6, 1842, and there received a good education from the common schools, attending the same in the winter and assisting on the farm in the summer. At the age of seventeen he spent his whole time on the farm and continued in the same until he was twenty, working with his stepfather. Then he went to Putnam county, Missouri, to visit an uncle and found him preparing to come to the Pacific coast. Our subject was enthused with the plans and heartily set to work assisting in the preparations, and in good time they joined the Yount train. Our subject rode on horseback the entire distance, driving loose stock. They were planning to go to the Willamette valley, but upon the description of the Grande Ronde valley by some soldiers they were led to investigate, and the natural result was that they stopped in that fertile region. The uncle attended to the family and out subject went with ox teams to The Dalles for provisions, consuming thirty days in the trip. He assisted to erect cabins upon his return and then was dispatched to Walla Walla to procure seed, paying there five cents per pound for oats, wheat and potatoes. Twenty-one days were consumed in this trip and then in the fall, the year being 1862, he took up a squatter’s claim of one hundred and sixty acres. He set to work splitting rails, an occupation that other statesmen have followed. The wedge for this work cost five dollars, the maul the same amount, and the price for the finished rails was three dollars per hundred. He taught school some later, and in 1866 he sold his claim and the following year rented thirty acres, seeded it, and then went to the Willamette valley to purchase stock. He returned with what cattle his money would buy, landing in the Grande Ronde on July 4th, and as he expressed it “tired out.” He soon bought the quarter-section where he now resides, two miles east and one-half mile south from Lagrande, and began to stock and improve the farm. In 1870 he was ready to purchase more land and secured the title to a half-section two miles east from his present place in 1888 he purchased another quarter, and the following year the same amount, all good farm land. In 1898 he sold a half section and in 1901 he bought two hundred and eighty acres of pasture land in Baker county. Mr. McAlister is a fancier of good stock, displaying skill in this line equal to his other achievements. In 1879 he went to Kent, Indiana, and brought back some of the finest stock that was ever imported to the state. He raised a horse that holds the stallion record of the world for trotting, Blondy, now in the Sandwich Islands. he raised another that was exported to Central America. This commendable record in agriculture and in stock raising stamp the man as eminently successful and a benefactor of his fellows and one that hasdoen much for his county, and this brilliant success is only surpassed by the triumphs that have been achieved in the world of legislation and politics. Mr. McAlister is a Democrat in the highest and fullest sense of the word and his faithful adherence to his convictions and open and manly expressions of them is one of hte potent reasons of the folloiwng most brilliant record. Twice since 1893 he has served in the state senate. In 1892 he was the Democratic nominee, his opponents, being M.B. Reese, Republican J.F. Johnson, Populist, of Wallowa and our subject received three hundred and fifty majority. The second term we are not favored with the figures, but Mr. McAlister went to the senate. In 1898 he ran for the legislature against Ed Davis, Republican, and John McAlister, Populist, and our subject was elected by a large majority. In 1900 he ran against Dobler, Republican, and beat by one hundred and thirty majority. Mr. McAlister always runs ahead of his ticket, showing that he is a favorite with the people and especially with his party. His nomination is always unanimous and by acclamation. The secret of his success lies in his ability and his faithfulness and good judgment in handling questions, while every one firmly believes that Daniel McAlister would lose his life rather than be untrue to his principles.

In November, 1867, Mr. McAlister married Nancy J., daughter of Peter and Angeline (Painter) Moe, and to this union there have been born ten children, six of whom are living, as follows: Frank A., married to Lizzie Stanley, and living three miles east from North Powder, having one son, Elmer; Mary A., wife of Willard Moss, living at Island City, and has two children, Murrel and Guy; Charles C., single and residing in southern California; William D., married to Epsie Sanderson, lives at Summerville; and has one daughter, Mildred; Reese M., going to agricultural college at Corvallis; Arthur E., the youngest.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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