Biography of Hon. John Catlin

HON. JOHN CATLIN. – Mr. Catlin is of New England and Scotch stock. His father, Seth Catlin, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and from there emigrated with his father and an only sister to the State of Illinois, about the year 1812. His mother came with her parents from Scotland to America when but twelve years of age; and her father, James Ridpath, settled with his family in Randolph county, Illinois, in 1818. His parents were married in the year 1831, and located on a farm at Turkey Hill, St. Clair county, Illinois, where their first child, John Catlin, the subject of this biography, was born on February 6, 1832. His father was a successful farmer of more than ordinary energy, good judgment and intelligence, and represented the county of St. Clair more than once in the senate of Illinois. In the spring of 1848 he started with his wife and seven sons across the plains for Oregon, making the trip with ox-teams. After a long and tedious journey, they arrived at Philip Foster’s, on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, on September 15th of the same year they left Illinois; and the same fall he located upon the claim afterwards taken by Edward Long, south of East Portland, where he remained one year, and then removed to what is now Cowlitz, Washington. Here John Catlin suffered the loss of his father in June, 1865, though his mother survived her husband many years.

Before coming to Oregon, John had received a common-school education in Illinois; and after his father located in Cowlitz county he entered the Willamette University at Salem, Oregon. In the year 1858, he was elected to the territorial legislature of Washington Territory, where he filled the position with the highest honor, and won respect from all his colleagues. In the fall of 1859, he returned to his native state after an absence of eleven years, where he at once began the study of law with Governor French. After one year’s hard study there, he entered the law school at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he applied himself assiduously, and in due course of time graduated in his chosen profession.

Upon his return to the Pacific coast, he located at Portland, Oregon, and entered into the practice of law, in which city he has since resided, engaging in his chosen profession of law. As an attorney he has always stood at the head of the bar, and has enjoyed the reputation of being an honest man, and a close and abiding confidant of his clients. As a counselor-at-law, his interpretations and guidance have often proved valuable to young attorneys in piloting them through tangled and complicated cases. As an evidence of his personal popularity and the esteem in which he is held by the people, one and all, he was elected county judge on the Democratic ticket of Multnomah county, Oregon, by a large plurality, while the balance of the ticket was decidedly defeated. This position he at present fills with marked ability, both to the courts and the people.

The Judge is now in the afternoon of life; yet he is hearty, hale and well preserved both in mental and physical respects, for he has always been regular in his habits, and has strictly obeyed those immutable laws of nature which are conducive to health and great longevity. The judge married a daughter of Robert Henderson, of Yamhill county, Oregon, in the year 1866.



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

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