Biography of J. P. O. Lownsdale

There are few business men more favorably known in the metropolis of the Northwest than the gentleman of whom we write. His operations in real estate have been of the most reliable character, and the services that he has rendered the city in calling attention to her advantages have been very great. In his personal character he has maintained an integrity worthy, not only of the highest commendation, but of the imitation of young men.

He was born in Princeton, Gibson county, Indiana, January 1st, 1830, the son of Daniel H. Lownsdale, the early owner of the central part of Portland. At the age of sixteen he entered the dry goods store of an uncle, of his native place, in whose employ he remained until at the age of twenty-one (1851) he came, at the request of his father, via the Isthmus of Panama, to Portland. He was here engaged in merchandising, until in 1853 he embraced the opportunity to return East, via the plains route, on horseback, with Captain Hiram Smith. He entered into partnership with his uncle in Indiana-the business proving very successful to all parties concerned. He was married in 1854 to Miss Sarah R. Milburn, a daughter of Robert Milburn, Esq., one of the leading citizens of Princeton. During his residence at his old home, he was honored with various public trusts and offices in the town and county. In the spring of 1862, however, learning of the failure of his father’s health and desiring to see him, he undertook once more the journey to our State, by the Isthmus route, but reaching San Francisco the news was received of the father’s death, which occurred at about the time the journey began. The duties of administrator now devolved upon him, and made necessary a protracted stay at Portland.

But in due course of administration, notwithstanding many complications, settlement of the estate was made to the full satisfaction of all interested.

In the meantime, Mr. Lownsdale had become a citizen of Portland, and, in 1863, was elected to fill a vacancy in the city council, and was afterwards elected for a three-years term. At the close of this he was narrowly defeated, by Thos. J. Holmes, for mayor. The city was then democratic, while Mr. Lownsdale ran on the republican ticket. This election will be memorable for the sudden death of Mr. Holmes, who died on the day succeeding the election -a demise due to the excitement of the campaign. Mr. Lownsdale was appointed upon the Board of County Commissioners to fill the position left vacant by the election to the United States Senate of the incumbent, Hon. H. W. Corbett, and he held the office a second term by election, declining further preferment. He continues his business with unabated interest and success.

His family consists of wife and four grown children. The eldest, a daughter, is the wife of Mr. E. M. Hall, who is operating quite extensively upon claims in the Coeur d’Alene mines. The two older sons are in successful business of their own.

In Mr. Lownsdale we find exemplified that sturdy devotion to business and progress, which have not only realized all that the State is at present, but which contains the promise of a flourishing future.


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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