Biography of M. R. Hathaway

M.R. HATHAWAY. – Among the brightest and most popular men on our coast is M.R. Hathaway, adjutant-general of Washington. His character, frank and genial, is strengthened also by a manly reserve and modesty which cause every honor bestowed upon him to repose with double dignity.

He was born in Kerkimer county, New York, in 1823. Fitting himself as teacher, he found employment in Wayne county. While still but a youth, he removed with his father to Michigan, where his labors alternated between teaching, and opening out a farm. In 1848 occurred his marriage, Miss Maria Smith, of La Porte county, Indiana, being the bride. Three years later he crossed the continent to Oregon, arriving at Portland in the autumn of 1852; and it was here that their little daughter Mary passed from earth. In 1853, he engaged in business as master of the Stevens’ ferry, substituting horsepower for the oars.

In the autumn of that year he removed to Fale’s landing, fourteen miles below Vancouver, on the Washington side, and took a claim, and became master of the postoffice there established. In 1854 he was chosen superintendent of public schools of Clarke county, with but eight votes dissenting, and in 1857 was re-elected without opposition. Declining the office in 1860, he was again elected in 1864, serving the county in that capacity nine years, during which the schools increased in number from fur to twenty-five. From 1854, and for many years thereafter, he was teaching at Vancouver, The Dalles, and at other points, everywhere being recognized as one of our most efficient and popular educators.

When the Indian war broke out in 1855, he enlisted as private in Captain Strong’s company of mounted riflemen, and was unanimously elected orderly sergeant. This company was mustered into the United States service, and made an expedition to Strong’s battleground, forming a treaty with the Indians. Two scouting expeditions were made north of the Columbia; but, while rendezvousing at The Dalles, General Wool from Vancouver ordered the return of their transports and horses; and the volunteers were compelled to quit the service after what they deemed a most inglorious campaign. But this was not to be the end of Mr. Hathaway’s services.

Governor Stevens, who returned from Fort Benton in January, 1850, was planning a campaign against the Indians early in the spring, with territorial troops. On February 7th he sent for Mr. Hathaway, and tendered him the position of quartermaster and commissary-general, with station at Vancouver. The situation was very difficult; and many believed that supplies could not be obtained. The new quartermaster, however, displayed great activity and persistence, and by diligence succeeded in furnishing over one-third of the supplies for the whole territory, gathering them all the way from the Calapooia Mountains to Clatsop Plains, as well as in his own county of Clarke. Nothing needed was rejected, from three pecks of beans up. A difficulty, however, arose with respect to the form of blank used by him in making orders, – a form printed from that of Oregon and adopted by him in accordance with the advice of Governor Curry, Governor Stevens having left the matter with Hathaway. Out of this grew complications which culminated in his resignation.

Returning to private life, he engaged in business and school-teaching at The Dalles, and in 1857 came back to his claim. It was not easy, however, for him to live a strictly private life, as his neighbors were ever seeking him for some public duty. In 1865 he was elected to the territorial legislature, and served with fidelity and distinction. Disallowing the use of his name as candidate for the territorial council in 1858, and in 1864 and in 1870, he was nominated by the territorial convention of 1876 as joint councilman. Although not a member of the convention, having come out as an independent, and having also two opponents in the field, he received a majority of all the votes cast. Declining the nomination in 1880, he was persuaded to accept a position as adjutant-general, and to this office was elected by a flattering majority.

From 1881 to 1885, he was in business at Portland, in the employ of the Oregon Railway & Navigation and Northern Pacific Railroad Companies.

In 1887 he suffered a terrible stroke of paralysis, from which he believes that he will never recover. In his home at Vancouver, in the midst of life-long friends, he looks without dread upon the last changes, and with much of pleasure upon his life-work now done. The life-work of such a man as Mr. Hathaway, however is never ended. It is still active and blessed in our society.



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

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