Biography of Andrew Roberts

ANDREW ROBERTS. – Andrew Roberts was born in Dundee, Scotland, August 12, 1822. When one year old he had lost both of his parents. He was then removed to Forfar. As soon as he was of proper age he learned the trade of a tailor, and when he had earned and saved sufficient money he left his native land for the United States. He thus states that venture: “I left my home in 1842, and on foot started to Dundee, distant fourteen miles. I took the steamer from there to Edinburgh, and traveled thence by rail to Glasgow. I then went by steamer to Liverpool. I had to remain there about two weeks awaiting the sailing of the ship Sea of Norfolk, in which I had engaged passage for new York. When I landed at New York I had only five cents.”

Mr. Roberts resided in New York until January 11, 1851, in the meantime working at his trade and keeping store. He married in 1847; and his family consisted of himself, his wife and his son Peter when in January, 1851, they sailed for San Francisco on the Empire City, via Chagres and Panama – the old Isthmus route- up the Chagres river in bungoes to Gorgona, and thence by mules across the portage to Panama. At Panama they were detained until the arrival of the steamer Columbia on her way out from New York, to take her place on the route between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. On reaching San Francisco, Mr. Roberts rented a store on Clay street near the post office, but soon after moved to Merchant street.

In the May fire, the building in which his store was located was burned down; but he succeeded in saving a large portion of his goods. Another store was soon rebuilt on the ruins of the old one; and Mr. Roberts occupied it. In the June (1852) fire, the building was again consumed; and Mr. Roberts lost everything. He says: “I was broke; but I had to do something. There was a friend of mine who was a banker. So we bought the Phoenix Bakery, next to the corner of Montgomery and Long Wharf. It was built on the ashes of the late fires. In the fall of 1852, Patrick Raleigh visited San Francisco and advised me to remove to Portland. I took his advice; and we formed a co-partnership, which continued until the fall of 1854.”

The ill health of Mrs. Roberts rendered it necessary for Mr. Roberts to take her from Portland. By the advice of his physicians he moved to Corvallis, then called Marysville, where he continued in business until 1866. At that time he returned to Portland and engaged in the manufacture of clothing. In 1871 he formed a co-partnership with Charles Fishel; and the firm was a leading house in Portland, and had a celebrity throughout Oregon and Washington. In 1882 Mr. Roberts purchased the interest of Mr. Fishel, who retired from the business, and conducted it alone until 1888, when he associated with him his son-in-law Philip S. Malcolm, who was married to his only daughter and sole surviving child, the business still continuing under the name and style of A. Roberts. Mr. Roberts lost his wife in 1870; and his only son was drowned in the Willamette on the 4th of June, 1872. These bereavements severely afflicted Mr. Roberts.

As a merchant, citizen and man, Mr. Roberts is universally respected in the community where he has lived so long. He has never sought office nor publicity; and much of his life has been employed in unostentatiously bestowing charities and doing deeds of kindness for his fellows. In Masonry, however, he has become prominent, not only in his adopted state, but throughout the Pacific slope. To that institution he has given largely of his time, and in contributing to its means to dispense charity and benefit humanity. He has taken almost if not all of the degrees known to the fraternity in all of which his consistency, devotion and faithful conduct have commended him to the brethren wheresoever dispersed. His brethren of the lodge, the chapter, the commandery, the grand lodge, in both the York and Ancient Scottish Rite, have marked their appreciation of his zeal and valuable service by calling him to almost every station and office in every body of the craft in the city of Portland. When it is recorded of him that he is a good Mason, true in every relation in life, honored by neighbors, loved by his race, you have only spoken truthfully of that true man, good citizen and faithful Mason, – A. Roberts.



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

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