Biography of Hon. John W. McAlister

HON. JOHN W. McALISTER. – It now becomes our pleasant privilege to outline in brief review the eventful career of the well known and highly esteemed gentlman whose name initiates this paragraph and whose life is connected with the county of Union, having been identified with it since his early boyhood and having been one of the potent factors in its development as also in making the laws which have proved so salutary for its progress and gaining, meanwhile, a reputation throughout the state because of the ability and sagacity displayed in the state halls of legislation, while no whit behind are the commendable moral virtues which his daily life exemplify, and the intrinsic worth of his character in constant display.

Joyn W. was born in Putnam county, Missouri, on June 13, 1856, being the son of Harvye McAlister. When the son was six years of age, the father removed to the west with his family, having no particular objective point except Oregon. Having been safely guided through the long and dangerous journey until they came to Grande Ronde valley, and the teams being tired out, it was determined to stop and recruit, and the result was that Union county gained a prominent and substantial citizen. The father soon took up a squatter’s right on the land where our subject now resides, two miles east from Lagrande, and later homesteaded it. Two houses constituted the town of lagrande, when Mr. McAlister stopped his teams there first. Our subject grew up on the home place, receiving a good training from the schools of the county, and when he was twenty-three years of age attended for one and one-half years the University at Eugene in this state. Sickness terminated the course, which it was his purpose to pursue until graduation. He then turned his attentionto raising hops and failure being his lot there he came again to Union county then to Wallowa county and for a time was in the horse business, then returned to Lagrande and engaged as foreman for Rogers and Williamson, two years being spent in that occupation. In 1888 he removed to hispresent location and here he has been engaged in stock raising and genreal farming since. Success has attended his efforts andhe is one of the most prosperous and substantial farmers of the county to-day. He handles blooded stock, consisting of fine Jersey cattle and thoroughbred hogs, having some specimens of the swine tribe that weight seven hundred and thirty-five pounds each.

In 1899 Mr. McAlister married Miss Grace daughter of Henry and Delia (Clement) Cronkite, residents of Hillsboro, Oregon. In the political realm Mr. McAlister has been the recipient of much honor from an appreciative and discriminating people, and his ability, his faithfulness,his wisdom and his sound principles have entitled him to all the gifts in the power of his constituents; and while true to all trusts reposed in him, he has never accepted a public position that he did not fill to the satisfaction of the people, with credit to hmself and with stanch faithfulness that is gratifying and highlycommendable. In 1890 he was nominated by the Democrats for the state legislature against Charles Goodnough of the Republican party and he gained the day by twenty-three majority, being one of three on his ticket that were elected.In 1896 he was nominated by the Populists against Fred Stanley and J.A. Wright of the Repblican party and William Hunter of the Democrats, to to be elected, and our subject received one hundred and eightymajority, running away ahead of his ticket, and being one of five elected on his ticket. In 1898 he received the nomination of the Populist ticket, D.A. McAlister being the Democratic nominee and Fred Stanley and Ed Davis the Republican candidates, two to be elected and our subject was defeated by a small majority. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masons, Red Men, Artisans, and the Eastern Star. Mr. McAlister is also a member of the Christian church and is at present the only resident elder in that body. He is highly esteemed throughout the county, both for his ability and personal qualities of worth, as well as for the excellent public service that he has rendered.



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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