Biography of Robert C. Mays

ROBERT C. MAYS. – The well-known and capable business man, whose name appears at the head of this article, is one of the most widely known men of Union, and Wallowa counties, and is at the present time handling a large business as warehouseman at Elgin, where he is numbered among the leading residents of that thriving city, and he has made a record in this section that is both crowned with gratifying success from a financial standpoint, and wherein he has maintained a representation that is untarnished and displayed talents that properly place him among the real leaders in the county.

On August 31, 1860, in McMinnville Oregon, our subject first saw the light, being the son of John C. and Martha J. (Nye) Mays, natives of North Carolina, who were married on June 22, 1851 in Missouri, Brown county,and the following year threaded the dreary plains and climbed the rugged mountains that separated eastern civilization from the western wilds, using for transportation ox teams. Settlement was made in Yam Hill county, three miles distant from McMinnville, and a donation claim of one-half section was secured. Work commenced in earnest to make a good home, and when sixteen years later Mr. Mays sold his farm it was one of the best and most finely improved in the entire valley. In 1869 they came to Walla Walla and thence, soon afterwards to Umatilla county, where four hundred and eighty acres of land was bought near Weston and farming and stock raising employed the father there for eight years. In 1878 he sold out and went to Dayton, Washington, buying school land there and engaging in the sheep business. Eight years later he again moved, this time to Colfax, where he took up the stock business and also operated a livery until February 1, 1882, when he was called from the scenes of life to the realities of a world beyond, his remains being buried in the Dayton cemetery. The mother is now living with her son, Charles, in Elgin. Returning more particularly to our subject, we note that he commenced activity in life for himself at the age of eighteen by engaging in the sheep business in Columbia county, Washington, which he sold two years later and then acted as salesman for Clenderring & Miller, of Dayton, Washington, also being deputy county treasurer of the county, as Mr. Miller held the position of treasurer. In 1886 Mr. Mays went to Lagrande and acted as salesman for J. Brooks one year in a general merchandise establishment. In 1887 Mr. Mays launched into the mercantile world at Lostine, Wallowa county, in company with Mr. McCully, he being the manager of the business. In 1890 Mr. J.A. Masterson, father-in-law to Mr. Mays, bought the interest of F.D. McCully, and they removed the stock to Elgin, opening a store on the ground where D.B. Henricks dispenses goods to-day. In 1892 the entire building and stock of goods were burned to the ground, and while they rebuilt the store, they rented it to Mr. Hendricks and later sold it to him. In 1891 they started the warehouse business, and in 1897 Mr. Masterson retired from this and Mr. Mays manages it alone. It is a mammoth business, having care of all the freight that goes to Wallowa county, and Mr. Mays has shown himself to be thoroughly capable to oversee this concern, also giving some time to the handling of real estate and lumber in which Mr. Masterson is still associated with him. Mr. Mays also deals in wool, grain, agricultural implements, and so forth. He has an elegant brick residence in the city, and since its incorporation he has been councilman, and at one time was mayor. In addition to his extensive interests, Mr. Mays finds time to devote to the advancement of educational affairs, being deeply interested in this worthy cause.

On April 4, 1888, Mr. Mays married Miss Hattie, daughter of J.A. and Almira Masterson, and one child, Chris E., came January 7, 1890, at Lostine, to gladden the happy union. Mrs. Mays was born in Cove on December 20, 1869. Mrs.(Mr.) Mays is affiliated with the B.P.O.E., Lagrande Lodge No. 433, with the Masons, Elgin Lodge No. 98; with the O.E.S. Blue Mountain Chapter No. 52; with the K. of P., Orion Lodge, No. 73; and with the A.O.U.W.



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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