Biography of William Fine

WILLIAM FINE. – Any compilation that purports to chronicle the careers of the leading men of Union and Wallowa counties would be open to great criticism, were there failure to incorporate therein an epitome of the gentleman, whose name initiates this paragraph, since he is one of the most influential and prominent men of this entire section, being well known over the two counties and as highly esteemed as he is widely known: and since he has achieved a good success here in various enterprises, thus demonstrating his ability to handle the affairs of the business world in a winning manner: and since he is possessed of a genial nature and affability and integrity that stamp him as one of the stanch and substantial citizens.

Our subject is a product of the Webfoot State, being born in Marion county, on January 30, 1854, to Thomas L. and Amelia J. (Haskin) Fine, natives respectfully of Missouri and Illinois. The father came to Oregon in 1847, went to California in the following year, took up stock raising there on the Feather river, also operated a ferry boat on the river until 1852, then sold out and returned to Oregon, taking a donation claim of one half section in Marion county. Stock raising and farming occupied him there until 1864, when he sold out and brought cattle to Walla Walla county, remaining there in the cattle and sheep business until 1870. In that year he came to Union county, settling on Indian creek, three miles north from Elgin, taking three hundred and twenty acres of land. In 1882, he removed to Wallowa valley, near Lostine, and in 1885, removed to Joseph where he opened a hotel, but later retired from active business. In the fall of 1890, he died and is buried in Prairie creek cemetery near Joseph. The mother died on June 28, 1901, and is buried at Elgin. She was living with our subject at the time. Returning now to our subject, he started for himself in 1872, handling cattle in Whitman county, Washington, whence in 1873, he went to southern Idaho in the same business, and in 1875 he came to Union county and took up horse raising. Five years later, he sold his horses and bought land east from Elgin, and there farmed until 1889, at which time he sold this property and bought a dry goods stock in Elgin, filling the place of a successful merchant for two years, then closed out and acted as salesman for one year with the I.C.M. &M. Company. Subsequent to this period he went into the cattle business in Wallowa, on Big Sheep creek, and soon afterwards opened a butcher shop in Elgin. Later he opened a livery stable and handled both in a successful manner until 1897, when the stable and all of its contents were burned. Not to be daunted, however, he immediately rebuilt and launched forth in the business with even better success than formerly. In the last year, Mr. Fine has taken as partners the Barnhill brothers, and the firm are now doing the largest business of their kind in this section of the country. During the last year also, Mr. Fine has been acting as agent for the British government and has purchased many horses for them. He was one of the first board of councilmen of Elgin and he remained in office until 1900 and it is but right to say that in all public capacities as well as in private life, the same uprightness, ability, and integrity have characterized Mr. Fine, and wisdom has been his guide.

On February 4, 1877, Mr. Fine married Miss Sarah E., daughter of Joseph and Mary A. Harris, mention of whom is made in another portion of this volume. Mr. and Mrs. Fine have become the parents of the following children: Roda J., Nora F., Frank, Hugh, Lee, Buna, Clariss E., and Cecil. Fraternally, Mr. Fine affiliated with the Masons, Elgin Lodge, No. 98. and with the K. of P. Orion Lodge. No. 73.



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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