Biography of Peter Dewar Forbes

PETER DEWAR FORBES. – In the gentleman whose name heads this brief memoir, and whose portrait appears in this history, we have one of the very earliest settlers of Tacoma, as well as one of her prominent business men and capitalists. Mr. Forbes was born in St. Johns, New Brunswick, February 18,1845, and is the son of William and Jesie Dewar Forbes. After his school days were passed, Peter learned the trade of a carpenter and shipbuilder, becoming a master mechanic.

In 1868 he came to the United States, locating in Minneapolis, where he became a well-known architect and builder, until 1873. In that year he desired to seek a milder climate, and chose Washington Territory as the most desirable location, making his first residence in Seattle and engaging in his former business. His matured ability soon attracted the notice of the officers in the Northern Pacific Railroad, then entering the territory. In April, 1873, he accepted employment as superintendent of depot and bridge construction, and in this capacity built all the depots, roundhouses and machine shops form Land Pend d’Oreille to Tacoma, and from Kalama to the latter place. On his arrival at the present site of the beautiful city of Tacoma, there was but one building in the place; and in 1874 Mr. Forbes built the headquarters building for the company, then standing where the magnificent new theater is now being erected.

Together with these important works of an almost public character, Mr. Forbes also superintended private enterprises in his line; and in 1875, we find him master and owner of the steamer Isabel, running from Victoria to Alaska for one season, after which he gain returned to the employ of the railroad. On the completion of the Puyallup branch of the Northern Pacific, our subject purchased an interest in the New Tacoma Sawmill, and became a member of the firm of Smith, Hatch & Co., with whom he remained for three years. In 1884 he became a member of the wholesale grocery firm of John S. Baker & Co., and one year later disposed of his interest and gain resumed railroad building, – this time as superintendent of depot and bridge construction from Hauser Junction to Coeur d’Alene City. On the completion of this he engaged in real estate in Tacoma, and has been very successful.

It may be seen by this short synopsis that Mr. Forbes has been an active, energetic and prominent man. He is to-day in the full prime and vigor of manhood. By steady application to business, and by good judgment in investments, he is one of the wealthy men of the City of Destiny. He was united in marriage at St. Johnson, New Brunswick, to Miss Bessie Osborn. They have two daughters and one son, the latter of whom is senior member of the well-known and popular firm of Forbes & Vose, wholesale and retail grocers of Tacoma.

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