Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oregon Republican League: History 104 Biographies

Every Wednesday, the Oregon Republican League will post the biographies of important figures, in the League's/State of Oregon's history. Feel free to comment or share stories of your family's Republican affiliation.

William Harrison Morton was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania on 18 December 1842. He was the son of William Morton and Rebecca Hazen. William Morton was a soldier in the Civil War. He married on 23 May 1866 to Mary Helwig, a native of Pennsylvania. Seven children were born to this union. In 1885 William Morton moved to Oregon, lived in Portland for four years after which he moved to Beaverton, Oregon where he was in the florist business and built there one of the first large green-houses. William Morton later moved to Hillsboro, Oregon. In Hillsboro he built up an extensive seed business, and operated the only hothouse of any note in Washington County, located at the corner of Second and Lincoln streets. He was elected justice of the peace by his republican constituents and "stood at the head of mercantile and general affairs of Beaverton". William Morton was identified with such organizations as the United Artisans, the Lyons, and with the Department of Oregon Grand Army of the Republic ( G. A. R.) for which he held the office of officer of the day and Past Commander of the General Ransom Post Number 69 of Hillsboro. William was also Past Commander of Babcock Post at Beaverton, Oregon. He was also Secretary of the Washington County Veterans Association. William was a member of the First Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon.


This biography of Heman Johnson Geer was published as part of the Illustrated History of Union and Wallowa Counties. © The Centennial History Of Oregon, Vol. III Gaston, Pages 727-728.

Conspicuous among the earlier pioneers of Oregon was Heman J. Geer, who with his father's family settled in this state in 1847. The father spent the remainder of his days here on a farm, which he took up as government land at Butteville, near Champoeg. Heman J. Geer settled in Union county, and his last days were spent on a donation claim which he took up near Cove, passing away in 1904. He was the father of T. T. Geer, one of the governors of Oregon, also of Judd Geer, who for many years has been state fruit inspector. He was one of the first nurserymen in eastern Oregon and conducted a very successful business. Heman J. Geer was born in Zeno, Ohio, in 1828, and died in Oregon in 1904. He was a son of Joel Geer, a native of Connecticut, and of old colonial stock, representatives of the family still living in that state. The father removed to Ohio at an early day, being a pioneer of that state. Later he removed to Illinois in pioneer days and resided there for eight years, settling in Illinois at the time Harrison and Tyler were running for the office of president. In 1847 the family removed to Oregon, joining a wagon train composed of one hundred teams under Captain Palmer. The journey was made without any molestation by the Indians or any difficulty worthy of note, and the father settled at Butteville, near Champoeg, where he took up a donation claim upon which he remained the rest of his life, pursuing the vocation of farming.

Heman J. Geer received a good education in the schools of Ohio and Illinois and remained under the parental roof until after he attained his majority. In 1864 he settled in Canyon City where for two years he followed the business of mining. Then, after spending two years there, he removed to Cove where he took up government land, and with the exception of two years spent in Walla Walla made his home near Cove, which remained his place of residence until his death.

Mr. Geer was married in young manhood to Miss Eliza Duncan, whose parents were among the earliest settlers of the state, coming here in 1864. She passed away February 5, 1901, aged sixty-two years. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Geer were four children: T. T., the eldest, who was at one time governor of Oregon; Theodosia, now Mrs. Joseph Jaynes; Judd; and Blaine, who is now living in Walla Walla, Washington. Mr. Geer was always a stanch republican, and took an active interest in the political affairs of the day. He was appointed deputy sheriff in 1866 under his brother, Isaiah Geer, the first sheriff of Union county. The county at that time comprised a good deal more territory than it does at present and within its boundaries were many adventurers, miners of doubtful antecedents and desperados, making the sheriff's duties by no means a holiday affair. His tenure of office continued for more than a year and in the performance of his duties he was never found wanting.

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