Oregon Republican League: History 104 Biographies
Every Wednesday/Thursday, 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.
An Illustrated History of Umatilla County & Morrow County, by Colonel William Parsons and W. S. Shiach with a brief outline of the early history of the State of Oregon. W. H. Lever, Spokane, WA, (1902), p. 390-391.
JOHN S. VINSON. - This prominent business man, successful educator and esteemed citizen is one of the early pioneers of Umatilla county, and has been a potent factor in its industrial development for thirty-five years, holding in this time many public positions, where he has ever shown a faithfulness and wisdom that have endeared him to the constituency and commanded the respect and admiration of all.
He was born to James S. and Catherine (Sackette) Vinson, in Des Moines, Iowa, on December 25, 1848, and crossed the plains with his parents in 1852. They settled in Clackamas county, establishing the post office of Needy, James S. Vinson being the first incumbent, who also operated a general merchandise establishment until he became bankrupt by taking the Oregon Indian war script from the settlers, which depreciated in value to almost nothing. At this time his wife died, and he turned to the mines in Idaho for employment, remaining there for three years, after which time he married Mrs. Asenath Long, a pioneer of 1862. They removed to this county, settling on Butter creek, where they remained until 1882, when Mrs. Vinson died and he returned to Iowa on a visit to his sister, wife of General Weaver. In 1895, he returned to the Willamette valley, where he passed away to his rewards in another world, in November, 1895, being eighty-six years of age. He had been a prominent man in public affairs, always faithful and efficient. It was he who was the commissioner appointed by the court to locate the town of Pendleton.
Our subject was educated in the public schools and higher institutions in the Willamette valley, and then taught school in this county for six years, taking rank with the first educators in this part of the country. Succeeding this he was appointed postmaster at Vinson post office on Butter creek, occupying that position for ten years and operating a prosperous general merchandise establishment meanwhile. After this he removed to Nolan and established a post office, adding the grain business to his merchandising. During this time he was nominated by the Republicans for legislator from this county, but was defeated by the division of the county. In 1892 he again received the nomination, but that year the county went entirely Democratic. He has ever displayed that activity and interest in political matters that becomes the loyal citizen. In 1895 he purchased a fruit farm and gave his attention to its cultivation and improvements for three years, and then traded it for a general merchandise business in Milton, continuing there with a fine trade until one year ago, when he sold out and brought his present business in Freewater. In addition to his business, which is very prosperous, he owns city property in Freewater and in Pendleton that is quite valuable.In fraternal affiliations he is identified with the K. of P., the Pioneers of the Pacific, and is counselor of Harmony Lodge, No. 237, Order of Pendo, all of Freewater.
By the way of reminiscence it is interesting to note that during the Bannock war Mr. Vinson remained on the farm on Butter creek with only one companion when thirty-five of the Indian lodges were on his place. Some men who were hunting stock, having stopped at his house on the night of the Willow creek fight, were murdered the next day, and stragglers from that battle came announcing that the volunteers were all murdered, which caused considerable consternation, and our subject was useful in allaying the fears and removing those who were wounded and the women and children of an emigrant train that had just arrived to a place of safety, although he returned the next day and remained on his farm.