Oliver Perry Coshow

O.P. Coshow portrait

Gaston, Joseph. "The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912." Vol. 4. Chicago, Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. p. 138.


One of the foremost members of the Douglas county bar, is also a leading factor in financial circles as the president of the Umpqua Valley Bank of Roseburg and has other connections which indicate his prominence and splendid ability. His birth occurred in Brownsville, Linn county, Oregon, on the 14th of August, 1863, his parents being Oliver P. and Sarah E. (Cochran) Coshow, who were natives of Indiana and Missouri respectively and both of whom were pioneer settlers of this state. It was in 1851 that the father crossed the plains with ox teams in company with R. B. Cochran, who later represented Lane county in the state senate and became president of that body. The mother crossed the plains with her parents in 1847. Oliver P. Coshow, Sr., located near Brownsville, Linn county, where he took up a claim which he sold a few years later to his father-in-law and then purchased a farm of Riley Duncan near Harrisburg, Linn county, a part of which he still owns. In 1869 he removed to Brownsville to engage in merchandising and subsequently became identified with the woolen mill industry. Abandoning his milling interests after a time, he again embarked in the merchandising business and was prominently connected therewith for several years. During the past ten years he has- lived retired, enjoying the fruits of his former toil in well earned ease. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a worthy exemplar of the fraternity. He has resided in this state for more than six decades and during his active business career was numbered among the foremost citizens of Brownsville. His wife's parents, on coming to Oregon, located a donation claim near Brownsville, which is still in possession of the family, being now owned by William T. Cochran, a brother of Mrs. Sarah E. Coshow. The latter passed away on the 6th of March, 1903, when sixty-six years of age.

Oliver Perry Coshow was reared under the parental roof and supplemented his early education by a course of study in the University of Oregon. Before the completion of his college course, however, he was called home to look after the interests of his father, who had become ill. One year later he was made secretary of the Brownsville Woolen Mills Company, in which capacity he served for three years. During that period he took up the study of law and in August, 1889, went to Albany to complete his studies, enterino, the law office of J. K. Weatherford, under whom he read until admitted to the bar in 1890. He remained with Mr. Weatherford for another year and in March, 1892. went to McMinnville, forming a partnership with 0. H. Irvine for the practice of law under the firm style of Irvine & Coshow. This partnership was dissolved when, at the end of about five years, Mr. Coshow was appointed deputy district attorney, in which capacity he served for some ten months. On the 1st of April, 1897, he came to Roseburg, Oregon, where he has since been successfully engaged in the practice of his profession. As a lawyer he is sound, clear-minded and well trained. The limitations which are imposed by the constitution on federal powers are well understood by him. With the long line of decisions from Alan shall down by which the constitution has been expounded, he is familiar, as are all thoroughly skilled lawyers. He is at home in all departments of the law, from the minutiae in practice to the greater topics wherein is involved the consideration of the ethics and the philosophy of jurisprudence and the higher concerns of public policy. But he. is not learned in the law alone, for he has studied long and carefully the subjects that are to the statesman and the man of affairs of the greatest import,"the questions of finance, political economy, sociology," and has kept abreast of the best thinking men of the age. He is felicitous and clear in argument, thoroughly in earnest, full of the vigor of conviction, never abusive of his adversaries, imbued with highest courtesy, and yet a foe worthy of the steel of the most able opponent. His attention, however, has not been confined altogether to his law practice. He was one of the organizers of the Umpqua Valley Bank and is now the president of that institution, and he is likewise a stockholder and director of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill Company of Salem, Oregon.

On Christmas day of 1896 Mr. Coshow was united in marriage to Miss Libby Kay, a daughter of Thomas Kay, known as the pioneer woolen-mill man of the Pacific coast. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Coshow have been born five children, three of whom are still living, as follows: Minnie Hazel, who is the wife, of K. H. Pickens, an agriculturist residing in Roseburg, Oregon; Leonore Dale and Bertha Leone, both of whom are yet at home; Elizabeth Kay, another daughter, passed away July 14, 1912. She was the wife of Dr. E. B. Stewart, a prominent physician of Roseburg, this state.

The labors of Mr. Corbett became an integral part of the history of Portland and this section of the country. Strong in his ability to plan and perform, strong in his honor and name, Mr. Corbett not only promoted many business projects but largely set the standard for commercial and financial integrity and enterprise. In 1868 he purchased a controlling interest in the First National Bank, of which Mr. Failing was made president and so continued until his death in 1898, when Mr. Corbett became the executive head of the institution. This was the first national bank organized on the coast and during his lifetime the capital stock was increased from one to seven hundred thousand dollars, while its deposits aggregated about seven million dollars. It became the largest bank of the northwest and its success was due in no small measure to the conservative policy and progressive methods of Mr. Corbett. He was also prominent in organizing the Security Savings & Trust Company of Portland and became its president and one of its directors and figured prominently in the financial circles. He was, moreover, president of the Willamette Steel & Iron Works and president of the Portland Hotel Company, which erected at Portland one of the finest hotels on the coast. He was a promoter of city and suburban railway building and, serving as a member of the board of directors of the Street Railway Companies, added much to the development of the lines. Long before this, however, he was connected with transportation facilities. In 1865 he was awarded the contract for transporting the mails to California and four years later became owner of the California stage line, which he extended to carry out the contract for running the four-horse stage coach with the mail between Portland and California. On his election to the United States senate in 1866 he relinquished the contract but for many years thereafter was identified with transportation interests as one of the directors of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company and of its successor, the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company.

In politics Mr. Coshow is a stanch democrat. In 1904 he was elected to the state senate and after serving through two sessions or four years was tendered the nomination for reelection but declined to accept. In Masonry he has attained high rank, belonging to the following organizations: Laurel Lodge, No. 13, F. & A. M.: Roseburg Chapter, No. 8, 0. E. S., of which he was grand patron during the Lewis and Clark fair; Laurel Chapter, No. 31, R. A. M.; Ascalon Commandery, No. 14, K. T.. of Roseburg; the Council, R. & S. M., of Eugene, Oregon; and Al Kader Temple, A. A. 0. N. M. S., of Portland. He is also a member of Rising Star Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Roseburg and belongs to the United Artisans and the men of the World. Both he and his wife are members of the Baptist church and he has served as Sunday school superintendent for fifteen consecutive years and is president of the Baptist state convention. At this point it would be almost tautological to enter into any series of statements as showing Mr. Coshow to be a man of broad intelligence and genuine public spirit for these have been shadowed forth between the lines of this review. Strong in his individuality, he never lacks the courage of his convictions but there are as dominating elements in this individuality a lively human sympathy and an abiding charity, which, as taken in connection with the sterling integrity and honor of his character, have naturally gained for him the respect and confidence of men.


Submitted to the Oregon Bios. Project in April 2007 by Diana Smith. Submitter has no additional information about the person(s) or family mentioned above.


Updated on 17 Apr 2007.