An Illustrated History of Central Oregon, Western Historical Publishing Company, Spokane, WA. 1905, page 281-282.

* A portrait of Mr. Harriman appears between pages 280 and 282.

* A portrait has been posted on-line at

WILLIAM J. HARRIMAN is at the present time one of the commissioners of Wasco county. He is one of the leading farmers in this portion of the state and now resides at 1103 Elm street, The Dalles. He was born in Leicestershire, England, on November 11, 1854. His father, John Harriman, who is given mention elsewhere in this volume, was a native of the same place. For many generations back, the family has lived there and our subject's cousin now owns the old Harriman estate. He married Miss Elizabeth M. Hanford, also a native of that shire. Her father was a noted implement manufacturer for many years and took a fine prize of a ten guinea gold cup for the best plow manufactured in the realm. Mrs. Han-ford's brother succeeded to the business and after his death, the factory passed out of the hands of the family. Both the Hanford and the Harriman families were very prominent and influential people in Leicestershire. Our subject was well educated in the public and private schools and after fourteen remained on the farm with his father until twenty-six. After that, he was employed on the street railway in Nottingham, then traveled for Robinson and Company, brewers of Burton. After that he was distributing agent for a large newspaper and in May, 1882, came to the United States, locating in Wasco county. Although he had been active at various labors in the old country, he had not amassed sufficient funds for the trip and so was supplied by his mother. Upon arriving here, he immediately took a preemption and went to work for A.J. McHaley. His wages were used to make improvements upon the farm and he labored along gradually improving the place until he had a fine farm with capital enough to buy another quarter section, which he did from J.H. Harris. He soon bought another quarter from J.H. Harris. He has in this farm now, five hundred and two acres. He owns another farm on Eightmile creek, near Endersly postoffice, of four hundred and forty acres, a portion of which is very rich bottom land. It is one of the finest places in the county. Both of the farms he handles through tenants and hired overseers and he is thus largely retired from active business. In the fall of 1903, Mr. Harriman retired from the farm and moved to The Dalles, purchasing the property where he lives at the present time.

At The Dalles, on March 20, 1888, Mr. Harri-man married Miss Jane M. Nelson, who was born in Glasserton, Wigtonshire, Scotland, on December 6, 1865. Her parents are James and Elizabeth (McKeand) Nelson, natives of that same country. The father died in 1902 on our subject's ranch near Endersly. The mother died at the home of her son-in-law, William Hastings. Mrs. Harriman has two brothers, Thomas H. and David, and three sisters, Jessie, single, Mrs. Agnes Hastings, and Mrs. Elizabeth Nicholson. Mr. Harriman's brothers, Edward M. and Arthur M. are mentioned elsewhere in this work. To our subject and his wife, seven children have been born: William T., December 17, 1888; Charles N., March 23, 1890; George E., November 30, 1892; John H., November 21, 1894; Florence M., June 10, 1896; Lizzie M., June 18, 1899; and Jane C., April 20, 1903.

Mr. Harriman is a good stirring Democrat and has always been very active in the campaigns and for the interest of his party. He is frequently at the county conventions, has been justice of the peace and in 1900 was elected commissioner of Wasco county, running two hundred and seventy-five votes ahead of his ticket. At the time he was installed in office, the county owed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. On May 1, 1904, it owed a little over eleven thousand dollars. This speaks well of the financial ability and sound wisdom of our subject and his associates. Mr. Harriman has given considerable personal attention to building good roads and is a strong advocate of the best in every line. He has the reputation throughout the country of being one of the best farmers and stockmen to be found. In the fall of 1903, at The Dalles, he took the prize for the best team of carriage horses, first prize for roadsters, first prize for mare and colt, first prize for plow team under fourteen hundred pounds, first prize for Shorthorn yearling, first prize for yearling Hereford and won the farmer's team and buggy race. In 1902, he took four first prizes on fruit but in 1903, he did not enter fruit.

Mr. Harriman is a member of the I.O.O.F. and was raised in the Episcopalian church. His wife was a member of the Congregational church. On April 2, 1904, after a continued illness of typhoid fever, which was succeeded by pneumonia, Mrs. Harriman was called to pass the river of death. She was a noble Christian woman and left a record unsullied.

Since the above was written, Mr. Harriman again entered the race for county commissioner, but as the Republicans were in the majority he lost, but by a small majority.


Submitted to the Oregon Bios. Project in January 2005 by Jeffrey L. Elmer. Submitter has no additional information about the person(s) or family mentioned above.

Return to ORBios Main Page