Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
WILLIAM W. KING, president of
the King Mercantile Company, Ritzville, Washington, was born in Iowa, October
18, 1866. His father, John H. King, a native of Pennsylvania, is
descended from an old Pennsylvania family. On August 13, 1862, he
enlisted in Company H, Sixth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, under Captain
W. K. Tattersoll, Major Grant, Colonel Crooks, General Sibley and served
for three years in the Civil war. He is now living at Helix, Oregon,
where he owns five quarter sections of land. His mother, Ellen (Grover)
King, a native of Maine and a member of the old Grover family, is living
at the Helix home.
Mr. King was raised principally in Nebraska
and Oregon, where he attended district schools. The family removed
from the former to the latter state when our subject was fourteen years
of age. Leaving the grammar school, Mr. King spent a year at the
normal school at Weston, Oregon, then attended graded school at Athena,
after which he entered the Willamette University, at Salem, Oregon, graduating
from the business department in 1886. For a year he taught, then
returned to the University above mentioned, where he spent the winter in
studying shorthand and telegraphy.
The following summer he spent at home. On
the 26th of December, 1889, William W. King was married to Lena E. Leabo,
at Salem. Mrs. King was born in Iowa, January 2, 1869. She
died January 9, 1894, leaving Mr. King with three small children, Athol
W., Ralph and Elepha, to care for. Mrs. King's father, Augustus C.
Leabo, is a native of Linn county, Iowa. Her grandfather and grandmother
were natives of Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively. Her father's
father was a Frenchman who had the honor of coming to the United States
with the famous LaFayette. Her mother, Paulina B. (Horsman) Leabo,
was born in Ohio, and came of one of the oldest pioneer families of the
middle states. Mrs. King's grandmother lived to the age of ninety-six.
Though Mrs. King's parents have a home near Salem, Oregon, they temporarily
reside with Mr. King at his home in Ritzville. Mr. and Mrs. Leabo
have two children living, Reese H., and Augusta G., wife of H. D. Hallin,
of Athol, Idaho.
Shortly after his marriage, Mr. King came
to Adams county and settled on land upon which he had filed the previous
year. He was fortunate enough to harvest one good crop before the
hard times of 1893, for after that year he shared in the general depression
of the country. Although he had only one hundred and fifty dollars
when he came here, he managed to continue accumulating land under the contract
purchase system until he had sixteen hundred acres under cultivation.
In the fall of 1897 he had a heavy crop on one half of his land, which,
besides placing him square with the world, left him with a surplus of twenty-six
hundred dollars. In 1894 Mr. King was elected county assessor on
the Populist ticket, served one term and refused a second nomination, as
he did also the nomination on the Populist ticket for the legislature.
During his tenure in the office of assessor
Mr. King with H. M. Martin, founded The Ritzville Mail,
Populistic newspaper in Ritzville or in Adams county, and Mr. King assumed
In the fall of 1898 he formed a partnership
with Claus F. Clodius and engaged in buying and selling grain. He
made a success of this business and in November of the same year he purchased
an interest in Thiel, Dorman & Company's business, the firm name of
which was thereupon changed to Thiel, Dorman & King, and handled principally
hardware and farm implements. In 1889 the King Mercantile Company
was formed by the merger of Thiel, Dorman & King with the Harris &
Comparet Company, with William W. King president. W. H. Tuggle
secretary and treasurer and J. M. Comparet general manager. The company
was launched with twenty-five thousand dollars paid up capital. Since
that time that amount has increased to sixty thousand dollars, and is the
largest institution of its kind in the Big Bend. It employs continuously
fifteen salaried men, and during the busy season keeps three salesmen in
the farm machinery department alone. The store building is a two-story
brick structure with a one-story extension, has seventy-five feet frontage
and is eighty feet deep. The company is agent for the Minneapolis
Threshing Machine Company, the McCormick Harvester Company, Studebaker
Brothers, John Deer Plow Company, Perkins Windmill Company, the Benecia
Disc Plow Company, the Baker Hamilton Plow Company, besides handling first
class lines of furniture, firearms, sporting goods, tools, and so forth.
The house in 1903 did a total business of one hundred and forty-six thousand
Mr. King has one brother, J. Ervin, and four
sisters: Alma A., wife of Daniel A. Scott; Elsie, wife of Frank E. King;
Daisy, wife of Frank E. Cargill, and Ethel.
Besides the property above mentioned, Mr.
King owns thirty residence lots in Ritzville, where he has a handsome home,
and an extensive interest in the Burnappa townsite company on the Colville
reservation; and varied mining property interests. He is president
of the Syndicate Mining Company, Ferry county; and director of the Jefferson
Marble Company, in Stevens county. His firm also has a branch mercantile
house in Hatton. He carries life insurance to the extent of twenty-six
Mr. King is vice president of the public library
association of his city. He is a genial and popular man with unusual
business sagacity, and bears the reputation of being strictly honest and
above-board in all his dealings. In fraternity circles, he is identified
with Ritzville Lodge, No. 58, I. O. O. F., of which he is past grand; the
M. W. A., of which he is a past venerable grand, and which has elected
him as a representative of the state to the national convention at Kansas
City; and he is a past, and the present commander of the local lodge, K.
O. T. M.
In politics, Mr. King is an ardent Democrat.
In 1896, Mr. King was a delegate to the convention at Ellensburg, which
nominated John R. Rogers for governor.
At Spokane, on November 26, 1903, Mr. King
married Miss Victoria C. Willey, a native of Delaware, Ohio. She
is the daughter of Ephraim and Catherine (Siegfried) Willey. The
former is now living on the same farm in Ohio where he settled just after
his marriage, and is aged seventy-seven. The mother died in February,
1874. The family was very prominent in early affairs of Ohio and
in educational matters always took a leading part. Mrs. King's uncle,
Matthew Loy, was president of Capitol University for twenty-five years.