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.
HON. ISRAEL B. LAING, who is
engaged in the general merchandise business at Washtucna, Washington, where
he is also assistant postmaster, was born at Front Royal, Warren county,
Virginia, September 27, 1857. His parents were I. H. and Alla (Hambaugh)
Laing, also natives of Virginia, the father of Scotch and the mother of
German descent. In 1867 they removed to Pike county, Illinois, where
the remainder of their lives were spent. Mr. Laing has had four brothers
and five sisters; Matilda, deceased; Mrs. Amanda Goodin; Mrs. Virginia
Swagger, whose husband is now dead; Jefferson; Mrs. Ella Ward; Gustavus;
Ferdinand; Edward; and Mrs. Isabel Buress.
Until attaining his majority Mr. Laing gave
the profits of all his labor to his parents, his time being given to assisting
his father on the farm. At twenty-one he began working for his father
at eighteen dollars per month. When twenty-five he rented the farm
and managed it until 1886. On July 29, of that year he was married
to Alice Mays, daughter of James and Sarah (Petty) Mays, natives of Illinois.
The parents of Mrs. Laing lived the greater part of their lives in their
native state, where the father died recently. The mother is now making
her home with our subject. They have been parents of eight children,
Jane, Mrs. Clara Bruce, Amanda, Mrs. Laing, Dora, Charles M., Lucy M.,
Upon his marriage Mr. Laing disposed of his
interests in Illinois and came to Waitsburg, Washington. The following
year he took a homestead in Adams county and engaged in farming and stock
raising. He lived on this farm throughout the hard times of 1893-94,
and with the majority of the Big Bend farmers, suffered heavy loss.
In 1893 the farmers in his vicinity built a warehouse at Washtucna, and
Mr. Laing was the one decided upon to assume its management. By the
year 1897 the business of the house had grown to such an extent that Mr.
Laing brought his family from the farm to live in Washtucna, that he might
devote his entire time to his town business. The following year,
however, he formed a partnership with A. J. Clever and engaged in the mercantile
business. This partnership continued until 1901, when Mr. Clever
disposed of his interest to C. T. Booth, since which time the firm has
been styled Laing & Booth. It carries the largest stock of general
merchandise in the town of Washtucna, and since its inception the business
has grown from a thirteen hundred to a fifteen thousand dollar basis.
All lines of ordinary trade are to be found in the store of Laing &
Booth. Mr. Laing also still owns four hundred and eighty acres of
land, all of which is in cultivation and well improved. Especially
is his farm well equipped with buildings, and it contains a first-class
orchard and an excellent water system. Mr. Laing also has eight lots,
and one of the largest, and most strictly modern houses in Washtucna.
Mr. Laing invariably votes the Democratic
ticket, although in 1894 he affiliated with the Populist party, and by
it was elected a member of the state legislature. At the state capital
he made a creditable record, and was in reality the father of the Usury
bill, although the bill was introduced by a colleague in the house.
At that time this bill was the subject of universal comment over the state.
He has also been justice of the peace and a member of his home city council.
Mr. Laing has been equally prominent and active
in fraternity circles, being a member of the I. O. O. F. and the M. W.
A. His wife is a member of the Royal Neighbors of America.
To Mr. and Mrs. Laing have been born seven
children, Orin, Mabel, Agnes, Helen, Rhea, Claud and Dale.
Israel B. Laing is one of the substantial
business men of Adams county, and in a business transaction or in general
conversation one would take him to be a man of finished education.
The fact in the matter is, he has gone to school only twenty-four months,
and then in an ordinary rural school, so that he may truthfully be classed
as a thorough self-made man.