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Charles Mortimer Forbes (1848-1895)

Oregonian, 13 Aug 1895, page 8

Mr. Charles M. Forbes, senior member of the furniture firm of Forbes & Breeden, died at his home, 215 Ford street, at 8 o’clock yesterday morning. For nearly a month Mr. Forbes has been suffering from neuralgic attacks, and, while his death proves a great surprise to many, it was not entirely unexpected to those aware of his serious condition. Two weeks ago Mr. Forbes went to the seashore, hoping to be benefited by a change of air and release from business care; but, a week ago last Saturday, he returned, showing no improvement, and he was taken to his home a very sick man.

Despite his prostration, Mr. Forbes thought all the time he would get better. He continually looked upon the bright side of life, and at no time believed or felt that his condition was to be regarded as serious. He even felt more anxious as to the condition of his business partner, Mr. H. C. Breeden, than of himself. For some time Mr. Breeden had been ailing, suffering from an aggravated attack of inflammation of the bowels. Mr. Forbes trip to the seashore brought no relief, and, on his return, a week ago, he took to his bed. It was only Friday that he seemed to grow better. The day following, Saturday, he felt even more encouraged, and thought in a few days he would be again down at the store attending to business. Yesterday morning he felt so much better that he told Mrs. Forbes that she might go and arrange her own breakfast and fix something for him afterwards. She left him feeling more cheerful than he had been since their return from Clatsop beach. Fifteen minutes after, she returned and found her husband dead, lying upon the bed, as she had left him. There was no sign of a struggle, and the end must have come instantaneously. Dr. Nichols, the attending physician, was immediately summoned, but there was no need of his services. The vital spark had fled, and Charles M. Forbes was dead.

Mr. Forbes leaves numerous relatives to whom word of his death was yesterday telegraphed. Among these were Mrs. Josephine Long, of Minneapolis, now on a visit to her daughter, Mrs. Dr. Van Vanter, of Tacoma; two sisters in California, and Frederick, a son by a former marriage, now spending his summer at Long Beach. Mr. Eugene Forbes, special deputy collector of customs in this city, a brother of the deceased, was notified at an early hour yesterday that his brother was dying, and hastened to the residence, but reaching there, found him dead. Mr. Fred Buffum, a brother-in-law of the deceased, now visiting Bingham springs, and his wife, was also notified, and is expected to reach Portland today and take charge of the funeral, which is announced to take place tomorrow morning.

Following swiftly on the news of Mr. Forbes’ death, came the announcement also yesterday that his partner, Mr. Henry C. Breeden, was dangerously ill and not expected to survive the day. This was simply rumor. Mr. Breeden has been very ill, but is now in fair way of recovery. He is under charge of Dr. Harry Lane, who said last evening that Mr. Breeden would be fully restored to health. Owing to the unexpected death of his business partner, Mr. Breeden yesterday showed evident signs of mental excitement, and, on going to the residence of Mr. Forbes, created some concern as to his condition. He was taken back to his home on Main street, where, under the charge of his physician, he will remain for a few days.

In a brief interview yesterday, Mr. Breeden said that the business of the firm would continue as before. All the arrangements for removal to Second and Morrison streets, and the contemplated change in the building there, would be carried out in full, as contracts had been signed.

The Oregonian, 11 Oct 1888, page 9

Love’s Gentle Yoke.—Councilman C. M. Forbes was married yesterday to Miss Sallie Bradbury at her mother’s residence, No. 272 Salmon street, Rev. T. E. Clapp officiating. They left yesterday for California where they will spend a month or six weeks. The members of the common council will now understand why Mr. Forbes looked so innocent when he asked for leave of absence at the last meeting. Mr. Forbes and his bride have hosts of friends here who will wish them every happiness in their new relation. The council will celebrate the event when Mr. Forbes returns, for it is seldom that a councilman gets married.


Classic Houses of Portland 1850-1950, Portland: Timber Press, 1999; pages 177-8

The quintessential Eastlake design house in Portland was the stupendous C. M. Forbes mansion of circa 1887, located at the northwest corner of Vista Avenue and Park Place [picture at uoregon.edu]. Though not as large as the Levi White mansion, the Forbes House managed to convey a gesture of ultimate decoration; every element, every surface, received maximum attention. The house used a typical assymmetrical plan, extended gable system, and corner tower, but it added considerably more. The gables had an extremely steep pitch, ending with rounded shoulders; the pierced and laced bargeboards were fanciful beyond belief; the windows were of extraordinary shape, with quatrefoils entwined with lancets; the wrap-around veranda not only had spindles, but stalactite pendants and imaginatively adorned railings as well; and the tower, nearly hidden in its surroundings, had a fine conical roof, facade dormers, and almost Tibetan-inspired finials. Gabled balconies project from every facade, providing what must have been magnificent viewing of the city and mountains beyond. This house came into being near the end of one of the most decorative periods in American architecture, marking a supreme confidence in inventive craftsmanship and ingenuity. Styles would shift drastically toward simplicity in the subsequent years, but it was great fun getting there.

Charles M. Forbes was a native of the state of Iowa, having been born at Garnaville, Clayton county in 1848. During the early days of his youth, before attaining his 14th year, he left the schools of his native state, with his parents’ consent, and joined a company of colonists, looking to the further West for a home. With others, in 1862, he located near Sioux City, and in less than a year the colony was attacked by Indians and all were obliged to flee for their lives. It was at Columbia, Boone county, that Mr. Forbes next located. He attended the state university for about one year. It was in the closing scenes of the war, and in a border state, like Missouri, no one could tell what was likely to happen, and the college was turned into a barracks and hospital for Union troops. Young Forbes went to Canonsburg, Pa., to complete his education. After this Mr. Forbes found employment on a line of steamboats, but not liking his new vocation, he returned to Iowa in 1870, and, locating at Mount Pleasant, he was appointed as supervisor of the insane asylum, which place he held for several years.

It was in 1875 that Mr. Forbes came to the West and located at Stockton, Cal. There he remained for four years in charge of the Home sewing-machine business, and in 1879 he succeeded A. M. Cannon as general agent of that company in this city. Less than two years after, he became associated with Mr. Edward C. Wheeler in the furniture business—a business arrangement that proved remarkably successful for several years, and which only terminated with the death of Mr. Wheeler, then clerk of Multnomah county. It was about 1890 that Mr. Forbes and Mr. H. C. Breeden, for many years identified with Oregon Furniture Company, engaged in business on their own account, and from the time they started, their progress has been one of uninterrupted success and prosperity.

Aside from the his business, Mr. Forbes was not particularly prominent. In politics he was a thorough republican. He believed in the principles of that party from his early boyhood days. Before he had a vote, his heart was with the republican party as a matter of principle, and his first vote was for General Grant for president of the United States. During his residence in Portland, he served as a member of the city council for three terms, and, but a few months ago, was regarded as a possible successor to Henry Haussman, on the latter’s removal as police commissioner.


The Oregonian, 5 Sep 1895, page 8

Fred G. Buffum has been appointed administrator of the estate of Charles M. Forbes, deceased, valued at $59,606.36. Mr. Forbes died intestate, and his heirs are his widow and son, Frederick E. Forbes, aged 19 years.

The estate consists of household furniture of the value of $1000, and lots 41 and 42, Cedar Hill, Portland, $16,000; other real estate values at $10,000, and miscellaneous property of the value of $3450. The appraised value of the interest in the partnership estate of Forbes & Breeden is $28,140.21. An order of the sale of this partnership estate was made in the county court yesterday for $15,000, and the remainder in two years, with interest at 7 per cent. The sale is to be made public or private, as the administrator shall deem best.