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Darwin Bristow

The inheritance of an untarnished name is a legacy prized beyond all others, and when accompanied by these traits and characteristics which have kept the purity of the name untouched it is indeed a foundation upon which to build a lifework. Darwin Bristow has in all truth followed the standard set by his father, becoming an honored citizen of the county in which his father was a pioneer and in which Darwin Birstow was born. He is successfully engaged in the mercantile business and is also conducting a banking institution of Cottage Grove, Lane county, being now president of the bank which was incorporated in the fall of 1900 as the First National Bank of Cottage Grove. The capital stock is $25,000 with a small surplus, and this has grown from a beginning of $5,000, application to the work wherein talent was so rightfully placed bringing about these satisfactory results. The merchandise stock is valued at $25,000, and this also was commenced  on a small scale, November, 1884,  witnessing the  mercantile venture of Mr. Bristow and Herbert Eakin, then purchasing the bankrupt stock of Luckey & Noland, and together the two have remained until the present day.

The father of Mr. Bristow, the Hon. William Wilshire Bristow, was born in Kentucky, July 18, 1826, but was reared in McDonough county, Ill., whither his parents removed. In the year 1848 he made the journey to Oregon with oxteams, on his arrival locating on a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres at Pleasant Hill, Lane county, and in the following year he made the trip to California in the hope of finding a fortune in the gold fields. The fall following he returned to his claim and at once began improving and cultivating it, and in the spring of 1850 or 1851 he taught the first school in the county. Always interested and active in public movements he was often called upon to fill official positions. He served as justice of the peace for many years and also as postmaster. He was a delegate to the constitutional convention in 1857 and the year following was elected one of the first state senators from Lane county, where he was an able representative for the people in assisting in the first legislative movements of the state. He was again elected to the state senate in 1870 and served until 1874. His death occurred in the latter year, when he was only forty-eight years old. One of the chief interests of the life of Mr. Bristow was the mercantile business with which he became connected in 1865 in Eugene, purchasing in that year a one-third interest with the Bristow & Company mercantile firm, which was then composed of his brother Elijah L. Bristow and T. B. Hendricks, and with this work he remained until his death. Fraternally Mr. Bristow had been a Mason for many years.

The father of this family was not the first who settled in the west as a pioneer, his own father having preceded his emigration by three years. Elijah Bristow, a native of Virginia, after his emigration to Kentucky, and thence to Illinois, followed this up with the journey across the plains in 1845 and became the first white settler of Lane county, Ore. He located at Pleasant Hill, and there took up a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres and built the first house of the county, which is still standing upon the land, and there his death occurred. He had been a leader in his county, giving freely of time and means in his broad-minded efforts to advance the cause of growth and civilization in this western land, being the first to donate land upon which to establish schools.

Darwin Bristow was born December 21, 1862, at Pleasant Hill, Ore., the youngest child of the three daughters and one son born to his mother, who was formerly Elizabeth Coffey, of Illinois, and who died quite young in her western home. Darwin Bristow was educated first in the common school near his home, entering the University of Oregon in 1880, graduating from the normal course in 1884 with the degree of A. B. During the vacations of summer he became a cow-boy in southeastern Oregon, enjoying a wild, free life which better fitted him for the world of books when school was once more opened. In November, 1884, as before stated, he entered upon a mercantile life, no inconsiderable knowledge having been gained through his occasional clerking for T. G. Hendricks, with whom he made his home after his father's death, Mr. Hendricks having been appointed administrator of the estate and guardian of the children. In 1892 the banking institution was established as a private affair, and from that has grown the present substantial and remunerative business which adds in no little degree to the financial prestige of the town. Mr.  Bristow, in company with F.L. Chambers and others of Eugene, have formed a banking firm under the name of the Chambers-Bristow Banking Company, and during
January of 1903 opened the bank at Eugene with a capital stock of $50,000. Mr. Bristow will, however, retain his business interests in Cottage Grove for an indefinite period.

Mr. Bristow was married in Cottage Grove to Mary L. Medley, a native of Iowa, and the daughter of James N. Medley, who emigrated to Oregon in 1874 and settled in Lane county, and now makes his home in Eugene. The following children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Bristow: Greta E.; William Wilshire; Darwin Darrel; Evelyn; Dorothy, and Helen. With the exception of Dorothy, who died in early childhood, the children are all at home. In his political relations, being a Republican, Mr. Bristow is very active, having served five terms as mayor of this city, in the city council one term, and as city treasurer two terms. He has also been a member to the state convention and of the county central committee for many years past. He is a member of the Christian Church. Fraternally Mr. Bristow is quite prominent among the Masons, having served for two terms as master of Cottage Grove Lodge No. 51, A. F. & A. M., belongs to Eugene Lodge No. 10, R. A. M., Ivanhoe Commandery No. 2, at Eugene; the Mystic Shrine of Ai Kader Temple, of Portland, and is a past grand patron of the Eastern Star of Oregon.

source - "Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley", pages 1419-1420

This page last updated: January 24, 2009
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