April 3, 2013

John B. Coffey

John B. [Bartholomew?] Coffey, occupying a position of leadership in the ranks of the Republican Party in Oregon, and known in business circles of Portland as an enterprising and successful merchant tailor, has throughout his entire life been identified with the interests of the state.

He was born in Salem [Oregon] on the 13th of September, 1867. His father, James Coffey, a native of Massachusetts, became a member of the United States army and came to Oregon with Captain Augur, afterward brigadier general, about 1852. He remained for some time at Fort Hoskins, but subsequently went to Corvallis and afterward to Salem, where he spent his remaining days engaged in the furniture business. He was police judge and justice of the peace for about fourteen years in that city, which service won him the title of Squire Coffey. His decisions were strictly fair and impartial and that his incumbency in office was satisfactory to his fellow townsmen is indicated by his long retention in the position.

He died December 31, 1888, at the age of fifty-two years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Hannah Harrigan, removed from Massachusetts to California. Like her husband she was a native of Ireland, both having come to the new world in early childhood days.

Their marriage was celebrated at San Francisco and Mrs. Coffey is still living in Portland at the age of seventy-three years. For a considerable period and at the time of his death, he was a member of the Pioneer Society.

John B. Coffey was educated in the public schools of Salem and in Willamette University, and entering business life, occupied the position of telegraph operator at Salem until the 14th of September, 1886, when he was transferred to Portland. Here he continued in a similar position until 1887, when feeling that the opportunity for advancement in that direction was limited, he turned his attention to the clothing business, in which he was associated with A. B. Crosman until 1899. In that year he opened his present merchant tailoring establishment, to which he has given the greater part of his attention since. He continues one of the leading merchants of this character in Portland and draws his patronage from among the best residents of the city.

In other fields Mr. Coffey has become widely known. He is a leading member of the Portland Lodge of Elks, of which he is a past exalted ruler. While at the present writing he is filling the office of treasurer. He has remained in office continuously for nine years. He also belongs to the Royal Arcanum, the Tribe of Ben Hur, the Knights of Columbus and the Knights and Ladies of Security.

He moreover cooperates in the movements instituted by the Commercial Club for the development of Portland’s interests and the promotion of her growth.  In political connections Mr. Coffey is perhaps even more widely known. He is recognized as one of the effective workers in the ranks of the Republican Party and in 1906 was elected to represent his district in the state legislature. The following year he was a candidate for mayor and ran second among four contestants. Still higher honors awaited him however. for in 1908 he was elected to the state senate for a term of four years. He gives to each question which comes up for settlement his earnest consideration and his endorsement of any measure is an indication of his honest belief in its efficacy as a feature of good government or as an element in the promotion of the best interests of the commonwealth.

Mr. Coffey was married in Portland, Nov. 8, 1893, to Miss Marie Boire, a daughter of Ludger Boire, of this city.  They have four children:  Genevieve, fifteen years of age; Marian, aged fourteen years; Valiere, nine years; and James, seven.  The family residence is at No. 449 Benton street.  The advancement of Mr. Coffey either in business or political circles is not due to any fortunate combination of circumstances but is the direct and legitimate result of his own efforts and ability whereby he has come to be known as one of the foremost residents of Portland.

Source:  Gaston, Joseph. Portland Oregon: Its History and Builders. II. Chicago, Portland: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911. 283-284. Book.

[NB:  Some members of this family are buried at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery in Salem, Marion Co., OR]

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