JAMES D. SLATER.
An indefatigable student of the law and one well versed in the detailed knowledge necessary for successful practice
along this line is James D. Slater, who has been a prominent attorney of La Grande, Union county, since October,
1884. He is a native of this state, his birth occurring at Corvallis on the 18th of October, 1856, a son of James
H. and Edna E. (Gray) Slater, both prominent residents of the community in which they made their home. James. H.
Slater was born in Sangamon county, Illinois, in 1826, while the mother's birth occurred in East Tennessee in 1835.
Their marriage was celebrated at Corvallis, in 1854. In 1849 James H. Slater went to California, settling at Feather
River, mining there and at various places in California until 1851, when he came to Oregon by boat, landing at
Portland, then going to Corvallis, and for some time he was engaged in teaching school near there. He was soon,
however, appointed clerk of the United States district court under Judge Williams and while serving with him engaged
in the practice of law. In 1860 he owned and edited a newspaper at Corvallis and the year of 1862 he spent in farming
near Corvallis. In the winter of 1862-3 he went to the mines, near what is now known as Baker, then mining town
of Auburn, arriving there in March, 1863. In the fall he returned to Corvallis, and removing his family to Walla
Walla, Washington, he practiced law there until the spring of 1864, when he returned to the mines at Auburn. In
July of that year he brought hips family to Auburn, making the trip over the Daily road, and having the distinction
of being the first man to drive and take a wagon outfit over this highway. He engaged in mining there for some
time, enjoying a gratifying amount of success, but on the 5th of January, 1866, he removed to La Grande, Oregon,
and engaged in the practice of law. He soon rose to a position of prominence among the members of his profession,
and in November, 1870, he was elected to the lower house of congress, serving in that capacity until March, 1873.
He then resumed the practice of his profession until 1878, when he was elected to the United States senate and
served until March, 1885. He then practiced law until he received the appointment of railroad commissioner for
the state, being one of the first men to hold such office in Oregon. The death of James H. Slater occurred in January,
1899, at the age of seventy three years, causing a feeling of widespread bereavement to sweep the state in which
he was so well known and to which he had rendered much valuable service. Throughout his life he was a stanch supporter
of the democratic party, his fraternal affiliation was with the Masons and he was reared in the faith of the Presbyterian
church His wife and the mother of James D., whose name initiates this review, left her native state of Tennessee
when a young woman, coming west with her parents as members of a wagon train in 1853, starting from Tennessee in
1848. The first stop on their journey was made at Arkansas, where they remained until 1853, when they resumed their
journey. On reaching Warm Springs, where Vale now is, they took Meeks cutoff to Eugene, Oregon, thence coming to
Corvallis, where they took up land and resided for some time. In 1869 they removed to Grand Valley near La Grande
and Mr. Gray again took up land. His death occurred when he had lived there but a short time and Mrs. Gray died
soon after her husband. Their family continued the operation of the home farm.
James D. Slater has been a resident of La Grande for the greater part of his life. When but seven years of age
he left Corvallis for La Grande and there he received his preliminary education. In due time he entered the University
of Oregon and deciding to take up law as his life work, he studied with Turner and Cox of Pendleton and in the
year 1883 attended Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia, graduating from this institution in June,
1884. In October of that year he began the practice of law at La Grande, in which he is still engaged, having built
up a large and lucrative practice. As a prominent member of the community he took an active part in the development
and improvement of La Grande and his popularity as a citizen was manifest in the fact that he has served the community
as mayor and also as city attorney.
In 1888 occurred the marriage of Mr. Slater and Miss Fannie B. Hayes, a daughter of Isaac and Margaret Hayes, natives
of New York state. Mrs. Slater is well known in the club and social circles of La Grande and her home is noted
for its hospitality.
The political allegiance of Mr. Slater is given to the democratic party, being a firm believer in the principles
of this party as factors in good government. He does not hold membership in a large number of fraternal organizations
but is an active member of the Woodmen of the World. Mr. Slater has followed in the footsteps of his father and
has met with a very gratifying amount of success in the pursuit of his profession. He is an able lawyer; has been
a conscientious and high minded public official; and a worthy, progressive, and liberal man.
History of Oregon Illistrated
BY: Charles H. Carney
The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company
Chicago - Portland 1922
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