The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., September 3, 1926, page 6

(By Fred Lockley in Oregon Journal)

     At Hood River I dropped in to pass the time of day with Leslie Butler. A year or more ago they moved into their new bank, which has a frontage of 40 feet and is 95 feet deep. The bank furnishings and ground cost slightly more than $100,000. As we sat at Mr. Butler's desk he told me of the early history of Hood River and also of his own early days.
     "My father, Robert Henry Butler, was born in Virginia," said Mr. Butler. "My mother, whose maiden name was Ann Mary Thompson, was born in Pennsylvania. I had three sisters. I was born in Randolph county, Indiana, November 10, 1847. When I was 17 years old I went with my parents to Franklin county, Kansas. On November 10, 1867, on my 20th birthday, I was married to Carrie Bixler. We have had six children, four of whom are still living. I secured a job on the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston railroad. C.C. Hobart was master mechanic of the railroad shops, which were located at Ottawa, Kan.. And the fall of 1881, Mr. Hobart was offered and accepted a position as master mechanic of the O.R. & N. shops at The Dalles. I came with him and worked under him for a while and the shops at The Dalles. After a few months I decided to go into business for myself, so I ran a grocery store at the Dalles. I sold this store and went into the wholesale grocery business, handling the goods of the Western Sugar Refinery at San Francisco.
     In the spring of 1900, my son, Truman, and myself, opened the first bank in Hood River. When I came to Oregon in 1881, Hood River was a pretty small place. At that time it was in Wasco county. Dr. W.L. Adams ran a hotel and a drugstore. H.C. Coe had a boarding house. McGowan & Champlain had a store. Rogers & Sons ran a flouring mill and a man named Neil a sawmill. E.L. Smith had a general merchandise store, while Lyman Smith ran a sawmill. T.S. Weed had a shoe shop and Mrs. A. Stranahan was postmistress.
     "When I moved to Hood River, in 1900, it had a population of nearly 500 people. When the Butler Banking company opened its doors in Hood River, on April 4, 1900, this was the only bank in the district. At the end of the first year we had $36,000 on deposit. Today there are five banks in the territory we serve. There are two banks in Hood River, one in White Salmon, one in Stevenson and one at Mosier. These five banks have a total deposit of approximately $3,250,000. On June 30, 1926, our deposits where $1,154,491, which shows some growth from our record of 25 years ago of $36,000. The year we started our bank two carloads of apples were shipped from Hood River and, by the way, this was the first carload shipment made from Hood River. Last year we had fruit stored in 63 different distributing points in the east and middle west.
     "For a few years the strawberry weevils have been giving us trouble in the Hood River valley, but this trouble has been conquered, and Hood River is coming back strong in strawberries shipments.
     "Among the early day residents that I remember best, when we came to Hood River are: E.L. Smith, the horticulturist; T.R. Coon and his wife, Delia Coon, both of whom were early teachers at Mt. Tabor in Portland; A.S. Blowers and William Yates.
     "When I was a boy lay and a young man I had to work so hard for a living in that I had little time to devote too optimistic work. During the past 16 or 20 years I have devoted as much time and the service of the public as I have a to my private business, and I find that I have prospered just as well. Simon Benson, Jay H. Albert, of Salem, and myself were members of the first state highway advisory boar. Through our efforts of the state highway commission was create. We trailed all over the state, paying our own expenses and devoting a great deal of time to the work. When we were appointed there were only two stretches of paved highway and the state, one in Multnomah county and a seven-mile stretch in Jackson county. I was a member of the Northwest Tourists Association. This work also took a great deal of time, but I felt I was doing constructive work, for the bringing of tourists to Oregon not only makes more loyal Americans of those who come here to see Oregon, but it brings prosperity to our state as well.
     "For many years I have served on the board of directors of the Y.M.C.A. work for Oregon, Washington and Idaho. I also helped and operate the work of the Oregon Social Hygiene society. The greatest cause of disability in the army was venereal disease. Three percent of the drafted man had venereal disease when they reported at the various camps and cantonments. Figures prepared from the first million man whose reports were examined in the adjutant generals office show that Oregon led the entire union in the matter of freedom of venereal disease. The record of the Oregon men was slightly more than one half of one per cent. To be exact, it was 0.59 percent. Idaho came next, with 0.76 percent, Utah was third with 0.79 percent, Washington fourth with 0.86 percent, and Montana fifth with 0.89 percent. The five states whose men had the most venereal disease where Florida, Alabama, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. Florida's percentage was 8.90. In other words, almost nine men out of every hundred from Florida had venereal disease.
     "I have also been a member of the Oregon Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. When I first went on this board there were 203 out of every 100,000 in Oregon who had tuberculosis. The campaign of education which has been conducted has resulted in reducing this to 97 out of every 100,000, a rather wonderful record. I am also a member of the board of directors of the W.C.T.U. Children's Farm home and of the Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children.
     "I have seen great changes in Hood River since I came here 26 years ago. We have come out of the dust and dirt and now have concrete pavement. We also have a fine municipal water system, two banks, two live papers, a paid fire department, a hydro-electric light and power company, an excellent ice and cold storage plant, a pectin syrup and vinegar plant -- one of the largest in the west -- a good creamery, ice cream factory, cannery, spray factory, good hotels, fruit storage warehouses with capacity of storing approximately 1,000,000 boxes of fruit, and two excellent churches. The completion of the Hood River Loop means much to our city and valley."

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer