Archive for April 16th, 2011
My grandfather, William H. Galvani. He died in 1947 eight years before I was born, but I always felt as if I’d known him. He left Russia (Ukraine) as a young man (in part, escaping Jewish persecution) and was definitely an eclectic and esoteric person. Eccentric in many ways, some might say; driving a car made him nervous, he instead walked about town in black cape and hat, with walking stick. He was a scholar, a Buddhist, a Theosophist, (self-publishing a book on the subject), a vegetarian and president of the Oregon chapter of the Vegetarian Federal Union, mayor of Seaside, Oregon, a banker, a railroad surveyor, and a 32nd degree Mason. After his death, much of his personal library was donated to Oregon State University’s library in Corvallis. From the Wikipedia entry:
The library received a bequest of about 5,500 volumes valued at about $15,000 in December 1947 from William H. Galvani’s estate. This donation overtook that of McDonald to become the largest received by the library up to that time.
He was also a voice for peace:
From: Gaston, Joseph,”Portland,Oregon Its History and Builders.” Vol. 2.
Chicago and Portland, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911. p. 717.
WILLIAM H. GALVANI
Honor and fame have come to William H. Galvani although all unsought. The
importance of the work that he has done and his intelligent discussion from the
platform and through the press of questions of vital import have naturally
placed him in the prominent position that he today occupies. He is indeed one of
the best known men of the northwest. Born in the land of the Czars he emigrated
to the United States when about eighteen years of age. It was in 1882 that he
arrived in New York city and after remaining there for about three months he
started for the great west, hoping to make Portland the center of his
activities. Upon his arrival here he entered the engineering service under Hans Thielsen, chief engineer of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company and chief
supervising engineer of the western division of the Northern Pacific
With the exception of a brief period spent on his homestead in Washington
county and another brief period devoted to newspaper work, Mr. Galvani has
engaged successfully in engineering and through the intervening years has been
identified with the most important railway enterprises in Oregon Washington and
Idaho. He is today considered an authority on engineering problems and finds
ready solution for the intricate difficulties which constantly arise in this
connection. It may be truly said that few men are better known in the northwest
than he. This is largely due to his labors in connection with the location and
construction of the leading railways entering this section of the country. But
other things have also contributed to his fame. He has contributed largely to
the newspapers and magazines which have sought his services because of his
ability to speak authoritatively upon the subjects which he has treated. His
writings have included essays on various subjects and his public utterances have
included addresses before clubs and societies. Moreover he has been known as the
persistent champion of vegetarianism for more than twenty years.
His unqualified advocacy of universal peace, through international
arbitration has also contributed to his high standing, and in May, 1909, he was
appointed by Governor Benson to represent Oregon at the National Peace Congress
held in Chicago. He is also a Mason of high standing, having attained the
position of potentate of Al Kader Temple of the Mystic Shrine.
Mr. Galvani has recently resigned his position as engineer for the Oregon
Electric Railway Company and accepted a more important engineering post with the
Pacific Power & Light Company and the Walla Walla Valley Railway Company. His
labors have contributed toward the development and upbuilding of various parts
of the northwest. He has a thorough understanding of the prevailing conditions
in the northwest as well as of the scientific principles which underlie his
labors, including the practical work of his profession, and his ability has
enabled him to far outdistance many competitors. He has long since occupied a
position of affluence and eminence.
Submitted to the Oregon Bios. Project in January 2009 by Diana Smith. Submitter
has no additional information about the person(s) or family mentioned above.
Source: Oregon Bio Project
I have a few photographs but need to retrieve them from the pile of boxes in the front closet; when I do, I’ll post them here.