Lang Syne Society

The Oregonian, 15 Feb 1914, page 7

A social organization to be called "Lang Syne" society of Portland, Or., is being formed. Men of good character who did business in Portland before 1891, are eligible for membership. J. K. Gill is president. For further particulars address F. Dayton, secretary-treasurer, 235 Taylor street.

The Oregonian, 12 Jul 1914, page 8

Portland’s pioneer merchants and professional men with their friends and families enjoyed themselves on the river last night in the first annual excursion of the Lang Syne Society. This organization has in its membership practically every merchant of Portland who has been in business here for more than 25 years.

The excursion last night was on board the steamer Joseph Kellogg. Sailing at 7:30, the party ran down the river to the Columbia and back. An orchestra was on board and dancing was enjoyed. Members of the Apollo Club also gave a portion of the programme for the evening. More than 150 persons were in the party.

The Lang Syne Society has been organized only a few months, but has a membership of more than 300. J. K. Gill is president and Frank Dayton secretary. The membership list of the club follows:

The Oregonian, 17 Jan 1915, page 4

The annual banquet of the Portland Lang Syne Society of Portland takes place Wednesday night at the Hotel Multnomah. Any resident of Portland who was here before 1891 and took an active interest in the city’s prosperity is eligible to membership and is invited to communicate with the secretary.

The officers of the society are: J. K. Gill, president; Charles F. Beebe, vice-president; F. E. Beach, second vice-president; Frank Dayton, secretary-treasurer, Charles H. Dodd, James F. Failing, E. C. Frost, S. L. N. Gilman and Thomas McCusker, members of the executive committee; George H. Himes, historian, and Ralph W. Hoyt, musical director. Frank Dayton, the secretary, may be called at Main 1771.

The Oregonian, 21 Jan 1915, page 6

“The good old days,” when Portland was young, were lived over again last night by members of the Lang Syne Society, gathered at the second annual dinner at the Multnomah Hotel. It was a time of reminiscence and the backward look. Men who have seen Portland grow from a village to a metropolis told of the early days, recalling them and the memories that cling to them, but they also looked toward the future and spoke with confidence and optimism.

The banquet was spread in the blue room and American flags and flowers formed the decorations. About 150 covers were laid. Old familiar songs were a feature of the occasion. They started with America, sung by all standing before the first course was served, and ended with “Auld Lang Syne,” sung when the party broke up. Opening prayer was offered by Rev. T. L. Eliot.

J. K. Gill, president of the society called the gathering to order with a gavel presented by George H. Himes, secretary of the Oregon Historical Society, who gave the history of various woods entering into it as the dinner was begun. President Gill made a few happy remarks in introducing General Charles F. Beebe, toastmaster, telling in brief that the purpose of the organization primarily was good fellowship. He paid a high tribute to Secretary Frank Dayton and credited his work with much of the success of the society had realized.

“We are the most democratic party possible,” said President Gill. “If there are any millionaires or multi-millionaires here, they are just as welcome as the poorest of us. We have seen the city grow from 50,000 to a quarter of a million. We are all to be congratulated that our lot has been cast in this beautiful country and we may well say with the sweet singer of old that ‘Our lines have fallen in pleasant places.’”

Toastmaster Beebe called upon Secretary Dayton, who urged the members to bring their friends eligible to membership into the organization. Judge Charles H. Carey recalled anecdotes of the early days and told a number of stories that amused the gathering.

Frederick V. Holman said when he came to Portland in 1857 he lived away out in the woods at Third and Washington streets, while Front street was the center of the city. Fifth street then was filled with trees and when he moved later to Sixth and Davis streets, he felt like a countryman for certain. Later the family removed to Lownsdale street, so far away that is seemed a day’s journey from the business center.

“I remember when the first four-story building was erected in Portland,” said Judge H. H. Northup, “and I may say that the Yeon building did not create anywhere near so much interest as this first skyscraper, which was put up by the Oregon Furniture on First street.

“I came here early in the Spring of 1871 and Joe Holladay’s railroad track along First street was begun that Summer. The motive power was a pair of mules. The Washington-street car track was laid a few years later. We also lived away out in the country, for we were on the corner of Twelfth, now Fourteenth, and Jefferson streets. The latter thoroughfare was a country road and we were surrounded by the forest. We could not then see that Portland was to be a city, and it was, in fact, not until 1905 when the Hill roads were announced for Portland, that our people were satisfied there was to be a big city here.”

“Milwaukie today is about three times as large as Portland was 58 years ago when I reached this city,” said Captain George Pope. “When I sailed out of the Columbia River in those days there was no Clatsop Spit at the river” mouth. Because, probably, most of Portland’s people have come from inland places, we have never been much of a shipping people. Donald Macleay, I recall, was the first man in Portland to send a ship from Portland to a foreign port.”

“Portland was a decidedly interesting place in those days,” said Judge R. G. Morrow, speaking of his early recollections of the city.

Robert Livingstone, who was introduced as an Englishman, contradicted the statement.

“I thought I had found a country almost as bonnie as Scotland when I arrived here,” Mr. Livingstone said.

Charles H. Dodd paid an eloquent tribute to the pioneers. He said the sign of Charles H. Dodd & Co. had been in Portland for 50 years and it is still up. He came to this city in 1865.

Judge M. C. George indulged in anecdotes of the early days and C. W. Hodson told of his recollections of the pioneer period of the city. H. C. Bowers, although not a member, was called upon and told of the growth of the hotel business of the city and said that although he has been in Portland 25 years, he wished he had come 25 years earlier. Colonel C. H. Martin and others were introduced by Toastmaster Beebe and spoke briefly. Those present were:

The Oregonian, 5 Sep 1915, page 4

Portland may be a city of electric lights, paved streets traveled by thousands of automobiles and lined with 12 and 14-story buildings, but to the members of the Lang Syne Society it is loved most as a small village of two or three frame dwellings huddled together on Front and First streets and entirely surrounded by animal-infested forests.

The members of the Lang Syne Society are those business men of Portland who were in business in this city before 1891. Such men as J. K. Gill, General C. F. Beebe, James F. Failing, George H. Himes, F. E. Beach, Frank Dayton and 400 others form the Lang Syne Society.

Friday night at the Portland Heights clubhouse these men and their wives met and talked of the time when Portland was a village of a few hundred people. No formal programme had been arranged. It was a big family party.

J. K. Gill, the president of the society, presided and called attention to the fact that the society was but three years old and should be a mighty factor in keeping Portland’s oldest citizens closer together. Mr. Gill recalled how he was warned by all his business friends that if he removed his store from Front street to First street he would surely fail.

G. A. Mooney, formerly of the city, but now in business in New York, told of his first endeavors to establish a millinery store in this city.

George H. Himes exhibited pictures of Portland from its one-cabin beginning to the present time.

At the conclusion of the pictures, light refreshments were served.

The Oregonian, 27 Jan 1916, page 4

Memories of the days when Portland was young were revived last night when a large party of early business men gathered at the Portland Hotel to attend the annual banquet of the “Lang Syne” Society, an organization composed of men who were in business here prior to or in the year 1890.

Feasting, music, oratory and steropticon pictures composed the formal parts of the programme, but the most enjoyment came from an informal discussion of “old times,” of personal reminiscences of early-day experiences and of extemporaneous story telling for which the crowd displayed a remarkable aptitude.

General Charles F. Beebe, the president, conducted the ceremonies. Following an excellent dinner he delivered a brief address of welcome in which he reviewed the progress of the society since the date of its organization a few years ago.

He called the roll of the absent members who have passed away since the last meeting was held and the banqueters stood and drank a toast in silence to their memories. General Beebe reported that the society has 370 members and that it is constantly growing. More than 75 per cent of the membership was present last night.

To the strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the entire audience, at the conclusion of the introductory remarks, arose and drank a toast to “The President of the United States.”

A letter of regret from Governor Withycombe was read, following which one of the “recruits” in the organization—General Thomas M. Anderson, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday—was introduced. He delivered a stirring address filled with loyalty for the Northwest and with patriotism for the country.

General Marion P. Maus, formerly commander of Vancouver Barracks, who now is passing the Winter in Portland, related some interesting incidents of his early-day experiences here in company with General Nelson A. Miles.

D. D. Oliphant, a former Portland business man, now living in San Francisco, was another entertaining speaker. He gave some reminiscences at the expense of some of the company that were much enjoyed by everyone.

D. Solis Cohen contrasted business conditions of two and three decades ago with those of the present time, and discussed the manner of meeting civic and commercial problems then and now.

Lydell Baker, who is a nephew of Colonel E. D. Baker, told some stories of early-day political activities that created many a laugh.

Captain James P. Shaw recited some original poetry and made a speech that enlivened things for a few minutes.

Other speakers who contributed to the gayety of the occasion were Frederick V. Holman, Addison Bennett, J. K. Gill, Frank Dayton, treasurer of the society, who, for his activity on behalf of the society, was rousingly toasted and cheered, and C. H. Dodd.

Ralph W. Hoyt had charge of the musical entertainment. An orchestra played while the dinner was in progress. The oratory was interspersed with old-time and patriotic songs in which the entire party joined.

The Oregonian, 26 Feb 1948, page 15

The fight for individualism in an American edging closer to a growing world collectivism was praised at a meeting of Portland’s Lang Syne society at the Benson hotel Wednesday night when State Treasurer Leslie M. Scott reviewed the journalistic strivings of his famed father, Harvey W. Scott, pioneer editor of The Oregonian for 40 years.

Scott, guest speaker at the society's 35th annual reunion and dinner, said it had been his father's lot “to contend against one fallacy after another; to resist today and to be justified tomorrow.”

“That was nearly 40 years ago,” he said. “The collectivist trend has gone far since, especially in the past ten years. We all wonder how much farther it will go; whether our free American system is doomed to suppression.”

“One doubts that Mr. Scott, with even his gift of prophecy, could have foreseen the rapid spread of collectivism. While he warned against extremes half a century ago, the drift toward collectivist functions has exceeded the apprenhension of his day.”

Lang Syne President Frank L. McGuire, striking a nostalgic note, harked back to early days when Portland was marked by “elevated plank roads, the Stark-street ferry, the wooden sidewalks and picket fences.”

W. F. Hummell, 95, oldest member of the society present, received a standing ovation from the 250 members present when he told of school days on the site of the Portland hotel, “where the teachers used to beat hell out of us.”

Hummell sat at a table reserved for society members 80 years or older. They included