Oregon Secretaries of State Biographical Sketches, 1841-Present

1)  George W. LeBreton: (1810-1844) One of Oregon's earliest pioneers, LeBreton was born in Massachusetts. He was elected February 18, 1841 as recorder of public meetings and clerk of the courts of the Willamette Valley under Oregon’s provisional government, thus being the first Secretary. He won reelection to this role in 1843 and served until he was killed in a battle with Indians at Oregon City on March 4, 1844. 

2)  Overton Johnson: (? - ?) Settler came to the Oregon City area with the 1843 migration. He published an account of the trip in 1846. Johnson was appointed clerk and recorder for Oregon after George LeBreton was killed. He served in this capacity from March 1844 until May 25, 1844. His signature appears on several petitions to improve transportation in the Oregon City area, including one for a railroad around Willamette Falls. 

3)  John Edward Long: (1803-1846) Physician and legislator born and educated in England. Long immigrated to the United States in 1833 and moved to the present site of Gladstone in 1843. While continuing to practice medicine, he was active in the establishment of the provisional government and was secretary of its first legislative committee. Long served as secretary of the provisional government from May 25, 1844 to June 21, 1846. He was elected clerk and recorder by people at the first 1844 general election and won reelection in the 1845 general election as the secretary of the territory. He served in that position until he was drowned while fording the Clackamas River on a horse. 

4)  Frederic Prigg: (? -1849) Physician came to Oregon City in 1843 and was active in building and maintaining the Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club in which discussions of government in Oregon were frequent. He served briefly as Clackamas County probate judge in 1846. Prigg was appointed secretary of the provisional government to succeed Long on June 26, 1846. The Legislature elected him secretary in 1846 and he resigned in 1847. He fell to his death from a bluff into the Willamette River at Oregon City in October 1849. 

5)  Samuel Murray Holderness: (1818-1884?) Settler came to Oregon City with the 1843 migration. He was a member of the Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club. Not afraid of controversy, Holderness once differed with Dr. Elijah White to the point of planning to call him to account on the field of honor. This was averted when the legislature passed a bill prohibiting dueling in the territory. He was appointed secretary of the provisional government on September 26, 1848 and won election to the position in 1848 by the legislature. Holderness resigned on March 3, 1849. Two months later he sailed for San Francisco where he became a commission merchant. 

6)  Theophilus Magruder: (1799-1886) Manager of the City Hotel of Oregon City in 1847, he was also a proprietor of the Main Street House in Oregon City in 1851. In 1849 Magruder became a member of the Oregon Exchange Company which coined Beaver Money. He won election to the post of Sergeant-at-Arms at December 1845 provisional government session and was subsequently elected to a two year term as territorial recorder, serving from 1847 to 1849. Magruder was later elected as secretary of the territory and served from March 3, 1849 until April 9, 1849 when President Polk appointed Kintzing Pritchette to replace him. 

7)  Kintzing Pritchette: (1815- ?), Democratic Party) Territorial official came to Oregon from Pennsylvania.  President Polk appointed him to the office of secretary of the territory and he served from April 9, 1849 to August 18, 1850.  Pritchette was appointed to direct the defense of the five Indians charged with the Whitman massacre in May, 1850.  He acted as ex-officio governor from the time Governor Joseph Lane resigned on June 18, 1850 until new Governor John P. Gaines arrived in the territory on August 18, 1850.  

8)  Gen. Edward Hamilton:  (1801-1883, Whig Party) Attorney born in Virginia where he was educated, studied law and was admitted to the bar. He served in the Mexican War with General Zachary Taylor, and nominated Taylor for president at the Whig convention in 1848. President Taylor appointed him to the office of territorial secretary, a position he held from September 18, 1850 to May 14, 1853. Hamilton formed a law partnership with Benjamin Stark in 1854. He served as Multnomah County judge from 1858 to 1862. 

9)  George L. Curry: (1820-1878, Democratic Party) Government official and newspaper editor born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Largely self educated, he began work as a printer's apprentice in Boston in 1831. From 1842 to 1845 he published The Reveille in St. Louis. Curry came to Oregon City in 1846 and edited the Oregon Spectator for a year before founding the Free Press in 1848. His political career began with the provisional legislature and continued with several territorial appointments including his service as secretary of the territory from May 14, 1853 to January 27, 1855.  Curry was acting governor for long periods in 1853 and 1854 until President Pierce appointed him governor on November 1, 1854.  He held that position until March 3, 1859. 

10)  Benjamin F. Harding: (1832-1899, Democratic/Republican Party) Legislator, politician, government official, and farmer born in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. He was admitted to the bar in Illinois in 1849. Harding moved to Marion County, Oregon that year and became active in government. He served as clerk of the territorial legislature in 1850-1851 and as a member and speaker of the house in 1852. President Pierce appointed him U.S. district attorney in 1853. On January 27, 1855, he accepted appointment by Pierce to be secretary of the territory, a position he held until March 3, 1859. The Oregon Legislature later elected him U.S. senator as a Republican, a seat he held from 1862 to 1865. 

11)  Lucien Heath: (1819- ?, Democratic Party) Government official, politician, and businessman born in Michigan. He came to Oregon in the early 1850s and settled in Polk County where he served as the county clerk and a trustee of La Creole Academy. In 1858 he won election as a Democrat to be the first secretary of state for Oregon, an office he held from March 3, 1859 to September 8, 1862. During this time he was also mayor of Salem. Heath served as clerk of the Oregon Supreme Court from 1862 to 1864. As the recording secretary of the Marion County branch of the State Agricultural Society, he became the first financial secretary of the first state fair, held at Oregon City. Heath ran a mercantile business in Salem for a time and later moved to Santa Cruz, California where he engaged in business. 

12)  Samuel E. May: (1826-1894, Republican Party) Second secretary of state for Oregon born in Rhode Island and came to Oregon in 1853. He successfully ran as a Republican for the office of secretary of state in 1862 and 1866. May served from September 8, 1862 until September 10, 1870. At the end of his second term he moved to Utah Territory and later to Chicago, Illinois. 

13)  Stephen Fowler Chadwick: (1825-1895, Democratic Party) Attorney, postmaster, secretary of state, and governor born and educated in Connecticut. He came to Scottsburg, Oregon in 1851 where he practiced law and served as postmaster. After moving to Roseburg, he became a Douglas County judge, assistant district attorney, and representative in the state constitutional convention. Chadwick won election as secretary of state in 1870 and again in 1874. His first term began September 10, 1870 and his second term ended September 2, 1878. During the last 18 months of his second term he also served as governor after then Governor L.F. Grover was elected U.S. senator. 

14)  Rockey Preston Earhart: (1837-1892, Republican Party) Businessman, Indian agent, legislator and government official born in Franklin County, Ohio. He came to Oregon in 1855 with the Fourth Regiment, U.S. Infantry. Earhart was an Indian agent, 1861-1868; a state legislator, 1870, 1889; and chief clerk in the surveyor-general’s office, 1874-1878. He won election as secretary of state twice, serving from September 2, 1878 to January 10, 1887. He served concurrently as adjutant general from 1885 to 1887 and was later appointed collector of customs for the port of Portland. 

15)  George Wickliff McBride: (1854-1911, Republican Party) Merchant, legislator, secretary of state, and U.S. senator born in Yamhill County, Oregon. He studied but never practiced law. Instead, he ran a mercantile business in St. Helens for ten years. McBride served as a state legislator from 1882 to 1886 and won election as speaker of the house in 1882. He was elected secretary of state twice, serving from January 10, 1887 to January 14, 1895. McBride held the office of U.S. senator from 1895 to 1901. He was Oregon’s first native born secretary of state and U.S. senator. 

16)  Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid: (1836-1920, Republican Party) Journalist, U.S. senate clerk, and secretary of state born in Indiana. Kincaid traveled to Oregon on foot in 1853. He worked as a laborer, miner, ranch hand, and printer before becoming a journalist with a series of Republican newspapers. From 1868 to 1879 he was a clerk in the U.S. senate. Kincaid served one term as secretary of state from January 14, 1895 to January 9, 1899. In 1898 he was appointed a regent of the University of Oregon. 

17)  Frank L. Dunbar: (1860-1945, Republican Party) Attorney, politician, and secretary of state born on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. He was educated in Brooklyn, New York. Dunbar came to Astoria in 1882 where he worked as a grocery clerk and bookkeeper; county recorder, 1890-1894; and county clerk, 1894-1898. Following election as secretary of state, he studied law and was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1904. His term of service as secretary of state began on January 9, 1899 and ended on January 14, 1907. In 1908 a lower court convicted him of embezzling $100,000 from the state, but the Oregon Supreme Court acquitted him on appeal. 

18)  Frank W. Benson: (1858-1911, Republican Party) Educator, attorney, secretary of state, and governor born and educated in San Jose, California. After moving to Douglas County, he was a school teacher, school superintendent, and president of the State Normal School in Drain. Benson won election as county clerk for Douglas County in 1892 and served until 1896 when he gained admission to the bar. He was elected secretary of state twice and served from January 15, 1907 to April 14, 1911 when he died in office. Benson concurrently served as governor in 1909 and 1910 after incumbent Governor George E. Chamberlain resigned to assume the duties of U.S. senator. 

19)  Ben Wilson Olcott: (1872-1952, Republican Party) Banker, secretary of state, and governor  born and educated in Keithsburg, Illinois. He came to Oregon in 1891 and worked in Salem until 1896. That year he left for British Columbia to work in mines followed by a stint as a gold dust buyer in Alaska. Olcott returned to Salem in 1907 and in 1910 managed the gubernatorial campaign of his brother-in-law, Oswald West. He was appointed secretary of state in 1911, won election in 1912, and was reelected in 1916 before resigning the office in 1920. His service as secretary of state spanned from April 17, 1911 to May 28, 1920. When incumbent Governor James Withycombe died in 1919, Olcott assumed the office of governor and served the remaining term until 1923. 

20)  Sam A. Kozer: (1871-1935, Republican Party) Government official and secretary of state born and educated in Steelton, Pennsylvania. After working in steel mills in Pennsylvania, he came to Oregon at the age of 19 and worked at odd jobs in Lincoln County. Within a year, Kozer obtained a clerical position in the Clatsop County recorder's office working for Frank Dunbar. Upon Dunbar's election as secretary of state, he named Kozer to be his chief clerk. In 1909 Kozer won appointment as state insurance commissioner, a position he held until 1911 when secretary of state Ben Olcott chose him as deputy secretary of state. Kozer was appointed secretary of state in 1920 and won elections to the office in 1924 and 1928. He served in the office from May 28, 1920 until his resignation on September 24, 1928. Upon resigning, Kozer accepted an appointment as Oregon's first state budget director, a position he held until 1931. 

21)  Hal Elden Hoss: (1892-1934, Republican Party) Born and educated in Portland, Oregon, he was appointed September 24, 1928 by Governor Patterson to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his predecessor Sam Kozer. Hoss was elected November 6, 1928, reelected November 8, 1932, and died in office. He was  particularly interested in penal reform and served on various  commissions furthering this work. He was also a member of the State Parole Board, and for several terms served as president of the Oregon Press Association. A journalist, Hoss edited the Oregon City Banner Courier, 1918-1920, and was editor-manager of the  Oregon City Enterprise, 1920-1926. He served as Governor Isaac  Patterson’s private secretary until his appointment in 1928 by Governor Patterson as Secretary of State. During his first term the Operators Division was created and drivers examinations began under his administration.

22)  Peter John Stadelman: (1871-1954, Republican Party) Born in Hempstead, New York, appointed by Governor Meier in February 9, 1934 to fill the vacancy of Hal Hoss, who had died in office and served until January 7, 1935. Stadelman grew up on his family’s farm outside of the Dalles. He established the Stadelman Fruit and Ice Company in 1898 and helped organize the Citizens National Bank in The Dalles in 1920, for which he later served as president. Stadelman served as a councilman (1908-1914) and mayor of The  Dalles (1918-28); and was a state senator from 1937 to 1948 for Wasco and Hood River counties.

23)  Earl Wilcox Snell: (1895-1947, Republican Party) Born in Gilliam County (Olex), Snell was elected as  Secretary of State January 7, 1935 and reelected in 1938. Snell attended Oregon Institute of Technology in Portland, worked  briefly as a newspaper publisher, and served in Europe during World War I. In 1915 Snell entered the  automobile business becoming a partner in a dealership until 1945. Snell eventually extended his interests into wheat farming and banking. He served on the Arlington City Council and in 1927 was  elected to the Oregon Legislature where he served for six years, becoming Speaker in 1933. While speaker of the House, he successfully ran for Secretary of State where he served through 1942. Constitutionally restricted from serving another term, Snell challenged the incumbent republican Governor Charles Sprague and was elected Governor on November 3, 1942, he was re-elected in 1947. Governor Snell died in 1947 in an airplane crash that also killed Secretary of State Robert Farrell Jr. and Marshall Cornett, President of the Oregon State Senate.

24)  Robert S. Farrell Jr.: (1906-1947, Republican Party) Native Oregonian, elected Secretary of State January 4, 1943, reelected in 1946 and died in office October 28, 1947. Both his father and grandfather had been members of the Oregon Legislature. Farrell was a graduate of the University of Washington and Northwestern College of Law. He divided his time between being a lawyer and managing properties for a property investment firm. Farrell served in the Oregon House of Representatives in three legislative sessions (1935, 1939 and 1941) and as Speaker of the House in 1941. Following his reelection as Secretary of State in 1946 Farrell was elected President of The National Association of Secretaries of State, the youngest person to ever hold that office. That same year he was elected secretary of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Farrell, Governor Earl Snell, and Senate President Marshall Cornell were killed in a tragic plane accident near Dog Lake, Oregon in 1947. 

25)  Earl T. Newbry: (1900-1995, Republican Party) Born in Rocky Ford, Colorado, his family moved to Jackson County in 1920. Newbry managed his family's fruit growing and packing firm in the Rogue River Valley and a cold storage service in Ashland. Newbry was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Hall November 3, 1947 to replace Robert S. Farrell Jr. who died in an airplane accident. He was elected in 1948, and reelected in 1952. Newbry represented Jackson County in the House in the 1939 and 1941 sessions. He was elected State Senator in the 1943, 1945, and 1947 sessions. As a member of the House and Senate, he was known for his keen interest in highway legislation. During his tenure as Secretary of State he established the permanent staggered licensing system for motor vehicle drivers. After serving as Secretary of State, Newbry continued as a businessman in Jackson County until his death in 1995.

26)  Mark Odom Hatfield: (1922-2011, Republican Party) Born in Dallas, Oregon, Hatfield was elected Secretary of State January 7, 1957 as the youngest Secretary of State in the history of Oregon and resigned January 12, 1959 to become Governor. He graduated from Salem High School and received degrees from Willamette University and  Stanford University. He served in the U. S. Navy and was an associate professor of political science, 1949-1956, and dean of students of Willamette University, 1950-1956. Hatfield served in the Oregon Legislature as State Representative, 1951-1955; and State Senator, 1955-1957. Hatfield served as Governor for two terms, until he resigned in 1967 to become a U. S. Senator. Hatfield was elected to the United States Senate in 1967 and re-elected four times, ending his term on January 3, 1997. After retiring he joined the faculty of George Fox University, where he was Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Politics. He also taught at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. 

27)  Howell Appling Jr.: (1919-2002, Republican Party) Appointed Secretary of State by Governor Hatfield January 12, 1959 and elected in 1960. Born at Carthage, Texas in 1919, Appling received a degree in engineering from Rice University in 1941 and was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. After military service Appling founded Independent Distributors, a Portland wholesale logging and farm equipment firm in 1946. In 1958 he served as the Multnomah County chairman of Governor Hatfield’s election campaign. After election as Secretary of State, Appling served as chairman of the Oregon presidential campaigns of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Richard Nixon in 1968. He continued as a prominent Portland businessman until his death in 2002. 

28)  Tom Lawson McCall: (1913-1983, Republican Party) Took office January 4, 1965 and resigned January 9, 1967 to become Governor. Born in Egypt, Massachusetts and raised on his family’s ranch near Prineville, Oregon, McCall graduated from Redmond High School and then the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. He worked in newspaper and radio as journalist in Moscow, Idaho and Portland from 1936 to 1949, when he became administrative assistant to Oregon Gov. Douglas McKay. From 1944 to 1946 he also worked as a navy war correspondent. From 1952 to 1964 he served as a newscaster and commentator in radio and television. And in 1955 co-founded the public relations firm of Goodrich, McCall and Snyder. McCall served as governor from 1967 to 1975 and was prevented from seeking re-election for a third term by the Oregon Constitution. He did have an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1978. After his governorship he returned to journalism and was a newspaper columnist and television commentator until his death in Oregon in 1983.

29)  Clay Myers: (1927-2004, Republican Party) Appointed Secretary of State by Governor McCall January 9, 1967, elected in 1968 and reelected in 1972. Born in Portland, Oregon, a graduate of Benson High School and the University of Oregon, he studied law at Northwestern College of Law in Portland and attended the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. Before entering politics, he pursued a business career in banking and insurance. He served as vice-chairman of the State Public Welfare Commission, and was appointed Assistant Secretary of State from 1965 to 1967. While Secretary of State, Myers was Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Youth and the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development. He was elected Oregon State Treasurer from 1977 until he resigned April 1984 to become an executive in an investment firm in New York. In 1989 he retired and returned to Oregon. In 1999 he moved to Arizona for health reasons, where he died in 2004. 

30)  Norma Paulus: (1933-2019, Republican Party) Elected in 1976 and reelected in 1980.  Born in Belgrade, Nebraska, raised in Eastern Oregon and a graduate of Willamette University School of Law, Paulus was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1962 with subsequent practice as a self-employed appellate lawyer from 1962 to 1976. Paulus had been a legal secretary from 1950 to 1953 and secretary to the Supreme Court Chief Justice 1955 through 1961. She served as State Representative for Marion County from 1970 to 1976 and as a member of Marion-Polk County Boundary Commission and the Salem Human Relations Commission. Norma Paulus was the first woman in Oregon history to win a statewide office. Paulus ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1986 and was appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction by Governor Goldschmidt in 1990 and was re-elected in 1994. In 2003, Paulus retired as executive director of the Oregon Historical Society and died in 2019.

31)  Barbara Roberts: (1936—    , Democratic Party) Took office January 7, 1985, reelected in 1988, resigned to become Governor in 1991. Born in Corvallis, Oregon, her educational background includes Portland State University (1961-1964), Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1989), and Marylhurst University. Roberts’ governmental experience includes service as a member of the Parkrose School Board (1973-1983); Mt. Hood Community College Board (1978-1982); Multnomah County Commission (1978); Chair of the Governor’s Worker’s Compensation Reform Task Force (1986-1987); Governor’s Representative, Hanford Waste Board (1988-1990); and a two term state representative (1980-1984) where she was Oregon’s first female house majority leader. Following her term as Governor, Barbara Roberts accepted a position at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and then a position at Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government. She is currently retired. 

32)  Phil Keisling: (1955—    , Democratic Party) Appointed Secretary of State by Governor Roberts  January 14, 1991 and elected in 1993. Born in Portland, Oregon, Keisling attended public schools in Washington County, graduated from Yale College in 1977, served as a speech writer for Governor Tom McCall (1978), as a reporter for Willamette Week newspaper, from 1978-81; as an editor of the Washington Monthly magazine in Washington D. C. from 1982-84; and as a senior assistant to former House Speaker Vera Katz from 1985-88. He was elected State Representative from House District 12 in 1988, and reelected in 1990. Keisling’s legislative experience included chairmanships of the Legislative Subcommittee on Toxic Use Reduction and the Joint Interim Education Committee. 

33)  Bill Bradbury: (1949—     , Democratic Party) Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bradbury grew up both in Chicago and in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory High School and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Before being appointed to public office, Bradbury owned a restaurant in Bandon, Oregon, and worked as a television news reporter, director and producer in San Francisco, Bandon, Eugene, Coos Bay and Portland. Governor Kitzhaber appointed Bradbury Secretary of State in November 1999 and in November 2000, Bradbury was elected to a four-year term. In 2004 he was reelected; his term expired in January 2009. Before being appointed as Secretary of State, Bradbury was elected to represent the south coast in the Oregon Legislature, both as a State Representative, 1981-1985 and a State Senator, 1986-1995, where he served as Senate Majority Leader and Senate President. From 1995 to 1999, Bradbury served as Executive Director of For the Sake of the Salmon, a Portland-based non-profit organization dedicated to finding common ground for salmon restoration in Oregon, Washington, and California. 

34)  Kate Brown: (1960—     , Democratic Party) Born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, Brown was raised mostly in Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in Environmental Conservation with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Brown later earned a law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. She has taught at Portland State University and has been an attorney in the field of family and juvenile law. Brown's legislative career began when she was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991. She was elected in 1996 to the Oregon Senate and became the state's first woman senate majority leader in 2004. Brown was sworn in as Oregon Secretary of State on January 5, 2009 and was reelected on November 6, 2012. She resigned on February 18, 2015 to become governor after John Kitzhaber resigned.

35)  Jeanne P. Atkins (Democratic Party) Atkins, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Kate Brown when she became governor, was sworn in on March 11, 2015 and served until December 30, 2016. She first moved to Oregon in 1973 with her husband John. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and received her law degree from the University of Oregon, School of Law in 1978. Atkins retired from the staff of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, where she had served as state director since 2009. Previously, she was chief of staff to the Oregon Speaker of the House of Representatives, and before that, the manager of the Women's and Reproductive Health Section of the Oregon Department of Human Services' Office of Family Health. She also served as staff director in the Oregon Senate Majority Office and worked in public affairs and policy analysis for nonprofit organizations such as the United Way of the Columbia/Willamette, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, and the Women's Equity Action League in Washington, D.C. She was a policy advocate, an administrator of state services and a manager for more than 30 years. 
36)  Dennis M. Richardson (1949-2019, Republican Party) Richardson was elected November 8, 2016 and sworn in on December 30, 2016. As a young man, he deployed to Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. His service engrained in him the values of courage, commitment and leadership for a lifetime. After his military service, Richardson married his wife Cathy and attained his baccalaureate and law degrees from Brigham Young University before settling in Central Point, Oregon. Married for over 40 years, Dennis and Cathy are parents of one son and eight daughters. In addition to his other responsibilities, Richardson volunteers his time mentoring job seekers and serving on the board of ACCESS (Aging Community Coordinated Enterprises and Supportive Services), the Community Action Agency of Jackson County. Richardson practiced law for more than three decades and, while doing so, he served on the Central Point City Council and six terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, where he was unanimously elected speaker pro tempore. He also served as co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee and successfully led the state out of a $3.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. Richardson died in office in 2019.