Lewis Linn McArthur

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Lewis Linn McArthur
Lewis Linn McArthur.jpg
20th Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
In office
Preceded by Benoni Whitten
Succeeded by position eliminated
Personal details
Born March 18, 1843
Died May 10, 1897(1897-05-10) (aged 54)
Portland, Oregon
Spouse(s) Harriet K. Nesmith

Lewis Linn McArthur (March 18, 1843 – May 10, 1897) was an American newspaper publisher and judge in the state of Oregon. He was an Oregon Supreme Court associate justice and the father of Lewis A. McArthur, the first editor of the Oregon Geographic Names publications. He served on the court from 1870 to 1878. Another son, Clifton Nesmith McArthur, would serve in the United States Congress.

Early life[edit]

Lewis McArthur was born on March 18, 1843, in the state of Virginia.[1] Born in Portsmouth, his father was a US naval officer and hydrologist, Lieutenant Commander William Pope McArthur, and his mother was Mary Stone Young McArthur.[2] McArthur's father died at sea in 1850 while returning from a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey mission to survey the Oregon Coast.[2] His father was the nephew of Missouri Senator Lewis F. Linn.[3] Lewis McArthur grew up in Portsmouth and Baltimore, Maryland, before attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he started in 1857, but did not graduate.[2] He then went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.[1] In Rhode Island he passed the bar in 1864 and then moved to Oregon.[1]

Once in Oregon he began working for various newspapers in Eastern Oregon before founding the Bedrock Democrat in 1870 at Baker City, Oregon.[1] He was also the first city recorder for Umatilla, Oregon, after its incorporation.[2] During this time also mined and practiced law.[1]

Judicial career[edit]

In 1870, McArthur won election to the Oregon Supreme Court.[4] He was re-elected in 1876 to the state’s high court, but the term ended in 1878 when the court was reduced from five justices to three justices.[4] Prior to 1878, Supreme Court justices rode circuit and sat on the Supreme Court bench.[4] In 1878, the circuit court was split off and Supreme Court justices no longer served as circuit court judges.[4] McArthur returned to the bench as a circuit court judge in 1883, serving until 1886.[1] In 1886, he was appointed as the United States attorney for the state of Oregon serving until 1890.[1]

Later life[edit]

McArthur married Harriet K. Nesmith in 1878.[1] They had two sons, Clifton Nesmith McArthur and Lewis A. McArthur.[2] The latter would start the Oregon Geographic Names series, while Clifton would serve in Congress.[2] Clifton is the namesake for McArthur Court at the University of Oregon. Harriet was the daughter of Oregon Senator James W. Nesmith.[2] From 1890 until his death, Lewis Linn McArthur practiced law in Portland, Oregon.[1] He died in Portland on May 10, 1897.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lewis Linn McArthur (1843–1897). Dickinson College. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  3. ^ A Liberating History of Oregon And Its Coast: Volume I. Sovereigns of Themselves. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d "Oregon Supreme Court Justices". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2007-05-03.