JAMES W. MOTT. One of the most distinguished members of the bar of Clatsop county is James W. Mott, of Astoria, who not only holds a high place among the able and successful lawyers of this section of the state, but has also a splendid record as a legislator, in which capacity his services were of a character that in a very direct way promoted the public interests. Mr. Mott was born in Clearfield county, Pennsylvania, on the 12th of November, 1884, and is a son of Dr. W. S. and Willetta (Bunn) Mott, also natives of that locality. His father received a good public school education and graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute, of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He began practice in his native county, where he remained until 1889, when he came to Oregon, locating in Salem, where he opened an office and engaged in the practice of medicine until shortly before his death, which occurred in 1919. His widow is still living in that city. They became the parents of three children, namely: James Wheaton; Dr. Lloyd Howe, who is in the government medical service at Seattle, Washington; and Dr. William Boyd, who succeeded his father at Salem, where he is still practicing.
James W. Mott, who was about five years of age when his family came to Oregon, attended the public schools and a preparatory normal school in Salem, the University of Oregon and Leland Stanford University. He completed his studies at Columbia University, New York city, where he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1909. Later he took up the study of law, graduating from Willamette University Law School, and in 1917 was admitted to the bar of Oregon. In that year he came to Astoria, opened a law office and has practiced his profession here to the present time, with the exception of the period of his military service. In July, 1918, he closed his office and enlisted in the United States Navy, in which he served until the close of the war, when he was honorably discharged. In 1919 he reopened his law office. A constant student of law, careful and painstaking in his attention to cases entrusted to him and adhering closely to the highest ethics and traditions of his profession, he is well established in public confidence and commands a large and remunerative practice. In 1920 Mr. Mott was elected city attorney of Astoria, in which capacity he served until January, 1923.
In 1919, Mr. Mott was united in marriage to Miss Ethel Lucile Walling, who was born in Polk county, Oregon, and is a daughter of Jesse and Cora (Loose) Walling, both of whom were natives of Oregon and members of old pioneer families of this state. Her paternal great-grandfather, Gabriel Walling, crossed the plains with ox-teams and covered wagons in 1847 and was numbered among the first permanent settlers of Oregon territory, taking up a donation land claim in Polk county. Members of the Walling family were identified with the early public affairs of the territory, serving as members of the first territorial legislature in the ’40s. Mrs. Mott attended the public schools and completed her education at the Oregon Agricultural College. Mr. and Mrs. Mott are the parents of two children, Frances Anne, born November 29, 1921, and Dorothy May, born August 6, 1923.
Politically Mr. Mott has always supported the republican party and from young manhood has taken a keen interest in public affairs. In November, 1922, he was elected to represent the nineteenth legislative district (Clatsop county) in the state legislature, and was reelected in 1924 and 1926, serving three terms. His service in that body was marked by a sincere and determined effort to promote such legislation as would best conserve the public interests and, in the face of powerful opposition, he succeeded in securing the enactment of several important bills. During the first session after his election Mr. Mott introduced a bill designed to aid the city of Astoria in rebuilding its public property destroyed by fire by appropriating annually for a period of seven years a sum of money equal to the amount of the state taxes on all real and personal property located in the city of Astoria. Though this bill was reported out of committee with a unanimous adverse report, it was eventually passed, through Mr. Mott’s personal efforts and skillful parliamentary tactics. One of the chief objections to this bill was that the state had no money and could not assume the financial burden imposed by the bill unless an equivalent amount could be raised from other sources than the taxpayers. To meet this objection Mr. Mott introduced a bill increasing the fees and licenses required of foreign insurance companies doing business within the state. This bill, which was opposed by able members of the house and an active lobby maintained by the insurance companies, was passed, and provided more than enough money to meet the demands of the Astoria relief bill. Two other bills along the line of remedial legislation introduced and sponsored by Mr. Mott were those repealing the anti-trolling act and abolishing fish wheels. The first named bill was passed. The second bill, which was of vital importance to the industrial interests of the state, was introduced with the announced intention of holding it in committee as a counter measure in the event of the introduction of another bill to prohibit trolling. It was not believed that Mr. Mott’s bill could be passed in the house, but it was thought that it could be passed if taken directly to the people. Therefore, at the close of the session Mr. Mott drafted the present law abolishing fish wheels, secured the official endorsement of the Oregon State Grange, the State Federation of Labor and the state fish commission, and at the ensuing election the bill was passed by a majority of more than thirty thousand. The foregoing bills are referred to specifically because they are examples of important and exceedingly difficult legislation which was passed in nearly every instance, not only over the adverse reports of the committees to which they were referred, but also in the face of organized opposition which at the time was considered impregnable. In the primary election of 1928 Mr. Mott was a candidate for the nomination for congress from the first congressional district, consisting of seventeen counties, comprising all of western Oregon excepting Multnomah county. His opponent was W. C. Hawley, who has represented this district for twenty-one years continuously. Mr. Mott made a splendid race, but was defeated. However, he has already announced that he will again be a candidate for congress two years hence. His friends believe that he has shown abundant qualifications for the office and that he would honor his district in the national legislative body.
Mr. Mott is a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World. the Sigma Chi and Acacia fraternities and the Kiwanis Club, and he and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church. Steadfastness in adherence to principle, loyalty to the best interests of the people and unswerving integrity in every relation of life have marked Mr. Mott’s career and today no citizen of this community stands higher in the confidence and respect of the people.
Source: Lockley, Fred. 1928. History of the Columbia River Valley From The Dalles to the Sea, Vol. III. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.