Benjamin Franklin Walling, Jr., a representative of one of Oregon’s honored pioneer families, is numbered among the successful young business men of Portland where he is now engaged in dealing with investment securities, with offices in the Lewis building. He is a typical western man, wide-awake, alert and enterprising and at all points in his career has been actuated by a progressive spirit and firm determination that has enabled him to overcome all obstacles and difficulties in his path and press steadily forward to the goal of success. He has been instrumental in the promotion of large irrigation projects and other public utilities and through his activities has contributed in substantial measure to the development and upbuilding of the northwest.
Mr. Walling is one of Oregon’s native sons. He was born at Hood River, July 4, 1884, of the marriage of Benjamin F. Walling, Sr., and Georgia M. (Comley) Walling, the former born in Spring Valley, Polk county, Oregon, November 24, 1848, while the latter’s birth occurred near Albany, in Benton county, this state, February 7, 1854. The paternal grandfather, Jesse D. Walling, was born in Ohio, April 1, 1816, and in 1836 he became a resident of Illinois. On the 1st of December, 1839, he wedded Miss Eliza A. Wise, of New York, and in 1847 they crossed the plains to Oregon as members of a company led by Captain Davidson, reaching Spring Valley, Polk county, on Christmas day of that year. There the grandfather followed farming for two years and in 1849 he went to California in search of gold and engaged in mining in that state until 1851. Upon his return to Oregon he established the town of Lincoln, in Polk county, where he built the first docks, stores and flouring mill, also becoming a pioneer in the steamboat business on the Willamette and Columbia rivers, being owner of the Peoples Transportation Company, his labors constituting an important element in the development and upbuilding of the state. Mr. Walling also outfitted the rescue party which went to the assistance of the William Dierdorff company which was stranded in the Cascade mountains while en route to Oregon City in the fall of 1854. Mr. and Mrs. Walling reared a family of fourteen children. He passed away May 9, 1870, at the age of fifty-four years, his being due to a runaway accident caused by a pet horse of the family. His wife’s demise occurred at Portland on the 10th of January, 1893, at which time she was seventy-one years of age. J.B. Comley, the grandfather on the maternal side, was born in Lancaster, Kentucky, September 21, 1827, and at Natchez, Mississippi, he married Dorinda McFadden, who was a native of Louisiana, born November 20, 1830. In 1853 the crossed the plains from St. Joseph, Missouri, in an emigrant train under command of Dr. O.P. Hill, settling in that year in Benton county, Oregon. While journeying near the Platte river, a member of the party named Babb, who was riding a white mule, accidentally killed a squaw and fearing the revenge of the Indians they colored the mule black with the assistance of Drs. O.P. and R.C. Hill, building a false bottom in the wagon, in which they concealed Babb. For many days the Indians followed the train in quest of Babb but finally abandoned the search without molesting the party. To Mr. and Mrs. Comley were born three children, of whom Georgia M. was the only daughter. At Albany, Oregon, on the 6th of November, 1872, she was united in marriage to Benjamin F. Walling, Sr., and subsequently they removed to California, after which they returned to Oregon, taking up their residence in Hood River in November, 1875, the father there engaging in the hotel business until 1886. In that year, he went to Nampa, Idaho, arriving there just as the town was being platted. He purchased fifty-three lots and also took a relinquishment claim of one hundred and sixty acres a short distance north of the town and became active in real estate circles there, being the pioneer in that line of endeavor in that locality. He was long connected with the business life of the city, his efforts proving a potent force in its development and improvement and he there continued to resided un 1915, when he retired from business pursuits and removed to Portland. To Mr. and Mrs. B.F. Walling, Sr., were born four children: Dora M., [sic] now deceased, who became the wife of D.A. Baxter who served for many years as superintendent of schools at Nampa, Idaho; Frankie G., living at La Grande, Oregon; Benjamin F., Jr., of this review; and Jesse J., a prominent real estate dealer of Nampa, Idaho.
In the public schools of Nampa and Boise, Idaho, and of Portland, Oregon, Benjamin F. Walling, Jr., pursued his education and when a young man of twenty-one years he engaged in mining in the Silver City district of Idaho, successfully continuing his operations along that line until 1907. In 1909, he became interested in irrigation, pumping water onto the lowlands along the Snake river. People at that time were very skeptical regarding the project, which, however, later became a great successes. Subsequently Mr. Walling went to Salt Lake and became identified with the Beaver irrigation project in Beaver county, Utah, the scene of his operations being two hundred and six miles south of Salt Lake City. He was engaged in that work for two years and the venture proved a most successful one. He afterwards engaged in the bond business in Chicago, Illinois, and in Boise, Idaho, raising eleven hundred thousand dollars in Chicago and St. Paul, when but twenty-five years old, for the purpose of financing the Beaver irrigation project. Subsequently he engaged in the bond business in Seattle and not finding the work congenial he turned his attention to coal mining. While residing in Washington he became interested in a project promoted by two banks of that state, one located at Seattle and the other at Centralia, for generating electric power from coal mines to supply the cities of Centralia and Chehalis, Washington, but both institutions became insolvent and Mr. Walling lost considerable money in the venture. However, he subsequently retrieved this loss, returning to Centralia where he installed a two thousand horse power generating plant which is still in operation. Later with an associate he took over the Maxwell Land & Irrigation Company at Hermiston, Oregon, and carried that project through to a successful completion. He was also the organizer of the Sherman Light & Power Company and in association with another formed the Washington-Idaho Water, Power & Light Company, which serves Lewiston, Idaho, and vicinity and also towns in southwestern Washington, his activities thus providing a most important element in the development of various sections of the northwest. Subsequently he disposed of his interests in these various companies and removed to Portland, Oregon, where he is now residing, dealing in investment securities. His initiative, spirit, resourcefulness and splendid executive ability have led him into important relations and his connection with any undertaking insures a prosperous outcome of the same, for whatever he undertakes he carries forward to successful completion. Although at times he has encountered discouragements and difficulties, which many another man would have found insurmountable, he has never lost courage but has steadily advanced until success has crowned his efforts.
On the 18th of March, 1908, in Caldwell, Idaho, Mr. Walling was united in marriage to Miss Erma B. Hart, a daughter of James B. Hart, a resident of Salt Lake City who crossed the plains in an early day, becoming a pioneer of Utah. The only child of this marriage is a son, Benjamin Walling. In his political views Mr. Walling is a staunch republican, interested in the welfare and success of the party but without aspirations for public office, preferring to devote his time and attention to the management of his extensive business interests. He belongs to the Masonic lodge and in his daily life exemplifies the beneficent teachings of that order. The name of Walling has ever been an honored one in connection with the pioneer development and later progress of Oregon and Benjamin F. Walling, Jr., is actuated by the spirit of advancement and enterprise which dominated his forbears and which has been a most effective force in the upbuilding of the northwest. Although still a young man he has accomplished much, for his his life has been one of intense activity, intelligently directed into those channels through which flows the greatest good to the greatest number and his efforts have brought him a measure of success that is most desirable, at the same time proving of benefit to his fellowmen in many fields. His integrity has never been open to question and his many sterling qualities of characters have gained him a high place in the respect and regard of all who have been brought into contact with him.
Source: Carey, Charles Henry. 1922. History of Oregon. Volume 3. Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company.