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WALTER H. McMONIES
Walter was born in Toronto, Canada about 1863, and came to Portland in 1880. In 1884, he
founded the company that was to manufacture harness, horse collars, and saddles on a wholesale
basis for over a half century. During his years in Portland, he was a member and President of the
Manufacturer’s Association of Portland, the forerunner of the modern day Chamber of
Commerce. In Portland he married Charlotte Wittenberg in 1889. He had three brothers, Robert,
John and Frederick.
His saddle, harness and collar business began at 1212 4th Street, and by 1893 he had moved to 80
Union Avenue. About 1900, his company was situated at 53-55 Front Street, [Front and Pine] in
the Kamm Building, one of Portland’s classic iron front structures. The large sign on the side
advertised”Saddles, Harness and Horse Collars.” Always known as a wholesale leather
manufacturing firm, they produced a variety of leather items. It is the author’s belief that any
saddles produced here were unmarked. During WWI, they manufactured the M1916 holster for
the M1911 and M1911A1 pistols. They were also issued a Government Contract to produce the
M1916 Artillery Harness, along with several other Portland makers.
In 1904, each of the four McMonies brothers held a position in the company’s board: Walter,
President, and Frederick as Vice President. Brother John represented the company as a traveling
agent, and Robert is listed as the manufacturing foreman.
Additionally, F.C. Wasserman was Secretary-Treasurer. City Directories listed the company as
Collar & Harness Manufacturers at 53 Front Street. An Albert E. McMonies was also making
harness at 214 Front Street. By 1920, he was making horse collars as an employee; I would guess
for the W.H. McMonies & Company. This man was born in 1872, and shows no obvious relation
to Walter H. McMonies; however, he was also born in Canada.
According to a review in DECOY MAGAZINE, March 1998, by Joe Engers, in an article entitled,
THE ART OF THE CREEL, authors Hugh Chatham and Dan McClain voiced their opinion that
perhaps the most desirable of all leathered creels were those made by W.H. McMonies & Co.:
“McMonies, famous for their horse collars, utilized buck stitching--- in all their creels.” However,
the same authors do credit the George Lawrence Company of Portland for setting the standard
for the leathered creel. In April 2008, an original McMonies #4 leathered creel in near perfect
condition was selling on the collectables market for $2, 750.00.
A number of noted area harness and saddle makers worked for McMonies over the long span of
the time Walter was in business. C.F. Rossiter, a twenty two year veteran of theVancouver,
Washington saddlery trade began as an employee of McMonies. On the darker side, it is
reported that in 1910, one O.D. Outman working as treasurer for W.H. McMonies & Co., was
arrested on a charge of “receiving money, knowing a bank to be insolvent.”
Walter McMonies ran for the office of City Commissioner, along with many other candidates, in
1913 but did not win the post. The W.H.McMonies Company remained in business for many
years, advertised as a manufacturer of leather goods until the mid 20th century. At some point,
the business was terminated between 1944 and 1952, most likely with the demise of its founder,
Walter McMonies, on October 31, 1948.
[The McMonies makers mark does exist, most notably on creels]
[This Corporation in business from 1884 until 1948]
Research by Richard and Dorothy Egan