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Robert Collis

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Robert Collis was a little known leather worker in Portland in the early 20th century. His story
begins in Cincinnati, Ohio, before 1870, as a manufacturer of “sporting goods.” That can be
construed to mean anything from English saddles to dice cups. He was 29 in that year, and
married to a lady named Clara [Smith?]. Clara was born in England. They had three children:
Lillian, Edwin, and Louisa.
The first appearance of this man in Portland was in 1890, as a harness maker at 168 Front Street.
In 1893, his son Robert L. Collis joined him in the harness business, in the same location. This
arrangement lasted until about 1897, when the son became a letter carrier. In 1900 Robert O.
Collis was listed as a saddle and harness establishment owner. His wife Clara died in 1900, and
the family is buried at the pioneer Lone Fir Cemetery. In 1910, enumerators found Robert the
elder living with his son Edwin (not a saddler) and declaring himself a leather worker “by trade,”
having worked 10 months out of the past year. It would appear that he had retired.
Robert O. Collis died in April of 1916. His son Robert L., died in January of 1944. It is reasonable
to assume that he was primarily a maker of harnesses, but without examples of his work, we
cannot be sure. There is enough evidence to believe that he was a least a skilled saddle
[This maker in business in Portland from circa1888 until circa 1910]

Research by Richard and Dorothy Egan


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