Jesse M. Langsdorf

Jesse Morrison Langsdorf established his reputation as a banker, but his descendants are known mostly for their legal endeavors.

Langsdorf already had carved out a colorful career before arriving in Vancouver. He had been in the military in the Civil War, worked on construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, then entered the banking business in Utah in 1869. He was involved in banks in Corinne, Ogden and Salt Lake City. He married his wife, Catherine, at Corinne in 1872.

For about a decade starting in 1899, Langsdorf was a banker at Salmon, Idaho.

He came to Vancouver in 1910 and organized the United States National Bank. This firm outgrew its building, and shortly before World War I the bank moved into a new home in what then was Vancouver’s tallest building. It now is known as the Heritage Building.

Langsdorf’s sons, Joseph S.G. Langsdorf and Jesse Langsdorf, assisted in the banking business.

The father died in 1923; he was the bank’s president at the time.

J.S.G. Langsdorf died in 1927. Jesse G. Landgsdorf died in 1942.

A son of Jesse G. and Margaret Langsdorf, J. Guthrie Langsdorf, practiced law in Vancouver until World War II, in the firm Wilkinson and Langsdorf. In 1941 he joined the Army Air Corps, and he left the service in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel.

Langsdorf was sworn in as Clark County Superior Court judge in 1955, replacing Charles W. Hall. He continued in the positioon for 22 years, the longest for any of the county’s Superior Court judges. Langsdorf also at times sat on the state Supreme Court as a justice pro tem.

Langsdorf’s wife, Dorothy, former teacher and librarian, was leader in the efforts to build Discovery Trail in the Vancouver area. She also worked successfully to get dual listing of husbands’ and wives names in the telephone book.

The family tradition of law is carried on by Linda Langsdorf Johnson, an attorney with Landerholm, Memovich, Lansverk and Whitesides Inc. She worked for Sen. Henry Jackson for two years, and was a teacher at Hudson’s Bay High School following graduation from the University of Washington. After graduating from Lewis and Clark Law School in 1977, Johnson worked in the Clark County prosecutor’s office, and was acting prosecutor during a leave of absence by Jim Carty. She also was chief civil deputy for several years. Before joining the Landerholm office, she was with a Portland law firm.

Her brother, Michael Langsdorf was a Navy officer during the Vietnam war, and deputy county prosecutor in Clark County for 2 1/2 years. He was associated with Newby, Newby and Langsdorf, then retired but decided to go bck into law with Lee, Mitchelson and Langsdorf in Hazel Dell. When Michael Langsdorf was with the Newby firm, the company office was in the old Jesse Morrison Langsdorf home at 1010 Esther St.

Another son of J. Guthrie and Dorothy Langsdorf is Jay Kirk Langsdorf, who has degrees from Portland State University and from University of Oregon Dental School. He was an Army officer in Germany, and holds a lieutenant colonel’s rank in the Army reserves. Dr. Langsdorf works as a dentist in Vancouver and is owner of Cascade Park Dental Center.

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