Louis Sohns

Although Louis Sohns was just one of many soldiers settling in Vancouver after serving at the barracks here, few enjoyed as notable a career as a civic leader.

Sohns crosed the isthmus of Panama with the Fourth Infantry Regiment, and traveled north by ship to reach Vancouver in 1852. Among his companions was Lt. Ulysses S. Grant, later a Civil War general and U.S. president.

After leaving the Army, Sohns worked as a painter and paperhanger and sold wallpaper at a Vancouver store. In 1866, he joined with D.F. Schuele in operating a general store. A short time later, Sohns built a brick structure on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Although it is still standing (and called the Frontier restaurant), the building has been extensively remodeled.

Sohns served as a Vancouver mayor, was elected to the territorial legislature and was a member of the constitutional convention when Washington was admitted as a state in 1889. He was an organizer of the community water system and headed the town’s first bank. Sohns also was a stockholder in the Vancouver, Kickitat and Yakima Railroad, and a director of the Michigan Mill, the town’s largest industry.

He retired from Sohns and son in 1892 and died here in 1901.

A son, Louis R. Sohns, worked for many years for the Polk Directory Co. in Portland. He died at Portland in 1940 of injuries suffered in a car crash.

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