compiled by Columbian staff in 1989
W.D. Sappington was a man for all seasons.
He was a lawman, engineer, pioneer businessman, banker butcher, farmer and woolen mill entrepreneur.
Sappington was born in North Yamhill, Ore., in 1864. His parents and grandparents had crossed the Great Plains by ox team from Missouri with the migration of 1845.
After his schooling, Sappington became mechanical engineer at Cascade Locks, the wondrous new facility that allowed riverboats to pass the great rapids now inundated by the Bonneville Dam impoundment.
Tiring of that line of work, the many-skilled Sappington opened a butcher shop in Portland, which he ran until 1903. In that year, he heard of a new community, Yacolt, being developed in the wilds of northern Clark County and made a beeline there to open a meat market.
In 1907, Sappington, who had been a deputy sheriff as well as a butcher, was elected county sheriff and served three terms. He retired in 1912 and moved to Sunnyside, a rural area just north of Washougal.
In 1890, Sappington had married Eunice Blackwood.
Although nominally retired, Sappington remained active. He served 10 years as county road supervisor, many years on the school board and was one of the organizers of the Federal Farm Loan association in Vancouver.
Sappington's place in local history was assured in 1912. The struggling Washougal Woolen Mill, which had been founded in 1910, failed and went into bankruptcy. Sappington was appointed receiver of the firm and immediately fell to the task of finding someone to save the business. He finally located the bishop brothers, who owned and operated the Pendleton Woolen Mills in Oregon, and persuaded them to buy the Washougal operation.
The Bishops began their Washougal operation on Sept. 1, 1912, and the rest is history.