JAMES WITHYCOMBE was born in Devonshire, England. He moved to the United States in his late twenties when his parents settled on a farm near Hillsboro, Oregon. He eventually bought his own farm, which he expanded to more than 250 acres, breeding sheep and cattle. In 1889 he was appointed state veterinarian. In 1898 he was recruited by Oregon Agricultural College (OAC)—now Oregon State University—to instruct Oregon’s farmers in advanced agricultural methods. He also supervised the agricultural extension program of OAC after being appointed Director of the College Experiment Station. He mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1906 but won election in 1914. Withycombe also promoted road construction in Oregon as the best investment a state could make. He encouraged the people of Oregon to support American involvement in World War I and fought against efforts of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W., or Wobblies) to disrupt industry. Also, to protect the state, he organized veterans of the Spanish American War and the Philippines insurrection into an Oregon State Defense Force. Withycombe won reelection as governor in 1918 but died just two months into his second term.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 20. New York: James T. White & Company.
Oregon State Archives