The engineer is fast taking the place of the stage driver and the flying pony expressman, but occasionally we find one of the old timers, whose eye will flash with the same fire of adventure and uncurbed spirit as characterized the early men who drove the dangerous routes of the west in days of savage wars and wild scenes. Among the very best stage drivers that ever drew reins west of the Rockies and as a veritable leader of them all in the northwest, we mention the well known gentleman whose name stands at the head of this article. Felix Warren is one of the genuine old time stage men, who scorned the savages, weathered the fiercest storms and passed through the trying scenes and dangers incident to stage life of the west. He has never been beaten in a contest and has drawn reins with the best men the country could produce. Keen, brave, kind, and genial, he has commanded the respect, and won the esteem and confidence of all, while steadily from the pioneer days until the present he has followed his line of business and is now handling the stage from Lewiston to Cottonwood, where he has driven for sixteen years, twelve consecutively.
A detailed account of the career of Mr. Warren will be hailed with keen delight by all old timers and with pleasure we append the same. He was born in Sullivan County, Missouri, on July 15, 1852, being the son of Hugh and Esther (Sturgill) Warren. The father was born in North Carolina in 1821 and died in 1880. He was a pioneer of Missouri and a fifty-niner in California, where he remained until 1865, when he returned to the states and came with his family to Walla Walla and bought a farm engaging in stock raising until his death. He was captain of the train of one hundred and thirty-six wagons which he piloted over in safety. The mother of our subject was born in Virginia and died in 1884. Felix was twelve years of age when he came with his parents to this country and he remained with his father until eighteen and then went to packing to the Kootenai Country, British Columbia. He did this on account of his health and as the outdoor exercise was bracing and improving him, he continued until he was twenty-three. Then he began staging from Almota to Colfax and in 1875 took up the business on his own account. He operated from Dayton to Walla Walla and about that time bought the entire holdings of the Northwestern Stage Company, which included many lines in this country, among which were those from Dayton to Colfax, thence to Sprague, Colfax to Lewiston, Lewiston to Spokane Falls, and others. These Mr. Warren operated for fifteen years and also from Dayton to Lewiston for six years. He had as partner, A. A. Newberry, well known in the northwest and they operated from Lewiston to Mt. Idaho.
It is thus seen that Mr. Warren is the oldest and most extensive stage and mail operator in the entire country. He was special messenger for the government in the Bannock war and at one time he drove from Mt. Idaho to Lewiston in less than ten hours, hauling fourteen passengers, among whom were Sam Silverman (a noted mining man) and Spud Howard, a famous California driver. Mr. Warren drove six horses and had four relays in this trip. Bell Foster, a noted scout and an intimate friend of Mr. Warren, was killed at Cottonwood by the savages during the Nez Perces war.
On March 3, 1873, Mr. Warren married Miss Janetta Smails, at Walla Walla. She has three brothers, John, Harvey and Robert. She was born in Iowa in 1860. Mr. Warren has the following brothers and sisters, Solomon S., a miner at Nome; Joseph F., chief of police in Spokane for years, now in Nome; Robert S., in Nome; Mrs. H. W. Spalding, at Almota, whose husband was a son of the noted missionary Spalding; Inez Dawson, in Yakima, whose husband is a stockman. Mr. Warren is an active Democrat and has been honored by his party with a number of nominations for office. Mr. Warren was well acquainted with the noted Joe Meek. He is a member of the Pioneer Association and one of the best known and highly esteemed men of the entire northern part of the state.
Back to: Nez Perce Biographies
Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903