It is especially gratifying to have the opportunity to chronicle the salient points in the career of this worthy pioneer, as he has been through all the vicissitudes and hardships of the frontiersman in most of the important western places in early days and has for nearly forty years been identified with the northern part of Idaho, having always been a foremost figure in its progress and up building. He is a man of sound principles, and now in the golden days of his career, he is surrounded with friends and is honored and esteemed by all.

Samuel Phinney was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on August 2, 1830, being the son of William and Lydia (Belknap) Phinney, natives of Connecticut and New York, respectively. The father was of Scotch extraction, migrated to New York, where he was married, and then to Pennsylvania and thence to Iowa. He enlisted to fight in the Black Hawk war and was one of the enterprising farmers of Iowa until his death in 1876. The mother of our subject came from ancestors who were settlers in New York for generations back. Our subject went with the family to Iowa when he was eight years of age and there was educated in the district schools.

In 1851 he went to seek gold in California and after mining near Sacramento for a time he was taken sick and returned via the Isthmus to his home. Six months later he made the trip across the plains with ox teams to Portland. Soon he was in Astoria, and after two years in a saw mill he spent three years or so in rafting on the Columbia. Then a move was made to Walla Walla and stock raising occupied Mr. Phinney until he came to Lapwai in 1866. While in the Portland country he enlisted to fight the Yakimas. At Lapwai Mr. Phinney settled on land leased from the Indians and continued there until the reservation opened, when he took his present place, a portion of which is devoted to the town site of Fletcher. He has given his attention to raising the cereals and improvement of his farm and he is one of the substantial residents of this vicinity.

Mr. Phinney married Adeline, daughter of Colonel William Craig, at Walla Walla, in 1864, and to them have been born three sons, Fitch, Lee and William, farmers near Culdesac. Mrs. Phinney has two sisters: Annie, wife of Charles Fairfield, a farmer near Culdesac: Martha, widow of H. Vaughn. The subject of this article has traveled all over the northwest, especially the panhandle portion of Idaho, and is familiar with its early history, it growth, and has always striven for substantial improvement and development.

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