Seraphin Wildenthaler is among the oldest pioneers of Lewiston as well as one of its most substantial citizens. He was born in Baden, Germany, on July 1, 1827. His family sailed from Havre, France, in 1852 and settled in Sandusky, Ohio. Soon thereafter our subject came back to New York and went thence, via Panama, to San Francisco. For eight years he prospected and mined in the Golden state and came thence to northern Idaho in 1862. Hostile Indians attempted to stampede their horses while they were enroute and one morning they found the ground filled with arrows that had been shot at them in the night, the weapons being half buried by their force. In due time they arrived at Lewiston, a city of five thousand, all living in tents. A crossing was effected on the Snake where the ferry is now operated. Every day a pack train wound its way out from Lewiston and the tinkle of their bells was a familiar sound of the day.

For three years Mr. Wildenthaler mined at Orofino and in the autumn of 1865, in company with Nye and Harness, took a pack train of flour to Kootenai and there sold it for sixty-five dollars per hundred. Later in the same years he opened a bakery in Lewiston with C. Baker. But the freedom of the hills called him and he sold out to his partner and went to Montana. He mined on Harvey and Ten Mile creek and then went to Arizona, California, Nevada and finally came back to Sweetwater and South Pass. Mr. Wildenthaler joined the workers on the Union Pacific and operated a bakery along the line, moving it sixteen times to keep abreast of the road. He witnessed the laving of the silver rail and the driving of the golden spike that celebrated the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States, which act was done at Promontory Point.

Mr. Wildenthaler visited Ohio at this time and two months later came back to Walla Walla. In 1870 he selected Lewiston as his home place and bought a half interest in the grocery and bakery business of Conrad Wintch. This partnership continued until 1878 when Mr. Wildenthaler bought the entire business. He conducted it alone until 1901 when he sold a share to Joseph E. Kincaid. The next year Mr. Kincaid sold his interest to D. O. Powell. The firm still occupies the same place on west Main Street, but the old wooden structure has given place to a brick building.

In 1878 Mr. Wildenthaler was united in marriage with Miss Hattie Palmer and they have become the parents of two daughters and one son.

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