Biography of Stephen R. Southwick

As one of the early pioneers of this section of Nez Perces County, a man of energy and enterprise, whose labors have materially built up Nez Perces County, always dominated by integrity, wisdom and charity, the subject of this article is granted a representation in his County’s history with pleasure, and we are assured his life’s sketch will be interesting to many.

Stephen R. Southwick was born in Rensselaer County, New York, on February 12, 1838, being the son of John Wesley and Esther (Chapman) Southwick. The father was a farmer and carpenter. At the age of three our subject was called to mourn the death of his mother, after which he resided with his aunt, Roxana Chapman, until seventeen years old. During this time he was favored with a good public school education, and then three years were spent in Eureka College, in Woodford County, Illinois.

Mr. Southwick then took up the work of the educator and followed it more or less until recently. He was eminently successful in this line and has a record that is worthy and good. In addition to this Mr. Southwick acted as surveyor in a number of places. In Labette County, Kansas, he was chosen County surveyor for two terms. He also surveyed the towns of Chetopa and Oswego, both being thriving places now. It was 1882 that Mr. Southwick came to his present place, about one half mile southwest from the village of Southwick He took a quarter section and added forty acres more by purchase. He cultivates a small portion and the balance has fine timber. Mr. Southwick has had many experiences in various frontier lines. One night, hearing an outcry, he rose from his bed and opened the door and answered. The party in distress called again, and by this signaling from each other the stranger was guided to Mr. Southwick’s door, and behold, it was a monstrous cougar. This ended that interview, as the door was shut. Again, Mr. Southwick’s daughter was after the cows and a fond bear accompanied the young lady home, but the journey home was in the form of a race, and we understand that Miss Southwick made good time, to the disgust of bruin, who fell behind. Again, Mr. Southwick came suddenly face to face with a brown bearship, and so unaccustomed were each to the etiquette of this kind of tête-à-tête fellowship that they ignominiously tied in opposite directions, and we have not yet heard the bear’s version of the episode, but Mr. Southwick is trustworthy and would not reflect any thing on the training of bruin.

In 1888 Mr. Southwick was appointed postmaster at Southwick, the office being named for him. Seven years and more he served faithfully to the satisfaction of the people.

Mr. Southwick is a Republican and Populist. He has been chosen justice of the peace, but would not act. He is frequently selected for the conventions, both County and state.

On July 8, 1863, Mr. Southwick married Miss Martha, daughter of Aaron and Melinda (Dougherty) Shay, natives of Ohio and Shelby County, Illinois. To Mr. and Mrs. Southwick there have been born eight children: Edwin, living in Canada: Harvey, five miles southwest from Southwick; LeRoy, near Southwick; Albert, at home; Mary, wife of Frank Daggett, living near Southwick; Mattie, wife of Frank Brown, living in San Jose, California; Emma and Myrtle, at home. Mr. Southwick has one sister in Missouri, – Alary, wife of Henry Hall. Mr. and Mrs. Southwick and their children are members of the Christian Church and he is an elder in that organization.

It is of note that Mr. Southwick and Mr. L. R. Chapman by hard effort succeeded in getting the government mail route to Pierce City from Southwick, which shortened it forty miles and saved much expense. Mr. Southwick stands exceptionally well among those who know him and his faithful life as an educator and his worthy labors in pioneer work have given him an enviable prestige.

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

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