William A. Caldwell is one of the prominent men among the old pioneers of this country. He has been essentially a pioneer in many lines, having done all the arduous duties that fall to the lot of that worthy class and also has opened up many lines of industry in this section, and is to be credited with excellent ability and perseverance and keen foresight in these lines.

William A. Caldwell was born in Tompkins County, New York, on December 10, 1832, being the son of Gabrial and Maria (Anderson) Caldwell. The father was a farmer, born in Orange County, New York, and died in 1891. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and held the rank of lieutenant. The mother was born in Orange County, New York, and died several years since. William was educated and at the age of eighteen was ready to start in life for himself. He shipped to Panama and assisted to survey the Panama railroad. Seven months later he returned to New York and then came to Minnesota, entering the employ of a packet company. He went to St. Paul, where his brother was sheriff of the County, and there he remained for five years. He built a sawmill and did well in the venture. Later he sold and engaged as wagon master for Colonel Noble to make a wagon road on the big bend of the Missouri. They made a trip to the Pacific coast country and visited Walla Walla, the Fraser river country, and the next spring after gold was discovered Mr. Caldwell went to Oro Fino. He mined at Oro Fino, Florence, Warren, Pierce City and all the camps of that section and also at Boise basin and then he returned to Lewiston. He took a government wood contract and then operated a pack train to Pierce City. He then bought the Cul De Sac stage station, now known as the Caldwell stage station, and erected a six thousand dollar hotel, where he did business for twenty years. He was the first man to try wheat in the vicinity north of Lewiston. People laughed at him when he broke the first one hundred acres, but his wheat did well, and thus he opened a great source of wealth for the country. In 1883 Mr. Caldwell built a palatial home in Lewiston and later he acquired title to the Colonel Craig donation claim and also to the other half of the section, but he was obliged to carry it to the courts of last resort. Mr. Caldwell, in addition to his other activities, has always been a large operator in stock. He handled about ten thousand stock sheep and vast herds of cattle and horses.

On July 5, 1871, in Lewiston, Mr. Caldwell married Miss Maria, daughter of Michael and Elizabeth (O’Neil) Reddy, natives of Ireland. The father came to Canada when a large boy and the mother came when young. Airs Caldwell was born in Ontario, in 1849, and remained there until twenty and was educated in the world famous schools of that province. Then she came with her parents to California and later to Idaho, where they died. She has two brothers and five sisters, Richard, Catherine Worden, Elizabeth White, Margaret Vennigerholz, Sarah Elliott, Jennie Parker and Owen. Mr. Caldwell has the following named brothers and sisters: Thomas, James, Isabelle, Nancy, all deceased, and Helen, Julia Mallory and Fanny Thorp. To Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell there have been born four children, William A., in Montana; Solomon S., in Nez Perces County; Frederick G. and Moses, at home. Mr. Caldwell is a member of the Masonic order. He is a Democrat in politics and active, as also are his boys. He owns a section of land where he now lives, four miles southeast from Lapwai, and raises wheat, barley, corn and handles stock to consume the products of the farm. Mr. Caldwell is a strong advocate of fine schools and is a supporter of the Churches.

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