Biography of Henry K. Hartley

The middle portion of the nineteenth century might properly be termed the age of utility, especially in the northwest. This vast region was then being opened up to civilization, and the honored pioneers who found homes in this rich but undeveloped region were men who had to contend with the trials and difficulties of frontier life. Theirs were lives of toil. They were endeavoring to make homes to cultivate farms, establish stock ranches, develop mineral resources, found business enterprises, and from early manhood to old age their lot was generally one of labor; but their importance to the community cannot be overestimated, and the comforts and luxuries today enjoyed by the younger generation are largely due to the brave band of pioneer men and women who came to the northwest during its primitive condition. It is also encouraging and interesting to note that many who came here empty-handed have worked their way upward to positions of affluence; that as the years have passed and the country improved prosperity has attended their efforts and wealth rewarded their earnest endeavors.

To this class of honored men belongs Henry K. Hartley, who has been a resident of Idaho since 1864, his home being in Caldwell, Canyon County. He was born in Greenville, Illinois, March 15, 1833, and is of English lineage, the original American ancestors having settled in the south, prior to the Revolutionary war, in which they participated, thus aiding in the establishment of the republic. James Hartley, father of our subject, was born in Augusta, Georgia, and married a Miss Walker, also a native of that state. They became the parents of thirteen children, and eleven of the number grew to mature years, were married and had homes of their own. Only four, however, still survive.

Mr. Hartley of this review is the youngest. When four years of age he accompanied his parents on their removal to Missouri and was reared to manhood in that state on his father’s farm. It was then a frontier region, and his educational privileges were accordingly limited, the time of his attendance at school probably not exceeding sixty days in the aggregate. In the school of experience, through observation and with the aid of a retentive memory, however, he has gained a broad and practical general knowledge. He is eminently self-educated and selfmade financially and deserves great credit for what he has accomplished in life. In 1848 he crossed the plains to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but in the autumn of the same year returned to his home in Missouri. In 1850, when but seventeen years of age, he crossed the plains with his brother to California, and during the long and tedious journey the party with which they traveled was frequently attacked by Indians, but never lost a man. They found and buried on the way three white men, who had been killed and scalped by the same band whom they were pursuing until they escaped among the mountains near the Humboldt river. Mr. Hartley and his brother started with five yoke of oxen, but all save two died on the way. Ultimately they exchanged their oxen and wagon for two horses, and on them started across the mountains by way of the Georgetown cut-off, which was then a new trail. They had scarcely any provisions, only a little flour and coffee, and they suffered many hardships and trials, but eventually arrived at Georgetown, September 7, 1850, having left home on the l0th of April previously.

Mr. Hartley and his brother followed placer mining on the tributaries of the American river and met with fair success. The brother then returned but he remained two years longer, prospecting in different camps on the North Yuba River, near Downieville. At one of these he took out six thousand dollars in a day! He both made and lost money in his different mining ventures, and when he returned to Missouri he had but little. He made the trip home in order to see his aged father, who died soon after his arrival, on the l0th of October, 1855, when eighty years of age. In the spring of 1856 Mr. Hartley went to Kansas City and became a wagon master, taking charge of wagon trains going west. He received at first seventy-five dollars per month, which sum was afterward increased to two hundred and twenty-five dollars per month. Each year he made two trips from Westport to Fort Laramie, Salt Lake and other western points in the mountains.

In the spring of 1857 the expedition was sent out by the government under command of General Albert Sidney Johnston. The Mormons had committed serious depredations on emigrant trains, and it was felt to be necessary to send this expedition against them. There were about twenty-two hundred soldiers, rank and file, and four hundred teamsters, of whom Mr. Hartley was one. The last ten days before going into camp their progress was greatly impeded by deep snows and their supplies ran short. The Mormons harassed them and destroyed the supply train, provisions, wagon and ox yokes, so that they were compelled to subsist until spring on one-third rations. It was expected that they would have to fight the Mormons, and while in camp General Johnston enlisted and drilled the teamsters, forming them into four companies of one hundred each. One of these companies elected Mr. Hartley as their captain. The higher offices in the battalion were filled by members of the regular army, Bernard E. Bee receiving the appointment to the command of the new battalion. He was a captain in the regular army and was afterward killed at the battle of Bull Run, while serving in the Confederate army in the civil war. The troops under command of General Johnston marched into Salt Lake City, Mr. Hartley’s and another company being in the advance. It was fully expected that a warm reception would be given them, but the Mormons had nearly all fled the town, and they met no opposition. They went into camp on the Jordan River and a week later marched thirty miles south and built Fort Douglas. Subsequently the new battalion was ordered back to Leavenworth, Kansas, where the men were discharged and paid off.

Captain Hartley then began buying and selling cattle and mules to emigrants and to the government, and later purchased land in Jackson County, Missouri, where he engaged in farming until the outbreak of the civil war. He was then in southwestern Missouri. Four of his brothers joined the Union army and he and three other brothers joined the Confederate army, believing that the south was in the right.

The Captain was appointed to a position on the staff of Colonel Cofferin, who was killed in their first engagement, and then our subject was promoted to the rank of colonel, serving under General Price. His regiment belonged to the Eighth Division, commanded by General Rains. From Springfield they marched to Lexington, had a skirmish with the troops of General Lane on Drywood River, and afterward engaged General Mulligan’s forces at Lexington. They drove the federal forces into their fortifications, the fight lasting from ten o’clock in the morning until dark. For eight days the fight continued, and then in the early morning they attacked the enemy in their works, entering upon a hard-fought siege, which continued for three days and two nights, during which they were constantly in line of battle, fighting all the time. General Mulligan then surrendered twenty-four hundred men, with all their guns and ammunition.

Colonel Hartley then went with his command on a forced march to Ocola, where they were in quarters for ten days, and thence retreated before the Union forces to Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where a hard-fought battle occurred. Soon after this, in April 1862, he was permitted to make a trip after recruits and used the opportunity to take his wife from that country to a place of safety. He was accompanied by his adjutant and journeyed in safety to Sarcoxie, Missouri, but was captured there and sent as a prisoner of war to Springfield, Missouri, where he was held for fourteen months. He, however, received very courteous and lenient treatment, and, giving his word of honor, he was allowed to go all over the town at his own pleasure. At length he was paroled and some time later was permitted to cross the plains to Oregon with the understanding that he would in no way take part in the struggle again or seek to advance the cause of the Confederacy.

On the 17th of December 1861, Colonel Hartley had married Miss Sarah J. Painter, and with his young wife and little son, Charles Price, then two years old, made his way to Idaho. For a time he followed teaming and freighting in the Boise basin and then spent three years in California, after which he returned to the Boise basin and near Caldwell engaged in farming and stock raising. He possesses great energy and executive ability and as the result of his untiring effort and good management prospered from year to year. In 1891 he sold his stock and ranch and came to Caldwell, purchasing a residence in which he has since made his home. In this city he has carried on the livery business as a member of the firm of Campbell & Hartley. They have large barns, a number of fine carriages and buggies and always keep on hand good horses. They are the leading liverymen of the town and enjoy a large patronage, which they well deserve.

In 1888 Colonel Hartley was called upon to mourn the loss of his estimable wife, who died on the 12th of March. She was a member of the Christian church, a loyal friend, a faithful and loving wife and mother, and her death occasioned deep regret throughout the entire community. The eldest son of Colonel and Mrs. Hartley is now engaged in farming and in the nursery business eight miles from Caldwell. The other children are all natives of Idaho, namely: Florence L., who is now in the post-office of Caldwell; Cory, who died in her sixth year; one who died in infancy; Alice, a most cultured and amiable young lady who died in her twenty-second year; Annabelle and Henry, at home.

The Colonel has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since the winter of 1848, having been made a Mason in Jackson county, Missouri, in Shawnee Lodge, No. 10, A. F. & A. M., of New Santa Fe. In politics he is a stanch Democrat, and was elected to represent his district in the ninth and eleventh sessions of the general assembly of Idaho, where he served with marked ability and fidelity. He was also one of the commissioners of Ada County, when Canyon County was embraced within its borders. In 1895 he was appointed by President Cleveland postmaster of Caldwell, entering upon the duties of the office on the 6th of February of that year. He removed the office to a good brick building, fitted it up with the most modern equipments and made it one of the most creditable institutions in the town. In the administration of his duties he was most prompt, courteous and efficient and was widely acknowledged to be a most worthy representative of the government. Indolence and idleness have ever been utterly foreign to his nature, and whether in public office or in private business life he manifests great activity and energy, qualities which have made him one of the prosperous residents of Canyon county.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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