Biography of Jay M. Dorman

No man has been a more prominent factor in the growth and improvement of Mount Idaho than this gentleman, who for many years has been identified with its building interests, nor have his efforts contributed alone to his individual prosperity, for he belongs to that class of representative Americans who promote the public good while securing their own success.

A native of Delaware County, New York, he was born August 27, 1837, and is descended from an old American family, early settlers of the Empire state. His father, Anthony Dorman, was likewise born in Delaware county and married Miss Charlotte Bursack, a lady of German descent. Their only child, Jay M. Dorman, was left an orphan at a tender age and was reared by his aunt until fourteen years of age. With her he removed to Louisiana, where he learned the carpenter and joiner trade. In 1861 he went to California by way of the isthmus route, sailing on the steamer North Star, which arrived in San Francisco in July. He worked in a sawmill on the coast range for a time, and by the water route went to The Dalles and then by mule train to the place of the gold discoveries in Idaho. He traveled with a company of eight, who ultimately reached Lewiston, which was then a town of tents, with only two log houses. Mr. Dorman proceeded to Elk City, and engaged in mining at different claims for nine years, but met with only a moderate degree of success. He had at times as high as three thousand dollars, but like many other miners sunk his capital in a bedrock tunnel. He, however, never lost anything through gambling or in the saloon, as so many men did in those early days.

In 1871 he came to Mount Idaho, at which time there was but one log house in the town. Here he began work at the carpenter’s trade, and since that time has been actively interested in the erection of most of the buildings of the place, so that Mount Idaho now largely stands as a monument to his skill, thrift and enterprise. In 1877 he built his own commodious residence, one of the most attractive homes of the place. In connection with contracting and building, Mr. Dorman has also superintended the operation of his ranch, comprising three hundred and twenty acres of good land, on which he raises hay and grain. The county seat of Idaho County was established at Mount Idaho in 1875, and our subject erected the courthouse and jail there. He served the county for two years in the position of treasurer and for one term as county commissioner, discharging his duties in a most prompt and commendable manner. In politics he has been a lifelong Republican, and in addition to the other offices mentioned he has served as school trustee, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend and one zealous in advancing its interests. Thus in many ways he has been prominently identified with the advancement of his county along material, political and educational lines, and at all times is a progressive, public-spirited citizen. He was a volunteer in the Nez Perces Indian war, in 1877, and assisted in building a rock fort in Mount Idaho, which formed such a protection that the Indians made no attempt to attack the inhabitants of the town, and many settlers from the surrounding country also found shelter there.

In 1880 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Dorman and Mrs. Arabella J. Randall, widow of Captain D. B. Randall, who served his country as a lieutenant in the great civil war and as a captain of volunteers in the Indian war. She was the daughter of Captain A. P. Ankeny, of Virginia, and crossed the plains to California in 1849, going to Oregon in 1850. Mrs. Dorman was only four years of age when she went with her father’s family to the Sunset state. By her first marriage she had live children, namely: Oronoka L., wife of S. D. Ingram, of Lewiston; Henry A.; Bell J.; Maude E.; and Ada L., wife of Lewis D. Stevens. Mr. and Mrs. Dorman have one daughter, to whom was given the full name of her father, Jay M. Mrs. Dorman is a member of the Episcopal Church and is one of the honored pioneer women of Oregon and Idaho.

Our subject holds membership in Mount Idaho Lodge, No. 89, F. & A. M., has held various offices in the lodge and served as its treasurer for ten years. He is one of Idaho’s worthy and reliable citizens, and since early pioneer days he has labored for the welfare of the state, proving especially active in the upbuilding of the northern section. He is highly esteemed for his integrity in all the walks of life, and well deserves representation in this volume.



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

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