Biography of Peter J. Pefley

An Idaho pioneer of 1864, Peter J. Pefley, is now engaged in the harness and saddlery business in Lewiston, and has long been accounted one of the representative men of the state, for the active interest he has taken in promoting her welfare renders him one of her valued citizens. His childhood days were spent on the Atlantic coast. He was born in Roanoke County, Virginia, June 6, 1830, and traces his ancestry back to the Fatherland, whence John Pefley, his great-grandfather, came to America, sailing from Baden-Baden in 1730. He took up his residence in Virginia, and there occurred the birth of John Pefley, the grandfather, who served as a lieutenant with the Virginia volunteers during the war of the Revolution. He was a lover of liberty and an opponent of oppression in every form, and on account of this liberated his slaves. With the Dunkard church he held membership, and he was a man of most generous impulses. He married Susanah Bond, a native of his own county, and they became the parents of seven children, all of whom were given scriptural names, including such as Solomon, Jonathan. Jacob and Daniel. The grandfather lived an upright, honorable life and died in the sixty-second year of his age, his wife being called to her final rest in her fifty-fifth year. Their son Jacob Pefley, the father of our subject, was born in Virginia and married Miss Mary Myers, also a native of the Old Dominion. They were industrious and respected farming people, their well spent lives winning them high regard. The father died at the age of sixty-three, while the mother departed this life in her thirtieth year, leaving a family of five children.

Peter J. Pefley, the second in order of birth, is now the only survivor. He was educated in the Delawaretown Academy, learned the harness maker’s trade in early life, and in 1851 crossed the plains to California, driving an ox team in a train consisting of twenty-seven wagons. On the journey some of the stock was stolen by the Indians, but the savages did not attack the people, who were armed and well prepared to receive them. They were six months upon the journey, but ultimately reached their destination in safety, without having any great misfortune. Mr. Pefley engaged in farming on French prairie, near Salem. He was married there, in 1855, to Miss Sarah A. Smith, a daughter of Daniel Smith, who with his family crossed the plains in the same company with which Mr. Pefley traveled. In 1864 Mr. Pefley brought his family to Idaho, locating on the Idaho City road, about five miles from Boise. He brought with him from Oregon about ninety-five head of cattle, and engaged in the stock business and in dairy farming. Four years later he removed to Boise, where he opened a harness and saddlery store, which he successfully conducted until 1896. While in southern Idaho he also became the owner of a placer-mining claim, operated it to a considerable extent and still has mining interests in that part of the state. In 1898 he removed to Lewiston, where he opened his present store, and has now built up a good trade. In the manufacture of harness and saddlery he displays excellent workmanship, and his reliable business methods, reasonable prices and courteous treatment of his patrons have secured to him a large and constantly increasing business.

While in Oregon six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Pefley, Pierce J., Elbridge, Serena, Edith, Harlan and Wayne; but Pierce J., Wayne and Edith all died in that state. Since coming to Idaho the family circle has been increased by the addition of five other children, Anna Inez, Maude, Claudia, Ray and Wynn, but Anna Inez and Ray are now deceased. Maude and Claudia are at home, and Wynn entered his country’s service and is now on active duty in Manila. Throughout his entire life Mr. Pefley has given an earnest support to the principles of Democracy, and has been a recognized leader in the ranks of his party in Idaho. In 1887 he was elected mayor of Boise, and in 1880 was elected to the territorial legislature, and was a member of the convention which framed the present state constitution of Idaho. Every public trust reposed in him has been faithfully guarded, and his service has been valuable and progressive. He has witnessed almost the entire growth of Idaho, and at all times has given his influence and cooperation to such measures as tend toward the material, social, moral and intellectual progress of the state.



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

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