Identified with pioneer life in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Charles Albert Thatcher figured long and prominently in the development and progress of the northwest and in the events which form its history. He lived an honorable, upright life, won prosperity through determined purpose and indefatigable energy, and at all times enjoyed the esteem of his fellow men, by reason of those sterling qualities of manhood which in every land and every clime awaken admiration and regard.
Mr. Thatcher was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, July 24, 1826, and was a representative of an old American family. He acquired his education in Harford University and in Oberlin College, at Oberlin, Ohio, but, his health failing him, he was obliged to abandon his studies before the day of graduation arrived, and spent two years in the pine forests of Wisconsin. He was much benefited by his sojourn in that state, and afterward engaged in teaching school in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In 1852 he crossed the plains to Oregon, starting early in the season with a party en route for the Pacific coast. They were fortunate in escaping the cholera and attacks from the Indians, safely reaching their destination after some months of travel. The following year the territory of Washington was organized and Mr. Thatcher was made its first school superintendent. He formed the first school districts, and filled that office for nine years, during which time he placed the educational system of the state on a firm basis and gave it a progressive impetus whose influence is still felt. Thus he engraved his name deeply on the record of Washington’s intellectual advancement.
In 1854 Mr. Thatcher was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Huntington, a daughter of Jacob Huntington, who with his family crossed the plains in 1852. Mrs. Thatcher was born in Indiana, and was a maiden of fifteen summers when she came to the west. Her father secured a donation claim on the Cowlitz River, where he made a good home and there lived until October 1897, when he was called to his final rest, at the age of eighty-five years. His good wife passed away many years previously. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher continued to reside in Cowlitz County until the time of the mining excitement at Florence, Idaho, when our subject made his way thither, in company with Judge Langdon. They did not, however, meet with the success which they had anticipated, and in consequence went to Lewiston, where Mr. Thatcher was appointed superintendent of farming at Lapwai. He continued in that capacity among the Nez Perces Indians for six years, and during that time he and Mrs. Thatcher were intimate friends of that noble man, Rev. Spaulding, the Presbyterian missionary, who labored so earnestly among the red men and established the mission at Lapwai at a very early day.
In October, 1868, Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher removed to Lewiston, and he was appointed by President Grant to the position of postmaster, acceptably serving in that office for two years, when he resigned and engaged in general merchandising. Later he opened a book and stationery store, which he conducted until 1896, when, his health failing him, he turned over the business to his son and retired to private life. He had built up an excellent trade, and his business was constantly increasing in volume and importance. Mr. Thatcher never recovered his health, his strength gradually failing him until the end came, September 18, 1897 and he was at rest. In politics he was a stanch Republican. A public spirited man and valued citizen, his loss was felt throughout the entire community. He was a devoted husband and father, and as the result of his well directed efforts in business he was enabled to leave his family in comfortable circumstances. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Thatcher were born six children: Eva, who died in 1870, at the age of fourteen years: Charles, who in 1879, when in his thirty-ninth year, was robbed and killed at Lapwai, where he was engaged in business: Emma, wife of John L. Chapman, who is postmaster at Lewiston; Harry A., who married the daughter of Captain E. W. Baughman and resides in Genesee; Katherine, wife of B. B. Bravinder; Curtis, who is conducting business in partnership with Fred A. Kling, in Lewiston: and George, who is likewise at home with his mother. Mrs. Thatcher still makes her home in Lewiston. She is a Christian Scientist, a most intelligent lady and one of the honored pioneer women of the state.