Biography of Henry Dunn

There was a romantic side to early western history, romantic in the reading, and romantic and perilous in the living, which will always have a place in American literature. The men who participated in it were of the quality of manhood of which good soldiers are made, with a dash of the explorer, the adventurer and the pioneer. They were the avant heralds of advancing civilization, and when civilization came they were quick to avail themselves of the advantages it offered, and were more farseeing than some other men when it came to penetrating the future and sizing up its possibilities and probabilities. Such a pioneer was Henry Dunn, of Blackfoot, who came to the west at the very dawn of its civilization and has made a place for himself and for his posterity in a country which has a glorious future and a destiny ever onward.

Henry Dunn, one of the pioneer stockmen of Bingham County, came to Idaho in 1864. He was born in Liverpool, England, December 9, 1840, a son of James and Mary (Spinsby) Dunn, and is descended from a long line of English ancestors. When he was seven years old his parents emigrated to Canada. There his mother died at the age of seventy-four, in 1893, and his father, in the eighty-sixth year of his age, in 1894. They were educated and of more than ordinary ability and were lifelong members of the Episcopal Church. Mr. Dunn was a successful farmer, and his sons were brought up with a thorough knowledge of the ancient and honorable pursuit to which he devoted his life. Of the four sons and five daughters of James and Mary (Spinsby) Dunn, all but one are living. Henry, the eldest child, was educated in Canada so far as facilities permitted, and by reading and observing has come to be thoroughly informed on all subjects of interest to intelligent American citizens. He came to the United States in 1857 and located at St. Louis, Missouri, where he obtained employment as an omnibus driver. After a year he was employed on the old North Missouri Railroad. In the spring of 1861 he helped to stock the stage road from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Salt Lake City, Utah, and after that he drove stage for the noted Ben Halliday until the spring of 1864. He then came to Snake river, Idaho, and operated the Conner, Richards & Massey ferry, eight miles above Idaho Falls. The Montana gold excitement was then at its height, and Mr. Dunn ferried many of the miners and prospectors who flocked to Alder Gulch. Later he ran a trading post, thirty miles north of Soda Springs, where he built a bridge of logs, which did much to facilitate travel past that point. In 1866 he came to what is now known as Lincoln valley and engaged in stock raising. Thence he removed to Snake River, and in 1875 he came to Blackfoot, where he has one thousand acres of land and keeps five hundred fine Durham cattle. He has imported many fine animals, and in so doing has benefited not himself alone but this part of the state. He raises large quantities of the best alfalfa hay, which he uses for winter feeding.

Mr. Dunn has been a Democrat since before he was old enough to vote, but has never sought nor accepted office, preferring to give all his time and energy to his private affairs. He has always been a willing and effective worker and has richly earned the success that has crowned his efforts. He stands high as a citizen and as a businessman whose word is always good, and to him is accorded the honor that belongs to the pioneer. His early life in the west was an adventurous one and such as is sought only by men of daring and of enterprise, and the stories he could tell of the days of stages, log bridges and ferries would make a book of unusual interest.

Mr. Dunn was married, in 1870, to Mary Jane Higham, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and their union has been blessed by the advent of five children, Ettie (Mrs. David A. Johnson); Elizabeth (Mrs. R. M. Shannon); George, who assists his father in the management of his affairs; Margaret May, a member of her father’s household; and another not named here.



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

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