Biography of Warren P. Hunt

Warren Palmerton Hunt, who has been a highly respected citizen of Lewiston since 1862, and is numbered among the California pioneers of 1854, was born in Erie County, New York, March 13, 1832, a son of Isaac and Diantha (Allbee) Hunt, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of the Empire state. In 1852 the father went by way of the Cape Horn route to California, but returned to his farm in Erie County, where he made his home until his death, which occurred in the eighty-sixth year of his age. His wife passed away in her eighty-second year, and both died on the old family homestead in New York, where they had spent the greater part of their lives. They were honest, industrious farming people, highly respected by all. They held membership in the Christian church, and Mr. Hunt gave his political support to the Republican party.

Warren P. Hunt was the eldest in their family of three children, and was reared upon the old homestead, attending the public schools through the winter months, while in the summer he assisted in the labors of field and meadow. In 1854 he sailed from New York for San Francisco, reaching the latter place after a month’s voyage. He then went directly to the mines in Sonora, Tuolumne County, California, and engaged in mining for about six years, meeting with only moderate success. While on the Stanislaus river with three partners, an incident occurred which terminated fatally to two of his partners, and Mr. Hunt and the other partner narrowly escaped with their lives. In the river they had a wheel that lifted the water to the sluice. Three Frenchmen below them were engaged in putting in a wing-dam in the river some distance below, which backed the water on the wheel and prevented its turning. Mr. Hunt and his partners went down to see the Frenchmen and in a peaceable way endeavored to get them to obviate the difficulty. They even offered to help deepen the race without charge, but the Frenchmen were obstinate and would agree to nothing, but continued to wheel dirt onto their dam. This so excited the little Englishman of Mr. Hunt’s party that he pushed the plank on which they were wheeling the dirt into the water. At this, the big Frenchman clutched him, and Mr. Hunt, fearing that his partner would be drowned, went to the rescue. Finding that his fists for he had no firearms with him did not suffice to make the Frenchman desist, he took a stone and hit him on the head hard enough to make him loosen his hold. While they were in the fight the other Frenchmen ran to the cabin and brought out two guns and shot and killed the two partners of Air. Hunt. By this time the Englishman had partially succeeded in disengaging himself from the clutches of his opponent, but he was also shot, being wounded in the knee. The Frenchmen then rushed back to the cabin to reload their guns, while Mr. Hunt and the Englishman endeavored to make their escape. They hadn’t gotten away from the range of the guns, however, before they were fired upon again, and the partner, who was leaning on Mr. Hunt for support, was again wounded. They however, managed to reach their own cabin, where they had arms, but the Frenchmen did not follow them. Soon the news of the murder sped among the miners in that vicinity, who turned out in force, but the Frenchmen escaped in the under-brush, which was then very dense. One of the hunting parties, however, came upon them, and was fired upon by them. It was supposed that they were helped out of the country by a brother Frenchman, who conveyed them away in drygoods boxes. However, Mr. Hunt afterward learned that one of the Frenchmen was later hung in Los Angeles, for other crimes.

In 1859 the subject of this sketch removed to Monterey, California, where he engaged in farming until 1861. In the winter of that year he went to San Francisco, thence by steamer to Portland, and up the Columbia River to The Dalles. At that point he joined a party of five, who secured pack horses and came overland to the Grande Ronde country on the Powder river and thence, in the same year, to Lewiston. There were then but two wooden buildings in the town, but many tents marked the site of the now flourishing and prosperous city. In July the party went to Warren’s, where Mr. Hunt took a miner’s claim, but met with only fair success in his efforts there. He next made his way to Idaho City, in the Boise basin, where he followed mining for a year and a half. That venture, however, did not prove very profitable, and in the winter he returned to Warren’s on snowshoes, digging down and making a bed in the snow at night. The heavy snows greatly delayed the party, and their supply of food gave out. Some of the men suffered greatly and a number of them froze their feet. At last most of them were so exhausted that a Scotchman and Mr. Hunt were the only two strong enough to go ahead and break the track, and a part of the time they were able to make only from five to ten miles a day.

After again mining at Warren’s for a year Mr. Hunt abandoned that industry altogether and engaged in carrying the mail and express between Lewiston and Warren’s, traveling on horse-back in the summer and making the journey on snowshoes in the winter. He carried on his back from eighty-five to ninety pounds from Warren’s to Lewiston, and was paid one dollar per pound. He made the round trip of one hundred and seventy miles each week in the summer and in the winter once in two weeks, seventy miles of the distance on snowshoes. There were road agents in the country then, but Mr. Hunt succeeded in evading them, and although he ran great risk he never received a scratch. He continued this arduous task for six years and then took up his abode in Lewiston, where he has since made his home. He was elected to public office in 1867, being chosen sheriff of Nez Perces county, the candidate of the Republican party, of which he has always been a stanch supporter. He was afterward elected auditor, recorder and clerk of the board of county commissioners, serving for two years in such a capable and satisfactory manner that on the expiration of his two-years’ term he was re-elected. Since that time he has been engaged in stock-raising, farming and in the meat business. He owns a valuable farm of one hundred and sixty acres, ten miles from Lewiston, and in the city he has erected a delightful residence, a fitting place for one of Idaho’s bravest and best pioneers to spend the evening of his days.

In 1870 Mr. Hunt was united in marriage to Miss Olive C. Martin, a native of New York, and a daughter of Joel D. Martin, who took up his abode in California in 1850, and is numbered among the honored Idaho pioneers of 1862. He resides near Lewiston, and is one of the respected and valued citizens of this commonwealth. Mr. and Mrs. Hunt had two children. The little son died in infancy, and their daughter, Clara Irene, was spared to them only until her tenth year, when the dread disease, diphtheria, carried her away, bringing the greatest grief to the household. Mrs. Hunt is a leading member of the Methodist church. Mr. Hunt is not connected with any church or society, but is widely recognized as a man of sterling worth, and in his up-right and useful life has gained not only a comfortable competence, but has also won that good name which is rather to be chosen than great riches.

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