Biography of Hon. D. F. Percival

HON. D.F. PERCIVAL. – It is a source of pleasure to write a biographical sketch of a man like Mr. Percival, or, in fact, any of the argonauts of the Pacific slope, as their lives were so fraught with diversity, their careers so different and so much more interesting than the monotonous, humdrum life of the average individual. Among the men who came West in “early days” as it is called, there are many who can look back to the times when, in a comparatively few years, they had been miners, mechanics, ranchers, teamsters, merchants, law-givers, office-holders, and turned their heads and brains to more occupations than any other set of men on earth. They established camps, framed laws, and engineered trails and roads over which to obtain supplies, eventually settling down in some business where their efforts are now crowned with success, and where they can expect to enjoy the remainder of their days in comfort, and make comparisons between the past and present of the country they have been instrumental in developing. To my mind, the lives of such men are not only interesting in the extreme, but full of instruction, and an incentive for the youth who are growing up around us, forming the best example of what can be done by energy and a determination to succeed before they ceased their efforts, and the pluck with which when one venture failed they took hold of another. Taken as a whole, there was never a set of men possessed of more ability, daring and strength of character.

They formed a grand army to invade a country, – not to subjugate a foe, but to develop the resources of the land. Owing to the difficulties to be overcome, there were to be found among them fewer cowards and more brave men than could be found in any similar number of people. But they were, in a sense, only a grand set of adventurers. Ay! adventurers is the word, and it is one which I would be glad to be able to have connected with my own name, because it implies a courageous disposition and a commendable spirit of trust in the divine Protector for the outcome. There was no place in their camps for cowards or weaklings. The weak and dishonest had to either grow strong and reform their ways, or forego the hope of reaching the goal now enjoyed by the respected and well-to-do pioneers. There are one or more of these men to be found in nearly every town of importance on the coat. I have always found them to be men of liberal views, social and entertaining, and hearty supporters of any enterprise conducive to the good of the community in which they reside.

Hon. D.F. Percival, a portrait of whose genial countenance is before you as you read, came to Stevens county, Washington Territory, in 1872, traveling all the way from Portland, Oregon, a distance of four hundred miles, on horseback, and first engaged to a large extent in the stock business. He has resided there ever since; and there he will probably pass the remainder of his days in comfort, enjoyment, and the respect of all his neighbors and acquaintances. In the meantime, let us make a short retrospection of his interesting career. He was born in Bangor, Maine, in 1839; and at the age of eighteen years he engaged in the lumber trade on his own account, having previously enjoyed the advantages of a good education.

During the war of the Rebellion, young Percival disposed of his business and enlisted in the army, and during much active service conducted himself with characteristic bravery and valor. At the end of the war he engaged in merchandising at St. Joseph, Missouri, where he remained only for a short time. His adventurous nature predominated over his belief in the adage about the “rolling stone;” and in 1866 he set out for Montana and the newly discovered and muck-talked-of- El Dorado. He purchased a stock of goods and set out with ox-teams for that country via the Black Hills and “Sioux Nation,” and braved the dangers of losing his scalp to reach it. He remained in Montana until the mining excitement died out, and then started for the southern country, traveling through new Mexico and California. After spending some time in San Diego county, California, he went to Oregon, arriving there in 1870, where for two years he turned his attention to his old business, the lumber trade. After which he came to Stevens county, Washington Territory, built himself a log house, and engaged in ranching and stock-raising, thereby acquiring a most thorough practical knowledge of the country and its resources.

Mr. Percival is thoroughly conversant with the locality; and his knowledge has stood him in good hand, as he has been engaged in the real-estate business since 1880, when the Northern Pacific Railroad first laid out the townsite of Cheney. His home is on a beautiful elevation, commanding a view of the whole of the valley and the town of Cheney. It is a handsome two-story building, surrounded by young trees, and gives evidence of being the abode of contentment and domestic felicity.

During his residence in Washington Territory, the people have shown their appreciation of him in their political selections. he has been twice elected to the territorial legislature, and served three terms as mayor of the town. He has many times tried to avoid election to different offices; but his wise and politic conduct of affairs has been indispensable to the locality; and the people would not take “no” for his answer when any display of diplomacy or wisdom at the capital of the territory was necessary to promote any special or general interest to the locality. The organization of Spokane county in 1879, the wisdom of which was at the time decried by some of the residents, is only an instance of the keen foresight of which his constituents have enjoyed the benefit.

Mr. Percival is now forty-nine years of age, although he looks a much younger man. Plethoric, vigorous and enterprising, he is as full of life and youthful spirits as when in 1865 he joined heart and soul with his gallant comrades in the charges which resulted in the fall of Richmond and other signal victories, which are looked back to with pride and renewed patriotism by the honored and revered Grand Army of the Republic.

Mr. Percival is at the present time president of the Bank of Cheney, an institution started through his efforts in 1886.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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