Biography of John F. Seeber

JOHN F. SEEBER.- Among the now quiet farmers, business men and professional men whose outward appearance and conversation give no hint of stirring adventures and strange experiences, there is frequently one in whom investigation may find a witness to the most novel and thrilling scenes in our early history. Walla Walla, Washington, is somewhat unusually favored with those ancient spirits of the border, now among the most solid and unsensational of her citizens.

Among this number is John Seeber. His adventures amid the wild life of the mountains would fill a volume. Born in Fort Plain, New York, in 1837, and moving by successive stops from there to Ohio, and to Iowa, he found himself in 1856 in Jim Lane’s army in the Civil war of Kansas. After a short experience in that premonitory gust to the tornado of the great war, he went on to Salt Lake in 1858 with a regiment of United States infantry, acting the herder of a band of cattle. Thereafter, for several years, his life was spent in hunting, trapping and scouting among the Indians, and in riding on the pony express. In those situations he met with frequent adventures, which in these “piping times of peace” seem hardly possible. Laramie, Salt Lake, Henry’s Fork, Brown’s Hole, White River, Port Neuf, Deer Lodge, Jacko Reservation, Jefferson’s Fork, Sun River Agency, Prickly Pear River and other of the wild resorts frequented by trappers, hunters and Indians, became familiar places to the now well-experienced mountaineer. In those places he was often raided and robbed by the Indians, and still bears many scars to attest his customary brushes with the redskins. In consequence of this constant experience of Indian perfidy and violence, Mr. Seeber came to hate them, as he says, “like a rattlesnake.” He is free to say, however, as to most of like experiences and observation, that many outrages were committed by Whites fully equal in atrocity to anything done by Indians.

In September, 1862, Mr. Seeber came to Walla Walla, and on the first night of his stay met his usual experience of having the Indians steal his horses. Then he went to driving an ox-team to Wallula, at which latter place he spent the winter. After that he went to Florence to mine, he started on foot, with his blankets on his back. The second day out from Lewiston he overtook a company of miners, with whom he struck a league. Soon after entering the mountains, a violent snowstorm attacked them; and all their horses were starved to death. Notwithstanding this backset, the resolute company dragged their things by hand on improvised sleds, at the rate of five miles a day, and finally reached their destination.

In the fall Mr. Seeber returned to Walla Walla and there made his home. He was marred to Mrs. Joy, a native of Kentucky, and by her had eight children, four boys and four girls. In 1880 he met with the irreparable loss of his faithful and intelligent wife.

He now lives with his children in a beautiful place in the suburbs of Walla Walla, an honored and popular citizen. After his many years of wild mountaineering, the restraints and conventionalities of settled life seemed, as he says, at first irksome, but he is now one of the most contented of men.



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

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2 thoughts on “Biography of John F. Seeber”

  1. Susan Timmons Queen

    I am thrilled to have this bio to introduce me to my gg-grandfather, John F. Seeber. His daughter, Ella Seeber Allen, was my g-grandmother. I knew two of her siblings. I recently purchased the book “Forty Years on the Frontier” by Granville Stuart. He mentions John Seeber four times. The fourth entry is dated June 28, 1861. “Frank Newell and John Seeber start to Walla Walla four hundred and twenty-five miles west.” They came to Walla Walla to pick up their mail and send letters to their families. He must have liked the area and decided to stay in September, 1862. Seven generations later, we continue to reside in Walla Walla.

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