Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Early Idaho Pioneer

Someone asked me the other day if I had any stories about my early Idaho pioneer families.  So I've been looking through all my databases to see what I have.  I decided to write a short piece on Walter Marshall Dexter.  Walter was born 19 Dec 1830 in Dover, Maine.  A biography I found for him from Stark County, Illinois stated: "Walter M Dexter - Farmer Sec. 32; P.O. Ulah; born in Piscataquis Co. Maine, Dec 19, 1831; Rep; Bapt; owns 160 acres land, value $9,600; lived in Maine about twenty- three years, then went to California and was there six years; came to Stark Co. this State and lived there twelve years; came to this county in 1874; has held office of School Director in Stark Co; holds same office here: married Miss Alida Jane Bennett, Nov 24 1862; she was born Pennsylvania and brought up in Stark Co. Ill; they have four children, one boy and three girls."

 Walter and Alida's Marriage License

Walter's older sister, Bethana (born in 1825), married William Perley Wing (son of Ezekial and Lydia Brann Wing).  In the 1850 Federal Census, Bethana is with William in Lewiston, Lincoln, ME and the rest of the family is in Dover, Piscataquis, ME.  In the 1860 census, however, the Lotan/Ruby Dexter family has moved to Toulon, Stark, IL with Bethana Wing and Walter Marshall living at home, while Bethana's husband is possibly still in California (in the gold fields of Placer County - near Tahoe) where he was recorded on the 1852 California census.  So if the above story of Walter is correct, my conclusion is that he went to California to be with his brother-in-law between 1852 and 1860 as the family was moving out west to Illinois.  He then returned from California and settled with them in Stark County, Illinois before the 1860 census.

In the 1870 census, the Walter Dexter family lived in Wetherfield, Henry Co, Illinois (the above biography stated they moved to Henry County in 1874) and  in 1880 they were in Cambridge, Henry Co, Illinois.  According to the biography and the census records he worked for the school district.

By this time the family were all born and growing.  The photo below was taken in the 1880s.  The oldest daughter, Marcia Estelle, married in 1887 to James Wright so when the family decided to make the move to Idaho (for whatever reason) she remained in Illinois.

Phalla, Kezzia, Marcia in the back; Alida, Lotan, Mary Winne (my grandmother) and Walter. 

I told the story earlier of a tragic family outing shortly after the family settled in Long Valley, Idaho.  On 27 July 1890 (possibly the family was celebrating the statehood of Idaho, which occurred on 3 July 1890), the family was on an outing when the middle daughter, Kezzia, went down to the river to fetch water, or catch minnows in a bucket.  The current caught the bucket and pulled her into the water and she was swept away.  Her brother, Lotan, jumped in to save her but tragically both drowned.  They are buried in Crown Point Cemetery, overlook the reservoir that was later created when the river was dammed. 

Walter Dexter and his daughter, Mary Winnie, filed homestead claims on land in Long Valley and Walter farmed there until 18 Jun 1913.  His wife, Alida Jane Bennett Dexter, survived him and passed away 4 March 1924. 

Here is a picture of her celebrating her 86th birthday in 1922 in Cascade, Idaho.

Alida Jane Bennett Dexter's Death Certificate

Their daughters, Mary Winnie and Phalla Edith, married local men and lived long, raised families and died in Long Valley.  Phalla married William D Patterson in 1893 and 'Winnie' married my grandfather, Thomas Elbridge Logue, in 1904.

Thomas had snowshoed  from Long Valley through Garden Valley to Idaho City to obtain the marriage license to marry Winnie.  He also homesteaded 120 acres in Long Valley, so together they had 240 acres.  They farmed and raised my father and his three brothers (Walter, Merton and Fred) and three sisters (Audrey, Geneva and Leona).

So that is yet another Idaho Pioneer story.  Walter Dexter came from the Atlantic coast in Maine to Illinois (after a short sojourn in the mine fields of California).  Then moved out to the high valley country of Idaho Territory in the 1880s where he homesteaded, farmed, raised his family and died.

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