Frank Steunenberg was born in Keokuk, Iowa, August 8, 1861, and in the public schools of his native state acquired his literary education. In early life he learned the printer’s trade, and until January 1887, was engaged in the printing and publishing business in his native state. He then came to Idaho, locating at Caldwell, where he began business along the same line. In 1889 he was chosen a member of the convention that framed the state constitution, and served upon several of its important committees. In 1890 he was elected a member of the house of representatives, on the Democratic ticket, from what was then Ada County. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees of Caldwell for two terms.
In politics he has always been a Democrat, unswerving in his allegiance to the party, and laboring earnestly to secure the adoption of its principles. Since his arrival in the state he has been a prominent factor in its circles. He was chosen secretary of the Democratic state central committee; in 1896 he became the nominee of the People’s Democratic party for the office of governor, being elected over the Republican candidate by a good majority. In his first message to the Idaho legislature Governor Steunenberg called attention to some abuses that needed correcting, and also indicated the economic lines upon which he meant to conduct the administration of the affairs of the state. This policy was closely followed, and so acceptable were his services that in 1898 he was renominated by the bimetallists of the state, the Democrats and silver Republicans, and was elected.