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There are few of the representative and respected men of Idaho whose residence in the state antedates that of Mr. Abernathy, who came to the territory thirty-seven years ago and has been identified with the development of the Salubria valley since 1868. The old Indian trails, the uncultivated lands, the unopened mines and the uncut forests then to be seen, all told that the work of civilization lay in the future, and the subject of this review has been one of the advance guard that has carried forward the work of progress and improvement until Idaho is, indeed, the veritable “Gem of the Mountains.”
A native of Indiana, he was born September 10, 1834, and is of English and Scotch lineage, his ancestors having left the land of hills and heather and taken up their residence in Kentucky. John Abernathy, father of our subject, was born in Virginia, but when a young man removed to Ohio, where he married Sarah Munkester, a native of Pennsylvania. They removed to Indiana, where the father engaged in farming for a number of years, and then took his family to Wapello County, Iowa, where he carried on agricultural pursuits until his life’s labors were ended in death, at the age of seventy years. He was an honest and industrious man who lived peaceably with his neighbors and never sued or was sued by any one in his life. He was seventy years of age at the time of his death, and his wife passed away in 1849, in her fifty-fifth year. They were consistent members of the Methodist church, and reared a family of ten children, seven of whom are living, the eldest being ninety years of age. After the death of his first wife the father was again married and by that union had four children.
Henry Harrison Abernathy was the ninth in order of birth of the children of the first marriage. He acquired the greater part of his education in the schools of Iowa, and in 1862 started across the plains, driving an ox team and traveling with a train composed of three hundred wagons. They were five months upon the road, but met with no misfortunes and experienced no hardships save those common to travel across the long stretches of hot sand. Arriving in Idaho, Mr. Abernathy and his brother Andrew engaged in mining on Pine creek, at a place which became known as the Abernathy mines, and each took out gold to the value of one thousand dollars. In 1864 they removed to the lower Weiser, where they entered land from the government. They built upon it and otherwise improved the property, and there made their home for some time. For a number of years while residing there our subject engaged in freighting from Idaho City to Umatilla, and also engaged in conducting a hotel at Farwell Bend, on Snake river. In 1868 he came to the Salubria valley and located one hundred and sixty acres of the rich and productive land, since which time he has devoted his energies to farming and stock-raising. His home is pleasantly located three miles northeast of the town of Salubria, and he has one of the valuable farming properties in this section of the state, the well tilled fields surrounding substantial buildings, while all the latest improvements and accessories of the model farm are there found.
On the 14th of February 1877, Mr. Abernathy was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth South, a native of California and a daughter of Samuel South, of Oregon. They have a son and two daughters: Martha Ellen, wife of Alex Allison, of Salubria; Harry, who is his father’s assistant on the farm; and Rhoda Jane, who acts as their housekeeper.
Mr. Abernathy exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the Republican party, with which he has affiliated since attaining his majority. His life has been well spent. He has met every obligation devolving upon him, has faithfully performed every trust and by his fidelity to principle has commanded the respect of all with whom he has come in contact. He has been prominently identified with the history of southern Idaho from its earliest development, when wild animals were far more numerous than the domestic stock of the farmyard, when the Indians outnumbered the white settlers, and when packhorses provided the only means of transportation used. He takes just pride in the wonderful transformation which has since been wrought, placing the new state of Idaho on a par with many of much older growth.