Biography of Henry Heitfeld
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In considering the career of the present United States senator for Idaho, Hon. Henry Heitfeld, we are led to the following reflections:
It is a well attested maxim that the greatness of a state lies not in its machinery for government, nor even in its institutions, but in the sterling qualities of its individual citizens, in their capacity for high and unselfish effort and their devotion to the public good. An enumeration of those men of the present generation who have won honor and public recognition for themselves and at the same time have honored the state to which they belong, would be incomplete were there failure to make prominent reference to the one whose name initiates this paragraph. He has attained distinction in the business world and is a recognized leader in political circles in Idaho. He has been and is distinctively a man of affairs, and one who has wielded a wide influence. A strong mentality, an invincible courage, a most determined individuality have so entered into his makeup as to render him a natural leader of men and a director of opinion.
Henry Heitfeld was born in St. Louis, Missouri, June 12, 1859. His parents were natives of Germany, and on their emigration to America, in the early ’50s, located in St. Louis, where the father, by his well-directed efforts and indefatigable energy, won a handsome competence and was widely known as a successful merchant. Both he and his wife were members of the Catholic Church and were people of the highest probity of character. Mr. Heitfeld passed away in 1867, at the age of thirty-eight years, and his wife died in 1892, at the age of sixty-three years.
Henry Heitfeld, the elder of their two sons, was educated in St. Louis, and in his youth worked at farming for some time. He afterward learned the mason’s trade, and in 1882 went to the Pacific coast, securing employment in a flouring mill in Pomeroy, Washington, where he remained for several months. He also located three hundred and sixty acres of land in the big bend of the Columbia River. Subsequently he worked in the car-shops of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and on leaving that employ purchased a farm in Nez Percé County, Idaho, where he engaged in stock raising with excellent success. Never scorning any honest labor that would yield him a livelihood, he has steadily advanced in his business affairs, continually adding to his financial resources until he is now the possessor of a valuable property, the merited reward of his well-directed labors.
From the time he attained his majority until 1892 Mr. Heitfeld was an advocate of the Democratic Party and supported its men and measures. Favoring the free and unlimited coinage of silver, a question which he deemed vital to the welfare of his country, he severed his connection with the old Party in the year mentioned and allied his interests with the Populist Party. He has since been very active and zealous in the promulgation of his views on the money question, and upon this issue he won the nomination for stale senator in 1894. He was elected to that office, was re-elected in 1896 and made such a splendid record that he was chosen by the Idaho assembly to represent the state in the highest legislative body of the nation, being elected to the United States senate on the 28th of January, 1897. He has served through one session, one of the most important in the history of the country, and his record reflects credit upon the state and people whom he represents. He is a man of firm conviction, fearless in defense of his views, and his opinions are the result of careful study and mature deliberation.
In 1884 Mr. Heitfeld was united in marriage to Miss Anna Jacobs, a native of Minnesota and a lady of German descent. They have five children, as follows: Mary T., Stephen P., Louis G., Walter B. and Elaine A. The family is one of prominence in Lewiston, the hospitality of the best homes being readily accorded them. The Senator is a representative of our best type of American manhood and chivalry. By perseverance, determination and honorable effort he has overthrown the obstacles which barred his path to success and reached the goal of prosperity, while his genuine worth, broad mind and public spirit have made him a director of public thought and action.