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Throughout the greater part of his life Judge Henry M. Thatcher has resided on the Pacific slope, and as one of the honored pioneers of this section of the country has been prominently identified with its development, progress and up-building from an early day. He was born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1833, and is of German lineage. His grandfather, Samuel Thatcher, was born in Germany, and when a young man emigrated to the United States, settling in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, where he married Miss Hannah Smith. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and lived to the advanced age of ninety-three years. Enos Thatcher, the father of the Judge, was one of a family of three sons and five daughters. He married Miss Artemesia Case, also a native of Susquehanna County, and in 1837 they removed to Illinois, locating at Ottawa, LaSalle County, where the father entered land and, in connection with agricultural pursuits, conducted a hotel. Both he and his wife were Congregationalists in religious belief, and for many years Mr. Thatcher served as chorister of his church and took an active part in other branches of the work. He lived to be seventy-eight years of age. The mother of our subject died in the fifty-first year of her age, leaving two children, Henry M. and Elizabeth, who is now Mrs. Deckerd, of Albany, Oregon. After the death of his first wife the father married again, and by that union had two children.
Judge Thatcher was reared on the old homestead in Illinois, and in 1850 crossed the plains from LaSalle County to Placerville, California. He traveled with a party, and they experienced many hardships and trials. At Independence Rock they were obliged to abandon their wagons and supplies, after which they suffered for the want of food and were obliged to live on boiled corn, of which they partook but once a day. They had no money with which to buy food at the few places where it could be obtained, and thus it was, empty-handed, that Henry M. Thatcher began life in the west. For a time he engaged in placer mining near Hangtown and then went to Coloma, just below where Marshall made the first discovery of gold. He also engaged in mining at American Bar, on the American river, but in 1852 returned to the east, making the journey by way of the isthmus route. After paying all expenses he was enabled to take back with him a capital of two thousand dollars.
In the spring of 1853, however, Mr. Thatcher again crossed the plains to California, and was engaged in ranching in the San Jose valley, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, near Hayward. He raised barley and wheat and received good prices for his cereals. Later he was in San Francisco for a time and served as a member of the vigilance committee, being present when Cora and Casey were hung. The work of that committee was very important in bringing to an end the power of the lawless element which infested the new country and perpetrated many atrocious crimes. In 18s8 he removed to Albany, Oregon, and thence to Salem, where he engaged in the livery and transfer business until 1878, when he came to Boise, Idaho, and took charge of the overland stage from Boise to Kelton. After three years devoted to that business he purchased a ranch on Goose creek, in Cassia county, and in connection with its cultivation and improvement he conducted a hotel, his energies being devoted to that enterprise for nine years, during which time he met with a gratifying success.
In 1890 Judge Thatcher came to Shoshone, and purchased four hundred and forty acres of land five miles east of the town on Little Wood River. Here he has since been engaged in ranching and raising cattle, and has made his property one of the best in the country. He has a fine water right, and also has various placer-mining claims, the estimated value of which is from one to two dollars per yard. He is now engaged in doing hydraulic work, which it is expected will yield large returns. Thus steadily has he added to his possessions, and although he came to California without capital he is today the possessor of considerable property, which has come to him as the reward of his own labors.
In 1878 Judge Thatcher was united in marriage to Miss Lou L. Hart, of Portland, Oregon, and they have two sons, Leroy and Harry S. The former, now eighteen years of age, is ably conducting affairs on the ranch and is engaged in the stock business. The younger son is a little lad of six summers.
Socially Mr. Thatcher is a Mason, having been connected with the order since 1868. He is past master of the lodge and has also been scribe in the chapter and is a member of the Odd Fellows society. In politics he has always been a stalwart Republican, but does not agree with the party on the money question. He was elected a justice of the peace in 1894, and is now serving his fifth year in that office, having ever discharged his duties with marked promptness and fidelity and without fear or favor. He has a wide acquaintance in California, Oregon and Idaho, and takes a deep interest in the western states, where so many years of his life have been passed.