The story of pioneer life in Idaho is well known to such men as Samuel Strickler, for through thirty-six years he has been a witness of the development of the northwest and has faithfully borne his part in the work of up building and advancement; he now resides in Bellevue. He claims Pennsylvania as the state of his nativity, his birth occurring in Chambersburg, Franklin County, November 21, 1832. He is of German descent and his ancestors were among the early settlers of the Keystone state. His father, Samuel Strickler, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and married Susanna Hollinger, also a native of Pennsylvania. Twelve children, six sons and six daughters, were born of this union, and ten grew to maturity, while six are yet living.
The father died in 1875, at the age of eighty-one years, and the mother passed away a little later at about the same age.
Mr. Strickler, of this review, was educated in Pennsylvania and in 1846 accompanied his family on their removal to Mount Carroll, Illinois, where he also attended school. In 1859 he crossed the plains to Colorado with an ox team and through the summer successfully engaged in mining. In the fall of the same year he returned to his home in Illinois, and in 1860 he again went west, locating in Denver, where he engaged in farming, selling his produce in that city. He was very successful in that venture, but in 1863, learning of the gold excitement in Idaho, he purchased a stock of miners’ supplies and took them to the territory, opening a store in Idaho City, July 3, 1863. On the 15th of December of the same year he removed to Boise, built a store and there engaged in business. He had a pack train with which he hauled his own goods, and also engaged in packing for others. In 1866 he sold out and engaged in gold mining in Oregon, but after a time returned to Boise and purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land in the valley, below the capital. There he cultivated hay and grain and obtained good prices for his products, selling oats sometimes as high as five cents per pound. At length an excellent opportunity came for him to dispose of his property, and selling out he returned to Boise. Later he also sold his town property and purchased a freighting outfit, freighting from Boise to Kelton and other places. But gold and silver were discovered in large quantities in the Wood River valley, and, selling his stock, he came to Bellevue, where he once more resumed mining. He is the owner of considerable property in the town and also of Kentucky Ledge, a fine property located thirty-five miles northwest of the town. He is now engaged in its development, and has made a tunnel one hundred feet long. The ore yields eighty ounces of silver and sixty per cent lead. Mr. Strickler also has a number of teams which he uses in hauling ore and in freighting, and thus his life is one of activity and usefulness, in which his labors are being crowned with a good financial reward.
Throughout the passing years Mr. Strickler has experienced many of the hardships incident to pioneer life. In 1869 there were about five hundred Indians hunting in the Wood River valley, when he and his partner, Senor Hicks, purchased a load of goods which they took to the valley to trade with the Indians for furs. They camped on the present site of Bellevue, and on the second day passed there Mr. Hicks started up the valley to see how far they could go with the wagon, leaving Mr. Strickler alone with the wagon and the goods. For two days there was not another white man within miles. During that time he went over to the Indians and a big “brave,” grabbing hold of him, threw him on the ground, planted his knee upon him and then put a big knife at his breast! Mr. Strickler expected instant death, but the Indian finally released him, and, getting up, he made his way back to the wagon where he had two guns. Soon afterward he saw the Indian coming toward him, but he did not think it best to shoot. The Indian then offered to smoke a pipe of peace with him, but Mr. Strickler did not smoke, and so the red man gave him a mink skin as a peace offering.
Mr. Hicks soon afterward returned and the partners remained in the valley until they had sold their goods, clearing two thousand dollars off the transaction. They then returned to Boise, and in 1870 Mr. Strickler again engaged in freighting on the Kelton road. In 1877, with two companions and two wagons, he was corralled by the Indians on Clover creek. The savages were on the war path and Mr. Strickler and his Party, not being able to pass them, were forced to remain for five weeks. During this time, on a certain night, one of the men came and awakened him, saying that the Indians were coming. Our subject then asked, “Where?” and in response to the man’s reply, “From all around” he said, “Well, I will remain where I am.” Such was the coolness with which the pioneers met danger. On reaching Kelton the Party found the United States soldiers there and learned that five teamsters had been killed and their wagons burned. The Indians had also gone down the Snake River, and, meeting a man with a pack horse and saddle, had grabbed the horse by the bit and held him until the chief-came up, when he gave word to release the man, who returned to Kelton, sold his horse and went by rail to the states. Such experiences were very common among the hardy pioneers, who left behind them the comforts of the east to subdue the western wilderness for purposes of civilization.
In politics Mr. Strickler was for many years a stalwart Republican, and is now identified with the “silver” Republican Party. He is rated as one of the leading and influential citizens of Bellevue, where he has a pleasant home, and acts as his own housekeeper, having never married. He has many friends among the pioneers and later arrivals in Idaho, and well deserves mention among the early settlers of this splendid commonwealth.