Governor Edward A. Stevenson

Photo courtesy of “The American Monthly Review of Reviews” by Albert Shaw

Born June 15, 1831, Lewis County, New York
Died July 6, 1895, Paraiso Springs, California

Edward Stevenson, the only democrat to be appointed Idaho territorial governor, was also the first resident of the territory to hold that office after President Cleveland announced his "Home Rule" policy for territories in 1885.

Stevenson moved from his eastern home to California in 1848, settling near Coloma. He was appointed deputy sheriff, and later was elected to the state legislature.  He served four terms, one of them as Speaker of the House. In 1854, he was appointed agent for the Nomelacke and Nomucult Native American agencies in northern California.

While he was away from his home on official business, hostile Native Americans attacked the agency killing his wife and three children, along with several agency employees. The bodies were mutilated, and buildings burned.  One employee lived long enough to identify one of the indigenous peoples as a young man whom Stevenson had taken into his home and raised with his own children.

Captured by the posse, the young Native American confessed in being a part of the atrocity, whereupon Stevenson marched him from the courthouse and, taking a rope from his saddle, personally dispatched the offender from a nearby oak tree.

Hiram French, in his History of Idaho wrote of Stevenson's action: "Unlawful this act may have been, but it was a fitting sequel to the awful events that had preceded it, and even the enemies of Colonel Stevenson never charged him with lack of justification for his part of the tragedy."

Stevenson came to Idaho in 1863, engaging in mining and farming until entering politics.  While he was serving as governor, a group of businessmen and politicians made an attempt to separate the northern part of the territory from the south and align with Washington Territory.  Stevenson was instrumental in preventing the succession.

In 1859, at Red Bluff, California, Stevenson married Miss Anna D. Orr.  She died the year following Stevenson's death. Their only child, Charles A. Stevenson, died in 1898 at age 36.  All three are buried in Pioneer Cemetery.  Their graves are marked by one of the most imposing monuments in the cemetery.

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