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Maj Frank A. Fenn
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Birth: Sep. 11, 1853
Death: Jun. 19, 1927
Idaho County
Idaho, USA

"Maj. Frank A. Fenn. It has been given to Major Fenn to uphold most fully the high prestige of a name that has been identified with Idaho history in a specially prominent and distinguished way, from the early pioneer era in the territory to the present days of opulent prosperity and progress. He has been a resident of Idaho since his boyhood days and has marked the passing years with large and worthy achievement—accomplishment such as would naturally be expected on the part of one of so marked ability, loyalty and progressiveness as designate the man. His career has been varied and interesting and he has been specially influential in public affairs in his home state, where he has thrice served as a member of the legislature, in which connection he had the distinction of being speaker of the house in the first general assembly after the admission of Idaho to the Union. As a youth he served in the United States navy, and he was an officer of an Idaho volunteer regiment which took active part in military operations in the Philippine islands incidental to the Spanish-American war, besides which he saw active service in the Nez Perces Indian war. He is a representative member of the Idaho bar and attained to definite precedence in the work of his profession, but since 1901 he has held the office of forest supervisor in the United States Forest Service in Idaho, a position in which he has accomplished most effective work in protecting and conserving the magnificent forests of the state. Few citizens of Idaho are more widely known and none has more secure place in popular confidence and esteem, so that it may readily be understood that there is all of consistency in according to Major Fenn specific recognition in this history of Idaho.

"Maj. Frank Alfred Fenn was born at Jefferson (an early mining town on the South Yuba river, later washed out by hydraulic works), Nevada county, California, on the 11th of September, 1853, and is a son of Hon. Stephen S. and Rhoda M. (Gilman) Fenn, the former of whom was born in Connecticut and the latter in Vermont, both families having been founded in New England in the early colonial era of our national history. Stephen S. Fenn came to the West as a young man, in 1844, and he was one of the intrepid argonauts who made their way to California soon after the discovery of gold in that state. There he established his home in 1850 as one of the pioneer gold seekers of that great commonwealth, and there he continued to reside until 1862, when he came to that part of the territory of Washington now included in Idaho. (Idaho was not then known; the territory was created in 1863.) He was among the first to exploit the gold mining industry in Idaho, lived up to the full tension of life on the frontier and became one of the prominent and influential citizens of the territory, his noble and devoted wife sharing with him in the vicissitudes and deprivations incidental to pioneer life. He also became one of the early law practitioners of the territory and was called upon to serve in various offices of public trust, the while he contributed in generous measure to the civic and material development of the territory and state, his death having occurred about two years after the admission of Idaho to the Union. He was a dominating figure in the political affairs of the territory, as a staunch adherent of the Democratic party, and was twice elected as territorial delegate to the United States congress, in which body his earnest efforts did much to foster the best interests of the embryonic commonwealth which he ably represented. He served several terms as a member of the territorial legislature and also held other important offices—preferments which emphatically attested the unqualified confidence and esteem in which he was held in the territory. He was a man of exalted integrity and great intellectual power, was a natural leader in thought and action, and his name merits a prominent and enduring place on the roster of the honored pioneers of Idaho. He was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was a Universalist in belief, and his wife was a zealous member of the Baptist church. Of their thirteen children four sons are now living, and Major Fenn, of this review, who was the third in order of birth, is the eldest of those surviving the honored parents. Stephen S. Fenn was summoned to the life eternal in 1892, at the age of seventy-two years, and his remains were laid to rest in the cemetery at Blackfoot, Bingham county. His loved and devoted wife passed away in 1884, at the age of fifty-six years, and interment was made at Mount Idaho, in Idaho county. The family home was first established at Florence, Idaho county, whence removal was made to Lewiston, Nez Perce county, in 1866, and Stephen S. Fenn was prominently identified with industrial development in various other parts of the state, the while he gained prominence as one of the able and pioneer representatives of the bar of the territory. His life was ordered upon a lofty plane and he had the strength of purpose, the indomitable will, the versatility in expedient and alert progressiveness which combine to make the ideal pioneer. His career was marked by earnest and productive endeavor, by fidelity to every trust and by high sense of stewardshipt so that the angle of his influence continues to widen in beneficence now that he has passed from the stage of his mortal activities, in the fullness of years and well earned honors.

"Major Frank A. Fenn gained his rudimentary education in the public schools of California, under the conditions of the pioneer days, and was a lad of nine years at the time of the family removal to Idaho in 1862, about one year prior to the formation of the territorial government, so that he has witnessed the development of the commonwealth from the condition of a wild and thinly populated frontier region into one of the great and prosperous states of the Union. He had the privilege of attending the first public school established in the territory, the same having been in Idaho county, and its teacher having been Miss Statira E. Robinson. Thereafter he continued his studies in schools established at Lewiston, and in 1869 he received appointment to a cadetship in the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. There he remained until the autumn of 1872, after which he passed three years in voyaging to the various foreign ports, having virtually circumnavigated the globe and having met with many interesting experiences, through which he gained a broad fund of information.

"In the spring of 1875, Major Fenn returned to Idaho and established his residence on an extensive ranch near Mount Idaho, Idaho county. He remained in that section of the state until 1891, and in connection with successful operations as a farmer and stock grower he found requisition for his services in the pedagogic profession, in which he taught several terms in the local schools, besides which he served as deputy in county offices. He has ever been a stalwart and effective advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party and early became influential in public affairs in Idaho county. In 1886 he was elected to represent his county in the territorial legislature, and he was likewise elected a member of the first state legislature, in which he served as speaker of the house. He had much to do with formulating and directing the basic legislation in the new commonwealth, proved a most able and popular presiding officer, and added new laurels to the honored name which he bears.

"In the spring of 1891 Major Fenn was appointed chief clerk of the newly established state board of land commissioners, and he thereupon removed to Boise, the capital of the new state. He retained this position until 1896, when he resigned, as he had been again elected a member of the legislature in the autumn of that year, as a representative of Ada county. In the ensuing general assembly he had the unique distinction of being the only Republican member of the assembly who advocated the gold standard, all other members of both house and senate having been in favor of the free silver policy. After the close of his term in the legislature Major Fenn began the study of law, and he made most rapid and substantial progress in his absorption and assimilation of the science of jurisprudence, with the result that he was admitted to the bar of the state in 1897, becoming eligible for practice in all of the Idaho courts, both state and federal. He became associated in practice with the well known firm of Kingsbury & Parsons, of Boise, and successfully followed the work of his profession in the capital city until the inception of the Spanish-American war, when he subordinated all other interests to tender his services as a volunteer. He was made captain of Company H, First Idaho Volunteer Infantry, and in the summer of 1898 accompanied his command to the Philippine Islands, where he took part in a number of engagements with the Spaniards and the insurrectos, and was otherwise actively concerned in military operations. He returned with his regiment to San Francisco, and there was mustered out, with the rank of major, in September, 1899. His continued interest in his former comrades in arms is indicated by his membership in the United Spanish American War Veterans' Association, in the affairs of which he takes a lively concern.

"After the close of his military career Major Fenn resumed the practice of his profession in Boise, and he thus continued his labors until 1900, when he was chosen chairman of the Republican state central committee. He showed great discrimination and ability in maneuvering the political forces at his command in the campaign of that year, and in 1901 he entered the government forest reserve service, in which he has since continued and in which he holds the office of forest supervisor. Upon assuming this government post he removed from Boise to Kooskia, Idaho county, where he has since maintained his home and official headquarters. He still takes a lively interest in political affairs, but is not active in party work, owing to his holding office under the civil service regulations. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Modern Woodmen of America, and is liberal in his support of all religious denominations, without being formally identified with any church organization, his wife being a zealous member of the Christian church and a leader in the social life of her home community, where her circle of friends is coincident with that of her acquaintances. Major Fenn is most liberal and public spirited in his civic attitude, is ever ready to give practical co-operation in the furtherance of enterprises and policies tending to advance the social, moral, educational and material welfare of the community, and he is at the present time giving most admirable service as president of the board of education of Kposkia. Vigorous, alert, big of heart and big of mind, Major Fenn is essentially one of the representative men of the state that has been his home for virtually his entire life, and in which his friends are equal in number to his acquaintances. Thoroughly informed in regard to the resources and advantages of Idaho he is one of the state's most enthusiastic exploiters, and his admiration for the manifold scenic attractions of this favored commonwealth has been heightened through his many exploring expeditions in the beautiful mountains and valleys, with many of which he thus became familiar in his youthful days and when Idaho still was on the verge of civilization.

"On the 16th of December, 1877, in Whitman county, Washington, was solemnized the marriage of Major Fenn to Miss Florence E. Holbrook, daughter of Russell and Margaret K. Holbrook, honored pioneers of that county, Mrs. Fenn having been born at Hillsboro, Washington county, Oregon. The five children of this union are: Frederick Danner, Spokane, Washington; Homer Eugene, Ogden, Utah; Lloyd Alfred, Orofino, Idaho; Rhoda Margaret, now Mrs. W. B. Willey, St. Maries, Idaho; Florence Allene, now Mrs. F. E. Quist, Kposkia, Idaho.

"The experiences of Major Fenn included valiant service in the Nez Perces Indian war, in which he participated in the Idaho campaign. In a reminiscent way he has referred to one of the most pleasant incidents of his career, the same having been in connection with his service as speaker of the first house of representatives of the state legislature. He was called upon to decide a very technical point of parliamentary law. In a strictly partisan contest in the house he failed of requisite support on the part of his Republican colleagues, who were in the majority. The lamented Hon. Frank Steunenberg, who later met his death by assassination while serving as governor of Idaho, was at that time a member of the lower house of the legislature, and though he was a staunch Democrat, he recognized with all of promptitude the correctness of the stand taken by the speaker, and, with his characteristically keen and intense sense of justice, he abandoned for the nonce his partisanship and sustained the ruling of the speaker of the house. Afterward there existed between Governor Steunenberg and Major Fenn a most cordial and loyal friendship, and the Major ever speaks with deep appreciation of the support thus given him in his official stand by Governor Steunenberg, whose name, is written large in the annals of Idaho history, where his memory shall ever be revered". [History of Idaho: a narrative account of its historical progress..., Volume 3 by Hiram Taylor French (1914)]

Family links: 
  Florence Elmira Holbrook Fenn (1861 - 1956)
  Frederick Danner Fenn (1878 - 1960)*
  Homer Eugene Fenn (1881 - 1969)*
  Lloyd Alfred Fenn (1884 - 1953)*
  Rhoda Margaret Fenn Willey (1890 - 1970)*
  Florence Allene Fenn Quist (1892 - 1977)*
*Calculated relationship
Pine Grove Cemetery
Idaho County
Idaho, USA
Created by: Larry Linehan
Record added: Aug 25, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21153491
Maj Frank A. Fenn
Added by: Larry Linehan
Maj Frank A. Fenn
Added by: Larry Linehan
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