Collection on Stanton G. Fisher, 1877-1988

Overview of the Collection

University of Idaho. Library. Special Collections Dept.
Collection on Stanton G. Fisher
1877-1988 (inclusive)
0.5 cubic foot
Collection Number
MG 454
Writings and memorabilia of Stanton Gilbert Fisher, pioneer and Nez Perce War scout, 1840-1915. Most of the documents are Nez Perce War collectibles, such as maps, photographs, and accounts of the war and its participants. The rest of the papers are personal materials related to Fisher, including autobiographical materials as well as the correspondence and census records of several of his family members.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
Telephone: 2088850845
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public. Researchers must use the collection in accordance with the policies of the University of Idaho Special Collections and Archives.

This collection is in English.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Stanton Gilbert Fisher (1840-1915) was an American pioneer best known as a civilian scout for the United States Army during the 1877 Nez Perce War. Fisher was born on July 10, 1840 in Jefferson County, New York. He and his family moved to a farm in Dodge County, Wisconsin in 1850. In 1860, Fisher – a jack of all trades – moved to California to try his hand at his first career, mining.

In 1867, Fisher bought an interest in a trading station at Ross Fork, Idaho, which was absorbed by the Fort Hall reservation the following year. Fisher worked as trader and postmaster for two years before selling the outpost and then participating in the Native Americans’ annual buffalo hunt at the Yellowstone River in Montana. Upon returning to Idaho, he was hired to pursue a band of Indians that had attacked several miners. While tracking the Indians, Fisher contracted typhoid fever, which rendered him partially deaf for the rest of his life. Within a few years, he again sold the Fort Hall trading post and took up ranching. In 1875, he married Sarah A. Peck, with whom he had four children.

The Nez Perce War of 1877 took Fisher away from his ordinary life and swept him into the excitement of war and fame. He put together a company of “civilian scouts,” of which he was appointed chief, and led them across Idaho and Montana in pursuit of the Nez Perce Indians. His experience with Indians aided him greatly in this endeavor – in fact, many of his scouts were Indians themselves. The military relied heavily upon him and his men and for the rest of their lives, the scouts received great honors for the work they did.

Fisher returned to Fort Hall in 1882. In 1883, he purchased his old trading post and moved his family back to Ross Fork, though for some time he retained a trading post he had founded in Pocatello, Idaho. He was once again appointed postmaster. Despite these investments, he continued to travel in pursuit of work; in 1888, he kept a journal of his journey to a mining camp in Custer County, Idaho.

In 1889, Fisher was appointed Indian Agent for the Fort Hall reservation, a responsibility he fulfilled while serving as Deputy Sheriff for Bingham County until 1895, when he was appointed Indian Agent for the Nez Perce Indians at Fort Lapwai. In 1899, he departed again to pursue work as a miner in Grangeville, where he lived for the remainder of his life until his death on July 29, 1915.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Materials span from the time of the War in 1877 and, with the inclusion of correspondence from a member of the Fisher family, extend into 1988.

This collection documents activities and relationships of Stanton G. Fisher, a turn-of-the-century pioneer who spent most of his life in various towns in southern Idaho, particularly in relation to his participation in the Nez Perce War. It includes Nez Perce War memorabilia, such as a handwritten letter from the war; maps of Idaho and the troop movements; photographs and a cartoon, of people and places related to the War. Literature written on the topic is also included, incorporating documents from various magazine clippings, a University of Idaho dramatic production, a small publication pieced together from firsthand accounts, a series of short stories written by one of the scouts, and newspaper articles referencing the war and its scouts. The collection also includes personal documents related to Stanton G. Fisher and his youngest son, Don C. Fisher, such as a trail diary kept by Stanton G. Fisher in 1888; several handwritten essays and a typed manuscript relating adventures he heard or experienced; correspondence between Don Fisher and friends of his father; an envelope from Don Fisher’s niece, Freda Terry; a receipt bearing Don Fisher’s initials; and census papers from 1880, 1910 and 1930 noting various members of the Fisher family.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Visit the digital Collection on Stanton G. Fisher.

Restrictions on Use

Consult Head of Special Collections and Archives on permissions for use.

Preferred Citation

Collection on Stanton G. Fisher, MG 454. Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Location of Collection

Special Collections and Archives of the University of Idaho Library.

Acquisition Information

Many of the documents in the archive, including photographs, letters and newspaper clippings, were reportedly collected by Don C. Fisher, Stanton G. Fisher’s youngest son. It appears as though the La Quinta Historical Society of La Quinta, California further compiled the collection. It was later transferred to the ownership of Swann Galleries in New York, which in turn sold it to the University of Idaho library in 2010.

Processing Note

Jessica Hayes processed the collection in March 2011.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
1 Nez Perce War Memorabilia
  • Letter from Robert H. Fletcher to Stanton G. Fisher about troop movements during the war, September 3, 1877
  • Envelope with cartoon of scout Cut-Mouth John
  • Treaty with the Nez Perces, 1855, 1863 (negative photostat print)
2 Maps
  • Campaign in Central Idaho, drawn by F. Crandall, October 23, 1923 (1 original and 1 print)
  • Joseph's Retreat, drawn by F. Crandall. October 20, 1923 (1 print)
  • Map of Idaho [drawn by F. Crandall?]
  • Photographic negatives of the two maps by F. Crandall: Campaign in Central Idaho and Joseph's Retreat
3 Photographs
  • A) Major Edward S. Farrow -- Col. Ad Chapman -- Col. F. J. Parker -- Col. J. W. Redington -- Postcard of Nez Perce Indian war dance from Grangeville, ID -- Postcard of Chief Yellow Bull of the Nez Perce Tribe from Grangeville, ID -- Stanton G. Fisher -- Chief Joseph
  • B) Memorial of Chief Joseph’s capture of Montana tourists -- Gravestone for Johnathan Chamberlin and his dog Hattie, killed by the Nez Perce Indians -- Fence [Graveyard?] -- Foster’s Monument, photo by G. V. Barker-- Memorial of General Howard’s headquarters -- Whitebird Battleground
  • Photocopied photos of soldiers and scouts
  • Chief Joseph, by Lee Moorhouse, 1901
  • Monument on the Big Hole Battlefield, photo by U.S. Forest Service
  • Monument erected in memory of those who died defeating Chief Joseph, photo by U.S. Forest Service
  • Spot where Scout Foster fell, photo by G. V. Barker
  • Chief Ollukut (Ollocot)
4 Literature about the War
  • Clippings displaying images of Chief Joseph and of the Cayuse Twins (Lee Moorhouse), Jim Bridger and William G. Kreighoff -- "The Last of the Indian Chiefs," by Captain Jack Crawford -- "Some Old Scouts and Their Deeds," by David Lansing
  • Kirkwood, Charlotte M. The Nez Perce Indian war under war chiefs Joseph and Whitebird. Grangeville, Idaho: Idaho County Free Press, [195-?]
  • Jennings, Talbot. The Idaho pageant: "the Light on the mountains" : a community drama done at the University of Idaho commencement, 1923. [Moscow, Idaho]: English Club, University of Idaho, 1923.
5 Luther P. Wilmot Stories (volunteer civilian scout)
  • The Story of the Raines Massacre (5 pages)
  • Narratives of the Nez Perce War [The White Bird Battle] (7 pages)
  • July 4th 1877 was an anxious day for the settlers... (13 pages)
  • Battle of the Clearwater, 1877 (6 pages)
  • Misery Hill (15 pages)
6 Newspaper Accounts
  • “Colonel Redington Pays Tribute to Super-Scout”
  • Two clippings on John Redington. “Scouts Saved the Troopers,” Grant County, Oregon, News -- “Always Welcome,” Walla Walla, Statesman
  • “Saw Indian War,” Lewiston Tribune
  • “Uncle Sam Classifies Pioneer Indian Fighters as Non-Combatants,” Idaho Statesman, March 29, 1931
  • “Redington Tried to Attend Dinner,” Salem, Oregon Statesman
  • “His Mother’s Influence Was Guiding Power of Warren Harding’s Life,” The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington, August 3, 1923
7 Stanton G. Fisher Autobiographical Materials
  • Trail diary written by Stanton G. Fisher. This journal was composed as Fisher traveled across Idaho. The journal was written for his daughter Nellie May, to whom he mailed the document upon his arrival at his destination. The journal was kept from April 14 to June 9, 1888. (16 pages, there appear to be pages missing)
  • “Incidents Connected With The Early Settlement of Fort Hall, Idaho.” This document is a handwritten account of a number of stories concerning the early years of Fort Hall, Idaho. Stanton G. Fisher established a trading post there in 1867. During his time in the area, Fisher was told many tales about events that had happened in the region, which he recorded in this essay. (39 pages)
  • Collection of three short stories written by Stanton G. Fisher: “A Race That Wasn’t Thrown.” This essay relates a story Fisher heard about a young man and a doctor who tried to save the life of a young Indian. (22 pages, pages missing) -- Untitled short story. In this narrative, Fisher recalls difficulties he had maintaining a trading license and selling his lower Pocatello trading post in the mid 1880s. (29 pages) -- Untitled short story. Fisher wrote this story about his 1871 experience tracking a group of outlaw Indians. (10 pages)
  • Photocopy of an updated version of Stanton G. Fisher’s short story “A Race That Wasn’t Thrown”
8 Fisher Family Biographical Materials
  • Postcard to S. G. Fisher from John W. Redington, Stanton G. Fisher’s friend and fellow scout, January 10, 1912
  • Letter to Don C. Fisher from Lt. Col. William Johnson, a friend of Stanton G. Fisher’s, March 14, 1916. Postmarked envelope included
  • Letter to Don C. Fisher from Capt. Robert H. Fletcher, October 14, 1922
  • Receipt with Don C. Fisher’s initials
  • Envelope from Freda Terry (Don’s niece, Stanton’s granddaughter), October 11, 1988. Addressed to Mr. Fred Rice in La Quinta, CA, perhaps a member of the La Quinta Historical Society
  • Census papers. 1880 Census for Stanton G. Fisher, Sarah Fisher, his three daughters and brother -- 1910 Census for Nellie M. White, Freda V White and Sarah Fisher -- 1930 census for Fred, Nellie and Fred White -- 1930 census for Don and Anna Fisher

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Fisher, Stanton Gilbert, 1840-1915
  • Hunting--Montana
  • Indians of North America--Idaho
  • Indians of North America--Montana
  • Nez Perce Indians
  • Nez Perce Indians--Wars, 1877
  • Pioneers--Idaho
  • Tendoy, ca. 1834-1907

Personal Names

  • Stanton Gilbert Fisher, 1840-1915--Archives