Lt. Col. William Craig

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Lt. Col. William Craig

Birthdate: (62)
Birthplace: Greenbrier County, Virginia (WV), United States
Death: October 17, 1869 (62)
Lapwai, Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States
Place of Burial: Jacques, Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Pah tis sah "Isabel" Craig, Of the Nez Perce
Father of Joseph Craig; Martha Craig and Annie Craig

Occupation: mountain man,Indian Agent
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lt. Col. William Craig

Colonel William Craig.—Idaho's first permanent white settler was Colonel William Craig. Born in Greenbriar County, Virginia, in 1807, he cast his lot with the Rocky Mountain trappers in the summer of 1829. During the romantic fur-trading third decade of the last century, he, with his intimate associates, Robert Newell and Joseph Meek, led the wild, free life of the fur-hunter. Shortly after the arrival of Reverend H. H. Spalding at Lapwai (1836), Colonel Craig selected a home near the mission on Lapwai Creek. The records show that he established a permanent residence in Idaho in the fall of 1846. In harmony with the provisions of the Oregon Donation Act of 1850, he and his Nez Perce wife, Isabel, claimed and patented 640 acres of land at Lapwai. During the winter of 1855-1856 he rendered distinguished aid to Governor I. I. Stevens while the latter was negotiating a series of Indian treaties. So conspicuous was his leadership among the Nez Perces that he was given a place on Governor Stevens's staff with the title of lieutenant-colonel. During the winter of 1859-1860 he was postmaster at Walla Walla, where he resided temporarily. He was the first Indian agent at Lapwai, and was influential politically during the early years of the Territory. He died and was buried at Lapwai in 1869. "But for his liberality he would have been rich, but he has given away enough to make several fortunes."

Source: "History of the State of Idaho" By Cornelius James Brosnan

William Craig operated the first ferry at this site in 1861. He sold his boat to Theodore Schenk in 1864. Schenk soon after sold the business to John Silcott, D. M. White, and E. C. Pearcy. Silcott left the partnership in the 1880's, but White and Pearcy continued as partners until they sold the operation to William Emerson in 1909. The ferry remained in business until the tolls were removed from the Lewiston-Clarkston bridge in 1913. At that time, the ferry was sold to John E. Boyer, who moved the operation to Truax.


William Craig (1807, Greenbrier County, West Virginia – 1869, Idaho) was an American frontiersman and trapper. He left his Virginia home as a young man and headed west, after allegedly killing a man in self-defense. He trapped with the Subletts and Jedediah Smith in the Blackfoot country until he joined Joe Walker's California Expedition of 1833–34.

In 1836, William Craig, Pruett Sinclair and Philip Thompson established a trading post known as Fort Davy Crockett in Brown's Hole, now in State of Colorado. Leaving the declining fur trade, in 1840 Craig and former trapper friends Robert Newell and Joe Meek acted as guides to a missionary party to Fort Hall, Idaho and on to the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla, Washington. While Newell and Meek and their native wives and children sought a new life in the Willamette Valley of what is now Oregon, Craig joined his Nimiipuu family along the Clearwater River and Lapwai Creek of what is now Idaho. According to a later affidavit, Craig had, in 1838, married Pahtissah (he renamed her Isabel), a Nez Perce woman who was the daughter of Hin-mah-tute-ke-kaikt also known was Thunder Eyes. Craig was friendly with the Nez Perce tribe: in 1848—in the aftermath of the killings at the Whitman Mission—Oregon Country's provisional government Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Joel Palmer, appointed William Craig his agent to the Nez Perces. Craig served as interpreter between the Nez Perce leaders and Isaac Stevens at the Treaty of 1855 held in the Walla Walla Valley, and again at the Treaty of 1856. The Treaty of 1855 granted to William Craig and his wife, Isabel, 640 acres of land in the Lapwai Valley, then part of the newly formed Nez Perce reservation. In 1855 Governor Stevens appointed William Craig Agent to the Nez Perce people, a position held by Craig until political machinations cost him the job in 1859. William Craig was the first postmaster of "Wailepta" (Walla Walla). He died of a stroke in 1869. William Craig, his wife Isabel, and others of his family are buried in the cemetery at Jaques' Spur in the Lapwai Valley, Idaho, just north of Craig Mountain, at the place he had selected on his land.


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Lt. Col. William Craig's Timeline

Greenbrier County, Virginia (WV), United States
October 17, 1869
Age 62
Lapwai, Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States
Jacques, Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States