Edgerton, Sidney, 1818-1900

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1818-08-17
Death 1900-07-19

Biographical notes:

Sidney Edgerton (1818-1900) was an abolitionist and a Republican who served as a U.S. Congressional Representative for the Akron area from 1859 to 1863. He later was chief justice for Idaho (1863-1864) and the first territorial governor in Montana (1865-1866). He then returned to Akron at age forty-seven where he stayed, practicing law for the remainder of his life. Along with his political duties, Edgerton also was husband and father. His wife, Mary Wright Edgerton (1827-1883), came from Tallmadge, Ohio. The Edgertons had nine children: Martha (Mattie), (Mary) Pauline, Idaho, Nina, Wright Prescott, Sidney Carter, Francis, an adopted niece, Lucia and a nephew, Wilbur F. Sanders. Sources disagree as to whether Lucia and Idaho were two different people. Mary Wright Edgerton died at the age of fifty-six, and her husband died seventeen years later at the age of eighty-two.

From the description of Sidney Edgerton papers, 1846-1901. (University of Akron). WorldCat record id: 457243176

Sidney Edgerton was born at Cazenovia, New York, on August 17, 1818. He moved to Ohio in 1849 and studied law in Akron, Tallmadge, and Cincinnati. An active politician during the 1850s, he was one of the members of the convention which formed the Republican Party in 1856 and was elected to Congress in 1858 and 1860.

In 1863, he received the appointment as chief justice of the newly formed territory of Idaho which then included Montana. He left Akron, Ohio, on June 1, 1863, accompanied by his wife Mary and their children, his nephew, Wilbur F. Sanders, and several others. They traveled the Missouri River by steamboat to Omaha, where they joined a party going to Lewiston, Idaho. The group traveled by ox wagon via the Platte River, Fort Laramie, South Pass, and Red Rock into Bannack where they were forced to stop on September 17, 1863, because of the onset of winter weather. Sidney Edgerton returned to Washington in the fall of 1863, carrying gold in the lining of his coat to display to congressmen, and succeeded in getting a bill passed creating the territory of Montana and defining its present boundaries. On the return trip, he learned of his appointment by Lincoln as the first governor of Montana Territory. He held that position until July 1865, when he took his family back to Ohio. He died in Akron, Ohio, July 19, 1900, at the age of 82.

The members of Edgerton's family and wagon-train party were also to become prominent in Montana. Wilbur F. Sanders became a famous vigilante and politician and was Montana's first U.S. Senator. Martha Edgerton Rolfe Plassman, the oldest daughter, became a writer of early Montana history, and Lucia Darling, a niece, has often been credited with having been Montana's first school teacher.

From the guide to the Sidney Edgerton Family papers, 1858-1959, (Montana Historical Society Research Center)

Sidney Edgerton (1818-1900) was an abolitionist and a Republican who served as a U.S. Congressional Representative for the Akron area from 1859 to 1863. He later was chief justice for Idaho (1863-1864) and the first territorial governor in Montana (1865-1866). He then returned to Akron at age forty-seven where he stayed, practicing law, for the remainder of his life.

Edgerton moved to Akron at the age of twenty-six and within a few years worked as a lawyer and entered politics. In 1848 he went as a delegate to the Free Soil Convention, and in 1856 he attended the first Republican Convention. From 1852-1856, he was the prosecuting attorney in Akron. In 1859, he went to Charleston and visited John Brown in prison.

After Edgerton's Congressional term concluded in March of 1863, he was appointed United States judge for the Territory of Idaho and soon moved his family out west. Edgerton found he had little enforcement ability and was frustrated with his position. In 1865, Lincoln appointed Edgerton as the Governor of Montana Territory. He was only in office a year when his term was cut short because of the assassination of President Lincoln. In the short time Edgerton was in office, he and the secretary of the territory, General Thomas F. Meagher, made improvements in the state government and in Montana's educational system. However, Edgerton and Meagher also evicted Native Americans from Montana land.

Along with his political duties, Edgerton also was husband and father to nine children. His wife, Mary Wright Edgerton (1827-1883), came from a Tallmadge, Ohio family with a Puritan background and they did not agree with Edgerton's lack of religious affiliations. The difference in religious views almost kept Edgerton and Mary apart. The young couple finally married only after Mary fell dangerously ill.

The Edgertons had nine children: Martha (Mattie), (Mary) Pauline, Idaho, Nina, Wright Prescott, Sidney Carter, Francis, an adopted niece, Lucia and a nephew, Wilbur F. Sanders. Sources disagree as to whether Lucia and Idaho were two different people. Mary Wright Edgerton died at the age of fifty-six, and her husband died seventeen years later at the age of eighty-two.

From the guide to the Sidney Edgerton Papers, 1846-1901, (Archival Services, University Libraries, The University of Akron)

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http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w61k00s9
Ark ID:
w61k00s9
SNAC ID:
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Subjects:

  • Abolitionists
  • Overland Journeys to the Northwestern United States
  • Vigilantes--Montana--Bannack
  • Montana
  • Legislators--Ohio--Akron
  • Legislators
  • Governors--Montana
  • Edgerton, Sidney, 1818-1900--Correspondence
  • Abolitionists--Ohio--Akron
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Montana
  • Pioneers
  • Overland journeys
  • Montana--History--19th century
  • Governor
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • Edgerton, Mary Wright, 1827-1884--Correspondence

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Bannack (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Ohio--Akron (as recorded)
  • Montana (as recorded)