In 1850, he boarded a ship for the long voyage around Cape Horn to California. He clerked briefly at a gold camp store before trying his hand at placer mining. After a couple years, he moved on to southern Oregon, where he combined farming with stretches of mining. Pinkham served in the U. S. Army Quartermaster Corps during the Rogue River War. After the conflict ended in 1857, he worked at various locations in Oregon as a farmer, miner, or clerk.
In 1864, he looked toward the opportunities presented by the gold fields of Idaho. By then, he had apparently had his fill of prospecting and mining. Instead, he partnered with two other men to run pack trains into Boise City from supply terminals in Oregon. They converted to freight wagons when the road system allowed it.
After four years, he moved to Idaho City and established headquarters for a stagecoach company that ran passengers and freight to Boise Basin towns, and out to Boise city.
In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Pinkham as U. S. Marshal for Idaho Territory. In its biography of Marshal Pinkham, the Illustrated History said, “He entered upon the duties of his position at a time when the region was largely infested with a lawless element and when crime held sway in many districts. He was ever fearless in the discharge of his duty, and to his efforts is largely due the rapid transformation of the state to its present condition of advanced civilization.”
|Philadelphia smelter, near Ketchum.|
Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society.
In 1891, knowledge of Pinkham’s service was still fresh, and he was again appointed to be a U. S. Marshal. Thus, at aged 57, he became the first Marshal to serve the Idaho District after the region became a state. As the “man on the spot,” Pinkham then successfully handled potentially explosive union demonstrations and violence in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts.
In February 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Pinkham to head the U. S. Assay office in Boise. He held that position until his retirement in the summer of 1915.
The memory of his fearless integrity as a U. S. Marshal lived on long after his final retirement from that duty. Twenty years later, J. H. Hawley praised that history and wrote: “His step is firm, his eye is still keen, and his mental faculties are still alert.”
Pinkham passed away in July 1921.
|References: [Hawley], [Illust-State]|
|“History of the District of Idaho,” U. S. Marshals Service, United State Department of Justice.|