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Early in life he studied law at Plymouth College in Indiana. Afterward, he served as a Texas Ranger and served with General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto, and later served as an Indian scout.
In 1850, he and his brother Hiram moved their families to Oregon via the Oregon Trail. Samuel and Hiram founded the small community of Phoenix. Samuel built a home in Phoenix in 1855-1856. During Colver's life, in addition to a residence, "Colver Hall" served as a school, a dance hall, a public meeting place and a refuge during the Rogue River Indian Wars, though it is doubtful if the house ever actually was under attack. The Samuel and Huldah Colver House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. When it was destroyed by fire in September 2008, it was one of the oldest residences in Jackson County. The remaining three walls of the house were razed after the fire and the property was removed from the National Register in April 2009.
Colver became an Indian Agent in the Rogue River Valley, where he was a signer of the Table Rock Treaty on September 10, 1853. The treaty effectively ended the Rogue River War. He also served as a U.S. Marshall. He was instrumental in the founding of the Republican Party in Oregon, supporting Lincoln, and occasionally wrote poetry, that was published in Oregon newspapers.
Samuel Colver was married to Huldah, who was born in Ohio in 1823. They had two children, Isabel and Lewellyn. Lewellyn was killed in 1884 by a man who mistook him for a burglar, and Isabel died in 1886. Grief-stricken over the loss of both of his children, Samuel Colver was confined for a month to an asylum.
Samuel died mysteriously in 1891. He was found drowned near Upper Klamath Lake after riding out alone. He was known to have some enemies and there was rumor of land swindles, but nothing was ever proven.