Sunday, November 29, 2015

Reverend Henry Spalding Builds Presbyterian Mission at Lapwai [otd 11/29]

Henry Harmon Spalding.
National Park Service.
On November 29, 1836, Henry Harmon Spalding established a Presbyterian mission among the Nez Percés Indians. The initial location was on Lapwai Creek about 10 miles east of today's Lewiston. Two years later Spalding moved the mission to a spot on the Clearwater River near the mouth of Lapwai Creek.

Born in New York state, Henry was in his early thirties when he established the mission. After graduation from Western Reserve College (now part of Case Western Reserve University), he entered a seminary in Cincinnati. Spalding left, however, when he was appointed as a missionary to the Nez Percés.

Eliza (Hart) Spalding, born in Connecticut, was three or four years younger than Henry. The family moved to Oneida County, New York, in 1820. Henry and Eliza met through a mutual acquaintance and corresponded for a year or so before they met. Their common interest in missionary work matured the relationship and they married in 1833.

Three years later, Henry and Eliza traveled west with Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa [blog, Aug 12]. On the way, the couples attended the 1836 fur trade rendezvous on the Green River, in Wyoming. There, they caused a sensation because, while they were not the first missionaries to attend a rendezvous, they were the first who brought their wives.

The missionaries continued on to the Columbia River, obtained supplies from Fort Vancouver, and then separated. The Whitmans built a mission near today’s Walla Walla, Washington, while the Spaldings established theirs at Lapwai. It was difficult and costly to supply the Lapwai mission, so the settlement developed slowly.

That improved somewhat when, toward the end of 1838, the missionaries opened a blacksmith shop. During the heat of one summer, Spalding turned the natives to digging ditches for irrigation. Thus, the mission is credited with the first irrigated farming in what would become the state of Idaho. Crops grown included potatoes, another first.
Nez Percé Bible. University of Idaho Special Collections.

Spalding also procured a printing press and began publishing materials in the Nez Percés language, including the Bible.

Unfortunately, Henry had strict Puritanical notions of morality: Polygamy (fornication, to him), liquor, and gambling were all equally sinful. His tactless denunciations angered the Indians, and created friction with other missionaries who took a more gradual approach to converting native ways.

The 1847 massacre – ironically, also on November 29 – at the Whitman mission in Washington caused a suspension of both operations. Spalding was on his way to visit the mission when the killings occurred. Henry escaped death only through the intervention of a Roman Catholic priest … a crowning irony since Spalding was vehemently anti-“Papist.”

The Spaldings moved to Oregon, where they settled for a time. Eliza died in 1851 and Henry remarried two years later. He again served as missionary to the Nez Percés after about 1859, and resumed activities at Lapwai in 1862.

After a sojourn in the East around 1870, Spalding returned in 1871 to build a new school among the Nez Percés. He died in August 1874.
References: [B&W], [Brit], [Illust-North]
Malcom Clark, Eden Seekers: The Settlement of Oregon, 1818-1862, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York (1981).
“Lapwai Mission,” Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service.
“Spalding’s Mission,” Reference Series No. 945, Idaho State Historical Society (January 1993).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

“Rufus” Reid and Agnes Just Perpetuate Century Ranch Heritage [otd 11/28]

Robert “Rufus” Reid.
Family Archives.*
On November 28, 1906, twenty-year-old Agnes Just married Robert E. “Rufus” Reid in Blackfoot, Idaho. Agnes was the youngest child and only surviving daughter of Nels and Emma Just.

Born in Denmark in 1847, Nels A. Just was ten years old when his family came to the United States. They had already converted to the LDS Church, and aimed to settle in Utah. The Justs traveled as part of one of the so-called “handcart” companies and arrived at Salt Lake in September 1857.

Emma Thompson was born in England in 1850. Also Mormon converts, the family emigrated to the U. S. in 1854. Both the Thompsons and the Justs joined the ill-fated “Morrisite” splinter group and suffered through its eventual dissolution. By the late 1860s, Nels had worked at various jobs, including running freight into Montana.

Emma married a soldier in 1865. After his discharge, the couple moved around as her husband found work. According to Bonneville County historian Barzilla Clark, “During the winter of 1866-67, we find her cooking at the stage station at Taylor’s Bridge.” (Taylor's Bridge eventually became today's Idaho Falls.)

From there, they went to Montana where, unfortunately, her husband abandoned her. After the birth of their son, she returned to live with relatives in the Blackfoot area. Divorced, Emma married Nels in 1870. They settled along the Blackfoot River and began raising livestock. Some of these he sold under contract to the Army at Fort Hall. Nels would also figure prominently in later irrigation efforts.

Besides Fred from her first marriage, the couple raised four sons of their own, and then Agnes. Agnes attended Albion Normal School to qualify for a teaching certificate. On one of her trips home, she met “Zeke” Reid (Robert Ezeckiel went by Bob, Zeke, or Rufus at various times), who then worked for her father.

Agnes taught a few years before marrying Rufus in 1906. After the marriage, they moved in with Nels and Emma at the homestead ranch along the Blackfoot River. Nels died in 1912, while Emma lived until 1923.
Rufus and Agnes in 1907. Family Archives.*

Agnes Just Reid became the mother of five sons. Still, raising them and helping run a farm-ranch operation wasn’t enough. She also became a noted Idaho article writer, columnist, and poetess.

After she became well known, The Deseret News profiled her (October 24, 1948). The writer observed, “Mrs. Reid has a knack of telling common things beautifully. Her poetry is not the modeled lacy petal, flowery poetry which is read simply for its phrasing quality and is forgotten because it lacks depth.” Instead, her “pen is strong and forceful … [and leaves] a wealth of pure gold to ponder until the reader, remembering, makes it part of himself.”

The Reid sons in their turn, acquired various portions of the old homestead.

As part of the state’s Centennial celebration, the Idaho State Historical Society prepared a list of “Idaho Century Farms and Ranches.” The specific criteria state that the farm or ranch must have been “owned and operated in Idaho by the same family for at least 100 years, with 40 acres of the original parcel of land maintained as part of the present holding.”

As of 2004, the list contained nearly one hundred ranches established during the Territorial period, along with 175 farms, many of which also raised livestock. Four of the ranches trace their roots back to the original holding established along the Blackfoot by Nels and Emma Just.

* Family archives: Presto Press, Presto Preservation Association.
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County In The Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls (1941).
Idaho Century Farms and Ranches, Idaho State Historical Society (2004).
Agnes Just Reid, Letters of Long Ago, Fourth Edition, Cedar Creek Press, Boise, Idaho (1997).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pure Food, Dairy & Oil Commissioner William C. Howie [otd 11/27]

Commissioner Howie.
H. T. French photo.
Attorney William Clarence Howie, Idaho Food, Dairy & Oil Commission President, was born November 27, 1860, in Davis County, Iowa. He graduated from high school in Bloomfield, the county seat, which is located about 15 miles south of Ottumwa. In 1883, William graduated from a Normal School in Bloomfield and moved to Nebraska to teach school.

Howie also read at a couple of law offices. The senior partner at his second stay later became a Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court and, later yet, Dean of the Nebraska State Law School. After being admitted to the Nebraska bar, Howie practiced in the state for about eight months.

Howie moved to Idaho in late 1890 and opened a practice in Mountain Home. At that time, Elmore County had been in existence less than two years. Mountain Home became the county seat in February 1891. About that time, the city and county began a growth spurt that lasted over twenty years.

In addition to a thriving legal practice, Howie filled a number of public offices in the area. That included service on the Mountain Home library board as well as the school board. According to the Illustrated History, he “was a prominent factor in the building of the splendid public-school building.”

Howie also held an appointment as U. S. Commissioner for the district around Mountain Home. Beyond the local activities, Howie served on the committee that determined the location of the state industrial school at St. Anthony.

Beginning in 1904, he served as President of the Idaho Food, Dairy, and Oil Commission (Idaho Statesman, December 13, 1903). This latter position involved major responsibilities. Before strong food and drug laws were in place, adulteration of oils – such as those used to make oleomargarine – with cheaper substitutes was a substantial problem all over the country.

Toward the end of Howie’s five-year term, the commissioners recommended that the duties of the commission be reorganized (Idaho Statesman, November 12, 1908). Dairy-related functions belonged under an agricultural board, while food matters should be included in the duties of the state Board of Health. Those changes were indeed made within a couple years.

Howie invested in several regional irrigation projects as well as various Mountain Home businesses, helping to organize the Stockgrowers State Bank.
Grubber patent drawing, Official Gazette.

Practicing in Mountain Home in the early years of the Twentieth Century, Howie’s name is also linked to a crucial pioneer activity. In 1909, he represented the assignee of a deceased inventor who received a U.S. Patent for a “Sage-Brush Grubbing Machine.” Then and for at least a half century after, developers sought better ways to remove sagebrush to prepare land for agriculture.

The following year, in connection with his Land Commissioner position, he found himself on the wrong side in court.  An indictment named him as part of a conspiracy to commit land fraud. However, the evidence soon showed that Howie himself had acted in good faith. Some jurors apparently still wanted to convict the three other men named in the indictment, but all were ultimately pronounced “not guilty.”

During World War I, Howie served as Secretary of the Home Service committee established in Elmore County by the American Red Cross. He died from an attack of influenza in February 1919.
References: [French], [Illust-State]
“978,118 Sage-Brush Grubbing Machine,” Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Vol. CLXI, December 1910, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (1911).
Ella G. Caldwell, “The Work of the Elmore County Red Cross,” Elmore County Idaho, Mountain Home (2010).
“Counties and County Seats,” Reference Series No. 10, Idaho State Historical Society (1991).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Idaho State University President Miles Reed [otd 11/26]

President Reed.
Idaho State University photo.
Miles F. Reed, president of the Academy of Idaho, precursor to Idaho State University, was born November 26, 1872 about 20 miles south of Dubuque, Iowa. Reed’s parents moved to Idaho in 1889 and he attended high school at an academy in Grangeville.

After his graduation in 1892, Reed taught in Idaho’s rural schools for a time. From 1891 to 1897, Miles also served in the Idaho National Guard, rising from a Private to the rank of First Lieutenant. He left the regiment when he enrolled at the University of Idaho, and therefore did not see action in the Philippines the following year.

He graduated in 1901 with a Bachelor of Science degree and immediately found a job at the Lewiston State Normal School. After just a year there, he returned to the University to head their Preparatory School and serve as an instructor in education.
Academy of Idaho, ca. 1910. USGenWeb project photo.

In 1902, the state authorized the formation of the Academy of Idaho in Pocatello [blog, Mar 11]. It’s first president – initially called the Principal – was John W. Faris, who had been Superintendent of Pocatello schools for a time. Like most other Idaho colleges, the Academy had to run a prep school for a number of years. Even so, Faris moved aggressively to enhance the college-level curriculum. He also initiated a summer institute for working teachers along with standard summer classes.

Faris resigned in 1907. His expansionist approach had led to much criticism from those who saw a strictly limited role for the school. The continuing need for preparatory classes played a role in the selection of Miles Reed to replace Faris. (Also in 1907, Reed received a Master’s degree from Columbia University.)

If the board expected a more modest approach from their new president, they were sorely disappointed. Reed knew from first-hand experience that the state desperately needed more qualified pre-college teachers. In short supply to begin with, the meager salaries paid meant that turn-over was a constant problem.

Thus, Reed expanded the summer institute Faris had begun and took action to further address the critical teacher shortage. In this latter aim, he incurred the enmity of officials at Albion State Normal School. Reed also wanted to make the Academy a full-fledged college, able to offer bachelor’s degrees. That campaign led only to a new name: the Idaho Technical Institute (ITI).

Although supporters had failed in their bid to be designated a “college,” they had escaped the limited expectations implied by the “Academy” label. Students and citizens in Pocatello responded with “the biggest celebration in the history of the city.” (Reported in the Idaho Statesman, March 18, 1915.) There was also a program of speeches, which culminated with the “presentation of a gold watch to President Miles F. Reed in appreciation of the fight he made for the school.”
Reed Gym. ISU photo.

In 1904, while working at the University, Reed served as President of the Idaho State Teachers’ Association. A year after he moved to the Pocatello school, he became Chairman of the Educational Council of Idaho.

Reed died of a heart attack in November 1918. His dream of full college status for the Academy/Institute was not realized until 1947. It received university status in 1963. Today, Reed Gymnasium, a sports pavilion and student recreation center, commemorates his role in the history of ISU.
References: [French]
Diane Olson, Idaho State University: A Centennial Chronicle, Idaho State University, Pocatello (2000).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tough Talk and Action Versus Snake War Violence [otd 11/25]

Governor Lyon. Library of Congress.
The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper (Silver City, Idaho) for November 25, 1865 reported some “good talk” (their expression) by the Territorial Governor about the on-going Indian unrest.

Paraphrasing Governor Caleb Lyon [blog, Nov 14] the article said, [He] “says he will either fight or feed them, and for this purpose has requested, with all hopes of success, two regiments of cavalry. He says he does not expect to reduce them to a state of peace, except by offering them the terms of peace or death; and if they will not quietly accept the one, the other will be forced upon them.”

Preliminaries to what the newspapers called the “Snake War” had simmered and flared ever since the 1862 gold rush into the Boise Basin. In an attempt to counter the violence, in July 1863 the Army built Fort Boise, which sparked the growth of Boise City [blog, July 4]. That provided some protection along the Oregon Trail, but did little to quell raids on isolated ranches.

The conflict grew worse the following year, which spurred the formation of various ad hoc civilian volunteer companies. A fight in July 1864 resulted in the death of rancher Michael Jordan, a member of the party that originally discovered gold in the area [blog, May 18]. The Idaho Statesman in Boise reported (August 23, 1864) on “the probability of an extensive Indian war.”

In early 1865, the volume of complaints rose even more with the increased traffic along the freight and passenger routes between northern California and the Silver City area. In July, the Army established Camp Lyon, about 17 miles northwest of Silver City. However, commanders assigned too few troops to stop the depredations. Thus, the Idaho Statesman reported (October 12, 1865) that the operator of “The Chico Stage Route” had lost many horse and much of his hay supply to Indian raids. The losses were so bad “that it will be an impossibility for him to run his line of stages this winter.”

Two week later, the Statesman reported that a “Mr. Cox” had been shot and killed by Indians just twenty miles or so from Camp Lyon.

Finally, with the end of the Civil War in the East, the Army was prepared to respond to Governor Lyon’s request. The same November 25th issue of the Avalanche reported, “two Companies of Regulars, lately from the East, have been ordered from Walla Walla to” Camp Lyon. However, even these Regular Army troops did not do that well initially, including a repulse at the Battle of Three Forks (in Oregon) [blog, May 27].
General George Crook, ca 1875.
Library of Congress.

Frustrated at the lack of progress, in late 1866 the Army assigned the job to Lieutenant Colonel George Crook. Crook had gained valuable Indian fighting experience in northern California and the Pacific Northwest before distinguishing himself in the Civil War. He went on to even greater fame as an Indian fighter after leaving Idaho and Oregon.

Even the intelligent and determined Crook found no instant solution to the Indians’ guerrilla tactics in country they knew intimately. Still, 18 months of unrelenting pressure and attrition finally forced the tribes – Bannock, Shoshone, and Northern Paiutes – to accept confinement on reservations. These impositions, by the way, delayed a final reckoning for less than a decade.
References: [B&W]
Gregory Michno, The Deadliest War in the West: The Snake Conflict, 1864-1868, Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (2007).
“The Snake War,” Reference Series No. 236, Idaho State Historical Society.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fire at State Mental Hospital in Blackfoot, Joe Glidden Patents Barbed Wire [otd 11/24]

Early on November 24, 1889, a fire destroyed the state-run mental hospital located in Blackfoot, Idaho. The sanitarium, as it was then called, housed 47 male and 20 female patients at the time. Early accounts said 7 patients (5 men and 2 women) were missing afterwards, with two bodies found in the ruins. However, Hawley’s later History suggests that no one was killed in the fire.

South Idaho Sanitarium, now Idaho State Hospital South.
J. H. Hawley photo.
Located a half mile or so north of Blackfoot, the asylum had been authorized in 1885 and opened for patients the following year. Before then, mentally ill individuals had been housed in Oregon, under contract with that state. Officials transferred thirty-six patients (26 man and 10 women) when the Blackfoot facility opened.

After the fire, male patients were kept temporarily at the Bingham county courthouse and females at the local Methodist Episcopal Church. The institution was rebuilt at a location a few miles further north.

In 1905, the legislature funded a second state hospital; it was built in Orofino. As views on mental health issues became more sophisticated, the terms “sanitarium” and “asylum” were dropped in favor of a simple “Idaho State Hospital South” and “ … North.”

Today, Idaho is still wrestling with the proper approach, or approaches to treating people with mental health problems. Clearly, sufferers who are a danger to themselves and to others require different methods and facilities from those with lesser problems. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

Official drawing for Patent No. 157,124.
On November 24, 1874, the Federal government granted a patent to Joseph F. Glidden for an improved form of barbed wire. Over the years, many ideas had been tried but Glidden’s was the first effective design that could be manufactured at reasonable cost.

Homesteaders benefited first from the new product: It provided a way to protect fields from range cattle and sheep. In many jurisdictions, courts would not award damages for losses to stock unless the owner had tried to provide some sort of protection for his (or her) crops. An 1873 Idaho law said, in part, that farm fields “shall be enclosed with a good and lawful fence, sufficient to secure the crops therein from the encroachments of all kinds of domestic animals.”

Possible awards then hinged on the phrase “good and lawful fence.” A split rail fence met the criteria, but the materials were costly and difficult to obtain. In many areas, even wooden posts for stringing a wire fence had to be hauled from miles away. Still, posts and wire were far more affordable than anything available before.

Stockmen also quickly saw the advantages of fencing large expanses of range to keep it for themselves, and they had the capital to buy wire by the train car load. Thus, production of the new form jumped 60-fold a year after the patent was granted. Barbed wire fences brought their own problems, of course. The lore of the Old West is replete with stories of the fence cutters and gun-handy cowboys hired to patrol the wires.
References: [Brit], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Joseph M. McFadden, “Monopoly in Barbed Wire: The Formation of the American Steel and Wire Company,” Business History Review, Vol. LII. No. 4 (Winter, 1978).
J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1968).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Unsuspecting Cowboy Shot and Killed at Fort Hall by Angry Bannock [otd 11/23]

On November 23, 1877, a Bannock Indian, Tambiago by name, shot and killed cattleman Alexander Rhoden at the Fort Hall Indian Agency. Alex was born around 1852 in northeast Missouri, near the Nebraska border. In 1865, the family moved to near Omaha.
Alexander Toponce. Reminiscences.

Later, Rhoden came to Idaho and went to work for cattleman Alexander Toponce [blog, Nov 10]. Toponce, who recalled the spelling as “Rodin,” said the Missourian had been working at the ranch for a number of years before the shooting. The young drover was delivering some of Toponce’s cattle under contract to the Agency.

Accounts suggest that the shooting grew out of the uneasy relationship between whites and Indians at the time. A proclamation by President Andrew Johnson had designated the Fort Hall Reservation in 1867 [blog, June 14]. About a year later, most of the Shoshone and Bannock bands in Idaho finally agreed to resettle there, persuaded by glowing promises from Federal negotiators.

As happened all too commonly, the Agency did not keep its end of the bargain. Most tribesmen hardly noticed the failure to provide seed, instructions on farming, and other craft training. They could easily live without these elements of assimilation anyway. But their very survival depended upon the promised allotments of food and warm clothing.

Unable to live on the skimpy-to-nonexistent supplies provided by the Indian Agent, bands began to roam far and wide outside the reservation. Upset by these excursions, the Agent complained to tribal leaders, which created an atmosphere of frustration and discontent.

The Bannocks generally wandered the most, and therefore earned an extra level of nagging from the Agent. Soon, Bannock leaders began to suspect that the Agent was favoring the Shoshones in his already-sparing allotments.

The existence of this feeling among the Indians was confirmed by an Army officer who inspected the reservation. In his report he wrote, “The Bannocks are regarded by officers of the army and civilians as friendly and peaceable towards the whites. They are, however, very much opposed to their Agent, Mr. Danilson; this opposition I learn is provoked by his discrimination in favor of the Shoshones.”

Of course, the inspector could not stay long enough to verify the Bannocks’ suspicions. But in this tense atmosphere, an unknown white angered the Indians anew: One account said he raped a Bannock girl, but other reports suggest horse theft or some other crime.

Tribesmen had no way to specifically identify the offender, so they knew white authorities would do nothing. A frustrated brave stormed out and shot two teamsters, neither of whom, it is generally agreed, had anything to do with the initial offense. The teamsters eventually recovered from their wounds.
Group of Bannock, 1878. Library of Congress.

After more disputation, the shooter was arrested. As he was brought to, or passed through Fort Hall, Tambiago “snapped” at this one-sided display of justice ... and shot Rhoden. Again, it’s unclear whether Tambiago was the brother or just a good friend of the accused man. Authorities finally caught and arrested Tambiago. Tried and convicted of murder, he was hanged the following year, the first man hanged at the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary.

In his Reminiscences, Toponce remarked, “The Indian who killed Rodin had no grudge against him. He simply wanted to kill a white man and Alex was the first one he saw.”

A week or so after the shooting, Toponce shipped the young man’s body back to Nebraska for burial.
References: George Francis Brimlow, The Bannock War of 1878, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1938).
“Killed By An Indian,” Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah (December 1, 1877).
Alexander Toponce, Reminiscences of Alexander Toponce, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1971).