Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rocky Mountain Fur Company Advertises for "Enterprising Young Men" [otd 03/20]

William H. Ashley.
Legends of America.
Missouri Republican, St. Louis, March 20, 1822: "To enterprising young men. The subscriber wishes to engage one hundred young men to ascend the Missouri river to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years … "

Signed by William H. Ashley, the job posting marked the first public presence of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (RMFC).

At the time, independent American trappers and small fur companies were focused on exploiting the Missouri River watershed, east of the Continental Divide. Ashley and his partner, Andrew Henry, had more ambitious plans.

Pennsylvanian Andrew Henry first entered the fur trade in 1808, when he was about thirty-three years old. He led an attempt to establish a Missouri Fur Company (MFC) post at Three Forks, in Montana. When Indian attacks ended that venture disastrously, he moved to Idaho and built Fort Henry, four to five miles southwest of today's St. Anthony.

A hard winter soon crippled that effort. The MFC struggled along for a number of years, but the War of 1812 drew Henry's interest for the duration. After his military service, until he joined up with Ashley, Henry focused on mining activities around St. Louis.

William Ashley had moved to St. Louis from Virginia in 1808, when he was about thirty years old. Prior to 1822, he engaged in real estate development, banking, and mining. He too served in the Missouri militia, rising from a captaincy during the War of 1812 to the rank of General in 1822. Along with all that, Ashley engaged in politics, being elected in 1820 as the first Lieutenant-Governor of the new state of Missouri.

Although the Ashley-Henry announcement drew enough men to their new company, the RMFC got off to a shaky start: The Arikara Indians of South Dakota inflicted heavy losses on their Missouri River expedition. After that, the company avoided that area and dispatched trains of pack horses to the Rocky Mountains on a more direct overland route.

RMFC trappers crossed the Continental Divide into the Green River area via South Pass in 1824. Two parties continued into Idaho – one, led by legendary Mountain Man Jedediah Smith, camped on the Portneuf River in the fall. In October, along the Salmon River, Smith's group met the "Snake Brigade," the large fur-trapping operation of the British-Canadian Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) [blog, Oct 6].
Mountain Man. Frederic Remington drawing.

The RMFC overcame its inauspicious start and the 1823 and 1824 seasons yielded substantial returns. However, after perhaps too many years in the wilderness and too many close calls, Andrew Henry chose to retire from the fur trade. He returned to his mining interests and died just eight years later.

Assessing the fur business, Ashley decided that the vast beaver resources west of the Continental Divide promised much better returns than the highly competitive Missouri River watershed. However, the region was too sparsely populated to support fixed trading posts. Traders in Canada had used temporary trading stations for some time, but those were small and largely ad hoc. Ashley adapted the idea to initiate what became a defining feature of the Mountain Man era, the annual rendezvous, a huge trading fair … and drunken celebration.

Gatherings in 1825 and 1826 made Ashley a wealthy man. Thus, late in the 1826 affair, he essentially sold the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to three experienced traders. He never returned west. Later, he served several terms as a U. S. Congressman from Missouri, before his death in 1838.

The RMFC would vigorously compete with the HBC, and with other American rivals, for the next decade. In the process, the Company would introduce a long line of famous Mountain Men into the trade: the Sublette brothers, David Jackson, Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick, freed slave Jim Beckwourth, Jim Bridger, and many others.
References: [B&W]
H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1986).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Arthur Cronquist: Famed Botanist with Idaho Connections [otd 03/19]

Dr. Cronquist. New York Botanical Garden.
World-renowned botanist Dr. Arthur Cronquist was born March 19, 1919 in San Jose, California. An expert on the broad Compositae or Asteraceae family (sunflowers and daisies, among others), Cronquist began his scientific career in Idaho and maintained a life-long interest in the area. He grew up near Portland, Oregon and then Pocatello, Idaho.

After high school, Arthur enrolled at the University of Idaho-Southern Branch (now Idaho State University [blog, Sept 22]). He planned to major in range management, which led him to a plant taxonomy course taught by eminent Idaho botanist Ray J. Davis.

Davis sparked Arthur’s interest in botany, and became his mentor. As a semester project, the professor required each class member to do a field study on some plant family. The story is told that Arthur and another top student flipped a coin and the loser – Cronquist – had to “settle” for Compositae. The account concludes, “Thus do legends begin.”

Arthur soon transferred to Utah State University, where he received a B.S. degree in 1938 and an M.S. two years later. During those years, he found time to study Idaho flora – around Dubois for the U. S. Forest Service, and also as a contract plant specimen collector. He earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1944. During the last year of his doctoral studies, he worked on his specialty at the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Cronquist next held teaching positions at the University of Georgia and then at Washington State University. Starting in 1951, he served a year in Europe as a botanist for the U. S. government. He spent the rest of his career after 1952 back at the New York Botanical Garden. At the same time, he also served on the faculties of Columbia University and the City University of New York.

This brief essay cannot begin to detail Cronquist’s monumental contributions to botany – those encompass a huge body of field observations as well as landmark treatises on botanical theory and principles. Cronquest's many honors include the Asa Gray Award, for career achievement, from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the Linnean Medal for Botany.

His obituary noted that he, “was also a recognized expert on the plants of the Western United States. He wrote or contributed to nearly all the major works on plants of the region and was at work on a six-volume series about the plants of the Intermountain West when he died.”
Sunflowers. U. S. Dept of Agriculture.

In fact, Cronquist died on Sunday, March 22, 1992.  He was then scheduled to be featured speaker the following Friday for the Annual Symposium of the Idaho Academy of Science, in Caldwell. A hastily-organized tribute session extolled Arthur’s professional legacy as well as his humanity: Colleagues and students remembered him as an animated raconteur, clever punster, and a helpful and caring friend. He was also renowned as a boisterous singer. One colleague said, “About the halls of the New York botanical Garden, Cronquist bellows Russian folk songs. (He has an excellent bass voice.)”

After the meeting, I prepared a summary of the event for the Academy newsletter. I found it fascinating that the speaker had subconsciously slipped into the present tense. (Nor was he the only one who did so.) My comment: “Cronquist was obviously a man so alive in life, he barged full-bellow into a tribute after his death.”
References: Theodore M. Barkley, “In Memoriam: Arthur Cronquist: An Appreciation,” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 119, No. 4, Lawrence, Kansas (1992).
“Biographical Note,” Arthur Cronquist Records (1939-1992), Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden (1999).
E. E. Filby, “Memories of Dr. Arthur Cronquist,” The Retort, Vol. 28, No. 3, Idaho Academy of Science, Idaho Falls (September 1992).
“Obituary: Arthur Cronquist,” The New York Times (March 26, 1992).

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bonneville Rancher, Developer, and Public Servant Hank Kiefer [otd 03/18]

Henry W. “Hank” Kiefer was born March 18, 1851 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania … one of twelve children born to the family between 1844 and about 1863. As a boy, he served an apprenticeship as a machinist, while also working part-time for his father, a Master Tanner. His father died in 1865, his mother two years later.
Golden Spike Ceremony. National Park Service.

In 1869, Hank decided to head West. French’s History specifically mentions June as the date when he arrived in Colorado. It may well be significant that the transcontinental railroad had been completed just a month earlier.

Within a year or so, Kiefer landed a job with Coe & Carter, a well-known Omaha firm that had major contracts to supply ties and lumber  for the Union Pacific Railroad. Over the next few years, the job took Hank through Wyoming, Utah, and into Idaho.

In 1878, the Utah & Northern Railway extended its narrow gauge tracks across eastern Idaho, headed for Montana. Kiefer took charge of a logging camp on the South Fork of the Snake River. As the tracks approached the Montana border in the spring of 1879, Hank moved the camp closer to Monida Pass.

Kiefer worked on tie contracts in the Rocky Mountains until the spring of 1883. At that time, he purchased a ranch on Willow Creek, northeast of Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls). There, he raised cattle, farmed, and also planted an apple orchard. Four years later, Eagle Rock school teachers took their pupils on a field trip to see the first home-grown apples in the Upper Snake River Valley.

Hank spent the rest of the 1880s tending to his crops and livestock. Thus, the Idaho Register in Idaho Falls reported (October 1, 1887), “Hank Kiefer has purchased from Taylor & Smith one of the latest improved hay balers and will soon commence operating it, when he will be prepared to ship hay.”

 In 1892, he was elected Assessor for Bingham County. At that time, the county encompassed most of eastern Idaho. He then served two years as sheriff, before being elected again as County Assessor.

In the summer of 1901, Kiefer, like many others, took a fling at the the Klondike gold rush, where he apparently did better than most. The following year voters elected him to a term in the Idaho Senate.

As his farm-ranch operation prospered, Kiefer invested in irrigation projects, real estate, and a mercantile company in Iona. He remained president of one canal company for nearly twenty-six years, until the holdings were reorganized as a cooperative water district.

In 1907, his expertise in land development, and his Republican Party loyalties, led President Theodore Roosevelt to appoint Kiefer to be Register for the U. S. Land Office in Blackfoot. He would subsequently be re-appointed to that position by President Taft.

Idaho Falls Carnegie Library construction, ca 1915.
Bonneville County Historical Society.
However, he still retained an interest in Idaho Falls and, in 1908, donated a lot to be used for a public library. A committee proceeded with a request for a Carnegie Library grant and the facility opened in 1916. After his tenure as Land Office Register ended, Hank became a member of the Idaho Falls City Council. In late 1917, he served a half-year as Acting Mayor.

After that, Kiefer began winding down his active participation in business and politics. He lived a comfortable retirement until his death in 1937.
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Medical Researcher and Teacher Thomas C. Galloway, M.D. [otd 03/17]

Dr. Galloway.
University of Idaho Archives.
Eminent physician Thomas C. Galloway was born March 17, 1886 in Boise. As a researcher at the Northwestern University Medical School, Galloway made award-winning discoveries in the symptomatic treatment of "bulbar" poliomyelitis, one of the most dreaded diseases of the Twentieth Century.

His father, of the same name, was among a handful of whites who first settled along the Weiser River in 1863 [blog, June 6]. The elder Thomas married in 1868 and began raising a family. After about fifteen years, Galloway owned a huge herd of horses. However, his oldest children were also approaching high school age, and he and wife Mary felt their local educational opportunities were limited.

Father Tom sold his horses, and one of two ranches they then owned, and moved the family to Boise City. There, he bought a home as well as much other real estate. It was also there that Thomas, Junior, was born. The Galloways remained in Boise until the older children had completed high school, then moved back to Weiser in 1896-1899.

Thomas, Junior, arrived at the University of Idaho campus at a time of substantial growth. During that general period, contractors completed a new women's dormitory, a gymnasium, and a new science hall. Of course, he would have also been on campus when fire destroyed the Administration Building at the end of March 1906: He graduated that spring.

He taught chemistry at the University for a year and then moved on to the University of Chicago. The Idaho Statesman proudly reported (May 19, 1911) that Galloway was “winning high honors in scholastic and athletic lines” there. As a junior at the University's Rush Medical College, he had already published a paper in the American Journal of Physiology. Moreover, having taken up wrestling for exercise, he had become a two-time wresting champion at the school.

Galloway earned a medical degree from Rush Medical College in 1912. He spent the rest of his life in the Chicago area, although we're told that, "At his ranch in Idaho, Dr. Galloway hosted family reunions each summer for fifty years."

Thomas spent over a half century affiliated with the Evanston Hospital, and taught for many years at two other area hospitals and the Northwestern University Medical School. Galloway eventually served as Director of the Medical School. He authored or co-authored numerous medical publications.

His most noted discovery involved the use of tracheotomy to treat "bulbar" poliomyelitis. This polio variant causes severe breathing difficulties even before paralysis impacts the diaphragm and lungs.
Iron lung ward for treatment of polio victims, ca. 1953.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Galloway carefully studied the risks associated with the tracheal operation versus the known breathing problems, including fatal respiratory arrest. His 94-page monograph describes the results and preferred procedure in great detail. His work is credited with saving hundreds of lives, and is still valid today, although polio vaccines have reduced the disease from a widespread, frightening scourge to a relatively uncommon pathology.

Dr. Galloway received many awards: An Honorary Doctor of Science degree from UI, recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by Rush Medical College, and the James E. Newcomb Award from the American Laryngological Association. Galloway passed away in February 1977.
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Thomas C. Galloway, Treatment of Respiratory Emergencies including Bulbar Poliomyelitis, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK (1953).
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, The Caxton Printers, CaIdwell (© 1962, Regents of the University of Idaho).
Frank Harris, "History of Washington County and Adams County," Weiser Signal (1940s).

Friday, March 16, 2018

Workmans' Compensation Law Initiated in Idaho [otd 03/16]

On March 16, 1917, Governor Moses Alexander signed Idaho's first Workers' Compensation law. The state thus joined a trend that began in this country around 1910-1911, and even earlier in Europe.
Governor Alexander.
McDonald, Moses Alexander.

Historically, records of the concept date back almost as far as we have writing … some four thousand years. It seems likely that the idea grew right along with the notion of one man paying another to work for him. Written laws, like the ancient Hammurabic Code of 1750 B.C., provided detailed schedules: so many drachmas (or other monetary unit) for loss of a finger, and so on.

Ancient writings indicate that the codes based such schedules on the actual disability assumed to be associated with a specific, “quantifiable” injury … broken or severed limb, loss of an eye, crushed foot, etc. The concept of impairment (diminished ability to perform a task) due to an injury was undeveloped or non-existent. Thus, a “bad back” or double vision from a blow to the head might not be grounds for compensation, even if you lost your job because of it.

In Europe, after a hiatus during the Middle Ages, the “common law” began to provide some recourse for an employee injured on the job. However, those precedents set the bar very high before the employer had to pay anything. The injured party had to prove a considerable degree of negligence on the part of the employer.

If a worker’s actions, or those of a fellow employee, somehow contributed to the injury, the employer was off the hook. Stumble and fall off a scaffold that had no safety rails … sorry, you should watch your step. A guy above drops a hammer on your head … sue him.

Workers might not even be compensated if they were injured by a "known" hazard of the workplace. They were judged to have "assumed that risk" when they took the job. People accepted exceedingly dangerous jobs – like hard-rock mining – because those positions paid better than ordinary work.

The Industrial Revolution had brought with it many new risks, with more workers exposed to those dangers. Under common law, injured workers generally had to file civil lawsuits to have any hope of compensation. The worker usually lost, but not always … so employers had to worry about defending such cases, as well as paying off the occasional big loss.
Workshop, ca. 1919. Personal Collection.

As suits by injured employees proliferated, industry leaders decided an insurance program, coupled with exemptions from all those legal actions, would be cheaper in the long run. In 1884, the first effective workers’ accident insurance laws went on the books in Prussia.

The trend spread to the United States in 1905-1908. Observers usually credit Wisconsin with the first effective workers’ compensation laws in the U.S., in 1911. (Laws passed a year earlier in New York state had been gutted by constitutional issues.) During the next five or six years, over thirty other states followed suit.

The Idaho governor called for a program in his 1913 message to the legislature, but nothing happened. The subject does not seem to have come up in the 1915 session. Then, in 1917, Governor Alexander urged passage of a system “drafted in accordance with the highest ideals of giving adequate compensation to the injured.”

The legislature did pass such a law, which Alexander signed on April 16th.
References: [Hawley]
Price V. Fishback, "Workers' Compensation," EH.net Encyclopedia, Robert Whaples (Ed.), Economic History Association (March 26, 2008).
Gregory P Guyton, “A Brief History of Workers' Compensation,” The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal, Vol. 19 (1999) pp 106-110.
Dylan J. McDonald (ed.), The Moses Alexander Collection, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise (2002).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Boise Developer and Saloon Owner Madison Smith [03/15]

Madison Smith. H. T. French photo
Boise pioneer Madison C. Smith was born March 15, 1839 in Richmond, Missouri, about 35 miles northeast of Kansas City. The family moved West in 1851, crossing Idaho in a wagon train. Local Indian unrest was rising at that time, but the party had no trouble. They settled in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Unfortunately, Indians killed Madison’s father in 1856, so he had to work the family ranch until his mother remarried.

Madison was out on his own by 1860, and had built up a small stake. In 1864, he and his brother-in-law loaded a mule train with freight for the gold camps near Idaho City. That area was apparently well-supplied when they arrived, so they moved on to profitably sell their goods in Boise City. Although Smith retained some property and a house in Oregon, he made his home in Boise for most of his remaining years.

Smith found odd jobs where he could for awhile, and then settled into working at a popular saloon. Finally, the Idaho Statesman reported (August 14, 1873) that “Jim Lawrence and M. C. Smith will open out, this week, a saloon in the brick building formerly occupied by … a barber shop. … They understand the business, have many friends, and will endeavor to please their patrons.”

They moved into a larger space after six years or so, but the Lawrence & Smith Saloon remained a fixture on Main Street for at least 15-18 years. It appears that Madison went into business by himself around 1890. We do know he bought a lot near downtown a year after that (Idaho Statesman, June 14, 1891).

In 1893, Smith took a minor flyer in politics: He ran for Boise City Tax Collector on the Populist Party ticket led by his nephew, who was running for Mayor. (His brother-in-law, Peter J. Pefley, had been elected mayor in 1887.) Voters crushed the Populist slate and there's no evidence that Smith took any further interest in politics.

Madison, who never married, largely held aloof from the “boom" mentality of many frontier city developers. His conservative approach was surely influenced by a disappointment in 1896-1897. Smith had loaned money to his brother-in-law and sister to invest in a saddlery company. But the firm collapsed (Idaho Statesman, September 6, 1896), and he recovered less than half his investment.

Even so, Madison was comfortable enough in his financial circumstances that he listed himself as “capitalist" in the U. S. Census for 1900. At that point, he still owned at least one saloon, and may have had property in Lewiston, where his brother-in-law had moved.
Union Block, Boise. Library of Congress
Smith closely followed the building boom that gripped Boise in 1902. Various organizations initiated ten major projects that year, including a new Episcopal Cathedral, a high school, and several commercial blocks.

One such project was the so-called “Union Block," on the northeast side of Idaho Street between Seventh and Eight, and one street over from Madison's saloon property on Main. Three years later, Smith sold the saloon and used the proceeds to buy an interest in the Union Block (Idaho Statesman, October 4 and November 29, 1905).

Madison soon moved into an apartment in the Union Block and managed his leased properties from there. He passed away from pneumonia in June 1921, after a year of increasingly poor health.

Today, the Union Block –  still in use –  is on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, according to the Idaho State Historical Society, the Society now owns a fancy hardwood bar that once belong to Smith. He reportedly ordered it from “the Brunswick Company" around 1890, and it continued in use at various locations for about seventy years. The bar is now the centerpiece of the “M. C. Smith Saloon," a meeting facility at the Historical Museum.
References: French, [Hawley]
“Boise Building Chronology, ” References Series No. 672, Idaho State Historical Society (1983).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Militia Organized Again, Then Becomes the Idaho National Guard [otd 03/14]

In an interesting coincidence, two different March 14 dates are significant for the Idaho National Guard. On March 14, 1889, Edward A. Stevenson, governor of Idaho Territory, sent a letter to the Quartermaster-General of the U. S. Army, stating that the citizens of Boise had organized a company of militia.
Governor Stevenson.
City of Boise photo.

This action followed over a decade during which the Territory had no authorized military force at all. In the early gold rush days, miners had assembled ad hoc companies to fight Indians. These Volunteer troops became somewhat more formalized for the so-called "Snake War" in 1864-1868, but many lasted only a few weeks.

However, during Idaho's final Indians wars of 1877-1879, the Territory had companies of Idaho Volunteer Militia (a "Regiment," but in name only) as well as numerous local militia units. The latter included three from Boise City alone (the "Boise Mounted Rangers," etc.), and at least eight others (the "First Payette Guards" and so forth). All these organizations disbanded when the last groups of Indians had been forced onto reservations. Around 1879, Governor Mason Brayman urged the legislature to create a formal Territorial-wide militia. However, for various reasons, mostly political, nothing was done.

So matters remained until President Grover Cleveland appointed Stevenson as Territorial Governor. The first actual Idaho resident chosen for that position, he had moved to Idaho in 1864, and was familiar with its militia history. Stevenson had, in fact, encouraged the Boiseans to form their company, which they styled the "Governor's Guards."

The state had no particular budget for such an organization, so the governor asked the Quartermaster-General if the Army could, and would, provide suitable uniforms, arms, and ammunition. The General's specific answer was unreported at the time, but he must have been agreeable: The Governor’s Guards were in full operation by early May. The Idaho Statesman reported (July 3, 1889) that “the ladies of Boise” would present them with a “beautiful banner” during a ceremony on the 4th of July.

Idaho soon had militia companies organized in Weiser, Grangeville, Albion, Eagle Rock, and Hailey.

In 1889, Stevenson and his successor called for a constitutional convention, preparatory to asking Congress to make Idaho a state. That document explicitly defined a militia. Then, on another March 14 – in 1891 – a new state governor signed the Act that formally organized the militia, soon to be called the Idaho National Guard. The legislation also provided an appropriation to supplement funds from the Federal government for uniforms and equipment.

Within about a year, the Governor found a use for the new organization: He called the Guard out to restore order in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts, where union unrest had escalated into violence.

In 1898, the U. S. President, for the first time, called out the Idaho Guard to meet a national emergency – the Spanish-American War. To bolster the severely undermanned Regular Army, President William McKinley mobilized Guards units from all over the country.
First Idaho in the Philippines, 1899. National Archives.

Under that directive, the Idaho Guard became the First Idaho Regiment, a unit of the U. S. Army Volunteers. The First Idaho landed in the Philippines in early August, and saw most of its action helping check the Filipino insurrection. The regiment returned to the States and demobilized in September 1899.

The Guard structure remained in place, of course. It’s next major call-up was for duty on the Mexican Border in 1916 [blog, June 18].

References: [Hawley]
Orlan J. Svingen (Ed.), The History of the Idaho National Guard, Idaho National Guard, Boise (1995).