Friday, August 1, 2014

Colonel William Dewey: Mining Investor, Road Builder, and Business Developer [otd 08/01]

Prominent Idaho pioneer Colonel William H. Dewey was born August 1, 1823 in Hampden County, Massachusetts (some sources give the birth year as 1822). Raised on a farm, he presumably followed that line until he moved to Idaho, by way of California, in 1863.

Dewey turned out to be what the Illustrated History called “a born miner.” A relative late-comer to the Owyhee mining regions, he balked at what he considered exorbitant real estate prices. Thus, in 1864 he and some associates started a new town that became Silver City. The county seat of Owyhee County moved there two years later. A new toll road that Dewey helped build along with Silas Skinner and another partner [blog, May 19] spurred the town’s growth.

Wedding photo, Belle seated with her sisters standing.
Canyon County Historical Society & Museum.
During the heyday of the South Mountain mines, 1871-1875, Dewey, to quote the Owyhee Directory, “owned nearly one-half of that prosperous camp.” In 1875, Dewey, then a widower with a young son, married Belle Hagan. Soon after that, he opened the Black Jack Mine, which developed into a most valuable property.

Dewey suffered a severe setback in 1884-1885. He was first convicted of murder for a shooting affray, but a retrial acquitted him on the grounds of self defense. Winning, however, put him heavily in debt for legal fees. Persistence and his skill as a prospector recouped his fortune, and then some.

Colonel Dewey, Illustrated History.
In 1889, the Colonel began selling off mining properties. He was, of course, approaching 70 years of age and perhaps contemplated a well-deserved retirement. However, Dewey’s overall business activity soon picked up again. In 1896, he helped found the Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railway, which eventually linked Murphy with the Oregon Short Line station in Nampa.

Booneville, located 2-3 miles northwest of Silver City, had been a thriving town in the late 1860s, but then withered away. In 1896, Dewey purchased the town site and rejuvenated its business and mining operations. That included building the topnotch Hotel Dewey.

Dewey also looked further afield. He purchased interests in several  central Idaho mining properties and also organized the Idaho Northern Railway Company. That firm then extended the Murphy-Nampa rail line on into Emmett. Dewey’s railroad projects increased his involvement with the town of Nampa, where he became owner of 2,000 lots through a mortgage purchase deal.

Dewey Palace Hotel.
Canyon County Historical Society & Museum.
The Deweys moved there in about 1900 and the colonel commissioned the construction of the Dewey Palace Hotel. In his description of it, Hiram T. French wrote, “At the time of its erection it seemed to be a structure all out of proportion to the size of the town, for it was a magnificent building.”

When the hotel was completed in 1902, he and Belle moved into an apartment there. Sadly, the colonel had little time to enjoy it. He passed away in May of the following year, after a lifetime of intense effort and incredible accomplishment.

Belle managed the Nampa properties for a number of years after his death. Recently, a redevelopment effort began in downtown Nampa: Backers call it the Belle District, in honor of Belle (Hagan) Dewey.
                                                                                 
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railroad (1896-1898),” Reference Series No. 218, Idaho State Historical Society (January 1993)
A Historical, Descriptive and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, Owyhee Avalanche Press (January 1898).
“History of the Belle District,” The Belle District, Nampa, Idaho.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gooding College President and Methodist Minister Charles Wesley Tenney [otd 07/31]

Charles Wesley Tenney, LL.D., was born in Vancouver, Washington on July 31, 1873. His father, Horace Dewey Tenney from Vermont, pioneered in Washington by way of California in 1863. Horace became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution through his great-grandfather, Josiah, who served three years with the Third Massachusetts Regiment. Charles graduated from Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, in 1898, with a Bachelor’s degree (Ph.B). He immediately enrolled at the Oregon Law School.

However, during his time at Willamette, Tenney had also been designated a Deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thus, after a year at the Law School he was called to teach at the Montana Wesleyan College in Helena, Montana. Charles arrived as Professor of Civics and Economics for the fall semester (Helena Independent, September 14, 1899).
Helena, ca 1908. Library of Congress.
After two years, Tenney was placed in full control of the college, although he was not given the top title. Then, in August 1903, Charles was ordained in the ministry, and was thereafter referred to as the President of the College. In 1908, he obtained his Master’s degree from George Washington University, in Washington, D. C.

Tenney remained President of the College until 1913, when he became Rural School Inspector for the state of Montana. He held that position into 1917, and then became Superintendent of Schools at Libby, Montana. During the summer of that year, Charles taught classes on rural school organization and leadership at Syracuse University. He also gave summer institute lectures at two schools in South Dakota (Anaconda Standard, April 16, 1917).

In 1918, Tenney was called to the Presidency of Gooding College, located south of Gooding, Idaho. The Methodist Episcopal Church established the College in 1917. The school had moved from temporary quarters into new buildings at the end of November. Before the church assigned Tenney there in September 1918, the school was apparently headed by a Vice President.

Charles was formally installed as President on March 21, 1919, in a program that included Idaho Governor D. W. Davis [blog April 23] and former governor and future U. S. Senator Frank R. Gooding. The school offered a Bachelor of Arts degree, being particularly strong in the fine arts.

In 1927, Charles received an LL.D. from Helena’s Intermountain Union College, a predecessor to Rocky Mountain College. Dr. Tenney would see Gooding College through a period of growth, followed by its decline. Unfortunately, the Great Depression crippled the College, as it did many other small schools. By the mid-1930s, Charles had come under pressure to add non-academic classes (“manual arts,” presumably) to the curriculum. He resigned as of the end of the 1934-1935 school year (The Oregonian, April 17, 1935).
Gooding College. National Register of Historic Places
Gooding College folded in 1938, and the property was donated to the state of Idaho in 1941. The buildings housed a tuberculosis hospital for over twenty years after 1946. The main structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. More recently, part of the property has been converted to a bed and breakfast.

Dr. Tenney worked at the Institute of Religious Studies on the University of Idaho Campus for about a year. He then spent about four years as an “office employee” for a religious correspondence school, working from Portland, Oregon.

Starting in about September 1940, Charles served as a “supply pastor” in and around the city. The following year, he became the regular pastor at Bennett Chapel, a small Methodist church in East Portland. Tenney finally retired from active ministry in late 1943. He passed away in November 1947.
                                                                                
References: [Defen]
“Ailment Fatal to Educator,” The Oregonian, Portland (November 30, 1947).
“Educational News – Idaho,” Journal of Education: New England and National, Volume 89, Boston (January 2, 1919).
"Gooding College," National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service (1983).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chief Pocatello Signs "Box Elder" Peace Treaty [otd 07/30]

On July 30, 1863, Shoshone Chief Pocatello signed the Treaty of Box Elder. In return for promises of food and other compensation for the game and land preempted by whites, the Chief agreed to cease his attacks on Oregon Trail travelers and southeast Idaho settlers.

Chief Pocatello sculpture*.
[Portneuf] Valley Pride project.
The man whom whites called "Pocatello" was born in 1815-1825 somewhere in the Grouse Creek area of Utah, 35-40 miles south of Oakley, Idaho. He grew up to become a strong-minded, decisive chief.

The tribe migrated seasonally through Idaho and Utah: north to the Snake, east to the Portneuf and Blackfoot rivers, and then south along the Bear River. Sometimes, they wintered near the Great Salt Lake. They encountered no serous difficulties with the mountain men who shared their territory after about 1825.

Osborne Russell, for example, lived with the local Indians during the winter of 1840-1841. They passed the time in conversation in which “The principal topic which was discussed was the political affairs of the Rocky Mountains: The state of governments among the different tribes, the personal characters of the most distinguished warriors Chiefs etc.”

But then the California gold rush brought hordes of travelers through the region. Also, Mormons began to settle there, pushing the Indians off the land. What started the trouble is impossible to say, and matters little: counter-attack followed attack, atrocity matched atrocity.

By around 1860, the chief had a reputation as a "bad" Indian, and whites blamed him for many attacks he had nothing to do with. Then, on January 29, 1863, Volunteer troops under Colonel Patrick Connor slaughtered several hundred Shoshones at the Battle of Bear River (also called the "Bear River Massacre").

Shoshone Leaders. Utah State Historical Society.
Pocatello's band had no involvement in the Battle. Still, the heavy losses shocked every Shoshone and the pressure that followed forced the chief to sign the Box Elder treaty. Five years later, the Bridger Treaty of 1868 pushed the Shoshones onto the Fort Hall Indian Reservation [blog, June 14].

Indifference, and probably some corruption in the Indian Agency, basically nullified the promises made in those treaties. In 1878, all the broken promises, and other grievances, finally sparked the Bannock War [blog, June 8]. Although some Shoshones fought in that conflict, Pocatello took no part. By then, deeply weary and discouraged, the chief had withdrawn from an active leadership role. He died in 1884.

A final word about the name, which lives on as the city in southeast Idaho. It's origin is completely lost in time. We do know it's not Shoshone-Bannock: Neither language has an "L" sound. Pocatello's daughter asserted that the name had no meaning, implying it was just a nonsense term.

Yet white's called him that even before 1860, and neither trappers nor emigrants were much given to overt creativity. We do know newcomers frequently learned tribal and individual names from outsiders first, and often from enemies. That suggests possible word corruptions from Spanish, French, Nez Perce, Paiute, Piegan, or any of the other language-speakers the Shoshones regularly met. We'll probably never know for sure.

* Sculptor JD Adcox
                                                                                 
References: Brigham D. Madsen, Chief Pocatello: The "White Plume," University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City (1986).
Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshoni, The Caxton Printers, CaIdwell, Idaho (1980)..
“The Name Pocatello,” Reference Series No. 37, Idaho State Historical Society (May 1966).
“Pocatello’s [Shoshoni] Band,” Reference Series No. 818, Idaho State Historical Society (184).
Osborne Russell, Aubrey L. Haines (ed.), Journal of a Trapper, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1965).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Newspaperwoman and Women’s Suffrage Advocate Abigail (Scott) Duniway [otd 07/29]

On July 29, 1852, Oregon Pioneer Abigail Jane Scott wrote in her party's journal, "Three miles brought us to Goose Creek; There is grass enough here for a small party of cattle; The water is not very good, being warm and muddy."
“Emigrants Crossing the Plains,” Henry Bryan Hall engraving.
Library of Congress.

Goose Creek was an important watering place on the Oregon Trail, located near where Burley is today. Abigail's father, John Tucker Scott, had assigned her primary responsibility for keeping a daily journal of the trip. She was 18 years old.
Their story supports the point that, by and large, poor families did not emigrate to the western Territories. They either had to already own much of the outfit – wagons, draft animals, and other equipment – or purchase it. The cost of provisions for the long journey added to their initial outlay.

The Scott train reached Idaho in mid-July. Her first impressions were mixed: "We encamped near the Bear River and find good grass; The mosquitoes are troublesome in the extreme; passed four graves."

At "The Cedars," future site of Milner Dam, the Snake River constricts into a cleft half as wide and twice as deep as before. Abigail wrote, "The river here runs through a rocky kanyon. The current is remarkably swift and the water tumbles over the rocks with a roaring noise; ... Huge piles of rock rise up in bold array around me with often a cedar nodding at their tops."

Here, the party experienced a tragedy when the men drove their small band of cattle down to the river for a vital drink. The herd bolted across the river and, sadly, a "worthy young man" drowned in the process of recovering them.

In fact, death was a constant companion of the Oregon Trail pioneers. Just after the train left Idaho, Abigail wrote, "There are two graves near our camp, of a recent date; We have seen several graves every day for the past week but I have beene rather negligent, and consequently took no note of them; Some of our folks are yet quite sick."

Abigail Scott Duniway.
Library of Congress.
In Oregon, Abigail taught school briefly before marrying Benjamin C. Duniway in 1853. When an accident restricted Ben to light work, Abigail supported the family in various ways. Mainly she worked as a writer, lecturer, and editor of the New Northwest newspaper, which she started in 1871. She made the paper a vehicle for advocating women's rights.

Duniway lectured all over the Northwest, including many appearances in Idaho. Also, from about 1886 until 1894, Abigail helped run a livestock ranch in Idaho's Pahsimeroi Valley. Although she deferred to Idaho leaders, she always took a proactive approach in her advocacy of women's rights.

She visited Boise two months after the legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution to put a women's suffrage amendment on the ballot in 1896. In a public lecture, she praised the men who had passed the measure and asked, “Will you, women of Idaho, sit supinely by, and let your proffered opportunity go by default because of your own apathy, or will you help those men, by becoming your own standard bearers … ?”

Her message helped energize support groups to push the amendment all over Idaho. The measure passed easily that fall [blog, Nov 3].

Duniway was less successful in Oregon, where she lived after 1894. That state finally did grant women the right to vote in 1912. Abigail died in 1915, too early to celebrate passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
                                                                                 
References: [French]
Ellen Druckenbrod, Abigail Scott Duniway & Idaho's Woman Suffrage Movement, Boise Public Library, Boise, Idaho (2005).
Abigail Scott Duniway, Path Breaking, James, Kerns & Abbott Co., Portland, Oregon (1914).
Abigail Jane Scott, "Journal of a Trip to Oregon," Covered Wagon Women, Vol. 5, Kenneth L. Homes, David C. Duniway (eds.), University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1997).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cowboys Drive Cattle Across Idaho into Wyoming and Nevada [otd 07/28]

On July 28, 1876, cowboy cook William Emsley Jackson wrote in his diary, "Three emigrant teams passed us while in camp – are being rushed right along now. Five herds of cattle between here and Georgetown."
Working chuckwagon.

Georgetown, Idaho is located about 12 miles north of Montpelier, in the southeast corner of the state. Jackson's diary emphasizes the point that, by the mid-1870s, stockmen were driving large cattle bands east across Idaho. The drive for which William Emsley Jackson cooked was one of two herds belonging to G. W. Lang and a Mr. Shadley. They had purchased about four thousand head in Oregon and split them into two more manageable drives.

Idaho had been an importer of live cattle in the early years of the decade, starting with herds from Oregon and California. They also trailed large bands of cheap Texas cattle into the Territory. That continued even as late as 1873.

Yet as early as 1870, a stockman had driven two thousand surplus sheep from Oregon into Montana. In 1874, Oregon drovers trailed hundreds, if not thousands of cattle across Idaho to ranges and markets in Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. By then, or 1875 at the latest, Idaho stockmen also had surpluses. Newspaper reports show they were driving herds to Winnemucca, Nevada for shipment to California.

The Washington and Oregon herds generally followed one of two routes across Idaho. One roughly back-tracked the southern Oregon Trail along that side of the Snake River. The other route crossed the Snake early, veered south of Boise, and turned east towards Fairfield and south of Arco (neither of which existed then). From there, they continued to the ford that crossed the Snake north of Eagle Rock (today's Idaho Falls).

Jackson joined the drive in May. Unfortunately, he lost the booklet he started with, so his actual day-to-day observations don't resume until the latter part of June. The herd was then 20-25 miles west of today's Twin Falls. On July 8th, the drive reached the Raft River, where they camped.
Cattle on the move, National Park Service.

Six days later, they crossed the Portneuf River. Jackson wrote, "Two emigrant wagons passed us before we got out of camp." He then described the area and concluded, "it is a beautiful country, though I should judge it is too wet and owing to the altitude, too cold for a farming country. I understand this to be the Indian reservation. There are thousands of acres of good hay land in this valley that never saw a sickle."

After passing Georgetown on the 28th, the Lang-Shadley herd went on by Montpelier. Jackson said, "The principal occupation of the people of this region is stock raising."

A later observation confirmed that Idaho cattle were also being trailed east. Out on the Laramie Plain in Wyoming, Jackson wrote, "We pass a herd of about 500 cattle from Marsh Valley, Idaho. Their destination was Laramie."

A few months later, the Idaho Statesman announced (February 24, 1877), that stockman Edward Pinkham was planning a cattle drive from his ranch near the mouth of the Payette River. He intended to "start as early as the grass will permit, and probably drive as far as the Laramie valley."

Late that year, the Statesman (December 11, 1877) noted that, "Mr. Pinkham sold out his band at fair prices." However, Pinkham felt he might have done better had he grazed the herd over the winter so they could regain the weight lost on the drive.
                                                                                 
References: William Emsley Jackson, J. Orin Oliphant (ed.), William Emsley Jackson's Diary..., Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington (1984).
David L. Shirk, Martin F. Schimdt (ed.), The Cattle Drives of David Shirk, Champoeg Press, Portland, Oregon (1956).
J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1968).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Methodist Minister Performs First Religious Service in Idaho [otd 07/27]

Nathaniel J. Wyeth, 1840.
Illustration for Harper’s Magazine,
November 1892.
On July 27, 1834, Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth was working at his new Fort Hall site [blog, July 14]. In his Journal he recorded that a Frenchman named "Kanseau" had been killed during a horse race.

Kanseau worked for the Hudson's Bay Company and, Wyeth wrote, "his comrades erected a decent tomb for him. Service for him was performed by the Canadians in the Catholic form, by Mr. Lee in the Protestant form, and by the Indians in their form, as he had Indian family. He at least was well buried."

The Catholic form was surely the ad hoc performance one might expect from a rough band of men who had been away from civilization for years. However, the Reverend Jason Lee would have performed the official Methodist funerary rites, so Lee is credited with conducting the first European religious services held in Idaho.

Lee was born near the tiny village of Stanstead, which now straddles the Canadian border. At the time, the area was part of Vermont, so Lee was born a U. S. citizen. He spent several years as a logger, then felt "the call" and attended Wesleyan Academy, a Methodist prep school.

Then a sequence that was apparently equal parts religious fervor and well-meaning humbug captured the imagination of church leaders. The scheme is too convoluted to give the details here. In sum, zealous churchmen learned of a fruitless meeting between an Indian delegation and William Clark, now essentially Indian Agent for the West. These evangelists transformed the Indians’ confused inquiry into an eloquent, heart-felt plea for religious enlightenment.

As a result, the church felt a need to send missionaries to carry the white man's religion to the "benighted savages" of the Oregon Country. (That designation encompassed all of our Pacific Northwest, plus a goodly chunk of today's British Columbia).

Rev. Jason Lee.
Oregon Historical Society.
To the man tasked with selecting a leader, Lee – sturdy and vigorous from his hard work outdoors – seemed the only possible candidate. But neither Lee nor, apparently, anyone else in the church had the slightest notion of how to organize an expedition into the wilds of the Oregon Country. 

Enter Nathaniel Wyeth, preparing for his second trading venture into the area. His extant letters give no indication as to why he agreed to shepherd the missionary party west, although some imaginative and plausible ideas have been advanced. Wyeth might have simply decided that the presence of American missionaries would encourage emigration from the States. That, in turn, would help him break the British-Canadian monopoly in the Oregon Country.

Wyeth's second venture failed as miserably as the first. However, if he did foresee the Methodist party as an opening wedge, he was indeed correct. Jason Lee turned out to be a better settlement builder than missionary, although he founded quite a number of missions. He proved far more effective at helping to organize a new, American government for what became Oregon Territory.
                                                                                 
References: [B&W], [French]
Malcom Clark, Eden Seekers: The Settlement of Oregon, 1818-1862, Houghton Mifflin Company (1981).
Nathaniel J. Wyeth, Don Johnson (ed.), The Journals of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth's Expeditions to the Oregon Country 1831-1836, Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington (1984).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reynolds Distributes First Issue of The Idaho Statesman, in Boise [otd 07/26]

Statesman inaugural issue.
On Tuesday, July 26, 1864, the first issue of the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, a small four-column publication, came off the presses in Boise City. The newspaper debuted that day because of some enthusiastic, and practical, advocacy by a team of Boise businessmen.

Statesman founder James S. Reynolds told an 1870 Census taker he had been born in New York State, in 1830. However, the Illustrated History of the State of Idaho had information that he was born in Maine, and had worked “in the lumber camps of the Pine Tree State.” In any case, he later made his way to Oregon by way of California. At The Dalles, he met two brothers, Thomas and Richard Reynolds (who bore no relation to James). These young men owned a printing outfit and knew how to use it.

At that time, the Boise Basin gold fields were booming. The men compared notes and decided that a newspaper in Idaho City could be a money-making venture. So off they went, getting as far as Boise City on July 15, 1864. There, they stopped at the Riggs & Agnew store to ask about the best way to get their heavy load to their destination.

Henry C. Riggs and James D. Agnew, two of the founders of Boise City, grew very excited when they learned what the threesome intended. They quickly gathered a group of fellow businessmen to propose that the Reynolds site their newspaper in their small hamlet on the Boise River. They surely must have also pointed out that Idaho City already had three established newspapers.

Just eleven days later that first issue hit the streets. The publication included generally standard fare: news of the war, Territorial political conventions, many advertisements, and so on. It also contained a slam at the editor of a rival newspaper, the Boise News in Idaho City. The brief item described him as “a large sized brick.”

They had only been able to find a two-room log cabin to house their venture, but made do. James Reynolds served as editor, giving the paper a Republican, abolitionist, and pro-Union bent. Oddly enough, the Reynolds brothers, from Missouri, and many of the paper's backers and readers held Southern sympathies.
Statesman building, 1866. Idaho Statesman archives.

Still, the partners managed to work together and the newspaper became a resounding success. Early subscriptions ran $1 for a week, $3 for a month, or $20 for a year.

About two years after that first issue, the Reynolds brothers sold their share to James and moved back to Missouri. In 1869, Reynolds tried to sell the paper, but the deal fell through. Three years later, he finally found a buyer, former judge Milton Kelly.

Kelly changed the paper to a daily in 1888, which has been its main schedule ever since. A year later, he sold the Statesman to a group led by livestock dealer Calvin Cobb. Cobb operated the paper until his death in 1928. Under his leadership, the newspaper became less and less partisan, but still held its generally-acknowledged position as the "lead" newspaper for the state of Idaho.

The Statesman remained under local ownership until 1963, when it became part of a large newspaper holding company.
                                                                                 
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Rocky Barker, “It's the Statesman's 145th anniversary! From Lincoln to Obama, we have been there,” The Idaho Statesman, Boise (July 26, 2009).
“James S. Reynolds, ca. 1830-September 14, 1897,” Reference Series No. 593, Idaho State Historical Society (1981).
Idaho Statesman, Official Web Site.