Friday, February 24, 2017

Rancher, Attorney, and Idaho Chief Justice Alfred Budge [otd 02/24]

Judge Alfred Budge.
H. T. French photo.
Alfred Budge, Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, was born February 24, 1868 in Providence, Utah, just south of Logan.

Two years later, the family moved to Paris, Idaho, where his father William played a prominent role in the Mormon Church as well as in Idaho politics. William served two terms in the Territorial legislature and, in 1899, was elected to the state Senate.

Alfred attended preparative academies in Logan and Provo, Utah, before entering the University of Michigan Law School. He earned an LL.B. degree in 1892, and returned to Idaho, where he was admitted to the bar. Just two years later, voters elected Albert to be District Attorney in Bear Lake County. At the end of that term, he was elected county Prosecuting Attorney. About that time, he also served on the Paris city council.

According to the Illustrated History, about two-thirds of the registered voters in Bear Lake County belonged to the Democratic Party at that time. The writers made particular note of the fact that Alfred, like his father, belonged to the Republican Party … yet both received substantial majorities when they ran for local offices.

Until events led him to focus on state-wide concerns, Budge took an active role in business matters in southeast Idaho and northern Utah. Besides a ranch property, he owned shares in a flouring mill, and helped promote and build a hydropower plant to furnish electricity to area communities. He also had interests in the Bear Lake State Bank, serving as Director and Vice President, and another in Cache County, Utah.

Alfred continued in county-level legal offices until 1902, when – in a hard-fought election – he became Judge of Idaho's Fifth Judicial District. Re-elected for a second term, he moved his family to Pocatello in 1911-1913. He held that position until 1914, when the Governor appointed him to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Idaho Capitol Building, ca 1915. J. H. Hawley photo..
At the next election, Budge ran successfully for the Court position and continued to do so – "most of the time without opposition" – for the next thirty years. In 1919, the Judge purchased a home in Boise and moved his family there (Idaho Statesman, March 16, 1919). He lived in Boise the rest of his life.

He acted as Chief Justice for a considerable portion of his time on the Supreme bench. With that long tenure, Budge participated in, and often led, the legal analyses that virtually defined the state's jurisprudence.

In 1929, the Judge was appointed (The Oregonian, November 25, 1929) as the President of the first Idaho Judicial Council, a body created to review and improve judicial procedures and practices in the state. (The Council concept lapsed shortly thereafter in Idaho, and was not revived until 1967.)

Budge was half way through his sixth elected term on the Court when he died in January 1951.

His expertise was recognized outside the court: The University of Michigan awarded him an honorary Master of Arts degree, and the University of Idaho awarded him an honorary Doctor of Law degree. He spent a summer as Visiting Professor at the Northwestern University Law School, and regularly served as a Special Lecturer at the University of Idaho College of Law.
References: [B&W], [Defen], [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chinook Thaw Floods Lower Clearwater and Other Rivers in the Region [otd 02/23]

The Lewiston Teller newspaper reported that on Sunday, February 23, 1879, "a regular Chinook visited us." The report provided no firm numbers, but the notorious Chinook wind can raise air temperatures by as much as 50-60ºF in a matter of hours.
Low ground flooded in Lewiston, ca. 1890.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In the day or so before, warm air had moved in from the coast. West of Lewiston, gushers from thawing in the high ground quickly raised the level of the Snake River. At the same time, the temperate air mass had rotated around south of town. Heavy runoff from those mountains had further swelled the river and, with no where to go to the west, had already caused high water around Lewiston.

The Chinook then flowed over the city and spurred similar melting in the ridges and plateaus to the east. The paper said, "On Monday the Clearwater was full from bank to bank with floating ice."

Creeks all across the area were correspondingly high, many carrying "much debris and small rocks." As a result, the paper said, "Roads were rendered entirely impassable by reason of the road beds being washed out in many places."

To make matters worse, the torrents carried away many smaller bridges. Only the desperate or foolhardy ventured about on horseback. In most areas, stagecoach traffic slowed to a crawl or came to a standstill – the Teller noted that the mails were almost universally late. Ice jams totally halted ferries trying to cross to the north: "The northern mail did not depart until Wednesday noon owing to ice in the Clearwater."
Four-horse stage. Library of Congress.

The Monday stage to Walla Walla tried to make it through, but a swollen creek overturned the vehicle at a crossing ten to fifteen miles out. The driver and a passenger finally struggled from the waters about 150 yards downstream. The lead horses somehow escaped the rigging and scrambled through. Some Indians rescued the other two horses and the coach about a third of a mile down

At Lapwai, the flood undermined the foundations of the saw and grist mill and swept it down the river. Not only did the water swallow up "a considerable quantity of wheat," it caught two men inside. The torrent carried the men downstream "about a mile and a half before they could be rescued, and their ultimate escape from death was almost miraculous."

Water spread into many occupied areas and a major irrigation canal near Lewiston was damaged. Debris filled everything that didn't simply wash away. A log "boom" – a floating barrier to confine a supply of timber – broke and hundreds of logs tumbled downstream, causing further damage.

Stories of impacts in other areas appeared for awhile afterwards. The Oregonian, in Portland, reported (March 8, 1879) heavy damage on that date along the Palouse River, to the north. Besides considerable property loss, a young man had been swept away and drowned. Another man, “with a bravery bordering on recklessness,” jumped into a rowboat and tried to save him, but failed.

As usual with such outbreaks, temperatures quickly fell back to normal and most of the flooding subsided in a few days. Unfortunately, the paper noted, "The whole section was damaged considerably and the loss will amount to many thousands of dollars."
Reference: [Illust-North]

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Freighter, Rancher, Mine Owner, and State Senator George Rogers [otd 02/22]

George Rogers. Illust-State photo.
Idaho state Senator George Bailey Rogers was born February 22, 1842 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, 35-40 miles west of Madison.

Dodgeville was a well-known center for lead mining, and young George worked in the mines as well as on his father’s farm. At the age of twenty, he emigrated to California. There, he adapted his mining skills to work in the quartz gold lodes.

After a year or two in California, George tried his hand in the gold fields of British Columbia. Then, in 1865, he returned to the States and prospected in the placer fields of the Boise Basin. Rogers worked hard, but never seems to have done well in the mines. Over the next four or five years, he tried mining in other parts of Idaho, in Montana, Nevada, and back to Montana.

At some point, he had met and become friends with Charles W. Berryman, another young man who grew up in the same Wisconsin lead mine country. Unlike Rogers, Berryman prospered in the Montana mines and returned to Wisconsin “comfortably fixed.” Then, in the spring of 1870, he traveled back to Montana and formed a partnership with Rogers in the freight business. The firm of Berryman & Rogers became one of the largest and best-known freight outfits in eastern Idaho and southern Montana.

However, in late 1881, Utah & Northern Railway tracks reached Butte, Montana. As early as the spring of 1880, the partners had begun looking for another line of work. They sold out in 1883 and turned to ranching and farming near Blackfoot, Idaho. With considerable land in the area, Berryman & Rogers soon began importing purebred cattle and blooded horses to upgrade their herds. For the next twenty years, the two would also be leaders in the development of the town of Blackfoot.
Blackfoot, Idaho, ca. 1898.  Illust-State photo.
On December 8, 1890, newly-elected Senator George B. Rogers was among the men who convened for the first meeting of the Idaho state legislature. He was one of fourteen Republican versus just four Democrats in the Senate. Among their most important early duties was the election of Idaho’s first two United States Senators. Rogers had only the one term in the state Senate. He did serve two terms as Bingham County Commissioner.

In October 1897, President William McKinley appointed Rogers to be the Receiver for the U. S. Land Office located in Blackfoot. As Receiver, he handled the paperwork to verify that settlers had satisfied the requirements of the Homestead Act so they could receive title to their land.

Then, the Idaho Statesman reported (December 9, 1900) that Rogers had purchased a home in Boise. The item said, “Mr. Rogers intends to move to Boise to reside permanently two years hence.”

Rogers never lost his zest for mining. From Boise he ran several mining companies across southern Idaho. For example, the Idaho Statesman reported (June 25, 1903) that, “George B. Rogers, who is president of the Intermountain Gold Mining company, arrived home yesterday from a visit to the mine owned by his company, east of Pocatello.”

He also invested in real estate and was president of the Canyon Canal Company, based in Emmett. Rogers passed away in September 1926.
References: [B&W], [Hawley], [Illust-State]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Emma Russell Yearian: Wife, Mother, and “Sheep Queen of Idaho” [otd 02/21]

Emma Russell, “Sheep Queen of Idaho,” was born February 21, 1866 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Her father had been born in Illinois and served in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War. By 1870, the family was back in Illinois, living near Chester, about 35 miles west and a bit north of Carbondale. After completing high school, Emma attended Southern Illinois Normal College (now Southern Illinois University) in Carbondale. She received her teaching certificate in 1883 and immediately came west to Idaho in search of a position.
Emma Yearian.
Lemhi County Historical Society.

She began as a tutor and governess for a family living 5-6 miles north of Salmon. She then spent the next two years teaching at tiny schools in the Lemhi Valley. Having been trained on the piano, she was also in demand to play at country dances around the area. At one of those dances, in 1887, she met Thomas Hodge Yearian, a young cattle rancher who played the fiddle at those dances.

Coincidentally, Thomas was born in DuQuoin, Illinois, a small town about 32 miles east Chester. However, the family moved west the same year Emma was born. They lived near Bannack, Montana (15-20 miles west of Dillon) for awhile before purchasing a ranch 25-30 miles up the Lemhi River from Salmon.

Thomas and Emma married in April 1889. Soon, the couple moved into a log cabin on what came to be called Yearian Creek. Between then and 1902, they had six children, one of whom died as a pre-teen.

About that time, Emma decided to go into the sheep business. Her decision was not a popular one, because the Lemhi and Salmon river valleys had always been viewed as cattle country. Thus, Emma had repeated problems with Idaho’s “Two Mile Limit” law, which prohibited the grazing of sheep anywhere within two miles of a cattle property. In reality, however, she and Thomas were ahead of their time, as more and more stockmen began raising both or switched entirely to sheep.

In any case, the “experiment” was a success. In 1910, the family moved from their old log cabin to a fine six-bedroom stone house, equipped with electric lights and indoor plumbing. Despite bouts of severe weather and down markets for wool and lamb, she persevered. It’s unclear exactly when she acquired the “Sheep Queen of Idaho” sobriquet, but it was well deserved and “stuck.”

She even found time to contributed to the literature of her industry. In 1920, the American Sheep Breeder and Wool Grower journal published Emma’s article about her experience in breeding range sheep. She had wondered if she could somehow avoid bringing in fresh “blooded” rams every year or two. (As a given ram’s progeny spread through a flock, the quality deteriorated due to in-breeding.) The first generation from her trial resulted in “splendid bunch of grade rams.” But the second generation was disastrous. Unfortunately, she wrote, “Instead of reproducing the good qualities of both sire and dam, they seemed to emphasize their poorer ones.”
Sheep Grazing. Library of Congress.

By the 1930s, the sheep operation had spread over 2,500 acres of range, with around 5,000 sheep.

Emma’s forceful personality and staunch Republican feelings led her into politics in 1930. She ran for the Idaho House of Representatives and became the first woman to represent Lemhi County in that body. (Some accounts describe her as the first ever woman Representative in Idaho, but that is not correct. The first three women were elected to the House in 1898 [blog, Oct 4].) Her re-election bid was swamped by the Democratic landslide in the next election cycle.

Emma continued her operation until very late in her life, despite a steady decline in U. S. demand for wool and lamb. She passed away on Christmas Day in 1951.
References: [Defen]
L. E. Bragg, More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Idaho Women, The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut (2001).
Fred Snook (Ed.), Centennial History of Lemhi County, Idaho, Lemhi County History Committee, Salmon, Idaho (1992).
Joseph E. Wing, Sheep Farming in America, The Breeder’s Gazette, Chicago, Illinois (1912)..
Emma R. Yearian, “Developing the Range Ewe,” American Sheep Breeder and Wool Grower, Vol. 40, No. 1, Chicago (January 1920).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Merchant, Mining Investor, Rancher, and Public Servant Alexander McKinlay [otd 02/20]

Pioneer rancher, prospector, and merchant Alexander Duncan McKinlay was born February 20, 1853 in Clayton County, Iowa, 20-40 miles northwest of Dubuque. In 1877, a year after he married in Iowa, he took up land on Idaho's northern Camas Prairie and went into farming.
Three-horse plow.
Library of Congress.

Almost immediately, he became involved in the Nez Perce War and the other Indian conflicts in 1878 and 1879 ... and acquitted himself well. The Illustrated History of the State of Idaho described him as "a man of the most desperate courage and of the highest order of patriotism."

Probably bolstered by that repute, he was elected an Idaho County Justice of the Peace in 1880. His farm also prospered: In 1882, and again in 1884, he had sufficient capital to finance and lead cattle drives into the northern mining regions.

In 1885, McKinlay decided to pursue opportunities in the Coeur d’Alene gold and silver mines. He and some partners located three tolerable claims, but prospecting was not his main interest. The Illustrated History of North Idaho said, "The earliest pioneer in Wallace, in a business sense, was Alexander D. McKinlay."

He and a partner first started a general merchandise business. Watching the early, explosive growth of the town, they began to focus more on real estate investment. To reduce their merchandising activities, in 1886 they sold off their grocery business. Their largest single real estate holding was the “Holohan-McKinlay Block,” a substantial two-story brick structure. The ground floor housed premium store space, with the second floor devoted to offices, apartments, and storage rooms.
Wallace, ca. 1888. Lewiston Tribune archive.

Soon, they dealt primarily in real estate. They did continue to operate a shop for cigars and other tobacco products. In the 1890s, McKinlay was twice elected a Justice of the Peace in Wallace, and then Probate Court Judge for Shoshone County. He was also twice elected to the Wallace City Council. In 1905, voters elected him to represent the district in the state House of Representatives.

At the end of that term, McKinlay moved to Twin Falls, where extensive irrigation projects had spurred farming and mixed ranching. Alexander invested in real estate and also began raising stock in the area. Voters around his new home elected him for the 1909 term in the House.

Later that year, he was appointed Executive Commissioner for Idaho’s exhibit at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle (Idaho Statesman, April 10, 1909). Despite the limited time to get ready, the Commission’s production was considered a great success [blog, March 29].

During the winter of 1911, McKinlay gathered some of his stock and loaded them on the railroad [blog, Aug 7] for transport to market. He rode in the caboose, since passenger space on a freight train was limited.

The train mounted the Blue Mountains in Oregon on the night of December 14. To assist the freight, a “helper” engine chugged up to the rear. Then, shortly after midnight, the pusher locomotive’s boiler exploded, sending twisted metal slashing through the caboose.

A Pendleton newspaper reported (December 14) that, “A. D. McKinley, a stockman accompanying a shipment to Portland, was instantly killed.”
References: [Blue], [Illust-North], [Illust-State]

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Poet, Attorney, and Public Servant Herbert Ferguson [otd 02/19]

Herbert Ferguson.
H. T. French photo.
Colonel Herbert Van Allen Ferguson was born February 19, 1852, in Three Mile Bay, New York state, about 65 miles north of Syracuse. After attending a preparatory institute in Rochester, he taught school in New York and in Michigan.

Clearly a talented and impressive young man, at the age of eighteen he served as a high school principal in New York. Ferguson then enrolled at the University of Michigan Law School, graduating with an LL.B degree in 1878.

After four years practicing law in Carthage, New York, Ferguson moved to Denver, Colorado. He practiced law there for five years, and also served a term in the state legislature. He then lived for two years in Leadville. During his time in Colorado, he served with their National Guard unit and attained the rank of Colonel.

After looking briefly at business prospects in Butte, Montana, Ferguson moved on to Salt Lake City. He worked there from 1889 to 1893 before relocating to Pocatello, Idaho. In his History, Hiram T. French tellingly described Ferguson as "interminably vigorous and intensively industrious."

He developed a reputation as “a most formidable opponent” in legal circles, no doubt aided by his impressive skills as a speaker. In fact, it appears he could have earned a living as a public lecturer, having had engagements all over the state.

For seven years, he worked for the Department of the Interior, at least part of the time as a Special Agent for the General Land Office. During his tenure, the Federal government threw so-called “surplus” lands inside the Fort Hall Indian Reservation open to white settlement.
Eager settlers and speculators await signal to enter Reservation, 1902.
Library of Congress.

Stockmen – especially sheep herders, as it happened – saw this as an opportunity to graze their herds on land not specifically claimed by homesteaders. Such range was, however, still part of the Reservation and not “public land” open for general use. Ferguson had to publish notices in regional newspapers to remind white interlopers that grazing there was forbidden.

Early the following year, Ferguson was sent to Vancouver, Washington to investigate fraudulent claims related to timber and quarrying in that area. He submitted his report after three or four months of work, but nothing much seems to have been done.

Ferguson also served as special attorney for the city of Pocatello as well as one term as Bannock County prosecuting attorney. In 1912, he was elected for a term in the Idaho legislature. While there, he served as the Chairman of the State Affairs committee.

Ferguson took an active role in the bar association, attended the Congregational church, and was a member of several fraternal societies.

On top of all that, he wrote and published poetry that was quite well received. His Rhymes of Eld, published in 1912, got generally good reviews. One reviewer deemed the poems “slight,” but considered them “brightly written with a good feeling for rhyme and rhythm.” “Slight” or not, the poems had staying power. In 2010, Kessinger Publishing re-released the book in hardcover and paperback versions … as part of its “Legacy Reprint Series.”

Ferguson passed away in July 1917.
References: [Blue], [French]
“Deaths: Herbert Van Allen Ferguson,” The Michigan Alumnus, Volume XXIV, The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan Publishers, Ann Arbor (1918).
“Reimbursement to H. V. A. Ferguson,” Statues of the United States of America, Passed at the Second Session of the Fifty-Seventh Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington (1903).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Idaho, Other Territories Can Now Get Land Grants for Colleges [otd 02/18]

Congressman Justin Morrill.
Library of Congress.
On February 18, 1881, Congress passed "an act to grant lands to Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming, for university purposes." These lands could then be sold to provide endowment funds for what we now call "land grant" universities; that is: "colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts."

The original "land grant college" law – the Morrill Act of 1862 – gave acreage "to the several states" based on their numbers of Congressmen: two Senators and a population-based slate of Representatives. Iowa was the first state to accept the terms of the Morrill Act. The legislature selected the existing* Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) to receive the benefits of the Act, so that school is generally considered the first land grant college.

Territories were not included and, of course, had no U. S. Senators or Representative anyway. The political entities named in the 1881 Act's title were all Territories. This law explicitly extended a form of the "land grant college" provision to those areas. Dakota Territory quickly took advantage of the new law, establishing Dakota Agriculture College (now South Dakota State University). The 1883 Territorial legislature provided funding for the first college building.

In general, however, territorial economies proved too weak to support such institutions, even with the grants. (Like Idaho, for example, Montana waited to attain statehood before establishing its land grant college.) When delegates gathered to write a constitution for the proposed state of Idaho, they took it for granted that a land grant college would follow. In particular, they wrote into that document not only that there would be such a university, but that it would be located in Moscow [blog, Oct 3].
Wheat harvest, ca. 1909. Project Gutenberg image.

The 1890 "Organic Act" that established the state of Idaho specifically noted that the lands granted to the Territory under the 1881 law were "hereby vested in the State of Idaho to the extent of the full quantity of seventy-two sections to the said state." The Act also made additional public land grants for a state Normal school, penitentiary, and various charitable and educational public institutions.

On the other hand, the Act also included the provision that “said Act of February 18, 1881, shall be so amended as to provide that none of said lands shall be sold for less than $10.00 per acre.”

Although contemporary records are largely silent on the point, such a stipulation suggests that speculators had been buying up the ceded acreage at bargain prices. That might explain why prior sales had not generated enough income to establish a college.

But even with that stipulation, stingy additional financing from the state kept the new University of Idaho on a tight budget. Construction of the main campus building began in 1891, but the structure was not completed until 1899.

* The Morrill Act and this 1881 follow-up proved quite effective. Perhaps twenty states or territories applied the land grant designation to existing schools. However, many of those institutions were barely holding on financially or were basically moribund. Their new status saved them from dissolution. About thirty states, like Idaho, founded totally new schools under the Act.
References: [Brit], [French], Hawley]