Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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).

Monday, July 27, 2015

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).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Long-Time U. S. Senator Frank Church [otd 07/25]

Senator Church. Library of Congress.
U.S. Senator and third-generation Idahoan Frank Forrester Church was born July 25, 1924 in Boise. In 1942, he started school at Stanford University, but left to enlist in the U. S. Army the following year. After the war, despite a bout with cancer, he completed his education, obtaining a law degree from Stanford in 1950.

He opened a Boise law practice, but quickly embarked upon his real goal. He wanted to be a professional politician like his hero, William A. Borah [blog, June 29]. In 1952, Church ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature. Yet he succeeded four years later in a bid for a U. S. Senate seat.

Church would be re-elected to the Senate for three more terms. Thus, this short essay can only touch the highlights of his career. Although only a freshman Senator, he helped shepherd the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law, and continued to support other civil rights legislation. Appointed to the Special Committee on Aging in 1967, Church became Chairman of that group five years later. He thus actively sponsored and promoted medical, housing, and other programs for the elderly.

He supported the limited early U. S. involvement in Vietnam, but then led the successful fight to end our heavier role in the conflict. Church also gained much notoriety for his aggressive investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency. His committee certainly found much to condemn, and much that needed fixing. However, corrective measures imposed by Congress had many unintended consequences. For example, agents who seek information from knowledgeable locals – "Humlnt" or Human Intelligence – must often deal with unsavory, even reprehensible characters. New Congressional guidelines made such contacts difficult, if not next to impossible.

Many have asked how Church, with his mostly liberal views, spent four terms in the Senate from what is acknowledged to be a conservative state. His help to the elderly was definitely a plus. Also, despite caricatures to the contrary, Idahoans have a tradition of embracing some liberal (so-called) causes. For example, only three states preceded Idaho in granting women the right to vote (almost a quarter century before the Nineteenth Amendment).

Church opposed a liberal position that would have been a "third rail" issue in Idaho: gun control. He was also very careful in how he handled agricultural legislation. But perhaps more than anything else, the Senator was a master of "pork barrel" politics. He funneled money to the state far in excess of what its minor population might otherwise warrant.
Wilderness area, Idaho. Bureau of Land Management photo.
Finally, some of his environmental positions resonated with many voters. (Some, however, found them elitist, and complained about the loss of jobs.) The Frank Church/River-of-No-Return Wilderness Area in central Idaho is so named in his honor.

In 1976, Church pursued the Democratic Party nomination for President. Although he won four primaries, he chose to end his candidacy. About that same time, Church helped secure Senate passage of treaties to end U. S. ownership of the Panama Canal. His advocacy of those accords, plus other issues, allowed Congressman Steve Symms to defeat Church’s bid for re-election in 1980. Church died of pancreatic cancer in April 1984.
                                                                                 
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Special Collections: The Frank Church Papers, Boise State University (1988)
“Frank Forrester Church,” Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress.
Stephen F. Knott, “Congressional Oversight and the Crippling of the CIA,” History News Network, George Mason University (November 4, 2001).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Railroad Begins Narrow Gauge Track Conversion in Eastern Idaho [otd 07/24]

On Sunday July 24, 1887, multiple crews assembled at intervals along the 262 miles of narrow-gauge track between Pocatello, Idaho and Garrison, Montana. They worked for the Utah & Northern Railroad (U&N RR) Company. This event crowned a lengthy effort to prepare for the moment.
U&N RR train, Beaver Canyon, Idaho, ca 1885.
Idaho Museum of Natural History.

The U&N RR first completed its line across eastern Idaho and into Montana in 1879-1880. The company had made an early decision to run narrow gauge. Narrow gauge railroads are much cheaper to build than standard gauge, especially in mountainous country. Clearly, crews have to move less material to make cuts, fills, and tunnels, and to lay the road bed. Plus, bridges don’t have to be as wide. Less obviously, narrow gauge trains can turn through tighter curves. This allows the tracks to bend around obstacles that would have to be removed for standard gauge.

However, narrow gauge trains carry a smaller payload, and they are (obviously) incompatible with standard gauge systems. Both the Union Pacific and the Oregon Short Line railroads ran standard gauge. Thus, goods moving between the systems had to be bodily transferred from one to the other. Operators had some tricks to improve the process, but it still added time and expense to all their shipments.

The problem became more acute as shipping volume rose. In 1886, the line purchased ten new engines from the Brooks Locomotive Works. These more powerful machines weighed a third more than the U&N's older stock, and over-stressed the lighter narrow gauge rails, particularly on some curves.
Brooks-built steam locomotive, ca. 1890.
Grant County [Oregon] Historical Museum.

To prepare for the conversion to standard gauge, management dispatched crews to widen the roadbed, including all the cuts, fills, and bridges. In some areas, new bed had to be laid to straighten out curves too tight for standard-gauge trains. Workers performed most of these tasks while regular train service continued.

The next step had to be completed in small stages. One team moved along a segment of old line, tearing up the light narrow-gauge rails and short ties. Behind them, another group laid full-length ties and the new, heavier rails. They would fully anchor one rail, while the other got just enough spikes for short-term operation. This had to be completed before the next scheduled train came through.

Next, however, they had to complete the actual switch from narrow to standard width all at once, to avoid a major interruption in service. Hence, on July 24, the U&N gathered enough crews to change the entire line after the last scheduled train passed over the narrow gauge track.

Records indicate that the conversion began at 2:00 o'clock the next morning: pull spikes, move rail over, drive new spikes, then on to the next rail. The whole job was done by the early afternoon of July 25, with no break in service.

As soon as reports reached Pocatello that the first section was done, the Superintendent of the Idaho Division started north with a short special train (Idaho Register, Idaho Falls, July 30, 1887).). The changeover was then celebrated with stops at each station along the way.
                                                                                 
References: [B&W]
Merrill D. Beal, Intermountain Railroads: Standard and Narrow Gauge, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho
George Woodman Hilton, American Narrow Gauge Railroads, Stanford University Press (1990).
Alex Hyslop, “Terrifying Tale of a Killer Steam Engine,” Pocatello Tribune (March 20, 1900).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gambler Patterson Shoots and Kills Ex-Sheriff Pinkham [otd 07/23]

Sumner Pinkham.
Idaho City Historical Foundation.
On Sunday, July 23, 1865, businessman and ex-sheriff Sumner Pinkham took a hired carriage from Idaho City to a resort about two miles west of town. Locals often enjoyed a relaxing dip in the pool fed by the warm springs out back. According to some, Pinkham and a few friends were soon in the bar singing raucous anti-Secesh songs. Yet others would dispute even that apparently simple fact.

A native of Maine, Pinkham had joined the rush to California gold in 1849 and then knocked around the towns there and possibly in Oregon for the next decade. He moved to the Idaho gold camps in 1862. When Idaho became a Territory, Pinkham’s Radical Republican politics – he was an ardent Abolitionist –won him appointment as Boise County’s first sheriff.

However, a massive influx of Southerners had aligned the voter roles to favor Democrats, and the next election turned Pinkham out. Ferdinand “Ferd” Patterson was among those Southerners.

From Tennessee, apparently, he too had tried his hand in California, then in Oregon, and finally in Idaho. Records indicate that by the time Patterson reached Idaho, he had killed at least two men in gun fights, but got off on “self-defense” pleas. Moreover, charged for assault on a disreputable female companion in Oregon, he had simply skipped bail. Although he had done some prospecting, Patterson was primarily a professional gambler.

As the Civil War neared its end, Ferd complained bitterly about the South’s impending defeat. He and Pinkham had already exchanged hot words. Then, with the war over, the ex-sheriff rubbed salt in Southern wounds by staging a 4th of July parade in which pro-Union men marched through the streets, singing patriotic and anti-Secesh songs.

Ferd Patterson.
Idaho City Historical Foundation.
On July 23, Patterson entered the resort bar while Pinkham was paying his bill. At this point, Ferd apparently ignored the ex-sheriff and went on to the warm pools. Then, witnesses concurred, Patterson exited the resort while Pinkham stood outside waiting for a carriage back into Idaho City. Here, witnesses agreed on only two points: Patterson said the word “draw” in some (disputed) context, then taunted Pinkham as an “Abolitionist son-of-a-bitch.”

Who drew first was also in dispute. Patterson certainly shot quicker, before Pinkham got off one inaccurate response and then took a second bullet. Ferd fled to avoid any immediate retaliation, but soon gave himself up.

As usual in such affrays, witnesses gave muddled and contradictory testimony, and friend and foe alike expected an acquittal. After being freed by reason of “self-defense,” Patterson left the region for Walla Walla, fearing he wasn’t safe in Idaho City.

He did not, however, go far enough.  The following February, a man shot Patterson full of holes while he visited a barbershop. Most in the region saw the shooting as vengeance for the Pinkham killing. The shooter claimed that Patterson had threatened him, and the first trial ended in a hung jury.

During the wait for a new trial, the man walked away from jail. Authorities arrested him a few months later in San Francisco, but he was released before he could be extradited (Idaho Statesman, November 1, 1866). He then disappeared from history.
                                                                               
References: [B&W]
Boise County, Idaho.
Bill Gulick, Outlaws of the Pacific Northwest, Caxton Press, Caldwell Idaho (2000).
Arthur A. Hart, Basin of Gold: Life in Boise Basin, 1862-1890, Idaho City Historical Foundation (© 1986, Fourth printing 2002).
N. P. Langford, Vigilante Days and Ways, Montana State University (1957). Original publication in 1890.