Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dec 29: Stagecoach Robbery Near Grangeville

On this day in 1897, citizens in Grangeville, Idaho, learned that the stagecoach from Lewiston had been robbed during the night. The stage had apparently arrived within 4 or 5 miles of town when two highwaymen stopped it. The robbers then relieved the two passengers of their valuables, such as they had, and ordered the driver to toss them the mail sacks. (Stagecoach with Camas Prairie in the background. Retouched U.S. Forest Service photo.)

The driver threw off a sack he knew contained nothing of particular value, but surreptitiously retained a second. (Evidence would soon confirm that these crooks were not too bright.) The robbers directed him back the way he had come. The driver started that way, but then retraced his path after the highwaymen were out of sight. The stage continued on into Grangeville.

Investigators traveled to the holdup site during the day to look for clues and perhaps tracks. They apparently found the looted mail sack because they were able to link another specific clue to the robbery: They found a “get out of town” notice served on one Charles A. Frush, identified as a “half-breed.” Such notices were generally handed out to drifters with no visible means of support who hung around town too long.

Frush was quickly arrested and he immediately “ratted out” his accomplice, a man named Daniel Hurley. Frush’s guilty plea and testimony that convicted Hurley did him no good. The Illustrated History said, “Both received life sentences.”

An Illustrated History of North Idaho, Western Historical Publishing Company (1903).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dec 28: Dr. Charles Gritman

On December 28, 1862, Charles L. Gritman, M.D. was born in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated from the Cincinnati Medical College in 1890, then practiced in that city until moving to Washington state in 1892. The following year Gritman opened a practice in Moscow, Idaho. There, the Illustrated History said, “he rapidly acquired a large and lucrative patronage.”

In 1897, he and a partner bought a large building on the corner of Main and Seventh Street and converted it into Latah County’s first hospital. The facility, then known as the Moscow Hospital, was “fitted up with all modern appliances and conveniences for the care of the sick.” (Building converted to Gritman's hospital. Latah County Historical Society photo.)

Having made his commitment to the area, Gritman settled down to provide quality, forward-thinking medical care. He and his wife Bertie also became social leaders  in the area. (Probably not coincidentally, his brother Fred ran a livery stable in Lewiston in 1902 after 20 years of stock raising in Washington.)

Eventually the hospital became the Gritman Hospital and is today the not-for-profit Gritman Medical Center. Quoting from their web site we learn: “After Dr. Gritman's death in 1933, a group of community leaders formed the Moscow Hospital Association and purchased the hospital from Gritman's widow. With funds raised from the community, the Hospital Association set forth to build a new hospital. By 1944 a modernized, three story brick hospital was opened. Though remodeled throughout the years, the original building is still in use today.”

(Photo: Gritman Medical Center.)

A history of the institution is available from the Gritman Medical Center Foundation: Elizabeth Winegar Molina, Dr. Gritman’s Hospital, from Horse and Buggy to Helipad.

An Illustrated History of the State of Idaho, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago (1899).

An Illustrated History of North Idaho, Western Historical Publishing Co. (1903).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dec 17: Very Rev. Alward Chamberlaine

The Very Reverend Alward Chamberlaine, dean of St. Michael's Cathedral in Boise, was born in Maryland on December 17, 1870. He showed an early interest in the church, serving as a choir boy and then as a lay reader.

After attending the Virginia Theological Seminary, he came to Idaho in 1903 as a missionary of the Episcopal church. (St. Michael’s Cathedral photo. Cathedral web site, credited to Pete Hect.)

At various times, he served in Montpelier, Blackfoot, and locations in Wyoming before being ordained a priest at St. Paul's Church, Blackfoot, Idaho, in 1908. Over the next few years, he served in Blackfoot, Twin Falls, and several towns in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts. Chamberlaine directed efforts that led to the construction of new Episcopal church buildings in Wallace and Kellogg.

In 1914, he was appointed archdeacon of Boise and then became the dean of St. Michael's Cathedral the following year. Between then and 1920, he also served the church in many roles: examining chaplain for the Idaho district, district secretary, president of the Ministerial Association of Boise, and on “all the important committees.”

Later, Chamberlaine returned to his native state of Maryland, where he continued to serve the church. Local records show him officiating at a funeral in late 1932. He passed away in 1938 and is buried in Cecil County, Maryland.

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Other references: Obituary notice, 1932. Cecil County (Maryland) cemetery records

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec 7: Reverend Thomas J. Purcell

On this day in 1860, Father Thomas J. Purcell was born in Aberdare, Wales. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1871. Unfortunately, Thomas had to find work in the Pennsylvania coal mines a few month later, because his father died. (Purcell photo from J. H. Hawley History.)

Over a decade in the mines ruined his health, so he moved west, ending up in Denver in the spring of 1883, broke and without a job. Finally, the cool, dry mountain air relieved his lung problems and he found work first in Montana and then in north Idaho.

Impressed by his zeal to become a priest, the fathers at the Coeur d’Alene mission tutored the young man until he qualified for more advanced studies. Finally, in 1891, Purcell entered a Catholic seminary in Montreal, Canada. He was ordained a priest in late 1896, and the following year was assigned to the Coeur d’Alene parish. At that time, the parish included most of the Idaho Panhandle north of Latah County as well as some area in Washington.

Enthusiastic and energetic, Father Purcell completed churches in towns all over his parish: Bonner’s Ferry, Rathdrum, Priest River, Harrison, and Post Falls. This sparked such a surge in the Catholic numbers that the diocese split the parish, with Purcell continuing in the southern portion. Even further growth then required him to concentrate on the city of Coeur d’Alene itself, where he initiated projects that eventually included a church, convent, and school.

After a few months off due to ill health in 1913, he returned to ministry and built new churches in Mullen and Kellogg. From there, he moved to Idaho Falls and built yet another new church, dedicated in 1920, and a school. All told, his name is associated with 11 churches and 2 or 3 Catholic schools. He moved on from Idaho Falls in 1922 and died in September, 1925.

“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

“In Memoriam,” Inland Register, Catholic Diocese of Spokane (October 22, 2009).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec 5: Fire at Lewiston Normal School

 (Now here’s an interesting coincidence … given the post for yesterday.)

On December 5, 1917, a fire broke out in the east end of the main building of Lewiston State Normal School. (The photo shows the School, today's Lewis Clark State College, in 1915 -- note the presence of only one wing.) It spread rapidly and an east wind pushed the flames into the older central portion, which housed the school’s administrative offices as well as the library.

Construction of the original structure, made of brick trimmed with granite, had begun in 1895, with completion the following year. The east wing, also of brick, was opened in 1906. At the time of the fire, workers were adding a new west wing to the structure. Fire fighters saved the new construction, but despite their best efforts, the fire totally destroyed the east wing and badly damaged the central portion.

With heroic exertions, classes continued in temporary quarters. Workers immediately built a rough frame building to house the east wing functions, and by the following year the older central structure was put back into use. In 1921, the school dedicated a totally new administration building in 1921.

The old building, now called James W. Reid Centennial Hall, was completely renovated after 1991 and is still in full use today. (Reid Centennial Hall: LCSC photo.)

Hiram Taylor French, History of Idaho: A Narrative Account …, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York (1914).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Keith C. Petersen, Educating in the American West: One Hundred Years at Lewis-Clark State College, 1893-1993, © Lewis-Clark State College, Confluence Press, Lewiston, Idaho  (1993).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dec 4: Fire at School for the Deaf & Blind

According to the H. T. French History, “On the 4th of December, 1908, a fire occurred” in the Idaho School for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, which was then located in Boise. The school had been in operation little more than a year, having been opened in the fall of 1907. The original location was the old Central School building.

After the fire, the school moved into temporary quarters. A new site was authorized in Gooding, home of the previous governor, Frank R. Gooding (see blog item for September 16). To minimize disruption, authorities waited until after the 1910 school year to move the operation into the new facility.

Then, as now, the faculty struggled to find ways to teach their disadvantaged students. An early school head noted a major difficulty: “If born deaf, or deaf from infancy, the child enters school without language, except such gestures as are used in the home, and in some cases even these are absent. Nothing has a name for him. He does not know that names exist.”

Still, they managed. Speaking of musical education for the blind, the head also said that most “have made excellent progress, while one or two have shown that they possess exceptional ability.”

The Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind is still headquartered in Gooding. (School entrance and administrative offices, Wikimedia Commons photo.)
Because of declining enrollment, a 2006 analysis proposed a reorganization of the school, with more students being “mainstreamed” into standard school environments. The staff was reduced and other changes were made, but the operation continues under the title “Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind.”

Hiram Taylor French, History of Idaho: A Narrative Account … , Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York (1914).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Margaret Henbest, Kathy Skippen, Patti Anne Lodge, “Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind: A Road Map to Restructuring,” Idaho Legislative Services Office, Budget & Policy Analysis (2006).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dec 1: North Idaho Wants Out

The December 1, 1887 issue of the Lewiston Teller newspaper urged citizens of north Idaho to hurry out and sign an annexation petition. That petition asked, demanded really, that Congress separate the “Panhandle” from Idaho Territory and add it to Washington Territory.

The Teller noted the “impossibility” of maintaining any sort of business relationship between the Panhandle and those living south of the wild mountains of central Idaho. In a flight of editorial fancy the Teller said, “no means of intercommunication can be established between the two sections, except, perhaps, the carrier-pigeon system or the more expensive and dangerous migratory voyage of the balloon airships of modern invention.”

People in north Idaho, and especially in Lewiston, had fought for annexation ever since southerners had “stolen” the Territorial capital … moving it to Boise in 1864.

The new proposal was to combine the Panhandle with Washington to create a new Territory of “Columbia.” (Version of Columbia Territory: redrawn from historical maps.)

However, by the late 1880’s the annexation question no longer dominated popular concerns in north Idaho. Although backers came close, nothing had changed when Washington became a state in 1889 and Idaho in 1890.

M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).

An Illustrated History of North Idaho, Western Historical Publishing Co. (1903).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov 19: North Idaho Train Robbery

On this day in 1891, a Thursday, two robbers boarded a Northern Pacific train as it slowed to ascend a long steep curve three miles or so east of Mullan, Idaho. Making their way to the Express car, they forced the messenger, one R. R. Case, to open the safe. Their take included the Hunter Mine payroll , which was to be paid out the next day. (Steam locomotive and cars, ca 1893. Library of Congress photo.)

With $2,800, “and perhaps much more money,” the holdup men fled, apparently with no one, except the Express messenger, the wiser. The Illustrated History said, “The affair was well planned and well executed and the perpetrators of the crime were never apprehended.”

The Hunter Mine, one to two miles northeast of Mullan, was probably the most valuable property of the Gold-Hunter Mining Company. Mullan had been established in 1885, growing from the discovery of the Hunter property as well as others in the area. In the time span before the Illustrated History was published, the Hunter had produced $25-30 millions worth of silver (at today’s prices) and an even greater value of lead.

An Illustrated History of North Idaho, Western Historical Publishing Company (1903).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nov 15: Milner Dam, First White Child in Idaho

On November 15, 1904, construction of Milner Dam on the Snake River was considered basically complete (ISHS Reference Series No. 497). The project had been promoted by Ira B. Perrine, who filed a water right claim at the location four years earlier.

Milner Dam in 1905. Library of Congress.
After some false starts on funding the project, construction began in 1903. In parallel with the dam, construction of the canal system for irrigation continued.

During this period also, the Twin Falls Land & Water Company began selling the land to be watered by the project, including lots in the new town of Twin Falls. The region grew rapidly after water arrived on the land in the spring of 1905. In early 1907, the legislature created Twin Falls County, with the village as its county seat.

On November 15, 1837, Eliza Spalding, wife of the Reverend Henry Harmon Spalding, gave birth to a daughter, also named Eliza. The birth occurred at the Spaldings’ Presbyterian mission at Lapwai, Idaho. The daughter was thus, according to the Hiram T. French wording, “the first white child born within the present borders of Idaho, and of those now living, is the first born in the entire Northwest Territory.”

“Now living” refers to September 1913, when she and another Spalding daughter, Martha, were interviewed in Boise for a pioneer celebration. [Eliza (Spalding) Warren and Martha (Spalding) Wigle, 1913. Photo from H. T. French.]

Hiram Taylor French, History of Idaho: A Narrative Account … , Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York (1914).

Jim Gentry, In the Middle and On the Edge, College of Southern Idaho (2003).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14: Second Territorial Legislature

Hawley: “The second session of the Territorial Legislature was convened at Lewiston on Monday, November 14, 1864, and remained in session until December 23, 1864.”

Earlier in the year (March 17), Congress split Montana Territory off from Idaho, which required some modification in the remaining legislative and council districts. During that process, the Territorial Council was increased from 7 to 11 members and the House of Representatives from 13 to 22.

As noted in the blog for October 31, the first Idaho Governor, William H. Wallace, had run for and been elected Territorial delegate to Congress. To replace him, President Lincoln appointed Caleb Lyon, a New Yorker who became known for much “bombast and fustian” in his public utterances. (Wallace ran again for delegate, but lost.) (Caleb Lyon photo: Library of Congress.)

During the first Territorial legislative session, southern legislators had tried to move the capital to Boise. They cited 1863 census numbers that showed over 16 thousand people in Boise County versus fewer than 2 thousand in Nez Perce and Shoshone counties combined. Northerners beat back that attempt.

The census enumerated after the creation of Montana Territory showed that the imbalance had grown. Thus, on November 23, Henry C. Riggs introduced legislation to move the capital. The bill passed handily, but only after much heated debate. Despite a diversion into the courts, the third session of the legislature met in Boise City, where it’s been every since.

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Reference Series Nos. 129 and 130
, Idaho State Historical Society.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nov 8: Coeur d’Alene Reservation, Montana Statehood

On November 8, 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant issued an Executive Order that established the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. The Order set aside around 400 thousand acres for the Indians, but opened nearly four times that amount to white settlement.

Traders for the British-Canadian North West Company made the first significant contact with the Coeur d’Alenes in 1808-1812. Like the Nez Perce further south, they maintained reasonably friendly relations with whites until miners began to intrude onto their lands in the 1850’s.

The tribe became embroiled in the latter phases of the Yakima War, and suffered along with their allies in the final defeat at the Battle of Four Lakes. Subsequent claims took away much of the area the tribe considered their homelands in western Montana, Idaho, and eastern Washington.

After the 1873 Order, edits in the 1890s further reduced the reservation lands. Finally, the tribe managed to adapt, and after much pain, has managed to prosper. The official Coeur d’Alene web site notes “Tribal traditions includes a respect and reverence for natural law, and creates a powerful voice for responsible environmental stewardship.”

Also on November 8, in 1889, Montana was granted statehood, becoming the nation’s 41st. Three days later, Washington became number 42.  Idaho had to wait another 8 months to join them.

Encyclopedia Britannica from Encyclopedia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite (2008).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Projects Update

Those of you who follow my blog regularly -- and there are a a few -- might have noticed that my “On This Day” postings have been a bit late the past couple of days. Problem is, I grinched my back, somehow, a couple days ago. Coddling that has bummed my concentration, and made it difficult to sleep. Hence, I slept later and ended up posting later.  It’s slowly getting better, so that should improve.

Back on October 22, I commented about the package I received from Arcadia Publishing. Their representative suggested we (I and Skip Myers, a friend/collaborator in Idaho City) put together a proposal for a book about Boise County for their “Images of America” photographic history series.
(See the "Projects Progressing" blog item for Oct 22nd.)

We did have our meeting with the Idaho City Historical Foundation, parent organization for the Boise Basin Museum. While some Foundation members were enthusiastic, they need some idea of what we want from them -- which is access to vintage photos. Trouble is, we don’t know at this point what pictures we need, nor do we know quite what photos they have. The Boise Basin Museum has a good selection on display, but that’s clearly only part of their inventory. (Museum photo, Library of Congress, Duane Garrett photographer.)

So at the moment we’re reviewing the photos we already have, and studying Idaho Gold Country history to figure out what the book should be about. The Idaho State historical Society does have an extensive inventory of vintage photos, many of which relate to gold and silver mining.

There, the cost issue is a problem. Their fees are not at all unreasonable, but they add up fast when you need a couple hundred photos. From the looks of things, the up-front cost would eat up whatever revenue we, as authors, might make on the first several thousand book copies sold. (So far as we know, they do not offer an advance.) As some of you probably know, such “regional history” books sell mostly to a relatively small “niche” market -- moving 3 to 5 thousand copies would be a major challenge.

Anyway, we can’t really decide until we know what photos are available, and what they might cost in procurement and usage fees. More, when we know more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oct 23: John Work in Idaho

On October 23, 1830, John Work, leader of the Snake Brigade of the Hudson’s Bay Company, wrote in his Journal, “The women availed themselves of the hot springs to wash their clothes.” (John Work photo, British Canadian Archives)

Their location was almost certainly near Barney Hot Springs, 40 miles or so up the Little Lost River from Howe, Idaho. During the 1830 campaign, the Brigade had trapped beaver along the Payette River, some on the Boise, and then Big and Little Wood rivers. They then prospected for beaver sign along the Big and Little Lost rivers, which is when they encountered the hot springs.

Irish-born, John’s family name was actually “Wark,” but that changed when he joined the HBC. By the time Bay Company officers appointed him to lead the Brigade, in August 1830, he had been with the firm 16 years. He was fated to be the last head of the Snake Brigade.

By the early 1830’s, well over a decade of heavy trapping had severely depleted beaver colonies in Idaho and the surrounding region. With many American trappers pouring into the watersheds, intense effort won only meager profits. As the campaign continued into 1831, Work led the Brigade south into Nevada and then into southeast Oregon.

Yet with all that effort, as the campaign closed he wrote, “from the height of the water and scarcity of beaver we have very little for the labor and trouble which we experienced.”

Although Work recommended against further trips into Idaho, he was again sent there (and into Montana) in 1831-32. That too garnered very little profit. The last Brigade expedition ventured into northern California, then it was disbanded and Work was transferred to a post in British Columbia.

The cessation of large bands did not end the HBC fur trade in Idaho. They now depended more on trading with the Indians, and with the many American mountain men that had entered the area. In fact, the Company had a near monopoly on the Idaho fur trade during the latter half of the 1830’s.

After that, it didn’t matter because the trade had become a sideline carried on by isolated individuals. (Mountain Man drawing, Frederic Remington, 1889.)

Merrill D. Beal and Merle W. Wells, History of Idaho, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. New York (1959).

William R. Sampson, “John Work,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

T. C. Elliott, “Journal of John Work, Covering Snake Country Expedition of 1830-31,” Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. XIII (1912) and Vol. XIV (1913).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Projects Progressing

Doing the “On This Day” item, every single day, has been a challenging experience. The difficult days are when (1) I’ve been really busy and (2) the events for a day are a problem.

As to the first, we’re still greeting service people for the condo (enough said), plus I have projects (more in a moment).

Daily events can be a problem in two ways: they’re either not particularly exciting/interesting, they require some “massaging” to have Idaho relevance … or both.

The first problem arises from the fact that I don’t generally post items that have no Idaho connection. After all, there are a bunch of sites out there with a world-wide perspective. Two that I visit are the WorldofQuotes.com Today in History page, and a Wikipedia compilation of Daily Events (I just recently added these to my blog form). Each features a full-year calendar where you can pick out a specific date. (You have to scroll down to see the Wikipedia calendar.)

Like most such sites, the events are presented in a “bulleted” fashion, with very little (or no) context or background. The Wikipedia list does provide additional links for some items, or for sub-topics within an item.

The need to find Idaho relevance can be a challenge, but it’s also interesting. October 15th was a good example. The only Idaho-specific event I had for that day was the marriage of a prominent Idaho pioneer. I could have “spun” that, but he will eventually appear under his birthday, so I went looking for something else.

I found the Edison Electric Light Company incorporation item in 1878 on both of the sites referenced above. Then a thought tickled my memory: Wasn’t there something about the first electric light system in Idaho?

As it turned out, there was, but it was in my master database. There, I found that builders installed an electric light system in a smelter near Ketchum … just three years after the Edison incorporation. The Ketchum event was not in my “daily” database because historical accounts gave only the year, not a specific date.

But: Voila! An Idaho connection.

On-going Projects
  Those of you who follow the blog know that I’m working, sometimes off-and-on, on several projects. Of course, I’m still waiting for a response on my stock-raising book proposal.

Anyway, I need to get ahead on entering and checking events for the On This Day database – I’m still finding days where I’d like to have something more interesting Then there’s the next article for the South Fork Revue – that’s largely been “put on the back burner.”

Coming up, I have a meeting in Twin Falls with the Idaho Academy of Science Executive Committee. I am combining that with a visit to Idaho City. We (Skip Myers and I) have an opportunity to talk about the photographic history of Boise County with the Idaho City Historical Foundation. Supposedly there will be time to peruse the Idaho City/Boise County photo archives to see what they have.

The proposal package Arcadia Publishing sent me is fairly complicated, with many questions about book marketing avenues and other elements of our “platform.” Addressing those issues is fairly straightforward. (Photo: Idaho City, Main and Commercial Street, 1894, Idaho State historical Society.) 

The real problem is determining what the book content will be. Their format specifies 180-240 “vintage” photographs -- which probably means we’ll have to start with twice that many to select a set we can build the history around. We’ll see.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oct 18: Insurance Director and the Flu Pandemic

Director Brace. J. H. Hawley photo.
On October 18, 1919, Idaho Governor David W. Davis appointed Captain Howard J. Brace to be Director of the state Department of Insurance. He was the tenth person to hold that office. At that time, he was the youngest state official in Idaho and the youngest insurance commissioner in the U.S.

Brace was a young child when the family moved to Colorado. He started work in the mines near Leadville in his early teens, then came to Idaho in 1911, when he was just 19. He spent five years in the fire insurance business in Idaho Falls before enlisting in the Second Idaho Infantry. For a time, his unit served along the Mexican border. At the start of World War I, Brace applied for and received officer training and entered the U.S. Infantry as a First Lieutenant.

He served in France for seventeen months before May 1919, and was promoted to Captain. He saw action in the defense of Champagne-Marne, the Second battle of the Marne, the St. Michel offensive, and the attacks in the Argonne forest. After his discharge, he returned to Idaho, where he received the state Insurance appointment.

Brace took office during a period when the great Influenza Pandemic was sweeping the world -- and Idaho did not escape its wrath. (Over a half million people died in the U.S., and an estimated 25 million worldwide.) In his 1919-1920 Bienniel Report, Brace wrote, “The years 1918 and 1919 were, in our opinion, the most critical in the history of the life insurance companies of the country.  The institution of life insurance was for a time in actual danger due to the ravages of the influenza-pneumonia epidemic.”

Fortunately, they were able to weather the crisis, he reported: “All of the companies doing business in the state have emerged from those extraordinary conditions and are conducting their business safely and soundly.”

References: [Brit], [Hawley]
“Celebrating 100 Years (1901-2001),” 2001 Annual Report, Idaho Department of Insurance (October 2002).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Comments and Feedback Wanted

Receiving a comment on the “On This Day” post for today made me think about the fact that I’m not seeing very many comments … overall. And no feedback. For example, just this morning I realized I had mislabeled the list of Linked Web Pages, but no one called me on it.

To encourage feedback, I have inserted my e-mail address (hopefully masked against most automated e-mail address grabbers) into my Profile. Feel free.

Some of you who may be unfamiliar with, and put off by, the blog Comment process. It’s really not all that bad, as I’ll show. When you hit the comments  command, you get a box where you can enter your text. If you enter your comment and then click on the Post Comment button, the system will tell you to “Please choose a profile” (note the red text in the example above).

When you click on the “Select Profle” button, a dropdown menu shows some choices. If you already have a Username (and password) among the accounts, you probably don’t need these instructions.

In the second illustration, I have scrolled the list down to “Anonymous” -- which is how your comment will be attributed in the blog. (You can always “sign” your comment inside the text box with your name or some other identifier..) With that selected, you can again hit the “Post Comment” button.

The “Word Verification” screen presents some “swirly” letters that you must type into the box -- “nicshre” in my example. (Generally that’s easy for a person, but automated programs can’t interpret what is actually a graphic image.)

When you type in the letters and click the final “Post Comment” button, a message appears: “Your comment will be visible after approval.” The system will send me an e-mail telling me to “moderate” the comment. I do have the option to reject a comment, but hope that won’t be necessary. (Disagreement can be healthy, as long as it’s expressed in suitable language and doesn’t turn personal.)

Hope this helps.

Senator Brady, Cottonwood Incorporation [otd 10/17]

On October 17, 1912, U.S. Senator Weldon B. Heyburn died in office. Idaho thus had only one Senator until January 1913, when James H. Brady was elected to fill the unexpired term. Brady’s family moved from his birth state of Pennsylvania to Kansas, where he graduated from Leavenworth Normal college. (Brady photo, Library of Congress.)

After teaching for three years, he went into the real estate business, which brought him to Idaho in 1894, when he was 32 years old. He became strongly interested in opportunities presented by irrigation projects and water power. James Henry Hawley was a political opponent, but nonetheless asserted that Brady, “did more for irrigation and the agricultural development of Idaho than any other man who has ever lived within its borders.”

Twice elected president of the National Irrigation Congress, he later served on that organization's executive committee. He was elected Governor of Idaho in 1908, but lost a 1910 re-election bid to Hawley.

After completing Heyburn’s term, Brady was elected to a full six-year term in 1914. When the U.S. entered World War I, Brady was a member of the Military Affairs Committee. The Senator threw himself into the activities of the committee, although friends and family protested that he was endangering his already-deteriorating health. He died in office on January 13, 1918.

The October 17, 1901 Idaho County Free Press (Grangeville) reported that “A meeting was held at Cottonwood last week to take steps for the incorporation of that village. W. L. Brown, H. H. Nuxoll, A. B. Rooke, S. J. Peterson and S. Goldstone were recommended to the county commissioners as trustees.” (Photo: Cottonwood, 1889. Rootsweb image, no attribution/provenance supplied.)

Cottonwood, located about 13 miles northwest of Grangeville, began in 1862 as a way station on the road from Lewiston to the mining districts south of Mount Idaho (near the future Grangeville). The town grew slowly in its first few years, but it had developed enough to be an important supply point during the Nez Perce War in 1877.

A decade later, the town had become a major focal point for the flourishing cattle and sheep industry in the region. Contemporary accounts describe a huge corral, a notable landmark in the community. There, stockmen could assemble herds for drives out of the state.

Later, particularly after the railroad came in 1908, Cottonwood became a substantial shipping point for grain, a role it has played ever since.

Biographical Directory of the Library of the United States Congress.

M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).

James H. Hawley, History of Idaho : The Gem of the Mountains, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago (1920).

An Illustrated History of North Idaho, Western Historical Publishing Company (1903).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oct 15: Electric Light Bulb – Headed for Idaho

On October 15, 1878, Thomas Edison incorporated the Edison Electric Light Company to provide funding for several development projects, including efforts that produced the first practical electric light bulb within about 15 months. He and his backers planned to recoup their investment through licensing fees and direct sales. (Photo: Edison light bulb, National Museum of American History.)

Along with his light bulb work, Edison developed systems to deliver electricity from a central source to illuminate streets, buildings, and residences. These systems and related components were sold or licensed by an array of companies Edison either founded himself or help found. Later these firms would be consolidated into what came to be the General Electric Company.

Idaho benefitted from Edison’s developments within a few short years. In 1879-80, silver and lead discoveries in the Wood River drainage set off a rush into the area. Ketchum and several other towns sprang up.

Then, in 1881, Eastern investors financed the construction of a smelter near Ketchum. Their “Philadelphia Smelter” was designed with all the latest technology available at the time: including its own electric power plant and distribution system. Thus, the smelter featured the first electric light illumination in the state. Before the decade ended, Hailey – just down the valley from Ketchum – would become the first Idaho town to have an electrical lighting system.

Thomas Parke Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930, The Johns Hopkins University Press (1993).

Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series No. 158 and 362.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oct 14: Idaho Adjutant General Patch

Brigadier General Leroy Vernon Patch, twice Adjutant General for the state of Idaho, was born in Iowa on October 14, 1876.  He received a B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska, where he also played fullback on the football team and received military training. He moved to Payette, Idaho in 1902 and began a very successful career as a stock raiser, fruit farmer, and business executive.

He also took a strong interest in military affairs and in 1916 served with the Second Idaho Regiment along the Mexican border after the raids by Pancho Villa. Then, in 1918, he served with the heavy artillery in France, participating in several major actions, including the Second Battle of the Marne and at Verdun. After the war, he retired from the U. S. Army with the rank of full colonel. (Photo of a young L. V. Patch. Patch genealogy web site.)

Back in Idaho, he returned to service as Idaho’s Adjutant General. (The AG is considered the de facto commander of a state’s militia/National Guard, appointed by and reporting to the Governor.) He also served a term in in the state legislature, and on the Payette city council and board of education. He died in March 1965.

References: [Hawley]
L. V. Patch obituary, Ontario Argus-Observer, Ontario, Oregon (March 29, 1965).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oct 11: Stock Thieves

On October 11, 1889, a north Idaho newspaper (the Idaho County Free Press in Grangeville or the Lewiston Morning Tribune) printed a report from the Salmon River area: “Armed with warrants, Frank Wyatt, John Hadorn, Wm. Shuck, Louis Sutton, and Fred Williamson rounded up three cattle thieves in Wallowa County and caught them red-handed with 45 head of beef cattle they had stolen from the Salmon-Snake divide. One of the party confessed to having stolen 44 head earlier in the summer, most of which he sold in Walla Walla.”

As an indication of the severity of this problem, earlier that same year the Idaho County Stock Growers' Association began offering a $100 reward for the arrest and conviction of cattle and horse thieves.

References: M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Projects

While we waited for, and consulted with the visiting worker-bees mentioned in my “Problems & Frustrations” post [much earlier today], I’ve been writing the next installment of Idaho history for the South Fork Revue, and collecting more events for the “On This Day” database.

Also, as I waited for an answer from a publisher for the Idaho livestock history book (see THE BOOK page on the South Fork Revue), I started thinking about a new project. Then I was approached with an idea by Skip Myers -- I’ve mentioned him here on the blog before, and have a link to his “Idaho City Events” web page.

By an odd coincidence, he had heard about a request from a publisher to do a photographic history of Boise County (and therefore Idaho City). The publisher, Arcadia Publishing, has a series called “Images of America,” and this would be part of that.

No one at the Boise Basin Museum, nor people they knew, felt comfortable with the notion of tackling such a project. As you can tell from his web page, Skip is fascinated by the history of Idaho City and that region. However, the idea of creating an actual book rather flustered him … so he thought of me.

I already had a copy of Arcadia’s Idaho Falls title and found the concept very interesting -- particularly since I’ve done a fair amount of photo/text composition work with The Retort, the good-sized (18-22 pages) quarterly newsletter I co-edit and desktop-publish for the Idaho Academy of Science.

The Idaho Falls book basically has a page of background for each of its 10 chapters, and the rest is many pages of photographs with (usually) very detailed captions. Although Arcadia prefers to work with a local author, Skip and I felt we could team up for this project. Skip would do the local leg-work on the photos and anecdotes and I would organize the material and write the caption “glue” that holds everything together. (Of course, I do plan to visit over there and examine the materials myself, hopefully within the next month.)

I didn’t bring this subject up before because I wasn’t sure how things would go. Now, however, the preliminaries have gone very well, so I have started collecting references specific to that topic. The references I already had in hand have some information, but not as much as I’d like. (I was researching the livestock industry, not mining.)

Offhand, I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble finding the 180-240 photos they typically want for their books. (Finding ones with good quality might be more of a challenge.) At this point there are no guarantees -- we still have to prepare a detailed proposal and have it accepted -- but I feel it’s definitely worth a shot.

(And I’ll post this as soon as I have my link back. It went down again 10-15 minutes ago. MUCH LATER: After being unconnected all day it’s back. Service man says it could be one of my DSL filters has gotten flakey.)

Problems & Frustrations

The past couple weeks have been hectic here at the Revue/Companion. Aside from having our patio deck rebuilt (Ouch$), we’ve also had repair guys tramping through our condo. In fact, I’m waiting right now for a telephone service person. Those who have followed this blog know that we lost our DSL connection back on Sept 20th. That was supposedly a phone-company system problem, and it got fixed. (But only after going through our ISP, the company that buys wire/fiber optic from the local phone company.)

Unfortunately, for the last day or so, the DSL line has been dropping out at random times. To understand the lack of reliability, picture me twisting my neck every so often to check the DSL and Internet lights on the modem box -- right now, they’re okay, a half hour ago … no luck. I posted today’s “On This Day” -- and later added a photo -- while I had a link. But, given recent history, who knows when it’ll go down again?

I started with the phone company, since it was their problem the last time. No go: The service lady said all their equipment was just dandy (?). Here we go again. Hardware and software on our end seemed okay -- the DSL modem itself has been working fine and is maybe 18 months old, practically new. So far as I can tell, the network software hasn’t changed (no “upgrades”) recently.

After much back-and-forth, “they” (whoever “they” are) decided there might be something wrong with the actual phone wires in our place. Not out of the question, I suppose: Terminals can get corroded, etc. after 20-odd years of use. Of course, the voice phone part seems fine, but that range of bandwidth may be more “forgiving” than the region that carries the DSL signal. Oh well, enough of that.

My next post -- depending upon when I finish writing it today and when I can enter it onto the blog -- will focus on opportunities.

Oct 8: First Ada County Fair

The Idaho Statesman for October 8, 1872 announced the “First Annual Fair” of the Ada County Agricultural Society, which was to be held in Boise City.

The Live Stock Department of the Fair had Divisions for horses and mules, cattle, sheep, hogs, and chickens. Top awards were offered for “Best full blood Bull,” “Best full-blooded Buck Sheep,” “Best Boar,” and “Best trio of Brahma Fowls.” Another Department had awards for “Products of the Soil” – grains, grass seed, potatoes, onions, fruits, flowers, etc. The Fair’s third Department covered “Domestic Manufacture and Home” – butter, breads, pickles, quilting, needlework, mineral samples, oil painting, blacksmith work, boot and shoe work, and more.
(Early county fair, Library of Congress photo.)

Today, this fair’s successor, the Western Idaho Fair sponsored by Ada County, has a huge number of events and ag-product classifications, and draws something like a quarter-million attendees.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oct 2: Texas "battle," Idaho Falls fire

On October 2, 1835, a militia force from the region around the town of Gonzales, Texas (50-60 miles east of San Antonio) attacked a contingent of about 100 Mexican dragoons in what came to be called the “Lexington of Texas.” The immediate cause for the confrontation was a demand that the locals return a cannon that had been loaned to them as protection against attacks by Comanche Indians. (Accounts vary, but they all agree that the gun was little more than a showy noisemaker.)

 The broader issue was the increasingly dictatorial policies of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna. This alienated American colonists as well as native Mexicans – colonists and natives alike expressed loyalty to the liberal Mexican Constitution of 1824. The settlers refused to return the cannon. Partly through fear that the Mexicans were expecting reinforcements, the militia attacked. In the ensuring minor skirmish, one Mexican soldier was killed and two settlers were slightly injured.
Although the “Battle of Gonzales” was of no consequence militarily, news of the clash basically triggered the Texas Revolution, which led to creation of the independent Republic of Texas in 1836. Then, annexation of Texas as the 28th U.S. state in December 1845 led to war with Mexico.

(“Come and take it” referred, of course, to the Gonzales cannon, but the flag illustrated here was almost certainly created after the battle.)

I discussed the two-fold connection between Mexican affairs and Idaho in my post of September 16: First, until the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the area roughly south of the Idaho-Oregon border and west of the Rockies was Mexican territory. Thus, American and British-Canadian fur trappers and later settlers (mostly Mormons) were technically trespassing on Mexican land. Second, when that region became U.S. territory, pioneer traffic through Idaho increased -- and then exploded when gold was discovered in California.

On October 2, 1903, the Idaho Falls Register (later the Time-Register and then today’s Post-Register) reported that the town had suffered a major fire in which most of a row of old frame buildings had been destroyed. This was hardly surprising, since much of the older parts of town consisted mostly of flimsy wood frame buildings and shacks, and old wooden boardwalks.

Of course, it could have been worse. Although Idaho Falls had had a fire department since 1885, it was not particularly well equipped and the town’s water system was generally inadequate. An even worse fire the following year burned more of the business district.

Encyclopedia Britannica from Encyclopedia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite (2008).

William C. Davis, Lone Star Rising: the Revolutionary Birth of the Republic of Texas, Texas A&M University Press (2006).

Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Idaho World Newspaper in Boise Basin [otd 9/29]

On September 29, 1863, on a “used” printing press shipped in from Walla Walla, Joseph and Thomas Butler began publishing a weekly newspaper -- the Boise News in Idaho City. The business changed hands the following year and the new owners renamed it the Idaho World. One of their carriers was a youth named James H. Hawley -- who later became a notable lawyer and served as Governor of the state of Idaho.

In 1867, the paper went to a semi-weekly publication schedule, which it continued until 1908, when it returned to a weekly schedule. (For a brief time in 1875, it enjoyed a tri-weekly schedule.) The Idaho World was not the first newspaper published in Idaho; that honor belongs to the Lewiston Golden Age, which began publication in August of 1862. (However, the Age lasted only into 1867.) Thus, the World is the oldest of Idaho’s pioneer newspapers that are still publishing today.

Hiram Taylor French, History of Idaho: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York (1914).

Newspaper publication information taken from Chronicling America: Historic Newspapers, The Library of Congress (online).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sept 26: Bonneville Camps at Salmon-Lemhi

On September 26, 1832, the trapping expedition of Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville arrived at a location where he planned to stay for the winter. They camped on the Salmon River about three miles below the mouth of the Lemhi. (We know the location from its verbal description; Bonneville’s latitude determination placed their position about 50 miles further north than it actually was.)

In any case, a quick appraisal showed that the area had nothing like enough forage for the entire party of over 100 men. Thus, the Captain retained about 20 men at the Salmon-Lemhi spot and split the rest into three parties and sent them off in different directions. The arrival of many Indians of various tribes further strained the area’s resources, so Bonneville’s party had to move twice during the winter.

(The photograph is clearly the Captain, later brevet  Brigadier General, as an older man -- neither the National Archives nor the Library of Congress have any earlier images.)

H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1986). Originally publication date: 1935.

Washington Irving, Edgeley W. Todd (ed.), The adventures of Captain Bonneville U.S.A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West. Digested from his journal. University of Oklahoma Press (1961).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sept 25 : Train Station, HBC Trappers Killed

The Union Pacific Railroad's "finest depot on the line" opened on September 25, 1903, at Nampa. Built at a cost of between $30,000 to $40,000, it served the Union Pacific for twenty years. Today it houses the Canyon County Historical Society Museum.

This item is on the ISHS “Moments in Idaho History” page. I have added the depot/museum picture from the Nampa web site.

On September 25, 1830, the Hudson’s Bay Company Snake Brigade, led by Irishman John Work, had trapper parties scattered along the streams that fed onto the southern Camas Prairie (generally … today’s Hill City and Fairfield).

In his journal, Work wrote, “Fine weather: encamped near the mountains.” That was about 6:30 in the afternoon. About an hour and a half later, a lone trapper ran into camp. According to Work, the man said that as he and three others “were going to their traps on the upper part of the stream in the mountain, they were set upon by a war party of Blackfeet and his three companions [were] killed on the spot, [and] that he barely escaped.”

As it turned out, the party Work sent out found one survivor, hiding in the brush. They had managed to shoot two of the Indians. Besides two trapper deaths (and one scalp), the attackers made off with all the horses, three guns, and the party’s ammunition.

Journals and diaries of the time suggest this was a typical incident: No big “massacres,” just a steady attrition in small attacks, adding to losses due to sickness and accidents. The British-Canadian and American trappers who explored Idaho and the surrounding regions paid a fearful price. (But then, so did the Indians -- shot during the attacks, or felled by the white man’s diseases.)

References: ISHS Moments in Idaho History
 John Work, T. C. Elliott (Ed.), “The Journal of John Work,” Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. X, No. 3 (1909).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Updates and Tourism Thoughts

As I entered my “On This Day” item, it occurred to me (it should have before this) that the title style was a bit cryptic. I decided to include enough key words so the actual subject of the bit was immediately clear. I liked that so much, I went back and edited all the OTD entries.

Yesterday, I had a pleasant, and productive, interaction with Skip Myers -- creator and keeper of the Idaho City Events site. I had asked him if he had newspaper clippings that gave a specific day for a notorious event in Idaho City history: the shooting of ex-Sheriff Sumner Pinkham by southern-sympathizer Ferd Patterson. Turns out, he did … he had lots of stuff besides the answer to my question. The clippings even included photos of the two protagonists. (Being newspaper stock, the pictures aren’t great, but they do the job.) You’ll be hearing more on this topic in the future.

Skip loves Idaho City history, but the future of his town is also of major concern to him. The mines are long gone, so tourism, recreation, and the Boise County offices pretty much define what the area is about. Skip’s web site lists some of those attractions: hiking, fishing, camping, and seeing the historic sights during warm weather; hunting, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter sports when it gets colder.

But with all of that going for it, Idaho City needs more to maintain itself as a thriving community, and the only area that might be ripe for expansion is more tourism and recreation. (I won’t rehash our discussion of this issue.)

So … during a walk to the store I mulled over some ideas. I’m putting them here in the blog because I know other towns have faced many of the same problems. One can never tell where good ideas might come from.

Anyway, during my stroll, two thoughts surfaced.

The first was based on my correspondence with Skip about that notorious (back then) Pinkham-Patterson shootout. It’s not my “cup of tea,” but Wild West shootout re-enactments are a thriving business. I found a ton of links at “The Gunfighter's Favorite Links” to Discussion Forums, quick-draw exhibitions, Gun Stuff, Western Performance, and more. The “Western Performance” sub-head provides a long list of “Wild West Re-enactors & Performers” -- I counted 55 to 60 links. There are groups in the usual places (Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, NOT Idaho, and more) and some big surprises (New Jersey, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Ukraine).

There’s even an organization called the American Frontier Reenactment Guild. Since the Idaho City gunfight had a July 4th connection, I sense a show coming on. (The photo is from the web site of a reenactment group called Gunfighters Incorporated -- I didn’t ask for permission, but somehow I don’t think they’d mind.)

The second notion had to do with the reason Idaho City was founded: Gold! Google “gold panning events” and you get hits from all over the world (even Switzerland -- Who knew?). There are gold panning competitions, panning instruction exhibits, and endless variations.

I even found a “gold panning” hit at the “Official Idaho Vacation and  travel Planning Guide,” but the only hit-within-a-hit was a terse mention of a gold panning contest as a Roadside Attraction. Some of our neighboring states do much better. (The photo is from a “recreational” site in Nevada County, California.)

I grew up in California gold country, basically a century after the gold rush. In the 1950’s, my dad had a small jar half full of dust and nuggets caught in a riffle box along the Yuba River. No one is likely to get rich, but I’ll bet new color has also washed into the streams in the Boise Basin. Obviously, there are permissions and permits to be checked out, but surely there’s a possible opportunity here. Panning party anyone?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Revue Article

I have started work on the next materials for the South Fork Revue. I thought I could get by with two more summary articles, but now I’m not so sure. The next three chapters (around 23 thousand words) cover the period from about 1865 into the early 1880’s. Idaho stock raising grew significantly, pretty much filling up the decent grazing land around the state. That, in turn, exacerbated the friction between cattlemen and sheepmen. During the latter part of this period, Idaho saw substantial cattle drives, some starting within the state and even larger numbers crossing from Oregon and Washington. Also during this time, the Indians made several “last stands,” resulting in the Nez Perce War (1877), the Bannock War (1878), and the Sheepeater War (1879).

Sept 22: Orofino Railroad

On September 22, 1899, workers completed a branch line of the Northern Pacific Railroad into Orofino, Idaho. The railroad was mainly built to serve the mining districts deeper in the mountain, and a railway station opened in November.

This town called Orofino was, in fact, the second to (initially) have the name “Oro Fino” -- Spanish for “fine gold.” An earlier town near Pierce had burned and was not rebuilt. Pioneers established the present town three years after the Nez Perce Indian Reservation was thrown open to white settlement in 1895. However, before they could obtain a local post office, they had to comply with a U.S. Postal Service rule that, at the time, prohibited double-word names. Rather than try to pick a new one, they simply ran the two together -- hence “Orofino.”

During the railroad construction period, Orofino serves as the division headquarters, with a payroll of over a thousand men. The Illustrated History of North Idaho (published in 1903) said, “Never since has Orofino been as populous as it was in 1899.” With the rail line complete, those men moved on, and the population dropped to less than 400. Not until the 1930’s would the town approach the numbers observed in 1899.

Reference: [Illust-North]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept 21: Book of Mormon, Chief Joseph

According to the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) , on this day in 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to seventeen-year-old Joseph Smith. (The angel is sometimes specified as a “resurrected being.”) Moroni told Joseph that he had been chosen to restore God’s church as it was meant to be on earth. Four years later, Joseph said, he retrieved a set of golden plates from a hiding place near Palmyra, New York. From these plates Smith transcribed history and teachings about ancient American inhabitants and their prophets. These writings became the Book of Mormon, which guided the formation of the LDS church.

Mormon settlers largely originating in Utah played a significant role in colonizing southeast Idaho, and the Church is still very strong in the region.

This was also the day on which Nez Perce Chief Joseph (“Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt”  or “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain,” in the native tongue) died, in 1904. Army threats to forcibly move his and other bands to the reservation in Idaho sparked the Nez Perce War, in June 1877. Ultimately, even their attempt to escape into Canada failed. Yet their story is now the stuff of real-life, tragic melodrama.

Part of the legend lies in the words attributed to Chief Joseph when they finally surrendered. The speech stated baldly, “It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.” The closing is especially eloquent and affecting: “I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

References: [Brit]

Sept 20: L&C Meet Nez Perce

In late September 1805, the Corps of Discovery, led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, struggled through the mountainous Idaho wilderness west of Lolo Pass. Finally, Clark forged ahead with a small band, hoping to find game (which they did, if you count one luckless wandering horse). On September 20, Clark’s party marched out of the forest onto “a leavel rich open Plain.” Their careful, friendly approach earned them a welcome into an Indian camp where, Clark said, “Those people treated us well”

As they moved on to another encampment, Clark noted “grt quantities of roots have been geathered and in heaps. Those roots are like onions, sweet when dried, and tolerably good in bread. I eate much & am Sick in the evening.”

Thus did the Expedition meet the Nez Perce for the first time, on Weippe Prairie a bit over 50 miles east of today’s Lewiston, Idaho. The onion-like roots were camas bulbs, a major staple of the Indian’s diet. Lewis and Clark were happy to trade with the natives for provisions, although the change in diet induced intestinal disorders for many of the Corps. including Lewis

Reference: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Gary E. Moulton (Ed.), The Definitive Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (2002).

Gold Rush Article

Edited and revised the gold rush article for the South Fork Revue web site on Sunday (Sept 20). It was ready to go, but I couldn’t upload it: Our Internet link failed. After considerable diagnostic work over the phone with an ISP support person, we decided their end and our end were okay, so the problem must be in the DSL service. After two calls by the ISP rep -- the phone company can’t be bothered with ordinary customer calls -- they admitted they did have a regional (apparently) outage. They said it could be a few hours to a whole day before it was corrected. Oh well.

Well, the DSL link was working again this morning (that is, on Monday Sept 21). Naturally, the phone company never told their benighted customers that there was an outage, and we can expect no rebate for the day without service. Anyway, I was able to post the gold rush article on the Revue web site. Now I’ll need to start work on the next segment -- I figure that and one more after it should complete what I want to do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sept 19: Astorian Horses Stolen

This being a Saturday, I didn’t accomplish a lot on the computer -- my wife and I are big college football fans.

On This Day
In 1812, a small party led by Robert Stuart awoke on the morning of September 19 at a camp that today would be under the waters of Palisades Reservoir near the Idaho-Wyoming border. Stuart wrote, “We were all up at dawn, and I had just reached the river bank when I heard the Indian yell raised in the vicinity of our camp and the cry, ‘To Arms’.”

Unfortunately, they were unable to save their horses; the band of Crow Indians ran off all of them. Stuart’s party carried dispatches from Pacific Fur Company officials at Astoria, Oregon to be delivered to the company’s senior partner, John Jacob Astor, in New York. Because they had to abandon much of their baggage and walk out of Idaho, they were forced to winter along the North Platte River about 25 miles from Scotts Bluff.

The party did not arrive in St. Louis until the end of April. By then they had learned that the War of 1812 had started between the U. S. and Great Britain. (Ultimately, the War doomed Astor’s fur trade enterprise in the Pacific Northwest.) Stuart’s party was just the second white expedition to cross southern Idaho: Pacific Fur Company parties led west by Wilson Price Hunt the year before were the first.

Remarkably, much of Stuart’s route from near today’s Pocatello west to the Oregon border and beyond proved not that different from what would later be called the Oregon Trail.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Research and References

The article on Idaho gold discoveries and the follow-on period is completed in draft form. As usual, I’ll set it aside to “cool” a day or two before I try to do a final proof and revision. In the meantime, I am collecting more information for my database of “on this day” events.

It might be useful here to describe some key features of my research and writing process. I just counted files for 231 separate articles, monographs, and books (or book sets) in the reference directories on my computer. Most contain multiple pages of text, although some are shorter files that contain only key excerpts from a given reference. On the other hand, several of the major histories are huge – the H. T. French work is 1,320 pages long in 3 volumes, and the J. H. Hawley history comes in 4 volumes that total over 3,400 pages. (A considerable portion of those pages contain see-no-evil biographies of prominent and not-so-prominent citizens.)

A surprising number of the older histories are available in electronic (PDF) format, already scanned by Google or any of several big university libraries. I have downloaded most of those so I can search for information without being online. Of course, some of these files, the Google versions in particular, only allow you to search them online. Still, it’s not that difficult to work from the page numbers in the table of contents or index (if there is one).

When I discover a particularly useful hardcopy reference, I scan all the relevant parts myself – plus some not-so-relevant portions, because you can never be totally sure what might be useful. If the volume doesn’t circulate (true for many rare and special-collections books), I record key excerpts in my laptop computer, or (gasp!) make hand-written notes that I type in later.

In addition to those sources, I have about 150 Reference Series articles from the ISHS, compiled into three big files, as well as about 60 newspaper articles from issues released before about 1910.

Once I have these electronic files, I enter key quotes or summaries into a relational database I have created (using Filmaker® Pro software on a Mac). Data fields show the date, a keyword title, summary text or quotes, a general topic, the geographic region, reference source, and other key features. My current Idaho history database has almost 2 thousand master event records.

By searching in this database, I can quickly assemble a rough outline for a book chapter or article. Then, the reference identifiers allow me to go back to the sources to retrieve the complete blocks of information. (When you do it this way, it’s surprising how much of the content you remember, but it’s always better to check the original.)

This may look like a lot of up-front work, and it is, but it pays off in the long run. For one thing, it lets you compare (or contrast) alternative descriptions of a particular event.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sept 17: U. S. Constitution, Minidoka Dam

The Historical Society included two “Moments in Idaho History” for this day, two of which were already in my database (one with only the year, however).

On This Day
First, on this day in 1904, construction began on Minidoka Dam, northeast of Rupert.

The Society also noted briefly that on September 17, 1787, convention delegates approved the final form of the U. S. Constitution. That document, by the way, did not include a “Bill of Rights.” The delegates supported the principles involved, but felt that such a declaration was not necessary for a system written in the name of “We the people.” The first ten amendments were added after the required number of states ratified the constitution approved at the convention.

For a really “good read” about the Constitutional Convention, get your hands on Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen, (Little, Brown and Company, © Catherine Drinker Bowen, 1966). [The book was re-issued in 1986, and that version is still in print.] Part of the “Miracle” was that they could function at all -- during a Philadelphia summer before air conditioning. A passage from mid-June makes the point: “Members went out into the afternoon, walking wearily through streets to lodgings that afforded little relief. … on days like this, if a breeze stirred it was from the southwest, a breath from the furnace. The city sweltered and the delegates endured.”

From here on, I will not include the Historical Society “Moments” unless I have something to add to the item.

References: Idaho State Historical Society, “Moments in Idaho History” web site.
Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Oxford University Press (1965).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sept 16: Alturas Stock, Mexican Independence

On September 16, 1888, a roving reporter for the Idaho Statesman (in Boise) wrote, “Your correspondent has taken the time and trouble to procure the names of owners of sheep, horses and cattle running on the ranges of western Alturas” County. That area would generally encompasses today’s Elmore County, east and north of Mountain Home. (Starting the following year, the legislature began splitting new counties away from Alturas, and that name disappeared entirely in 1895.)

The article enumerated 47 thousand cattle, 35 thousand sheep, and 8 thousand horses. In the 1890 Census, Elmore County contained far less than 10% of the stock in all of Idaho. The reporter considered his numbers “more reliable” that those of the county assessor, because, he said, “We have been told by gentlemen who have busied themselves on the range that there were bands that had not been assessed for years.”

Working from these values, we may extrapolate that Idaho stockmen were running 600 or 700 thousand cattle and a like number of sheep in 1888, which generally agrees with other estimates of the time. Owyhee County alone had over 100 thousand assessed cattle by 1889. Of course, all this was before the severe die-back during the disastrous winter of 1889-90, when many herds were virtually wiped out.

September 16 is considered Mexican Independence Day. On that morning in 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, parish priest of a village about 130 miles northeast of coastal Mazatlan, issued a proclamation that called for racial equality, land redistribution, and an end to Spanish domination. That set off an armed revolution, but Hidalgo was eventually captured and executed, as was his “successor,” José María Morelos y Pavón, another parish priest.

Revolutionary republicans hung on desperately through the remainder of the decade. Then, the strongly conservative “propertied” classes in Mexico decided Spain had taken a too-liberal turn after the expulsion of Napoleonic forces and reinstatement of a legitimate Spanish monarch. In 1820, they began their own independence movement, hoping to protect New Spain from the new, liberal doctrines. They made common cause with the republicans, at first secretly and then openly. Finally, in August, 1821, they achieved independence, although perhaps not in a form that would have pleased Padre Hidalgo. As the Encyclopedia Britannica essayists said, “In one of the ironies of history, a conservative Mexico had gained independence from a temporarily liberal Spain.”

The connection with Idaho is two-fold. First, until the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the area roughly south of the Idaho-Oregon border and west of the Rockies was Mexican territory. Thus, American and British-Canadian fur trappers and later settlers (mostly Mormons) were technically trespassing on Mexican land -- not that anyone paid much attention. Second, when that region became U.S. territory, pioneer traffic through Idaho increased -- and then exploded when gold was discovered in California.

Added Feature: On This Day

We own the electronic version of the Encyclopedia Britannica and receive daily “On This Day” e-mails from them. A few days back, I started thinking about that feature. Seems like it would be cool to do something along those lines here, but with an Idaho emphasis.

Turns out, the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS), of which I am a member, has such a feature, but with a weekly basis. They call it “Moments in Idaho History” -- it also includes items from national history. They posted their list with 2003 week dates -- but, of course, the events for a given historic day don’t change. I do see two problems. First, other events happened on those same month-day combinations, but none have been added to the list. Also, most of the items are little more than “bullets” -- one-liners with no real context. I think there’s still a place to supplement what they’re doing. I’ll label my contributions “On This Day” (why try to be cute?).

They have no item for this day, by the way -- but I have two, one from Idaho and one (loosely) related to Idaho.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leesburg Gold

Another story I had to abbreviate for the article was about the gold finds in the Leesburg region of Idaho. Leesburg is now a Ghost Town, with nothing left but a few worn pioneer structures. Photo: Leesburg Idaho School.

However, in its heyday Leesburg had some of Idaho’s richest gold fields. The town is high in the mountains, ten miles or so west and a bit north of Salmon, Idaho. To get there, you must surmount the ridge that rises some 4,600 feet above Salmon, and then drop 1,800 feet into the Leesburg basin. In pioneer times, pack trains couldn’t even get in during the winter. (They probably still can’t, assuming you tried.)

The “History of Lemhi county,” by  George Elmo Shoup in a series of columns in the Salmon Register-Herald, May 8 – October 23, 1940, had this to say about Leesburg: “The extreme richness ... produced $1000.00 to the wheelbarrow load of gravel on bedrock.” Moreover, “Much coarse gold was found and nuggets of $5.00 to $50.00 were common.”
Not especially impressed? At today’s gold prices, that would be $200 to $2000 per nugget … and they were “common.” Estimates of the gold value taken out of the Leesburg area range from $350 million to $1.6 billion (today's prices).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Magruder -- 1863

The gold-rush article for the South Fork Revue is coming along. However, one of the stories I had to trim concerns the infamous Magruder murders of 1863. Lloyd Magruder, a Marylander who had done poorly in California, prospered in idaho, owning a store and a pack train. Late in the summer of 1863, the packer carried supplies to the Montana gold fields, crossing the Bitterroot Mountains via Nez Percés Pass. On the return trip, four “helpful” conspirators accompanied the train back to Idaho. On the night of October 11, one of the conspirators split Magruder’s skull with an ax, from behind, and then they murdered four other innocents.
Later captured, the four were tried and convicted of the killings and three of them became the first legal hangings in what was then Idaho Territory. (The fourth turned state’s evidence to escape the noose.) A more extensive “suite101.com” article about the murders can be found at The Murder of Lloyd Magruder.

Also, the book The Magruder Murders: Coping with Violence on the Idaho Frontier by Julia Conway Welch (Falcon Press Publishing, Helena, Montana, © Julia Conway Welch, 1991) provides an in-depth look at the murders, the trial, and the event’s aftermath.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Got side-tracked by a couple other projects. One of my mailing list sources sent me a new meeting item to be added to the Clearinghouse of the Idaho Academy of Science (KEEPING BUSY page of the Revue). While I was at it, I ran through my organizational bookmarks to see if there were any other new events that needed to be added. All that took awhile.

Also, some years back, I compiled a booklet on how to run a multi-track conference/colloquium. It includes tips from various books on organizing such meetings, plus ideas I’ve gained from experience. The experience includes being on the organizing committees for at least 10 to 15 conferences of one kind or another (several times I was general chair). Eventually, I recast the document with specific terminology for the Annual Symposium of the IAS. Still, I believe the advice is useful for many kinds of conferences.

Here’s an example that fits many situations:
Do not underestimate the number of people required to effectively run an event like the Annual Meeting. Your core organizational committee will need competent assistance for facilities and event management, technical paper review, publishing, and other matters. Paid services can provide some of this – if you can afford it – but someone has to make sure the jobs get done. They will also need clerical help, and ‘go-fers’ to pick up supplies and deliver packages.
“The preliminary needs are impressive enough, but they peak for the actual event: registration personnel, guides and go-fers, moderators for the technical sessions, A/V operators, student paper judges, and so on. (Retirees generally make responsible and effective Registration helpers. You might give them complimentary registrations for their help).”

Anyway, I had a request along those lines, so I did a quickie revision and sent it out (as a PDF document) to our current IAS President, the Symposium Director, and some others.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Article Text

Just to prove that I really am working on an article for the Revue, I’ll quote the opening here:
“The decade of the 1860’s began quietly in Idaho (then part of Washington Territory). Pioneer traffic on the trails to Oregon and California maintained what would be an average year: about 1,500 to Oregon and 9,000 to California. (Of course, not all the California-bound traffic passed through Idaho.) The Utter Massacre, in September, and the Civil War still lay in the future.”
At this point in the text, many rich gold and silver fields have been discovered, Idaho is now a Territory (and separate from Washington and Montana), farmers are exploiting the irrigable lands in the Boise Valley, and stockmen are pushing herds onto most of the promising rangelands across the state.

The need for brevity really slows down the production -- there’s so much I must leave out or super-summarize to stay within my target word limit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Research Never Ends

So far, I’m only managing every other day, but I suppose that’s okay as a start. When you have a book-size project -- and a strong desire to tie up loose ends -- the research phase never ends. Last month during revision, a point nagged me about historical events in Idaho City, so I checked it out. During the course of that research, I contacted a fellow history buff, Skip Myers, who has a neat web site with a lot of Idaho City history on it. Check it out at Idaho City Events.

I learned much more than I needed to know for the nagging point, so I used it for the “A County Seat Story- Idaho City” article posted on the FEATURES page of the Revue. I’m thinking I’ll probably put future articles of that sort here on the blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to Web Writing

The Retort is out, so I can spend more time on the Revue article. It is meant to cover the period from the discovery of gold in 1860 on into the early 1870’s. That spans three book chapters, with nearly 20 thousand words, so boiling it down to maybe 2,000 is no simple task. Capsule summary: The rush into the goldfields quickly drew stockmen and farmers into the area to supply the mines, created a new Territory (Idaho) in 1863, and fueled further growth in the region.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just Getting Started

Well, here goes. I designed the South Fork Companion as a complement to my conventional web site, South Fork Revue (follow the link at “Places to Go …” [Later EDIT: "Linked Web Sites"]).

The Revue is mostly about Idaho history (slanted toward the period before about 1910), with sidesteps into other topics I am working on, or just find of interest. Of course, it makes no sense to only focus on Idaho events without explaining where they fit into the context of Western and United States history. As noted on the Revue, the history articles are based on the tremendous body of reference material I have collected over the past few years. [Note to self: Add page listing some of those references.]

THE BOOK (about 100 thousand words) I have written and am currently revising mainly deals with the development of the Idaho stock raising industry before about 1910. I started this blog after I sent my proposal package off to a publisher. In my cover letter for the package I wrote: “Say ‘Idaho’ to most people, even Idahoans, and they think ‘potato.’ Fair enough, considering decades of relentless marketing. What many do not think of are ‘cowboys’ and ‘cattle.’ Yet Idaho was, and is, as much a cowboy state as its more-recognized cattle-state neighbors in the Intermountain West.”

As early as 1910, Idaho ranked 6th in U. S. wool production and 32nd in livestock (cattle and dairy product sales), despite being only 44th in population. Today, Idaho still ranks low in population (39th) but is a significant livestock-products supplier. To quote a book paragraph pertaining to 2008: “Livestock sales and dairy product shipments were valued at over $3.1 billion, placing Idaho in the top ten among all states. Although the state is also in the top ten for U. S. wool production, the total income from that commodity is quite small. (The U.S. now produces less than 1 percent of the world’s wool.)”

With one exception, at present, the Revue contains relatively “static” historical articles, along with background on me and my wife, Caroline. During the summer, I added a FEATURES page to the site which was meant to “include something of timely and/or peripheral interest (historical facts, rants about sports, travel items, etc.).”

Extensive reading finally convinced me that a blog would be a much better approach to highlight the kinds of items slated for the FEATURES page, whether they were history topics or other items of interest. However, my immediate priorities among many projects (see KEEPING BUSY at the Revue) are to (1) finish The Retort, the newsletter I co-edit and desktop-publish for the Idaho Academy of Science and (2) write the next article for the Revue. (When I get bored with those, I generally go back and tweak a book chapter.)

With all that going on, I do not expect to put a lot into the blog right away. Hopefully, however, I can create enough new content to keep it interesting.