Saturday, October 17, 2009

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).


  1. Wasn't there a Jerry Brady who ran for Idaho governor recently? Is he related?

  2. Yes there was, and he may be planning to run again. And yes he is related -- he's a great-grandson, I believe.