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).

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