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).