Thursday, December 22, 2011

Idaho Counties and Districts Adjusted After Creation of Montana Territory [otd 12/22]

On December 22, 1864, the government of Idaho made multiple adjustments to the legislative districts and county structure of the Territory. These changes accounted for the fact that, in May, Congress had removed the region north of the Bitterroot Valley and east of the Continental Divide from the original Idaho Territory.
Original Idaho Territory with general county boundaries.
Adapted from J. H. Hawley with future borders tinted in color.

Created in 1863 [blog, Mar 4], the initial Territory included all of future Montana and Wyoming. The first Idaho Territorial legislature adjusted many of the county definitions “inherited” within the former boundaries of Washington Territory. They reduced or redefined the four counties west of the Continental and Bitteroot divides – Boise, Idaho, Nez Perces, and Shoshone – to include three new entities: Alturas, Oneida, and Owyhee counties.

That first legislature also defined ten counties to the east. However, in May 1864, most of those counties became part of the new Montana Territory, or were returned to Dakota. With all those areas removed, Idaho had to define new legislative districts, and decided to also modify the Territory’s county structure.

On December 22nd, the legislature created three more counties. By then, prospectors had discovered immensely valuable gold fields in the Boise Basin. Idaho City, the county seat of Boise County, was by far the most populous town in the Territory. However, the city’s population was in a constant state of flux as prospectors and businessmen chased the latest gold rushes around the Boise Basin.

Boise City, tiny by comparison, had a solid core of businesses that served the rapidly growing farm and ranch population of the Boise Valley. It was also the transportation and freight hub of southwest Idaho. Those economic realities promised a bright future of stability and steady growth. Thus, the legislature partitioned western sections of Boise and Idaho county to create Ada County. They made Boise City the county seat. (Just a couple days later they made it the Territorial capital.)

Idaho Territory, 1865.
Adapted from J. H. Hawley.
The legislature also created Kootenai and Latah counties up in the "Panhandle," splitting that region off from Nez Perce County. However, that legislation had no real effect since neither region had enough permanent residents to rate a local government.

Kootenai County finally received a boost when Northern Pacific Railroad tracks entered the area in 1880, followed by much new settlement. The county formally organized in 1881 and selected Rathdrum as the county seat. The seat moved to Coeur d’Alene after Bonner County was split off in 1908.

Latah County followed a much different – and rather bizarre – route. That area grew much more rapidly, and the inhabitants soon began to press for their own county offices. However, officials in Nez Perce County opposed such a move since they handled those functions (and the attendant budget). Locals finally executed a desperate ploy: Latah County has the distinction of being the only county organized by an act of the U. S. Congress (in May 1888).
                                                                      
References: [Hawley]
“Ada County,” Reference Series No. 300, Idaho State Historical Society (July 1967).
“The Creation of the Territory of Idaho,” Reference Series No. 264, Idaho State Historical Society (March 1969)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fire Destroys Saloon, Bank, and Other Buildings in Grangeville [otd 12/19]

Early on the morning of Sunday, December 19, 1897, a major fire broke out in downtown Grangeville. The fire started in a two-story brewery/saloon. The account in the Idaho County Free Press noted that, “In a few minutes the entire building was a mass of flames.”
Historic Grangeville. City of Grangeville photo.

Although there was no wind, the roaring flames quickly spread to a photo-gallery on the west side and continued into the restaurant next door. The newspaper itself had offices in the nearby Camas Prairie Bank building, which caught fire from the “fierce heat” of the saloon fire. That structure soon became fully engulfed, and the heat and sparks began to threaten the Grange Hall, located across the street to the east.

Volunteers scrambled to form a bucket brigade to wet down the exposed wall. The Free Press said, “This, together with the melting snow upon the roof, proved sufficient to keep the flames from spreading east of Hall street.”

Finally, the bank building fell in upon itself and the flames subsided. Many of the fire crews rushed to the west, where the fire had momentarily stalled at the twenty-five foot wide vacant lot on that side of the restaurant.

A tailor’s shop occupied the spot beyond the lot. The Free Press report said, “Fortunately the latter is only a small box of a building, and speedily a corps of workers were astride its ridge pole spreading blankets and deluging them with water in the very face of the roaring furnace, and after thirty minutes of hot work the restaurant collapsed and the danger was over.”

The eighty-foot width of Main Street offered some protection to structures on the south side. However, sparks did ignite the façade of the Palace Hotel as well as a nearby meat market. Fortunately the hotel owner, one W. F. Schmadeka, “had equipped his premises with a fire pump and 250 feet of rubber hose. A steady stream of water was kept playing on the entire front of the block.”
Grangeville businesses, ca 1897. Idaho State Historical Society.

The firehose work extinguished all the sparks and secondary fires, but the heat from the primary conflagration was so hot “it cracked the plate glass of Schmadeka’s new brick building and blistered the paint all along the front of this block.”

Considering the spectacular nature of the fire, business losses were relatively light. Although the bank was a total loss, employees did manage to save the books and records.

The Free Press saved it’s files, ledger, books, and an editor’s desk. They somehow replaced their presses and managed an issue, with the story of the fire, five days later.

The report declared that winter weather, including recent heavy snow, helped prevent a worse catastrophe: “But for the snow thus protecting the roofs, a dozen fires would have been started in as many different points and the entire town would have gone up in smoke.”
                                                                                 
References]: [Illust-North]
“Grangeville Fire,” Idaho Statesman (December 22, 1897).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oregon Benefactor Dr. John McLoughlin, Sheep Rancher and Investor Robert Noble [otd 10/19]

John McLoughlin.
Oregon Historical Society.
On October 19, 1784, Dr. John McLoughlin was born in Quebec, Canada. Although trained as a physician, McLoughlin is best known first as a leader of the Hudson’s Bay Company division in the Pacific Northwest, and later officially as the “Father of Oregon.”

In 1824 McLoughlin was appointed Chief Factor in charge of operations that included fur trapping and trading in Idaho and portions of the surrounding (future) states

Despite American fur company competition, the division maintained its profitability and eventually held a virtual monopoly in the region. McLoughlin's persistent and effective opposition to American fur companies was strictly a matter of business; he was personal friends with many Americans.

By around 1840, the fur trade had waned substantially – beaver stocks had plummeted under excessive trapping pressure, and silk had replaced beaver for fashionable men’s hats.

To strengthen British claims to the “Oregon Country” (which included our Pacific Northwest states as well as British Columbia), McLoughlin and the HBC tried to encourage Canadian settlement in the region. Such efforts were soon swamped by the arrival of American pioneers traversing the Oregon Trail.

Despite the disapproval of his superiors, McLoughlin provided crucial help to newly-arrived American settlers. He settled in the Willamette Valley himself after his resignation from the Bay Company. Sadly, unscrupulous politicians manipulated the law to force forfeiture of much of his fine land holding. That injustice was not corrected until after his death in 1857 ... at least his family benefited.

Englishman Robert Noble was born on October 19, 1844. The family moved first to Canada and then to New York state. Robert arrived in Idaho in 1870 with practically nothing except his ambition and willingness to work. He first found a job operating a Snake River ferry. A year later, he became a hand on a ranch outside of Boise City. After five years of hard labor he accrued enough stake to start a small sheep operation of his own.
Robert Noble photo: H. T. French.

Amazingly, just twelve years later, a list printed in the Owyhee Avalanche newspaper (August 26, 1882) identified Noble as the leading sheep stockman in all of Owyhee county. His holdings more than doubled those of the number two man.

Less than ten years later, the DeLamar Nugget reported ( May 19, 1891) that he owned more that 50 thousand head. The article also said, “Robert Noble, Owyhee County’s big wool man has just sold ten thousand mutton sheep ...”

In 1906, in his sixties, Noble sold the ranch and moved to Boise. He then invested in a bank and accumulated much valuable real estate in the Boise Valley. According to French’s History, he provided a large part of the financing “for the construction of the Boise Valley Railroad, and electric lines from Boise to Nampa and Meridian.”

He served as manager for that business until three years before his death in November, 1914.
                                                                                                                                     
References: [French], [Hawley]
W. Kaye Lamb, “John McLoughlin,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, John English (ed.), University of Toronto (2000).    
John McLoughlin: Father of Oregon, 50th Anniversary Exhibit, Oregon State Archives (1997).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Steamboats, Historic Newspaper Resource, OTD Revisions

The title of this item could have been “Random Thoughts,” but that would not have helped people decide if they wanted to start/keep reading. (Also bad karma for “Search Engine Optimization” – more on that in a later blog.)

A week or so ago, I received an e-mail from Bill Burley of the Snake River Sternwheeler Association, a non-profit corporation trying to restore an actual sternwheel ship. He tracked me down through my On This Day about the steamboat Shoshone, which made its first trial run on the Snake River on May 16, 1866. I have actually done several OTD items about steamers – North Idaho, as least, has a rich steamboat history. It took me awhile to respond here in my blog because I was then finalizing the proposal package for my book, and that put several other projects behind.

Li'L Millie in (Earlier) Operation. Association photo.
The Sternwheeler Association (see “Links” page above) has purchased a small steamer, called the Li’l Millie, which was previously approved to carry 43 passengers. They are seeking donations to restore the ship so they can run excursions on the Snake above Hells Canyon. In this, they are recreating another era on the Upper Snake, including operation of the steamer Norma. Stop by their web site to read more about it … and hopefully make a donation to help them out. (Umm. Wonder if Idaho had “riverboat gamblers” on its fancier steamers? Now that would be a cool re-enactment.)

The Norma, by the way, was built on the Upper Snake River in 1890-1891. The Idaho Register (Idaho Falls, March 20, 1891) reprinted an item from the Weiser Leader that said, “We learn the steamboat Norma will shortly begin making regular trips to the Seven Devils’ landing. The vessel is a masterpiece in steamboat mechanism, and during the coming year will convey a great amount of freight to and from Seven Devils.”

Things did not go well, however. “Instead of Sailing the Norma is Sold,” Owyhee Avalanche (October 24, 1891): “The steamer Norma, built in 1890 to ply upon the Snake River between Huntington bridge and the Seven Devils mining country, was sold at sheriff’s sale on Saturday last to Captain W. P. Gray, of Portland, for $4,000. [The builder could not pay his bills, so Capt. Gray bought it for one Jacob Kamm.] … What will become of the Norma we do not know positively, but from indications we believe she will be taken down the Snake into the Columbia with next year’s rise of water.” Reprinted from Weiser Signal.

Steamer Norma. Oregon Historical Society
Their guess was off on the timing; the Norma did not move down-river until 1895. The Idaho Statesman reported (June 21, 1895), “The recent trip of the little steamer Norma over the Huntington rapids of the Snake and on to Lewiston, a distance of 180 miles, is considered a remarkable feat of navigation.”

After that, the Norma operated only on the lower Snake and (possibly) on the Columbia.

That information about the Norma came from a very quick search in a new (to me) online research resource at GenealogyBank.com, which I have also added to my “Links” page. While they are a fee-based (subscription) service, their prices are not unreasonable and they seem to have an excellent database. Their search process also seems much easier and more effective than other newspaper databases I have tried. (And no, I have no financial or other personal interest in this outfit.)

I gave GenealogyBank the state, a year span (1890-1920), plus the key words “norma” and “steamboat” or “steamer” and got a half-dozen or so good “hits” in newspapers of that period. Very impressive.

After I signed up for the service, a few weeks back, I almost immediately doubled my "stock" of historic newspaper articles related to my stock-raising book. Most of the early hits were confirmations of information I already had from other sources, but some were new.

I also found much new material for my "On This Day" blog series. Those of you who have followed that series for a long time have probably noticed that I am now "recycling" many of the older events. You have perhaps also noticed that most have been revised, with 10 to 30% new information.

With my book proposal on its way to a publisher, and the OTD cycle more into revision mode, I can start spending more time on other topics. Among those is a historical novel in the planning stage, using a lot of the information collected for the nonfiction book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Irish in the West : Beyond the American Pale (Book)

“Between 1845 and 1910 approximately five million people left Ireland for the United States. The vast majority of them were Catholic, desperately poor, and without the work skills that could command decent wages.” So begins the Introduction to Beyond the American Pale: The Irish in the West, 1845-1910 by David M. Emmons, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Montana (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman: 2010).
Immigrants aboard ship for departure.
Illustrated London News (1850).*

To put that number in perspective, those emigrants came from a nation whose population peaked at about 8.5 million just before the Great Famine of the 1840s, and averaged only about 5.6 million over the time period in question.

This is a very significant text, and a monumental scholarly achievement … “The product of three decades of research and thought.” The hardback contains 350 pages of description and analysis, and over one hundred pages of supporting material. The font used, smaller than the typical paperback, allowed the publisher to cram huge amounts of information into those pages. (Full disclosure: I received this book as a free review copy.)

This book is important because typical histories of the Irish in American tend to focus on “ethnic enclaves” in the larger cities, mostly on the East coast. As Dr. Emmons says, “Historians have not paid a great deal of attention to the Irish American experience in western America.” He then briefly outlines what he thinks are the reasons for this relative neglect. Beyond the American Pale is meant to fill the resulting gap.

He next gets into the meat of his thesis: These Irish emigrants were “beyond the pale” – not just outside the mainstream of American life, but actively rejected by that society. Back then, job postings often said, “Irish need not apply.” Their Roman Catholicism was the highly-visible issue that called forth such vitriol from overwhelmingly Protestant America. Yet Emmons argues persuasively that the root cause lay in the amalgam of their religion with ancient Celtic folkways.

Building on the work of other experts, Professor Emmons says that the Irish “were premodern leftovers – communal, dependent, fatalistic, passive, traditional – attempting to make their way in a modern industrial society that was individualistic, independent, optimistic, aggressive, and innovative.”

Emmons then spends some time assessing “The West” the Irish were moving into. Actually, he describes a variety of Wests. But his emphasis on “industrial society” was the crucial element. Conventional stories of the West focused on the homesteaders and cowboys (and sheepmen) who provided grain, meat, and other foodstuffs to feed that society.

Miners in Butte Montana, many of the them Irish, ca 1908.
Credit (probably) Butte-Silver Bow Archives.*
Yet western gold, silver, copper, wood products, and so on were equally important, if not more so. Their production required large numbers of men who would do the hard, dangerous work for rock-bottom wages. There simply weren’t enough “modern” – independent, optimistic, aggressive – workers willing to fill the need. Enter the desperately poor, unskilled Irishmen, who had to take any jobs they could get. Still, while the industrial engine needed the Irish, it did not embrace them; they were still “beyond the pale.”

Emmons devotes two chapters to comparing and contrasting the Irish in America to two other groups of outsiders: black slaves and Native Americans. He discusses the variety of reasons, or excuses, that led citizens of the Northern industrialized states to view Irish Catholicism as a threat equal to that of the Southern institution of black slavery. Beyond that, it appears that blind prejudice equated incomprehensible Native American spiritual beliefs to the “superstitious” practices of the Papist emigrants.

Intertwined within that analysis, Emmons describes how emigrating to the United States showed the depth of Irish desperation. To move away from the home turf, he declared “was to be detached from community – and that was the cultural equivalent of falling off the edge of the earth. The Irish word for community was muintir; there is no adequate English translation. Na muintiri were held together by bonds of family, tradition, and shared and intensely local values.”

The fact that the emigrants faced distrust and contempt when they arrived only aggravated the problem. Their answer was entirely predictable: “They set up their parallel universe – their own schools, churches, fraternities, neighborhoods, and rookeries.”

Emmons spends some time studying that phenomenon. He concluded that “the Irish went to where the Irish were.” That is, once some Irishmen had a foothold at a particular place, or in a particular situation, others soon followed. This is a well-supported assessment. However, his discourse sometimes implies that the Irish were unique, or at least unusual in this regard, and that is somewhat problematic. Records show clearly that ties of blood and marriage – for English, as well as various ethnic groups – commonly led to family enclaves all over the West. Yet the Irish versions do seem both more broadly based within the community, and more tightly knit.

The final chapter examines the relationship between these Irish communities and the American labor movement. Being culturally and historically predisposed to resist exploitation, the Irish were often at the forefront of that movement. Yet, in Emmons’ view, militant Irish unionism was never about international socialism. The Irish community was too “intensely local” for such a strain to take root.

The chapter concludes with a discussion of the debate among the Irish in America about how far they might bend to perhaps achieve “assimilation.” The majority concluded that rampant anti-Catholicism in mainstream America made that next to impossible. It was then an article of secular faith that the West embodied America’s future. By refusing to compromise their core values, the Irish might thus have cut themselves off from that future. Instead, Emmons says, “They built their own West and their own future. Only Irish needed to apply.”
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Butte, ca 1920.
Credit (probably) Butte-Silver Bow Archives.*
I have only one quibble, and that is not with the author. The publisher’s Product Description describes the book as “masterful yet accessible.” It is certainly masterful. The “accessible” claim is perhaps based on the author’s interweaving of selected Irish-American “folk stories” into the text. Also, the writing style is clear and crisp, and not over-loaded with academic jargon. However, his historical discussions are wide-ranging, tightly reasoned, and (sometimes) controversial. They often require close, careful study to achieve full understanding.

As just one example, consider his discussion of the “West(s)” where the Irish found themselves “beyond the pale.” Emmons calls them subregions of “The West” and says, “I count eight real ones as well as the two constructed ones.” One of the “constructed” subregions is, of course, the mythic West of story, song, and movies – he calls it the “heroic” West. Another subregion, the “Urban West,” had its own characteristics and was “the one most favored by westering Irish.” The author devotes many pages to describing these subregions, sometimes quite extensively. The explanations are fascinating and informative, but a casual perusal could miss important nuances and implications.

Beyond the American Pale is an authoritative and valuable treatise on the history of the Irish in the American West. Readers with an interest in that subject should find it well worth their time.

* Not from book, which has no illustrations other than on the dust jacket.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lewis & Clark at Long Camp [otd 5/14]

William Clark and Meriwether Lewis.
Independence National Historical Park,
National Park Service.
On May 14, 1806, the Corps of Discovery rose early on a frosty morning and began packing baggage and gathering horses. Captains Lewis and Clark sent three hunters across to the north side of the Clearwater River as an advance party. By noon, the rest of the Corps had crossed and begun to set up camp.

The Corps left Fort Clatsop on the Oregon coast in late March. They reached Nez Percé country in late April and re-entered Idaho on May 5th.

The captains wanted to recross Lolo Pass as soon as possible. They knew all too well how much rough terrain separated them from the navigable Missouri River. On May 7, the Corps saw that their hope of an early crossing was futile. Lewis wrote, “The spurs of the Rocky Mountains which were in view from the high plain today were perfectly covered with snow.”

A week later they crossed the Clearwater to a campsite recommended by the Nez Percé. They would remain at this campsite – a mile or so north of today’s Kamiah – for nearly a month. Later writers referred to it as “Camp Choppunish” (Choppunish being the Corps’ term for the Nez Perce) or simply the “Long Camp.” The Expedition’s winter encampments had been at Fort Mandan in North Dakota and at Fort Clatsop. Except for those stops, the Corps spent more time at Camp Choppunish than any other spot along their route.

The Americans did not linger willingly. They tried to use the time productively by gathering provisions and more horses for the journey. However, hunting proved difficult and yielded only sparse returns. Unfortunately, by this time, the whites had exhausted their supply of normal trade goods.

Captain Clark’s medical skills, quite effective in a rough-and-ready fashion, provided the Expedition’s most reliable source of foodstuffs and mounts. Also, to their surprise, commonplace items such as brass coat buttons were a worthwhile medium of exchange.

Lolo Trail, Idaho. Montana Historical Society.
When restlessness and boredom began to adversely affect morale, the captains resorted to an age-old formula: athletic events and games. They involved the Indians in many of these activities and most competitions had a normal mix of winner, white and red. There was one exception, however: The Nez Perce were better horsemen than the whites. As Sergeant Patrick Gass wrote, “These Indians are the most active horsemen I ever saw. They will gallop their horses over precipices that I should not think of riding over.”

Finally, on June 10th, the Expedition resumed its journey. They were still too early, however, and the snowdrifts forced a temporary setback. Still, the Corps marched across Lolo Pass and out of Idaho on June 29, 1806.
                                                                                 
References: Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Simon & Shuster, New York (1996).
Patrick Gass, Carol Lynn Macgregor (Ed.), The Journals of Patrick Gass, Mountain Press Publishing Company; Missoula, Montana (1997).
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Gary E. Moulton (Ed.), The Definitive Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (2002).
James P. Ronda, Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1984).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hydroelectric Power for Pocatello [otd 2/22]

On February 22, 1894, electricity flowed through a local "grid" and incandescent lights glowed over a broad expanse of Pocatello, Idaho. The event was the culmination of an effort that many citizens had thought quixotic at best, if not hair-brained. Residents considered Pocatello a “coming” city, but this might be too much, too soon.

Oregon Short Line locomotive, Pocatello, ca 1890.
Utah State Historical Society.
The town began in 1882 as a chunk of railroad right-of-way. Its location at the junction of the Oregon Short Line and Utah & Northern railways fueled explosive growth. Some squatters conveniently ignored the fact that the land was part of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Negotiation and payments finally resolved that issue in 1888, a year after the railroad shops were relocated to Pocatello from Eagle Rock.

By 1890, a year after it was incorporated as a village, Pocatello was thriving. Developers were replacing clapboard and frame buildings with structures made of stone and brick. Boosters touted the possibility of over-taking Boise City as the largest town in the state.

Daniel Swinehart was among those boosters. A butcher, he moved to Pocatello from Colorado in 1888 and set up shop. Watching the amazing growth of the city, he began to consider what other improvements might be possible. At some point the Pocatello Electric Light and Telephone (PEL&T) Company began supplying electrical power to a few businesses. Their distribution system transmitted surplus power from steam generators run by the railroad shops.

In 1892, Swinehart claimed an extensive water right on the Portneuf River for irrigation and electrical power. That fall, he dammed the river and dug a canal to direct the water to his planned power station. Unfortunately, nearby land owners brought suit when his dam caused their properties to flood during high water. Swinehart purchased some of the lots, and mitigated other problems by building up the river bank in key spots.
Dam site, ca. 1900. Bannock County Historical Society.

Workmen completed the power station during the summer of 1893. The Illustrated History said that the powerhouse was "furnished with the finest machinery that could be purchased at the time, comprising two Thomson-Houston one-thousand-candle-power incandescent-light dynamos and one Thomson-Houston fifty-light arc dynamo."

To “jump-start” his own coverage, Swinehart bought the PEL&T franchise and distribution system. He then added lines to handle more customers. Finally, as noted above, his grid was ready and electricity flowed from Swinehart's hydropower plant to his customers on February 22nd.

In 1895, Swinehart and some partners incorporated the Pocatello Power & Irrigation Company, allowing him to cash out his investment and still hold a third of the stock. However, by 1920, Swinehart had moved on, and the American Falls hydroelectric system supplied the city's power.
                                                                                 
References: [Hawley], [Illust-State]

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mine Investor and Operator Fred A. Davis [otd 1/3]

Fred A. Davis, long-time mine manager and investor, was born January 3, 1873 in Maine. The family soon moved to Nova Scotia, and Davis began working in the local mines when he was about thirteen years old. The district where he lived in 1891 was, and is, noted for its vast gypsum deposits. Fred may have worked there or in coal mines not far away.

Fred headed west around 1893. There, he worked at a number of properties in the Pacific Northwest, including the Blue Bird Mine in British Columbia. The Blue Bird was the oldest mining district in that province, having been discovered by Hudson’s Bay Company traders.

Salmon River Canyon near the mouth of Whitebird Creek.
In 1902, he became a superintendent for the Idaho Copper Mining & Smelting Company (ICM&S). The properties he managed were located in the mountains a few miles northwest of Whitebird, Idaho. The company hoped for a repeat of the bonanza that had taken off four or five year earlier in Cuprum.

Cuprum (Latin for “copper”) is located toward the south edge of the Seven Devils region of Idaho, about fifty miles from White Bird. About the time the ICM&S set up shop further north, Cuprum boasted numerous stores and restaurants, six saloons, a blacksmith shop, and even a hospital. Developers further north in Copperville, about a mile west of White Bird, surely hoped to duplicate that success.

The ICM&S held eight claims in the area, including one called the Indiana, where they had tunneled nearly 250 feet into a ridge. Describing the mines, the Illustrated History (1903) said, “Superintendent Fred A. Davis, from whom these data were obtained, informs us that all indications point toward the existence of an immense body of ore of average grade, with numerous high grade shoots and stringers. The values are in copper and gold, and the absence of zinc is an encouraging circumstances.”

However, that optimism, if that’s what it was (mine owners and operators commonly gave glowing reports to encourage investors), was misplaced. These mines never produced significant quantities of either gold or copper. (Like Cuprum, Copperville now consists of a scattering of homes, without even as much as a convenience store or filling station.)

The superintendent moved on with the rest. Fred A. Davis appears in newspaper reports of mining ventures and investments ranging from eastern Washington into western Montana. Thus, the Spokesman Review (Spokane) of July 18, 1936 reported that Fred A. Davis had sold his entire block of stock in the American Western Mines company. The paper said, “Davis was formerly president of the company.”

Two years later, the Spokane Chronicle (January 22, 1938) reported that a “Fred Davis” had purchased some claims he had worked ten years earlier under a lease arrangement. A year after that, a state of Washington circular noted that Fred A. Davis was the principal owner of the “King Solomon Mine,” near Okanogan.
                                                                                 
References: [Brit], [Illust-North]
M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951). 
“Directory of Washington Mines 1939,” Information Circular No. 2, Washington State Division of Mines and Mining, Olympia (1939). 
“Site Report - Seven Devils,” Reference Series No. 116, Idaho State Historical Society (1981).