Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Idaho County Pioneer Association Holds First Organizational Meeting [otd 07/16]

The first organizational meeting of the Idaho County Pioneer Association was held on Saturday, July 16, 1887. Within a few weeks, the group adopted a constitution, elected officers, and recruited its first members.
L. P. Brown with his wife and daughters, 1882.
Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho.

The Association selected Loyal P. Brown as its first President. In 1862, L. P. (as he was often called) decided to move his family from Oregon to the Florence, Idaho, mining district. On the way, he saw opportunity at a road waystation. He and a partner purchased the holding, which became the town of Mount Idaho.

Brown eventually promoted "his" town into the county seat of Idaho County. Besides many businesses in Mount Idaho, Cottonwood, and elsewhere, Brown owned extensive herds of sheep and considerable productive farm land.

The first Association Secretary, Michael H. Truscott, took up mining around Elk City in 1865. Five years later, he went to work as an engineer for L. P.'s lumber and flour mills. Truscott moved to managing one of Brown's hotels in 1882, and was appointed Mount Idaho postmaster in 1886. In 1892, he became manager of the Vollmer & Scott mercantile store.

Jay M. Dorman, the first Association Treasurer, began mining around Elk City in 1862. Moderate success kept him in that area until 1871, when he moved to Mount Idaho. There, he helped build most of structures in the town, including a jail when Mount Idaho became the county seat. Dorman also operated a ranch in the area, where he grew hay and grain for his stock.

The Illustrated History of North Idaho lists the names of 37 men it calls "charter members" while Elsensohn's Pioneer Days says the Association "was organized with twenty-three original members." The difference perhaps reflects men who were not active after that first meeting.

Two original members, John M. Crooks and Aurora Shumway, were the first substantial stock raisers in the region. In 1863, they bought a claim on the Camas Prairie and imported a thousand cattle to stock the original Crooks & Shumway Company ranch. By the time of the Nez Perce War, in 1877, Crooks was considered the "cattle king" of north Idaho.
Historic Grangeville. City of Grangeville.
In 1874, Crooks donated land to build a Grange Hall and for what would become the town of Grangeville. Another Pioneer Association charter member, John H. Robinson, was among the leaders who approached Crooks about a donation. Robinson had staked a claim on Camas Prairie in 1865. He taught in the first school in the area and became the first Secretary of the Grange.

Most of the charter members played a role in the Nez Perce War of 1877. (John T. Riggins, who gave his name to the current town, was persuaded to serve in the home guard rather than the scouts because he had just arrived in Grangeville with a young family.) Many also served in a wide variety of local and state offices.
References: [Hawley], [Illust-North]
M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).

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