Monday, September 30, 2013

Stockman, Banker, Merchant, and Legislator Thomas Stanford [otd 9/30]

Thomas Stanford.
H. T. French photo.

Idaho stockman, developer, and legislator Thomas Charles Stanford was born September 30, 1865, in Logan, Utah. The family moved to Salt Lake City four years later, and by 1880, Thomas was working in a grocery store there. Later, he attended Brigham Young Academy (now University). In about 1884, he sought employment near Albion, Idaho, and then along the Little Wood River.

The year before, his brother Cyrus had taken up a homestead in the Little Wood valley. When Thomas arrived, he too claimed a homestead in the area. Cyrus lived on the property only long enough to “prove up” his claim and then returned to Salt Lake. Thomas stayed in the area, but mostly worked as cowboy, stage driver, and freighter.

Although existing records do not say, it seems likely Thomas watched over the family properties over the next decade. In 1895, he settled down to raising sheep on land near Carey. Cyrus returned four years later, and Thomas married in 1900. As his resources grew, Thomas added cattle, horses, and hogs to his mix of livestock.

After another decade, Stanford owned two properties, both of which were well irrigated. Overall he was, according to H. T. French, “regarded as one of the most successful producers of live stock in Idaho …”

Stanford served in the lower house of the Idaho legislature for a term starting in 1907.

In 1908-1910, he was president of the Idaho Wool Growers’ Association (Idaho Statesman, December 8, 1909). During his term, he organized a meeting of Western wool growers that led to the creation of the National Wool WareHouse and Storage Company. This cooperative firm soon built a substantial warehouse in Chicago. The wool growers’ intent was to deal collectively with buyers to regularize pricing and avoid wide swings in the supply-demand situation.
Sheep On The Move. U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Governor James H. Hawley appointed Stanford to the state Livestock Board in about 1910-1912. According to H. T. French, his reputation was such that “he was urged by many friends all over the state to enter the field as candidate for governor, but declined to take part in this fashion.”

Stanford considered such talk a joke, but partly blamed himself. Unimpressed by the initial array of gubernatorial candidates, supporters told Thomas he was “about as big as some of these others who are running for governor.” In a jovial mood at the time, Stanford had agreed. But, he told the Idaho Statesman (February 16, 1912), “There is nothing to it. I never thought of such a thing.”

Around 1918, Thomas phased out his sheep and horse holdings but kept a sideline in cattle along with, apparently, a considerable hog operation. The remainder of his property he devoted to crop agriculture.

Stanford also had business interests in the small town of Carey. He helped organize the local telephone company, and served the firm as Vice President and then President. He also helped form the Carey State Bank and served as President of the town’s Cooperative Store.

Active for many years with the Mormon Church, Stanford served a three-year mission in New Zealand as well as two years in the United States.

Ill health led him to move to Boise in 1945, and he died there in January of the following year.
References: [French], [Hawley]
Don P. Haacke, “Biographical Sketch: Thomas C. Stanford,” The Thomas C. Stanford Papers, MSS 12, Boise State University Special Collections (1976).
John T. Haas, David L. Holder, "Livestock and Wool Cooperatives," Cooperative Information Report 1, Section 14, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Government Printing Office (May 1979).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lack of Water Hampers Mining – Many Owners Want to Leave

Correspondent “Incognito” addressed a long letter from Bannock City to The Oregonian on September 27, 1863. He began, “We, of the Basin, have lately been the recipients of a few fine showers of rain, which have been very acceptable, but the one of last evening and this morning has been far the most agreeable.”

The day had opened with morning thunder and lightning, which became “a real old fashioned storm, for about two hours.” These outbursts were the first real break in the succession of hot days. Incognito went on, “This rain does good in many respects: It settles the dust, purifies the air, and may increase the supply of water, which last is most ardently hoped for.”
Lightning Strike Near Idaho (Bannock) City

The writer only said “may” because not enough rain fell to increase the stream flows all that much. He then remarked on a notorious feature of Idaho’s high country: Days can be quite hot, but “At night one needs all his blankets, and on several occasions, lately, while your correspondent was mining, frost has covered the ground to such an extent that he was forcibly reminded of chill November in Minnesota.”

As for the mines, Incognito said, “Mining is about the same as when I wrote last. An attempt was made on Tuesday, by a certain few, to lay over their claims in this district, to give them a chance to visit the land of the big red apples, but it was a failure.”

A block of owners had claims they could not work, for lack of water. They tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the local mining rules so they could retain their titles without having to be on the ground for the usual one day in seven. Incognito expected that “many of those claims will be left by [the] present holders, as the inducement is not great enough for them to stay by till spring.”

References: “Matters at Boise,” The Oregonian, Portland (October 13, 1863).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Governor Wallace Proclaims Legislative Districts for Idaho Territory

Marshal Dolphus S. Payne finally completed the first census for Idaho Territory around September 21, 1863. He did not count the Mormon towns near Bear Lake, which everyone thought were in Utah, but found over 32 thousand people. Over half of that total were located in Boise County and, at 6,275 people, Bannock City (on Mores Creek) was by far the largest town.

Placerville came next at 3,254, while Lewiston had a population of just 414. Almost all the inhabitants were men: there were just over a thousand women, and fewer than seven hundred children.

By the time the Marshal finished, Idaho Republicans had selected Governor Wallace as their candidate for the Delegate position, as noted for September 16. Democrats had narrowed their field down to Pioneerville merchant John M. Cannady.

With the census results in hand, Wallace laid out, by a proclamation on September 22, the legislative districts for the Territory. The area west of the Continental Divide and north of the Salmon River was designated as the first District. The region south of the Salmon and west of the Divide became the second District. And the area east of the Divide was the third District. This made geographic sense, but the apportionment that followed was bizarre.
Legislative Districts, 1863.
Highlighted on Historical Map.

The Organic Act stipulated that the “apportionment shall be made as nearly equal as practicable among the several counties or districts for the election of the council and representatives, giving to each section of the territory representation in the ratio of its qualified voters as nearly as may be.”

Instead, maintaining his seeming bias for Lewiston and the north, Wallace gave the first District three of the seven allotted Council members, even though it contained less than 10 percent of the voters. The third (eastern) District, which contained about 38 percent of the voters, got just two Council members, as did the second District with its 53 percent.

The same disproportion happened in the House. Although the Organic Act allowed for 13 Representatives, only 11 finally attended the session. Of these, four came from the northern counties, five from the south (over half the qualified voters, remember), and just two from the east side.

The Lewiston Golden Age announced a key part of the proclamation: “Governor Wallace has ordered the Territorial election to be held Saturday the 31st of October. At this election members of the Legislature and a Delegate to Congress are to be elected.”

Note: This is a small sample of the stories available in my latest book, Idaho Year One – The Territory's First Year, released by Sourdough Publishing.

References: [B&W], [Hawley]
“Census of 1863,” Reference Series No. 129, Idaho State Historical Society.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Union (Republican) Party Selects William Wallace as Candidate for Delegate

On September 16, 1863, Union Party members (Republicans) held a convention in Bannock City to select a nominee for Territorial Delegate. Governor William Wallace out-polled the two other candidates combined. So, The Oregonian later reported, “The nomination of Wallace was then made unanimous, and the convention then adjourned with three cheers for the Union and their candidate. There is little room to doubt the election of the Union nominee.”

The paper attributed this to the fact that, “The respectable merchants and traders, with scarce an exception, are fast friends to the Union, and this remark will apply to the miners, and all class of men who expect to live by honest industry.”
W. H. Wallace. [Hawley]

Their informants assured them that only the riff-raff (“loafers, gamblers and idlers”) favored secession and the Democratic Party, and they mostly wouldn’t bother to vote. That, of course, was a gross misrepresentation. Moreover, a temporary Unionist majority would soon be swamped by emigrants who voted Democratic.

References: [B&W]
“The Idaho Delegateship,” The Oregonian, Portland (September 26, 1863).

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Web Home for Sourdough Publishing

To avoid further clutter on this, my main blog, I decided to create a separate blog for the books I have published under the Sourdough Publishing imprint: Here is the link.

As you'll see there, I have just released my latestbook: Idaho: Year One – The Territory's First Year. The "publication" blog includes an overview of the book as well as the Table of Contents. The book is available for purchase at and at a dedicated CreateSpace eStore. (Of course, the "blurb" at the eStore is pretty much the same as the blog text.) I'm not sure how long it will take before the title appears on the Barnes & Noble web site and on other online booksellers.

Those of you who have been following the South Fork Companion have been seeing examples of the sesquicentennial items for some time now. The book covers many more days, and most of the items contain additional material.

Soon – hopefully tomorrow – I'll put my other two books on the Sourdough Publishing blog.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Army Tries to Over-Awe Indians, Potential for Irrigated Agriculture Overlooked

On September 9, 1863, a correspondent sent off a long letter from “Camas Prairie, I. T.” that was later published in The Oregonian and in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. He wrote, “We left Fort Hall on our homeward trip, on the 27th of August, and arrived here on the 5th of September, all well.”

In this case, the “Camas Prairie” referred to lay west of today’s Bellevue, Idaho, not the one southeast of Lewiston. The letter went on, “The cavalry, under Col. Maury, will leave here on the 11th, for Salmon Falls and the Owyhee, en route for Fort Walla Walla. The infantry, under Maj. Rinearson, will go to Fort Boise and meet us at the Owyhee or on the Malheur.”

Colonel Reuben F. Maury, a West Point graduate, had served in the Mexican War and then retired to Oregon in 1852, when he was 28 years old. In 1861, he was appointed to lead the 1st Oregon Cavalry, a unit of Volunteers tasked with protecting miners and emigrants on the Oregon Trail.

The writer went on, “Our trip, so far as regards chastising the Snakes, has been fruitless. … Our detour via Salmon Falls may result in something advantageous, but the prospects are not flattering. I do not know what Col. Maury’s intentions are, but I think he will demand the Indians who have been robbing and committing murders heretofore, and force those Indians who are stationed at the Falls to give them up.”

Since the Shoshones depended upon fishing at Salmon Falls as a major food source, the Army could have kept them away from the area only by stationing a unit nearby.

The letter next offered  a rather short-sighted judgement: “The country on Boise river is poorly adapted to agricultural pursuits, and in my opinion, when the best lands are cultivated, will not produce enough for the supply of the mining population likely to winter in the valley.”

The writer failed to recognize the potential for irrigated agriculture in the Boise Valley. About a year later, a new newspaper in Boise City, the Idaho Statesman, would advertise a property, “Two and a half miles west of town, containing 160 acres. Has plenty of timber and is mostly covered by a good ditch for irrigation.”
Feeder Irrigation Ditch
Within a couple years, most of the land along the river would be under cultivation, and prices for food in the mining camps began to moderate.

References: [B&W]
Daniel S. Lamont (Director), The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. (1897).
“Later from the North,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, California (October 12, 1863).
“Ranch for Sale,” Idaho Statesman, Boise (September 15, 1864).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prediction: Emigration to Western Regions Will Soon Create New States

On September 3, 1863, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado published an overview of what it saw as some key aspects of westward migration. The article said, “The tide of emigration setting westward will soon fill up two or three new States with populations that will ask admission into the Union. Utah began to knock at the door some years ago, and, but for its ‘peculiar institution,’ would no doubt have been admitted ere this. The Territory has more than the usually required number of people to form a State government, which is rapidly increasing.”

The “peculiar institution” was, of course, polygamy, which was then a tenet of Mormonism, the ‪Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‬. Utah Territory originally stretched from the Continental Divide to the border of California, and between the 37th and 42nd parallels of latitude. A series of cessions reduced the area to near its present size, plus a largely uninhabited strip of eastern Nevada. The population was estimated at perhaps 55 thousand, comparable to the state of Oregon at that time. However, Utah would not achieve statehood until 1896, after the church officially renounced polygamy.

The newspaper went on, “Nevada Territory will take the initiatory step this fall in claiming admission into Uncle Sam’s family circle.” Nevada moved from Territory to Statehood in October 1864.

The News also said, “The young Territory of Colorado also begins to aspire to a State organization, and will probably take advantage of the enabling act in a year or two. Its mining cities and towns are thriving, and the settlements are being extended into new valleys.”

Colorado Territory had been created in February 1861. Although it grew substantially because of its rich mines, the Territory did not achieve statehood until 1876.
Wagon Train in Canyon Country

Finally, the article said, “Washington Territory and young Idaho now divide the attention of Western emigrants, the latter being the latest gold marvel of the continent. It is scarcely a year yet since the first adventurers filled their pockets with the “yellow boys” at Bannack City, and this year the emigrant trains to the mines of Idaho are long and numerous.”

The writer concluded, “What a generation ago was only known as a Great American Desert will ere long form four or five populous and powerful free States of the Republic.

References: [Brit]
“More New States Coming,“ Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado (September 3, 1863).
Allen Kent Powell (ed.), Utah History Encyclopedia, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City (1994).