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).

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