Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sesquicentennial Alert: First Territorial Elections

The regular blog for October 31 does double duty. I had already included the first Territorial elections as an important event for my On This Day feature. But it is equally significant that those elections took place in 1863. The item has been slightly revised as I "recycled" it into this year. It also appears in my book, Idaho: Year One – The Territory's First Year. You can learn more about the book at the blog for Sourdough Publishing.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sesquicentennial Silver Excitement

My book Idaho: Year One, The Territory's First Year includes a news item gleaned from  The Oregonian for October 23, 1863. The item has now been displayed on the Sourdough Publishing blog, where you can also find the Table of Contents and other descriptive material about the book.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sesquicentennial Samples Moved to Sourdough Publishing

My book Idaho: Year One, The Territory's First Year includes a news item gleaned from San Francisco Evening Bulletin for October 15, 1863. To make it simpler to access those samples along with the Table of Contents and other descriptive material, those items will be posted on the Sourdough Publishing blog from here on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bannock (Idaho) City Trader Absconds with Money, Provisions Shipped

On October 8, 1863, The Oregonian reported details on the census of Idaho Territory. (Those details were known and used earlier – after September 21 – by Governor Wallace in Lewiston, to establish legislative and judicial districts.)

The article then gave news from Bannock City: “Our mercantile community were a little startled a few days ago at the sudden disappearance of a Mr. Hoyt, formerly of Olympia.  He has been a successful trader – his profits in less than two months, have amounted to about $10,000.”

The trader had, the article went on, “managed to buy goods of different parties on credit. He owed one concern between three and four thousand dollars.”

The surprise at his disappearance was not, however, occasioned by the usual fear of foul play: “He had the money with him, but couldn’t well spare it. When last heard of, he was traveling, as fast as possible, towards Salt Lake. A purse of $1,000 was made up by his ‘constituents,’ and an express started after him, to invite him to return.”

Having disposed of that matter, the report went on, “We have positive information, by the Salt Lake Express, that there is any quantity of eggs, butter, bacon, salt and flour on the way here from Salt Lake.”

This item, of course, represented the other side of earlier complaints from Salt Lake about how the gold camps were draining provisions out of Utah. Miners naturally hoped that greater supplies might drive costs down to more reasonable levels.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Idaho History and Historic Preservation Conference

From mid-day September 25 through mid-day September 27, I attended Idaho’s Heritage Conference in Boise. (They invited me to take part in a book fair on the 25th.) It took me awhile to write about the event because I was finishing the newsletter I co-Edit for the Idaho Academy of Science.
Old Idaho Penitentiary.

The Conference was keyed off the Sesquicentennial of the creation of Idaho Territory, with sponsorship by the Idaho State Historical Society, Preservation Idaho, the Idaho Archaeological Society, and several other institutions interested in Idaho history and historic preservation. Many other organizations – public and private – made financial contributions. The book fair and opening took place at the Old Idaho Penitentiary while most of the later sessions were held in the capitol building.

Most of the time, the Conference had three topical tracks running concurrently. Thus, I could not attend all the sessions, nor can I do justice to the overall breadth covered. In fact, I cannot really expound on every session I did attend … so this will be very selective. (As of right now, the Conference program is still posted on the web, if you’re curious.)

A recurring theme in many sessions had to do with reaching out from the traditional museum or classroom environments. My “take-away,” reinforced by my own experience, is that videos – movies or big-screen TV – that visitors watch passively are not often winners.
Idaho Capitol Building

A common thread among most of the successful approaches was some variation of “interactivity.” Unfortunately, this idea flies in the face of the usual “look but don’t touch” philosophy and/or requirement of most normal museum settings. But that is changing as organizations find innovative ways to use interactive maps, artifacts that are in abundant supply, and even “faithful” reproductions.

The issue of reaching younger audiences received considerable attention. As part of her talk, one speaker called up a YouTube presentation entitled “Social Media Video 2013” from the web. It runs just under four minutes, and contains some very interesting information. Two of the key conclusions were:
    “Social media has become the #1 activity on the web.”
    “Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé.”

Referring to e-mail, another speaker from academia claimed, “Students only use it to contact their grandparents, and their profs.” Turns out, they consider e-mail clunky and much too slow -- they prefer texting and tweeting. The need to finds ways to harness digital media and social networks was heavily discussed, but no one offered any good answers on how to do that.

The Heritage Conference essentially ran in parallel with a meeting of the Idaho Archaeological Society. One of the speakers during the Conference wrap-up offered some useful, and important, information in that area. Unlike many states, Idaho law takes a “landowner friendly” approach to artifacts – prehistoric and historic – found on private property: With one exception, which I’ll get to in a moment, artifacts found on private property belong to the property owner.

Some landowners keep such discoveries a secret because they fear that “the authorities” will seize the artifacts and essentially take over the find site. This reportedly does happen in some states, but Idaho law does not allow that. In fact, as I understand it, outsiders who removes artifacts from private land in Idaho – which happens far too often – are subject to the same penalties as if they stole tools or other property.

The one exception involves human remains (bones, usually), and artifacts closely associated with them. These fall in a special category and require expert evaluation. As you might expect, most landowners call local law enforcement, and that is the correct action. However, according to State Archaeologist Dr. Kenneth Reid, “Law enforcement officers sometimes do not realize that they should contact my office … if it is determined not to be a crime scene.”

So, to reduce later complications, landowners need to know what to do about human remains after they call the police or sheriff. That is, someone, either law enforcement or the landowner, needs to involve the State Archaeologist [208-334-3861 ext. 110].

Beyond that, what do you do if you find “ordinary” artifacts? I would contact the nearest college or university and ask for someone in the archaeology or anthropology department. (Many Federal facilities also have access to archaeological expertise, if there’s an office nearby.) They are generally delighted to hear about archaeological sites in their back yard, and will be eager to help.
Professional "Dig."
Idaho Archaeological Society

It is important to keep in mind that professional study is necessary to glean the most knowledge from a find. That includes the site itself, which holds clues as to when certain artifacts were used, what items were used together, and much more. That does take time, so – if at all possible – give researchers enough access, for a long enough period, to make a reasonable study.

Finally: As the artifact owner, you can “have your cake and eat it too.” You can, if you choose, loan the items to the researchers, for return after a specified period of study. You can then formally present them to a museum of your choice, assemble your own display, or pass them along to your kids. Or, you can try to sell them … but do not expect to make a lot of money. Despite the rare “killing,” most such objects do not sell at premium prices.

In the long run, however, I believe such objects should end up in the collection of a museum or other public institution. Far too often, private collections end up in the trash when the holder needs the room (or, to be blunt, dies, and the heirs pitch them).

Overall, the Heritage Conference was very informative, and I hope the organizers decide to make it a regular event. It need not be held annually, but I would think every two or three years would be useful.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

University of Idaho Greets Its First (Under-Qualified) Students [otd 10/3]

On Monday, October 3, 1892, the University of Idaho in Moscow greeted its first prospective students, about 40 of them. That event completed one of the odder paths to the creation of an American university.

The story really began with the creation of Idaho Territory in March 1863. The Federally-appointed Governor, William H. Wallace, made Lewiston the capital, even though the region’s population had already moved south: The 1863 Census showed roughly 1,500 along the Clearwater River and in Lewiston, versus over 15,000 in the Boise Basin camps in the mountains northeast of Boise City.

The imbalance worsened in 1864, so the legislature moved the capital to Boise City. North Idaho leaders never got over it. For years, people in the Panhandle sought to secede and join Washington (or, sometimes, Montana). That was true even as late as 1887 [blog, Dec 1].

President Lincoln. Library of Congress.
While Idaho Territory muddled along, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Act, which gave every state 30 thousand acres of land for each of its Senators and Representatives. Funds obtained from selling these lands were to be used to support at least one college in the state.

The Act required these institutions to focus more on agriculture and engineering than traditional colleges and universities. Morrill Act schools – generally referred to today as “land grant colleges” – were also expected to provide military training.

In the late 1880’s, hopes rose within the Territory that Idaho might soon be granted statehood, with qualification for a college land grant as one benefit. Many complex issues then came into play. The last thing majority-holding politicians in the south wanted was for North Idahoans to raise the secession question again.

To placate those northern constituencies, conferees agreed to designate Moscow as the site for a land grant university. To “seal the deal,” when delegates met in 1889 to frame a constitution for the  new state, they wrote the location into the proposed constitution itself.  Idaho is one of only a handful of states where this is true.

When voters approved the constitution and Idaho became a state (in July 1890), that clause was still there, no longer subject to change by simple legislation. Still, the legislature had to provide startup funds, and these were slow in coming and never generous. Construction did not begin on the site backers purchased until the summer of 1891. The University had only part of a building completed when the doors formally opened.
UI campus, ca 1900. Illustrated History of North Idaho.

As it turned out, tests showed that none of the hopeful enrollees were qualified for college-level work. By the time classes began a week later, President Franklin B. Gault [blog, Sept 23] had hired two new instructors, both females, to strengthen a preparatory curriculum. As historian Keith Petersen wrote, “It was perhaps the only time that the university had as many women as men on the faculty.” Not until 1913 did the University close its prep school.

Financial prospects for the new school were not hopeful, partly because of the “Panic of ‘93” – a major nationwide recession that lasted for about four years. Even so, in June of 1896, the University celebrated its first four graduates to earn college degrees: Two young ladies with, respectively, Bachelors in Philosophy and in Art, and two young men with degrees in Civil Engineering.
References: [Illust-North]
“Census of 1863,” Reference Series No. 129, Idaho State Historical Society.
“Census of 1864,” Reference Series No. 130, Idaho State Historical Society.
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, The Caxton Printers (© The Regents of the University of Idaho, 1962).
Keith C. Petersen, This Crested Hill: An Illustrated History of the University of Idaho, University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho (1987).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fort Boise Founder Pinkney Lugenbeel Assigned to Other Duties

On October 1, 1863, a correspondent for the Evening Bulletin in San Francisco, California sent in a brief report from Portland. It began, “By a late communication addressed to the Executive of this State, from Provost-Marshal Gen. Fry, we are informed that the Brevet-Major Pinkey Lugenbeal [sic] of the regular army has been designated to superintend the execution of the Conscription act in Oregon and Washington Territory.”

Major Pinkney Lugenbeel had, of course, selected a spot for a new Fort Boise on July 4th and immediately began construction. Born in Maryland, Lugenbeel received an appointment to West Point from Ohio and graduated in 1840, when he was 21 years old. Lieutenant Lugenbeel served at posts in Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Texas before the Mexican War in 1846. He was wounded during the war, and brevetted first to captain and then major for “gallantry and meritorious conduct.”
Pinkney Lugenbeel.
U. S. Army Archives.

After that duty, Lugenbeel served at several posts around the country before being assigned to the Pacific Northwest in 1855. By then he had the standard rank of captain. When the Civil War began, he stayed in Washington Territory and Oregon to train Volunteer units.

Toward the end of the War, Brevet Major Lugenbeel was reassigned to a fort near Detroit, Michigan. He then joined a front-line unit and saw action in northern Georgia. After the war, he served in Oklahoma and Arkansas, rising to the rank of Regular Army colonel. He retired in 1882, and passed away four years later.

References: Carolyn Thomas Foreman, “Colonel Pinkney Lugenbeel,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 24, No. 4, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City (1946).
 "Matters in Oregon," Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, California (October 8, 1863).