Saturday, December 24, 2016

Murray Newspaperman and Developer Adam Aulbach [otd 12/24]

Prominent Murray, Idaho newspaperman Adam Aulbach was born December 24, 1846 in Belleville, Illinois, 4-5 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. He started early in the newspaper business, first in Belleville and then with the St. Louis Republican. In 1863, he and four other young men headed west with a wagon train.
Murray, Idaho, ca 1888. The Sprag Pole Inn and Museum, Murray.

For a year or so, he prospected in the Montana gold fields. The Illustrated History noted that he served with the Vigilance Committees there, and Aulbach never denied his involvement. In 1864, he enlisted in the First Nevada Cavalry, and served for two years.

Adam then worked for newspapers in Salt Lake City and Corinne, Utah before moving on to the San Francisco Chronicle. Aulbach bounced around the west for a time after that and then spent a year or so in the East. While there, he added stints at the Philadelphia Record and New York Herald to his resume.

In 1884, Aulbach established a newspaper in Belknap, Montana – a Northern Pacific Railway station along the Clark Fork. Most of his news concerned the mining boom in the Coeur d’Alenes of Idaho. So, during the summer, he hauled the whole outfit into Murray [blog, Mar 5] on the backs of forty-five mules. The town, located on Prichard Creek about 12 miles north of Wallace, was then only a few months old. He published the first issue of the Idaho Sun on July 8, 1864. The following year he changed the name to the Coeur d'Alene Sun.

Over the next five years or so, he started or purchased newspapers in Wardner, Wallace, Mullan, and Burke. In mid-1890, Aulbach leased the Sun to focus on the Wallace Press. The Sun limped along and was suspended for six months until Adam returned to Murray in late 1892. The Sun ceased publication for good in 1912.

Aulbach also branched into other endeavors. The 1903 Illustrated History said that he, “owns the Murray water plant and has heavy interests in mining, and is one of the leaders of the county.”

Aulbach served a term in the state legislature starting in 1905. His time in the House of Representatives reportedly mirrored his editorial style: feisty, out-spoken, and unafraid to take on the rich and powerful.
Aulbach reminiscing for chronicler Rickard.

By 1919 the bloom had gone off the mines and the Murray economy was “dependent upon the operations of a single dredge.”

Aulbach was still there, and still hopeful. Reporter Thomas Rickard wrote, “He is one of the few pioneers surviving in honorable circumstance, and despite his 73 years of action, continues to take an energetic part in all movements for the public good … ”

A decade later, he still had active operations. The Spokane Chronicle reported (October 18, 1929), “A mill has been installed at the Buckeye mine in Dream gulch, owned by Adam Aulbach,.”

Three years later, the Chronicle announced (Nov 28, 1932), “Adam Aulbach, editor and mining man of the Coeur d’Alenes, is being invited to be the guest of the Northwest Mining association on the first day of the annual mining convention.”

Aulbach passed away about seven months after the meeting.
References: [Illust-North]
Chronicling America: Historic Newspapers, The Library of Congress (online).
“Invite Aulbach to Mining Meet,” Spokane Chronicle (Nov 28, 1932).
Thomas Arthur Rickard, The Bunker Hill Enterprise, Mining & Scientific Press, San Francisco (1921).


  1. Adam was a very colorful man and had a hand in building the infrastructure of Murray. My wife and I bought Adams home in Murray and have been remodeling it and furnishing it in antiques. We have been researching any and all that Adam had a hand in while in Murray.

    1. We are researching a painting we are told came with him in 1884. We'd love to hear any information about him you'd be willing to share.