Monday, February 29, 2016

Idaho Territory Fends Off One Last Partition Attempt [otd 02/29]

On February 29, 1888, Congressional Delegate Fred T. Dubois sent the following telegram to Milton Kelly: “House committee on territories to-day reported unanimously against any division of Idaho. This ends the fight.”

Judge Kelly. Illust-State photo.
Milton Kelly was the operator-editor of the Idaho Statesman, published in Boise. He was born near Syracuse, New York, in 1818. He became a lawyer in 1845 and practiced for many years in Wisconsin. Kelly moved to Placerville, Idaho in 1863. He then represented Boise County in the first Idaho Territorial legislature.

In April 1865, President Lincoln appointed him an Associate Justice for the Territorial Supreme Court. Six years later, he moved to Boise City and bought the Statesman.

Kelly actually showed remarkable restraint when he inserted the telegram text in the next day’s issue. His brief editorial about it did advise the partition supporters to “help build up Idaho instead of trying to tear it to pieces.”

As noted in several of my blog articles, many residents of North Idaho did not want to be part of Idaho Territory. That became especially true in Lewiston after the south “stole” the capital away to Boise City in 1864. The northerners hoped to become part of Washington, or perhaps a totally new territory.

The partition notion also had another root. The Republican-dominated U. S. Congress made Nevada a state in October 1864, even though its population fell well below the preferred minimum for statehood. (As a state, the region offered a Representative and two Senators who were “safely” Republican.)

To “bulk itself up,” in 1866 and 1868 the new state added major chunks of Utah and Arizona territories. Anti-Mormonism bolstered the Utah acquisition. And clearly the mining camps in the wedge that became southern Nevada benefited from being part of a state rather than a weak Arizona Territory.

Emboldened, starting around 1869 Nevada officials tried to carve a chunk out of southern Idaho. They hoped to acquire the booming Owyhee County silver mines. To gain support, they offered to split Idaho with Washington Territory. North Idahoans jumped on board, of course.

However, the schemers failed to overcome the political savvy of the Idaho leaders and their allies in Congress. Although the partitionists seemed to be close to their goal at times, the Territory remained intact.
Delegate Fred Dubois.
Library of Congress.

The scheme resurfaced in 1886. By that time, miners had exhausted the best silver lodes in Nevada, and the state’s population was plummeting. (It lost almost a quarter of its people between 1880 and 1890). Adding the growing population of southern Idaho could offset the decline.

Led by Idaho’s shrewd and politically astute Delegate, Fred T. Dubois [blog, May 29], the Territory and its allies fought back in Washington, D. C. Internally, they made concessions to North Idaho – guaranteeing a university there [blog, Oct 3], and so on. This eroded northern support for partition. Shortly after Dubois sent his triumphant telegram, Idaho began to prepare for statehood.
References: [B&W], [Illust-State]
“Constitutional Convention and Ratification,” Reference Series No. 476, Idaho State Historical Society.
“Good News from Washington,” Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 1, 1888).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

John R. McBride, U. S. Representative and Chief Justice for Idaho Territory [otd 02/28]

Judge McBride.
Photo from
On February 28, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln – just 45 days before he was shot by John Wilkes Booth – appointed John Rogers McBride as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Idaho Territory. The appointment typified the patronage system of the times, but the result turned out to be a happy exception to the norm.

Although Territorial governance followed the same structure as the Federal system, voters in the Territory had no say over the executive and judicial branches: The President appointed the Governor and a panel of three judges. One of the three was designated as the Chief Justice.

In those early days, appointees to positions in Idaho were almost never residents of the Territory. They usually came from the more settled Midwest, or the East. For many, the transition to the “Wild West” came as a major cultural shock, and quite a few fled after getting one good look. To make matters worst, the salaries were miserably poor.

James H. Hawley, who was elected as state Governor in 1910, lived through that era [blog, Jan 17]. In his History, he observed that the system supplied judges that were "lawyers of only mediocre ability or political henchmen, who received their appointments as a reward for services to the party, rather than for their legal ability."

Emigrant train, ca 1846. Library of Congress.
This could have been similar. A loyal Republican, McBride got the appointment after being defeated in a bid for re-election to Congress. However, unlike many who came later, he knew the West. His family emigrated to Oregon in 1846, when John was thirteen years old. He studied law while also serving as a school superintendent in Yamhill County, and was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1857.

In 1860, Oregon voters elected him to the state Senate. Two years later, he won election to the U. S. House of Representatives, where he was awarded some worthwhile committee assignments. However, his 1864 re-election bid failed, whereupon he received the Idaho Judgeship.

Commenting on this appointment, Hawley wrote: "an able jurist and an honest man, Judge McBride most favorably impressed himself upon the litigation of the territory and ... was beloved by the bar of the state and highly esteemed by all of its people."

McBride soon got down to business, traveling all over the Territory. The Idaho Statesman reported (August 10, 1865) one example: “Judge McBride, after a full hearing and a very thorough investigation, issued a peremptory mandate ordering Slocum to pay over to Dr. Smith, the Territorial Treasurer, about $14,000 … ”

McBride was the only one of the first four Chief Justices appointed to the Territory who served most of the usual term – the others lasted an average of under 11 months. McBride resigned in July 1868 to establish a private law practice in Boise. He was soon called back into public service to supervise the construction of the U. S. Assay Office in Boise City [blog, May 30]. He then served as Superintendent while the Office was being readied for business.

In 1872, McBride moved to Salt Lake City and established the firm of Sutherland & McBride. After eight years in Utah, he relocated his law practice to Spokane. He passed away there in July 1904.
References: [French], [Hawley]
Jonathan Edwards, An Illustrated History of Spokane County, State of Washington, W. H. Lever, San Francisco (1900).
"McBride, John Rogers," Biographical Directory of the U S. Congress, online.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pocatello Brewer and Soft Drinks Bottler Robert Hayes [otd 02/27]

Robert Hayes.
J. H. Hawley photo.
Pocatello businessman Robert J. Hayes was born February 27, 1861 in Oswego, New York. The family moved to Chicago about six years later. Hayes struck out on his own at age sixteen, making his way west by “night herding” – tending draft animals – for a freight outfit. He then landed a job with the Union Pacific Railroad, first in Cheyenne, Wyoming, then in Rawlins.

After three years of that, Hayes returned to night herding, working for a freight line that operated between Helena, Montana, and Fort Benton. For a time, he held a contract to furnish the Northern Pacific with wood. Then, for about six months, he operated a pack train out of Bozeman.

Unable to find steady work, he took odd packing jobs in California and Arizona. Meanwhile, the Utah & Northern Railroad, a UP subsidiary, built a narrow gauge railroad across Eastern Idaho into Montana. To support that operation, the company built yards and a set of shops in Eagle Rock (later Idaho Falls). In 1884, Hayes hired on at the shops.

However, after two years, he moved to Blackfoot to take a position as Deputy Sheriff. During his two-year tenure in Blackfoot, the railroad relocated its shops from Eagle Rock to Pocatello. That change fueled even more explosive growth in that junction town.

Sensing opportunity, Hayes also moved to Pocatello. There, he partnered with N. G. Franklin and went into the business of bottling soda water. Such drinks were growing rapidly in popularity at that time. The firm of Franklin & Hayes got in on the ground floor; there plant was one of the first, if not the first built in southern Idaho.
Franklin & Hayes Brewery, Pocatello, 1907.
Bannock County Historical Society.
They soon developed a full line of soda waters and soft drinks. In time, they also built a brewery and added beer to their product line. The business was not without danger. The Idaho Statesman reported (October 9, 1900) that Franklin had been hit by a soda bottle explosion “and it is feared the sight of his right eye is destroyed.”

The partnership flourished, shipping beverages to many points in Idaho as well as into Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. According to Hawley's History of Idaho, the company "grew to be one of the largest of the kind in the state, with one of the best equipped plants."

Hayes was very active in Republican party politics, being Chairman of the Pocatello Central Committee for a time. He also served on the Bannock County Board of Commissioners and chaired that body for awhile. Despite his prominence within the party, Hayes never ran for any higher political office.
Franklin & Hayes letterhead. eBay memorabilia image.

Although he sometimes hunted and fished, Hayes generally favored less strenuous activities. He enjoyed music and the theater, and was, according Hiram T. French, “very fond of lectures and a good speech.”

Hayes was perhaps plagued by poor health. Although he was only in his early fifties, he retired from active participation in the soda and beer business about 1914. Or, perhaps, he saw the coming of prohibition, which would ruin the most profitable part of their business. The partners had already been fined $500, each, for some violation of the local option liquor laws (Idaho Statesman, April 12, 1913).

Hayes passed away in August 1918.
References: [French], [Hawley]

Friday, February 26, 2016

Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Stewart [otd 02/26]

Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Harlan Stewart was born February 26, 1858 in Connersville, Indiana, about fifty miles east of Indianapolis. He was something of an intellectual prodigy: George leaped through a “common” education to himself teach at country schools.
Law School at Valparaiso, ca 1880. Valparaiso University Archives.

After several years, he entered Northern Indiana Normal school, in Valparaiso. (In 1900, the school became Valparaiso College, now University.)

George completed their “scientific” course in 1879, at the age of twenty-one, and immediately entered the school’s law department. He graduated in 1881 and was soon admitted to the Indiana bar.

In 1882, Stewart opened a law office in Fowler, Indiana, 15-20 miles northwest of Lafayette. After four or five years there, “on account of failing health,” he moved to a small town in southwest Nebraska. For the next several years, he made a name for himself. Not only did his practice flourish, but he was also elected as county Prosecuting Attorney.

Stewart moved to Idaho in 1890, and immediately involved himself in Republican Party activities. He opened a practice in Boise City with a partner who had over a quarter century of experience with Idaho law. It’s perhaps no surprise that he was elected to the state Senate in 1893. Two years later, he ran for the office of Boise City Mayor, against developer Walter E. Pierce [blog, January 9]. Stewart lost the razor-thin election, 438-436.

George soon partnered with another rising young attorney, William E. Borah. (Borah went on to become a six-time U. S. Senator from Idaho [blog, June 29].) In 1896, the sitting Judge of the Third Judicial District resigned and the governor appointed Stewart to replace him.

When election time came two years later, Democrats and a major faction of Silver Republicans united to nominate a “fusion” candidate to fill the District Judge position. The Prohibitionist Party made no selection, while the Populist candidate withdrew in favor of the Fusion nominee. (One rather wonders what sort of “deal” they cut.) Thus, loyal Republican Stewart faced what appeared to be an insurmountable challenge. Yet, such was Stewart’s reputation, and political skill … he won handily.
Judge Stewart. H. T. French photo.

In 1899, Governor Steunenberg selected Stewart as judge for the trial of union miners involved in bombing the Bunker Hill & Sullivan ore mill. (The judge for the district that included Shoshone County declined to serve.) Despite the high emotions and drama of those trials, George emerged with his reputation as a jurist not just intact, but enhanced.

Thus, running on his very successful district court record, Stewart was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1906. Historian Hiram T. French noted, "In due course he became chief justice during the last two years of his term."

Despite some questions about his health, he was re-elected "by a good majority" in 1912. French wrote his History during the course of that term and said, "His present term bids well to copy fair his past."

That was not to be, however. Stewart suffered a stroke in March of 1914 while he was presiding over the district court in Moscow. He recovered enough to return home but the consensus was that he might never be strong enough to resume his duties. In May, he entered a sanitarium in Portland, where it was hoped their program of fresh air, light exercise and constant nursing care would restore him to full health. Sadly, he suffered two more small attacks during the summer. He died from a final massive stroke on September 25, 1914.
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
"Idaho Jurist Dies," The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon (September 26, 1914).
[Stewart newspaper items], Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 27, May 12, July 21, 1914).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book on Idaho History

Today’s "On This Day item," along with the “Sheep Queen” biography of yesterday, recall the long and colorful history of stock raising in Idaho. As noted in the blog, that history included the Blackfoot firm of Berryman & Rogers. Their story, along with many others is told in my book Before the Spud: Indians, Buckaroos, and Sheepherders in Pioneer Idaho.

Rogers’ career is, of course, outlined in the blog. Berryman, the book says, “divided his time among the company’s interests in stock raising, retail trade, and real estate for many years. However, by 1910, he saw himself primarily as a banker, working for one of the largest banks in Blackfoot. By 1920, Berryman was President of the bank.”

He passed away in 1925, a year before Rogers.

For more information on Before the Spud, visit the Sourdough Publishing web site. There, you will also learn more about my other two Idaho history books: Boise Basin Gold Country and Idaho: Year One, an Idaho Sesquicentennial History.