Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Convicted Murderer and Thief Hanged at Idaho Penitentiary [otd 11/30]

On November 30, 1901, authorities hanged convicted murderer Edward Rice. He was the first individual executed at the Idaho Penitentiary as a state institution and only the second in its history. Rice had been convicted of murdering Matthew Mailley, a Wallace cigar and candy store owner, the previous year.
Wallace, ca 1898. Illustrated History.

The evidence was largely circumstantial, in that there were no direct witnesses. A potential customer had found the store door locked at around 9:30 on a Monday morning in October 1900. Finding Mailley’s thriving business closed at that time of day was unusual, to say the least.

The person then walked around and peered in a window, and spotted Mailley’s body lying near the back. A report in the Idaho Statesman (October 5, 1900) said that authorities then forced the door. Mailley had suffered several blows to the head and then his throat had been cut. The article noted that the store owner “had lived in the Coeur d’Alenes about 15 years and had no known enemies.”

Account books showed an $800 shortfall of cash and checks in the store and on the murdered man’s body. Suspicion soon fell on Edward Rice, a casual laborer who had been around town for awhile. Rice had cadged small loans off numerous locals, some of whom had taken to dunning him for repayment whenever they ran into him. Later on the day of the murder, Rice had not only paid off over $100 of those debts, he had “purchased a hat and pair of trousers.”

Investigators also found two bloodstained handkerchiefs at the crime scene, one of which had apparently been used as a gag. Both bore marks assigned by the Wallace laundry to Rice’s belongings. Unable to explain this evidence, Rice’s lawyer tried to raise doubts about the chain of custody on the items.

At his trial, Rice’s lawyer surely did his best to focus attention on those doubts, and the fact that no witness had placed Rice near the scene of the crime. Available accounts do not report what story they advanced to explain his sudden relative affluence. (Throughout this affair, Rice’s activities suggest that he was, in fact, of substandard intelligence.) The attorney’s presentation clearly did not impress the jury: They “found a verdict in thirteen minutes.”

Naturally, the matter did not end there. The scarcity of direct evidence was emphasized in his appeals, which went all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court. One of the other issues the defense raised was that “popular excitement and prejudice” about the case prevented him from getting a fair trial. The High Court conceded that such sentiment certainly justified a request for a change of venue, but no such request was made.
Old Idaho Penitentiary.
Wikimedia Commons, attribution to Peter Wollheim.

Up until 1899, executions had been carried out at the county level. Then the law was changed to require that all such acts be carried out at the State Penitentiary. The only previous execution at the Penitentiary had been under a Federal order, when Idaho was still a Territory.

Early in 1901, even as his appeals proceeded, Rice somehow obtained a knife and ostensibly tried to commit suicide by cutting his own throat … but failed. One last-ditch appeal called for time to examine of his sanity, but that too failed and the execution proceeded. 
                                                                                                                                     
References: [Illust-North]
“[Appeal Denied, Rice to Hang],” Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise, Idaho (November 30, 1901). 
"Executions," Idaho State Historical Society monograph.
"State Versus Rice," The Pacific Reporter, Vol. 66, West Publishing Company, St. Paul (1902).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reverend Henry Spalding Builds Presbyterian Mission at Lapwai [otd 11/29]

Henry Harmon Spalding.
National Park Service.
On November 29, 1836, Henry Harmon Spalding established a Presbyterian mission among the Nez Percés Indians. The initial location was on Lapwai Creek about 10 miles east of today's Lewiston. Two years later Spalding moved the mission to a spot on the Clearwater River near the mouth of Lapwai Creek.

Born in New York state, Henry was in his early thirties when he established the mission. After graduation from Western Reserve College (now part of Case Western Reserve University), he entered a seminary in Cincinnati. Spalding left, however, when he was appointed as a missionary to the Nez Percés.

Eliza (Hart) Spalding, born in Connecticut, was three or four years younger than Henry. The family moved to Oneida County, New York, in 1820. Henry and Eliza met through a mutual acquaintance and corresponded for a year or so before they met. Their common interest in missionary work matured the relationship and they married in 1833.

Three years later, Henry and Eliza traveled west with Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa [blog, Aug 12]. On the way, the couples attended the 1836 fur trade rendezvous on the Green River, in Wyoming. There, they caused a sensation because, while they were not the first missionaries to attend a rendezvous, they were the first who brought their wives.

The missionaries continued on to the Columbia River, obtained supplies from Fort Vancouver, and then separated. The Whitmans built a mission near today’s Walla Walla, Washington, while the Spaldings established theirs at Lapwai. It was difficult and costly to supply the Lapwai mission, so the settlement developed slowly.

That improved somewhat when, toward the end of 1838, the missionaries opened a blacksmith shop. During the heat of one summer, Spalding turned the natives to digging ditches for irrigation. Thus, the mission is credited with the first irrigated farming in what would become the state of Idaho. Crops grown included potatoes, another first.
Nez Percé Bible. University of Idaho Special Collections.

Spalding also procured a printing press and began publishing materials in the Nez Percés language, including the Bible.

Unfortunately, Henry had strict Puritanical notions of morality: Polygamy (fornication, to him), liquor, and gambling were all equally sinful. His tactless denunciations angered the Indians, and created friction with other missionaries who took a more gradual approach to converting native ways.

The 1847 massacre – ironically, also on November 29 – at the Whitman mission in Washington caused a suspension of both operations. Spalding was on his way to visit the mission when the killings occurred. Henry escaped death only through the intervention of a Roman Catholic priest … a crowning irony since Spalding was vehemently anti-“Papist.”

The Spaldings moved to Oregon, where they settled for a time. Eliza died in 1851 and Henry remarried two years later. He again served as missionary to the Nez Percés after about 1859, and resumed activities at Lapwai in 1862.

After a sojourn in the East around 1870, Spalding returned in 1871 to build a new school among the Nez Percés. He died in August 1874.
                                                                                                                                        
References: [B&W], [Brit], [Illust-North]
Malcom Clark, Eden Seekers: The Settlement of Oregon, 1818-1862, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York (1981).
“Lapwai Mission,” Nez Perce National Historical Park, National Park Service.
“Spalding’s Mission,” Reference Series No. 945, Idaho State Historical Society (January 1993).

Monday, November 28, 2016

“Rufus” Reid and Agnes Just Perpetuate Century Ranch Heritage [otd 11/28]

Robert “Rufus” Reid.
Family Archives.*
On November 28, 1906, twenty-year-old Agnes Just married Robert E. “Rufus” Reid in Blackfoot, Idaho. Agnes was the youngest child and only surviving daughter of Nels and Emma Just.

Born in Denmark in 1847, Nels A. Just was ten years old when his family came to the United States. They had already converted to the LDS Church, and aimed to settle in Utah. The Justs traveled as part of one of the so-called “handcart” companies and arrived at Salt Lake in September 1857.

Emma Thompson was born in England in 1850. Also Mormon converts, the family emigrated to the U. S. in 1854. Both the Thompsons and the Justs joined the ill-fated “Morrisite” splinter group and suffered through its eventual dissolution. By the late 1860s, Nels had worked at various jobs, including running freight into Montana.

Emma married a soldier in 1865. After his discharge, the couple moved around as her husband found work. According to Bonneville County historian Barzilla Clark, “During the winter of 1866-67, we find her cooking at the stage station at Taylor’s Bridge.” (Taylor's Bridge eventually became today's Idaho Falls.)

From there, they went to Montana where, unfortunately, her husband abandoned her. After the birth of their son, she returned to live with relatives in the Blackfoot area. Divorced, Emma married Nels in 1870. They settled along the Blackfoot River and began raising livestock. Some of these he sold under contract to the Army at Fort Hall. Nels would also figure prominently in later irrigation efforts.

Besides Fred from her first marriage, the couple raised four sons of their own, and then Agnes. Agnes attended Albion Normal School to qualify for a teaching certificate. On one of her trips home, she met “Zeke” Reid (Robert Ezeckiel went by Bob, Zeke, or Rufus at various times), who then worked for her father.

Agnes taught a few years before marrying Rufus in 1906. After the marriage, they moved in with Nels and Emma at the homestead ranch along the Blackfoot River. Nels died in 1912, while Emma lived until 1923.
Rufus and Agnes in 1907. Family Archives.*

Agnes Just Reid became the mother of five sons. Still, raising them and helping run a farm-ranch operation wasn’t enough. She also became a noted Idaho article writer, columnist, and poetess.

After she became well known, The Deseret News profiled her (October 24, 1948). The writer observed, “Mrs. Reid has a knack of telling common things beautifully. Her poetry is not the modeled lacy petal, flowery poetry which is read simply for its phrasing quality and is forgotten because it lacks depth.” Instead, her “pen is strong and forceful … [and leaves] a wealth of pure gold to ponder until the reader, remembering, makes it part of himself.”

The Reid sons in their turn, acquired various portions of the old homestead.

As part of the state’s Centennial celebration, the Idaho State Historical Society prepared a list of “Idaho Century Farms and Ranches.” The specific criteria state that the farm or ranch must have been “owned and operated in Idaho by the same family for at least 100 years, with 40 acres of the original parcel of land maintained as part of the present holding.”

As of 2004, the list contained nearly one hundred ranches established during the Territorial period, along with 175 farms, many of which also raised livestock. Four of the ranches trace their roots back to the original holding established along the Blackfoot by Nels and Emma Just.

* Family archives: Presto Press, Presto Preservation Association. Used with permission.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County In The Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls (1941).
Idaho Century Farms and Ranches, Idaho State Historical Society (2004).
Agnes Just Reid, Letters of Long Ago, Fourth Edition, Cedar Creek Press, Boise, Idaho (1997).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pure Food, Dairy & Oil Commissioner William C. Howie [otd 11/27]

Commissioner Howie.
H. T. French photo.
Attorney William Clarence Howie, Idaho Food, Dairy & Oil Commission President, was born November 27, 1860, in Davis County, Iowa. He graduated from high school in Bloomfield, the county seat, which is located about 15 miles south of Ottumwa. In 1883, William graduated from a Normal School in Bloomfield and moved to Nebraska to teach school.

Howie also read at a couple of law offices. The senior partner at his second stay later became a Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court and, later yet, Dean of the Nebraska State Law School. After being admitted to the Nebraska bar, Howie practiced in the state for about eight months.

Howie moved to Idaho in late 1890 and opened a practice in Mountain Home. At that time, Elmore County had been in existence less than two years. Mountain Home became the county seat in February 1891. About that time, the city and county began a growth spurt that lasted over twenty years.

In addition to a thriving legal practice, Howie filled a number of public offices in the area. That included service on the Mountain Home library board as well as the school board. According to the Illustrated History, he “was a prominent factor in the building of the splendid public-school building.”

Howie also held an appointment as U. S. Commissioner for the district around Mountain Home. Beyond the local activities, Howie served on the committee that determined the location of the state industrial school at St. Anthony.

Beginning in 1904, he served as President of the Idaho Food, Dairy, and Oil Commission (Idaho Statesman, December 13, 1903). This latter position involved major responsibilities. Before strong food and drug laws were in place, adulteration of oils – such as those used to make oleomargarine – with cheaper substitutes was a substantial problem all over the country.

Toward the end of Howie’s five-year term, the commissioners recommended that the duties of the commission be reorganized (Idaho Statesman, November 12, 1908). Dairy-related functions belonged under an agricultural board, while food matters should be included in the duties of the state Board of Health. Those changes were indeed made within a couple years.

Howie invested in several regional irrigation projects as well as various Mountain Home businesses, helping to organize the Stockgrowers State Bank.
Grubber patent drawing, Official Gazette.

Practicing in Mountain Home in the early years of the Twentieth Century, Howie’s name is also linked to a crucial pioneer activity. In 1909, he represented the assignee of a deceased inventor who received a U.S. Patent for a “Sage-Brush Grubbing Machine.” Then and for at least a half century after, developers sought better ways to remove sagebrush to prepare land for agriculture.

The following year, in connection with his Land Commissioner position, he found himself on the wrong side in court.  An indictment named him as part of a conspiracy to commit land fraud. However, the evidence soon showed that Howie himself had acted in good faith. Some jurors apparently still wanted to convict the three other men named in the indictment, but all were ultimately pronounced “not guilty.”

During World War I, Howie served as Secretary of the Home Service committee established in Elmore County by the American Red Cross. He died from an attack of influenza in February 1919.
                                                                                                                                     
References: [French], [Illust-State]
“978,118 Sage-Brush Grubbing Machine,” Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Vol. CLXI, December 1910, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (1911).
Ella G. Caldwell, “The Work of the Elmore County Red Cross,” Elmore County Idaho, Mountain Home (2010).
“Counties and County Seats,” Reference Series No. 10, Idaho State Historical Society (1991).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Idaho State University President Miles Reed [otd 11/26]

President Reed.
Idaho State University photo.
Miles F. Reed, president of the Academy of Idaho, precursor to Idaho State University, was born November 26, 1872 about 20 miles south of Dubuque, Iowa. Reed’s parents moved to Idaho in 1889 and he attended high school at an academy in Grangeville.

After his graduation in 1892, Reed taught in Idaho’s rural schools for a time. From 1891 to 1897, Miles also served in the Idaho National Guard, rising from a Private to the rank of First Lieutenant. He left the regiment when he enrolled at the University of Idaho, and therefore did not see action in the Philippines the following year.

He graduated in 1901 with a Bachelor of Science degree and immediately found a job at the Lewiston State Normal School. After just a year there, he returned to the University to head their Preparatory School and serve as an instructor in education.
Academy of Idaho, ca. 1910. USGenWeb project photo.

In 1902, the state authorized the formation of the Academy of Idaho in Pocatello [blog, Mar 11]. It’s first president – initially called the Principal – was John W. Faris, who had been Superintendent of Pocatello schools for a time. Like most other Idaho colleges, the Academy had to run a prep school for a number of years. Even so, Faris moved aggressively to enhance the college-level curriculum. He also initiated a summer institute for working teachers along with standard summer classes.

Faris resigned in 1907. His expansionist approach had led to much criticism from those who saw a strictly limited role for the school. The continuing need for preparatory classes played a role in the selection of Miles Reed to replace Faris. (Also in 1907, Reed received a Master’s degree from Columbia University.)

If the board expected a more modest approach from their new president, they were sorely disappointed. Reed knew from first-hand experience that the state desperately needed more qualified pre-college teachers. In short supply to begin with, the meager salaries paid meant that turn-over was a constant problem.

Thus, Reed expanded the summer institute Faris had begun and took action to further address the critical teacher shortage. In this latter aim, he incurred the enmity of officials at Albion State Normal School. Reed also wanted to make the Academy a full-fledged college, able to offer bachelor’s degrees. That campaign led only to a new name: the Idaho Technical Institute (ITI).

Although supporters had failed in their bid to be designated a “college,” they had escaped the limited expectations implied by the “Academy” label. Students and citizens in Pocatello responded with “the biggest celebration in the history of the city.” (Reported in the Idaho Statesman, March 18, 1915.) There was also a program of speeches, which culminated with the “presentation of a gold watch to President Miles F. Reed in appreciation of the fight he made for the school.”
Reed Gym. ISU photo.

In 1904, while working at the University, Reed served as President of the Idaho State Teachers’ Association. A year after he moved to the Pocatello school, he became Chairman of the Educational Council of Idaho.

Reed died of a heart attack in November 1918. His dream of full college status for the Academy/Institute was not realized until 1947. It received university status in 1963. Today, Reed Gymnasium, a sports pavilion and student recreation center, commemorates his role in the history of ISU.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [French]
Diane Olson, Idaho State University: A Centennial Chronicle, Idaho State University, Pocatello (2000).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Tough Talk and Action Versus Snake War Violence [otd 11/25]

Governor Lyon. Library of Congress.
The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper (Silver City, Idaho) for November 25, 1865 reported some “good talk” (their expression) by the Territorial Governor about the on-going Indian unrest.

Paraphrasing Governor Caleb Lyon [blog, Nov 14] the article said, [He] “says he will either fight or feed them, and for this purpose has requested, with all hopes of success, two regiments of cavalry. He says he does not expect to reduce them to a state of peace, except by offering them the terms of peace or death; and if they will not quietly accept the one, the other will be forced upon them.”

Preliminaries to what the newspapers called the “Snake War” had simmered and flared ever since the 1862 gold rush into the Boise Basin. In an attempt to counter the violence, in July 1863 the Army built Fort Boise, which sparked the growth of Boise City [blog, July 4]. That provided some protection along the Oregon Trail, but did little to quell raids on isolated ranches.

The conflict grew worse the following year, which spurred the formation of various ad hoc civilian volunteer companies. A fight in July 1864 resulted in the death of rancher Michael Jordan, a member of the party that originally discovered gold in the area [blog, May 18]. The Idaho Statesman in Boise reported (August 23, 1864) on “the probability of an extensive Indian war.”

In early 1865, the volume of complaints rose even more with the increased traffic along the freight and passenger routes between northern California and the Silver City area. In July, the Army established Camp Lyon, about 17 miles northwest of Silver City. However, commanders assigned too few troops to stop the depredations. Thus, the Idaho Statesman reported (October 12, 1865) that the operator of “The Chico Stage Route” had lost many horse and much of his hay supply to Indian raids. The losses were so bad “that it will be an impossibility for him to run his line of stages this winter.”

Two week later, the Statesman reported that a “Mr. Cox” had been shot and killed by Indians just twenty miles or so from Camp Lyon.

Finally, with the end of the Civil War in the East, the Army was prepared to respond to Governor Lyon’s request. The same November 25th issue of the Avalanche reported, “two Companies of Regulars, lately from the East, have been ordered from Walla Walla to” Camp Lyon. However, even these Regular Army troops did not do that well initially, including a repulse at the Battle of Three Forks (in Oregon) [blog, May 27].
General George Crook, ca 1875.
Library of Congress.

Frustrated at the lack of progress, in late 1866 the Army assigned the job to Lieutenant Colonel George Crook. Crook had gained valuable Indian fighting experience in northern California and the Pacific Northwest before distinguishing himself in the Civil War. He went on to even greater fame as an Indian fighter after leaving Idaho and Oregon.

Even the intelligent and determined Crook found no instant solution to the Indians’ guerrilla tactics in country they knew intimately. Still, 18 months of unrelenting pressure and attrition finally forced the tribes – Bannock, Shoshone, and Northern Paiutes – to accept confinement on reservations. These impositions, by the way, delayed a final reckoning for less than a decade.
                                                                                 
References: [B&W]
Gregory Michno, The Deadliest War in the West: The Snake Conflict, 1864-1868, Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (2007).
“The Snake War,” Reference Series No. 236, Idaho State Historical Society.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fire at State Mental Hospital in Blackfoot, Joe Glidden Patents Barbed Wire [otd 11/24]

Early on November 24, 1889, a fire destroyed the state-run mental hospital located in Blackfoot, Idaho. The sanitarium, as it was then called, housed 47 male and 20 female patients at the time. Early accounts said 7 patients (5 men and 2 women) were missing afterwards, with two bodies found in the ruins. However, Hawley’s later History suggests that no one was killed in the fire.

South Idaho Sanitarium, now Idaho State Hospital South.
J. H. Hawley photo.
Located a half mile or so north of Blackfoot, the asylum had been authorized in 1885 and opened for patients the following year. Before then, mentally ill individuals had been housed in Oregon, under contract with that state. Officials transferred thirty-six patients (26 man and 10 women) when the Blackfoot facility opened.

After the fire, male patients were kept temporarily at the Bingham county courthouse and females at the local Methodist Episcopal Church. The institution was rebuilt at a location a few miles further north.

In 1905, the legislature funded a second state hospital; it was built in Orofino. As views on mental health issues became more sophisticated, the terms “sanitarium” and “asylum” were dropped in favor of a simple “Idaho State Hospital South” and “ … North.”

Today, Idaho is still wrestling with the proper approach, or approaches to treating people with mental health problems. Clearly, sufferers who are a danger to themselves and to others require different methods and facilities from those with lesser problems. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

Official drawing for Patent No. 157,124.
On November 24, 1874, the Federal government granted a patent to Joseph F. Glidden for an improved form of barbed wire. Over the years, many ideas had been tried but Glidden’s was the first effective design that could be manufactured at reasonable cost.

Homesteaders benefited first from the new product: It provided a way to protect fields from range cattle and sheep. In many jurisdictions, courts would not award damages for losses to stock unless the owner had tried to provide some sort of protection for his (or her) crops. An 1873 Idaho law said, in part, that farm fields “shall be enclosed with a good and lawful fence, sufficient to secure the crops therein from the encroachments of all kinds of domestic animals.”

Possible awards then hinged on the phrase “good and lawful fence.” A split rail fence met the criteria, but the materials were costly and difficult to obtain. In many areas, even wooden posts for stringing a wire fence had to be hauled from miles away. Still, posts and wire were far more affordable than anything available before.

Stockmen also quickly saw the advantages of fencing large expanses of range to keep it for themselves, and they had the capital to buy wire by the train car load. Thus, production of the new form jumped 60-fold a year after the patent was granted. Barbed wire fences brought their own problems, of course. The lore of the Old West is replete with stories of the fence cutters and gun-handy cowboys hired to patrol the wires.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Brit], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Joseph M. McFadden, “Monopoly in Barbed Wire: The Formation of the American Steel and Wire Company,” Business History Review, Vol. LII. No. 4 (Winter, 1978).
J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1968).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Unsuspecting Cowboy Shot and Killed at Fort Hall by Angry Bannock [otd 11/23]

On November 23, 1877, a Bannock Indian, Tambiago by name, shot and killed cattleman Alexander Rhoden at the Fort Hall Indian Agency. Alex was born around 1852 in northeast Missouri, near the Nebraska border. In 1865, the family moved to near Omaha.
Alexander Toponce. Reminiscences.

Later, Rhoden came to Idaho and went to work for cattleman Alexander Toponce [blog, Nov 10]. Toponce, who recalled the spelling as “Rodin,” said the Missourian had been working at the ranch for a number of years before the shooting. The young drover was delivering some of Toponce’s cattle under contract to the Agency.

Accounts suggest that the shooting grew out of the uneasy relationship between whites and Indians at the time. A proclamation by President Andrew Johnson had designated the Fort Hall Reservation in 1867 [blog, June 14]. About a year later, most of the Shoshone and Bannock bands in Idaho finally agreed to resettle there, persuaded by glowing promises from Federal negotiators.

As happened all too commonly, the Agency did not keep its end of the bargain. Most tribesmen hardly noticed the failure to provide seed, instructions on farming, and other craft training. They could easily live without these elements of assimilation anyway. But their very survival depended upon the promised allotments of food and warm clothing.

Unable to live on the skimpy-to-nonexistent supplies provided by the Indian Agent, bands began to roam far and wide outside the reservation. Upset by these excursions, the Agent complained to tribal leaders, which created an atmosphere of frustration and discontent.

The Bannocks generally wandered the most, and therefore earned an extra level of nagging from the Agent. Soon, Bannock leaders began to suspect that the Agent was favoring the Shoshones in his already-sparing allotments.

The existence of this feeling among the Indians was confirmed by an Army officer who inspected the reservation. In his report he wrote, “The Bannocks are regarded by officers of the army and civilians as friendly and peaceable towards the whites. They are, however, very much opposed to their Agent, Mr. Danilson; this opposition I learn is provoked by his discrimination in favor of the Shoshones.”

Of course, the inspector could not stay long enough to verify the Bannocks’ suspicions. But in this tense atmosphere, an unknown white angered the Indians anew: One account said he raped a Bannock girl, but other reports suggest horse theft or some other crime.

Tribesmen had no way to specifically identify the offender, so they knew white authorities would do nothing. A frustrated brave stormed out and shot two teamsters, neither of whom, it is generally agreed, had anything to do with the initial offense. The teamsters eventually recovered from their wounds.
Group of Bannock, 1878. Library of Congress.

After more disputation, the shooter was arrested. As he was brought to, or passed through Fort Hall, Tambiago “snapped” at this one-sided display of justice ... and shot Rhoden. Again, it’s unclear whether Tambiago was the brother or just a good friend of the accused man. Authorities finally caught and arrested Tambiago. Tried and convicted of murder, he was hanged the following year, the first man hanged at the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary.

In his Reminiscences, Toponce remarked, “The Indian who killed Rodin had no grudge against him. He simply wanted to kill a white man and Alex was the first one he saw.”

A week or so after the shooting, Toponce shipped the young man’s body back to Nebraska for burial.
                                                                                                                                     
References: George Francis Brimlow, The Bannock War of 1878, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1938).
“Killed By An Indian,” Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah (December 1, 1877).
Alexander Toponce, Reminiscences of Alexander Toponce, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1971).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Branch Railroad Arrives in Rexburg, Headed for Yellowstone [otd 11/22]

On November 22, 1899, tracks of the St. Anthony Railroad Company were completed into Rexburg, Idaho. The goal of the Company, which had been incorporated in May, was to extend a rail line from Idaho Falls to St. Anthony. Reporting on the Rexburg arrival, the Fremont County Journal said, “All afternoon the construction train was puffing back and forth through town.”
St. Anthony in 1907.
Vintage postcard displayed at www.SFnewsandviews.com

The tracks reached St. Anthony the following spring. Over the next several years, the railroad built branch lines to communities to the east and west of the main line. By about 1918, Fremont County would have, according to J. H. Hawley, “more than a score of railway stations.” Eventually the company would be acquired by the Oregon Short Line Railroad.

During its period of growth, the Company found itself at odds with the United States government. Construction crews had cut timber for ties and bridges from public lands accessible from their right-of-way.  In this, they cited a Federal statute that allowed a “duly organized” railroad company “the right to take, from the public lands adjacent to the line of said road, material, earth, stone, and timber necessary for the construction of said railroad.”

The closest suitable timberlands were 20 to 25 miles distant. Interpreting the intent of the law liberally, the company obtained the necessary material from those stands. Federal administrators disputed their right in this case and demanded they pay over $20 thousand for timber illegally cut from public lands. A lower court denied the Federal claim, as did a circuit court of appeals. Determined, authorities then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. After much legal nit-picking about the meaning of the word “adjacent,” the High Court reversed the judgement. The railroad company had to pay the charges.
West Yellowstone train depot, ca. 1910. National Park Service.

In 1905, leading investors in the St. Anthony railroad felt the time was ripe to extend the tracks to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park [blog, Mar 1]. The work proceeded slowly, for various reasons, not the least of which was the heavy snowfall encountered in the mountains between Ashton and the town of West Yellowstone. In fact, each season opened with a major effort to clear anywhere from six to thirty feet of snow off the tracks.

The first passenger train reportedly reached the entrance depot in June 1909. The Idaho Falls Times noted (April 20, 1909) that the railroad had already taken heavy bookings in anticipation of that event. They expected that “attendance at the park for 1909 will be more than double last season.”

Rail traffic through Idaho to Yellowstone enjoyed a boom between the World Wars. Thus, in 1925, the Union Pacific (which by then had absorbed the OSL) built a huge tourist dining hall in West Yellowstone. However, that traffic plunged after World War II, and by 1960 the town no longer had passenger service.

Today, trains still operate as far north as Ashton, Idaho, with some branch lines around the region; however, much branch trackage has also been abandoned or ripped up.
                                                                                                                                      
Reference: [B&W], Hawley]
“United States vs. St. Anthony Railroad Company, 192 U.S. 524,” Record of U. S. Supreme Court Cases, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. (1904).
“West Yellowstone History,” West Yellowstone Tourism Business Improvement District, West Yellowstone, Montana  (2010).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wilson Price Hunt Fur Trade Party Reaches Boise Valley [otd 11/21]

In November 1811, Wilson Price Hunt recorded in his journal, “On the 21st at daybreak we saw ahead of us a river that flowed to the west, its banks lined with cottonwood and willow trees. Some Indians who had pitched camp there had many horses and were far better clothed than those whom we had seen recently."

Hunt’s party thus became the first whites to report seeing the Boise Valley. (A smaller group led by Hunt’s associate Donald Mackenzie may have actually seen it earlier, but the details of Mackenzie’s route are uncertain.) As noted before, Hunt’s expedition represented John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company [blog, Oct 5].
Snake River canyon below Caldron Linn. Idaho Tourism.

They had built dugout canoes and attempted to voyage down the Snake River, but lost a canoe and one French-Canadian boatman at Caldron Lynn [blog, Oct 28]. Although the immediate prospect looked grim, Hunt did not give up right away. The next day, he wrote, “For thirty-five miles I went along the banks of the river, which continues to carve a passage northwest through the mountains. Its bed is no more than sixty to ninety feet wide, it is full of rapids, and its course is broken by falls ten to forty feet high. Except at two spots where I went down to get water, the banks are precipitous everywhere.”

His party clearly did not follow the canyon rim all the time. Had they done so, they could not possibly have missed Shoshone Falls, some 20-25 miles downriver from Caldron Lynn.  At over 200 feet tall, the falls top Niagara Falls by nearly forty feet. Later, trappers traversing the area located the feature by the roar of the water crashing over the edge.

In any case, the explorers abandoned their canoes, cached the goods they couldn’t carry, and started walking across Idaho. To make foraging easier, Hunt divided the group into several smaller parties.

Hunt’s contingent generally followed the north bank of the Snake, barely avoiding starvation by trading with local Indians for dogs and dried salmon. Finally, somewhere near, or west of today’s Glenns Ferry, tribesmen advised Hunt to leave the river and head more directly north and west. That route indeed proved shorter, but they found no water. Before light rains after two days relieved their thirst somewhat “several Canadians had begun to drink their urine.”
Boise River, fall. Idaho Tourism.

The next day, they reached the Boise River. They traded with several Indian bands for food and a couple of horses. Hunt said, “They told us that farther upstream beaver were plentiful, though in the vicinity of our camp there were very few.”

With winter closing in, the Overland Astorians, as they are usually called, barely made it out of Idaho before the worst weather blew in. They arrived on the Columbia river about two months later, and were happy to reach Astoria a few weeks after that. The Astorians had learned a good deal about the beaver country west of the rockies, but the Pacific Fur Company would not benefit from that knowledge.
                                                                                                                                      
References: Wilson Price Hunt, Hoyt C. Franchère (ed. and translator), Overland Diary of Wilson Price Hunt, Ashland Oregon Book Society (1973).
Washington Irving, Astoria, or Anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains, G. P. Putnam and Son, New York (1868). Author’s revised edition.
James P. Ronda, Astoria and Empire, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1990).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Women’s Suffrage Advocates Hold First Idaho Convention [otd 11/20]

On November 20, 1895, supporters held the first women’s suffrage convention in Idaho. In general, the western states had been much more supportive of women’s suffrage than those in the East. Wyoming had written it into the Territorial Constitution in 1869 and carried that over into statehood in 1890. The state of Colorado passed a similar amendment in 1893.
Suffragettes collecting petition signatures.
Library of Congress.

Nationally, however, advocates made little progress. The 1892 Republican party platform paid the notion lip service, but nothing came of that provision. Moreover, the History of Woman Suffrage said, “No Democratic national platform ever has recognized so much as the existence of women … ”

In 1894, canvassers in New York State collected some 600 thousand petition signatures in support of a women’s suffrage amendment: Constitutional delegates rejected the idea by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

That same year, Idaho politicians supported women’s suffrage in their party platforms and on the campaign trail. Thus, the legislature that convened in early 1895 passed a resolution calling for such an amendment … with just 2 dissenting votes out of 70 cast.

Still, conventional wisdom held that “popular indifference” would doom the measure – opponents would be sure to vote while the rest of the electorate wouldn’t bother. Determined to change that, advocates convened that first convention in Boise, meeting at the home of the President of the Boise Equal Suffrage Club.
Suffrage leaders, including Susan B. Anthony -- seated right of center, in spectacles --
meeting with Utah organizers. Utah State Historical Society photo.
In addition to the usual slate of officers and an advisory board, the women designated county presidents from all across the state. The women then laid out a campaign to insure passage of the amendment. They even received a telegram with advice from Miss Susan B. Anthony: “With hope of carrying amendment, educate rank and file of voters through political party papers and meetings; women speakers cannot reach them.”

To bolster their campaign, supporters held a second, much more heavily attended convention in July 1896. Outsiders also came to lend their support, including Abigail Scott Duniway. Abigial Jane Scott had crossed Idaho in 1852, when she was eighteen years old, as an Oregon Trail emigrant [blog, July 29]. She had since become a nationally-known advocate for women’s rights.

The Idaho Statesman observed (July 5, 1896), “The equal suffrage convention held here last week was a pronounced success, and the result will be beneficial in the campaign that will soon be upon us.”

Hiram T. French related an episode that illustrates the women’s determination. Organizers sent the announcement for a planned local event to their usual contact in a small North Idaho mining town. However, that person had moved, so when two speakers arrived to make the presentation, nothing had been arranged. Undeterred by the slip-up, the women hurriedly found a hall and then hired boys to assemble two huge woodpiles near the primary mine facilities. Lit just in time for the shift end, the roaring bonfires attracted “a large audience” to the talks.

As described elsewhere [blog, Nov 3], the measure passed handily.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Brit], [French], [Hawley]
Susan B. Anthony, Ida H. Harper (eds.), The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol IV: 1883-1900, The Hollenbeck Press, Indianapolis (© Susan B. Anthony, 1902).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Boise Attorney, Businessman, and Education Leader Oliver Haga [otd 11/19]

Attorney Haga. H. T. French photo.
Boise lawyer and education advocate Oliver O. Haga was born November 19, 1872 in Luverne, Minnesota (in the extreme southwestern corner, 25-30 miles east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota).

At the age of twenty, he had a job as school Principal in Wisconsin. In 1894, he graduated from Indiana’s Valparaiso University. (He later received a master’s degree from the school.)

After graduation, he moved to Idaho as the school Principal in Salmon City. He spent two years there, two years in a similar position at Glenns Ferry, and became Principal of Boise High School in 1898. His tenure followed a period of dramatic growth in the Boise student population. In 1894 and then again two years later, Boise City had added new facilities to its system.

For many years, Haga had filled his spare time reading law in local attorneys' offices. During the summers, he traveled East to study in various law schools. Thus, concurrent with his move to Boise, he qualified for the Idaho bar. In time he would earn the right to argue cases in the Supreme courts of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Indiana, as well as Federal courts in those states … and the U. S. Supreme Court.

In 1901, Oliver resigned from the Boise school to go into the law full time. He joined Judge James H. Richards, a former Boise mayor, in the firm of Richards & Haga. In little more than a decade, Richards & Haga developed a client list that included the Idaho branches of some of the largest financial and investment companies in the United States. Haga himself became a nationally-known authority on irrigation and water law, a hugely important specialty in the arid Western states.

In early 1926, Haga was appointed as one of two Idaho members of the Advisory Commission for the The SesquiCentennial International Exposition. The Exposition, a world’s fair held in Philadelphia, commemorated the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It opened at the end of May, was officially dedicated on July 4th, and ran through November.

Haga developed extensive business and property holdings in the Boise Valley, across southern Idaho, and even into Montana. As a sideline, he became a “gentleman farmer” and rancher in the Boise Valley, where he bred registered shorthorn cattle.
BJC Administration Building, ca 1955.
Albertsons Library Digital Collections.

Haga never lost his interest in education. He had a long tenure on the Boise school board, including several years as board president, and also served on the Board of Trustees of the Idaho Industrial Training School. The Training School was a rehabilitation center for juvenile offenders.

From 1934 through 1939, Haga responded to an educational crisis in his adopted home town: the preservation of the fledgling Boise Junior College. The detailed story is beyond the scope of this blog. To summarize: Oliver not only Chaired the Board of Directors that managed the school, but he also shepherded a “junior college bill” through the legislature. That law, signed in February 1939, provided for more reliable school funding.

Haga passed away in 1943. Eight years later, the BJC Administration Building was designated the Oliver O. Haga Hall, although, the Boise State archives note, it was “rarely called by that name.”
                                                                                                                                      
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Erastus Long Austin, Odell Hauser, The Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, Reprint Edition, Arno Press, Inc., New York (1976).
Eugene B. Chaffee, Boise College, An Idea Grows, Printing by Syms-York Company, Boise (© Eugene B. Chaffee 1970).

Friday, November 18, 2016

Nez Percés Indian Reservation Opened to White Settlers [otd 11/18]

On November 18, 1895, “surplus” lands on the Nez Percés Indian Reservation were thrown open to claims by white settlers. This action crowned a long campaign to force assimilation upon the Nez Percés and other Indian tribes.
Nez Percés encampment near Lapwai, 1899.
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

The original 1855 treaty between the U.S. and the Nez Percés essentially confirmed the Indians’ sovereignty over much of their extensive ancestral homeland in the Pacific Northwest. However, that treaty lasted just eight years. Then prospectors found gold in what would become Idaho. Some of the discoveries were clearly inside the Nez Percés reservation, which led to a new treaty that drastically reduced the allotted lands [blog, Jun 9].

Most of the Nez Percés bands rejected the agreement, yet whites officials – with the usual self-serving cynicism – billed it as an all-encompassing document. Continued flagrant violations of both treaties eventually led to the Nez Percés War of 1877 [blog, Jun 17]. After that, all of the various bands of the tribe were forcibly placed on reservations – mostly in Idaho but some in Washington.

Soon, the Nez Percés adapted. The schools filled with Indian children, cultivated plots expanded, and native handicrafts found their way to market. Yet much had not changed, perhaps because the Nez Percés did not put that much emphasis on accumulating material possessions. Indian cowboys grazed growing herds of cattle and bands of horses, making good use of the lush rangeland. Women and youngsters moved across the countryside, gathering camas roots and the other usual bounties from the earth.

Unfortunately, as settlement increased around the reservations, the “empty” lands inside the boundaries became an issue. An item from the Idaho County Free Press (June 18, 1886) captures the prevailing white attitude: “The land is of no use to them for they cannot and will not utilize it. … As long as it is reserved from white occupation it will remain as useless as though located in the desert of Sahara.”

Senator Dawes. Library of Congress.
An unlikely alliance between land-greedy settlers and the national “do-gooder” community found a solution. The  1887 “Dawes” or “Severalty” Act provided that lands on many Indian reservations would no longer be held communally. Instead, individual Indians would own plots patterned after the traditional Euro-American family farm.

Although the law made some provision for grazing, its clear intent was to force tribesmen to become small farmers. Then, the do-gooders were sure, they would assimilate into white society as “stout yeomen of the soil.” White settlers would, of course, make productive use of the acreage left over after these allotments.

Government officials arbitrarily assigned a value to the “excess,” bought it from the tribe, and distributed the proceeds among the individual tribesmen. The land office then made these “purchased” plots available for white homesteaders. Some years passed before the details were ironed out in Idaho, but the resulting transfer finally happened in 1895.

Authorities did nothing to keep claimants out, so most had moved onto the land well before the legal opening. A special correspondent for Boise’s Idaho Statesman (November 19, 1895), writing from Lewiston, seemed almost disappointed. Yes, he wrote, “there was no lawlessness, no suffering from the snows of winter or the intense heat of midsummer.” But as a result “all the romance which is supposed to attach to occasions of this kind was lost.”
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Illust-North]
M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).
Francis Haines, The Nez Percés: Tribesmen of the Columbia Plateau, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1955).
Thomas R. Wessel, “Agriculture, Indians, and American History,” The American Indian: Past and Present, 6th Edition, Roger L. Nichols (Ed.), University of Oklahoma Press (2008).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Horses Thieves Trailed, Captured, and Jailed – Escaped, Caught Again [otd 11/17]

On Saturday, November 17, 1883, three different newspapers across Idaho published stories about a trio of captured horse thieves. That timing arose from the more-leisurely newspaper publication schedules back then. The Owyhee Avalanche (Silver City, Idaho) and the Blackfoot Register were both weeklies, issued only on Saturdays. The Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman (Boise) had issues on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Watching the horses. Library of Congress.

The raiders began their depredations the previous month when they stole a considerable band of horses near Fort McDermitt, Nevada. That’s along the Nevada-Oregon border about seventy miles north of Winnemucca. They reportedly left Nevada with about 75 animals. Many of them belonged to a stockman named Jeremiah “Jerry” Hearn. He was originally from Massachusetts and brought his bride, Margaret, to the area in 1881.

Edward F. Mullaney, whose brother had lost horses to the thieves, trailed the bandits as they made their way across the southeast corner of Oregon into Idaho. (We know only a few of the pursuers’ names, probably because the composition of the posse changed along the way.)

In Idaho, the thieves added about 40 horses belonging to stockman Con Shea [blog, Sept 24] to their herd. They then pushed through the mountains to the east, emerging, it is supposed, somewhere south of today’s Murphy. Based on the eventual size of the stolen herd, it’s likely they gathered more horses on the high plains there. The raiders finally crossed the Snake River near the mouth of the Bruneau River.

The crooks next dodged there way east. They would have needed to avoid the new Oregon Short Line tracks, since by this time the railroad was running regular mixed trains over the line. They finally pushed their herd into the Lost River area, some sixty to seventy miles west of Eagle Rock (today’s Idaho Falls). Apparently not concerned about any possible pursuit, the thieves now “laid over four or five days” (Blackfoot Register). While there, they stole 45-50 horses belonging to rancher Edward Hawley.
Robbers’ approximate path (Green line). Overlay on historical map.
Rested up, and still unaware of any posse, the thieves moseyed through East Idaho before turning north into Montana. Along the way, they “picked up” another 15-20 horses. The pursuit closed in near the town of Bannack, about eighteen miles west of Dillon.

Events then turn a bit murky. The three apparently sent someone into Bannack for supplies, but were tipped off that a posse was after them. The crooks quickly abandoned their loot and “lit out.” They were soon caught, however, and jailed in Dillon.

Amusingly, the three “simultaneous” news articles had different snapshots of these events. The Statesman and the Register noted that the crooks were in jail pending extradition paperwork from Idaho and Nevada. The Avalanche, on the other hand, knew that the prisoners had already broken out of jail.

The three were recaptured in December and returned to Nevada for trial. The Reno Evening Gazette reported (March 21, 1884) their convictions, under the names of Lee, Stimson, and Dan Bowden. The latter was a gunman well known in southern Idaho and northern Nevada. Lee, apparently, had been “recently released” from the Idaho Penitentiary. The court sentenced Stimson to four months in the county jail, while the other two received long prison terms.
                                                                                 
References: [B&W]
Blackfoot Register; Idaho Statesman, Boise; Owyhee Avalanche, Silver City, Idaho (November 17, 1883).
“Horse Thieves … ,” Owyhee Avalanche (November 10, and December 22, 1883).
“Horse Thieves,” Idaho Statesman (November 24, 1883).
“Cattle Stealing Gangs,” Reno Evening Gazette, Reno, Nevada (March 21, 1884).

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Idaho Falls Dedicates a New City Hall and Fire Station [otd 11/16]

On November 16, 1930, Idaho Falls officials dedicated a new City Hall. It replaced the old city building, which had been in use since before 1911.

Idaho Falls, aka “Eagle Rock,” aka “Taylor’s Bridge,” originated when James Madison “Matt” Taylor and his partners opened a toll bridge at the spot in 1865 [blog, Dec 10]. Settlement was very slow at first. When Matt’s cousin Sam Taylor [blog, Apr 18] arrived in June 1870, he recalled, “There was nothing there then but Matt Taylor’s family and what help they had around, and men that worked for the stage line; no settlers at all.”
Idaho Falls train yard. Bonneville County Historical Society.

The stage station finally experienced a growth spurt after the Utah & Northern Railroad arrived in April 1879: Eagle Rock grew as newcomers settled in the region, especially north along Henry’s Fork. Then, in 1887, the town suffered a significant loss of population when the railroad shops moved to Pocatello. Still, continued settlement in the area gave people confidence about the future.

Eagle Rock organized into a village structure in 1889 and selected a board of five trustees. Two years later, the town’s name changed to Idaho Falls. Not until 1895 did the Board formally designate a Chairman. By 1900, the town was large enough to be a “city of the second class,” with a Mayor and council.

Sometime during this period, the Board procured a specific City Hall. This structure, on the southwest corner of Broadway and Capital Avenue, would remain in use until the new City Hall was dedicated. For five or six years after 1911, part of the building also served as the Bonneville County courthouse. The county then erected a new courthouse building, which is still in use today.

Around 1928, “five and dime” retailer S. H. Kress offered a premium price for the property that housed the police and fire stations. With the old City Hall showing its age, the Council saw the offer as a way to finance a replacement. They accepted, and fire and police units became tenants for awhile.

With money in hand, the city began planning a new structure, one that would allow the consolidation of the city offices with the police and fire stations. With additional revenue from the municipal hydro-power plant, the council did not need to call for a bond election. For $9,000, the city purchased a lot that was then owned by the Idaho Falls Elk’s Lodge.

City Hall drawing.
Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission.
Construction proceeded in phases after purchase of the property. Although much remained to be done at the time, the city offices moved into the completed fire station structure in August 1929. After that, work proceeded rapidly, leading to the formal dedication noted above.

Over the years, parts of the interior were modernized, and a foyer with skylights was remodeled into additional offices. However, "the lobby retains its distinctive tiles and decorative detail."

City Hall still serves Idaho Falls well today and its façade looks pretty much like it did eighty years ago.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Illust-State]
Mary Jane Fritzen, Eagle Rock, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).
“Idaho Falls City Building,” Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation (2012).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Idaho Falls developer and Construction Leader William Keefer [otd 11/15]

William Keefer. J. H. Hawley photo.
Idaho Falls developer and builder William W. Keefer was born November 15, 1852 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 40-60 miles southwest of Harrisburg. Although he was a carpenter by trade, as a young man he spent two years teaching school.

In about 1873, he found work in the west. He ended up leading a construction crew building bridges and depots for the Utah & Northern Railroad in northern Utah and southeast Idaho

Financial problems slowed and then halted track-laying in southeast Idaho from 1874 into early 1878. Work resumed in March 1878, and the rails marched steadily north. They reached Eagle Rock (today’s Idaho Falls) about a year later [blog, Apr 11]. Then the company began to construct a full inventory of railroad shops and a passenger station in the little town, so Keefer focused on that work.

The completed shops provided locomotive repair and maintenance facilities, and were equipped so the company could build various types of rail cars there. When crews completed the railway structures, Keefer decided to settle in Eagle Rock rather than continue with the railroad.

The town experienced something of a building surge at the time, so Keefer found plenty of work. Along with his construction business, he began investing in prime real estate, with an eye toward development. It helped that the town was platted in 1884.

By the mid-1880s entrepreneurs had formed irrigation companies to build diversion dams and canals for cultivated agriculture. That sparked “Eagle Rock’s Building Boom,” according to the Idaho Register (April 4, 1885). The item noted that Keefer and a partner had just completed one project and had started a “soda water manufactory and sample room.” Later that year, the Register reported (Noember 21, 1885) that Keefer was making many improvements to his brewery: “nearly quadrupling his present capacity for making beer.”

The growth in farming to supplement stock raising helped “cushion the blow” when the railroad company moved its shops to Pocatello in 1887. Although the population suffered a severe drop, the town survived.

Matt Taylor’s original wooden bridge across the Snake River [blog, Dec 10] deteriorated beyond any reasonable repair effort after almost a quarter century of use. Thus, in 1890, commissioners hired Keefer to construct masonry piers for a new steel bridge next to the old one. When no one bid on the structure itself, Keefer went ahead and completed the job. The bridge would serve the city until 1907.

Broadway, looking east, ca 1912. H. T. French photo.
Throughout the Nineties, Eagle Rock/Idaho Falls (the name changed in 1891) kept growing: many churches, two or three banks, a hotel, and more. Keefer by no means handled all these projects, but he apparently had parts of many.

In 1909, Keefer and his twin sons, Fred and Frank, began construction of a dam to impound the Snake right at the town. The dam and a retaining wall diverted a substantial part of the flow to a new hydroelectric power plant. The plant went operational in 1912. Today, the dam and diversion wall are what tourists consider the “falls” of Idaho Falls.

Besides his development work, William Keefer served two years as county coroner, ran for county sheriff at least once, and served two terms on the Idaho Falls city council. He passed away in March 1940.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Hawley]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Timothy Regan: Freighter, Mining Expert, and Business Developer [otd 11/14]

Timothy Regan. J. H. Hawley photo.
Wealthy businessman and developer Timothy Regan was born November 14, 1843 near Rochester, New York. The family later moved to Wisconsin, where Timothy grew up and received a public school education. In 1864, he struck out on his own, taking the isthmus route to California.

He found little to his liking there and, in November, ended up in Silver City, Idaho. Almost broke, Timothy immediately found work chopping firewood. He then landed a job in the Poorman Mine, until it closed down in 1866. He went back to chopping wood, worked in Salt Lake City for a time, and then returned to the Silver City area when a new mine opened up in 1868.

Regan soon branched into several enterprises: operating a sawmill, transporting lumber and ore for the mines, and hauling freight in the region. In 1875, he and partner Hosea Eastman purchased the Idaho Hotel, in Silver City. (Regan bought Eastman out two years later.) Also in 1875, a bank failure ruined several mining companies and Regan, as one of their major creditors, acquired many of their properties.

Considered, according to the Illustrated History, “an expert in his judgment of ore,” Regan eventually held some of the most valuable properties in the area. He later sold many of these holdings at a substantial profit. Although he and his wife moved to Boise City in 1889, Timothy retained some of the mining properties as well as at least a share of the hotel. (He apparently sold the hotel interest about ten years later.)

Regan quickly became a force in Boise City development. Three years before the move, Regan had joined with Hosea Eastman and some others to organize the Boise City National Bank. (The building they later commissioned is today on the National Register of Historic Places.) Although he was a major stockholder, Timothy apparently never held an officer’s position with the bank.

Regan did serve for many years as the President of the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company, which opened the Boise Natatorium in 1892. Supplied with hot water from nearby geothermal wells, “the Nat” is still a noted Boise landmark. He was also a major stockholder and officer for the Weiser Land & Improvement Company.

Regan was General Manager and Treasurer of the Overland Company, Ltd., another firm he and Eastman shared. Seeing a need for more office space in downtown Boise, the Company demolished the old Overland Hotel to make room for a new structure.
Overland Building, ca 1915. J. H. Hawley photo.

Largely completed in late 1906, with full occupancy early the following year, the Overland Building would, according to a headline in the Idaho Statesman (November 13, 1905) “be a credit to a city with a population of  100,000.” For many years after, the Overland, later renamed the Eastman Building, was the prestige business address in downtown Boise.

Regan and his brother-in-law, Frank Blackinger [blog, Aug 26] formed a separate partnership, which owned the Capitol Hotel. Regan and Hosea Eastman were, in fact, married to two of Blackinger’s four sisters.

The Regans’ younger son, John, was killed in France during World War I [blog, Feb 6]. Timothy passed away in October 1919.
                                                                                                                                      
References: [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“Boise City National Bank Building,” National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service.
Nancy DeHamer, “Hosea Eastman, Timothy Regan, and Frank Blackinger,” Reference Series No. 728, Idaho State Historical Society (1971).