Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mining Investor, Legislator, and Federal Marshal James Crutcher [otd 12/31]

James Crutcher. Illustrated History.
On December 31, 1835, U. S. Marshal James I. Crutcher was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, east of Louisville. In 1860, James followed the rush to the gold fields of Colorado. After two years there, he tried his luck in Elk City, Idaho. Crutcher spent a few months there, made a quick trip into Oregon, and then returned to settle in the Boise Basin.

Crutcher was deputy sheriff in 1865, during the excitement that followed the shooting of Union man Sumner Pinkham by Confederate sympathizer Ferd Patterson [blog, Jul 23]. Whatever his personal views, Crutcher’s job was to uphold the law, and he stood off a band of Pinkham’s friends who wanted to lynch Patterson.

Impressed, Boise County voters elected him sheriff. At that time, the county jail also served as the Territorial Prison. Crutcher had occasion to comment on the severe deficiencies of that facility: “The ventilation is so defective that during the summer season, the prisoners are necessarily allowed the freedom of the yard during the greater portion of the day, and complain of the oppressiveness of the heat at night.”

After his time as sheriff, he returned to his mining interests, eventually holding investments in “various mines which have yielded him good returns.”

In 1870, James became involved in a nasty split in Democratic Party ranks. A prominent lawyer who had previously served as Delegate to the U. S. Congress led one faction. Crutcher was part of an opposing group. Leaders finally agreed to fill the electoral ticket with an equal number of candidates from the two factions.

Crutcher, the party nominee for county sheriff, was the only man not elected. The disagreement escalated to violence in June 1870, when Crutcher’s brother-in-law shot the lawyer in a gunfight. Western code duello “rules” prevailed and a court released the shooter.

Between then and 1875, James moved his family (he married in 1865) to Silver City and established mine holdings there. Crutcher also remained active in public affairs. He represented Owyhee County in the 1886 Territorial Council, and was among the delegates who gathered in Boise in 1889 to frame a proposed state constitution.
Downtown Boise. [Illust-State]

In 1894, Crutcher was appointed U. S. Marshal for the new state of Idaho. At that time, he moved his family to Boise. He also established his primary business interests in that city.

Over the years, James and his wife, Adelma, had four children, none of whom survived to carry on the family line. When their last daughter died at age twelve, the Daily Capital said (January 3, 1899), “In any form and at any time the angel of death is most unwelcome; but when he enters the home and strikes down the young, the talented, the lovable, … then, indeed, he seems most cruel.”

James passed away in March 1915, in Berkley, California. The announcement of his death (Idaho Statesman, March 8, 1915) said he had been living with his brother after losing his considerable fortune “through his generosity to friends.” The much beloved “Auntie Crutcher” died there in 1926.
                                                                                
References: [Illust-State]
Arthur A. Hart, Basin of Gold: Life in Boise Basin, 1862-1890, Idaho City Historical Foundation (© 1986, Fourth printing 2002).
James H. Hawley, Tenth Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Idaho, Boise (1926).
A Historical, Descriptive and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, Owyhee Avalanche Press (January 1898).
“Poor Law Legislation,” Reference Series No. 151, Idaho State Historical Society.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg Assassinated, Fire Destroys Post Falls Sawmill [otd 12/30]

Governor Steunenberg. University of Utah.
On December 30, 1905, an assassin’s bomb murdered former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg. The resulting investigation, arrests, and trials had worldwide significance in the management- labor conflicts of the time.

Labor union support helped elect Steunenberg to two consecutive terms as governor. However, when union activists blew up the ore mill at Wardner and two men were killed [blog, Apr 29], the governor declared martial law. Although Steunenberg was simply doing his duty to maintain order, he began to receive hate mail. Finally, union thug Harry Orchard planted the 1905 bomb to punish Steunenberg for what the unions considered his “betrayal.”

Authorities soon captured Orchard and he confessed to the deed. Prosecutors then tried to convict union leaders as instigators of the crime. This led to a sensational face-off in court between the celebrated Clarence Darrow for the defense and attorney William E. Borah [blog, Jun 29], soon to be famous in the U. S. Senate as the “Lion of Idaho.” The State’s case depended largely upon the tainted testimony of the bomber Orchard … and failed. Orchard “got off” with a sentence of life in prison.

For an exhaustive treatment of this incident, consult the linked blog that specializes in that topic: “Idaho Meanderings: Steunenberg, Trial of the Century, Labor, Legal, Political History.”

The episode was also the subject of the book: J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America, Simon & Schuster (1998).

Post Falls sawmill, early 1900s.
North Idaho Museum.
On December 30, 1902, the sawmill that formed the centerpiece for the town of Post Falls, Idaho, was destroyed by fire. The Illustrated History observed, “As an evidence of the importance of the mill as a factor in the prosperity of the town it may be stated that at the time of the fire Post Falls had a population of six hundred. Two months later the population was but little more that half that number.”

In 1871, German emigrant Frederick Post purchased property at these Spokane River falls from the Coeur d'Alene Indians. (An unusual concession for the time, since most whites tended to simply appropriate tribal lands.) He concentrated on other interests until 1880, and then built the Post Falls sawmill. Post leased the mill to other operators, ran it himself from 1886 to 1889, then leased it out again.

As the mill prospered, the area grew, with enough settlement to support a general store and a school (built in 1888). Commissioners incorporated the town of Post Falls in 1891. Post finally sold the sawmill property in 1894. At the time of the fire, the mill belonged to the Idaho Lumber & Manufacturing Company.

Of course, Post Falls was an ideal location for a sawmill to process the region’s timber resources; the facility was soon rebuilt. The Falls also provided a prime setting for irrigation and power dams. Before the end of the decade, dams blocked each of the three natural river channels.

The local utility says the dams “currently provide a combined 14.75 megawatts of electricity.” With average household usage, that would supply about half the power required by the town.
                                                                                 
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-North]

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Moses Goodwin: Pioneer Builder, Mine Operator, Rancher and More [otd 12/29]

Moses Hubbard Goodwin, pioneer builder, mine operator, rancher, and lumber man, was born December 29, 1834 in Waldo County, Maine, northwest of Penobscot Bay. His grandfather, Aaron, was a ship’s boy on the USS Bonhomme Richard under Captain John Paul Jones.

Moses learned the carpenter’s trade and worked first in Boston and then in Minnesota. From there, he moved on to Mississippi. Moses stayed there until the Civil War broke out and authorities attempted to draft him into the Confederate Army.

Back in the north, he contracted a bad cold. Hoping the “salubrious” climate of California would clear his lungs of the lingering illness, Moses booked sea passage there in late 1861. The change did help, and he was again able to work. The following spring, he chased rumors of fabulous gold strikes in Oregon. Finding the claims vastly over-blown, he took a job in a shipyard, helping build steamers for the river trade.
Oregon River Steamboat. Salem Public Library.

Two years later, Goodwin again followed gold rush reports, this time into the Boise Basin. These stories were true and he prospected for awhile. However, he soon found he could do far better practicing his trade. Moses helped build a mill for the Mammoth Mine, near Pioneerville. He also built other mining and mill structures as well as the first large water wheel in the Territory.

In 1865-1867, Moses served as Superintendent of the Mammoth mill. He then became part owner of the facility and stayed on for another five years. However, the rigors of high altitude living brought on a relapse of his lung problem, so he liquidated his holdings and bought a ranch in the Payette Valley. He devoted some of his property to farming, but also apparently bought a considerable herd of cattle. Along with ranching, Moses did some building in the area.

During the national Centennial year, Goodwin traveled east with a new bride to visit family and attend the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Back in Idaho, he settled in Boise City, where he entered the lumber business. By the mid-1880s, he owned a water-powered sawmill and planing machine. For a number of years, he was the only manufacturer of doors, sashes and blinds in the Boise City area.
Sawmill Crew, 1885. Oneida County Historical Society.
Moses took an active interest in politics, mainly as a Republican, but with a very independent attitude. In 1884 and again two years later, he served in the Territorial Legislature. During his terms in the House, that body authorized the construction of a new capitol building and an insane asylum, and created the office of Attorney General. Goodwin also served on the Ada County Board of Commissioners, at times as its chairman.

After about 1900, Moses began dealing heavily in real estate. Three years later, he sold most of his lumber milling and planing properties, retaining only an investment interest. His name was associated with many land transactions in 1905, with other activity into 1910. Moses did operate a retail lumber yard in the city until 1911, when he retired completely. He died suddenly in October 1912.
                                                                                 
References: [Blue], [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
John Henry Sherburne, Life and character of the Chevalier John Paul Jones, Vanderpool & Cole, New York (1825).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Award-Winning Children’s Author Carol Ryrie Brink [otd 12/28]

Author Brink. Publisher photo.
Writer Caroline Ryrie was born December 28, 1895 in Moscow, Idaho. Misfortune dimmed her early years. When she was five, her father died of tuberculosis.

The following year, her maternal grandfather, Dr. William W. Watkins, was shot to death on the streets of Moscow. Watkins was the first President of the Idaho State Medical Society, and I mentioned his murder in my blog about the Society [Sept 12]. That killing, plus a failed second marriage, was blamed for the suicide of Caroline’s mother in 1904. 

Grandmother Watkins raised Carol, and gifted the budding writer with a love of storytelling and reminiscences of her own childhood on the Wisconsin frontier. Carol first wrote for herself and then published stories in a high school magazine. In 1914, she entered the University of Idaho (UI), where she worked on the Argonaut, the student newspaper. She also wrote several plays for student production.

However, after three years there, Carol decided Moscow and the University were “too small,” and transferred to the University of California – Berkeley. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Berkeley in 1918, and shortly thereafter married Raymond Brink, a University of Minnesota mathematics professor.

Brink had been an Instructor at the UI Preparatory School starting in 1909. It’s unclear whether or not Carol took high school classes at the Prep, but they evidently became friends at that time. By the time they married, Raymond had completed a Ph.D. and spent a year in France. Except for Raymond’s two sabbaticals in France and a one-year lectureship in Edinburgh, they lived in Minnesota until his retirement.

The couple had a boy and a girl, and Carol eventually began to write stories for children. She had to make time to write, she said, “sometimes at the kitchen sink, on the end of the ironing board, or when the children were in bed.”

Her first published book, Anything Can Happen on the River, released in 1934, benefited from her experiences during one of the family’s visits to France. Her second book, Caddie Woodlawn, in 1936, grew from her grandmother’s stories about early Wisconsin. That book won a Newbery Medal, awarded to outstanding works of children’s literature.

Three of her children’s books – All Over Town (1939), Two are Better Than One (1968) and Louly (1974) – hark back to her early life in small-town Idaho. She also wrote a trilogy of Idaho-based adult novels as well as a nonfiction reminiscence. One of the novels, Buffalo Coat (1944), includes a character loosely based on her murdered Grandfather Watkins.

They moved to La Jolla, California around 1960. Raymond passed away there in 1973, Carol in 1981. All told, Carol published about thirty books during her career, most of them novels. About a third of them have been reprinted or are readily available today in used form.

She received many awards and honors besides the Newbery – including an honorary Doctorate from the University of Idaho in 1965. Over on Goodreads, the social network for readers, almost all her books rate 4 stars or more (out of 5). And it’s not unusual for a reviewer to comment: “I wish she’d written more books.”
                                                                                 
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane Goetz Person, The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, The Continuum International Publishing Group, New York (2005).
Eighteenth Annual Catalogue of the University of Idaho, 1909-1910, Tribune Publishing Company, Lewiston Idaho.
J. M. H. Olmsted, “R. W. Brink – An Obituary,” American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 81, No. 8) (Oct 1974), pp. 873-875.
People and Places of Buffalo Coat, Latah County Historical Society (online).
Mary E. Reed, Carol Ryrie Brink, Western Writers Series, Boise State University (1991).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Home Dedicated for Neglected Children in Boise [otd 12/27]

On December 27, 1910, a new, larger building was dedicated for use by the Children’s Home Finding and Aid Society. This ceremony was the culmination of over three years of effort, and continued a tradition that went back over half a century.
Children’s Home. ca. 1918. J. H. Hawley.

Records as far back as 1660 in Massachusetts describe how governments in the U.S. grappled with the problem of orphans and other homeless children. Orphanages proved costly and not very effective. In 1853, New York tried a new way to avoid institutionalization: a “placing-out” approach where neglected children ended up in foster homes.

Over the next half century, “children’s aid” and “home finding” societies grew up all over the country. For the approach to work, of course, these organizations needed a residence where the children could live until they were placed in foster homes … or longer if they could not be placed.

The movement came to Idaho in 1907, when the national Children’s Home-finding Society asked the governor if such an organization could be established in the state. The governor responded enthusiastically and put the representative in touch with potential donors. That led to the first tangible step toward a Home when Mrs. Cynthia A. Mann donated a block of land on Boise’s Warm Springs Avenue.

However, a cottage opened in May 1908 proved inadequate. So the state appropriated $20 thousand to help, with the stipulation that the organizers also come up with that amount. A fund-raising campaign allowed them to match the grant.

Officials laid the cornerstone for the building at an elaborate ceremony in mid-May. The president of the national Society, Hastings H. Hart, attended and said (Idaho Statesman, May 15, 1910), “The significance of this occasion is that it represents not only the philanthropic spirit of the state, but its great wisdom …”

The Society considered the structure dedicated in December to be ideal for their needs. It was made largely of stone with an interior constructed of the best available fire-resistant materials.

The second floor contained separate dormitory rooms for boys and girls. These were large, bright with natural sunlight, and designed for good ventilation. This floor also housed a nursery for the youngest children. Quarters for the immediate caring staff were also located nearby on the second floor, along with medical facilities. The first floor contained administrative offices, some apartments, a large kitchen, and the dining hall.

Besides orphaned and abandoned children, the Home provided a refuge for youngsters from families unable to care for them … due to unemployment, sickness, catastrophic emergency, or whatever. Mostly, the Society hoped that the families could regain a stable environment and recover their children.

National legislative changes in 1966 mandated a new foster care approach and made orphanages obsolete. The Children’s Home arranged its last adoption in 1968. Rather than disband, the Society recreated itself as a source of affordable behavioral health services to families and individuals.
Main building, Children's Home Society.
Today, the private, non-profit Children’s Home Society still provides those services as well as training professionals in the behavioral health fields. Besides family and individual counseling, they work to ease the transition into foster care, matching the child’s background and needs to an appropriate family.
                                                                                 
References: [French], [Hawley]
Hastings Hornell Hart, Preventive Treatment of Neglected Children, Russell Sage Foundation, New York (1910).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Canal Builder and Idaho Falls Mayor Joseph Clark [otd 12/26]

Mayor Clark. Idaho Falls Post-Register.
On December 26, 1837, future Idaho Falls Mayor Joseph A. Clark was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, south of Greensboro. The family owned slaves, but Joseph’s father so opposed the institution that he freed them and later moved the family to Indiana. After graduating from a small Indiana college in 1862, Joseph began a career as a civil engineer.

Starting in 1872, Joseph served five consecutive terms (10 years) as county Surveyor for Hendricks County, Indiana (west of Indianapolis). Then, in 1885, he and his family moved to (then) Eagle Rock, Idaho. At that time, stock raising far surpassed crop production in the area.

 When Clark arrived, a number of cooperatives and private companies were trying to expand regional canal systems to allow greater irrigated agriculture. Joseph found work there and also, in 1887, received a contract from the U. S. General Land Office to survey portions of the Lemhi and Nez Percé Indian reservations.

By the late 1880s, companies had built several larger canals systems and much more extensive acreage came into production. In 1891, land developers/speculators led a successful campaign to change the town’s name to Idaho Falls. Their promotions were indeed successful in attracting more settlers.

Among the newcomers were farmers who founded New Sweden to the west of Idaho Falls. They then constructed a considerable canal system there, and established the first formal Irrigation District in the Upper Snake River valley. Clark was one of the principles in the construction of the Great Feeder Canal, which delivered its first water in the summer of 1895. The Feeder and its auxiliary canals eventually became the largest irrigation system in the Upper valley.
Great Western Canal construction.
Bonneville County Historical Society.

By 1897, irrigators were operating over 500 miles of major canals in Bingham County alone. (At that time Bingham encompassed today’s Bingham and Bonneville counties.) Besides his investments in canal projects, Clark also operated an Idaho Falls mercantile store.

In 1899, the village Board elected Joseph as its chairman. A year later Idaho Falls qualified as a “city of the second class” – a designation primarily based on population. Clark was then elected as the city’s first mayor.

For several years before that, ambitious developers had tried to promote an electrical power system for the growing city. Clark had been one of the most active backers of the idea. Finally, he and other advocates persuaded voters to pass a bond election for a municipal power plant. As a result, a hydro-power plant soon went into operation [blog, Oct 22].

Joseph left office in 1902. Meanwhile the city continued to grow: The Oregon Short Line railroad built a new station, some streets were paved, two new banks opened, and the main city school was expanded.

Clark passed away in September, 1905. His son Nathan had been the first chairman of the village boards and another – Barzilla – would twice serve as mayor of Idaho Falls. Barzilla [blog, Dec 22] and a third son, Chase, each served a term as Idaho governor. The entire family would play a substantial role in business development in and around Idaho Falls.
                                                                                 
References: [Illust-State]
Annual Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office for the Year 1887, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. (1887).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).
John V. Hadley (Ed.), History of Hendricks County, Indiana … , B. F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana (1914).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Civil Engineer and Western Dam Builder John Savage [otd 12/25]

Jack Savage. National Academy of Sciences.
On December 25, 1879, world-renowned civil engineer John Lucian Savage was born on a farm about twenty miles south of Madison, Wisconsin. After graduating from Madison High School, “Jack” enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. During two summers while he was in school, he worked as a draftsman for the U. S. Geological Survey.

Jack graduated in 1903 and was offered a teaching position at Purdue University. More interested in field work, he joined the U. S. Reclamation Service, Idaho Division. In that capacity he worked on the Minidoka Dam project, beginning in 1904. Savage also provided engineering input for diversion dams and canals in the Boise and Payette river watersheds.

Jack’s work along the Snake River provided immense satisfaction for the young engineer. The Service’s projects brought water to the land. And with water, Jack said, “Farmers moved in to work the soil. Crops grew. Then came villages and towns. That's why I think this is the happiest, most thrilling work in the world.”

Impressed with prospects in Idaho, he left the Reclamation Service in 1908 and went into consulting work in Boise. While there he participated in projects all over the southern half of the state: Salmon River Dam, canals near Twin Falls, Swan Falls power plant, American Falls, and the Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River. He also found time to develop a farm and ranch near Nampa.

While the consulting was lucrative, by 1917 Jack had apparently decided he wanted to work on more challenging projects. He therefore accepted a position as Design Engineer back in the Reclamation Service (the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation after 1923).  About that time, Jack moved to Denver, Colorado, although he retained real estate interests in Boise. However, after he married a Boise girl in 1918, he apparently sold off his Idaho holdings.

In 1924, he became Chief Design Engineer, with responsibility for all civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering designs.
Hoover Dam, 1942. Ansel Adams photo, National Archives.

For over twenty years, Savage contributed to most of the famous western water projects of the era: Hoover Dam, Parker Dam on the Arizona-California border, Shasta Dam, the All-American Canal that irrigates California’s Imperial Valley, and Grand Coulee Dam. He was also involved with many other lesser-known projects

Experienced co-workers admired his remarkable design skills and engineering insights. Yet Jack always deflected that kind of attention and insisted that “important developments are accomplished by the joint efforts of a large number of engineers and not alone by any individual.”

Such was his reputation that other governments asked him to consult. He helped with actual or proposed projects in Mexico, Australia, Israel, Afghanistan, India, China, and at least a dozen other countries. These tasks continued after his retirement from the Bureau in 1945. Although he never sought personal recognition, he won it anyway: several Gold Medal engineering awards, elected into at least two different Halls of Fame, numerous Honorary memberships, three Honorary Doctorates, and more.

Savage passed away in Englewood, Colorado, in December 1967.
                                                                            
References: [French]
Abel Wolman, W. H. Lyles, John Lucian Savage: 1879 - 1967, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D. C. (1978).

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).

Friday, December 23, 2016

Kidnapping and Murder in the Coeur d'Alene Mining Districts [otd 12/23]

On the evening of December 23, 1897, “persons unknown” kidnapped mine foreman Fred D. Whitney from his apartment in Frisco, about four miles northeast of Wallace, Idaho. Then he apparently broke for freedom and the abductors shot him. Whitney died two days later.
Frisco, ca 1897.
University of Idaho Special Collections.
The Coeur d’Alene mining district experienced considerable labor unrest during the 1890’s. Lode mining for silver and lead involves brutally difficult and dangerous labor, with constant threats from cave-ins, flooding, and other hazards. Union organizers thus found fertile ground for their recruiting efforts.

Unfortunately, the great silver discoveries in the Coeur d’Alene region generally coincided with a gradual depression in silver prices. Ironically, the large production from those mines contributed to the slump. Mine owners naturally sought wage concessions, which fueled the militancy of the unions. This was, unfortunately, a period of intense labor-management strife anyway. Radical unionists faced off against equally intransigent owners, and both ignored the “voice of reason.”

The first widespread dispute in the Coeur d’Alene region occurred in July 1891. Miners were already paying monthly “hospital dues” – a health care fee. They demanded the right to designate which institution received those funds, rather than letting the companies make that decision. It does not appear they particularly distrusted the choices the owners might make, they  simply wanted the freedom to choose … and they won on that issue.

Events turned more serious the following year. To offset higher freight rates imposed by the railroads, owners announced a lower wage scale for some types of workers. When the unions went out on strike, the companies imported replacements. That clash escalated to violence that resulted in the deaths of six men [blog, July 11]. Subsequent talks reached an uneasy settlement, but confrontations and intimidation continued.

As often happened, a three-way clash developed, with non-union workers (“defectors” or imports) adding to the volatile tension between union workers and company representatives.
Ore Mill, Coeur d’Alene mining district, ca 1898.
Illustrated History of the State of Idaho.
In 1894, a band of radical unionists – as many as forty men, by some reports – threatened a supervisor and a foreman, along with two workers who were apparently suspected of being in league with the company. The group ordered the four to leave the country and, to back up their threat, they murdered one John Kneebone. Kneebone was supposedly viewed as a turncoat by the union men. No one was ever arrested or charged for that killing.

It is not known for sure why the band of kidnappers targeted Fred Whitney in 1897; he was a union member himself. As foreman he had virtually no say in setting wages. The Idaho Statesman report (December 25, 1897) about the shooting said, “Whitney had only been at the mine a short time but was disliked by the men.”

Apparently a round of layoffs had followed the arrival of Whitney and a new superintendent. Rightly or wrongly, union men blamed the two, and thugs had tried to run both of them out of the country a few weeks before the attack on Whitney.

Despite $17 thousand in aggregate rewards offered, the killers were never identified. Nor was this the end of the strife: Two years later, the area experienced yet more violence [blog, Apr 29].
                                                                                 
References: [B&W], [Illust-North], [Illust-State]

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Idaho History: Gold, Cattle, Sheep and More

With Christmas bills coming due soon, I need to sell some books. So bear with me for a small advertisement. You will have noticed that yesterday’s blog featured Truman C. Catlin. One of the earliest pioneers to raise cattle in Idaho, Catlin is featured in my book Before the Spud: Indians, Buckeroos, and Sheepherders in Pioneer Idaho.

I could have also posted a December 21st item from another of my books, Idaho: Year One – The Territory’s First Year.  That book uses newspapers reports, diaries and letters to describe what was happening in the newly created Idaho Territory. It includes some lead-up to March 4, 1863 – when Abraham Lincoln sign legislation to create the Territory – and continues to the one-year anniversary. An Afterword bridges the span until May 26, 1864, when Congress split Montana Territory from Idaho.

Like my On This Day blog items, Year One uses a day-to-day progression, although it does not try to cover every single day of the year. Thus, on December 21, 1863, the Evening Bulletin in San Francisco, California published a report about the mines in central and southern Idaho Territory. Unlike many another flash in the pan, the Boise Basin mines, he wrote, “show promise of a long-continued yield.” The Boise Basin lies high in the mountains to the east and northeast of Boise City (as it was known then).

On December 23, 1863, The Oregonian in Portland published an opinion piece that advocated the authorization of a Federal mint in their city. Idaho had already produced a lot of gold and it was clear that the region’s output held promise for years to come. A mint in Portland would mitigate the cost and dangers of transporting the treasure to the mint in San Francisco. Portland never did get a mint, of course, but Congress later did authorize an assay office in Boise.

Meanwhile, gold (and later silver) mining in and around the Boise Basin would continue for almost a century. That history is described in another of my books, Boise River Gold Country. Besides the mining story, Boise River shows the growth, and later decline, of the timber industry in the region. Today, the region’s economy largely depends upon tourism and outdoor recreation.

Of course, the discovery of gold in the region led directly to the creation of Idaho Territory. But the presence of all those hungry miners then spurred the formation of a thriving cattle industry. Before the Spud outlines the history of that development, starting with the “first stockmen of Idaho” … the Shoshone and Nez Percés Indians. But stock-raising exploded after the discovery of gold. And, by around 1910, income from livestock (including dairy) had surpassed that from mining and timber. And that was “before the spud” … potatoes were then only a small faction of the agricultural production in the state.

I encourage you to visit my other blog, Sourdough Publishing, where I have posted more information about my books. That includes the full Table of Contents for each. Or you can jump directly to the CreateSpace web pages for the books:
Boise Basin Gold Country
Idaho: Year One
Before the Spud

The books are also available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Civil Engineer, Idaho Falls Mayor, and Idaho Governor Barzilla Clark [otd 12/22]

Governor Barzilla Clark.
Bonneville County Historical Society.
Barzilla Worth Clark, sixteenth Governor of the state of Idaho, was born December 22, 1881 in Hadley, Indiana, about twenty miles west of Indianapolis.

The family moved to Idaho Falls (then called Eagle Rock) when Barzilla was about four years old. Described as highly inquisitive and “a tease,” the boy was reportedly well liked by the townspeople.

Barzilla was very active in public school, even serving as school reporter for the Idaho Register newspaper in Idaho Falls. But he wanted to be an engineer like his father, Joseph [blog, December 26]. So, in September 1898, he headed east to attend prep school in Terre Haute, Indiana. He then enrolled at Rose Polytechnic Institute there. However, Barzilla over-did it athletically, to the detriment of his health, and returned to Idaho to recover.

In 1902, the Idaho Register mentioned that he owned ranch property east of town. (Presumably his father helped out with that.) The following year, he acquired ranch and mining properties near Mackay, Idaho, and moved there. Clark also began working more with dam and canal projects for irrigation. In 1905, Barzilla became a licensed professional engineer in Idaho, and also got married.

Three years later, the family moved back to Idaho Falls and Barzilla was elected to the City Council the following spring. Barzilla served another term on the Council, and then became mayor in 1913. Clark pushed for many enhancements for the city, including an improved municipal hydroelectric plant.

In 1914, the mayor entered the Idaho Democratic primary to run for Governor, but lost decisively (727 votes versus 3,121 for his opponent). The following year, he lost his re-election bid for Idaho Falls Mayor by a handful of votes. After that, he spent more than a decade focused on mining properties in Central Idaho.

Still, in 1927, Barzilla ran for Idaho Falls mayor again, won, and began a continuous ten-year span of re-elections to that office. His administrations brought great progress to the city: another large hydroelectric power plant, a new city hall and fire station [blog, Nov 16], the first airport, enlarged municipal parks, and more. Amazingly, he did all that by careful budgeting and planning, with no need to take on long-term debt or impose special tax levies.
Downtown Idaho Falls, 1930s. Bonneville County Historical Society.
Clark ran again for the Governor’s seat, won, and took office in 1937. An analysis in the  Spokesman-Review newspaper (Spokane, Washington, January 4, 1937) noted a host of problems. These included needed revisions in the state liquor laws (post-Prohibition), departmental consolidations, revamping the state police, and much more.

Naturally, money was a huge problem, exacerbated by the fact that a voter referendum had done away with the state sales tax. In theory, progress should have been possible: Democrats enjoyed a 33 to 11 advantage in the state Senate and a huge 50 to 9 majority in the House. But that preponderance was illusionary: Major conflicts among factions within the party over-rode any disagreements they might have had with those few Republicans. Hard-won agreements within the Senate often met opposition in the House, and vice versa.

In the end, little of substance was accomplished under Clark’s administration, other than creation of a state Water Conservation Board. Barzilla’s bid for a second termed ended in the Democratic primary, and he returned to his private business interests in Idaho Falls.

In 1941, Clark published a local history book, Bonneville County in the Making. He died of lung cancer two years later. 
                                                                       
References: [B&W], [Defen]
Barzilla W. Clark Papers, 1937-1938, Manuscript Group 22, University of Idaho, Moscow (June 1979).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).
Robert C. Sims, Hope A. Benedict (eds.), Idaho’s Governors: Historical Essays on Their Administrations, Boise State University (1992).

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Boise Valley Stockman, Irrigator, and Eagle Developer Truman C. Catlin [otd 12/21]

Truman Catlin. J. H. Hawley photo.
Rancher and developer Truman C. Catlin was born December 21, 1839 in Farmingdale, Illinois, about eight miles west of Springfield.

In 1862, he boarded a Missouri River steamboat for Fort Benton, Montana. By chance, his party encountered one of Captain John Mullan’s road expeditions [blog, Feb 5] and traveled with them across Montana and Idaho to Walla Walla, Washington.

After spending the winter there, Catlin came to the Boise Basin. Idaho City and the Basin were growing explosively at that time and he had no trouble finding work. Probably because the best Basin placers were already claimed, Truman and some companions traveled to Silver City during the summer. Finding the same situation there, they next tried their hand south of Baker City, Oregon.

Catlin decided that working for wages on someone else’s claim would get him nowhere. He and two partners negotiated a substantial shingle contract with the authorities at Fort Boise. After completing that project, Truman returned to a homestead he had claimed earlier. Located about ten miles northwest of downtown Boise City, Catlin’s claim lay between split branches of the Boise River, on what came to be called Eagle Island.

The location facilitated construction of irrigation ditches, so Catlin and a neighbor began irrigated agriculture in 1864. Truman’s fresh potatoes sold at a premium, while his ground corn could be sold for less than imported meal and still turn a handsome profit. Catlin also started in the cattle business in a small way and expanded that line over the years.

By the mid-1870s, stockmen in Idaho and further west were producing a surplus beyond what could be sold locally or in the mining districts. In fact, U. S. government reports indicate that Oregon and Washington cattlemen were driving herds across Idaho into Wyoming and Colorado by 1875. And, in early 1876, buyers were seeking Idaho cattle to join those drives (Idaho Statesman, January 29, 1876).

Catlin was one of the first (Hawley’s History says “the first”) to run such drives: moving a thousand head into Wyoming in 1876. After that, he and various partners regularly drove cattle east until the coming of the railroad in 1883-84.

Meeting the interurban, 1915. City of Boise.
As new homesteaders and developers arrived, Eagle Island became more and more settled. Truman himself eventually owned over 600 acres in the area and raised hogs as a sideline to his farming and cattle business. A bridge to the island spurred growth. Eagle township really took off in 1907, when the interurban railway linked hamlets all up and down the Boise Valley.

In 1917, Catlin sold off his major cattle interests; Hawley suggested that this was because “nearly all of his cowboys entered the army.” After that he concentrated on farming and a dairy operation for which he procured blooded Jersey and Holstein milk cows.

Even approaching age eighty, Catlin had not released the reins to his son, who was then around 45. Hawley wrote that the older man was “yet extremely active and still takes pleasure in riding the range, which he says he can do with the best of them.”

Truman C. Catlin passed away in June 1922.
                                                                       
References: [Hawley]
Laurie Baker, “The City of Eagle: Yesterday and Today,” City of Eagle, Official Website (May, 2007).
James H. Hawley, Ninth Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Idaho, Boise (1924).
J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1968).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mountain Man Osborne Russell Becomes a "Free" Trapper [otd 12/20]

On December 20, 1835, trapper Osborne Russell said he “bid adieu to the ‘Columbia River Fishing and Trading Company’ and started in company with 15 of my old Messmates to pass the winter at a place called ‘Mutton Hill’.”

The precise location of “Mutton Hill” is uncertain, but Russell said it was on the Portneuf River about 40 miles southeast of Old Fort Hall.

Born in Maine, Russell joined Nathaniel Wyeth’s second fur trade venture [blog, Jan 29] in April 1834. Osborne was then about three months short of his twentieth birthday. Wyeth had also contracted with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (RMFC) to supply the 1834 Green River rendezvous.

When the RMFC reneged on the contract, Wyeth took his supplies on into Idaho and built Old Fort Hall. For August 5th, Russell wrote, “Mr Wyeth departed for the mouth of the Columbia River with all the party excepting twelve men (myself included), 10 who were stationed at the Fort.”

Lacking experience, the Wyeth men did not attempt a fall trapping expedition. They did, however, traipse through the nearby ranges hunting game to supply the Fort for the winter. During the latter part of September, Russell had his first encounter with a Grizzly bear, prompting the reaction: “Oh Heavens! was ever anything so hideous?”

Too green to know better, he and a hunting partner pursued the animal and killed it, after an extremely close call. Osborne wrote that they “returned to the Fort with the trophies of our bravery, but I secretly determined in my own mind never to molest another wounded Grizzly Bear in a marsh or thicket.”

During the 1835 season, Osborne worked with a trapper party that trekked through eastern Idaho, western Wyoming, and southern Montana. The results were disastrous: two substantial battles with hostile Blackfeet Indians, loss of most of their horses, and a minimum return of furs. Some of these problems arose from inexperience, but Russell decided that the greater cause was their leader’s ineptitude.
Old Fort Hall. Library of Congress.

“I determined not to be so green as to bind myself to an arbitrary Rocky Mountain Chieftain to be kicked over hill and dale at his pleasure,” Osborne wrote, and refused to sign up again with the Company.

Russell learned quickly, and was soon able to sustain himself comfortably. He attended the 1836 rendezvous held on the Green River west today’s Pinedale, Wyoming. Also there were missionaries Henry Harmon Spalding and Marcus Whitman, and their wives [blog, Nov 29]. Osborne said, “The two ladies were gazed upon with wonder and astonishment by the rude Savages, they being the first white women ever seen by these Indians and the first that had ever penetrated into these wild and rocky regions.”

Russell spent the next seven years as a free trapper, mostly in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. However, even in 1840, he observed that “Beaver also were getting very scarce.”

He struggled along for almost another two years. Then, in August, 1842 an emigrant party arrived at Fort Hall, headed for Oregon. Deciding he’d had enough, Russsell wrote, “I started with them and arrived at the Falls of the Willamette river on the 26 day of Septr. 1842.”

The following spring, Russell helped form the Provisional Government of Oregon and served as a judge under that organization. In 1848, he moved to California. He passed away there in 1892.
                                                                              
References: Osborne Russell, Aubrey L. Haines (ed.), Journal of a Trapper, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1965).
Nathaniel J. Wyeth, Don Johnson (ed.), The Journals of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth’s Expeditions to the Oregon Country 1831-1836, Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington (1984).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Prominent Boise Area and Twin Falls County Architect Benjamin Nisbet [otd 12/19]

Architect Nisbet. Family archives.
Benjamin Morgan Nisbet, who made his name as a fine Idaho architect, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 19, 1873. At age seventeen, Ben began an apprenticeship with a leading Pittsburgh architectural firm. Then he decided he needed a more solid grounding and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture.

The year before he graduated in 1898, he won a school award for “Composition in Details.” Afterwards, he returned to Pittsburgh and opened his own architectural firm. Married there in November 1903, he and his new wife moved to Nampa shortly thereafter. Soon, his advertisement as an architect, with a Nampa office address, appeared in Boise’s Idaho Statesman (December 23, 1903).

However, seeing better prospects in Boise, in March 1904 he partnered with another architect in the capital. For some reason that did not last and they split a few months later (Idaho Statesman, August 23, 1904). Not long after that, Nisbet took a position with a well-known Boise architectural firm.

The following year, in March, water from Milner Dam [blog, May 7] began flowing onto acreage near the new town of Twin Falls. Nisbet liked the potential there and took a leave of absence to “prove up” an irrigated claim. When Ben returned after two months the Statesman said (November 28, 1905), “He has now clear title to one of the prettiest ranches under canal.”
Anduiza Hotel, ca 1925. Boise Basque Tour.
In 1909, Nisbet teamed up with architect Frank Paradice [blog, May 4] in a joint venture. Over the next five years or so, the two would produce designs for a wide variety of structures in Boise and other Idaho towns. Among those in Boise were the Empire Building and the Anduiza Hotel, built as a Basque boarding house with its own fronton (pelota court). The Anduiza is on the National Register of Historic Places and still serves as a center of Basque cultural heritage in Boise.

After Paradice departed to Pocatello in 1914, Nisbet continued to handle projects on his own. In 1915, he designed a new high school building for the city of Fruitland (about five miles south of Payette), and the First Baptist Church of Emmett. Still in use, the Baptist church is also on the National Register.

It is not entirely clear when Nisbet moved his family to Twin Falls, but his ads using a Boise office address continued in the Statesman through February 1916. In 1918, Nisbet prepared plans for the Roman Catholic parish house at the Immaculate Conception Church in Buhl (Twin Falls News, July 3, 1918). That same year, Ben moved his family to Buhl

In 1919, Nisbet designed the Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) building in Buhl. That too is now on the National Register. The following year, he designed a new “mission style” city hall and civic center for Buhl. He also handled the design of new high school buildings in Kimberly and in Buhl. Unfortunately, he had to file suit against the Buhl school district in an attempt to get paid in full (Twin Falls News, January 20, 1922).
Main Street, Buhl, ca 1919. J. H. Hawley photo.
Idaho, like most farm states, plunged into a depression in the 1920s … generally blamed on excessive expansion to meet demand during World War I. In the words of Ben’s son Donald, “the architect business [went] to the dogs” in the Twin Falls area. Nisbet moved the family to Los Angeles, California, where he found a job with an architectural firm.

Late in life, Nisbet suffered from increasing arthritic pain. He passed away in July 1940.
                                                                                
References]: [French]
“Anduiza Hotel,” National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Washington, D. C.  (2003).
“Buhl IOOF Building,” National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Washington, D. C. (2009).
“First Baptist Church of Emmett,” National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Washington, D. C. (1980).
Robert A. Nisbet Jr., A Nisbet Family from Pennsylvania, bobnisbet.com (1996).
“[Nisbet News - Boise],” Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 1904 – 1920).
“[Nisbet News - Twin Falls],” Twin Falls News, Twin Falls, Idaho (July 1918 – January 1922).
Gene Smiley, “US Economy in the 1920s,” EH.Net Encyclopedia, Economic History Association (March 26, 2008).
Year Book of the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, The Architectural Society, Philadelphia (1897).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weiser Signal Newspaper Publishes Its first Issue [otd 12/18]

On December 18, 1890, Robert E. Lockwood published the first issue of the Weiser Signal newspaper.
Vintage printing press.
American Local History Network,
Clark County, Wisconsin.

Lockwood was born in southwestern Oregon, near the California border, in 1858. The family later moved to east-central Oregon, where Robert learned the printer’s trade. In 1878, he found work on the railroad in eastern Idaho. It then seems likely that he moved on with the Oregon Short Line as it laid track west, toward Weiser and the Oregon border.

Meanwhile, in 1882, Weiser’s first newspaper, the Weiser Leader, began publication. Founded by two partners, one with considerable newspaper experience, the other with none, the Leader passed through a succession of owners through most of a decade.

At some point, Lockwood went to work at the Leader for awhile. He then took a job in Caldwell for three months before returning to Weiser to begin publication of the Signal. The newspaper did very well. In September 1891, Lockwood bought the Leader and combined it with the Signal. Although Lockwood did not retain the Leader name, the purchase established a publishing lineage back to Weiser’s earliest days. The Illustrated History considered the Signal to be “one of the best [newspapers] in southwestern Idaho.”

Lockwood took up an active role in Democratic Party politics. The party nominated him to run for the state Senate from Washington County in 1898, but he was defeated and never ran for public office again. Lockwood also served as an officer of the Idaho Press Association.

In 1899, the Signal gained a long-time competitor, the Weiser American, a weekly. Three years later, Lockwood sold a half-interest in the paper to Frank S. Harding. A Michigan native, Harding was two years younger than Lockwood. However, having been associated with newspapers in the Midwest and in Oregon since about 1875, Harding actually had more experience in the business.

The partnership continued until 1906, when Harding sold his interest and moved to Boise. Four years later, he would return and purchase a controlling interest in the Weiser American. Meanwhile, the Signal reported (December 8, 1906) that “R. E. Lockwood has severed his connection with the Signal to engage in other interests.”
Downtown Weiser, ca 1908. Vintage postcard.

Those interests included a ranch near Riggins, and mining properties about twenty miles east of that town. Sadly, less than a year later (October 26, 1907) the Signal reported, “Former Signal editor, Robert Edwin Lockwood, accidentally shot and killed himself at his ranch at Riggins.”

During this general period, the Signal Publishing Company was formed to control the paper, then published twice weekly. After some turn-over in management, Lester I. Purcell, an experienced newspaperman from Kansas, purchased a controlling interest and took over as Editor. The paper backed off to a weekly schedule in 1912-1913, then returned to semi-weekly publication. It became a daily in 1925.

The Signal and the American both served the city until 1985, when they combined to form the Weiser Signal American. Today, the newspaper proudly traces its roots back to the Weiser Leader of 1882.
                                                                                 
References]: [French], [Illust-State]
Chronicling America: Historic Newspapers, The Library of Congress (online).
Frank Harris, “History of Washington County and Adams County,” Weiser Signal (Series, 1940s).

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Unjustly-Convicted “Diamondfield Jack” Davis Finally Released from Prison [otd 12/17]

Diamondfield Jack Davis.
Denver Public Library, Western Collection.
On December 17, 1902, the Idaho Board of Pardons annulled the life sentence of cowboy-gunman Jackson Lee Davis – better known as “Diamondfield” Jack. This action ended a six-year nightmare for Davis.

Verifiable facts are scarce, but penitentiary records indicate that Davis was born around 1870, somewhere in Virginia. He appeared in Idaho in the early 1890s. Pioneer Charlie Walgamott, who lived in the area at that time, wrote, “Jack Davis was very companionable, good in his manners, extremely fond of children, and kind-hearted almost to a fault, but he was a great talker.”

Because of that “talker” reputation, listeners took his bunkhouse stories with a considerable dose of salt. At various times, he claimed to have fought as a revolutionary in South America, lived with Apache Indians in Arizona, and hobnobbed with Cecil Rhodes in South Africa.

He also said he had been a miner in Sonora, Mexico, which might have been true. He performed quite capably during a year or so working in a mine near Silver City. He was among many who chased rumors of diamond strikes in the West … that gave him his “Diamondfield” nickname.

Jack mostly worked as a cowboy in northern Nevada and southern Idaho. He loved to brag about “cutting it in [gun]smoke” in purported battles on the range. This too appeared to have some substance. No one doubted his gun skills, and he had enough of a reputation to get run off one ranch where he sought work.

Local stockmen had reached a “gentlemen’s agreement” concerning the range south and east of today’s Twin Falls: Sheep would remain to the east, cattle stayed west. However, some sheepmen pushed across the so-called “dead line” anyway.

Thus, during the summer of 1895, the Sparks-Harrell Cattle Company [blog, Aug 30] hired Davis as an “outside man.” For a monthly salary of $50 (ordinary hands got $30), the foreman expected Jack and the other outside men to keep the sheep off “company” range.

Intimidation escalated to violence and two sheepmen were shot to death. Suspicion fell on Diamondfield Jack [blog, Feb 16] and he was arrested and tried. The prosecution presented a badly flawed case, but obtained a conviction from a jury composed almost entirely of sheepmen and farmers.

While lawyers appealed Jack’s conviction, the actual shooter and an associate confessed to the killings [blog, Oct 13]: They pled “self-defense” and were acquitted on a murder charge. Yet despite this, Jack twice came within hours of being hanged for the crime.

Authorities finally conceded that perhaps a miscarriage of justice had occurred … and, in July 1901, commuted the hanging sentence to life in prison! Davis spent another seventeen months in prison before a pardon finally set him free.

Afterwards, Jack moved to Nevada and prospered in the mines there, especially around Goldfield, where a boom started about that time. (Goldfield is about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas.) In fact, Davis became something of a celebrity, with write-ups in national as well as regional magazines and newspapers.

But ultimately, the Depression crippled Jack's mining investments and he lived his last years in tight financial circumstances. He died in January 1949 from injuries suffered when he inattentively stepped off a curb in Las Vegas and was struck by a taxicab.
                                                                                 
References: David H. Grover, Diamondfield Jack: A Study in Frontier Justice, University of Nevada Press, Reno (1968).
William Pat Rowe, “Diamond-Field Jack” Davis On Trial, thesis: Master of Arts in Education, Idaho State University (1966)
Charles S. Walgamott, Six Decades Back, The Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (1936).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mining Investor and Idaho Governor Frank W. Hunt [otd 12/16]

Governor Hunt. J. H. Hawley photo.

Idaho Governor Frank W. Hunt was born December 16, 1861 in Newport, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was an officer in the U.S. Army, so the family relocated several times while Frank was growing up.

Frank held a variety of jobs before he took up mining in Montana around 1885. Three years later, he moved to a mining camp about 25 miles north of Salmon City, Idaho.

From his base in the camp, Hunt prospected extensively, and successfully. It is believed that he also invested in other mining properties. (The usual pattern is for the investor to “grubstake” another prospector, and thereby obtain a share of any later strikes.) Although Frank had no previous history in politics, in 1892 he was elected to a seat in the state Senate.

A Democrat, Hunt became part of a coalition with Populist members that opposed key measures proposed by Governor William McConnell, a Republican [blog, Sept 18]. Besides defeating a reduction in the property tax levy (the new state had collected a surplus under the old levy), the coalition voted down a reapportionment bill.

The legislature did create state Normal schools at Lewiston [blog, Jan 6] and Albion [blog, Mar 7]. Beyond that, Hunt “took a special interest in revising mining law.” He did not run for re-election.

In 1897, Frank explored some mining properties in Canada, but returned in time to join the First Idaho Volunteers when the regiment was mustered for the Spanish-American War. Entering as a lieutenant, Hunt was twice breveted to captain for bravery under fire. The rank was made permanent when the regiment mustered out.

The 1900 political campaign proved especially chaotic in Idaho. The Republicans had a slate, which included William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt at the national level. The Populists again chose to not make common cause with the Democratic Party; they selected their own candidates. The Prohibitionist Party also proposed a nearly full roster.

The Democrats assembled a Fusion Party with the Silver Republicans. The Fusion supported William Jennings Bryan for President. However, the coalition suffered from severe internal tensions at the state level. Most of this arose from conflicting positions on labor unrest and subsequent violence in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts [blog, Apr 29].
Miners  Held in “Bullpen” After Violent Strike Actions. Historic Wallace.
During a succession of eighteen convention ballots, war hero Frank Hunt’s stock rose as various hopefuls dropped by the wayside. Hunt won the state election by just 2,160 votes out of over 56 thousand cast. During his term of office, Hunt approved legislation that established the Academy of Idaho, precursor to Idaho State University, in Pocatello.

All too aware of the close election result, Hunt also selected leading Populist politicians to fill state boards and other appointive offices. (He even reportedly found a place for the man who ran against him for Governor.) That was not enough, however. His bid for re-election in 1902 failed and he retired from politics.

Hunt then returned to mining, with interests that included properties in Nevada. While in Goldfield, Nevada, he contracted pneumonia and died in November 1906. His remains were returned to Boise for burial in the Masonic Cemetery there.
                                                                                 
References: [Hawley]
“Ex-Gov. F. W. Hunt Dead,” The New York Times (November 26, 1906).
“Idaho Governor Frank W. Hunt,” National Governors Association.
Robert C. Sims, Hope A. Benedict (Eds.), Idaho’s Governors: Historical Essays on Their Administrations, Boise State University (1992).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Freighter, Mining Investor, and U. S. Marshall Joe Pinkham [otd 12/15]

Marshal Pinkham.
Illustrated History.
U. S. Marshal Joseph Pinkham was born December 15, 1833 in Canada. His grandparents were Welsh and had emigrated many years earlier to what became the state of Maine. His father was born and married there, then the family moved to Canada shortly before Joseph was born. Joe grew up on a farm near New London, on Prince Edward Island.

In 1850, he boarded a ship for the long voyage around Cape Horn to California. He clerked briefly at a gold camp store before trying his hand at placer mining. After a couple years, he moved on to southern Oregon, where he combined farming with stretches of mining. Pinkham served in the U. S. Army Quartermaster Corps during the Rogue River War. After the conflict ended in 1857, he worked at various locations in Oregon as a farmer, miner, or clerk.

In 1864, he looked toward the opportunities presented by the gold fields of Idaho. By then, he had apparently had his fill of prospecting and mining. Instead, he partnered with two other men to run pack trains into Boise City from supply terminals in Oregon. They converted to freight wagons when the road system allowed it.

After four years, he moved to Idaho City and established headquarters for a stagecoach company that ran passengers and freight to Boise Basin towns, and out to Boise city.

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Pinkham as U. S. Marshal for Idaho Territory. In its biography of Marshal Pinkham, the Illustrated History said, “He entered upon the duties of his position at a time when the region was largely infested with a lawless element and when crime held sway in many districts. He was ever fearless in the discharge of his duty, and to his efforts is largely due the rapid transformation of the state to its present condition of advanced civilization.”

Philadelphia smelter, near Ketchum.
Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society.
Pinkham performed his duties so effectively that he was reappointed for a second term, which ran until 1878. After that, Pinkham apparently invested in central Idaho mining ventures. He followed the 1879-1880 rush into the gold and silver fields of the Wood River area and opened a general store in the boom town of Ketchum.

In 1891, knowledge of Pinkham’s service was still fresh, and he was again appointed to be a U. S. Marshal. Thus, at aged 57, he became the first Marshal to serve the Idaho District after the region became a state. As the “man on the spot,” Pinkham then successfully handled potentially explosive union demonstrations and violence in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts.

In February 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Pinkham to head the U. S. Assay office in Boise. He held that position until his retirement in the summer of 1915.

The memory of his fearless integrity as a U. S. Marshal lived on long after his final retirement from that duty. Twenty years later, J. H. Hawley praised that history and wrote: “His step is firm, his eye is still keen, and his mental faculties are still alert.”

Pinkham passed away in July 1921.
                                                                                 
References: [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“History of the District of Idaho,” U. S. Marshals Service, United State Department of Justice.