Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Prominent Attorney and Exposition Secretary George Huebner [otd 03/29]

Attorney George C. Huebner was born March 29, 1879 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. (Older records show the name as Huebener.) After graduating from high school there, George apparently worked at a store his father owned in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the same time, he attended the University of Minnesota Law School.

He received his degree in 1903 and moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the following spring. He was quickly admitted to the state bar and practiced in North Idaho for about a year. In 1905, Governor Frank Gooding appointed him Chief Clerk of the Idaho State Penitentiary, so he moved to Boise.
Harry Orchard.
University of Missouri Archives.

In his position as Chief Clerk, Huebner recorded the official transcript of Harry Orchard’s confession to the assassination of ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg [blog, Dec 30]. Later, George also recorded the confession of Steve Adams, an alleged accomplice. Although his testimony concerned other crimes, Adams also implicated the Western Federation of Miners in the assassination. In his words, “they wanted to ‘get’ Steunenberg.”

Huebner filled the penitentiary position until April 1909, when Governor James H. Brady selected him to be Secretary of the Idaho Commission for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Earlier that year, the Governor had urged the legislature to correct the oversight of the previous session, which had failed to provide funds for an Idaho exhibit at the Seattle event.

The Expo was scheduled to begin in June, so Brady recommended quick action to create "an exhibit that will be a credit to our state." The legislature complied and preparations hurried forward, including the selection of Huebner. Right away, Brady led the Commission on a trip to Seattle to select a suitable location on the Expo grounds for the Idaho exhibit.

Exposition leaders soon discovered that commemorative “days” – dedicated to various groups, products, and so on – seemed to greatly enhance attendance. Thus, “Military Day,” “Spokane Day,” and “Swedish Day” were all well attended. Idaho had its chance to shine with (obviously) Idaho Day, along with Lewiston Day, Boise Day, and a day for three silver-mining towns. (The potato was not yet, in 1909, a major product, so there was no “Spud Day.”)
The Idaho Building.
University of Washington, Special Collections.

Overall, despite the short notice, the Commission made an excellent showing, with an entire building dedicated to the products and prospects of the state. The Expo ended in mid-October. Huebner’s tenure as Secretary ended with his compilation of a final report. Commenting on the report, the Idaho Statesman (December 1, 1909) said, “The impossible has been accomplished.” The exhibit actually made a profit, so “… a balance of $739.80 which will be turned back to the treasury.”

When James Brady was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1913, Huebner served as his private secretary for most of 1914. He then returned to private law practice in Boise.

In 1917, George moved his practice to Emmett. He retained a number of business interests in Boise, however, and was often listed as a visitor there. In 1934, Huebner ran unsuccessfully for judge of the district that includes Gem County. (Emmett is the county seat.) Two years later, he was a candidate for the state Senate, again unsuccessfully.

George became City Attorney for Emmett in 1938. He did not retire from that position until 1963, when he was 84 years old. He passed away in November 1972.
References: [French], [Hawley]
“Adams Told of Trade in Murder,” The New York Times (February 24, 1907).
"Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909): Special Days," Essay 8461, (January 17, 2008).
"Biographical Note," George Huebner Collection, MS 773, Idaho State Historical Society.

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