Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ray Hunt: Legendary Trainer of Horses (and Riders) [otd 8/31]

Tribute photo. Richard Beal’s Blog.
Renowned horse trainer Ray Hunt was born August 31, 1929 in Paul, Idaho (about 4 miles north of Burley). A few years later, the family moved to Mountain Home. A child of the Great Depression, he knew the hard, grinding farm labor of that era. But his father also raised work horses. Ray learned to ride and dreamed of becoming a cowboy.

Given a chance to ride the range in Nevada, Ray began to live his dream. Along the way, his interest turned to training horses for all-around range and corral work.

Movies and TV shows notwithstanding, normal training need not require brutally “breaking” the animals. The methods Ray learned – traditional on the ranges of Nevada, southern Idaho, and southeast Oregon – involve a staged approach. The trainer introduces a young horse to successively more coercive tack, and expects more complex behavior. Still, the overall aim was to subdue the subject, and more “strenuous” methods might be applied for particularly recalcitrant stock.

With a growing family of his own, Ray moved to California and began training colts, shoeing horses, and doing “day work” for ranchers who knew he was a top hand. In late 1960 or early 1961, he met Tom Dorrance, whose ability to train “difficult” horses was well known in ranching circles. Dorrance practiced a form of “natural” training that traced back to nineteenth century England. The hit movie The Horse Whisperer featured a simplified-for-Hollywood version of such gentler methods.

Ray started with a special affinity with horses, yet even he took awhile to adapt. He could handle – stay on – a rough horse better than most, but this was different. The rider had to sense, understand, and accept the horse’s needs and desires. Eventually, he evolved a soft approach to, as he put it, “make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy.”

Owners began bringing “impossible” horses to him. Soon he had so much problem-horse business, he couldn’t keep up with his regular work. Also, he found that he could “fix” a horse, but the problems sometimes returned once they were out of his hands. That led him to the conclusion that a lasting answer might require him to fix the riders too – to get them to understand and respect the horse’s point of view.

Around 1971, the volume of work – and the need to train both horse and rider – led Ray into the full-time training clinic business. After that, for almost forty years, Hunt ran clinics, wrote books, and offered videos to show riders and owners how to get the most out of their horses … without overt coercion or punishment.

Ray remained active until near the time of his death in March 2009. By then, he received more requests for clinics than there were hours in a day, and had to turn many down. Conventional recognition came his way – Top Hand Award, Western Horseman of the Year in 2005, etc. – but Hunt’s true legacies are the modern trainers who now practice natural training methods and the many riders he influenced personally.
References: Linda Boston Franke, “Ray Hunt: A Legend in His Own Time,” Ranch & Country Magazine (2009).
“Ray Hunt, 1929-2009,” Western Horseman (January 2005). [Retitled and reprinted after his death in 2009.]
Ray Hunt: Master of Communication.
Ray Hunt, Millie Hunt, Roy Hunt, Think Harmony with Horses, Pioneer Publishing Company (June 1995).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Idaho Cattle Baron and Nevada Governor John Sparks [otd 8/30]

Idaho-Nevada cattleman and later Nevada Governor John Sparks was born August 30, 1843 in Winston County, Mississippi, 60-80 miles northeast of Jackson. The Sparks family became moderately wealthy by developing raw land into successful farm-ranch operations, selling at a good profit, and then moving on to a new location. In the late 1850s, they established a ranch in Texas. John thus grew to manhood in the early Texas ranch/cowboy culture.
Early cattle drive. Library of Congress.

He reportedly served as a Texas Ranger on patrols against Comanche Indians during the Civil War. After the war, Sparks worked cattle on several big drives. In 1872, he served as trail boss on a drive that delivered a herd to where the Utah-Nevada border meets southern Idaho.

John and his brothers then moved a large herd into Wyoming. A develop-sell-move strategy worked well for awhile, but played out toward the end of the decade as the amount of undeveloped land in Wyoming dwindled. Thus, in 1881, John and his brother Tom brought another herd from Texas into Idaho to stock range near American Falls.

Tom stayed on to run a ranch there for around forty years while John formed a partnership with established cattleman John Tinnin. They put together a spread that straddled the Idaho-Nevada border. By 1886, Sparks-Tinnin range stretched from the Snake River, centered around today’s Twin Falls, south into the mountains of northern Nevada. On perhaps 3,000 square miles of land, they, according to the Albion Times, ran “in the neighborhood of 100,000 head of cattle.”

During the warmer months of the year, most of the stock grazed in Idaho. Then cowboys pushed them south for the cold months of winter. Thus, Sparks lived at one of his Idaho ranch headquarters for the good weather, but built a family home in Nevada, near the main railroad line.

Governor Sparks.
Nevada Historical Society.
Over the next few years, Sparks expanded his acreage and also invested in other holdings. These saved his business when the severe winter of 1889-1890 devastated the company’s herds. In a reorganization that followed, Sparks bought out his original partner – saving Tinnin from having to declare bankruptcy. He then acquired a new partner, long-time cattleman Jasper Harrell. Thereafter, the ranch operated as the Sparks-Harrell company

During the 1890s, the range became more and more crowded. This heightened friction between neighboring outfits, whether cattle or sheep. Then, in 1896, a cowboy shot two sheepherders who had encroached onto what Sparks-Harrell considered its range [blog, February 4 and others].

Although Sparks soon learned who had done the shooting, he remained silent to protect against retaliation by sheepmen. He also paid liberally for the defense of “Diamondfield” Jack Davis, the man falsely accused of the killings. Eventually, Davis was freed, while the actual shooter made a successful self-defense plea (also financed by Sparks-Harrell).

In 1902, Sparks was elected Governor of Nevada. He was re-elected in 1906, but did not complete the second term, passing away in 1908.
References: Byron DeLos Lusk, Golden Cattle Kingdoms of Idaho, Master’s thesis, Utah State University, Logan (1978).
J. Orin Oliphant, On the Cattle Ranges of the Oregon Country, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1968).
“John Sparks,” Sunset Magazine, 1903.
Alexander Toponce, Reminiscences of Alexander Toponce, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1971).
James A. Young, B. Abbott Sparks, Cattle in the Cold Desert, University of Nevada Press, Reno (2002).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Uncle" John Hailey: Miner, Stage Line Pioneer, Stockman, Public Servant, and Historian [otd 8/29]

John Hailey. Library of Congress.
John Hailey – Idaho stockman, miner, stage line operator, politician, and historian – was born August 29, 1835 in Smith County, Tennessee, 30-40 miles east of Nashville. The family moved to Missouri in 1848, and John set out on his own from there in 1853. He joined a wagon train to Oregon, where he tried his hand at many tasks and slowly built up a stake.

After distinguished duty in the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-1856, he took up ranching, raising sheep and horses. Then the Idaho gold discoveries offered a better opportunity. In 1862, Hailey sold his sheep to finance his part of a venture packing supplies from Oregon into the Boise Basin.

He and his partner, William Ish, also ran “saddle trains” into Idaho. A saddle train rented riding horses to people who didn’t want to invest in an animal themselves. They soon became one of the most successful operators in that line of work, and initiated stagecoach service from Umatilla into the Basin in 1864.

He made a considerable success of that enterprise, augmented by a lucrative mail subcontract from Ben Holladay [blog, August 11]. In 1870, Hailey sold the stage line at an impressive profit and started a substantial livestock and meat market business in the Boise City area. However, in the late 1870s, he encountered some financial reverses – these included having to make good on several co-signed obligations.

He recouped much of the loss by returning to the stagecoach business in 1878, but saw that too decline as the railroad marched across Idaho. While the stage line still prospered, in 1879, Hailey claimed land that shortly became a fast-growing mining town. John called the village “Marshall,” but the townspeople soon changed that to honor the founder.

In time, John would own interests in several productive Wood River mining properties. He also returned to the ranching business, raising top-grade cattle and horses.
Wood River Area. [Illust-State]

Hailey had a long-standing interest in politics and public service, but had to be persuaded to accept election as Territorial Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1872. (Delegates have no vote on the floor, but can serve on committees and vote on issues at that level.) Both political parties wanted him to fill the position for the next term but Hailey declined.

In 1880, John served a term on the Territorial Council – equivalent to a state Senate – and was elected president of that body. Four years later, he again served as Idaho Delegate to Congress. In 1899, the governor appointed "Uncle John" to be Warden of the Idaho State Penitentiary.

In 1907, upon the founding of the Idaho State Historical Society, Hailey was made its first Secretary and Librarian [blog, March 12]. At the request of the Legislature, he wrote a history of the state. John did it, he said, to correct “the many misstatements published about Idaho in early days, and particularly concerning the character and conduct of the good people of those days … ”

“Uncle John” Hailey passed away in April 1921.
References: [Illust-State]
“John Hailey (1835-1921),” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
John Hailey, History of Idaho, Syms-York Company, Boise, Idaho (1910).
“John Hailey: August 29, 1835-April 10, 1921,” Reference Series No. 543, Idaho State Historical Society (1971).
John H. Hawley, Eighth Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Idaho, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise Idaho (1922).

Monday, August 28, 2017

Car Customizer Boyd Coddington ... "King of the Hot Rods" [otd 8/28]

Boyd Coddington. Sons of Boyd web site.
Boyd Leon Coddington, the famous car customizer known as the “King of the Hot Rods,” was born August 28, 1944 in Rupert, Idaho. Like many boys in the Fifties, Boyd was mad about cars. Back then, kids who grew up on a farm – Boyd’s father ran a dairy  – learned to do for themselves, not look for a store-bought solution when stuff broke.

Boyd’s first car was a Chevy pickup. He told an interviewer (Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1996) that he traded a shotgun for the vehicle when he was thirteen years old. But he had to trade back because he’d done the deal without his dad’s permission. He later scrounged up some money to get it back. Boyd said, “That truck kind of started everything.”

Trade school study at Idaho State University and in Salt Lake reinforced that early imprinting. Experience made him an auto mechanic, training honed his machinist skills, but natural aptitude turned him into an artist in car customization.

In 1968, Coddington moved to California and landed a machinist’s job at Disneyland. At night, however, he built hot rods. Soon, word-of-mouth spread through the Southern California hot rod subculture: A Boyd Coddington custom job was special, in ways that might be difficult to capture in words, but were instantly recognizable.

A Coddington rod glowed with a clean, polished look, where every factor contributed to the overall effect. Nor was this beauty just “skin deep.” Open the hood, slide underneath, whatever … you found the same near-obsessive attention to detail. A master machinist, Boyd made sure every component fit perfectly. He became famous for a “billet” approach to parts: take a hunk of metal and “carve” it with lathe and milling machine until you had what you needed.

Boyd finally opened his own shop and went full time in the late Seventies. Instantly recognizable with his bushy beard and favorite Hawaiian shirts, he attracted aficionados whenever he appeared at any car-related event.

Eventually, celebrities and wealthy “car nuts” began paying fabulous sums – once over a half million dollars – to have Boyd turn out rods designed specifically for them. Yet Boyd and his crews earned every penny of those large sums – with endless hours of work and rework, striving for automotive and artistic perfection. A number of fine customizers learned the business in Boyd’s shop, and then went on to build their own successful careers.

Boyd and his creations earned an incredible range of awards: “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” (7 times – an unprecedented feat, and he once won it back-to-back), the Daimler-Chrysler Design Excellence Award (twice), voted “Man of the Year” by Hot Rod Magazine in 1988, inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame, and on and on.
Coddington-modified car. Sons of Boyd.

Starting in 2004, Boyd received yet another peculiarly modern stamp of approval – he hosted the reality show American Hot Rod. During the program, the shop crew built custom cars within certain specified parameters and time limits. The pressure on the set – the actual shop – was real, and intense. Coddington routinely pushed his people into working long, exhausting days, and nights, to meet his standards of artistic perfection.

A long-time diabetic, Boyd died in February 2008 from complications after surgery.                                                                                                                                      
References: The Boyd Coddington Story, Boyd Coddington web site.
Dennis Hevesi, “Boyd Coddington, 63, King of Hot Rods, Dies,” The New York Times (March 1, 2008).
Dan Lienert, “The Hot Rod King,” Forbes Magazine (June 1, 2004).
“Our Father: Boyd Coddington,” Sons of Bob.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Helpmate, Education Advocate, and Philanthropist Kathryn Albertson [otd 8/27]

Kathryn (McCurry) Albertson was born August 27, 1908 in Boise, Idaho. After high school, she matriculated at the College of Idaho, a private, liberal arts institution in Caldwell. Kathryn never said publicly why she chose the small, struggling college, but being close to home probably had a lot to do with it. (At the time, southwest Idaho had no public four-year college.)

In any case, she did choose tiny College of Idaho. There, in chemistry class, Kathryn met a hard-working young man named Joseph A. Albertson [blog, Oct 17]. Joe had a job as a clerk at a Safeway store. At the time, students called the College “Dr. Boone’s marriage mill,” affectionately referring to the school’s founder and first President, William Judson Boone [blog, Nov 5].

Joe and Kathryn only added to the legacy. On New Years Day 1930, the Reverend Boone wrote in his diary, “Marry Katheryn [sic] McCurry to Joseph A. Albertson. 52 present, very fine and very pretty.”

While Kathryn ran their home, Joe’s hard work and knack for the business brought steady advancement at Safeway stores. Eventually, he supervised over a dozen outlets. But, as with all innovators, Albertson had his own ideas on how to run a better store. By 1939, Joe and Kathryn were ready to pursue his dream.

In July, Joe and two business partners opened the first Albertson’s Store on Boise’s State Street. The company had opened three stores by the end of 1940.

Known as a very private person, Kathryn nonetheless involved herself enough with the stores to earn the affectionate nickname “Mrs. A” from employees. The grocery store, and then supermarket, and then “super-store” company grew steadily. They took the company public in 1959 – investors and mutual funds soon made the stock a favorite in their portfolios.

The couple showed their philanthropic bent early, enthusiastically promoting war bonds and scrap drives during World War II. Contributions large and small flowed to a wide variety of civic projects and institutions, including the College of Idaho. In 1966, they created the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation to manage their extensive charitable activities.

In 1991, the College of Idaho officially changed its name to Albertson College of Idaho to honor years of generous donations from Joe and Kathryn. College administrator also wanted to emphasize for other potential donors that they are not part of the state’s public school system. Joe passed away two years later.
Water feature, Kathryn Albertson Park. City of Boise photo.

Kathryn, if anything, increased the foundation’s good works after Joe’s death. She also carried on his vision for Albertson Corporation, and in 1998 company leaders recognized her as the first Director Emeritus, a lifetime position on the Board of Directors. She passed away in April 2002.

Their memories carry on through the Foundation, and Kathryn’s through Kathryn Albertson Park, in downtown Boise. In 2007, their alma mater returned to just The College of Idaho name. Since Joe and Kathryn had resisted the first change, one trusts that they would approve.
References: “Kathryn Albertson,” Quest magazine, College of Idaho (Summer 2002).
Louie W. Attebury, The College of Idaho, 1891-1991: A Centennial History, © College of Idaho, Caldwell (1991).
Biography: Kathryn Albertson, J. A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation
Merle Wells, Arthur A. Hart, Idaho: Gem of the Mountains, Windsor Publications, Inc., Northridge, California (1985).

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hotel Owner/Operator and "Hospitality" Industry Pioneer Frank Blackinger [otd 8/26]

Hotel owner and operator Frank J. Blackinger was born August 26, 1855 in Buffalo, New York. His father Valentine had come to America from Bavaria in 1839. Around ten years later, he traveled to “the old country” and married, then immediately returned to New York. The family emigrated to Oregon in 1862. Two years later, his father opened a butcher shop in the settlement that became Silver City. He also opened a grocery store and, in 1864, brought his family to Idaho.

War Eagle Hotel. Directory of Owyhee County.
Five years after that, Valentine purchased the War Eagle Hotel. Frank worked in the hotel and the butcher shop for a number of years, and then found a job as a cowboy. The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper reported (October 18, 1873): “V. Blackinger, of the War Eagle Hotel, has returned from Oregon, having succeeded in purchasing some 400 head of cattle in Powder River and Grande Ronde valleys. He left his son Frank behind to bring up the drove which they will winter at Rabbit Creek.”

Frank’s father sold the hotel in 1878, worked in Boise City for three years, and then moved to Bellevue and opened a meat market.  Frank was already working in that area as a stockman and continued there for several years. The only son who survived to adulthood, Frank began to advance in the world as his attractive sisters married “coming” pioneers.

Thus, in 1872, sister Mary Ann married Hosea Eastman, a wealthy mine owner. Three years later, Eastman and another well-off mining investor, Timothy Regan [blog, Nov 14], became co-owners of the Idaho Hotel in Silver City. Regan bought full ownership in 1877 and, the following year, married Frank’s sister Rose. Frank returned to Silver City in the mid-1880s and began working at the hotel. When the Regans moved to Boise City in 1889, Frank became hotel manager.

Blackinger wedding picture.
Blackinger family archives.
In 1899, Blackinger married a popular Silver City schoolteacher and shortly thereafter the couple moved to Boise City. There, he and his brother-in-law opened the firm of Regan and Blackinger, which ran the Capitol Hotel. Regan engaged in a wide range of investments, while Frank specialized in the hotel, bar, and restaurant business.

In 1907, the firm sold the Capitol to the Idaho Brewing Company and Frank chose not to remain on to manage the operation for the new owners. He did, however, consult with his successor every so often and put in appearances “for old times sake.” (Apparently, the aging Capitol was a favorite of “old-timers” who had known Frank and his father in Silver City.)

A year after he left the Capitol Hotel, Blackinger purchased the buffet restaurant at the Overland Building and ran that for about eight years. When that closed down, Frank leased the restaurant at the Idanha Hotel and renovated it. Then, in 1917, Frank bought “the lease, furnishings and business of the Grand Hotel.” (Idaho Statesman, March 1, 1917). He did not own the property itself.

Blackinger was still identified as the proprietor of the Hotel Grand in 1925. He would have been 70 years old at that time. While that might seem odd, it is not at all impossible – Frank lived until March 1943.
References: [Hawley]
Nancy DeHamer, “Hosea Eastman, Timothy Regan, and Frank Blackinger,” Reference Series No. 728, Idaho State Historical Society (1971).
Dick D’Easum, The Idanha: Guests and Ghosts of an Historic Idaho Inn, Caxton Printers, Ltd. (1984).
A Historical, Descriptive and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, Owyhee Avalanche Press (January 1898).

Friday, August 25, 2017

Screenwriter Talbot Jennings: From Mutiny on the Bounty to the The Sons of Katie Elder [otd 8/25]

Talbot Jennings, ca 1935
Screenwriter Talbot Lanham Jennings was born August 25, 1894 in Shoshone, Idaho. The family moved first to Caldwell and then Nampa. He graduated from Nampa High School and started at the University of Idaho (UI). However, he left to join the Army, where he fought in five major World War I battles as part of the field artillery.

After the war Jennings married, worked a couple years, and then returned to the University. In 1924, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English. He went on to earn an M.A. from Harvard and then studied at the Yale School of Drama.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
In 1934, Jennings moved to Hollywood and almost immediately landed a plum assignment: to help salvage the screenplay for the grand MGM epic, The Mutiny on the Bounty. Talbot worked with two experienced writers and the three shared the Oscar nomination for the resulting script. The 1935 film, starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, won the Best Picture Oscar. That version is still – despite its historical inaccuracies – generally considered the best dramatic treatment of the story.

Talbot received another big job the next year: the film adaption of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. John Gallagher, who wrote the Jennings obituary for Variety magazine, asserted that the result was “certainly the best adaptation of Shakespeare in Hollywood history.” The film garnered four Oscar nominations, although the screenplay was not so honored.

The writer next created the screenplay for Pearl S. Buck’s classic novel, The Good Earth. Jennings missed another Oscar nomination, but the film received five nominations altogether, winning for Best Actress and Best Cinematography. From 1936 to about 1940, Jennings worked for both Paramount and MGM, writing scripts for a number of big-name productions, with major stars: John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, George Raft, Spencer Tracy, and others.

After that, he worked as a freelance writer, and his skills remained in demand in Hollywood for twenty years. Stars and co-stars in the productions he wrote for read like a who’s who of Hollywood stardom: Lee J. Cobb, Ava Gardner, Stewart Granger, Jack Hawkins, Susan Hayward, Janet Leigh, Virginia Mayo, Joel McCrea, George Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead, Maureen O’Hara, Tyone Power, Basil Rathbone, Michael Rennie, Robert Ryan, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, Orson Welles, and on and on.

In 1946, he wrote the screenplay for the lush romantic drama, Anna and the King of Siam, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison. Jennings received his second Oscar nomination for the scrip; the film garnered five nominations in all, winning two.
Paramount Pictures.

In 1959-1961, Talbot wrote four scripts for television episodes. He closed his career in 1965 with the story for the John Wayne movie, Sons of Katie Elder. Besides Wayne, he added Dean Martin, George Kennedy, and Dennis Hopper to his list of stars.

The Internet Movie Database lists 24 films or TV productions for which he wrote, plus five where he is shown as “uncredited.” He generally specialized in historical and western themes, for which his scripts were considered “more realistic than most.”

In 1960, Talbot also wrote a script for a film to commemorate the Idaho Territorial Centennial of 1963. It’s not clear if such a film was ever produced, however.

Jennings passed away in May, 1985.
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
John A. Gallagher, “Obituary: Talbot Jennings,” Variety, New York (June 12, 1985).
“Talbot Jennings,” Internet Movie Database.
“Talbot Jennings Script Collection, 1926-1960,” Manuscript Group 186, University of Idaho archives (1960).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Educator, Cultural Promoter, and Purple Heart Winner Sofia (Demos) Adamson [otd 8/24]

Youthful Sofia Adamson.
Educator and philanthropist Sofia (Demos) Adamson was born August 24, 1916 in Pocatello, Idaho. Her parents were Greek immigrants. The family later moved to Los Angeles, where Sofia’s mother reportedly “became the first Greek actress to perform in a Hollywood motion picture.”

After high school graduation, Sofia attended  the University of California at Los Angeles. She graduated from UCLA in 1937, with a B.A. in education. According to family tradition, she met her future husband on Saint Sofia’s Day, September 17, in 1938. She married George Athos Adamson the following year.

As it happened, George was then a professor at the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry, located in Manilla, the Philippines. He was also Dean of the school’s College of Engineering. George’s cousin had founded the institution in 1932. Soon, they expanded the curriculum, and the school was granted university status – as Adamson University – in 1941.

After Sofia married George, the couple returned to the Philippines. She is credited with founding the school’s College of Education. In 1941, war clouds loom in the Far East – Japanese troops were heavily engaged in China and had occupied parts of Indochina. Sofia was recruited as a clerk-typist in General Douglas MacArthur headquarters (thereby freeing up a soldier to fight).  Her main job was to type up the General’s orders, including a mimeograph stencil master, for distribution to the units he commanded.

When the Japanese occupied the Philippines, Sofia was not interred with the other Americans because she was married to George, a Greek. When Allied troops liberated Manila, friendly fire inflicted wounds that would require years of successive surgeries to alleviate. (Over fifty years later, she received a Purple Heart in recognition of her former service.)

After the war, Sofia and George moved to Pasadena, California. There George conducted a very successful engineering business, while Sofia began a lifetime of enthusiastic and effective volunteer work. That included much service for Greek Orthodox churches in the Los Angeles area, as well as the International Christian Scholarship Foundation.

Pacific Asia Museum. Museum photo.
Sofia worked hard to promote the arts, being co-founder of the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. She also founded, in 1971, the Philippine Arts Council at the Museum. She contributed time and money to numerous civic betterment programs in Pasadena and around Los Angeles.

Her autobiography, Gods, Angels, Pearls & Roses, was published in the U. S., Greece, and the Philippines. It “remains a steady seller in the [Pacific Asia] Museum Store.”

She received awards too numerous to list in full: a Gold Award for Excellence in Community Service from UCLA, an honorary Doctorate of Education from Adamson University, a Gold Crown Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pasadena Arts Council, a Boy Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award, and more.

George’s death in 2003 did not lessen Sofia’s commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism. Recalling her involvement with the Pacific Asia Museum, her obituary noted, “She remained a Founding Trustee for life and made her last contribution in person just 5 days before she passed away.”

Sofia passed away in May 2007.
References: About Adamson University, History and News, Adamson University, Manilla, The Philippines (2010).
Sofia Adamson, Gods, Angels, Pearls & Roses, American International Publishing, El Monte, California (1985).
“In Memoriam: Sofia Adamson,” Museum News Archive, Pacific Asian Museum, Pasadena, California (Summer 2007).
“Obituary: Sofia Adamson,” Pasadena Star-News, Pasadena, California (May 22, 2007).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Traveler Joel Palmer Tackles Notorious Three Island Crossing [otd 8/23]

Joel Palmer. Oregon Historical Society.
On August 23, 1845, the small wagon train led by pioneer Joel Palmer approached the notorious Three Island Crossing, near today’s Glenns Ferry, Idaho. In his Journal, Palmer wrote, “The difficulties attending the crossing of this stream had been represented as being almost insurmountable; but upon examination we found it an exaggeration.”

Palmer was born in Canada to American Quaker parents. During the War of 1812, the family moved to New York state. Joel later formally became a U. S. citizen. In 1836, he moved to Indiana, where he served two terms in the legislature.

Somewhat skeptical about glowing descriptions of Oregon, he decided to make a scouting trip to verify, he said, “by personal observation, whether its advantages were sufficient to warrant me in the effort to make it my future home.”

Palmer kept very good notes along the way. After providing a description of many features around the Soda Springs, he said, “Companies wishing to remain for a length of time at the springs, would pursue a proper course in driving their cattle over the river, as good grazing can thereby be had.”

Much of Palmer’s text concerned the nature of the trail itself. The “sandy plain” east of the Fort Hall bottomland proved to be “very heavy traveling.” Beyond the Fort, they crossed a succession of creeks, some of which were dry, or nearly so. Commenting on the country around Goose Creek, he said “The road we traveled was very dusty, and portions of it quite stony.”

Palmer took a careful and systematic approach to fording the Snake River at Three Island Crossing. He described in great detail the track to follow to minimize the force of the current and safely negotiate potholes in the river bottom. “We commenced crossing at eleven o'clock, A.M., and at one o'clock, P. M., we effected the passage of the stream, and were so fortunate as to land our goods free from all damage.”

Six days later, Palmer wrote, “We traveled … to Bois river, a stream of forty or fifty yards in width, and abounding in salmon; its banks are lined with Balm of Gilead timber. The bottoms here are two or three miles wide, and covered with grass.”

The “Balm of Gilead” poplar was probably more familiar to Palmer than the very similar black, or “cottonwood,” poplar that actually grows along the Boise river.

The travelers reached The Dalles about five weeks after the Crossing. While the party skirted the south flank of Mount Hood, Palmer made the first recorded climb of that mountain. Palmer traveled extensively through the settled areas and found them to his liking.
Rev. Henry Spalding.
National Park Service.

He even made his way to Reverend Spalding’s mission at Lapwai [blog, November 29]. There, he and some companions traded for Nez Perc├ęs horses. Palmer wrote, “They have made considerable advances in cultivating the soil, and have large droves of horses, and many of them are raising large herds of cattle.”

Palmer and a party of other men returned east in the spring of 1846. His Journal, published the following year, proved to be a very popular Trail guidebook.

After seeing to the publication, Palmer returned to Oregon, this time with his wife and family. He later played a significant role in the development of the state of Oregon, serving in both houses of its legislature. He died in 1881.
References: [Brit]
Joel Palmer, Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, 1845-1846, reprinted, Reuben Gold Thwaites (ed)., in Early Western Travels, Vol.  XXX, Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland (1906).
“Joel Palmer (1810-1881),” Oregon Biographies, Oregon History Project, Oregon Historical Society (2002)
“Notable Oregonians: Joel Palmer – Pioneer/Writer,” Oregon Blue Book, State of Oregon (2009).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Freighter, Stockman, and Legislator William Allison [otd 8/22]

W. B. Allison. H.T. French photo.
Salubria stockman and Idaho legislator William B. Allison was born August 22, 1845 in Glasgow, Ohio, about 60 miles south of Akron. The family moved twice before coming to Idaho: to Illinois in 1854, and Iowa the following year.

In 1863, the Allison’s settled in the Boise Valley, where William’s father Alexander took up a homestead. He apparently also filed a homestead through one of his sons because the Illustrated History said his farm encompassed 320 acres. That same year, William B. found work as a freighter, helping to drive a wagon train from Omaha to Salt Lake City. For the next five years, he freighted in Idaho, and three more times drove trains into the Rockies from the Omaha supply depots.

In 1868, William claimed a homestead in the Salubria Valley. In November of that year, he also got married. The following year, Alexander moved the rest of the Allison family to a spot about a mile north of where the son had settled. For over twenty years, William and his growing family lived in a log home while raising top-grade Hereford cattle, Berkshire hogs, blooded horses, and sturdy mules. Then, in 1891, he replaced the old structure with a larger, more modern dwelling.

The core of his acreage would soon become a part of the village of Salubria. However, after the railroad reached the Salubria Valley in 1899-1900, Cambridge Station quickly grew into a town.

By the end of the century, William owned over five hundred acres of excellent farm and ranch land. His farmland furnished produce for local consumption, and he also raised grain to improve the diet of his stock. His holdings would eventually expand to over eight hundred acres.

He took a strong interest in politics and in 1879 was persuaded to serve a term in the Territorial legislature. While there, he introduced the bill that split Washington County from Ada County. (Weiser became the new county seat.) He did not again venture into elective office until 1893, when he served a term in the State House of Representatives. Three years after that, he was elected Assessor for Washington County.

For years Allison was a staunch Republican. However, like many farm-country people he took up the Silver Republican cause in 1896. The Idaho Statesman reported (August 16, 1896) on the county-level convention, which selected Allison as a delegate to the state Republican convention. The article said, “The convention, by a vote of 20 to 2, passed a resolution indorsing [sic] the course of the state Republican party in supporting the cause of silver regardless of party lines. … The delegates selected are all strong silver men.”

He returned to his first adherence when the Silver Republican party folded.
Cambridge Station. Cambridge Commercial Club.

Salubria was still considered a viable town when Allison passed away in 1914. However, by then Cambridge had drawn much of the important business away. In fact, the only Salubria Valley newspaper had moved to Cambridge right after the Station opened.

Allison had been very active with the Masons, so his funeral service was held in the Cambridge Masonic Hall. The railroad ran a special train from the main junction at Weiser so Lodge members could attend the funeral. The service was declared to be “the largest ever seen in Cambridge.”
References: [Blue], [French], [Illust-State]
“W. B. Allison Passes Away,” The Midvale Reporter (October 8, 1914).

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dr. Edward E. Maxey and Research on Spotted Fever [otd 8/21]

Dr. Maxey. H. T. French photo.
Prominent Boise physician Edward E. Maxey, M.D, was born August 21, 1867, in Irvington, Illinois, about sixty miles east of St. Louis, Missouri. His father, also a physician, served in the Civil War and then moved the family to Caldwell in 1887.

In 1891, Edward graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago, and followed up with post-graduate work.

After his studies, he returned to Caldwell to open a practice. While there, he acted as a Resident Surgeon for the Oregon Short Line Railroad. He also served as Coroner for the city of Caldwell. When the legislature split Canyon County off from Ada County in 1892, Maxey was appointed as the first county Coroner. He then ran for and was elected to the position.

Dr. Maxey moved to Boise in 1902, but was apparently associated with the Canyon County Coroner’s position for several years after that. He wrote and signed the post mortem report for Albert K. Steunenberg [blog, Sept 11] after Albert's death in 1907. The following year, he went overseas to Vienna, Berlin, and London to further his medical education. He returned to Boise early in 1910 and opened a practice as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist.

Dr. Maxey was a Charter Member of the Idaho State Medical Society, serving several terms as its Secretary and a term as President in 1901. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, several organizations related to his specialty, and acted as Surgeon General for the Idaho National Guard. During World War I, he served as a major in the U. S. Army. Then in his fifties, Dr. Maxey supervised a base hospital in Wyoming (Idaho Statesman, Boise, April 22, 1919).

Along with his general and then specialist practice, Dr. Maxey took an active interest in medical research. He was one of several physicians in the Boise Valley who began the systematic study of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever [blog, March 30]. Collectively, these Idaho doctors gave the first clinical description of the disease, and provided some idea of how it spreads – the “vectors.”

In the summer of 1899, Maxey presented a paper on the disease at a medical conference in Oregon. A few months later, the manuscript of that presentation became the first paper about the disease to be published in a medical journal.
Maxey’s Spotted Fever Map. Reproduced in Hammersten.

Nine years later, he presented a paper at a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symposium sponsored by the Idaho Medical Association. During the intervening years, research had suggested ticks as a primary vector for the infection. Maxey collected a considerable body of data from all across Idaho. He found that around 92 percent of the reported cases affected people who lived “an outdoor life.” In 1913, Maxie wrote a chapter on the disease for a well-known medical reference book.

Dr. Maxey moved his practice to Aberdeen, Washington, on Grays Harbor, in 1925. He had a heart attack and died in his office there, in August 1934 (The Oregonian, Portland, September 2, 1934).
References: [French], [Illust-State]
James F. Hammarsten, “The Contributions of Idaho Physicians to Knowledge of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, Vol. 94 (1983).
Ed. E. Maxey and (unreadable), Post Mortem Findings at Examination of A. K. Steunenberg, hand-written report, Caldwell, Idaho (March 18, 1907).
Marshall W. Wood, “Spotted fever as reported from Idaho,” Report of the Surgeon General, U. S. Army, 1896, Government Printing Office (1896).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wildfire -- "The Big Burn" -- Ravages North Idaho [otd 8/20]

On August 20, 1910, serious forest fires in and around Northern Idaho “blew up” into arguably the worst wildfire in U. S. history. More than anything else, weather conspired to set the stage for this catastrophe, starting as winter rolled into spring. April brought record temperatures to the Bitterroot Range along the Idaho-Montana border.

May … June … July … barely any rainfall and unprecedented heat turned the great forests into gigantic tinderboxes. By early August, scores of fires burned in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest and across the border in western Montana. Lacking manpower, despite the recruitment of thousands of new firefighters, the Forest Service asked for, and received, help from the Army.
High winds leveled some trees before they could burn.
Library of Congress.

Depending upon your definition of what constitutes a separate fire, the area still had two to three thousand blazes burning by August 17-19. Yet, after weeks of brutal effort, officials felt they were finally turning the corner.

All that changed on the 20th when an eruption of hurricane-force winds roared in from the west. Within minutes after the blast hit, sparks turned into flames, thickets of smoldering brush became boiling infernos, and burning trees virtually exploded. Crown fires roared up hillsides and over ridges in seconds, it seemed.

Within no more than hours, all those separate fires in northern Idaho and western Montana became one monstrous conflagration – “the Big Burn.” Walls of flame engulfed vast expanses of forest that had hardly been touched before.

Firefighters armed only with hand tools – shovels, axes, hoes, crosscut saws, and perhaps a few buckets – could do little to affect their own fate. Fickle wind shifts killed blocks of men by the dozen, by the score, or horrifically alone. Sometimes men desperately fighting the inevitable won: a providential blast turned the flames aside and spared them. Men threw themselves into the streams; better to drown than be burned alive.

Where there was no fire, ash and black smoke created a surreal landscape and darkened the sky. Reportedly, smoke blocked the sun a hundred miles into Canada, in Denver, and even as far east as New York state.
Wildfire devastation in Wallace. Library of Congress.
Finally, after perhaps 36 hours of aptly-named Hell, the wind relented and light rain began to fall. Residents of Wallace could hardly believe their luck; relief came in time to save all but a third of their town. A number of other villages weren’t so fortunate.

By most accounts, 85 people died in the flames: seven “civilians” and 78 firefighters. No one even tried to count the toll levied on the animals living in the forest. Some three million acres of forest burned. Thousands upon thousands of tree that escaped the flames died from the intense heat and loss of foliage. Loggers salvaged perhaps ten percent as lumber, the rest was slowly cleared and burned.

A full discussion of the aftermath of the Big Burn is beyond the scope of this article. However, to this day, experts are still debating how to best manage fires in our national forests.
References: John Galvin, “The Big Burn: Idaho and Montana, August 1910,” Popular Mechanics (July 30, 2007).
Javi Zubizarreta, “August 20: The Day the Fires Burned,” Outdoor Idaho, Idaho Public Television (2010).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cassia County Attorney and Idaho Chief Justice T. Bailey Lee [otd 8/10]

Thomas Bailey Lee, Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, was born about twenty miles southwest of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on August 10, 1873. He attended law school after graduating from the University of North Carolina but chose not to practice at that time. Instead, he found a position as a prep school Latin teacher in Asheville. In 1898, he took up the practice of law in Butte, Montana.
Burley, ca 1819. J. H. Hawley photo.

In 1905, Lee moved to the new town of Burley [blog, July 19], becoming the first lawyer there. He also secured a position as a Director of the Burley Town Site Company. He spent two years as the City Attorney for Burley, and also served four terms as Prosecuting Attorney for Cassia County.

For six years, T. Bailey served as District Court Judge for the region encompassing Cassia and surrounding areas. Then, in October 1926, Lee was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Idaho Supreme Court. A month later, he won election to continue in that position. At that point, Bailey moved his family to Boise.  He rose to the position of Chief Justice in 1931.

His most recent biography, in Defenbach, makes the point that, “Three of his ancestors were Revolutionary soldiers, two of them with the rank of captain.”

In 1931, Judge Lee’s Congressman wrote a letter to the Bureau of Pensions. A family Bible, now “two hundred and nineteen years old,” had been submitted as verification to allow the widow of Captain John Dickey to continue receiving his Revolutionary War pension. That document now reposed in the National Archives.

Since the relevant pages had been torn out, the Judge wanted the bulk of the Bible back, as a family memento. This request was refused, so Lee wrote a personal note to the Director of the Veteran’s Bureau. Addressed to “My Dear General,” Lee commented, “I am presuming to write you direct upon a purely personal matter, as the only methods I understand are those of a soldier and lawyer. God save me from civilian bureaucrats!”

Lydia Pinkham. Brochure cover, 1901-1904.
Posted on Wikipedia Commons.
T. Bailey had personally seen the Bible, “dumped in an old box.” Someone had filed the torn out pages, “and tossed the wrecked volume into the scrap heap.” As such, he went on, “it’s mere junk … and is about as valuable to Uncle Sam as … an empty bottle of Lydia Pinkham's.”

Again the Administrator refused his request … for the good of all researchers, not just the family, they said. In his letter to Lee’s Congressman, the Administrator said, “To insure added protection to the Bible in question it was securely wrapped and tied in kraft paper, given the file number of the claim from which it was removed, and locked in a cabinet free from dust. It is now reposing in a steel vault.”

So the Judge “lost,” but perhaps he accomplished something more important: He rescued a potentially-valuable historical document from oblivion.

Through 1932, judges campaigned for election to the Idaho Supreme Court as partisan candidates. That year Judge Lee ran on the Republican ticket. Although Bailey did better than most other Republican candidates, he lost his seat during the Democratic landslide behind Roosevelt on the national ticket. He returned to Burley after the end of his term, and finally moved his family back in late summer (Idaho Statesman, Boise, August 23, 1933).

Lee would again serve as a District Judge in 1942-1946. He passed away in March 1948.
References:[Blue],  [Defen], [Hawley]
“Letters Concerning the Family Bible,“ Captain John Dickey Revolutionary War File, U. S. National Archives (1931-1932).
Ben Ysursa, Idaho Blue Book, 2003-2004, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gold Prospectors Found Elk City Deep in the Idaho Mountains [otd 8/6]

On August 6, 1861, a band of miners founded the mining town of Elk City, Idaho, about 35 miles east of the present town of Grangeville. Prospectors had first entered the area in the latter part of May. A large party left the Orofino area earlier in the month. Somewhat less than half penetrated the region, having ignored protests from a Nez Perce Indian chief because they had intruded onto reservation land.
Riffle Box for Placer Mining. Library of Congress.

They found gold near the confluence of the American and Red rivers.  Further prospecting discovered more and more “color.”  By mid-June they had slapped together a log cabin to serve as a recorder's office, in which “Captain” L. B. Monson recorded the first claim on June 14, 1861.

Some men returned to Orofino for supplies and the new rush began, somewhat dampened by worries about the Indians. However, as more and more prospectors struck pay dirt, the rush swelled. That finally led to the founding of Elk City.

By the following summer, the town had four to six stores of various kinds, five saloons, and two decent hotels. Because of its location deep in the mountains, heavy winter snow shut down work on almost every claim. By the fall of 1862, a quickly-established Express company had shipped out over $900 thousand in gold dust (over $50 million at today’s prices).

Gold discoveries in easier country in Montana drew many prospectors away from Elk City the next year. However, the Evening Bulletin in San Francisco reprinted (May 29, 1863) a letter that said, in part, “Six ditches have been dug during the last winter in the vicinity of Elk City, and are now furnishing water to the miners.” As could be expected, “The miners are doing much better than before the ditches were completed.”

Also, in 1864 and 1865, determined gold-seekers built mores ditches, and flumes, to begin large-scale hydraulic mining. Thus, the value of metal extracted from the region actually increased. A sawmill built to supply lumber for these flumes did a booming business.

Miners continued to obtain reasonable returns from claims in the region for more than a decade. Then, after 1880, many claims were leased to Chinese miners. Like most of the older mining towns, Elk City’s prosperity rose and fell with the output from the gold fields in the region.

The economy received a “bump” when prospectors discovered gold in the “Buffalo Hump,” region, about 20 miles to the southwest. By the summer of 1899, about five thousand prospectors had poured into that area. Although Grangeville became the major supply point for “the Hump,” Elk City also won a share of the stagecoach and freight traffic. However, significant work at Buffalo Hump ran its course by about 1910.
Elk City at sunset. Elk City tourism.

For a time in the twentieth century, Elk City operated as a center for logging activity. However, that faltered when the U.S. Forest Service imposed more restrictions on timber harvesting in the area.

Today, Elk City survives as a recreation and tourism center, a “gateway” to the Nez Perce National Forest. The Elk City web site offers hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and ATV riding during the summer, with skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
References: [B&W], [Illust-North]
“Buffalo Hump Stage Lines,” Reference Series No. 794, Idaho State Historical Society (1985 ).
M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Second Idaho Regiment Brought into Federal Service for World War I [otd 8/5]

On August 5, 1917, the War Department drafted the Second Idaho Regiment (National Guard) into the U.S. Army for duty in World War I, part of perhaps 300,000 guardsmen taken into Federal service at that time.

A year earlier, the government had directed the state to mobilize the Second Idaho to patrol the Mexican border [blog, June 18]. Under that call-up, the troops could not be sent outside the country. The troops had been demobilized when that duty was over.
Idaho Guard troops headed for training camp.
Library of Congress.

In response to a telegram from  Washington on March 25, the Governor mobilized the Second Idaho, and its companies gathered at Boise Barracks. With a declaration of war close at hand, the Secretary of War wanted Guard units called to duty: “This duty to consist for the time being of protecting traffic, [the] means of communication and the transfer of mails within the state. (Idaho Statesman, Boise, March 26, 1917).

Then, in May 1917, Congress authorized the President to begin inducting Guard units into national military service. Nationalized troops could be sent outside the country. The Idaho regiment was not up to its authorized wartime strength, so officials instituted a vigorous recruiting campaign. By the time the draft order arrived on the 5th, the unit actually exceeded the required enrollment.

The regiment consisted of three battalions. The First Battalion was from northern Idaho: Coeur d'Alene, Grangeville, Lewiston, and Sandpoint. The Second came from Boise, Buhl, Twin Falls, and Idaho Falls. The Third represented Caldwell, Nampa, Payette, and Weiser.

About seven weeks after the draft, the regiment traveled to Camp Greene, near Charlotte, North Carolina. There, commanders parceled the Idaho battalions out to various units of the Army’s 41st Division. Then, when the 41st arrived in France, the high command made it a “replacement” division, so individual units were further distributed. These breakups make it somewhat difficult to track exactly where the Idaho companies fought during the war.

Of course, not every Idahoan who saw World War I action enlisted in the Second Idaho. According to Hawley, the Second Idaho enrolled 5,060 men, while another 12 thousand Idahoans served in Regular Army units, the Navy, or the Marines.

One unit history indicates that an Idaho company provided support to the U. S. Marines in their famous Battle of Belleau Wood, in June 1918. However, the first major action for Idaho soldiers was in the Second Battle of the Marne, in late July.  There, Idaho troops suffered their first significant casualties, including the death of Lieutenant John Regan [blog, Feb 6].

In mid-September, Idahoans participated in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. American forces caught the Germans in a staged withdrawal and turned it into a hurried retreat. Reportedly, the advance stopped mainly because the American troops outran their artillery and material support.

American soldiers attack at Meuse-Argonne. U. S. Army.
Idahoans next fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, in which American and French divisions captured the vital railroad hub at Sedan. The battle began in late September and ended only with the Armistice on November 11. This was by far the bloodiest battle experienced by American troops in the War.

An incomplete casualty list for the Great War, published in 1920, gives the names of 348 Idahoans who were lost to battle deaths, sickness, or accidents. Unfortunately, there may be as many as one hundred names missing from that list.
References: [Hawley]
W. M. Haulsee, F. G. Howe, A. C. Doyle, Soldiers of the Great War, Vol III, Soldiers Record Publishing Association, Washington, D. C. (1920).
Mark A. Shields (ed.), The History of the 116th Engineers, Training Section, U. S. Army (1918).
Richard A. Rinaldi, The US Army in World War I – Orders of Battle, Tiger Lily Publications, Takoma Park, Maryland (2004).