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).

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