Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rocky Mountain Fur Company Advertises for "Enterprising Young Men" [otd 03/20]

William H. Ashley.
Legends of America.
Missouri Republican, St. Louis, March 20, 1822: "To enterprising young men. The subscriber wishes to engage one hundred young men to ascend the Missouri river to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years … "

Signed by William H. Ashley, the job posting marked the first public presence of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (RMFC).

At the time, independent American trappers and small fur companies were focused on exploiting the Missouri River watershed, east of the Continental Divide. Ashley and his partner, Andrew Henry, had more ambitious plans.

Pennsylvanian Andrew Henry first entered the fur trade in 1808, when he was about thirty-three years old. He led an attempt to establish a Missouri Fur Company (MFC) post at Three Forks, in Montana. When Indian attacks ended that venture disastrously, he moved to Idaho and built Fort Henry, four to five miles southwest of today's St. Anthony.

A hard winter soon crippled that effort. The MFC struggled along for a number of years, but the War of 1812 drew Henry's interest for the duration. After his military service, until he joined up with Ashley, Henry focused on mining activities around St. Louis.

William Ashley had moved to St. Louis from Virginia in 1808, when he was about thirty years old. Prior to 1822, he engaged in real estate development, banking, and mining. He too served in the Missouri militia, rising from a captaincy during the War of 1812 to the rank of General in 1822. Along with all that, Ashley engaged in politics, being elected in 1820 as the first Lieutenant-Governor of the new state of Missouri.

Although the Ashley-Henry announcement drew enough men to their new company, the RMFC got off to a shaky start: The Arikara Indians of South Dakota inflicted heavy losses on their Missouri River expedition. After that, the company avoided that area and dispatched trains of pack horses to the Rocky Mountains on a more direct overland route.

RMFC trappers crossed the Continental Divide into the Green River area via South Pass in 1824. Two parties continued into Idaho – one, led by legendary Mountain Man Jedediah Smith, camped on the Portneuf River in the fall. In October, along the Salmon River, Smith's group met the "Snake Brigade," the large fur-trapping operation of the British-Canadian Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) [blog, Oct 6].
Mountain Man. Frederic Remington drawing.

The RMFC overcame its inauspicious start and the 1823 and 1824 seasons yielded substantial returns. However, after perhaps too many years in the wilderness and too many close calls, Andrew Henry chose to retire from the fur trade. He returned to his mining interests and died just eight years later.

Assessing the fur business, Ashley decided that the vast beaver resources west of the Continental Divide promised much better returns than the highly competitive Missouri River watershed. However, the region was too sparsely populated to support fixed trading posts. Traders in Canada had used temporary trading stations for some time, but those were small and largely ad hoc. Ashley adapted the idea to initiate what became a defining feature of the Mountain Man era, the annual rendezvous, a huge trading fair … and drunken celebration.

Gatherings in 1825 and 1826 made Ashley a wealthy man. Thus, late in the 1826 affair, he essentially sold the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to three experienced traders. He never returned west. Later, he served several terms as a U. S. Congressman from Missouri, before his death in 1838.

The RMFC would vigorously compete with the HBC, and with other American rivals, for the next decade. In the process, the Company would introduce a long line of famous Mountain Men into the trade: the Sublette brothers, David Jackson, Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick, freed slave Jim Beckwourth, Jim Bridger, and many others.
References: [B&W]
H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1986).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Arthur Cronquist: Famed Botanist with Idaho Connections [otd 03/19]

Dr. Cronquist. New York Botanical Garden.
World-renowned botanist Dr. Arthur Cronquist was born March 19, 1919 in San Jose, California. An expert on the broad Compositae or Asteraceae family (sunflowers and daisies, among others), Cronquist began his scientific career in Idaho and maintained a life-long interest in the area. He grew up near Portland, Oregon and then Pocatello, Idaho.

After high school, Arthur enrolled at the University of Idaho-Southern Branch (now Idaho State University [blog, Sept 22]). He planned to major in range management, which led him to a plant taxonomy course taught by eminent Idaho botanist Ray J. Davis.

Davis sparked Arthur’s interest in botany, and became his mentor. As a semester project, the professor required each class member to do a field study on some plant family. The story is told that Arthur and another top student flipped a coin and the loser – Cronquist – had to “settle” for Compositae. The account concludes, “Thus do legends begin.”

Arthur soon transferred to Utah State University, where he received a B.S. degree in 1938 and an M.S. two years later. During those years, he found time to study Idaho flora – around Dubois for the U. S. Forest Service, and also as a contract plant specimen collector. He earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1944. During the last year of his doctoral studies, he worked on his specialty at the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Cronquist next held teaching positions at the University of Georgia and then at Washington State University. Starting in 1951, he served a year in Europe as a botanist for the U. S. government. He spent the rest of his career after 1952 back at the New York Botanical Garden. At the same time, he also served on the faculties of Columbia University and the City University of New York.

This brief essay cannot begin to detail Cronquist’s monumental contributions to botany – those encompass a huge body of field observations as well as landmark treatises on botanical theory and principles. Cronquest's many honors include the Asa Gray Award, for career achievement, from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the Linnean Medal for Botany.

His obituary noted that he, “was also a recognized expert on the plants of the Western United States. He wrote or contributed to nearly all the major works on plants of the region and was at work on a six-volume series about the plants of the Intermountain West when he died.”
Sunflowers. U. S. Dept of Agriculture.

In fact, Cronquist died on Sunday, March 22, 1992.  He was then scheduled to be featured speaker the following Friday for the Annual Symposium of the Idaho Academy of Science, in Caldwell. A hastily-organized tribute session extolled Arthur’s professional legacy as well as his humanity: Colleagues and students remembered him as an animated raconteur, clever punster, and a helpful and caring friend. He was also renowned as a boisterous singer. One colleague said, “About the halls of the New York botanical Garden, Cronquist bellows Russian folk songs. (He has an excellent bass voice.)”

After the meeting, I prepared a summary of the event for the Academy newsletter. I found it fascinating that the speaker had subconsciously slipped into the present tense. (Nor was he the only one who did so.) My comment: “Cronquist was obviously a man so alive in life, he barged full-bellow into a tribute after his death.”
References: Theodore M. Barkley, “In Memoriam: Arthur Cronquist: An Appreciation,” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 119, No. 4, Lawrence, Kansas (1992).
“Biographical Note,” Arthur Cronquist Records (1939-1992), Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden (1999).
E. E. Filby, “Memories of Dr. Arthur Cronquist,” The Retort, Vol. 28, No. 3, Idaho Academy of Science, Idaho Falls (September 1992).
“Obituary: Arthur Cronquist,” The New York Times (March 26, 1992).

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bonneville Rancher, Developer, and Public Servant Hank Kiefer [otd 03/18]

Henry W. “Hank” Kiefer was born March 18, 1851 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania … one of twelve children born to the family between 1844 and about 1863. As a boy, he served an apprenticeship as a machinist, while also working part-time for his father, a Master Tanner. His father died in 1865, his mother two years later.
Golden Spike Ceremony. National Park Service.

In 1869, Hank decided to head West. French’s History specifically mentions June as the date when he arrived in Colorado. It may well be significant that the transcontinental railroad had been completed just a month earlier.

Within a year or so, Kiefer landed a job with Coe & Carter, a well-known Omaha firm that had major contracts to supply ties and lumber  for the Union Pacific Railroad. Over the next few years, the job took Hank through Wyoming, Utah, and into Idaho.

In 1878, the Utah & Northern Railway extended its narrow gauge tracks across eastern Idaho, headed for Montana. Kiefer took charge of a logging camp on the South Fork of the Snake River. As the tracks approached the Montana border in the spring of 1879, Hank moved the camp closer to Monida Pass.

Kiefer worked on tie contracts in the Rocky Mountains until the spring of 1883. At that time, he purchased a ranch on Willow Creek, northeast of Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls). There, he raised cattle, farmed, and also planted an apple orchard. Four years later, Eagle Rock school teachers took their pupils on a field trip to see the first home-grown apples in the Upper Snake River Valley.

Hank spent the rest of the 1880s tending to his crops and livestock. Thus, the Idaho Register in Idaho Falls reported (October 1, 1887), “Hank Kiefer has purchased from Taylor & Smith one of the latest improved hay balers and will soon commence operating it, when he will be prepared to ship hay.”

 In 1892, he was elected Assessor for Bingham County. At that time, the county encompassed most of eastern Idaho. He then served two years as sheriff, before being elected again as County Assessor.

In the summer of 1901, Kiefer, like many others, took a fling at the the Klondike gold rush, where he apparently did better than most. The following year voters elected him to a term in the Idaho Senate.

As his farm-ranch operation prospered, Kiefer invested in irrigation projects, real estate, and a mercantile company in Iona. He remained president of one canal company for nearly twenty-six years, until the holdings were reorganized as a cooperative water district.

In 1907, his expertise in land development, and his Republican Party loyalties, led President Theodore Roosevelt to appoint Kiefer to be Register for the U. S. Land Office in Blackfoot. He would subsequently be re-appointed to that position by President Taft.

Idaho Falls Carnegie Library construction, ca 1915.
Bonneville County Historical Society.
However, he still retained an interest in Idaho Falls and, in 1908, donated a lot to be used for a public library. A committee proceeded with a request for a Carnegie Library grant and the facility opened in 1916. After his tenure as Land Office Register ended, Hank became a member of the Idaho Falls City Council. In late 1917, he served a half-year as Acting Mayor.

After that, Kiefer began winding down his active participation in business and politics. He lived a comfortable retirement until his death in 1937.
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Medical Researcher and Teacher Thomas C. Galloway, M.D. [otd 03/17]

Dr. Galloway.
University of Idaho Archives.
Eminent physician Thomas C. Galloway was born March 17, 1886 in Boise. As a researcher at the Northwestern University Medical School, Galloway made award-winning discoveries in the symptomatic treatment of "bulbar" poliomyelitis, one of the most dreaded diseases of the Twentieth Century.

His father, of the same name, was among a handful of whites who first settled along the Weiser River in 1863 [blog, June 6]. The elder Thomas married in 1868 and began raising a family. After about fifteen years, Galloway owned a huge herd of horses. However, his oldest children were also approaching high school age, and he and wife Mary felt their local educational opportunities were limited.

Father Tom sold his horses, and one of two ranches they then owned, and moved the family to Boise City. There, he bought a home as well as much other real estate. It was also there that Thomas, Junior, was born. The Galloways remained in Boise until the older children had completed high school, then moved back to Weiser in 1896-1899.

Thomas, Junior, arrived at the University of Idaho campus at a time of substantial growth. During that general period, contractors completed a new women's dormitory, a gymnasium, and a new science hall. Of course, he would have also been on campus when fire destroyed the Administration Building at the end of March 1906: He graduated that spring.

He taught chemistry at the University for a year and then moved on to the University of Chicago. The Idaho Statesman proudly reported (May 19, 1911) that Galloway was “winning high honors in scholastic and athletic lines” there. As a junior at the University's Rush Medical College, he had already published a paper in the American Journal of Physiology. Moreover, having taken up wrestling for exercise, he had become a two-time wresting champion at the school.

Galloway earned a medical degree from Rush Medical College in 1912. He spent the rest of his life in the Chicago area, although we're told that, "At his ranch in Idaho, Dr. Galloway hosted family reunions each summer for fifty years."

Thomas spent over a half century affiliated with the Evanston Hospital, and taught for many years at two other area hospitals and the Northwestern University Medical School. Galloway eventually served as Director of the Medical School. He authored or co-authored numerous medical publications.

His most noted discovery involved the use of tracheotomy to treat "bulbar" poliomyelitis. This polio variant causes severe breathing difficulties even before paralysis impacts the diaphragm and lungs.
Iron lung ward for treatment of polio victims, ca. 1953.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Galloway carefully studied the risks associated with the tracheal operation versus the known breathing problems, including fatal respiratory arrest. His 94-page monograph describes the results and preferred procedure in great detail. His work is credited with saving hundreds of lives, and is still valid today, although polio vaccines have reduced the disease from a widespread, frightening scourge to a relatively uncommon pathology.

Dr. Galloway received many awards: An Honorary Doctor of Science degree from UI, recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by Rush Medical College, and the James E. Newcomb Award from the American Laryngological Association. Galloway passed away in February 1977.
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Thomas C. Galloway, Treatment of Respiratory Emergencies including Bulbar Poliomyelitis, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK (1953).
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, The Caxton Printers, CaIdwell (© 1962, Regents of the University of Idaho).
Frank Harris, "History of Washington County and Adams County," Weiser Signal (1940s).

Friday, March 16, 2018

Workmans' Compensation Law Initiated in Idaho [otd 03/16]

On March 16, 1917, Governor Moses Alexander signed Idaho's first Workers' Compensation law. The state thus joined a trend that began in this country around 1910-1911, and even earlier in Europe.
Governor Alexander.
McDonald, Moses Alexander.

Historically, records of the concept date back almost as far as we have writing … some four thousand years. It seems likely that the idea grew right along with the notion of one man paying another to work for him. Written laws, like the ancient Hammurabic Code of 1750 B.C., provided detailed schedules: so many drachmas (or other monetary unit) for loss of a finger, and so on.

Ancient writings indicate that the codes based such schedules on the actual disability assumed to be associated with a specific, “quantifiable” injury … broken or severed limb, loss of an eye, crushed foot, etc. The concept of impairment (diminished ability to perform a task) due to an injury was undeveloped or non-existent. Thus, a “bad back” or double vision from a blow to the head might not be grounds for compensation, even if you lost your job because of it.

In Europe, after a hiatus during the Middle Ages, the “common law” began to provide some recourse for an employee injured on the job. However, those precedents set the bar very high before the employer had to pay anything. The injured party had to prove a considerable degree of negligence on the part of the employer.

If a worker’s actions, or those of a fellow employee, somehow contributed to the injury, the employer was off the hook. Stumble and fall off a scaffold that had no safety rails … sorry, you should watch your step. A guy above drops a hammer on your head … sue him.

Workers might not even be compensated if they were injured by a "known" hazard of the workplace. They were judged to have "assumed that risk" when they took the job. People accepted exceedingly dangerous jobs – like hard-rock mining – because those positions paid better than ordinary work.

The Industrial Revolution had brought with it many new risks, with more workers exposed to those dangers. Under common law, injured workers generally had to file civil lawsuits to have any hope of compensation. The worker usually lost, but not always … so employers had to worry about defending such cases, as well as paying off the occasional big loss.
Workshop, ca. 1919. Personal Collection.

As suits by injured employees proliferated, industry leaders decided an insurance program, coupled with exemptions from all those legal actions, would be cheaper in the long run. In 1884, the first effective workers’ accident insurance laws went on the books in Prussia.

The trend spread to the United States in 1905-1908. Observers usually credit Wisconsin with the first effective workers’ compensation laws in the U.S., in 1911. (Laws passed a year earlier in New York state had been gutted by constitutional issues.) During the next five or six years, over thirty other states followed suit.

The Idaho governor called for a program in his 1913 message to the legislature, but nothing happened. The subject does not seem to have come up in the 1915 session. Then, in 1917, Governor Alexander urged passage of a system “drafted in accordance with the highest ideals of giving adequate compensation to the injured.”

The legislature did pass such a law, which Alexander signed on April 16th.
References: [Hawley]
Price V. Fishback, "Workers' Compensation," EH.net Encyclopedia, Robert Whaples (Ed.), Economic History Association (March 26, 2008).
Gregory P Guyton, “A Brief History of Workers' Compensation,” The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal, Vol. 19 (1999) pp 106-110.
Dylan J. McDonald (ed.), The Moses Alexander Collection, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise (2002).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Boise Developer and Saloon Owner Madison Smith [03/15]

Madison Smith. H. T. French photo
Boise pioneer Madison C. Smith was born March 15, 1839 in Richmond, Missouri, about 35 miles northeast of Kansas City. The family moved West in 1851, crossing Idaho in a wagon train. Local Indian unrest was rising at that time, but the party had no trouble. They settled in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Unfortunately, Indians killed Madison’s father in 1856, so he had to work the family ranch until his mother remarried.

Madison was out on his own by 1860, and had built up a small stake. In 1864, he and his brother-in-law loaded a mule train with freight for the gold camps near Idaho City. That area was apparently well-supplied when they arrived, so they moved on to profitably sell their goods in Boise City. Although Smith retained some property and a house in Oregon, he made his home in Boise for most of his remaining years.

Smith found odd jobs where he could for awhile, and then settled into working at a popular saloon. Finally, the Idaho Statesman reported (August 14, 1873) that “Jim Lawrence and M. C. Smith will open out, this week, a saloon in the brick building formerly occupied by … a barber shop. … They understand the business, have many friends, and will endeavor to please their patrons.”

They moved into a larger space after six years or so, but the Lawrence & Smith Saloon remained a fixture on Main Street for at least 15-18 years. It appears that Madison went into business by himself around 1890. We do know he bought a lot near downtown a year after that (Idaho Statesman, June 14, 1891).

In 1893, Smith took a minor flyer in politics: He ran for Boise City Tax Collector on the Populist Party ticket led by his nephew, who was running for Mayor. (His brother-in-law, Peter J. Pefley, had been elected mayor in 1887.) Voters crushed the Populist slate and there's no evidence that Smith took any further interest in politics.

Madison, who never married, largely held aloof from the “boom" mentality of many frontier city developers. His conservative approach was surely influenced by a disappointment in 1896-1897. Smith had loaned money to his brother-in-law and sister to invest in a saddlery company. But the firm collapsed (Idaho Statesman, September 6, 1896), and he recovered less than half his investment.

Even so, Madison was comfortable enough in his financial circumstances that he listed himself as “capitalist" in the U. S. Census for 1900. At that point, he still owned at least one saloon, and may have had property in Lewiston, where his brother-in-law had moved.
Union Block, Boise. Library of Congress
Smith closely followed the building boom that gripped Boise in 1902. Various organizations initiated ten major projects that year, including a new Episcopal Cathedral, a high school, and several commercial blocks.

One such project was the so-called “Union Block," on the northeast side of Idaho Street between Seventh and Eight, and one street over from Madison's saloon property on Main. Three years later, Smith sold the saloon and used the proceeds to buy an interest in the Union Block (Idaho Statesman, October 4 and November 29, 1905).

Madison soon moved into an apartment in the Union Block and managed his leased properties from there. He passed away from pneumonia in June 1921, after a year of increasingly poor health.

Today, the Union Block –  still in use –  is on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, according to the Idaho State Historical Society, the Society now owns a fancy hardwood bar that once belong to Smith. He reportedly ordered it from “the Brunswick Company" around 1890, and it continued in use at various locations for about seventy years. The bar is now the centerpiece of the “M. C. Smith Saloon," a meeting facility at the Historical Museum.
References: French, [Hawley]
“Boise Building Chronology, ” References Series No. 672, Idaho State Historical Society (1983).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Militia Organized Again, Then Becomes the Idaho National Guard [otd 03/14]

In an interesting coincidence, two different March 14 dates are significant for the Idaho National Guard. On March 14, 1889, Edward A. Stevenson, governor of Idaho Territory, sent a letter to the Quartermaster-General of the U. S. Army, stating that the citizens of Boise had organized a company of militia.
Governor Stevenson.
City of Boise photo.

This action followed over a decade during which the Territory had no authorized military force at all. In the early gold rush days, miners had assembled ad hoc companies to fight Indians. These Volunteer troops became somewhat more formalized for the so-called "Snake War" in 1864-1868, but many lasted only a few weeks.

However, during Idaho's final Indians wars of 1877-1879, the Territory had companies of Idaho Volunteer Militia (a "Regiment," but in name only) as well as numerous local militia units. The latter included three from Boise City alone (the "Boise Mounted Rangers," etc.), and at least eight others (the "First Payette Guards" and so forth). All these organizations disbanded when the last groups of Indians had been forced onto reservations. Around 1879, Governor Mason Brayman urged the legislature to create a formal Territorial-wide militia. However, for various reasons, mostly political, nothing was done.

So matters remained until President Grover Cleveland appointed Stevenson as Territorial Governor. The first actual Idaho resident chosen for that position, he had moved to Idaho in 1864, and was familiar with its militia history. Stevenson had, in fact, encouraged the Boiseans to form their company, which they styled the "Governor's Guards."

The state had no particular budget for such an organization, so the governor asked the Quartermaster-General if the Army could, and would, provide suitable uniforms, arms, and ammunition. The General's specific answer was unreported at the time, but he must have been agreeable: The Governor’s Guards were in full operation by early May. The Idaho Statesman reported (July 3, 1889) that “the ladies of Boise” would present them with a “beautiful banner” during a ceremony on the 4th of July.

Idaho soon had militia companies organized in Weiser, Grangeville, Albion, Eagle Rock, and Hailey.

In 1889, Stevenson and his successor called for a constitutional convention, preparatory to asking Congress to make Idaho a state. That document explicitly defined a militia. Then, on another March 14 – in 1891 – a new state governor signed the Act that formally organized the militia, soon to be called the Idaho National Guard. The legislation also provided an appropriation to supplement funds from the Federal government for uniforms and equipment.

Within about a year, the Governor found a use for the new organization: He called the Guard out to restore order in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts, where union unrest had escalated into violence.

In 1898, the U. S. President, for the first time, called out the Idaho Guard to meet a national emergency – the Spanish-American War. To bolster the severely undermanned Regular Army, President William McKinley mobilized Guards units from all over the country.
First Idaho in the Philippines, 1899. National Archives.

Under that directive, the Idaho Guard became the First Idaho Regiment, a unit of the U. S. Army Volunteers. The First Idaho landed in the Philippines in early August, and saw most of its action helping check the Filipino insurrection. The regiment returned to the States and demobilized in September 1899.

The Guard structure remained in place, of course. It’s next major call-up was for duty on the Mexican Border in 1916 [blog, June 18].

References: [Hawley]
Orlan J. Svingen (Ed.), The History of the Idaho National Guard, Idaho National Guard, Boise (1995).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Idaho State Highway Commission Created to Improve Transportation System [otd 03/13]

On March 13, 1913, the Idaho legislature established the State Highway Commission. They thus joined a nationwide trend to raise highway planning and construction to the state level. Prior to that, roads had been almost exclusively a local concern.
Country "Road." National Archives.

Of course, emigrant wagons cut the first roads across Idaho, starting in the early 1840s. The pioneers naturally did only enough to make the route passable. In 1857-1860, the U. S. Army built the first planned roads in the area: The Lander Cutoff, shortening the distance to old Fort Hall, and the Mullan Road across the Idaho Panhandle [blog, Feb 5].

Aside from those exceptions, private companies built most roads, usually as toll routes. Thus, in 1886, Silas Skinner and his partners completed their toll road into Silver City, Idaho [blog, May 19]. Grants for toll franchises – roads, bridges, and ferries – filled the legislative records throughout the early Territorial period.

Some businesses and individuals opened roads on their own. In 1882, pioneer Charles Walgamott “built” a stagecoach road to carry patrons from the train station at Shoshone to his claim overlooking Shoshone Falls, perhaps the first tourist attraction in Idaho. They replaced the normal wheel tires (the outer metal strap) with a cutting band, and then simply ran their coach back and forth over the route. Charlie averred that the exposed edges “helped make the road, but say, for some time that was the roughest road any mortal ever traveled over.”

The action shifted to more local oversight as towns and counties became organized. Thus, County Commissioners denied a renewal of the franchise for the old toll bridge at Eagle Rock (soon to be Idaho Falls), and declared it a public highway in April, 1889.

Such fragmented control resulted in a patchwork of good to atrocious tracks that might or might not provide an actual transportation "system." The drive for greater state oversight began around 1891 in the heavily-traveled East, and slowly spread. The Idaho Register (Idaho Falls, June 7, 1912) noted that "Since that time about two-thirds of the states of the Union have adopted some form of state aid or state supervision."

Idaho's new state Commission immediately began identifying routes for an integrated array of state highways. One priority was a modern highway to more or less parallel, and replace, the old Oregon Trail route across the state. Another would bridge the central Idaho wilderness to connect Boise to Grangeville and Lewiston.

Construction of some parts of the new system began as soon as funds became available. In 1919, the state moved to consolidate its infrastructure development within a Department of Public Works. The Commission became the Bureau of Highways, reporting to that Department.
Idaho Highway Dept's “cook shack" and first truck, ca. 1920.
Idaho Department of Transportation.

Another reorganization followed in 1951, and then in 1974 highway-related activities became the responsibility of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). Eight years later, the state moved the vehicle licensing office from the Department of Law Enforcement to the ITD, where it became the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The ITD's role is to extend the trend started in 1919: to integrate road, rail, water, and air transport to best serve the needs of people and businesses.
References: [Brit], [French], [Hawley]
Mary Jane Fritzen, Eagle Rock, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1991).
“Idaho’s Motor Vehicle History,” Idaho Department of Transportation (2006).
Charles S. Walgamott, Six Decades Back, The Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (1936).

Monday, March 12, 2018

State Authorizes Precursor to Idaho State Historical Society [otd 03/12]

On March 12, 1907, Idaho's government authorized the "Historical Society of Idaho Pioneers" to become a state-supported entity called the "Historical Society of the State of Idaho." The enabling act included a $3,500 appropriation for expenses, and provision of space in the capitol building. The "Pioneers" organization had been created in 1881 to preserve memories of how the Territory was formed. That organization was largely dormant for many years, except for a revival in 1896 under Governor William J. McConnell [blog, September 18.]
Hon. John Hailey.
Hailey, History of Idaho photo.

A couple months after the authorization, administrators appointed John Hailey to be the head librarian, a position he held for the rest of his life. Hailey had been among the first pioneers in 1862, built a considerable stagecoach enterprise, served in the Territorial Council, and acted as delegate to the U.S. Congress [blog, Aug 29].

The creation Act also directed the governor to appoint a Board of Trustees for the Society. Governor Frank Gooding appointed the first, which included: James A. Pinney (progressive former mayor of Boise, blog Sept 29), Dr. Henry L. Talkington (history professor at the Lewiston State Normal School), and Mrs. Leona (Hailey) Cartee. The only daughter of John Hailey, Leona had pushed for formation of the Society, and would later help foster the Boise Public Library.

Three years after the appointment, Hailey published a History of Idaho in part, he wrote, 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."

The Idaho Statesman quoted (January 8, 1917) from Hailey’s fifth biennial report: Hailey noted that their historical exhibit had had to move three times and “now occupy five rooms in the old capitol building.” He also said, “We now have these five rooms pretty well filled up and will soon need more room.”

When Hailey died in 1921, Ella Cartee Reed – Leona Cartee's sister-in-law – carried on as Secretary and Librarian. At the time of that transition, former Idaho Governor James H. Hawley [blog, Jan 17] was President of the Board of Trustees.

In his letter of transmittal for the required 1923-1924 biennial report, Hawley argued that the Librarian and her Assistant "should be given a salary commensurate with the importance of their positions and the character of their duties." Hawley held the Board presidency until his death in 1929. To the end, he continued to ask, in vain, for an improvement in those salaries.
Idaho History Center.
Wikipedia photo contributed by Amy Vecchione.

Reed retired in 1931. From then until 1947, perhaps because the position was an underpaid "labor of love," the position changed each time a new Governor took office. In 1939, the title became "state historian."

Also in 1939, the legislature authorized new quarters for the Society's collections, but construction did not start until 1941 … and was then suspended due to World War II. Operations limped along with limited staff until about 1947, when the Society became the custodian of the Idaho State Archives. In 1949-1950, new construction initiatives finally gave the Society desperately needed new space.

After about 1956, the Society began to offer paid memberships to the general public. Up until then, the organization had been funded entirely by legislative appropriation. Today, the ISHS operates programs at eight different locations in Boise and four historical sites around the state. Visitors will find exhibits and the Society's Public Archives and Research Library at the Idaho History Center, in Boise.
Reference: [Hawley] 
"Directors and Secretaries of the Idaho State Historical Society History," Reference Series No. 882, Idaho State Historical Society (1989).
John Hailey, History of Idaho, Syms-York Company, Boise, Idaho (1910).
"Idaho State Historical Society History," Reference Series No. 848, Idaho State Historical Society (1986).
James H. Hawley, Eighth Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Idaho, Boise (1922).

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Act Signed to Create Academy of Idaho, Today’s Idaho State University [otd 03/11]

On March 11, 1901, Governor Frank W. Hunt signed an Act to establish an educational institution in Pocatello. Incorporated in 1889, the town had grown explosively and topped 4,000 citizens in the 1900 census.

The authorization for a school, to be called the “Academy of Idaho,” came with a catch, however. The townspeople had to supply land for the institution. The subsequent dispute almost killed the Academy before it started.
Administration Building, Academy of Idaho, ca. 1912.
H. T. French image.

Heated arguments arose as various factions pushed locations all around the valley. Finally, with the legislature's deadline approaching, they settled on what is now the lower part of the ISU campus. Construction soon began, and the school greeted its first classes in the fall of 1902 [blog, September 22].

The legislature tried to make sure the new school did not compete with the University of Idaho for students. In fact, they hoped the curriculum in Pocatello would encourage some to go on the Moscow. They specified that the curriculum should include “all the branches commonly taught in academies and such various courses as are usually taught in business colleges.”

Legislators also considered vocational training appropriate, making the new school more or less equivalent to our notion of a two-year community college. John W. Faris, the experienced educator who became the Academy’s first Principal, had more ambitious plans. Still, he did quickly initiate a preparatory curriculum, knowing that many prospective students had limited (or no) access to high school classes.

A few years later, he began what we now call a “continuing education” program, with a particular emphasis on summer classes for pre-college teachers. The Idaho Statesman reported (May 9, 1913) that the sessions were very popular, and reminded prospective attendees that, “ Special attention will be given to those courses of study required for the certification of teachers.”

Encouraged by the response, school officials soon began to harbor aspirations to attain full four-year status. That battle would rage for over thirty-five years. The only immediate result was a slight expansion and name change - to "Idaho Technical Institute" (ITI) - in 1915. And the legislature made the Institute’s subordinate role crystal clear: The curriculum “shall include two years and not more than two years of college grade and such work below college grade as the conditions of the educational system of the state render desirable.”

As the school expanded, pressure from local boosters continued, but backfired again. In 1927, the legislature made ITI a subordinate division of the University of Idaho. For the next twenty years, the Pocatello school would be the "Southern Branch of the University of Idaho" (UI-SB).

Although it was touch and go at times, the school survived the Great Depression and World War II. The vast influx of G.I. Bill students after the war caused many strains, but helped the UI-SB finally attain its goal. In 1947, the school became Idaho State College, an independent, four-year institution.
Main campus, Idaho State University.

After sixteen years of curriculum and enrollment expansion, they were given university status in 1963.

In August 1986, the school dedicated its Research and Business Park, meant to act as an incubator for new ventures and to provide space for public and private research laboratories.

Today, the university has an enrollment of over 15 thousand students, with three branch locations, and millions of dollars in research and teaching grants.
References: [French], Hawley]
Diane Olson, Idaho State University: A Centennial Chronicle, Idaho State University (2000).

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Colonel Judson Spofford: Civil War Veteran, and Idaho Developer [otd 03/10]

Civil War veteran and Idaho developer Judson Spofford was born March 10, 1846 in Derby, Vermont, two or three miles from the Canadian border. The family had a proud military heritage. A great-great-grandfather was a colonel in the Revolutionary War and that man’s son served in the Quartermaster Corp. Another forebear served in the War of 1812. Judson enlisted in the 10th Vermont Regiment in July 1862. The regiment saw minor action initially, and just missed participation at Gettysburg in 1863.
Union infantry in Fredericksburg trenches, 1863.
Library of Congress.

Later, the 10th Vermont fought in many celebrated battles of the Army of the Potomac: The Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. In July 1864, they also took part in the relatively little-known Battle of Monocacy Junction, 30-40 miles northwest of Washington, D. C. That clash, while technically a Union defeat, kept Confederate troops from hitting the capital before reinforcements could arrive to drive them off.

On March 25, 1865, Private Spofford himself was almost killed by a Minie ball during the Union counter-attack at Fort Stedman, in the Petersburg fortifications. The severity of his wound kept him in hospital when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered two week later.

After the war, Spofford spent three years in Vermont and then moved to West Virginia. There, he worked for a railroad company for a number of years. He was also active in party politics and, in 1880, President James Garfield appointed him Postmaster in Huntington. He acquired the "Colonel" honorific while in West Virginia –  and certainly he had seen more action and suffered more than most "titular" colonels. Then the lung damage from his wound finally forced him to seek the more healthful climate of Idaho.
Col. Judson Spofford.
J. H. Hawley photo.

Spofford arrived in 1884 and immediately purchased a Boise Valley farm. He then acquired and expanded a herd of purebred dairy cattle. From that, he produced a noted line of high grade butter.

Farming led him into various irrigation canal projects, including improvements to what eventually became today's Riverside Canal. That enterprise sparked Spofford's interest in hydroelectric power, including a plant on the Payette River.

In addition to these projects and various real estate developments, Spofford promoted construction of Boise's Broadway Bridge. This fueled considered expansion of residential areas in "South Boise" – on the southwest side of the Boise River. The colonel also helped initiate a street car line, including a branch that served South Boise.
South Boise streetcar on the Broadway Bridge.
City of Boise.

Not content with all that, Spofford sought opportunities around the state. He invested in valuable mining properties, but competitors thwarted his attempt to build an electric railway to connect Lewiston and Grangeville. In his 1920 History of Idaho, Hawley wrote, "During the past third of a century there has perhaps been no one in Idaho who has been a more consistent supporter of the Gem State than he."

Spofford remained vigorous and active well into his eighties. At one point, he even traveled back east to the Monocacy battlefield to consult with a historian writing an account of the battle. He returned in 1936 to take part in a parade of Grand Army of the Republic veterans in Washington, D. C. He was then the last known Union Army survivor of the Battle of Monocacy Junction. The colonel passed away about a year later at the veterans’ hospital in Boise. Spofford was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
References: [Hawley]
Marc Leepson, Desperate Engagement, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, New York (2007).
Original South Boise Neighborhood Plan, City of Boise (2003).
"Pioneer-Dixie Ditch Company," Reference Series No. 509, Idaho State Historical Society (1996).
Glenn H. Worthington, Fighting for Time, Press of Day Printing Company, Baltimore, Maryland (1932).

Friday, March 9, 2018

Rigby and Fremont County Physician Ray Fisher [otd 03/09]

Prominent Fremont County physician Ray Homer Fisher, M. D., was born March 9, 1883 in Oxford, Idaho. At the time, Oxford was an important commercial and shipping center. One of Ray’s older brothers was George Howard Fisher, first Commissioner of the Idaho Industrial Accident Board [blog, December 5]. Their father was  William F. “Billy” Fisher, a famous rider for the Pony Express. When the Express disbanded in late 1861, Billy settled in northern Utah, where George was born. He moved to Oxford five years before Ray was born.
Dr. Fisher. Family Archives.

Ray attended public schools in Oxford until he was sixteen year old. He then entered the prep school at the Utah Agricultural College (now Utah State University). His college major was chemistry, but he was also active in debate and public speaking. Fisher graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1904. After a year as a school principal in Fremont County and a brief stint as chemist for a sugar company, Ray landed a job at the University of Colorado. While he taught chemistry and toxicology, he also pursued a medical degree, gaining his M. D. in 1909.

Fisher performed fill-in work in northern Utah and eastern Idaho before establishing a practice in Rigby. Almost immediately, he was appointed Health Officer for Fremont County, spending two years in that position. A few years later, after Jefferson County was split off from Fremont County, he served two years as Health Officer for the new county. From 1915 to 1919, Fisher was a member of the Idaho Board of Medical Examiners. Along with that he was Medical Examiner for the Jefferson County enlistment office during World War I. All that and his regular practice was apparently not quite enough, however: Fisher also held a position as Divisional Assistant Surgeon for the Oregon Short Line railroad for ten years.

Professionally, Fisher held memberships in the American Medical Association, the Idaho State Medical Association and several regional medical societies. At one meeting of the state Association, he spoke on “Differential Diagnosis of Appendicitis and Typhoid.” Between 1916 and 1920, the doctor took three “sabbaticals” to pursue further education as an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist.

Besides his practice and medical studies, Fisher invested in several local businesses, including a bank and a pharmacy. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. While he never held high office in the church, he served in several capacities, with a particular interest in education. Fisher also played an active role in Democratic Party politics, although he never ran for office himself. For a time, he chaired the Democratic Central Committee for Jefferson County.
Rigby, ca 1919. [Hawley]

Early on, Fisher had developed an interest in history. Thus, he often presented historical talks to various social groups. Later, he took a special interest in the story of the Pony Express, building on a memoir produced by his father. As it happened, William Fisher was in Rigby when he died in late 1919, then the body was returned to Oxford for burial. Ray’s mother lived in Rigby until her death three year after her husband.

Fisher remained in Rigby until 1927, when he moved his family to Oakland, California. (His oldest brother had moved there earlier, apparently during World War I.) He maintained his practice there until about two years before his death in April 1952.                                                                                  
References: [French], [Hawley]
Ray H. Fisher, “The Dry Creek Massacre,” The Pony Express magazine, Placerville, California (January 1950).
“[Ray H. Fisher News],” Idaho Falls Times, Idaho Statesman, Ogden Standard-Examiner (July 1914 – February 1922).

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Indian Leader, Teacher, and Idaho Senator Joseph Garry [otd 03/08]

Joseph Garry in
traditional Indian regalia.
Beal and Wells photo.
Prominent American Indian leader Joseph Richard Garry was born March 8, 1910 near Plummer, Idaho. (Plummer is about 25 miles south of Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.) Of largely Kalispel and Coeur d’Alene Indian blood, Garry traced Flathead Indian heritage through his mother. For a variety of reasons, he was generally identified with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

He was also a great-grandson of Chief Spokane, for whom that city was named, and sometimes appeared there in interpretative demonstrations of Indian ways and dress.

After a common school education, Joe graduated from the preparatory school at Gonzaga. Over the years, he pieced together money enough for several years of college education, but was never able to complete a degree. In the early Thirties, he apparently survived by hunting, fishing, and working at various farms and ranches. Then, for four years after 1936, he held an administrative position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Garry enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1942 and served in Europe for three years. (Some accounts suggest he was a Marine, but enlistment and service records do not bear this out.) Recalled for the Korean War, he served there a year and emerged as a sergeant.

Before and after his stint in Korea, Garry taught school in Plummer and twice served on the School Board there. In 1956, voters in Benawah County elected Joseph to the Idaho House of Representatives, the first Native American to be elected to that body. With that service as a base, Garry made a run for the U. S. Senate in 1960, but was defeated in the Democratic Party primary. Six years later, he was elected to the Idaho state Senate, becoming the first Native American to join that august group.
Joseph Garry,
legislator and spokesman.
Beal & Wells photo.

However, Garry made his most important mark as a spokesman for his tribe and for the general Indian community. He began taking an active role in 1948, during a crucial period when the U. S. government sought, in the name of ending “paternalism,” to do away with the various tribal governments.

One of several who spoke for his people, Garry insisted that those organizations should be retained: Through those leaders, Indians controlled their own destinies, and the lands which were both their heritage and the only source of economic hope for the future.

Garry served 25 years on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribal Council (thirteen as its chairman), and also six years as President of the National Congress of American Indians. In 1957, while he served in the Idaho House, Garry was honored nationally as the “Outstanding Indian” for that year. The Spokeman-Review (Spokane, July 23, 1957) noted that Joseph was “the first Northwest Indian to be chosen for the honor.”

Through these avenues and an extensive speaking schedule, Garry and others successfully protected the integrity of tribal lands and helped improve economic conditions on the reservations. But times changed, and other voices arose to lead the Tribes; Garry was no longer their spokesperson when he died at the end of 1975 after a long illness.

Still, a statement from the National Congress upon his death noted that Garry "was responsible for the Indians holding on to their land base, and he invented tribal government, as we know it."
References: [B&W]
John Fahey, Saving the Reservation: Joe Garry and the Battle to be Indian, University of Washington Press, Seattle (October 2001).
Frederick E. Hoxie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of North American Indians, Houghton Muffin, NY (1996).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Legislature Authorizes Albion State Normal School [otd 03/07]

On March 7, 1893 the Idaho legislature passed a law to create Albion State Normal School, as they had authorized the Lewiston State Normal School earlier in the year [blog, Jan 6]. The Act required that land be donated as a site for the school (the offer had already been tendered) but did not appropriate any funds for construction.
Administration building, ca 1910. H. T. French photo.

Nonetheless, the school began classes in September 1894, using a structure built by volunteers. The 1895 legislature authorized issuance of construction bonds and a new administration building was completed the following year.

School enrollment grew steadily and, in 1901, the legislature provided funding for construction of a men’s dormitory. Officials called it Miller Hall, after Josiah Miller, who had donated the original plot of land. They added a women’s dormitory four years later. Over the next ten to fifteen years, Albion Normal acquired additional land and built more facilities.

When the school first opened, officials had to face the reality that Idaho’s rudimentary school system produced few students qualified for a standard curriculum. Thus, the institution not only had to provide a considerable array of high school classes, they even had to dip down to the seventh and eighth grade for some candidates.

That remained true even as late as 1914. Still, Hiram T. French wrote, “As fast as it is practical all studies properly belonging to the common school system are being eliminated, it being the aim finally to require a high school diploma for entrance.”

Cost cutters made a number of attempts to eliminate the institution or move it into Burley. In an odd turn, one attempt failed because of foresighted (but flawed) planning in its passage. The bill, originated by the state Senate, included (Idaho Statesman, June 2, 1922) a tax levy, “to provide funds for starting the new buildings at Burley.” The Idaho Supreme Court overturned the Act on a technicality: revenue bills must be originated in the House of Representatives.

In any case, the need for teachers was so great that the school thrived in the 1920s. Although enrollment fell early in the Great Depression, it recovered to peak in 1939.
Albion State Normal School, 1922. Albion Valley Historical Society.

By then, however, the Albion and Lewiston schools were out of step with the times. Most states had abandoned the two-year Normal School track in favor of a four-year teachers’ college approach. Idaho had two of just five Normal schools remaining in the entire country.

In 1943, Idaho reluctantly granted the Normals four-year status, the last state to make the move. Both schools began “acting the part,” and the legislature went along in 1947. Albion Normal became the Southern Idaho College of Education (SICE, with NICE in Lewiston).

After a dip during World War II, the postwar influx of G.I. Bill students provided several years of surging enrollment for the newly-name SICE. However, the old arguments against having so many four-year schools soon arose again. With three other four-year schools turning out teachers, the state could dispense with one.

In May 1951, SICE – once Albion State Normal School – held its final commencement exercise. The school had made an indispensable contribution to Idaho education, but it was doomed by its relatively isolated location.
References: [French], [Hawley]
"Albion State Normal School: Historical Sketch," Idaho State University Manuscript Collection (online).
Keith C. Petersen, Educating in the American West: One Hundred Years at Lewis-Clark State College, 1893-1993, Confluence Press, Lewiston, Idaho (© Lewis-Clark State College, 1993).

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Canal Company Executive, County Commissioner, and Farmer Arthur Goody [otd 03/06]

Commissioner Goody.
J. H. Hawley photo.
Prominent farmer and Jefferson County Commissioner Arthur James Goody was born March 6, 1871 in Cache County, Utah, 10-15 miles northwest of Logan.

His father, Arthur Joseph, had come to the United States from England in 1863, when he was in his early teens. The parents – Mormon converts – followed a year later and settled on land north of the Great Salt Lake. By 1870, Arthur Joseph had married and moved to the area where Arthur James was born.

In 1883, the family took up a homestead a mile or so east of Lewisville, Idaho. Lewisville, located 12-14 miles north of Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls), was one of several towns founded after the Utah & Northern Railroad laid tracks through Eastern Idaho in 1879. Arthur James worked on the family farm until he was twenty-two years old. (Although not “technically” correct, newspaper accounts of the time commonly referred to Arthur Joseph as “Sr.” and the son as “Jr.”)

Then, in 1893, Arthur Jr. married and built a home in Lewisville. He also bought some unimproved farm land a mile south of town. With improvements to that tract, and purchase of additional acreage, Arthur soon developed a highly successful mixed-crop farm operation of his own.

Arthur participated heavily in local civic affairs, including eight years as a Jefferson County Commissioner. He also served sixteen years as a school trustee. Arthur spent four years on the Lewisville town board and, after the village incorporated in 1904, served a term as mayor.

Arthur took an active interest in various irrigation projects. That included working with his father on some of the precursors to the Great Feeder Canal, which went into operation in 1895 [blog, June 22]. Later, he served on the Board of Directors of the Little Feeder Canal Company (Idaho Register, May 23, 1902). Four years after that, he represented Lewisville at a national Irrigation Congress held in Boise (Idaho Statesman, July 22, 1906).

In the spring of 1909, Arthur Sr. moved to Idaho Falls. (His wife had died three years earlier.) Not long after, Arthur Jr. bought his father’s ranch property and thereafter ran both operations. Under the title “Crops Fine at Lewisville,” the Idaho Falls Times reported (November 7, 1911) a remarkably productive year for his farms. On his original property, Arthur raised wheat, oats, alfalfa, sugar beets, apples, and raspberries. On the other, he raised more hay, grain, and sugar beets, as well as potatoes, plumes, prunes, and currants.

Headgates, Great Feeder Canal.
Early in the Twentieth Century, farmers had begun to form cooperatives under various titles like “Farmers’ Society of Equity.” They hoped to present a united front in dealing with banks, shippers, and farm product buyers. The Idaho Falls Times reported (January 21, 1913) an organizational meeting in Lewisville, at which Arthur was selected as President of the local chapter. He was associated with the group when it became the Intermountain Farmers Equity.

Besides his farm interests, Arthur held stock in a regional mercantile company. By 1920, he was President of the Great Feeder Canal Company, a position he held for many years. He passed away in September 1943. In 1990, the original Goody homestead qualified as an Idaho Century Farm, being still owned by a descendant of Arthur Joseph Goody.
References: [Hawley]
Louis J. Clements, Centennial Farm Families, Upper Snake River Valley Historical Society, Rexburg, Idaho (March 1991).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Eagle Rock, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1991).
John L. Powell (Ed.), “Great Feeder Canal Company,” Records Collection, MSS 31, Arthur Porter Special Collections, BYU-Idaho (January 23, 2002).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gold Rush Fuels Murray Building Boom [otd 3/5]

The Lewiston Teller for March 5, 1885 published a glowing report from a correspondent in the new town of Murray, Idaho. The observer first noted that people in the entire mining district exuded confidence. At a settlement 3-4 miles west of Murrayville (Murray's original name), the reporter "counted eleven buildings under construction."
Placer mining, Murray area, 1884. Note miners in foreground.
University of Idaho Archives.
Miners were running large placer rigs on streams throughout the area. While the strikes were not spectacular, they provided solid returns and fueled hopes for more.

The Teller correspondent wrote, "Murray is fast building up and assuming the air of a mining metropolis, and property here has a value outside of what is justified by present appearances."

Around 1880, Andrew J. Pritchard and two other prospectors had worked their way up the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. They found color on what came to be called Prichard Creek, deep in the Coeur d'Alene Mountains, 5-6 miles from the Montana border.  (It’s not clear when the “t” was dropped, but current maps show the stream with that spelling.)

Pritchard tried to restrict the news to a few favored partners while he continued to look for better prospects. He made a major find in 1882 [blog, Apr 25], but – as usual – the news leaked out.  By 1883 thousands of miners had rushed into the region, especially along Prichard Creek. All the early claims had been staked and filed, so late-comers pushed further up every likely looking stream.

Murray got its start in early 1884 and grew rapidly. At the same time, the population of Pierce City, the original county seat for Shoshone County, had dwindled to perhaps a few dozen souls. A notion to split the county was quickly squelched, but just before Christmas the Territorial government decided to locate a new county seat. The Act called for an election the following summer.

According to one pioneer, perhaps 2,500 people spent that winter in Murray and the nearby mining camps. Other reports suggest that 4 to 5 thousand were scattered throughout the Coeur d'Alenes.
Murray, Idaho, ca 1888.
The Sprag Pole Inn and Museum, Murray.

The Teller correspondent of March 5th went on, "Real estate changes hands daily and business prospects are bright. Two shingle mills are the latest improvements and parties are daily in search of business locations. There are twelve stores where goods of all kinds can be procured, three drug stores, several restaurants and a hotel."

The reports seems to have been accurate. At the election on June 1, 1885, Murray easily won the county seat, garnering 1,075 votes to 457 for Delta. The Illustrated History said, “Add to these two votes cast for Beaver (the former name of Delta), two for Eagle and one for Littlefieid, and we have a total vote in the county of 1,537.”

However, even then the seeds of change had been planted: To the south, prospectors had discovered rich lead-silver veins, and these turned out to represent the true wealth of the Coeur d'Alenes.

While Murray bloomed and then began a slow decline, Wallace and the other silver towns prospered. Thus, in 1898, another election moved the county seat from Murray to Wallace, where it still is.
References: [French], [Illust-North]
"Counties and County Seats," Reference Series No. 10, Idaho State Historical Society (July 1991).

Sunday, March 4, 2018

President Lincoln Signs Law to Create Idaho Territory [otd 03/04]

On March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill that created Idaho Territory, splitting it off from Washington Territory. The signing culminated a period of intense political wrangling that first heated up in late 1858, after the Yakima Indian War. When Oregon became a state in February 1859, Washington Territory was left basically as a catch-all for the area north of Utah and west of (vaguely) the Rockies.
Gold pan with nuggets amidst black sand.
National Park Service.

The bickering and horse-trading greatly intensified after Captain Elias Pierce’s party discovered gold along the Clearwater River in the fall of 1860 [blog, Oct 2]. Ignoring the boundary of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, prospectors poured into the region.

Washington Territorial officials quickly created Shoshone County to provide an administrative structure for the Idaho mining districts. The county encompassed the region between near-future Lewiston and the Continental Divide, and south from the Canadian border to some amorphous boundary down towards Utah Territory.

As more prospectors arrived and spread south, the legislature split Shoshone County along the Clearwater River. The area to the south became Nez Perce County, with Lewiston as the seat. And still the eager gold seekers pressed on, making more gold discoveries in the Boise Basin (a high mountainous plain northeast of Boise City, which did not yet exist).

By the end of 1862, the population centers for Washington Territory had shifted dramatically … from the Puget Sound area to the gold fields of (future) Idaho and Montana. And the imbalance grew worse with every day that passed. Alarmed, political leaders in Olympia knew they had to shed all those voters that could challenge their control of the Territorial legislature.

“Not so fast” politicos in Walla Walla and Lewiston said: Let’s keep the Territory intact, but move the capital to our more central location. Even Vancouver had a dark horse in the running. Located on the preferred wagon road between coastal Washington and the interior, they had hopes of winning the capital as a compromise candidate.

After much maneuvering, the contest became a face-off between Olympia and Lewiston. A complete description of their respective agendas is beyond the scope of this article, but the Olympians got what they wanted. The split placed the border just west of Lewiston. That retained the maximum area for the future growth of Washington's population and economy, but dumped all those prospector votes. It was well they did. At the first census, completed in September of 1863, Idaho Territory had nearly three times the population of Washington Territory.
Combination of three U. S. General Land Office maps,
Territorial period.

Lewiston, of course, also won by being designated capital of the new Idaho Territory. Their triumph would be short-lived, however.

As then defined, the Territory was a "geographic monstrosity" - encompassing all the future states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. That gave it an area substantially larger than Texas ... actually, more than Texas and Illinois combined. Nearly 700 direct miles separated Fort Laramie, on the North Platte River, from the capital at Lewiston. That’s roughly equivalent to the distance from Philadelphia to Chicago, but there were no connecting roads to speak of.

Idaho's structure soon changed drastically: Less than 15 months after its founding, Congress reduced it to its present size plus a chunk of Wyoming west of the Continental Divide. Eight months after that, Territorial legislators moved the capital from Lewiston to Boise.
Reference: [B&W], [Illust-State]
"The Creation of the Territory of Idaho," Reference Series No. 264, Idaho State Historical Society (March 1969).