Wednesday, February 28, 2018

John R. McBride, U. S. Representative and Chief Justice for Idaho Territory [otd 02/28]

Judge McBride.
Photo from
On February 28, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln – just 45 days before he was shot by John Wilkes Booth – appointed John Rogers McBride as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Idaho Territory. The appointment typified the patronage system of the times, but the result turned out to be a happy exception to the norm.

Although Territorial governance followed the same structure as the Federal system, voters in the Territory had no say over the executive and judicial branches: The President appointed the Governor and a panel of three judges. One of the three was designated as the Chief Justice.

In those early days, appointees to positions in Idaho were almost never residents of the Territory. They usually came from the more settled Midwest, or the East. For many, the transition to the “Wild West” came as a major cultural shock, and quite a few fled after getting one good look. To make matters worst, the salaries were miserably poor.

James H. Hawley, who was elected as state Governor in 1910, lived through that era [blog, Jan 17]. In his History, he observed that the system supplied judges that were "lawyers of only mediocre ability or political henchmen, who received their appointments as a reward for services to the party, rather than for their legal ability."

Emigrant train, ca 1846. Library of Congress.
This could have been similar. A loyal Republican, McBride got the appointment after being defeated in a bid for re-election to Congress. However, unlike many who came later, he knew the West. His family had emigrated to Oregon in 1846, when John was thirteen years old. He studied law while also serving as a school superintendent in Yamhill County, and was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1857.

In 1860, Oregon voters elected him to the state Senate. Two years later, he won election to the U. S. House of Representatives, where he was awarded some worthwhile committee assignments. However, his 1864 re-election bid failed, whereupon he received the Idaho Judgeship.

Commenting on this appointment, Hawley wrote: "an able jurist and an honest man, Judge McBride most favorably impressed himself upon the litigation of the territory and ... was beloved by the bar of the state and highly esteemed by all of its people."

McBride soon got down to business, traveling all over the Territory. The Idaho Statesman reported (August 10, 1865) one example: “Judge McBride, after a full hearing and a very thorough investigation, issued a peremptory mandate ordering Slocum to pay over to Dr. Smith, the Territorial Treasurer, about $14,000 … ”

McBride was the only one of the first four Chief Justices appointed to the Territory who served most of the usual term – the others lasted an average of under 11 months. McBride resigned in July 1868 to establish a private law practice in Boise. He was soon called back into public service to supervise the construction of the U. S. Assay Office in Boise City [blog, May 30]. He then served as Superintendent while the Office was being readied for business.

In 1872, McBride moved to Salt Lake City and established the firm of Sutherland & McBride. After eight years in Utah, he relocated his law practice to Spokane. He passed away there in July 1904.
References: [French], [Hawley]
Jonathan Edwards, An Illustrated History of Spokane County, State of Washington, W. H. Lever, San Francisco (1900).
"McBride, John Rogers," Biographical Directory of the U S. Congress, online.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pocatello Brewer and Soft Drinks Bottler Robert Hayes [otd 02/27]

Robert Hayes.
J. H. Hawley photo.
Pocatello businessman Robert J. Hayes was born February 27, 1861 in Oswego, New York. The family moved to Chicago about six years later. Hayes struck out on his own at age sixteen, making his way west by “night herding” – tending draft animals – for a freight outfit. He then landed a job with the Union Pacific Railroad, first in Cheyenne, Wyoming, then in Rawlins.

After three years of that, Hayes returned to night herding, working for a freight line that operated between Helena, Montana, and Fort Benton. For a time, he held a contract to furnish the Northern Pacific with wood. Then, for about six months, he operated a pack train out of Bozeman.

Unable to find steady work, he took odd packing jobs in California and Arizona. Meanwhile, the Utah & Northern Railroad, a UP subsidiary, built a narrow gauge railroad across Eastern Idaho into Montana. To support that operation, the company built yards and a set of shops in Eagle Rock (later Idaho Falls). In 1884, Hayes hired on at the shops.

However, after two years, he moved to Blackfoot to take a position as Deputy Sheriff. During his two-year tenure in Blackfoot, the railroad relocated its shops from Eagle Rock to Pocatello. That change fueled even more explosive growth in that junction town.

Sensing opportunity, Hayes also moved to Pocatello. There, he partnered with N. G. Franklin and went into the business of bottling soda water. Such drinks were growing rapidly in popularity at that time. The firm of Franklin & Hayes got in on the ground floor; there plant was one of the first, if not the first built in southern Idaho.
Franklin & Hayes Brewery, Pocatello, 1907.
Bannock County Historical Society.
They soon developed a full line of soda waters and soft drinks. In time, they also built a brewery and added beer to their product line. The business was not without danger. The Idaho Statesman reported (October 9, 1900) that Franklin had been hit by a soda bottle explosion “and it is feared the sight of his right eye is destroyed.”

The partnership flourished, shipping beverages to many points in Idaho as well as into Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. According to Hawley's History of Idaho, the company "grew to be one of the largest of the kind in the state, with one of the best equipped plants."

Hayes was very active in Republican party politics, being Chairman of the Pocatello Central Committee for a time. He also served on the Bannock County Board of Commissioners and chaired that body for awhile. Despite his prominence within the party, Hayes never ran for any higher political office.
Franklin & Hayes letterhead. eBay memorabilia image.

Although he sometimes hunted and fished, Hayes generally favored less strenuous activities. He enjoyed music and the theater, and was, according Hiram T. French, “very fond of lectures and a good speech.”

Hayes was perhaps plagued by poor health. Although he was only in his early fifties, he retired from active participation in the soda and beer business about 1914. Or, perhaps, he saw the coming of prohibition, which would ruin the most profitable part of their business. The partners had already been fined $500, each, for some violation of the local option liquor laws (Idaho Statesman, April 12, 1913).

Hayes passed away in August 1918.
References: [French], [Hawley]

Monday, February 26, 2018

Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Stewart [otd 02/26]

Idaho Supreme Court Justice George Harlan Stewart was born February 26, 1858 in Connersville, Indiana, about fifty miles east of Indianapolis. He was something of an intellectual prodigy: George leaped through a “common” education to himself teach at country schools in his late teens.
Law School at Valparaiso, ca 1880. Valparaiso University Archives.

After several years, he entered Northern Indiana Normal school, in Valparaiso. (In 1900, the school became Valparaiso College, now University.)

George completed their “scientific” course in 1879, at the age of twenty-one, and immediately entered the school’s law department. He graduated in 1881 and was soon admitted to the Indiana bar.

In 1882, Stewart opened a law office in Fowler, Indiana, 15-20 miles northwest of Lafayette. After four or five years there, “on account of failing health,” he moved to a small town in southwest Nebraska. For the next several years, he made a name for himself. Not only did his practice flourish, but he was also elected as county Prosecuting Attorney.

Stewart moved to Idaho in 1890, and immediately involved himself in Republican Party activities. He opened a practice in Boise City with a partner who had over a quarter century of experience with Idaho law. It’s perhaps no surprise that he was elected to the state Senate in 1893. Two years later, he ran for the office of Boise City Mayor, against developer Walter E. Pierce [blog, January 9]. Stewart lost the razor-thin election, 438-436.

George soon partnered with another rising young attorney, William E. Borah. (Borah went on to become a six-time U. S. Senator from Idaho [blog, June 29].) In 1896, the sitting Judge of the Third Judicial District resigned and the governor appointed Stewart to replace him.

When election time came two years later, Democrats and a major faction of Silver Republicans united to nominate a “fusion” candidate to fill the District Judge position. The Prohibitionist Party made no selection, while the Populist candidate withdrew in favor of the Fusion nominee. (One rather wonders what sort of “deal” they cut.) Thus, loyal Republican Stewart faced what appeared to be an insurmountable challenge. Yet, such was Stewart’s reputation, and political skill … he won handily.
Judge Stewart. H. T. French photo.

In 1899, Governor Steunenberg selected Stewart as judge for the trial of union miners involved in bombing the Bunker Hill & Sullivan ore mill. (The judge for the district that included Shoshone County declined to serve.) Despite the high emotions and drama of those trials, George emerged with his reputation as a jurist not just intact, but enhanced.

Thus, running on his very successful district court record, Stewart was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1906. Historian Hiram T. French noted, "In due course he became chief justice during the last two years of his term."

Despite some questions about his health, he was re-elected "by a good majority" in 1912. French wrote his History during the course of that term and said, "His present term bids well to copy fair his past."

That was not to be, however. Stewart suffered a stroke in March of 1914 while he was presiding over the district court in Moscow. He recovered enough to return home but the consensus was that he might never be strong enough to resume his duties. In May, he entered a sanitarium in Portland, where it was hoped their program of fresh air, light exercise and constant nursing care would restore him to full health. Sadly, he suffered two more small attacks during the summer. He died from a final massive stroke on September 25, 1914.
References: [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
"Idaho Jurist Dies," The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon (September 26, 1914).
[Stewart newspaper items], Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 27, May 12, July 21, 1914).

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Woolgrower and Boise Business Executive Thomas McMillan [otd 02/25]

Sheep rancher and later Boise investor/manager Thomas McMillan was born February 25, 1865 in Scotland. As a young teenager, he worked in a Glasgow bank. His older brother John came to the United States in 1881, and their father brought the rest of the family over a year later.

Thomas followed John west and herded sheep in Wyoming for awhile. Then, around 1886, the brothers each settled down near Corder Station, located about twenty miles southeast of Boise. When John became postmaster at the station, he persuaded the Post Office to call the place Mayfield, after an ancestral home town in Scotland.
Thomas McMillan [Hawley]

For the next thirty years, the McMillan Sheep Company was a major wool producer for Idaho. In 1893, John played a prominent role in the creation of the Idaho Wool Growers Association. Thomas was not among the Charter Members, but he soon joined the organization. Both brothers served terms as president of the Association.

In 1897, Thomas married Roxie Corder, daughter of the pioneer operator of Corder Station. He then began to spend more and more time in Boise. With the sheep company prospering, the brothers were looking for other promising investments. One such project turned out to be a new luxury hotel to replace the famous, but antiquated Overland Hotel in the heart of downtown. The brothers teamed up with two other sheepman, one related by marriage. None of them knew anything about the hotel business, so a fifth investor was a man who had helped operate the Overland.

Construction of what they called the Idanha Hotel took about ten months and on, January 1, 1901, the investors hosted a private opening for friends and family. Two days later, they let the general public in. (The Overland was torn down in 1904 and replaced with an office building.)

As president of the Idanha Company, John moved permanently into Boise after the hotel opened. Thomas, however, split his time between Boise and Mayfield for about the next decade. Still, in 1906, he was among a group of investors who bought a majority interest in the Boise National Bank. He became an active Director of the bank.

By the spring of 1910, Thomas had moved his entire household to a residence about two blocks north of the Idanha. Three or four years later, he began a long tenure as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Idanha Hotel Company. Then, in 1915, he added a Director’s position with the Boise Stone Company to his duties. A couple years later, he withdrew from any active role in the sheep business. By early 1920, he was managing the main quarry for the Stone company. It’s not clear how long that lasted, but he was still loosely associated with company almost two decades later.
Idanha Hotel. Library of Congress.

Thomas was a Vice President for the Boise National Bank from 1923 through 1932. After that, he became more involved with the Idanha company and eased out of an active role with the bank. Thus, when brother John died in 1936, Thomas took his place as president. He and Roxie also moved into a suite at the hotel. Thomas would remain president until his death in September 1953.

However, around 1940, when Thomas was in his mid-seventies, he brought his oldest daughter, Mrs. Roxie (McMillan) Johnson on board as Vice President and manager of the Idanha. Having assumed a major management role in the late Forties, she sold the hotel in 1962. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Idanha has since been converted to apartments and small shops.
References: [Hawley]
City Directory: Boise, R. L. Polk & Company, Detroit, Michigan (1900-1953).
Dick D’Easum, The Idanha: Guests and Ghosts of an Historic Idaho Inn, Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho (1984).
“[McMillan News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise (September 26, 1893 – Nov 7, 1938).
Sandra Ransel, Charles Durand, Crossroads: A History of the Elmore County Area, Elmore County Historical Research Team, Mountain Home, Idaho (1985).

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rancher, Attorney, and Idaho Chief Justice Alfred Budge [otd 02/24]

Judge Alfred Budge.
H. T. French photo.
Alfred Budge, Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, was born February 24, 1868 in Providence, Utah, just south of Logan.

Two years later, the family moved to Paris, Idaho, where his father William played a prominent role in the Mormon Church as well as in Idaho politics. William served two terms in the Territorial legislature and, in 1899, was elected to the state Senate.

Alfred attended preparative academies in Logan and Provo, Utah, before entering the University of Michigan Law School. He earned an LL.B. degree in 1892, and returned to Idaho, where he was admitted to the bar. Just two years later, voters elected Albert to be District Attorney in Bear Lake County. At the end of that term, he was elected county Prosecuting Attorney. About that time, he also served on the Paris city council.

According to the Illustrated History, about two-thirds of the registered voters in Bear Lake County belonged to the Democratic Party at that time. The writers made particular note of the fact that Alfred, like his father, belonged to the Republican Party … yet both received substantial majorities when they ran for local offices.

Until events led him to focus on state-wide concerns, Budge took an active role in business matters in southeast Idaho and northern Utah. Besides a ranch property, he owned shares in a flouring mill, and helped promote and build a hydropower plant to furnish electricity to area communities. He also had interests in the Bear Lake State Bank, serving as Director and Vice President, and another in Cache County, Utah.

Alfred continued in county-level legal offices until 1902, when – in a hard-fought election – he became Judge of Idaho's Fifth Judicial District. Re-elected for a second term, he moved his family to Pocatello in 1911-1913. He held that position until 1914, when the Governor appointed him to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Idaho Capitol Building, ca 1915. J. H. Hawley photo..
At the next election, Budge ran successfully for the Court position and continued to do so – "most of the time without opposition" – for the next thirty years. In 1919, the Judge purchased a home in Boise and moved his family there (Idaho Statesman, March 16, 1919). He lived in Boise the rest of his life.

He acted as Chief Justice for a considerable portion of his time on the Supreme bench. With that long tenure, Budge participated in, and often led, the legal analyses that virtually defined the state's jurisprudence.

In 1929, the Judge was appointed (The Oregonian, November 25, 1929) as the President of the first Idaho Judicial Council, a body created to review and improve judicial procedures and practices in the state. (The Council concept lapsed shortly thereafter in Idaho, and was not revived until 1967.)

Budge was half way through his sixth elected term on the Court when he died in January 1951.

His expertise was recognized outside the court: The University of Michigan awarded him an honorary Master of Arts degree, and the University of Idaho awarded him an honorary Doctor of Law degree. He spent a summer as Visiting Professor at the Northwestern University Law School, and regularly served as a Special Lecturer at the University of Idaho College of Law.
References: [B&W], [Defen], [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]