Monday, May 14, 2018

Books: Indians, Cowboys, Sheepmen; Gold, Mining, Timber; Prospectors, Bandits, Boom Towns

I received a royalty check from a few days back, which reminded me that it had been awhile since the last one. So, it must be time to plug my books again. I’m sure regular readers of this blog appreciate that fact that I don’t have ads and don’t beat you all over the head about my books. But I do need to sell some books to at least break even on the money we’ve spent of research. Of course, I do also have a blog about the books at Sourdough Publishing, but it does not get much traffic.

So here goes (in alphabetical order):
Before the Spud: Indians, Buckaroos, and Sheepherders in Pioneer Idaho
Tells the story of how the Idaho stock raising industry developed. It begins with the "first stockmen of Idaho" – Shoshone and Nez Perc├ęs horse raisers – and carries forward to about 1910, followed by a brief survey of the state of affairs today.

Governor Shoup. National Archives.
Among the pioneer stories is that of George L. Shoup who, in one routine 1888 transaction, sold a thousand cattle from his Salmon River ranches. Two years later, he became Idaho's first state governor and then one of its first two senators.
In 1897, a jury convicted hired cowboy-gunman "Diamondfield Jack" Davis of murdering two sheepmen south of Twin Falls. Although two other "respectable" cattlemen soon confessed to the killings, Davis twice came within hours of hanging and was not pardoned until 1902.

Excerpt. The Idaho Statesman newspaper, in Boise City, has been lamenting the damage done to Idaho stockmen by the passage of nearly a quarter million cattle across their range in 1880:
Five days later, the Statesman had occasion to repeat this theme. “There is no greater curse to the stock growing interests of a country than the large bands of cattle that have been driven through this country for the past few years.”
The earlier article offered a solution. “The only practicable remedy for this, and the only hope of the afflicted is in the advent of the railroad, which will take the cattle at or near the points where they are purchased and collected.”
Fortunately, the Oregon Short Line (OSL) Railway was incorporated in Wyoming in April 1881. Because of an odd provision in the Union Pacific company charter, the OSL was created ostensibly as an independent company. However, with half its shares held by UP stockholders, its independence was merely a sham.
Track laying began in May at the Union Pacific station in Granger, Wyoming. …

Boise River Gold Country
Tells the story, in words and pictures, of the settlement of the mountainous regions drained by the Forks of the Boise River. In 1862, a party led by Moses Splawn and George Grimes found gold in the Boise Basin, a mountainous area northeast of today’s Boise. Large-scale gold mining continued in Boise River gold country for almost a century. Also, at the dawn of the Twentieth Century, logging began to increase in importance. Large-scale timber harvesting surpassed mining in value after about 1955, peaking around 1980. Today tourism and recreation are the mainstays of the economy, with small-scale mining and timber operations.
Boise Basin Gold/Quartz

Big companies were not the only people seeking gold during the Depression. Louie LeRoy Packer was born in Ola, Idaho, a tiny hamlet 20-25 miles north of Emmett, Idaho. A skilled carpenter and mechanic, he eventually opened an automobile service and repair station in Middleton. …
By the summer of 1935, Packer had a claim on Spanish Fork, about a mile and a half north of Idaho City. They started with just the tent on the claim, but later built a comfortable cabin. Early on, Louie acquired a partner
to help work his holdings
Soon, Packer began to improve his claim, rebuilding an abandoned flume system to deliver more water. Eventually, he had a large enough flow to work a hydraulic giant. Louie also prospected for quartz claims and after several years had properties the family considered worth $150 thousand dollars.

Idaho: Year One, An Idaho Sesquicentennial History
On March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that created the Territory of Idaho, a geographical monstrosity roughly the size of Texas and Illinois combined.
President Lincoln. Library of Congress.
Newspapers in the East went a week before they could published details (often erroneous) about the new Territory. One fact stood out: Idaho had Gold! and perhaps a lot of it. But the Civil War raged and the Territorial birth had to share headlines. Interest eventually centered a some crucial questions: Where, exactly, could one find gold? Guidebooks say to be alert and have our guns ready: Are the Indians really that dangerous? Using contemporary published articles and letters from the gold camps, Idaho: Year One, captures the day-by-day excitement and uncertainty as hopeful prospectors poured into the area.

August 3 [1863]
The Oregonian reported, “Our merchants are constantly receiving letters from their correspondents at Boise and at other trading points in the mines, full of complaints because of the impossibility of safely sending out the immense amounts of dust now accumulated.”
Unfortunately, dangers lurked along every trail. The newspaper said, “On account of the enormous expense of maintaining Expresses of sufficient strength to be prepared to resist the possible attacks of highwaymen and Indians, none now transport treasure, except in very small sums, and parties coming out are always unwilling to bring or have in charge any more than belongs to them.”
One miner braved the trails by himself and managed to slip through. From him, The Oregonian heard that, “If he had taken all that he was begged to bring, he should have had over a million dollars worth, and from others we get similar statements.”

Besides the links at the Sourdough Publishing web site, the books are also available directly from
Before the Spud
Boise River Gold County
Idaho: Year One