Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dentist, Rancher, Banker and Oakley Mayor John Lowe [otd 9/4]

Mayor Lowe. H. T. French photo.
Dentist and Oakley Mayor John O. Lowe was born September 4, 1877 in Willard, Utah, 10-12 miles north of Ogden. Soon, the family moved to Cassia County, Idaho. In fact, John missed by just a few months being eligible as a south Idaho “Oldtimer” when they formed an association forty years later. You had to be (Idaho Statesman, October 3, 1921) among the “residents of this Territory prior to January 1, 1880.”

John went to school in Cassia County and graduated from Albion Normal School in 1897. He then began teaching in the area.

However, after only a year, he enlisted with the First Idaho Regiment (National Guard) for service in the Spanish-American War. Corporal Lowe participated in all the engagements experienced by the First Idaho in the Philippines. There, the troops saw combat action against Filipino revolutionaries in a number of battles and skirmishes from February through April, 1899. The regiment, and John, mustered out in the fall of that year.

In 1901, Lowe entered medical school in Chicago, but illness – an aftermath of his service in the tropics – forced him to withdraw. After a year to recuperate, he enrolled at Northwestern University and graduated with a doctorate in dental surgery in 1906.

He returned to Oakley to set up a practice. John missed the June meeting of the Idaho Dental Board, but was in Boise for the December session. At that time, the Idaho Statesman (Dec 27, 1906) interviewed him about matters generally in the Oakley area. The paper reported, “The high price of sheep this fall and winter, coupled with the high price for hay, he says, has induced many of the sheep men around Oakley to dispose of their herds.”

Lowe’s credentials were approved and his practiced thrived. Still, his reply to the Statesman signaled his interest in more than just dentistry. Over time, he accumulated property in various Cassia County locations, including some prime ranch acreage near Burley. Platted in 1905 and incorporated in 1909 [blog, July 19], Burley would soon become the largest town in the county.

The Lowe family took an active interest in politics, and John O. was no exception. He became mayor of Oakley in 1909. In that position, he directed “infrastructure” improvements in the village, encouraged local business development, and presided over a major agricultural fair. By 1914, Lowe held a Director’s position for the Farmers Commercial Savings Bank in Oakley (his father was a major investor in the bank).

In 1918, the county seat for Cassia County moved to Burley, by far the fastest-growing town in the county. John O. moved his family into Burley within a year or so. He still retained his many business interests in and around Oakley.
First National Bank of Burley, ca 1919. J. H. Hawley photo.

Besides his Oakley banking interests, Lowe was a minor official for the First National Bank of Burley. At that time, Idaho prohibited the creation of branch banks (as did 17 other states). That encouraged the formation of too many small, under-capitalized independent units. Thus, in 1921 and 1922, Burley joined the nation in a long run of bank failures and consolidations. Although Dr. Lowe apparently did not suffer too much financially, he cut his banking involvement after about 1922.

Lowe retired from active dental practice in the 1930s and passed away in December 1939.
References: [Blue], [French], [Hawley]
Marcus Nadler, Jules Irwin Bogen, The Banking Crisis: the End of an Epoch, reprint edition, Arno Press, Inc., New York (1980)

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