Friday, February 22, 2019

Freighter, Rancher, Mine Owner, and State Senator George Rogers [otd 02/22]

George Rogers. Illust-State photo.
Idaho state Senator George Bailey Rogers was born February 22, 1842 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, 35-40 miles west of Madison.

Dodgeville was a well-known center for lead mining, and young George worked in the mines as well as on his father’s farm. At the age of twenty, he emigrated to California. There, he adapted his mining skills to work in the quartz gold lodes.

After a year or two in California, George tried his hand in the gold fields of British Columbia. Then, in 1865, he returned to the States and prospected in the placer fields of the Boise Basin. Rogers worked hard, but never seems to have done well in the mines. Over the next four or five years, he tried mining in other parts of Idaho, in Montana, Nevada, and back to Montana.

At some point, he had met and become friends with Charles W. Berryman, another young man who grew up in the same Wisconsin lead mine country. Unlike Rogers, Berryman prospered in the Montana mines and returned to Wisconsin “comfortably fixed.” Then, in the spring of 1870, he traveled back to Montana and formed a partnership with Rogers in the freight business. The firm of Berryman & Rogers became one of the largest and best-known freight outfits in eastern Idaho and southern Montana.

However, in late 1881, Utah & Northern Railway tracks reached Butte, Montana. As early as the spring of 1880, the partners had begun looking for another line of work. They sold out in 1883 and turned to ranching and farming near Blackfoot, Idaho. With considerable land in the area, Berryman & Rogers soon began importing purebred cattle and blooded horses to upgrade their herds. For the next twenty years, the two would also be leaders in the development of the town of Blackfoot.
Blackfoot, Idaho, ca. 1898.  Illust-State photo.
On December 8, 1890, newly-elected Senator George B. Rogers was among the men who convened for the first meeting of the Idaho state legislature. He was one of fourteen Republican versus just four Democrats in the Senate. Among their most important early duties was the election of Idaho’s first two United States Senators. Rogers had only the one term in the state Senate. He did serve two terms as Bingham County Commissioner.

In October 1897, President William McKinley appointed Rogers to be the Receiver for the U. S. Land Office located in Blackfoot. As Receiver, he handled the paperwork to verify that settlers had satisfied the requirements of the Homestead Act so they could receive title to their land.

Then, the Idaho Statesman reported (December 9, 1900) that Rogers had purchased a home in Boise. The item said, “Mr. Rogers intends to move to Boise to reside permanently two years hence.”

Rogers never lost his zest for mining. From Boise he ran several mining companies across southern Idaho. For example, the Idaho Statesman reported in 1903 that, “George B. Rogers, who is president of the Intermountain Gold Mining company, arrived home yesterday from a visit to the mine owned by his company, east of Pocatello.”

Six years later, Rogers was also identified as the vice president of a mining company that owned a lode mine about seven miles east of Boise. He also invested in real estate and was president of the Canyon Canal Company, based in Emmett.

In the spring of 1926, George and his wife and a daughter moved to Portland, hoping to improve his health. He passed away there in September.
References: [B&W], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“[George B. Rogers News],” Blackfoot Register, Blackfoot; Idaho Statesman, Boise; Times-Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho (January 1881 – September 1926).

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Emma Russell Yearian: Wife, Mother, and “Sheep Queen of Idaho” [otd 02/21]

Emma Russell, “Sheep Queen of Idaho,” was born February 21, 1866 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Her father had been born in Illinois and served in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War. By 1870, the family was back in Illinois, living near Chester, about 35 miles west and a bit north of Carbondale. After completing high school, Emma attended Southern Illinois Normal College (now Southern Illinois University) in Carbondale. She received her teaching certificate in 1883 and immediately came west to Idaho in search of a position.
Emma Yearian.
Lemhi County Historical Society.

She began as a tutor and governess for a family living 5-6 miles north of Salmon. She then spent the next two years teaching at tiny schools in the Lemhi Valley. Having been trained on the piano, she was also in demand to play at country dances around the area. At one of those dances, in 1887, she met Thomas Hodge Yearian, a young cattle rancher who played the fiddle at those dances.

Coincidentally, Thomas was born in DuQuoin, Illinois, a small town about 32 miles east Chester. However, the family moved west the same year Emma was born. They lived near Bannack, Montana (15-20 miles west of Dillon) for awhile before purchasing a ranch 25-30 miles up the Lemhi River from Salmon.

Thomas and Emma married in April 1889. Soon, the couple moved into a log cabin on what came to be called Yearian Creek. Between then and 1902, they had six children, one of whom died as a pre-teen.

About that time, Emma decided to go into the sheep business. Her decision was not a popular one, because the Lemhi and Salmon river valleys had always been viewed as cattle country. Thus, Emma had repeated problems with Idaho’s “Two Mile Limit” law, which prohibited the grazing of sheep anywhere within two miles of a cattle property. In reality, however, she and Thomas were ahead of their time, as more and more stockmen began raising both or switched entirely to sheep.

In any case, the “experiment” was a success. In 1910, the family moved from their old log cabin to a fine six-bedroom stone house, equipped with electric lights and indoor plumbing. Despite bouts of severe weather and down markets for wool and lamb, she persevered. It’s unclear exactly when she acquired the “Sheep Queen of Idaho” sobriquet, but it was well deserved and “stuck.”

She even found time to contributed to the literature of her industry. In 1920, the American Sheep Breeder and Wool Grower journal published Emma’s article about her experience in breeding range sheep. She had wondered if she could somehow avoid bringing in fresh “blooded” rams every year or two. (As a given ram’s progeny spread through a flock, the quality deteriorated due to in-breeding.) The first generation from her trial resulted in “splendid bunch of grade rams.” But the second generation was disastrous. Unfortunately, she wrote, “Instead of reproducing the good qualities of both sire and dam, they seemed to emphasize their poorer ones.”
Sheep Grazing. Library of Congress.

By the 1930s, the sheep operation had spread over 2,500 acres of range, with around 5,000 sheep.

Emma’s forceful personality and staunch Republican feelings led her into politics in 1930. She ran for the Idaho House of Representatives and became the first woman to represent Lemhi County in that body. (Some accounts describe her as the first ever woman Representative in Idaho, but that is not correct. The first three women were elected to the House in 1898 [blog, Oct 4].) Her re-election bid was swamped by the Democratic landslide in the next election cycle.

Emma continued her operation until very late in her life, despite a steady decline in U. S. demand for wool and lamb. She passed away on Christmas Day in 1951.
References: [Defen]
L. E. Bragg, More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Idaho Women, The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut (2001).
Fred Snook (Ed.), Centennial History of Lemhi County, Idaho, Lemhi County History Committee, Salmon, Idaho (1992).
Joseph E. Wing, Sheep Farming in America, The Breeder’s Gazette, Chicago, Illinois (1912)..
Emma R. Yearian, “Developing the Range Ewe,” American Sheep Breeder and Wool Grower, Vol. 40, No. 1, Chicago (January 1920).

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Merchant, Mining Investor, Rancher, and Public Servant Alexander McKinlay [otd 02/20]

Pioneer mining investor, merchant, and rancher Alexander Duncan McKinlay was born February 20, 1853 in Clayton County, Iowa, 20-40 miles northwest of Dubuque. In 1877, a year after he married in Iowa, he took up land on Idaho's northern Camas Prairie and went into farming.
Three-horse plow.
Library of Congress.

Almost immediately, he became involved in the Nez Perce War and the other Indian conflicts in 1878 and 1879 ... and acquitted himself well. The Illustrated History of the State of Idaho described him as "a man of the most desperate courage and of the highest order of patriotism."

Probably bolstered by that repute, he was elected an Idaho County Justice of the Peace in 1880. His farm also prospered: In 1882, and again in 1884, he had sufficient capital to finance and lead cattle drives into the northern mining regions.

In 1885, McKinlay decided to pursue opportunities in the Coeur d’Alene gold and silver mines. He and some partners located three tolerable claims, but prospecting was not his main interest. The Illustrated History of North Idaho said, "The earliest pioneer in Wallace, in a business sense, was Alexander D. McKinlay."

He and a partner first started a general merchandise business. Watching the early, explosive growth of the town, they began to focus more on real estate investment. To reduce their merchandising activities, in 1886 they sold off their grocery business. Their largest single real estate holding was the “Holohan-McKinlay Block,” a substantial two-story brick structure. The ground floor housed premium store space, with the second floor devoted to offices, apartments, and storage rooms.
Wallace, ca. 1888. Lewiston Tribune archive.

Soon, they dealt primarily in real estate. They did continue to operate a shop for cigars and other tobacco products. In the 1890s, McKinlay was twice elected a Justice of the Peace in Wallace, and then Probate Court Judge for Shoshone County. He was also twice elected to the Wallace City Council. In 1905, voters elected him to represent the district in the state House of Representatives.

During his term, McKinlay had occasion to visit the Twin Falls area, where extensive irrigation projects had spurred farming and mixed ranching. Greatly impressed, he moved to Twin Falls Falls after his term ended. There, he invested in real estate, joined the local Mining Exchange, and began raising livestock in the area. Voters around his new home elected him for the 1909 term in the House.

Later that year, he was appointed Executive Commissioner for Idaho’s exhibit at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. All went well until McKinlay objected to the placement of a peanut stand right in front of the Idaho Building. He must have protested with some heat, because it was widely reported that he was “arrested and escorted from the grounds” by guards. But organizers quickly apologized and the booth was moved. In the end, the Idaho Commission’s production was considered a great success [blog, March 29].

During the winter of 1911, McKinlay gathered some of his stock and loaded them on the railroad [blog, Aug 7] for transport to market. He rode in the caboose, since passenger space on a freight train was limited.

The train mounted the Blue Mountains in Oregon on the night of December 14. To assist the freight, a “helper” engine chugged up to the rear. Then, shortly after midnight, the pusher locomotive’s boiler exploded, sending twisted metal slashing through the caboose.

A Pendleton newspaper reported (December 14) that, “A. D. McKinley, a stockman accompanying a shipment to Portland, was instantly killed.”
References: [Blue], [Illust-North], [Illust-State]
“[A. D. McKinlay News],” Idaho Statesman, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake Mining Review (March 13, 1905 – February 15, 1910).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Poet, Attorney, and Public Servant Herbert Ferguson [otd 02/19]

Herbert Ferguson.
H. T. French photo.
Colonel Herbert Van Allen Ferguson was born February 19, 1852, in Three Mile Bay, New York state, about 65 miles north of Syracuse. After attending a preparatory institute in Rochester, he taught school in New York and in Michigan.

Clearly a talented and impressive young man, at the age of eighteen he served as a high school principal in New York. Ferguson then enrolled at the University of Michigan Law School, graduating with an LL.B degree in 1878.

After four years practicing law in Carthage, New York, Ferguson moved to Denver, Colorado. He practiced law there for five years, and also served a term in the state legislature. He then lived for two years in Leadville. During his time in Colorado, he served with their National Guard unit and attained the rank of Colonel.

After looking briefly at business prospects in Butte, Montana, Ferguson moved on to Salt Lake City. He worked there from 1889 to 1893 before relocating to Pocatello, Idaho. In his History, Hiram T. French tellingly described Ferguson as "interminably vigorous and intensively industrious."

He developed a reputation as “a most formidable opponent” in legal circles, no doubt aided by his impressive skills as a speaker. In fact, it appears he could have earned a living as a public lecturer, having had engagements all over the state.

For seven years, he worked for the Department of the Interior, at least part of the time as a Special Agent for the General Land Office. During his tenure, the Federal government threw so-called “surplus” lands inside the Fort Hall Indian Reservation open to white settlement.
Eager settlers and speculators await signal to enter Reservation, 1902.
Library of Congress.

Stockmen – especially sheep herders, as it happened – saw this as an opportunity to graze their herds on land not specifically claimed by homesteaders. Such range was, however, still part of the Reservation and not “public land” open for general use. Thus, in 1902, Ferguson had to publish notices in regional newspapers to remind white interlopers that grazing there was forbidden.

Early the following year, Ferguson was sent to Vancouver, Washington to investigate fraudulent claims related to timber and quarrying in that area. His work was part of a broad investigation that uncovered widespread corruption in the handling of timber claims in the Pacific Northwest. Federal prosecutors called him to testify in land fraud cases a number of times over the next few years. Near the end of the decade, a Tacoma newspaper reported that over thirteen hundred such cases were still pending in Washington and Northern Idaho.

Ferguson also served as special attorney for the city of Pocatello as well as one term as Bannock County prosecuting attorney. In 1912, he was elected for a term in the Idaho legislature. While there, he served as the Chairman of the State Affairs committee.

Ferguson took an active role in the bar association, attended the Congregational church, and was a member of several fraternal societies.

On top of all that, he wrote and published poetry that was quite well received. His Rhymes of Eld, published in 1912, got generally good reviews. One reviewer deemed the poems “slight,” but considered them “brightly written with a good feeling for rhyme and rhythm.” “Slight” or not, the poems had staying power. In 2010, Kessinger Publishing re-released the book in hardcover and paperback versions … as part of its “Legacy Reprint Series.”

Ferguson passed away in July 1917.
References: [Blue], [French]
“Deaths: Herbert Van Allen Ferguson,” The Michigan Alumnus, Volume XXIV, The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan Publishers, Ann Arbor (1918).
 “[Ferguson Land Fraud Work],” Idaho Register, Oregon Journal, Evening Statesman, Tacoma Times (January 2, 1903 – January 19, 1909).
Robert E. Ficken, The Forested Land: A History of Lumbering in Western Washington, University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington (1987).
“Reimbursement to H. V. A. Ferguson,” Statues of the United States of America, Passed at the Second Session of the Fifty-Seventh Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington (1903).

Monday, February 18, 2019

Idaho, Other Territories Can Now Get Land Grants for Colleges [otd 02/18]

Congressman Justin Morrill.
Library of Congress.
On February 18, 1881, Congress passed "an act to grant lands to Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming, for university purposes." These lands could then be sold to provide endowment funds for what we now call "land grant" universities; that is: "colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts."

The original "land grant college" law – the Morrill Act of 1862 – gave acreage "to the several states" based on their numbers of Congressmen: two Senators and a population-based slate of Representatives. Iowa was the first state to accept the terms of the Morrill Act. The legislature selected the existing* Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) to receive the benefits of the Act, so that school is generally considered the first land grant college.

Territories were not included and, of course, had no U. S. Senators or Representative anyway. The political entities named in the 1881 Act's title were all Territories. This law explicitly extended a form of the "land grant college" provision to those areas. Dakota Territory quickly took advantage of the new law, establishing Dakota Agriculture College (now South Dakota State University). The 1883 Territorial legislature provided funding for the first college building.

In general, however, territorial economies proved too weak to support such institutions, even with the grants. (Like Idaho, for example, Montana waited to attain statehood before establishing its land grant college.) When delegates gathered to write a constitution for the proposed state of Idaho, they took it for granted that a land grant college would follow. In particular, they wrote into that document not only that there would be such a university, but that it would be located in Moscow [blog, Oct 3].
Wheat harvest, ca. 1909. Project Gutenberg image.

The 1890 "Organic Act" that established the state of Idaho specifically noted that the lands granted to the Territory under the 1881 law were "hereby vested in the State of Idaho to the extent of the full quantity of seventy-two sections to the said state." The Act also made additional public land grants for a state Normal school, penitentiary, and various charitable and educational public institutions.

On the other hand, the Act also included the provision that “said Act of February 18, 1881, shall be so amended as to provide that none of said lands shall be sold for less than $10.00 per acre.”

Although contemporary records are largely silent on the point, such a stipulation suggests that speculators had been buying up the ceded acreage at bargain prices. That might explain why prior sales had not generated enough income to establish a college.

But even with that stipulation, stingy additional financing from the state kept the new University of Idaho on a tight budget. Construction of the main campus building began in 1891. They started work on just the west wing, but even that was incomplete when the school’s first paid president, Benjamin F. Gault, arrived in September of 1892. He found piles of lumber inside, and what walls were up had neither plaster nor paint. In fact, the full structure was not completed until 1899.

* The Morrill Act and this 1881 follow-up proved quite effective. Perhaps twenty states or territories applied the land grant designation to existing schools. However, many of those institutions were barely holding on financially or were basically moribund. Their new status saved them from dissolution. About thirty states, like Idaho, founded totally new schools under the Act.
References: [Brit], [French], Hawley]
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho (1962).

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Teacher and Newspaper Operator Frances Roberts, and Her Sister Nellie [otd 02/17]

Newspaper owner and publisher Frances Ida Roberts was born February 17, 1860, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her sister Nellie had been born in 1844. Their grandfather and father both ran newspapers, the grandfather in Kentucky and Indiana.
Early printing press.
Library of Congress.

Both girls learned the newspaper business from the ground up. Thus, as a pre-teen, Frances helped set type at her father's print shop. Toward the end of her high school years, she studied piano at a music institute in Missouri.

With that as a side speciality, around 1879 she found work as a school teacher. Between school sessions, she helped at her father's newspaper.

About that same time, Nellie married a newspaperman and thereafter stayed in the business as printer, editor, writer, and every other duty that came along. Over the next few years, the couple ran newspapers in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Tennessee. Then, in 1887, they started a newspaper in Harney County, Oregon.

That same year, Frances moved to a teaching position in Oregon. A year later, her father also resettled there. He founded a newspaper in Harney County to serve Burns and the surrounding region.

In 1889, Frances claimed a homestead near Baker City. The next five years were busy ones: She had to build the required dwelling and cultivate a portion of the tract, and build fences to keep stock out of the crops. Meanwhile, she lived on the tiny stipend earned by teaching at a small country school a mile or so from her place.

In fact, for 15-20 years, Frances taught at schools in eastern Oregon and also across the border in western Idaho. Again– for a change of pace from teaching – she worked at her father’s paper, and for others.

Nellie’s husband died in 1900, and the women’s father three years later. Frances went into the newspaper business herself in 1906. Nellie, who was then 62 years old, perhaps did not feel up to running a paper on her own. With Nellie as Associate Editor, they ran a successful newspaper in Oregon for three years, then Frances sold that and invested in a Boise publication.

Roberts held that interest for only a year, probably while she explored investment possibilities in the Boise Valley. She then sold her share of the Boise publication and started the Star Courier newspaper in Star, Idaho. (Star is about fifteen miles west of downtown Boise.)
Star Interurban Depot, ca 1910. photo.

Star was then a "coming town," especially after it became a stop on the Interurban Railway between Boise and Caldwell. Besides serving valley farmers, Star was a junction point for traffic to and from the Payette River settlements north of the Boise Valley.

The weekly Star Courier served Star and the adjacent towns of Eagle and Middleton. Besides the usual news, Roberts made time to tell the story of an aged couple struggling to survive on the charity of family and friends. The husband had fought in the Rogue River War, but his petition for an Army pension was denied on a technicality. Frances sent her write-up to Senator William Borah [blog, June 29], who quickly interceded. The couple got a nice check for back payments and began receiving a handsome monthly pension.

After a few years, she and her sister tired of the business and sold it. They moved to a home near Cove, Oregon (12-14 miles east of LeGrande). Frances died there in March 1929, and Nellie about ten year later.
References: [French]
Chronicling America: Historic Newspapers, The Library of Congress (online).
"History of Star," City of Star, web site.
“Romance of An Idaho Couple Brings Coin,” Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho (May 11, 1913).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sheepmen John Wilson and Daniel Cummings Found Dead [otd 02/16]

On the morning of February 16, 1896, sheepman Edgar "Ted" Severe settled his flock and then set up camp. Twelve days earlier, a looming snow storm had chased him from the campsite, located about 26 miles south of the near-future town of Twin Falls. Ted was worried. His flock was well over into cattle country, west of the informal “deadline” that was supposed to separate sheep from cattle range.
Sheep wagon. Library of Congress.

He had received thinly-veiled threats, but no one had directly confronted him. Several times, he had heard suspicious sounds around his campsite, and crept into the bushes to hide. However, nothing happened, and no one had bothered his flock.

All seemed quiet since his return, but he needed to stay alert. After awhile, he became even more worried about his two friends, John Wilson and Daniel Cummings. He could see their camp on Deep Creek, and some of their sheep. In all the time since he had trailed his flock into position and laid out his campsite, he’d seen no movement around their wagon.

In fact, their setup hadn't changed at all compared to what he remembered from twelve days before. That seemed odd since they would have been equally exposed to the bad weather. Finally, Severe saddled his horse and clip-clopped over to check out the other camp.

The Wilson-Cummings sheep had been allowed to scatter, and as Severe rode up to the wagon, he saw that their two dogs were still tied to the wagon wheels. Both animals looked weak and thin; one could barely bark. Inside the wagon, the horrified sheepman found the bodies of Wilson and Cummings. They had been shot and were long dead. [The blog for Feb 4 describes the claimed "self-defense" shooting by Jeff Gray.]

As quickly as he could, Severe found another sheepman to ride to Oakley, where they could pass word to the sheriff in Albion, the county seat. The sheriff and county coroner didn't arrived until two days later. In the meantime, other sheepmen avoided the camp, except for one who took the dogs to his own site for food and water.

The coroner estimated that the men had been dead for ten days to two weeks. Sheepman Davis Hunter recalled visiting them on the morning of the 4th, which roughly confirmed the estimate.
John Wilson and Daniel Cummings. Family Archives.
The investigators found plenty of clues. Besides a splash of blood on the ground near the wagon tongue, there was also a bloody handprint on the canvas wall of the wagon. Of course, the sheriff had no knowledge of the barely infant practice of fingerprint identification, so this evidence was useless. They also discovered three empty .44 caliber shells, matching slugs, a scrawled note (hardly readable), and a barely-used corncob pipe. Neither sheepman smoked, so someone else must have dropped the pipe.

Unfortunately, most of this evidence was mishandled. Only one of the shell casings appeared at the trial, and the coroner admitted that the shells had been stored in an unlocked cabinet in his office. At least two sheepmen kept the corncob pipe for a time before it was finally handed over to the sheriff. The note proved difficult to interpret, and then it disappeared between the inquest and the trial. A scrap of paper produced for the trial could not be verified as being the original note.

But that was for the future. At the time, suspicion fell on the notorious cowboy-gunman, “Diamondfield” Jack Davis [blog, December 17]. The hunt for him lasted over a year.
References: William Pat Rowe, "Diamond-Field Jack" Davis On Trial, thesis: Master of Arts in Education, Idaho State University (1966).
David H. Grover, Diamondfield Jack: A Study in Frontier Justice, University of Nevada Press, Reno (1968).
Edgar Severe, Virginia Estes (Ed.), "The True Story of the Wilson-Cummings Murder," A Pause for Reflection, J. Grant Stevenson, Provo, Utah (© Cassia County Company of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1977).

Friday, February 15, 2019

Wife, Sounding Board, and Philanthropist Lillian Bounds Disney [otd 02/15]

Lillian Marie Bounds, wife of the world-renowned entertainment innovator Walt Disney, was born February 15, 1899, in Spalding, Idaho, about ten miles east of Lewiston. She grew up on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, where her father was a Federal marshal and a blacksmith.
Lewiston, ca. 1918. J. H. Hawley photo.

Around her, the Indians still wore traditional garb and the pioneer environment dominated. While the old “Wild West” was passing, horses were still far more common than cars. As a teenager, she surely visited the “big city” – Lewiston, with perhaps 6,200 people. At that time, only the downtown area had paved streets; leaders hoped to find money to extend pavement into some residential areas. Sadly, her father died in 1916. By then most of Lillian’s nine older siblings were out making their way on their own.

In 1920, the mother had a small boarding unit in Lewiston. The census recorded no occupation for Lillian, so she was probably helping her mother with the business. Three years later, she joined her sister Hazel in Los Angeles to look for work. As it happened, a friend of her sister had a job with an outfit called Disney Brothers’ Studio (it would become Walt Disney Productions in 1929). The friend was a “cel inker” – she filled in outlined figures with colored ink – and said the brothers had another opening. The job required a good eye and steady hand, and Lillian was hired. She also did some secretarial work.

The studio, owned by Walt and his brother Roy, was Walt’s third attempt at a company to produce animated cartoons. The first two had “gone bust,” and this new venture had its own financial problems. The story is told that Walt sometimes asked Lillian to delay cashing her $15 weekly paycheck. The Disney brothers themselves were “batching it” in a tiny apartment. Lillian later told an interviewer, “I've always teased Walt that the reason he asked me to marry him so soon after Roy married Edna Francis, a Kansas City girl, was that he needed somebody to fix his meals.”

She married the boss in July 1925; the ceremony took place in Lewiston. According to the official studio history, in 1928 Lillian made a crucial contribution to the iconic Disney story: She talked Walt out of the name "Mortimer" for his new creation, who became "Mickey" Mouse instead.

Walt and Lillian Disney, 1935.
Walt Disney Family Foundation photo.
For over forty years, until Walt's death in 1966, Lillian continued to contribute to the Disney empire. Walt valued her insight and honesty as a behind-the-scenes "sounding board." She claimed to be “the original worry wart” about Walt’s creative notions. She thought no one would “go to see a picture about dwarfs!” “Snow White” was, of course, a huge hit.

After Walt’s death, she directed funds to a worthy enterprise: the California Institute of the Arts. Walt had fostered the merger of two struggling creative organizations into "CalArts," the first degree-granting school for students of the visual and performing arts.

Then, in 1987, she contributed a $50 million "down payment" for the construction of a world-class concert hall in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, numerous obstacles delayed the project. She died in December 1997, six years before construction was completed.

A year before her death, Lillian provided a $100 thousand grant that helped the Nez Perce tribe buy back historic tribal artifacts. She generally avoided publicity, but indications are that numerous other donations were known only to the recipients.
References: [French]
Lillian Disney as told to Isabella Taves, "I Live With a Genius,” McCalls magazine (February 1953).
“Lillian Disney,” Disney Legends, The Walt Disney Company.
“Lillian Disney Dies,” Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington (December 18, 1997).
Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination, Random House, New York (2006).
Bernard Weinraub, “Walt Disney's Widow, Lillian, Dies at 98,” New York Times (December 18, 1997).

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Physician and Drug Store Operator William Anderson [otd 02/14]

Dr. William Hopkins Anderson was born February 14, 1835, in Florence, Pennsylvania, 20-25 miles west of Pittsburgh. He had family roots back to Revolutionary War times and his paternal grandfather participated in the War of 1812. His mother, Dorcas Hopkins, had a distant relationship with the founder of Johns Hopkins University.
Country Doctor. National Archives.

Anderson graduated from the Eclectic College of Medicine and Surgery at Cincinnati  in 1855. [See blog, February 12, for a brief discussion of Eclectic Medicine.] He immediately opened a practice in a rural section of Iowa, about seventy miles north of Des Moines. Four years later, he moved to Utah, settling in an area 25-30 miles south of what would soon become Franklin, Idaho. He married in September 1861 and their first child was born about a year later in Wellsville, Utah.

About the time Dr. Anderson arrived in the Cache Valley, Mormon colonists founded Logan. In April of 1860, settlers spread north to establish Franklin. (Of course, as noted elsewhere [blog, Jan 10], they thought they were in Utah.) As a country doctor, Anderson spent nearly forty years treating patients in Utah's Cache and Malad Counties, as well as across the Idaho border in Oneida County.

Dr. Anderson also held the position of Regimental Surgeon for the Cache County unit of the Nauvoo Legion (Utah militia). He served as a Justice of the Peace for over a quarter century, a long period as notary public, and many years as a Trustee on the local school board.
Dr. Anderson. H. T. French photo.

Although Dr. Anderson lived in a sparsely populated and rather isolated locale, his contemporaries often remarked on how carefully and thoroughly he kept up with the latest advances in medical techniques.

In 1897, he moved to Soda Springs, Idaho. Located on the Oregon Short Line railroad, the town was already known as a major shipping point for sheep and cattle. Within a few years, Soda Springs would ship more wool than any other railway station in Idaho.

Dr. Anderson bought an existing mercantile establishment and expanded it to include what was reported to be the first drug store in the town. Besides that, he made other investments in the area, including a share in a rural telephone company incorporated in 1907. The doctor remained fully active in his profession for about a decade before advancing age led him to suspend his general practice. He did remain available for consultations and emergencies.

The Idaho Falls Times reprinted (August 3, 1909) an item from the Soda Springs Chieftain about one such emergency. The little daughter of the local sheep association manager had suffered an attack of ptomaine poisoning. The town’s “practicing physician” was absent, so the manager asked the railroad for a speed run to bring a doctor from Montpelier. However, old Doc Anderson stepped in and “the child was practically out of danger before the train arrived.”

Ironically, the Soda Springs item highlighted the “Record Run” of the special train as much as it did the effective medical intervention. The engine, a passenger car, and caboose had “covered the thirty-one miles between Montpelier and this city in thirty minutes.”

Anderson also continued an active role with the drug store trade. In fact, in 1912, the Idaho State Pharmaceutical Association – an organization pledged "to promote better conditions in retail drugstores” – elected him to be their Vice President. He passed away in December 1914.
References: [French], [Hawley]
"Obituary: Dr. William Anderson," Soda Springs Chieftain (Dec 24, 1914).
Progressive Men of Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Fremont and Oneida Counties, Idaho, A. W. Bowen & Co., Chicago (1904).
“Telephone and Telegraph,” Electrical Review, Vol. 50, No. 14, Electrical Review Publishing Company, New York, New York (April 6, 1907).
“Wellsville, Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake (1994).

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mining and Irrigation Developer, and Boise Founder John A. O’Farrell [otd 02/13]

John O'Farrell. H. T. French photo.
World traveler and Boise pioneer John Andrew O'Farrell was born February 13, 1823, in Ulster, Ireland. He went to sea after two years in a naval school: The round trip from London to Calcutta and back made O'Farrell a seasoned sailor at 16. He then became a crew member on an East India Company ship that sailed to Sydney, Australia, and widespread points in between.

O’Farrell remained in England for a year or so, qualifying as a shipyard worker. He then signed on with a ship that landed him in the United States in January 1843. Here, he worked in a shipyard for a time. During the Mexican War, Andrew served successively on a stores ship and then a mail packet.

After the annexation of California and the discovery of gold at Sutter's mill, he tried his hand at placer mining. When California was admitted to the Union in September 1850, all male residents over 21 years old – including O'Farrell – were granted U.S. citizenship.

O'Farrell returned to sea for a round trip voyage to New Zealand and Australia, with stops in Honolulu. After more mining, he worked ships between the Caribbean and England.
HMS Agamemnon. Magazine lithograph, 1857.

The Crimean War began in 1853, and O’Farrell shipped on the HMS Agamemnon, the first screw-powered British battleship. In November 1854, O'Farrell received a “Crimean Medal” for meritorious service in the siege of Sevastopol, where he was wounded.

He returned to the U.S. after the war and, in 1860, was among the early prospectors who discovered gold in the Pike's Peak area of Colorado. However, in late 1861, O’Farrell went East to Kentucky and got married. Two years later, he chose to put down roots in the Boise Valley.

Major Pinkney Lugenbeel’s troops were already in the Valley when O’Farrell arrived there in June. By coincidence or design, Andrew located his cabin within a quarter mile or so of where the Major finally sited (the new) Fort Boise. The log cabin O'Farrell built in what soon became Boise City is considered the first family home in the area. For many years, area Roman Catholics used his home as a place to hold services.
O'Farrell Cabin. City of Boise.

With his wife and growing family settled, O'Farrell promoted the development of the city and of the Boise Valley. Andrew eventually owned considerable Valley farm land as well as town real estate. Later, he helped fund and promote irrigation canals in the area. One of those projects included the New York Canal [blog June 20], of which he was one of the original promoters.

Yet he found time to travel extensively to oversee mining investments all over the west, from Washington and Montana south to Arizona and New Mexico.  O’Farrell was also known to be bright and inventive (his father was a military engineer). In 1897, he exhibited a patented rail-car coupler designed so the operator did not have to go between the cars, the largest single cause of railway accidents in that era. However, his mechanism was in competition with many others, and was never adopted.

O’Farrell’s wife of almost forty years, Mary Ann, died in May 1900. Together, they had raised four children of their own (three others died in infancy), plus seven adopted orphans. John survived his wife by a bit over five months.

Boise still has an Ofarrell Street. The original cabin, although relocated by a couple hundred feet, has been restored and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
References: [Brit], [French], [Illust-State]
 “A Car Coupler,” Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho (October 17, 1897).
"O'Farrell Cabin," web site.
Carolyn Thomas Foreman, “Colonel Pinkney Lugenbeel,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 24, No. 4, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City (1946).

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Pioneer Camas Prairie Physician John W. Turner, M. D. [otd 02/12]

Camas Prairie and Cottonwood, Idaho physician John Wesley Turner was born February 12, 1861, while his parents were visiting relatives and friends in Indiana. Afterwards, the family returned to their home in Kansas and John grew up in an area about forty miles south of Kansas City. As a young man, he worked at a drug store for two years before beginning classes at the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati.
Dr. Turner. [Illust-North]

Eclectic medicine prided itself on selecting “whatever would help their patients,” even if it didn’t fit into standard medical practice. Standard treatments were heavily influenced by European methods and included drastic measures such as bloodletting, extreme purgation, and blister-inducing poultices of mustard and peppers. Mainstream “medicines” included concoctions based on mercury, arsenic or lead (all highly toxic), as well as creosote (a wood preservative) or naphtha (a flammable petroleum product). Eclectic practitioners leaned on botanical remedies, many of them derived from Native American usage. They also relied on a form of what is now called physical therapy.

In 1888, John followed his brother, Franklin, to the Camas Prairie. Franklin, a civil engineer, had settled near Grangeville in 1884 and was elected county surveyor a year later. John moved his family into a property in Cottonwood, probably because Grangeville already had two or three doctors. He then returned to the Institute and completed his medical studies in 1891.

The following year, Turner was elected to the first of several terms as Coroner for Idaho County. He would hold that position, off and on, for over a decade. In 1893, he was elected to a three-year term as trustee for the Cottonwood school district. Although he was not a Charter Member of the Idaho Medical Association [blog, September 12], he soon joined that organization.

In 1896, he and a partner opened a new drugstore in Cottonwood. With that, and his status as a classic “country doctor,” Turner became very well known and well-liked in the area. Thus, later in 1896, he was elected to a term in the state Senate. While there, he introduced a bill, matched in the House, to begin state regulation of the practice of medicine. The bill passed, but had to be revised. After that, Dr.  Turner served for a number years on the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Turner tried his best keep up with the times. An item in a 1906 Idaho County Free Press mentions a visit to Grangeville on his motorcycle. Later, he would be one of the first on the Prairie to own an automobile. Also, once the railroad reached Cottonwood and Grangeville in 1908, we find him escorting patients to surgical specialists as far away as Portland, Oregon.
Cottonwood, ca 1900, Idaho County Free Press.
However, in 1910, a report sponsored by the American Medical Association faulted Eclectic Medicine for a lack of academic rigor. And, indeed, the field did not adapt well to new knowledge about microorganisms as a cause for diseases. It also depended heavily upon anecdotal evidence and was weak on laboratory practice. Eclectic medicine began to fall out of favor.

It was probably no coincidence that, in 1911-1913, Dr. Turner invested in California farmland and began to spend more time there. In late 1916, he sold his property in Cottonwood and cut back his local practice. By 1920, the family was permanently settled on a fruit farm and vineyard about thirty miles south of Fresno. He spent the rest of his life in California, passing away in San Francisco in April, 1946.
References: [Illust-North]
“[Dr. Turner News],” Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville, Idaho (October 19, 1888 – July 5, 1917).
M. Alfreda Elsensohn, Eugene F. Hoy (ed.), Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1951).
John S. Haller, Jr., Medical Protestants: The Eclectics in American Medicine, 1825-1939, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois (1994).
“State Medical Board,” Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho (May 9, 1897).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Weiser Rancher, Merchant, and Developer Solomon Jeffreys [otd 02/11]

Solomon Jeffreys.
Illustrated History photo.
Solomon M. Jeffreys was born February 11, 1835, in Jackson County, Missouri, near Kansas City. Ten years later the family traveled the Oregon Trail as part of a large wagon train to Yamhill County, Oregon.

In 1849, Solomon, with father Thomas and brother John, joined the California gold rush. They did well in the gold fields, but the father died on the trip home.

With the stake they had earned, the sons expanded their farm holdings and Solomon started his own place. He later moved east of the Cascades and developed a considerable stock ranch. In 1862, he made a highly profitable cattle drive to the gold fields in Canada.

In 1864, Solomon’s brother Woodson moved to Idaho and took up land along the Weiser River. Apparently he made glowing reports back to Oregon because Solomon joined him the following year. The two partnered in the cattle business as the Jeffreys Brothers Cattle Company. Solomon eventually opened a small store a mile or so from the mouth of the Weiser, serving the stage line along the river.

The area grew slowly, although it did acquire a post office called “Weiser Ranch” in 1866. Woodson Jeffreys and the brother’s friend, Thomas Galloway [blog, June 6], were among the early postmasters. However the “office” was just a drawer in the Jeffreys’ store and the 1870 census found less than 250 residents in what would become Washington County.

In fact, not until 1879 were there enough people to create the new county. Solomon was among those appointed to a temporary Board of Commissioners, tasked with setting up county operations. The fledgling political unit faced one small problem: It contained virtually no towns, not even so much as a hamlet. Thus, two areas faced off for the honor of being county seat – Upper Valley (now Salubria) and Weiser Bridge (now Weiser). Weiser won … aided by some ballot box stuffing and other chicanery, according to local pioneer and historian Judge Frank Harris.

At first, officers ran county business out of their homes, or borrowed space where they could find it. Finally, Solomon Jeffreys gave the county five acres of land near his store. Weiser City began with the sale of lots from the donated acreage. The town did not really grow until the railroad approached. Then, in 1882, the village center moved somewhat closer to the railroad right-of-way near the Snake River.
Western train station, 1884. Glenbow Museum photo.

Solomon’s brother and ranching partner, Woodson, had died the year before. Apparently seeing no future for the cattle business in the area, Solomon had the herd sold off. Thereafter, he joined with several other pioneers to form an irrigation company. Unfortunately, the project was severely under-capitalized and years passed – and the company dissolved and reformed a couple of times – before enough water could be delivered to all who needed it.

A major change hit Weiser in 1890, when a huge fire wiped out the main business district. During the next two or three years of rebuilding, the center of town moved even further west, close to the railroad station. Through all this, Solomon continued to play a substantial role in the Weiser City business community.

Besides a term in the Territorial legislature (1872-1874), Jeffreys also served as a county commissioner, county treasurer, and member of the city council. He died in October 1904.
References: [Hawley], [Illust-State.]
Frank Harris, “History of Washington County and Adams County,” Weiser Signal (1940s).

Inventor, Atomic Bomb Witness, and University Professor Larry Johnston [otd 02/11]

Larry Johnston, ca 1945. U. S. Army.
Physicist Lawrence Harding “Larry” Johnston was born February 11, 1918, in Shantung (Shandong) Province, China. His parents were missionaries, who returned to the U. S. in 1923, probably to avoid Nationalistic unrest in the area. By 1930, his father held a position as a Presbyterian pastor in Santa Maria, California.

Like many boys of that era, Larry was fascinated by electricity. That led him to a B.S. degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley. One of his professors was Luis W. Alvarez, later a Nobel Prize winner, but then a newly-minted Ph.D. and faculty member.

The U.S. had not yet entered World War II when Larry graduated in 1940. He began graduate school on schedule, intending to work for Alvarez. However, the professor took a leave of absence to consult at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The “temporary” assignment soon lengthened, and Alvarez drafted Johnston to help. Larry arrived at MIT in January of 1941.

Much of the work there sought to improve the relatively new technology of radar. Soon, Alvarez made Larry the Project Engineer for what became a Ground Control Approach (GCA) radar system. The system provides precise data on a plane’s altitude, and its track versus the runway centerline. A ground controller uses that information to “talk the pilot down.”
Trinity Test Blast. National Archives.
Then Robert Oppenheimer recruited Alvarez for the atomic bomb project, working out of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Alvarez, in turn, brought along Larry. The details are beyond the scope of this blog, but Johnston tackled, and solved, the detonation trigger array for the plutonium-239 atomic bomb (“Fat Man”). In the summer of 1945, he witnessed the first atomic detonation in history at the Trinity site near Alamogordo.

A few days later, Johnston and his team were ordered to Tinian Island. From there, Larry rode an observation plane and witnessed the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. He was the only person known to have seen all three of those first atomic explosions. They had also seen the enormous supply of coffins stockpiled in case the Allies had to physically invade Japan. A deeply religious man, Johnston later wrote that he and the bomber crews “had come to terms with the inevitable loss of life. We hoped for an early end to the War and its heavy drain of human life and potential.”

The terrible destruction gave the Japanese a face-saving way to avoid a fight to the death, something they were, indeed, prepared to do. Less than a week after the second bomb, they surrendered. After matters settled down, Johnston went back to graduate school at UC-Berkeley.
GCA Radar Console.
National Air and Space Museum.

During the winter of 1948, the GCA system he and Alcarez had pioneered made possible one of the most dramatic peacetime campaigns of the Twentieth Century: the Berlin Airlift. With ground controllers – the “unsung heroes” – talking them down through bad weather, daring pilots flew a steady stream of supply planes into blockaded Berlin. The Soviets finally gave up their unexpectedly-futile obstruction.

After receiving his doctorate in 1950, Johnston taught for over a decade at the University of Minnesota. He then worked back in California before becoming a physics professor at the University of Idaho in 1967. Some of his research results are still considered the definitive works in his field, and he was renowned as a teacher and mentor. After his retirement in 1978, Larry stayed active, including enthusiastic support of Christian ministries in Moscow.

He passed away in late 2011.
References: [Brit]
David Bergamini, Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy, William Morrow & Company, New York (1971).
Lawrence Johnston, “The War Years,” Discovering Alvarez, W. Peter Tower (ed.), The University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1987).
Sandra L. Lee, “Idaho Man Witness to 3 Atomic Blasts,” Lewiston Tribune, Lewiston, Idaho (November 19, 2011).
“Obituary: Lawrence H. 'Larry' Johnston, 93,” Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho (December 7, 2011).
Stewart M. Powell, “The Berlin Airlift,” Air Force Magazine, The Air force Association, Arlington, Virginia (June 1998).

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Arthur Pence: Stockman, Legislator, and Hot Springs Owner [otd 02/10]

Senator Pence. H. T. French photo.
Idaho rancher Arthur Lee Pence was born February 10, 1847, near Des Moines, Iowa. He chose to make his own way at an early age. In 1864, his brother-in-law and sister Martha decided to move to the West. Arthur examined his prospects in Iowa, and then found himself a job driving an ox team for a wagon train. The column disbanded at Boise City, so Arthur drove a load of hay to Idaho City.

Pence briefly tried his hand at prospecting but soon turned back to freighting instead. For three years, he bullwhacked trains from Umatilla  to Boise City, and sometimes on into Idaho city. He spent one season on a homestead in the Boise Valley, but then began driving a stagecoach that served the new gold camps in northern Nevada. Contacts there soon led to a blacksmith job at a camp ten miles or so south of the Idaho border.

The stage road from Nevada passed near where the Bruneau River joins the Snake, which led Arthur to explore that part of the country. Encouraged, in April 1869 he filed on some hot springs at the upper end of the Bruneau Valley - the springs still bear the name “Pence Hot Springs.”

Arthur and a brother ran cattle in the Bruneau area for about a decade. By then, Idaho stockmen were exporting tens of thousands of cattle out of state. The brothers may have decided the market was too glutted to be profitable, so they sold off their herds and went into vegetable farming. They did a fine business selling produce in the mining camps until about 1885.
Western sheep herding. Library of Congress.
At that time, the Oregon Short Line had completed its rails across Idaho, which made sheep raising a more attractive alternative. Thus, the Pence brothers ran sheep together as partners for about four years, and then they divided the business. Arthur prospered in the sheep business: The H. T. French History (1914) observed that Pence was “still one of the large factors in that industry in the southern half of the state.”

Pence helped organize the Bruneau State Bank in 1905, and also went into politics. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1901, and to the state Senate in 1903 and again in 1907. During his first term, the legislature authorized a reform school to be built in Fremont County.  During the second, they funded the first fish hatchery created in the state. Pence helped create a school district in the Bruneau Valley and became almost a permanent member of the school board.

In 1911, Governor James H. Hawley [blog, January 17] appointed Pence to the state Livestock Sanitary Board. That board served to promote the livestock industry and to protect it from losses due to theft or disease. Thus, they appointed the State Veterinarian, approved the registry of purebred stock, compiled reports about infectious diseases, and much more. Pence spent six years on the board, part of that time as its president.

Arthur and his wife, the former Mary Sydney Wells, remained life-long fixtures in Bruneau society. According to local historian Adelaide Hawes, who knew them personally, Mrs. Pence was universally known as “Aunt Sydney.” Pence Hot Springs, which they left open to all, also became a social center. Hawes wrote, “Every Sunday from early morn till evening the people came.”

Arthur passed away in 1935 and Sydney three years later. They are interred in the Hot Springs Cemetery.
References: [French], [Hawley]
Adelaide Hawes, Valley of Tall Grass, Caxton Printers, CaIdwell, Idaho (1950).
 “[Pence News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise (January 8, 1911 – April 18, 1917).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Attorney and Legal Scholar Colonel Edwin G. Davis, D.S.M. [otd 02/09]

Colonel Davis. H. T. French photo.
Colonel Edwin G. Davis was born on February 9, 1873, at Samaria, Idaho, near Malad City. An early interest in teaching led him to a year as school principal in Utah, followed by a year as a principal in Malad. Then, in 1896, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Idaho secured him an appointment to the Military Academy.

Davis graduated from West Point in June 1900. Three months later, he found himself in the Philippine, where the Army was trying to suppress Filipino independence forces. The following May, Davis was reassigned from the infantry to the artillery. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant less than two months later. He left the Philippines at the end of 1901, and was stationed at Fort Walla Walla for about fifteen months. In 1903, he became an Instructor of Law and History at West Point.

Davis apparently anticipated retirement and a return to Idaho in 1906, and let it be known that he planned to run for Congress in that year's election. His notion was not well received. While conceding his good qualities, pundits observed (Idaho Register, Idaho Falls, March 2, 1906) that after his long absence from the state, "he ought to at least get slightly acquainted with the people before he asks to be rewarded with so important an office."

Perhaps discourage by the reaction, Davis remained in the service. Promoted to captain in early 1907, he was transferred to a post near San Francisco, California, later that year. Nagged by a "physical disability incurred in the line of duty," he applied for a disability retirement, which was granted in 1910. Davis then returned to Idaho and opened a law practice in Malad. That fall, Oneida County voters elected him to the state House of Representatives for the term starting in 1911.

That legislative session was particularly busy, including the promulgation of eight constitutional amendments to be voted on in the next general election. Yet even with that, Governor James H. Hawley had to call a Special Session to correct a revenue Act that was “deficient in several important provisions.” During that Session, Davis served as Floor Leader for the Republican majority in the House.

DSM. U. S. Army
Comparing his prospects in the capital versus those in Southeast Idaho, Davis moved his home to Boise in 1911.

Besides his regular practice, Davis also contributed well-reasoned papers to various legal journals. As an instructor at the Academy, he authored a textbook on constitutional law. A knowledgeable reviewer said of it: “He has accomplished a good work, and not only the Military Academy will be benefited by his labors, but his work is ample for much that the ordinary practicing State lawyer will require.”

He continued to serve in state government, as well as handling a private law practice, until he joined the Judge Advocate General's office during World War I. In July 1918, Colonel Davis received the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal "for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services ... in the administration of military justice during the war."

Davis returned to his Boise legal practice after the war for a time, and also served as a U.S. Attorney General for Idaho in 1921-1925. In 1928, he handled national-scope cases out of Washington, D.C. He died in July 1934 and is buried at West Point.
References: [French], [Hawley]
“Book Review: Law Books at the Military Academy,” Journal of the U. S. Cavalry Association, Vol. XVIII, Leavenworth, Kansas (July 1907-April 1908).
George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S Military Academy, Supplement, Vol. V, Sherman & Peters, Printers, Saginaw, Michigan (1910).
“People of Sioux County, Neb., vs National Surety Co.,” Case 276 U. S. 238, United States Supreme Court (1928).
C. Douglas Sterner (Ed.), Citations for Awards of the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Volume 1 (1862-1942), (2008).
U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006, National Cemetery Administration.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Idaho U. S. Senator, Lawyer and Judge Kirkland I. Perky [otd 02/08]

U. S. Senator from Idaho Kirtland Irving Perky was born on February 8, 1867 in Smithville, Ohio, about 22 miles southwest of Akron. The family surname is generally considered an Americanization of the Swiss and south-German name “B├╝rki.” His physician father had contracted health problems serving during the Civil War and died when Kirtland was about five years old.
Lawyer Kirtland Perky. [Hawley]

His widowed mother moved the family to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1880 and then to a small town north of Lincoln four years later. Perky went back to study at Ohio Northern University and attained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1888. There, he also met his future wife, whom he married three years after graduation.

Kirkland next studied law as a clerk in the Lincoln office of William Jennings Bryan, later famous in national politics. To expand his education, Perky then did an intense stint at the University of Iowa Law School. He was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1890, but returned to Nebraska to open a practice in his home town. In 1894, Perky followed two friends in the legal community to Idaho. He opened a practice in Albion, then the county seat of Cassia County.

During the 1897 murder trial of “Diamondfield Jack” Davis, defense attorney James Henry Hawley hired Perky to provide essential knowledge of the local situation. Despite their best efforts, Davis was convicted … but would be exonerated and (eventually) released. [Blogs, January 17, December 17, and several others.]

In the fall of 1898, Perky moved to Mountain Home, the county seat of Elmore County. Then, in January 1901, he was appointed a district judge to serve the remaining term of Judge Charles O. Stockslage [blog, February 8], who had been elected to the state Supreme Court. However, Kirkland chose not to run for re-election when his term expired. He moved to Boise in the spring of 1903 to open a practice there.

News reports show that Perky handled cases all over the state … as far north as Coeur d’Alene and into the southeast at Montpelier. In keeping with the times, local prosecutors often hired him to help present the state’s case. But he also had many cases as defense attorney. He was so busy that, despite strong support, he refused to run for the position of Boise mayor in 1907.

That same year, and the following, he aided the defense for officials of the Western Federation of Miners, accused in the assassination of ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg [blog, December 30]. In the process, he became a personal friend of famous attorney Clarence Darrow.

In November, 1912, then-Governor James Hawley appointed him to fill the unexpired term of U. S. Senator Weldon B. Heyburn, who had died in office. Again, Perky declined to run for a term of his own.
Protest Meeting, before 1923. Library of Congress.
By this time, it can be inferred that Kirtland’s refusals to run for public office were, at least in part, his “anti-establishment” politics. Thus, he often found himself at odds with the policies of both major parties. They were entirely to blame, he asserted, for the post-war depression and the failure to improve the lot of farmers and other “ordinary people.”

Perky’s wife died in the summer of 1921 and by 1924 he had moved his law practice to Long Beach, California. Most of his cases that made the news had him defending “unpopular” defendants. In the late Twenties, Perky moved to Huntington Park, south of Los Angeles, but continued to practice law. He passed away there in January 1939, after a brief illness.
References: [Hawley]
Clarence Darrow, The Story of My Life, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York (1932).
David H. Grover, Diamondfield Jack: A Study in Frontier Justice, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada (1968).
Patrick Hanks, Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, New York (2003).
“[Perky News],” Elmore Bulletin, Mountain Home; Idaho Statesman, Boise; Twin Falls News; Lewiston Tribune; Idaho (August 1892 – January 1939).
Albert Watkins, Illustrated History of Nebraska, Vol. III, Western Publishing and Engraving Company, Lincoln, Nebraska (1913).

Landowner, Sheep Rancher, and Supreme Court Justice Charles O. Stockslager [otd 02/08]

Judge Stockslager.
Illustrated History photo.
Idaho Supreme Court Justice Charles O. Stockslager was born on February 8, 1847, in Indiana, about ten miles west of Louisville, Kentucky. He attended a Normal school in Lebanon, Ohio, but apparently never taught school himself. Charles decided to become a lawyer instead. He read law at his brother’s office in Indiana, and then with some “prominent attorneys” in Kansas.

Admitted to the Kansas bar in 1874, he practiced there until 1887. Along with his practice, he served as Clerk of a District Court, and later as a County Attorney. Stockslager also became heavily involved in real estate and mining properties. Thus, he helped organize the mining town of Galena (just across the border from Joplin, Missouri) and was elected its Mayor in 1881.

In 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed Stockslager to be Receiver for the U. S. Land Office in Hailey, Idaho. (The Receiver formally accepts the fees paid by homesteaders when they claim a tract of public land.) Three years later, voters elected him to be Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, which then encompassed much of south-central Idaho. He was reelected four years later, and then again in 1898.

Oddly enough, Stockslager’s biographies do not mention that he owned any specific mining properties in Idaho. Yet, given his activities in Kansas, it’s probable that he did. And in 1910, he was a major organizer of the Idaho-South American Mining & Development Company. Stockslager had many other investments besides that. Those included a share of the Hailey Hot Springs Hotel Company, originated by railroad publicist Robert Strahorn. He was also prominent enough in the sheep business to be selected as a Delegate-at-Large for Idaho at the 1900 Annual Convention of the National Live Stock Association.

As Fourth District Judge, Stockslager handled cases tried at Albion, then the county seat of Cassia County. Thus, in 1897, he presided at the trial of "Diamondfield Jack" Davis, accused of murdering sheepmen John Wilson and Daniel Cummings [blog, Feb 4 and others].
Courthouse, Albion. Cassia County Historical Society.

The prosecution's case was deeply flawed and totally circumstantial. The slugs that killed the sheepmen were .44 caliber; Jack owned only a .45 revolver. Moreover, most of the physical evidence had been grossly mishandled, and the State could not credibly place Davis at the scene of the crime. Nonetheless, the jury found Jack guilty. Stockslager then saw fit to sentence Jack to be hanged.

In 1900, the judge was elected to serve a six-year term on the Idaho Supreme Court, beginning in 1901. He therefore participated in an appeal review for Diamondfield Jack's case. Oddly enough, Stockslager did not recuse himself from the ruling. The appeal only bought more time: The court pushed back the hanging date. (In fact, the Idaho courts never did change Jack’s status. That was left [blog, Dec 17] to the Board of Pardons, a panel consisting of the governor, secretary-of-state, and attorney general.)

Stockslager ran unsuccessfully for Idaho governor in 1907 and tried, also unsuccessfully, for a U. S. Senate seat in 1909. Except for one more term as district judge, he engaged in private practice, first in Hailey and then in Shoshone, until his retirement. In 1919, Stockslager led the effort to create Jerome County from portions of Lincoln, Gooding, and Minidoka counties. The Act creating the new country passed on February 8.

Stockslager passed away in March 1933.
References: [Blue], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
William G. Cutler, History of the State of Kansas, A. T. Andreas, Chicago (1883).
David H. Grover, Diamondfield Jack: A Study in Frontier Justice, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada (1968).
Charles F. Martin, Proceedings of the Annual Convention, Fort Worth, Texas, National Live Stock Association, Denver (1900).
“[Stockslager News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho (September 24, 1890 – June 19, 1910).