Thursday, May 23, 2019

State Senator, Stockman, Mayor, and Special Agent George A. Day [otd 05/23]

State Senator George Addison Day was born May 23, 1867 in Draper, Utah, about sixteen miles south of Salt Lake City. After an early education in the “common schools,” he spent 1886 to 1889 at the Brigham Young Academy. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he was then sent to open the Stake Academy of Cassia County, Idaho. They began in a log cabin, but finer buildings were built as the enrollment grew.
Stake Academy Building. Vintage Postcard.

Day settled in Oakley and was married there a year later. Over the next several years, he established himself as a cattle rancher. Then, in 1897, he was called to missionary work and sent to Charleston, South Carolina. A year later, he became president of that missionary conference until released from his duties in late 1899.

Day returned to Oakley and continued to buy land to expand his cattle operation. Then he was elected to the Idaho Senate that convened in January 1903. That legislative session accomplished quite a lot, including new buildings at the Academy of Idaho (today’s Idaho State University), and improvements at the Albion Normal School.

George’s re-election campaign must have been painful because political operative Fred Dubois [blog, May 29] led the Democratic Party on a determined anti-Mormon campaign. But whatever support that gained among some groups of voters backfired in Day’s case. A Republican, George benefitted from the huge block of LDS voters who voted against Democratic candidates.

The 1905 legislature again accomplished a great deal, including more support for higher education. They also reorganized the state land department. Day probably played a role in those changes. He had been put in charge of the southeast Idaho field office of the land board some months earlier.

During a third consecutive term in the Senate, Day was even more heavily involved with the land commission. In fact, a year or so after his last Senate term, he became Commissioner of the land office for the entire state. Day was very successful in that position. Thus, in the summer of 1910, he reported that a sale near Hollister had benefitted greatly from “competitive bidding” to “run up” the prices of the state land being sold. Day would remain Commissioner until August 1916.

For about six years after his retirement from the land board, Day focused more on his cattle ranch. Still, he found time to be active in several local and regional cattlemen’s associations and served as mayor of Oakley for a term starting in 1920.
George A. Day. [Hawley]

Next, while Day kept his operations in Cassia County – probably handled by a son – he also became a Special Agent for the Bureau of Investigation (today’s FBI). At that time, a major mandate for the Bureau was to investigate land fraud cases. Thus, Day’s experience in the land office would serve him well in his new position.

He was assigned to a one-agent office in Boise. Then, in July 1924, the Bureau closed their one-agent offices as an economy measure. George was transferred to Portland.

Day remained there for about three years, and then appeared next in Seattle. This was about the time his first wife died; he remarried about seven months later. In Seattle, the city directories never identified Day as a Special Agent, and he told the 1930 census taker he was engaged in stock raising and farming. One cannot escape the notion that Day had gone undercover in some way during this period.

Day was back in Oakley by 1932, when he was approaching 65 years of age. As late as 1944, when he was over 77, he still had business interests in Boise. George Addison Day passed away in October 1953.
References: [Brit], [Hawley]
Wayne R. Boothe, A History of the Latter-Day Saint Settlement of Oakley, Idaho, Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University (July 1963).
“[George A. Day Newspaper Items],” Idaho Statesman, Boise; Oakley Herald, Idaho (March 1907 –  June 1944).
“President George A. Day,” The Southern Star, Southern States Mission, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Chattanooga, Tennessee (December 17, 1898).

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