Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Brewery and Food Products Manager William Stoehr [otd 03/22]

Brewery manager William Stoehr was born March 22, 1880 in Bethalto, Illinois, 25-30 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri. As a youth, William worked as a cooper, his father's trade. However, his real interest was the brewer's craft, so as a teenager he took a job at a large brewery in St. Louis. After five years there, he moved to Chicago to attend the American Brewing Academy, perhaps the top brewmaster’s school in the U.S. at that time.

Stoehr received his certificate in 1902, along with a gold medal as top performer in his class. After that, he spent six months at a brewery in Illinois, and then became master brewer at a large plant in Seattle.
Beer by mule, Idaho Brewing & Malting Company.
IMB logo on the hogshead.

Then a Spokane company bought the Idaho Brewing Company in Boise. The Idaho Statesman reported (June 20, 1905) that, “William Stoehr of Seattle … has resigned his position there and will have charge of the Boise brewery as manager.”

The facility he was hired to run could trace its roots, as the “City Brewery,” almost to the founding of Boise City. Certainly by September 1864, it was a thriving business. The plant had a succession of short-term owners before Joseph Misseldt, an emigrant from Prussia, acquired it in 1870. Sadly, he fell down a well and drowned in 1878. His widow sold the business to John Brodbeck. When Brodbeck sold it in 1901, the new owners changed the name to the Idaho Brewing Company.

Aside from his manager’s position, Stoehr immersed himself in the business and social life of Boise. One of his several investments led him to a position as Secretary and Treasurer of the Boise Gas Light & Coke Company.

However, prohibition came early to Idaho – in 1916 – thereby making the core product of the IB&M Company illegal. Officers quickly reinvented the business as the Idaho Products Company, making a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. They also set up plants in Meridian and Payette to dry fruits and to pack fruits and vegetables.

After awhile, company developers also devised an effective process to dehydrate potatoes. In fact, the company won a contract to supply dehydrated potatoes to the U. S. Army, but World War I ended before it could be completed. In addition to their own packing and shipping operations, Idaho Products handled sales and shipping for other regional producers. 

Most of the firm's managers – including the President – worked in Spokane, leaving Stoehr as the highest officer in Boise. Some time during this period, Stoehr himself acquired property west of Caldwell to grow fruit trees. Then, around 1930, he left the company and devoted himself to his orchard operation.


When the U. S. gave up Prohibition as a bad idea, the company jumped back into brewing. The firm's President said (Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 27, 1933), "Bohemian Club Beer will be manufactured at Boise and new equipment will be installed in the old Idaho Brewing and Malting company plant there immediately."

The article went on to note that, “The Boise staff will be headed by William Stoehr, in charge of manufacturing.”

Stoehr remained with the Bohemian brewery until about 1937, when he returned to farming. A year later, the Overland Brewery in Nampa lured him out of “retirement” for a year or so to help with their operation. After that, he again returned to farming. Then, in 1956, he moved back into Boise, where he died from a heart attack about two years later.

References: [French], [Hawley]
City Directory: Boise, R. L. Polk & Company, Detroit, Michigan (1923-1956).
“[William Stoehr News],”  Idaho Statesman, Boise (November 1915 – November 1958).

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

New Idaho Territorial Penitentiary Opens Near Boise [otd 03/21]

On March 21, 1872, the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman reported, “We understand that the Territorial prisoners are to be brought down to-day and placed in the penitentiary, under the charge of the U. S. Marshal.”
Boise County Jail.
Idaho City Historical Foundation.

This move initiated the use of a new Territorial Penitentiary in Boise City, Idaho. Eleven prisoners previously held in the Boise County jail in Idaho City became its first inmates.

When Congress created Idaho Territory in 1863 [blog, March 4], the region had no penitentiary. Thus, Territorial prisoners were housed at county jails in Lewiston and Idaho City. Three years later, officials moved all such prisoners to the Idaho City unit.

Accounts of the time indicate that the jail was, at best, a marginal facility [blog, Dec 31]. Finally, in early 1867, the Idaho Territorial Delegate to the U. S. Congress persuaded that body to appropriate funds for a prison. However, two years passed before the Territorial legislature saw fit to enact a process to certify and use the planned structure. Construction began in the spring of 1870, and was complete about a year later.

Another year passed before officials could plan the transfer of prisoners to the new facility. They had to work out the details of who would have charge of the operation, and who would pay for what. Initially, the serving U. S. Marshal for Idaho Territory acted as prison warden.

Still, as a federal facility, the new penitentiary housed convicts sent there by both Federal and Territorial courts. This helped spread the fixed costs over a larger population. H. T. French noted that the arrangement provided “a great saving to the territory over its previous outlay for the care of law breakers.”

In 1885, the Territorial legislature created a separate Prison Commission. This three-member Commission watched over the budget and operation of the prison, and eventually had authority to investigate complaints about conditions at the facility. A year later, the prison received a donation of books to start a library. The library also subscribed to current newspapers and magazines, and made them available to the inmates.

In 1890, the federal government turned the penitentiary over to the newly-admitted state of Idaho. According to Hawley’s History, “On August 1, 1890, there were seventy-five prisoners in the penitentiary, six of whom were United States prisoners.”
Idaho State Penitentiary, ca. 1918. J. H. Hawley photo.
Over a period of years, the Penitentiary grounds and facilities were expanded and officials implemented numerous upgrades.

One major improvement was the construction of a massive outer wall. Prisoners who had been taught stone masonry actually cut sandstone from quarries east of the prison, then they and the other prisoners assembled the wall. The Idaho Statesman noted (July 12, 1894) that “The convicts at the penitentiary will have a holiday today in honor of the completion of the new stone wall.”

Four years later, the prisoners also completed construction of a new stone dining hall. The prisoners’ room could hold “250 men, without any crowding, and could seat 300 men without any inconvenience. … ” Besides the kitchen, the main floor contained a separate staff and guard dining room. A full basement held six rooms, including a bake shop and a laundry. 

The state operated the facility until 1973, when all the prisoners were transferred to a modern new prison about ten miles south of Boise. That same year, the "Old Pen" was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the site is open to the public under the management of the Idaho State Historical Society.
Reference]: [French], [Hawley]
"Old Idaho Penitentiary," National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service.
Rachel S Johnstone, Inmates of the Idaho Penitentiary 1864-1947, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise (2008).

Monday, March 20, 2023

Rocky Mountain Fur Company Advertises for "Enterprising Young Men" [otd 03/20]

William H. Ashley.
Legends of America.
Missouri Republican, St. Louis, March 20, 1822: "To enterprising young men. The subscriber wishes to engage one hundred young men to ascend the Missouri river to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years … "

Signed by William H. Ashley, the job posting marked the first public presence of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company (RMFC).

At the time, independent American trappers and small fur companies were focused on exploiting the Missouri River watershed, east of the Continental Divide. Ashley and his partner, Andrew Henry, had more ambitious plans.

Pennsylvanian Andrew Henry first entered the fur trade in 1808, when he was about thirty-three years old. He led an attempt to establish a Missouri Fur Company (MFC) post at Three Forks, in Montana. When Indian attacks ended that venture disastrously, he moved to Idaho and built Fort Henry, four to five miles southwest of today's St. Anthony.

A hard winter soon crippled that effort. The MFC struggled along for a number of years, but the War of 1812 drew Henry's interest for the duration. After his military service, until he joined up with Ashley, Henry focused on mining activities around St. Louis.

William Ashley had moved to St. Louis from Virginia in 1808, when he was about thirty years old. Prior to 1822, he engaged in real estate development, banking, and mining. He too served in the Missouri militia, rising from a captaincy during the War of 1812 to the rank of General in 1822. Along with all that, Ashley engaged in politics, being elected in 1820 as the first Lieutenant-Governor of the new state of Missouri.

Although the Ashley-Henry announcement drew enough men to their new company, the RMFC got off to a shaky start: The Arikara Indians of South Dakota inflicted heavy losses on their Missouri River expedition. After that, the company avoided that area and dispatched trains of pack horses to the Rocky Mountains on a more direct overland route.

RMFC trappers crossed the Continental Divide into the Green River area via South Pass in 1824. Two parties continued into Idaho – one, led by legendary Mountain Man Jedediah Smith, camped on the Portneuf River in the fall. In October, along the Salmon River, Smith's group met the "Snake Brigade," the large fur-trapping operation of the British-Canadian Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) [blog, Oct 6].
Mountain Man. Frederic Remington drawing.

The RMFC overcame its inauspicious start and the 1823 and 1824 seasons yielded substantial returns. However, after perhaps too many years in the wilderness and too many close calls, Andrew Henry chose to retire from the fur trade. He returned to his mining interests and died just eight years later.

Assessing the fur business, Ashley decided that the vast beaver resources west of the Continental Divide promised much better returns than the highly competitive Missouri River watershed. However, the region was too sparsely populated to support fixed trading posts. Traders in Canada had used temporary trading stations for some time, but those were small and largely ad hoc. Ashley adapted the idea to initiate what became a defining feature of the Mountain Man era, the annual rendezvous, a huge trading fair … and drunken celebration.

Gatherings in 1825 and 1826 made Ashley a wealthy man. Thus, late in the 1826 affair, he essentially sold the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to three experienced traders. He never returned west. Later, he served several terms as a U. S. Congressman from Missouri, before his death in 1838.

The RMFC would vigorously compete with the HBC, and with other American rivals, for the next decade. In the process, the Company would introduce a long line of famous Mountain Men into the trade: the Sublette brothers, David Jackson, Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick, freed slave Jim Beckwourth, Jim Bridger, and many others.
References: [B&W]
H. M. Chittenden, The American Fur Trade of the Far West, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (1986).

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Arthur Cronquist: Famed Botanist with Idaho Connections [otd 03/19]

Dr. Cronquist. New York Botanical Garden.
World-renowned botanist Dr. Arthur Cronquist was born March 19, 1919 in San Jose, California. An expert on the broad Compositae or Asteraceae family (sunflowers and daisies, among others), Cronquist began his scientific career in Idaho and maintained a life-long interest in the area. He grew up near Portland, Oregon and then Pocatello, Idaho.

After high school, Arthur enrolled at the University of Idaho-Southern Branch (now Idaho State University [blog, Sept 22]). He planned to major in range management, which led him to a plant taxonomy course taught by eminent Idaho botanist Ray J. Davis.

Davis sparked Arthur’s interest in botany, and became his mentor. As a semester project, the professor required each class member to do a field study on some plant family. The story is told that Arthur and another top student flipped a coin and the loser – Cronquist – had to “settle” for Compositae. The account concludes, “Thus do legends begin.”

Arthur soon transferred to Utah State University, where he received a B.S. degree in 1938 and an M.S. two years later. During those years, he found time to study Idaho flora – around Dubois for the U. S. Forest Service, and also as a contract plant specimen collector. He earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1944. During the last year of his doctoral studies, he worked on his specialty at the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Cronquist next held teaching positions at the University of Georgia and then at Washington State University. Starting in 1951, he served a year in Europe as a botanist for the U. S. government. He spent the rest of his career after 1952 back at the New York Botanical Garden. At the same time, he also served on the faculties of Columbia University and the City University of New York.

This brief essay cannot begin to detail Cronquist’s monumental contributions to botany – those encompass a huge body of field observations as well as landmark treatises on botanical theory and principles. Cronquest's many honors include the Asa Gray Award, for career achievement, from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the Linnean Medal for Botany.

His obituary noted that he, “was also a recognized expert on the plants of the Western United States. He wrote or contributed to nearly all the major works on plants of the region and was at work on a six-volume series about the plants of the Intermountain West when he died.”
Sunflowers. U. S. Dept of Agriculture.

In fact, Cronquist died on Sunday, March 22, 1992.  He was then scheduled to be featured speaker the following Friday for the Annual Symposium of the Idaho Academy of Science, in Caldwell. A hastily-organized tribute session extolled Arthur’s professional legacy as well as his humanity: Colleagues and students remembered him as an animated raconteur, clever punster, and a helpful and caring friend. He was also renowned as a boisterous singer. One colleague said, “About the halls of the New York Botanical Garden, Cronquist bellows Russian folk songs. (He has an excellent bass voice.)”

After the meeting, I prepared a summary of the event for the Academy newsletter. I found it fascinating that the speaker had subconsciously slipped into the present tense. (Nor was he the only one who did so.) My comment: “Cronquist was obviously a man so alive in life, he barged full-bellow into a tribute after his death.”
References: Theodore M. Barkley, “In Memoriam: Arthur Cronquist: An Appreciation,” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Vol. 119, No. 4, Lawrence, Kansas (1992).
“Biographical Note,” Arthur Cronquist Records (1939-1992), Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden (1999).
E. E. Filby, “Memories of Dr. Arthur Cronquist,” The Retort, Vol. 28, No. 3, Idaho Academy of Science, Idaho Falls (September 1992).
“Obituary: Arthur Cronquist,” The New York Times (March 26, 1992).

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bonneville County Rancher, Developer, and Public Servant Hank Kiefer [otd 03/18]

Henry W. “Hank” Kiefer was born March 18, 1851 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania … one of twelve children born to the family between 1844 and about 1863. As a boy, he served an apprenticeship as a machinist, while also working part-time for his father, a Master Tanner. His father died in 1865, his mother two years later.
Golden Spike Ceremony. National Park Service.

In 1869, Hank decided to head West. French’s History specifically mentions June as the date when he arrived in Colorado. It may well be significant that the transcontinental railroad had been completed just a month earlier.

Within a year or so, Kiefer landed a job with Coe & Carter, a well-known Omaha firm that had major contracts to supply ties and lumber  for the Union Pacific Railroad. Over the next few years, the job took Hank through Wyoming, Utah, and into Idaho.

In 1878, the Utah & Northern Railway extended its narrow gauge tracks across eastern Idaho, headed for Montana. Kiefer took charge of a logging camp on the South Fork of the Snake River. As the tracks approached the Montana border in the spring of 1879, Hank moved the camp closer to Monida Pass.

Kiefer worked on tie contracts in the Rocky Mountains until the spring of 1883. At that time, he purchased a ranch on Willow Creek, northeast of Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls). There, he raised cattle, farmed, and also planted an apple orchard. Four years later, Eagle Rock school teachers took their pupils on a field trip to see the first home-grown apples in the Upper Snake River Valley.

Hank spent the rest of the 1880s tending to his crops and livestock. Thus, the Idaho Register in Idaho Falls reported (October 1, 1887), “Hank Kiefer has purchased from Taylor & Smith one of the latest improved hay balers and will soon commence operating it, when he will be prepared to ship hay.”

 In 1892, he was elected Assessor for Bingham County. At that time, the county encompassed most of eastern Idaho. He then served two years as sheriff, before being elected again as County Assessor.

In the summer of 1901, Kiefer, like many others, took a fling at the the Klondike gold rush, where he apparently did better than most. The following year voters elected him to a term in the Idaho Senate.

As his farm-ranch operation prospered, Kiefer invested in irrigation projects, real estate, and a mercantile company in Iona. He remained president of one canal company for nearly twenty-six years, until the holdings were reorganized as a cooperative water district.

In 1907, his expertise in land development, and his Republican Party loyalties, led President Theodore Roosevelt to appoint Kiefer to be Register for the U. S. Land Office in Blackfoot. He would subsequently be re-appointed to that position by President Taft.

Idaho Falls Carnegie Library construction, ca 1915.
Bonneville County Historical Society.
However, he still retained an interest in Idaho Falls and, in 1908, donated a lot to be used for a public library. A committee proceeded with a request for a Carnegie Library grant and the facility opened in 1916. After his tenure as Land Office Register ended, Hank became a member of the Idaho Falls City Council. In late 1917, he served a half-year as Acting Mayor.

After that, Kiefer began winding down his active participation in business and politics. He lived a comfortable retirement until his death in 1937.
References: [French]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, Self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls (1991).
“Golden Jubilee Edition, 1884–1934,” Idaho Falls Post-Register (September 10, 1934).

Friday, March 17, 2023

Medical Researcher and Teacher Thomas C. Galloway, M.D. [otd 03/17]

Dr. Galloway.
University of Idaho Archives.
Eminent physician Thomas C. Galloway was born March 17, 1886 in Boise. As a researcher at the Northwestern University Medical School, Galloway made award-winning discoveries in the symptomatic treatment of "bulbar" poliomyelitis, one of the most dreaded diseases of the Twentieth Century.

His father, of the same name, was among a handful of whites who first settled along the Weiser River in 1863 [blog, June 6]. The elder Thomas married in 1868 and began raising a family. After about fifteen years, Galloway owned a huge herd of horses. However, his oldest children were also approaching high school age, and he and wife Mary felt their local educational opportunities were limited.

Father Tom sold his horses, and one of two ranches they then owned, and moved the family to Boise City. There, he bought a home as well as much other real estate. It was also there that Thomas, Junior, was born. The Galloways remained in Boise until the older children had completed high school, then moved back to Weiser in 1896-1899.

Thomas, Junior, arrived at the University of Idaho campus at a time of substantial growth. During that general period, contractors completed a new women's dormitory, a gymnasium, and a new science hall. Of course, he would have also been on campus when fire destroyed the Administration Building at the end of March 1906: He graduated that spring.

He taught chemistry at the University for a year and then moved on to the University of Chicago. The Idaho Statesman proudly reported (May 19, 1911) that Galloway was “winning high honors in scholastic and athletic lines” there. As a junior at the University's Rush Medical College, he had already published a paper in the American Journal of Physiology. Moreover, having taken up wrestling for exercise, he had become a two-time wresting champion at the school.

Galloway earned a medical degree from Rush Medical College in 1912. He spent the rest of his life in the Chicago area, although we're told that, "At his ranch in Idaho, Dr. Galloway hosted family reunions each summer for fifty years."

Thomas spent over a half century affiliated with the Evanston Hospital, and taught for many years at two other area hospitals and the Northwestern University Medical School. Galloway eventually served as Director of the Medical School. He authored or co-authored numerous medical publications.

His most noted discovery involved the use of tracheotomy to treat "bulbar" poliomyelitis. This polio variant causes severe breathing difficulties even before paralysis impacts the diaphragm and lungs.
Iron lung ward for treatment of polio victims, ca. 1953.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Galloway carefully studied the risks associated with the tracheal operation versus the known breathing problems, including fatal respiratory arrest. His 94-page monograph describes the results and preferred procedure in great detail. His work is credited with saving hundreds of lives, and is still valid today, although polio vaccines have reduced the disease from a widespread, frightening scourge to a relatively uncommon pathology.

Dr. Galloway received many awards: An Honorary Doctor of Science degree from UI, recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by Rush Medical College, and the James E. Newcomb Award from the American Laryngological Association. Galloway passed away in February 1977.
References: Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Thomas C. Galloway, Treatment of Respiratory Emergencies including Bulbar Poliomyelitis, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK (1953).
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, The Caxton Printers, CaIdwell (© 1962, Regents of the University of Idaho).
Frank Harris, "History of Washington County and Adams County," Weiser Signal (1940s).

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Steamboat Pioneer and Coeur d’Alene Booster Joseph C. White. [OTD 03/16]

Coeur d’Alene developer Joseph Clarence White was born March 16, 1865 in a tiny settlement about 35 miles south of Omaha, Nebraska. The family moved to Colorado when Joseph was about eleven years old. After high school, he enrolled at the University of Denver. He completed a B.A. degree in 1888, even though the family had claimed a homestead in the Idaho Panhandle a year or so before that.
J. C. White. [French]

For four years, J.C. (as he was known throughout his adult life) worked as a railroad construction engineer in north Idaho. Then, in 1892, he claimed a homestead about 40 miles northeast of Moscow. The following year, the Idaho road commission appointed J.C. to survey potential routes in Latah County. Although he retained his homestead, J.C. apparently moved to Rathdrum some time after his marriage in January 1896. For two years around the turn of the century, he was the official Surveyor for Kootenai County. Following that, he served a term in the Idaho House of Representatives.

After his term, he had a fine home built in Coeur d’Alene. He headed a company that owned at least a share of an electric rail line connecting Coeur d’Alene to Spokane. Then, in June 1903, the company launched a large new steamboat, the Idaho, to operate on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Described as “a hustler, a mover and a pusher,” J.C. soon expanded his steamboat holdings, buying up smaller competitors.

He was also a man of “great personal charm,” who enjoyed life and liked to party. Thus, he became an enthusiastic and  effective promoter of the business as well as recreational opportunities in the Coeur d’Alene region. He helped found a local Chamber of Commerce, which he led for a time, and encouraged the formation of other societies and associations.

Still, for all his charm and bon vivant nature, J.C. was not averse to the “hard-ball” competitive tactics of that era. Thus, in April 1908, he persuaded the owner of a controlling interest in his largest, most persistent competitor to sell out to him. His Red Collar Steamship Company would hold a virtual monopoly on lake traffic for perhaps a decade. However, that became less profitable over time as rail lines and better roads for trucks began to penetrate the east side of the lake.

Steamer Idaho. Washington State Archives, Digital Collections.
Oddly enough, in his eagerness to promote the area, J.C. also weakened one of his main holdings. As chairman of a commission on roads, around 1920 he spurred construction of the first concrete-paved road in Idaho, connecting Coeur d’Alene to Spokane. Soon, the electric rail link began to lose money. That, plus increased competition against the steamship line, finally forced the company into receivership in August 1922. (A new owner for the Red Collar line held on until 1929, when it was sold as a log transport operation.)

J.C. did not give up entirely; he had a smaller boat built for lake traffic and ran that until 1930. He also had numerous other interests and investments to keep him busy: several banks (sometimes as an officer), silver mines, and more. Moreover, in July 1931, at the age of 66, he accepted an appointment from the Idaho Bureau of Highways as maintenance supervisor for all of northern Idaho. He went into semi-retirement after about two years at that task.

Still, in 1940, now aged 75, he was serving as Weed Control Officer for Kootenai County. A year or so after that, he began to suffer from chronic heart disease and cut back entirely. He passed away in April 1953.

References: [French], [Hawley]
“Death of J. C. White … ,” Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington (April 7, 1953).
Ruby El Hult, Steamboats in the Timber, The Caxton Printers Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho (© Ruby El Hult, 1952).
“[White Newspaper Articles],” Silver Blade, Rathdrum, Idaho; Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Spokane Review, Spokane Chronicle, Washington (June 1893 – March 1933).