Idaho History March 11, 2018

Stonebraker Family


George W. “Nevada” Stonebraker (14 Sep 1854 – 23 Nov 1942)
Minnie Burtnett Stonebraker (10 Jan 1856 – 19 Jun 1946)


William Allen Stonebraker (29 Jun 1879 – 10 Sep 1932)
Lillburn C. Stonebraker (14 Sep 1882 – Sep 1929)
Sumner Stonebraker (9 Jun 1886 – 26 May 1958)
Leeta Marie Stonebraker Hayden (20 Jul 1890 – 9 Sep 1983)
George Evans Stonebraker (28 Apr 1893 – 2 Apr 1945)
[?] Mrs. R.L. Burckett
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George W. “Nevada” Stonebraker

Birth: 14 Sep 1854 Lake County, California
Death: 23 Nov 1942 (aged 88) Orofino, Clearwater County, Idaho
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho


Pioneer Officer Called By Death

Orofino Nov 24 – George W. Stonebraker, [88], early day law enforcement officer and a resident of central Idaho for over 50 years, died yesterday at the home of his daughter at Orofino after a year’s illness. The body will be taken to Lewiston tomorrow for interment at Normal Hill Cemetery, with the graveside service at 11 o’clock.

A native of California, born Sept. 18, 1856, Mr. Stonebraker came to Idaho in 1890 and located at Lewiston. He served as deputy sheriff of Nez Perce County in 1890-92 during the administration of Sheriff Fred Kroutinger and later joined the police department of Lewiston.

For several years he resided at Cascade and was engaged in mining. He returned to Lewiston in the middle 20’s and was deputy sheriff for a short time. He participated in running down many criminals when a member of Sheriff Kroutinger’s staff and was instrumental in breaking up cattle and horse theft rings.

Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Minnie Stonebraker, now ill at Clarkston; two sons and two daughters, Sumner Stonebraker, Orofino; George Stonebraker, Cascade; Mrs. Joseph Hayden, Orofino; and Mrs. Roy Burkett, Portland; also several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The body is at Blake Funeral Home.

Lewiston Tribune, November 25, 1942 pg. 3

source: Find a Grave
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Minnie Burtnett Stonebraker

Birth: 10 Jan 1856 Wathena, Doniphan County, Kansas
Death: 19 Jun 1946 (aged 90) Orofino, Clearwater County, Idaho
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho


Passes Away At The Home of Daughter

Orofino – June 19 – (Ap) Death came at 6:30 this morning for Mrs. Minnie Stonebraker, 91, a resident of this area since the 1890’s when she came here with her husband, the late George Stonebraker. Bedridden since 1939, she died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. P. Hayden, Brown Avenue.

Mrs. Stonebraker was born at Wathena, Kans., Jan. 10, 1856, and came to the Genesee area where she and her husband farmed for several years before moving to Lewiston. With the exception of a few years in Spokane, she spent the rest of her life in Lewiston and Orofino. Her husband died in 1942.

Three sons also preceded her in death; L.C. (Toad) Stonebraker, well known in the Orofino area as a sports shop and pool hall proprietor, died in 1929; Allen, a packer in the Cascade area, died on the trail in 1931; and George, a Cascade stockman and businessman in Cascade, died of a gunshot wound there a year ago.

She is survived by one son, Sumner, John Day, Ore.; two daughters, Mrs. R.L. Burckett, St. Helens, Ore.; and Mrs. J.P. Hayden, here; eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Lewiston Tribune June 20, 1946, pg. 7

source: Find a Grave
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William Allen Stonebraker

Certificate of Death
WilliamAllenStonebraker-aPhoto added by aisxray

Birth: 29 Jun 1882 [1879 Aden, California per family history]
Death: 10 Sep 1932 Idaho County, Idaho
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho
Son of George Stonebraker (born in CA) and Minnie Butnell ? (born in KS)
Husband of Golda Stonebraker

source: Find a Grave
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1930 South Fork Census

Allan Stonebraker Male 48 Married White Head 1882 [1879] California
Golda M Stonebraker Female 30 Married White Wife 1900 Missouri
Adolph Stonebraker Male 13 Single White Stepson 1917 Missouri

source: Family Search page 3 (pay wall)
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Allen Stonebraker Photos

These photos were taken by Wm Allen Stonebraker during his life as a packer and guide 1900 – 1932 in Central Idaho’s rugged and remote Salmon River area. Using primitive camera equipment in harsh conditions, he provided a rare record of mining history in Idaho’s extreme backcountry. During Stonebraker’s time, supplies were moved by mules, dogs, horses, pack bridges and ferrys. A well-known pioneering figure in Central Idaho, Al Stonebraker helped build the Three Blaze Trail from the north side of the Salmon River into the Thunder Mountain gold-mine area in about 1902. He then profited by packing in mail and supplies to the miners and residents from his home in Stites, ID, where the railroad ended. In his later years he operated a dude ranch from his homesite [in Chamberlain Basin]. He was on his way into the Wardenhoff mine in Sept. 1933 with a pack string when he died of a heart attack at a camp 12 miles from his ranch. He was 53. It took more than 12 hours to pack his body out by stock to his log-cabin home, where a landing strip allowed pilot Bob King transport it to Grangeville. Stonebraker’s cabin still stands today in the very remote area of Idaho now federally designated as the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. It is only accessible by horseback, foot or air. The Payette National Forest oversees the cabin’s maintenance. I donated all of Al Stonebraker’s more than 600 photos to the University of Idaho Library’s Special Archives Northwest Collection.

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William Allen (“Al”) Stonebraker


William Allen (“Al”) Stonebraker was born in Aden, California, in 1879 to parents George and Minnie Stonebraker. Al had six siblings; many of them appear in this collection. In 1898, Al Stonebraker arrived in the Chamberlain Basin and was known as one of the original homesteaders in the area. He established a homestead on approximately 409 acres in what is now part of the Payette National Forest and the Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness, currently owned by Idaho Fish and Game.

Many of Al Stonebraker’s businesses revolved around the Idaho mining boom at the turn of the twentieth century. The Chamberlain Basin homestead was originally built as a working ranch to supply beef to the mining communities along the Salmon River, and was one of the only ranches to exist after the mining boom in nearby Thunder Mountain. The Stonebraker property also included a mining prospect nearby for copper, gold and silver.

Group at Stonebraker Ranch
1929FamilyRanch-aDate 1929-07-14
Description Standing outside porch, left to right: W.A.(Al) Stonebraker and wife Golda, Sumner Stonebraker, Adolph Stonebraker, Mrs. and Mr. Summerland, Mr. Ely, Mr. Hines (mining cook).
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

As the Thunder Mountain gold rush boom developed, the need for a single direct route from the northwestern area became evident. In 1900, a sum of $3,000 was collected from prospectors, miners, and businessmen to construct a route. By this time, Stonebraker was an experienced freighter/packer in the Gospel Hump gold area. Stonebraker and William Campbell were awarded the contract for location and construction of a trail from Grangeville to Dixie across the Salmon River and the Chamberlain Basin wilderness to the Monumental Creek trail, which led to Thunder Mountain. Named the Three Blaze Trail, the route met the Salmon River on the river’s north bank, about twelve miles southeast of Dixie. Campbell saw an opportunity to prosper by transporting travelers across the river. With the help of the trail crew (including Stonebraker), he built a ferryboat with a hand-crank, winch-and-pulley system to take miners and their stock across the river in relative safety. Photographs of the pulley system can be found in the digital collection.

Pack Train at Stonebraker Ranch
1903RanchPackstring-aDate 1903
Description Two men ride horses in the snow outside of a barn at the Stonebraker Ranch in the Chamberlain Basin.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

Stonebraker photographed parts of the Three Blaze Trail and his business as a pack train operator in the early 1900s. The trail ran from the present town of Grangeville to Buffalo Hump country, through Dixie to the mouth of Trout Creek on the Salmon River. They followed up Little Trout Creek to the present site of Burnt Knob Lookout, then along Highline Ridge south of Flossie Lake to the crossing of Chamberlain Creek at the mouth of Moose Creek. Through Moose Creek Meadows, the trail climbed the ridge east of Moose Creek and continued on top to Ramey Ridge. From Ramey Ridge the trail came to the mouth of Ramey Creek, then down Big Creek to the mouth of Monumental Creek and up Monumental Creek to the village of Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a mining town that later became a lake after a landslide devastated the town. Roosevelt itself had many substantial buildings, including a post office and laundry, and every saloon had a piano in spite of the circumstance that everything had to be freighted in on mule back. Photographs of Roosevelt both as an active community and after the landslide are part of this digital collection.

W.A. Stonebraker with Dogsled Team
1929AlDogsled-aDate 1929
Description W.A. Stonebraker (left) poses with two men and a team of dogs pulling supplies through the snow near the corral at the Stonebraker Ranch in the Chamberlain Basin.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

His father, George Stonebraker, owned a group of mining claims near Thunder Mountain, called the Juno Group of Claims. The prospect included discovery and mining of gold, copper, and nickel. Stonebraker took a number of photographs of the Juno property before his father sold it in 1902.

Juno Group of Claims Cabin
1903JunoGroup-aDate 1903
Description A log cabin is surrounded by tents and laundry hanging on a clothesline at the Stonebraker’s Juno Group of Claims property near Thunder Mountain.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
Note: Off the West Fork of Monumental on the trail is the left over of a cabin there and an old piece of equipment was there. That was old George’s claim and left it in 1902. (personal correspondence.)

In addition to his business as a pack train operator for people interested in getting to Thunder Mountain, Stonebraker also ran a profitable pack train business for mail and supplies to miners from his home in Stites (south of Kooskia), where the Northern Pacific Railroad ran. Stonebraker took photographs of his home in Stites, as well as construction of the town, street scenes, railroad, and family. He also took photographs of his travels on the trail, including hunting and camping scenes.

National Guard airplane at Stonebraker Ranch
1928GoldaAdolfPlane-aDate 1928-08-21
Description A young boy Adolph “Bill” (left) and mother Golda stand near a National Guard 116th Observation Squadron. The plane reads “U.S. Army Consolidated 0-17 NG 28-360” on its side. Plane is parked in the Chamberlain Basin meadow near the Stonebraker Ranch. The pilot was Nick Mamer.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

Stonebraker later converted his homestead into a dude ranch. This area was also an attractive hunting area due to its isolation. Because of this, Stonebraker later ran a big-game hunting business from his ranch. He also took groups out to the property of the Werdenhoff Mine near Big Creek for hunting trips (40 miles by trail from his ranch in Chamberlain Basin). Hunters would travel by pack train until 1928, when flights were available to the Chamberlain Basin on a strip of his land. Stonebraker took photographs of both big-game hunting trips and the first airplane in the Chamberlain Basin in 1928, piloted by Nick Mamer of Spokane. The Chamberlain landing field underwent major improvements in 1940 and was purchased by the Forest Service in 1975.

First Airplane in Chamberlain Basin
1928-1stAirplaneChamberlain-aDate 1928-08-21
Description Pilot Nick Mamer (of Spokane, Washington) stands next to his airplane in the Stonebraker Ranch meadow. The airplane was a consolidated fleet with the National Guard. A man sits on a horse near the airplane.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

Stonebraker died at the age of 53 in 1932 while on a pack train trip near Mosquito Springs in Idaho County, about 12 miles from his ranch, due to heart failure. He left behind his second wife, Golda, and her son Bill (Adolph) (he was first married to Lillian Carter who died in the 1910s). Stonebraker Ranch was sold by Golda in 1933 or 1934, and was purchased by the Forest Service in 1975. Stonebraker’s cabin still stands today in the very remote area of Idaho now federally designated as the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. It is only accessible by horseback, foot or air. The Payette National Forest oversees the cabin’s maintenance.

W.A. Stonebraker and Mule Pack Train
1931AlRanchPackstring-aDate 1931-09-01
Description Al Stonebraker stands outside of his corral at the Stonebraker Ranch. A mule pack train waits behind him.
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives

Some of Al Stonebraker’s siblings occur within this history. A few facts worth mentioning as related to the collection:

* Brother Lillburn C. (“Tude”) Stonebraker operated a pack string business from Lardo to Thunder Mountain and lived in Orofino. He was a member of the firm Stonebraker Brothers.
* Brothers George Stonebraker, Jr. and Sumner (“Governor”) Stonebraker led dogsled teams and pack train operations near Cascade.
* Brother George Stonebraker, Jr. was shot to death by his wife at his ranch in 1945. It made news headlines across the state; his wife Thelma was found not guilty.

Researched and written by Erin Passehl-Stoddart, 2014.
source: University of Idaho
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Stonebraker Photograph Collection

Ranching, Hunting, and Pack Train Operations in North Central Idaho, 1900-1931

This collection consists of 540 photographs from the William Allen Stonebraker Collection, which was donated to the University of Idaho Library in 2003. Stonebraker took photographs in Central Idaho’s remote Salmon River and Frank Church-River of No Return areas at the turn of the twentieth century between 1900 and 1931. The collection contains images of the Stonebraker Ranch and homestead in the Chamberlain Basin, his businesses (dude ranch, pack train and dogsled operations, mining, big game hunting) as well as wildlife, scenic views, and early aircraft operation.

link: University of Idaho
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Chamberlain Basin

Chamberlain Basin lies at the convergence of several pack trails that provided a network of supply lines throughout this backcountry.

At the turn of the century, miners who were traveling between the mines of north-central Idaho used the trails and passed through the Basin. One such trail, the Three Blaze Trail, was built in 1900 [by Al Stonebraker], funded by prospectors, miners, packers, and businessmen for transportation, communication, and supply lines to the mines. It is still used and maintained today as a vital route into the backcountry.

… In the spring of 1906, Ranger David Laing built the Chamberlain Ranger Station (no longer extant) at the south end of Chamberlain Meadow, on the north side of Ranch Creek.

Various rudimentary buildings were used as the Ranger’s residences in the early years. In the spring of 1916, Al Stonebreaker, under USFS contract, built a two-room, log ranger station (no longer extant) 2,000 yards southeast of the current Chamberlain Guard Station, for $350, under direction of Ranger Frank Foster.

In 1925, the USFS cleared lands near the Ranger Station for hay and pastureland. In 1930, an officer in fire control wrote to say, “that the Forest Service was studying the possibilities of opening more airstrips in the backcountry so fire crews could be stationed in the hinterlands during fire season and transported and supplied by air.” As a result of this policy, the Chamberlain meadowlands were gradually improved so that by 1932, it also served as an emergency airstrip (prior to that time Forest personnel used an airstrip at Stonebreaker’s ranch).

excerpted from: Chamberlain Ranger Station Historic District
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Lillburn C. “L.C./Toad” Stonebraker

Photo added by D Bashaw

Birth: 14 Sep 1882 Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon
Death: Sep 1929 (aged 46-47) Hot Lake, Union County, Oregon
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho


L.C. Stonebraker of Orofino Passes Away

Orofino. Sept 4- Word was received here today of the death at Hot Lake, Ore., yesterday of L.C. Stonebraker proprietor of the pool hall here. Mr. Stonebraker had gone to Hot Lake for treatment for gallstones from which he was a chronic sufferer.

Funeral services will be held here Friday afternoon directed by the Masonic Lodge and the body taken to Lewiston Saturday morning where the Knights of Pythias will conduct a brief service prior to interment in the mausoleum in Normal Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Stonebraker with his brother here owned the largest pack train in the United States.

He is survived by his widow Mrs. Daisy Stonebraker; four children, Cora, Margy, Meryl and Allyne Stonebraker; a sister Minnie, Seattle; a sister Mrs. Leta Hayden, Orofino; three brothers, George Stonebraker, Cascade; Alex Stonebraker, Spokane area, S Stonebraker, Orofino and by father George Stonebraker, Chamberlin Basin.

A Spokane airplane left here today to return tomorrow with the father.

Lewiston Tribune September 05, 1929, pg.2
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Stonebraker Rites To Be Held This Afternoon

Orofino, Sept 5 – Funeral services will be conducted tomorrow afternoon for L.C. Stonebraker who died Tuesday at Hot Lake, Ore. The body arrived here at 10 a.m. today from Hot Lake.

Mr. Stonbraker was born at Grants Pass, Ore., September 14, 1882. When a small boy he came to Lewiston where he attended the Lewiston Schools and grew to manhood.

For two years Mr. Stonbraker operated a hotel at Ferdinand.

For 17 years Mr. Stonebraker was associated with his brothers under the firm name of Stonebraker Brothers, as packers and contractors for the government. For the last six years, he conducted a pool hall and confectionary in Orofino.

He leaves a widow and four children, Mrs. Howard McElroy, Orofino; Merle, 16; Cora, 13; and Margery, 10. The parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Stonbraker and three brothers and two sisters also survive, Allen, Sumner, George, Jr., Mrs. Joe Hayden and Miss Minnie Stonebraker, Seattle. All the family will be in attendance at the funeral services.

Lewiston Tribune September 06, 1929, pg.3

source: Find a Grave
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Burros from Stonebraker pack train

1903Lillburn-aDate 1903
Description Lillburn “Tude” Stonebraker and the family pet burros stand outside the Stonebraker home in Stites, Idaho.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Sumner Stonebraker

Photo added by Arthur Allen Moore III

Birth: 9 Jun 1886
Death: 26 May 1958 (aged 71)
Burial: Rest Lawn Cemetery John Day, Grant County, Oregon
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Mushers On Way

Orofino, Nov. 17 – George and Sumner Stonebraker stopped here today enroute to Mazama, Washington, with 12 huskies and two specially constructed dog sleads which will be used in hauling mail and supplies to Azurite mine, 50 miles west of Winthrop, Washington, during the winter months…..

Newspaper Lewiston Monthly Tribune 18 November 1936
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1910 United States Federal Census

Name: Sumner Stonebraker
Age in 1910: 22
Birthplace: Oregon
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father’s Birth Place: California
Mother’s Birth Place: Ohio
Spouse’s Name: Francis
Home in 1910: Warm Springs, Idaho Co., Idaho
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Gender: Male

Household Members:
Sumner Stonebraker 22
Francis Stonebraker 19
L. Albridge Stonebraker 2 [Elbridge Lloyd Stonebraker]
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World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Name: Sumner Stonebraker
City: Stites
County: Idaho
State: Idaho
Birthplace: Oregon
Birth Date: 9 Jun 1887
Race: Caucasian (White)
Marital Status: Married / One Child
Filed: 31 May 1917
Roll: 1452216
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Oregon Death Index, 1903-98

Name: Stonebraker, Sumner
County: Umatilla
Death Date: 26 May 1958
Spouse: Dora (Dora Julia McCaffrey)

source: Find a Grave
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Sumner Stonebraker

1902Sumner-aDate 1902
Description Sumner Stonebraker (right) poses with an unidentified man (who appears in many photographs) near the exterior of a building. “Honey get your gun.”

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Sumner Stonebraker with Wagon

1931SumnerWagon-aDate 1931-09-01
Description Sumner Stonebraker stands in an empty wagon pulled by two horses in the meadow near the Stonebraker Ranch.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Leeta Marie Stonebraker Hayden

Birth: 20 Jul 1890 Rathdrum, Kootenai County, Idaho
Death: 9 Sep 1983 (aged 93) Lewiston, Nez Perce County
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County


Leeta was born July 20, 1890, at Rathdrum to George N. and Minnie Stonebraker. She spent part of her early childhood there and the rest at Lewiston.

She married Joseph P. Hayden Feb. 7, 1912, at Lewiston and they lived and farmed near Hatwai Creek. She was a homemaker then.

From 1926 to 1946 they lived at Orofino, where she worked as a nurse in a hospital, in a nursing home and cared for patients in her home for William Robertson, a physician.

They moved to Clarkston in 1946 and lived there until 1963 when they moved to Lewiston. They left Lewiston in 1970 and lived in Colfax until 1973. She was a homemaker from 1946 to 1973.

She lived in area nursing homes from 1973 to 1980. Her husband died Jan 18, 1978. She moved to the Orchards Villa Nursing home in 1980 and had lived there since.

She was a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

She is survived by three daughters, Cecilia, Kathryn, and Barbara; nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Lewiston Tribune September 11, 1983, pg. 20

source: Find a Grave
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George Evans Stonebraker

Photo added by Kerry

Birth: 28 Apr 1893
Death: 2 Apr 1945 (aged 51) Cascade, Valley County, Idaho
Burial: Normal Hill Cemetery Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho

[Emma first wife]*
Married Irene L. Bartlett 17 Dec 1929, Colfax, Whitman County, Wa
Married Thelma Elvina Harp 31 Dec 1936 Iron County, UT
[Walter “Bud Stonebraker]*
Wanda Georgene Stonebraker Wilson* 1919–2009
Beverly B. Stonebraker Fields* 1932–1998
[Betty Lou]*

source: Find a Grave
*(personal correspondence)
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Hunting with Juno

1903GeorgeJr-aDate 1903
Description George Stonebraker, Jr. with dog named Juno next to the Clearwater River.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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1930 Census Yellow Pine Precinct

Geo Stonebraker Male 36 Married White Head 1894 Idaho

source: Family Search (pay wall)
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George Stonebraker

George’s airport was at Crawford, on the road to Yellow Pine, just out of Cascade past the Davis house. You can still see where the tracks were for the hanger door [now] a cow pasture. That is where Dad and Bud Stonebraker learned to fly. … Bud solo’d at 16. … George was quite the freighter and ran the mail, he had a string of dogs.”
StonebrakerCrawfordPlane-a“One of the planes they flew at Crawford and the baby walking is one of us kids, about 1940.”
(personal correspondence)
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Walter Bud Stonebraker

BudStonebrakerRexLanham2-aBud Stonebraker and Rex Lanham at Cabin Creek

Bud (Walter) Stonebraker was was George Jr’s son. Bud was born about 1922. Bud and Rex Lanham were lifelong friends.

(from personal correspondence)
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Thelma Stonebreaker

Held for Trial

Cascade, Idaho, April 21, 1945 (AP) — Comely Mrs. Thelma Stonebraker, 31, was bound over to district court Saturday on a charge of murdering her prominent rancher husband, George Stonebraker, at their ranch home near here April 2. Mrs. Stonebraker waived a preliminary hearing and was ordered held on a first degree murder charge for the first term of district court next month by Probate Judge W. D. Cromwell.

April 22, 1945 The Post-Register from Idaho Falls, Idaho Page 10
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First Degree Murder Confronts Idahoan

Cascade, Ida., May 3, 1945 (AP) — Mrs. Thelma Stonebraker, 31, will face trial June 4 on a charge of first degree murder of her husband. George Stonebraker, last April 12. Mrs. Stonebraker was arraigned before District Judge A. O. Button yesterday and pleaded innocent to the charge. Stonebraker was shot and killed at the Stonebraker ranch home seven miles north of here.

May 3, 1945 The Ogden Standard-Examiner from Ogden, Utah Page 10
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Murder Trial To Open At Cascade

Cascade, Ida., June 15. – (AP) Attractive Thelma Stonebraker goes on trial here Monday for shooting her husband to death during a dinner party at their ranch home last April 2.

Feeney says the 31-year-old Mrs. Stonebraker shot and killed her husband, George Stonebraker, 52, while several guests looked on.

Stonebraker, thrice-married, was widely known for the dog teams he owned in former years. A former Lewiston man, he operated a trucking firm here for several years before retiring to his ranch.

McCarty to Appear

The trial, once postponed because continued rain has hampered farming activity in this predominately agricultural community, will pit two leaders in the Idaho Senate against prosecutor Feeney and a special prosecutor from Lewiston, Leo McCarty.

The defense attorneys retained by Mrs. Stonebraker are State Sen. Fred Taylor, Ada County Republican and Sen. George Donart, Washington County Democrat. Taylor was the Valley County prosecutor here for several years.

Under the first-degree murder charge, the jury may return one of five verdicts- first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or innocent.

Followed Quarrel

The shooting followed a quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Stonebraker. Feeney said Mrs. Stonebraker left the room but returned in a few moments with a .38 caliber automatic pistol.

She fired twice, Feeney said, one bullet entering her husband’s arm and the other entering his chest, causing almost immediate death.

Mrs. Stonebraker has been held without bond in the Ada County jail at Boise because of inadequate facilities for women in the Valley County jail.

District Judge A.O. Sutton of Weiser will preside at the trial.

Lewiston Tribune June 16, 1945, pg.2
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Wife’s Murder Trial to Start

Cascade, Idaho, June 16, 1945 (GT) — Attractive Thelma Stonebraker goes on trial here Monday for shooting her husband to death during a dinner party at their ranch home last April 2. She is charged by Prosecutor Thomas Feeney with first degree murder. Feeney says the 31 year old Mrs. Stonebraker shot and killed her husband, George Stonebraker, 52, while several guests looked on. Stonebraker, thrice married, was widely known for the dog teams he owned in former years.

June 17, 1945 The Post-Register from Idaho Falls, Idaho Page 3 [h/t CG]
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Witness Relates Murder Row

Cascade, Idaho, June 21, 1945 (AP) A family row in which George Stonebraker called his wife vile names and after which she said “sometimes I’d like to shoot him,” preceded the killing of the wealthy dog-team, racer, witnesses said as the murder trial of Mrs. Thelma Stonebraker continued today. Miss Helen Barney, who said she had been invited to the Stonebraker ranch home to play the piano for dancing during the April 2 party at which Stonebraker was shot, told the court the guests “had all been drinking.” The 31-year-old Mrs. Stonebraker had staggered and was assisted by one of the guests when her husband remarked “let her fall . . .” and called her a vile name, Miss Barney testified. “I talked to her alone after that and Thelma said, ‘George is awful mean. Sometimes I’d like to shoot him,’ ” the witness continued. Betty Lou, six-year-old daughter of the accused woman, began to cry when her mother announced she was going to leave, prompting Stonebraker to remark to the child, “You don’t want to go with that no good – – – -” said Miss Barney. “Then Thelma came down the stairs,” Miss Barney related. “She had a gun and she walked about four feet into the living room. She held it up and shot George. “He fell on the floor out of the Morris chair, and he said, ‘Oh, my God, Thelma.’ He was trying to crawl to the davenport, and Thelma shot him again through the arm.” Verne Thompson, another witness, quoted Mrs. Stonebraker as having said after the shooting, “Why did I kill him when I love him so? I hope I hang for it.” Mrs. Stonebraker, an attractive brunette, broke down when the bullet shattered wrist watch of her husband was introduced as evidence yesterday.

June 21, 1945 The Ogden Standard-Examiner from Ogden, Utah Page 9
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‘Mind Vacant’ Says Defense

Cascade, Idaho, June 21, 1945 (AP) — The state completed its testimony Thursday in an attempt to prove that Thelma Stonebraker murdered her husband, George Stonebraker, but George Donart, defense attorney, told the jury he would show that the shapely, dark haired Cascade woman should be acquitted “because her mind went vacant’’ at the time of the shooting. Donart asserted that Stonebraker, 52, rancher and former truck-line owner, whispered to his wife the night that he was shot and killed – April 2 – “I’m going to beat you up as soon as the company goes.”

Asks Acquittal

“And,” said Donart, “from the time George Stonebraker promised her that beating her mind went vacant until after the shooting. For that reason we are asking for an acquittal of Thelma Stonebraker.” Prosecutor Thomas Feeney has charged Mrs. Stonebraker, 31, with first degree murder. Idaho law makes it discretionary with the jury whether the punishment on conviction shall be hanging or life imprisonment. Feeney failed to say in his address to the jury what punishment he would ask, and he has previously declined to tell reporters what his recommendation would be. Donart told the jury that Mrs. Stonebraker left her husband and went to Weiser several days after “he beat her’’ on January 10 this year, but said Donart, Stonebraker persuaded her to return to him by flatly refusing to allow her to retain custody of their six year old daughter, Betty Lou.

Wants Property

A defense witness, Jess Beutel, who was hired man at the Stonebraker ranch, related a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Stonebraker after she returned from Weiser. “George first asked her to sign over all of their property to him,” Beutel said. “Thelma said she would be glad to if he would let her take Betty Lou, but he refused. Then she decided to stay.” Beutel said he saw Mrs. Stonebraker four days after January 10 when Donart said Stonebraker beat her. “She had a badly swollen ear and bruises,” Beutel said.

Tells of Shooting

The hired man said he witnessed the April 2 shooting of Stonebraker. “When Thelma came into the room with the gun her eyes seemed all white and glassy looking,” he related. “I couldn’t see any pupils in her eyes and her face was very pale.” Beutel said he recalled only one similar instance when Mrs. Stonebraker appeared the same way “That was when she was helping with the haying and she put too much hay in the chopper. George threw a pitchfork at her and said he should wrap it around her neck. She walked away that time, though.” The last witness for the state was Charles Jensen, who said he witnessed the shooting. He related what he said was a conversation with Mrs. Stonebraker in the Ada county jail at Boise April 27. “She told me she knew what she had done and she was ready to suffer for It,” Jensen said. Mrs. Stonebraker restrained her emotions at Thursday’s sessions and refrained from breaking into tears as she did Wednesday. She trembled visibly, however, as witnesses told of her relations with Stonebraker. The prosecution began its case Wednesday.

Had Been Drinking

Miss Helen Barney, who said she had been invited to the Stonebraker ranch home to play the piano for dancing during the April 2 party at which Stonebraker was shot, told the court the guests “had all been drinking.” Miss Barney testified that murder trial of Mrs. Thelma Stonebraker Wednesday that George Stonebraker called his wife vile names before the attractive brunet left the room, returned with a gun and shot him to death. Another witness, Verne Thompson, who arrived later said, Mrs. Stonebraker exclaimed, “why did I kill him when I love him so? I hope I hang for it.” Mrs. Stonebraker, 31, wept several times during the testimony and when Prosecutor Thomas Feeney introduced Stonebraker’s clothing and bullet shattered wrist watch, she broke down completely. She is accused of first degree murder. District Judge A. O. Sutton ordered a 10 minute recess then at the request of the defense attorney, Fred Taylor of Boise. When Mrs. Stonebraker reentered the courtroom she was calm but her face was drawn and white.

June 21, 1945 The Post-Register from Idaho Falls, Idaho Page 11
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Wife Tells Of Threats

Cascade, Idaho, June 22, 1945 (AP) — Dark haired Thelma Stonebraker Friday told an all male jury trying her on charges of murdering her husband that George Stonebraker twice threatened to kill her and their six year old daughter if she ever left with the child. Taking the witness stand in her own defense, the 31 year old Cascade woman calmly told the silent courtroom of her hectic marital life, but broke down when she started to describe events leading up to the night of April 2 when she is accused of shooting her [husband at a] dinner party at their ranch home near here.

June 22, 1945 The Post-Register from Idaho Falls, Idaho Page 1
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Idaho Murder Trial Near End

Cascade, Idaho, June 23 (AP) –The jury in the Thelma Stonebreaker murder trial probably will begin considering the case late today. The prosecution and defense attorneys began making their closing statements to the jury this morning. District Judge A. O. Button will deliver his instructions to the jury immediately following. The defense rested yesterday evening after bringing to the stand two physicians who said that fear of long standing can lead to temporary “unconsciousness or amnesia.” The defense attorneys — George Donart of Weiser and Fred Taylor of Boise — have built their case around testimony that the mind of Mrs. Stonebreaker, comely 31-year-old brunette, “was vacant” when her husband was shot and killed in the living room of their ranch home during a dinner party the night of April 2. The prosecution has presented witnesses – who said they saw Mrs. Stonebreaker fire the two shots that killed her husband. Mrs. Stonebreaker herself said yesterday she could remember nothing from the time her husband whispered to her the night of the party that “when the company leaves I’ll beat you to death,” until she found herself by the davenport where the body of her husband lay shot through the heart and the left side.

June 23, 1945 The Ogden Standard-Examiner from Ogden, Utah Page 1
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George Stonebraker and Thelma (Harp) Stonebraker

A romance that was nurtured at the Idanha ended in homicide at Cascade. Valley County people favored the Idanha. Perhaps because pioneers in stock raising and lumber production had stayed at McMillan’s hotel, younger generations stayed there. Weekend groups of half a dozen were often there, having fun and bringing news of such sled-dog racers from their vicinity as Smoky Stover and Thula Chelan, famous for winning at such places as Ashton, Idaho, and Truckee, California.

Among the Long Valley people attending an Idanha weekend in the 1930s were George Stonebraker of Cascade and Thelma Harp. Friendship that began in McCall advanced when they met again with mutual friends at the Idanha, and romance ripened into marriage. Evidence at a district court trial in Cascade in 1945 shows the marriage was not a happy one. Thelma shot George at their ranch home near Cascade in the presence of several dinner guests. He died on the spot. A witness said George had called Thelma vile names. She burst into tears and went to her room. Soon “the attractive brunette,” as a newswriter identified her, “returned with a gun and shot George twice.” Later she said, “Why did I kill him when I love him so much? I hope I hang for it.” She didn’t.

Mrs. Stonebraker was defended by George Donart and Fred Taylor. Thomas Feeney prosecuted. Judge A. O. Sutton presided.

Temporary insanity was the primary argument presented by the defense. Testimony suggested that George had threatened Thelma several times, once with a pitch-fork. Two doctors said she had temporary amnesia on the night of the shooting.

A secondary defense, not offered by attorneys but highlighted by the press, was the beauty of Mrs. Stonebraker. Time after time reporters referred to her as attractive, comely, and shapely. The jury deliberated less than two hours and found her not guilty. The late Andy Anderson, a logging contractor, jumped up at the verdict and yelled, “Hooray!” Judge Sutton admonished him to be quiet. Anderson left the courtroom. He stuck his head in the window and shouted another “hooray.”

The press still appeared more excited about the defendant’s apearance than her freedom. “Mrs. Stonebraker, 31, has dark brown hair which she brushes until it glistens,” a story said. “She is of medium build with a shapely figure and comely legs.”

source: “The Idanha: Guests and Ghosts of an Historic Idaho Inn”, By Dick D’Easum
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Notes on Andy Anderson

During Thelma’s sentencing, Andy Anderson was the first river guide who took boats and people down the Middle Fork River. He had a ranch at the end of the road into Meyers Cove and packed and boated. He was rather famous back country packer also.

Blackadar said. L. L. “Andy” Anderson of Challis, Idaho, who claims to have taken the first paying customers down the Middle Fork in 1946, says the latest he had floated the river was a Nov. 22, and he never had trouble with ice. He said the river is more treacherous at its lowest level in August.

Ted Anderson, who was the Middle Fork river manager for 20 years between 1974 and 1994, remembers taking his first trip down the Middle Fork in 1945. His dad, Andy Anderson, was one of the early outfitters running the Middle Fork. They packed their rafts into the Middle Fork via horseback on primitive trails. He remembers the campsites “were in great shape” (MFOA 2015).

AndyAnderson-aAndy Anderson on the Middle Fork

(from personal correspondence)

Link to Big Creek / Edwards history index page

Updated October 22, 2020