Idaho History June 24, 2018

Secesh (Part 1)

Secesh Meadows Pioneer Cemetery

(click image for original)
Photo added by Kelly Walters
Source: Find a Grave
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Murders, Poisonings and Executions in Idaho County

from Area Newspaper Articles compiled by Penny Bennett Casey

Four Victims of Poisoning

Idaho County Free Press July 14, 1904

Four victims are dead and a fifth is suffering acutely as the supposed result of eating food impregnated with poison.

The fatalities occurred at Larson’s camp on Ruby Creek, near Resort, formerly Miller’s camp. Andrew Larson, L.C. Driggs, and his son, Chas.. Driggs, Mr. Mason and Mr. Syshsers were at work on Larson’s mine. Mr. Syshers was taken ill about three weeks ago, appearing to be suffering from a peculiar malady, aid was secured but the patient continued to grow worse and died in great agony.

Meanwhile Andrew Larson was stricken. His symptoms were similar to Syhsers’ and everything possible was done to relieve his without avail. His death occured June 20.

While Andrew Larson was battling with death the mysterious ailment fastened upon the elder Driggs, who was prostrated in precisely the same manner as Syhsers and Larson. He lingered a few days and followed his companions to the grave. During the period when L.C. Driggs lay on his death bed, his son, Charles betrayed symptoms of the fatal malady. Young Driggs expired with 48 hours of his father’s death.

When Mason was taken ill his friends were greatly alarmed, fearing he too, would succumb to the inexplicable visitation. He was taken to Hot Springs where he rallied and is now greatly improved though still suffering.

Dr. Blake, a physician who is interested in mining properties in the district, examining the food which the victims had partaken and expressed the belief that it contained poison obtained from a South American plant. How it came to be in the food is a mystery.

The stomach of the elder Driggs was removed and sent to Boise for chemical analysis, together with a quantity of food taken from the camp supply. It was found that the necessary tests could not be made in Boise. Neither can they be made in Moscow, and it is now intended that a chemist in Portland, or some other city shall make the analysis.

Mystery Cleared Up

Idaho County Free Press August 18, 1904

The mystery of the poisoning of the miners in Ruby meadows, near Resort, has been cleared up by the chemical analysis of the stomach contents of L.C. Driggs, one of the victims. The result showed traces of copper, tin and zinc with an abundance of ptomaine alkaloids; death is attributed to the ptomaine poisoning. Scientists differ on the origin of the poison and various causes are advanced for its presence in canned meats and vegetables.

Great interest was aroused in the camp by the appearance of a clairvoyant, a Mrs.. J. C. Stafford, who was a friend of A.L. Larson, the first victim of the mysterious poisoning. Mrs.. Stafford prevailed upon the miners to exhume the remains of her friend and in a trance she claimed to have conversed with his soul.

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source: Idaho County GenWeb, compiled by Penny Bennett Casey
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(click image for original)
source: Rumsford Book on Household Management, Hannah Wing
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Miller’s Camp [Secesh] (Gold)

Secesh River placers were noticed not long after the discovery of nearby Warren’s, and Miller’s Camp seems to have been active from 1863 on, with about fifty people there. Activity at Ruby Meadows [the site of Miller’s Camp]. Burgdorf, the Golden Rule, and Secesh Meadows continued through the depression, and a $500,000 production may have resulted.

source: Pg 14 Mining in Idaho Number 9 1985
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Secesh Area Geology


Maps of placer workings and placer sample locations in the Warren and Secesh areas were presented by Buehler and others (1993). They concluded that the largest placer deposits in those areas have been mined, but that smaller occurrences remain that may be suitable for small yardage operators and recreational placer miners.

Marshall Lake and Resort districts:

Many gold-bearing glacio-fluvial, alluvial, and bench placers are present along streams that drain the Marshall Lake and Resort mining districts (Lorain and Metzger, 1938; Savage, 1961). Examples are present along California Creek, which drains north to the Salmon River, and along Lake Creek and its tributaries, Ruby Creek, Secesh Creek, Grouse Creek, and the Secesh River valley, which drain southeast to the South Fork of the Salmon River, which drains northward to the Salmon River.

Capps (1941) interpreted the Lake Creek, Grouse Creek, Secesh Creek, and Secesh River valleys as fault-controlled valleys, bounded by post-Miocene normal faults. The Burgdorf hot springs rise along one of the normal faults that bounds the Lake Creek valley. The valleys of Grouse Creek and Secesh Creek follow north-northwest striking faults that are up to the west, down to the east. The Secesh Meadows placers are localized in a halfgraben, which contains Tertiary sediments that dip about 25 [degrees] southwest. The Tertiary sediments and are bounded on the southwest by a northwest-striking normal fault, with granitic rocks in its up-thrown southwest block. That fault parallels the Lake Creek – Secesh River fault, which Capps (1941) interpreted as a normal fault, with its southwest block up-thrown relative to its northeast block.

Capps (1941) described placers in the following environments in the Secesh Basin:

(1) fluvial gravel in the fault-controlled valleys,
(2) Early Pleistocene glacial moraine (with highly weathered boulders),
(3) Early Pleistocene glacial outwash (with highly weathered boulders),
(4) Interglacial outwash (with moderately weathered boulders),
(5) Late Pleistocene moraine,
(6) present stream gravel.

(from page 145)

Placer mining has disturbed and redistributed alluvium in riparian zones of many drainages of the Warren – Secesh area. For example, the narrow bottom of Steamboat Creek is lined with piles of cobbles and loose sediment, and Warren Meadows is a field of dredge-waste cobble piles, interspersed with semi-disconnected streams and ponds.

(from page 147)

excerpted from: Potential Mineral Resources, Payette National Forest, Idaho: Description and Probabilistic Estimation, Open-File Report 98-219a 1998
By Arthur A. Bookstrom, Bruce R. Johnson, Theresa M. Cookro, Karen Lund, Kenneth C. Watts, Harley D. King, Merlin D. Kleinkopf, James A. Pitkin, J. David Sanchez, and J. Douglas Causey, Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service
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164. Politics.

The same half-decade which marked the beginnings of the gold-mining period in Idaho also embraced the tragic years of civil war for the nation. Although in February, 1864, Idaho’s first Territorial Legislature adopted strong anti-slavery resolutions, yet Southern sympathizers were in evidence in all the camps. Secession sentiment was especially strong in the Boise Basin on account of the inrush of pro-slavery immigrants from Missouri and other border States during the closing years of the war. The violent political prejudices that prevailed are reflected in the newspaper writings of those days. Republicans or Union Democrats often branded the followers of Jefferson Davis as “Secesh men” and “domestic traitors.” The proslavery men, not to be outdone, sometimes called the supporters of the federal government “Abe Lincoln Hirelings” or “Black Abolitionists.” The Missouri immigrants were occasionally described as “The Left Wing of Price’s Army.” One of these early partisan accounts refers to those immigrants as “the flankers of broken armies” and “an intolerable horde.”

There were, of course, some personal collisions and deeds of violence, but most of the miners were law-abiding and industrious. These roughly dressed men took an exceptionally keen and intelligent interest in public affairs and, in order to keep themselves well informed, paid exorbitant prices for newspapers. Many a learned mining-camp discussion belied its rude environment; and many a public address delivered in those mountain gulches would have done honor to any deliberative assembly.

source: “History of the State of Idaho” By C. J. Brosnan 1918 (18 meg)

updated July 28, 2020