Idaho History Nov 11, 2018


(part 4) News

Miscellaneous Published Articles and Newspaper Items From Idaho County and the Vicinity, compiled by Penny Bennett Casey


The Evening Bulletin – San Francisco, Calif. September 21, 1871

There have been six cases of small-pox lately at Florence, Idaho
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The Evening Bulletin – San Francisco, Calif. October 2, 1871

Smallpox has been ravaging among the Chinamen of the town of Florence, Idaho

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman – Boise, Idaho May 8, 1873

Major Alvord writes us from Florence, Idaho county, under the date of the 19th ultimo, that he arrived there on the 14th, and found the snow six feet deep. He opened his store on the 15th and had a good trade. This is just one month earlier than the usual time for opening that camp.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Daily Evening Bulletin – San Francisco, California June 10, 1889

Last fall a number of orange trees were planted at Florence, Idaho. They are growing nicely

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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1896 New Florence

(click here for larger size)

Residents standing amidst placer piles in the streets of New Florence, 1896. Idaho State Historical Society photo.
source: Nez Perce National Forest
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho April 16, 1896

New Florence – New Town to Be Located Near the Old Camp

Grangeville Free Press:

The miners of Florence district in mass meeting assembled last Sunday decided unanimously upon the location of a new town to be situated a quarter of a mile south of the old town of Florence on Summit Flat. The new town is to be called “New Florence.” A more sightly location for a town could not be selected in the camp. It is situated on a large, flat, high and dry gravel belt, surrounded on all sides by groves of small black pine and having good drainage. It is a central location and is convenient of access to all parts of the camp, besides being situated directly on the state wagon road.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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The Florence Miner – Florence , Idaho March 9, 1898

Things are decidedly quite at present, but after the 20th of May Florence will be full of activity, with work of all sorts under way. Hotels and saloons will be added, perhaps another meat market and store, and while we already have three livery stables, will probably have two or three more. The secret of Florence’s prosperity will be the output from hundreds of stamps reducing the ores that will make Florence one of the greatest of camps.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Idaho County Free Press April 7, 1899

Three Men Drowned

Salmon river, to a greater extent than any other stream in the mountains, has the reputation among men familiar with the country, of being a wicked and dangerous stream, even in its most peaceful stage. At this time when the melting snow adds to its great volume of water it is treacherous throughout its entire course.

McCaffrey, Mallory, Shorthill and O’Brien has all made locations at Mallick and started back on foot for Florence with samples. Seven miles below Mallick at Elk Creek, they came upon Jeff Turpin, who had made the trip with a boat full of grub and having cached his provisions, was about to start down stream and offered the men a lift.

The whole outfit got along swimmingly until they reached a point six miles above Madame Carey’s ranch at the old wire bridge. At this place there is a sharp bend in the river and the stream sets strongly to the north bank, perpendicular cliffs, creating a dangerous backwater and breakers. Despite frantic efforts, the boat was swept toward the bank and under the breakers, capsized and put the five men in the water. McCaffrey succeeded in getting away from the breakers and managed to kick off his rubber boots. The only man he could see was Mallory and they succeeded in catching the boat, bailing her out and spent considerable time searching for their comrads without success.

Upon their arrival at Florence a search party was organized, without success.
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Idaho County Free Press June 2, 1899

The body recently found on Salmon river was identified as J. O’Brien. It was impossible to remove the body, so it was reburied and the grave surrounded by a fence.
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Idaho County Free Press June 16, 1899

The bodies of Jeff Turpin and A.T. Shorhill have been found near Freedom and Slate creek, identified by papers found in their pockets.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho February 12, 1899

Klondike Weather Has Struck Florence

Spokane, Wash., Feb. 11 – Reports received today from Florence, Idaho, state that Klondike weather has struck that isolated camp. The thermometers were not graded low enough by one and one-half inches to indicate the temperature, but the grading down showed approximately 62 to 65 degrees below zero.

Florence is a famous old placer camp of the early 60’s, and has come into renewed prominence since the recent gold discoveries on Buffalo Hump.

A raw-hide train of three men and seven horses left Florence for the Hump. It was the first trip with horses, but the trail will probably be kept open from now on. The horses have snowshoes fitted to their feet and travel on them very successfully. The snow is about six feet deep.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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The Anaconda Standard – Montana June 21, 1899

A $10,000 Fire

Spokane, June 20 – A message from Grangeville tonight says that the Banner mill at Florence, Idaho, the chief milling point of that district was burned today. Loss $10,000; Insurance $5,000.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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The Mount Idaho Mail – Mt. Idaho, Idaho February 27, 1900

(reprinted in the Idaho Daily Statesman)

Dredge Launched

We learn from our correspondent at Florence the new dredge is completed and was launched last Saturday. It is christened “The Florence No. 1.” The launching took place at 4 o’clock, at which time the keys were knocked out and the dredge slid gracefully into the water with a cheering crowd upon her deck and the Stars and Stripes flying at her bow. Three rousing cheers were given the Florence and three more for her builder, Ole Olson. The launching of this dredge marks an epoch in the history of Florence, and if its operation yields as satisfactory results as are expected, several more similar machines will be built and put to work on the Clearwater and other streams by the same company.

source: Idaho County GenWeb
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First Public School in Idaho

(click here for larger size)

School in New Florence, 1898. Ace Barton Collection.
source: Nez Perce National Forest
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho November 25, 1905

Reminiscences of Pioneer Idaho Days

Major Fenn Tells of the First Public School in This State, Of the First Baby in Florence, and of Ostner’s First Washington Statue

Major Fenn, superintendent of forest reserves in Idaho, fell into a reminiscent mood the other day. He recalled the first public school in Idaho at which he was a pupil. That was in 1864, at Florence. At the first session of the territorial legislature in this state the public school law of California was adopted, with a few minor changes to fit conditions in Idaho. Major Fenn’s father, who was a member of the assembly, returned to Florence that winter and formed a public school district there. The directors sent to Ohio for a teacher, a Mrs. J.H. Robinson, who charged the district $160 per month for teaching six scholars, who were Major Fenn, his oldest sister, since dead, a brother and three other boys whose names the major does not recall.

“Those were the great old day,” says the major with a sigh of reminiscent relief.” “I remember in the winter of 1864 a child was born at Florence. The mother was very ill and unable to nurse the little fellow. He was kept alive for a couple of days with crackers dipped in brandy, there being nothing like milk in the camp. One of the miners in camp happened to remember that on his way up the river a few days before had had seen a band of sheep being driven in to be slaughtered. He recalled that there was a lamb in the herd. Without consulting anyone he strapped on his snowshoes and hit the back trail. He found the sheep, and the lamb, likewise the maternal ewe. He carried the ewe back to camp and the baby waxed fat and sassy. The baby is now city treasurer of Baker City, Ore. His name is George Foster.”

The equestrian statue of Washington in the capitol grounds, the handiwork of Ostner, the sculptor, recalled to the memory of Major Fenn another incident of old days in Florence.

“Old man Ostner was in Florence in the winter ’63, said the major. On Washington ’s Birthday, February 22, of that year, Ostner made a statue of Washington out of ice. Miners hauled snow and piled it up in the street, until there was a mass 25 feet high. Water was thrown on it and next morning it was a mass of ice. Ostner worked a couple of days and hewed out a likeness of George Washington seated in a chair, with a sword in one hand, a scroll in the other. The statue was of heroic size – fully 20 feet high, and was a magnificent likeness.

source: Idaho County GenWeb

(see also Idaho History Sept 23, 2018 Fenn Family Idaho County)
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1907 Baboon Gulch, Florence Idaho

(click here for original)

Baboon Gulch, Florence Idaho, as it appeared in 1907, look about the same today, but the cabins are gone.
source: Idaho Gold Gettr Treasure Net
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Idaho Statesman – Boise, Idaho – October 10, 1909

Pound of Salt Cost the Same as a Pound of Flour in Those Days

Capt. Relf Beldsoe

Florence was a very busy little mining camp. I saw at the head of Baboon gulch two men, who melted snow to get water to rock with, take an average of a pint of go gold dust a day from the rich pay dirt.

All kinds of supplies were in good demand. The name of our firm was Malphy, Creighton & Bledsoe. Supplies of all kinds sold at $1.00 per pound because of the method of transportation, which was made by ox team from Lewiston to Cold Springs and by pack train from Cold Springs to Florence, a distance of 70 miles.

A pound was a pound, no more, no less, and a pound of salt being just as heavy as a pound of flour, the cost was precisely the same. A quart jar of pickles sold for an ounce of gold dust or equivalent to $12, as the dust contained some silver.

In November of that year on one of my trips for merchandise I had stopped at Slate creek where I met a Mr. Baker, a well-known packer, and offered him 32 cents a pound to take supplies from Slate Creek over into Florence, but he refused to do so on account of the snow being so deep that it made traveling extremely difficult. It had bought some oats that had been brought in by cayuse pack trains and I had a few sacks left, so I bought his whole train for $5500. This train consisted of 45 mules and five riding horses.

Quite frequently in those days one could see men packing supplies on their backs. I saw men carrying from 100 to 125 pounds in this way. There are quite a number of people in Idaho who will remember those times.

The country we traveled over from Cold Springs is now dotted with beautiful farms and fields of waving grain and is known as Camas Prairie near Grangeville. We crossed on the old Indian trails in the early days.

Florence, like other mining camps, was the center of exciting incidents. There were gamblers and robbers and other men who preferred getting the gold without working for it. The robbers were called “road agents” and watched on the highway for miners coming to and from camp. They would waylay them, take their gold and usually killed them as “dead men tell no tales,” and then make their escape.

But the easy road over which these “road agents” traveled to secure their ill-gotten gains often ended at the gallows, for many of them were afterwards caught and hung. Once a packer by the name of Berry returning to Lewiston with his gold dust was overtaken and robbed on the road by two notorious desperadoes, Peoples and English, who were finally caught, were taken to Lewiston and there lynched.

Before their capture several months I met these desperadoes on Camas Prairie as I was on my way to Lewiston to take $10,000 worth of gold dust. I was alone and as I saw them coming I recognized them and stopped. They came up and greeted me pleasantly. I had my gun across my knees and told them to ride both on the same side as I was not willing for them to ride one on each side of me. They asked me why I wished them to do so and I told them that I wasn’t willing to take any chances.

Then they laughed and asked me if I had any whisky. I told them that I had and that they were welcome to a drink, but that they must dismount and put down their guns or they should not have a drop.

Peoples laughed as he came up and told me that I was too suspicious. He said: “We do not want to hurt you. You have too many friends in this country. It’s the fellows who are not known that we are after.” He lifted up the canteens at the saddles where I had the gold dust and said: “You have a pretty good wad there.” “Ten thousand dollars,” I answered. All the time I watched their every move and they kept telling me that I was too suspicious, but I realized the situation perfectly well and they knew it.

They drank their whisky and Peoples then told me I could go on. “No,” said I, “you must go on.” “That’s a pretty hard nut to crack.” said Peoples, grinning. “You get out your horses and go on,” I said, and as they saw that it was impossible for them to take me at a disadvantage, they mounted their horses and turned up the trail toward Mount Idaho. So I started on. Only 100 yards lay between me and the open timber for which I headed and after entering it I could see the desperadoes as they went on up the prairie away above me about five miles distant. Then I turned and went down to Cold Springs through the timber, and for fear they might try to make a detour and get on ahead of me, I put whip and spur to my mule until I got to Cold Springs, where I stayed all night, and the next day went on into Lewiston.

source: Idaho County GenWeb

source for all news clippings above: © PBC Idaho County GenWeb – Miscellaneous Published Articles and Newspaper Items From Idaho County and the Vicinity, compiled by Penny Bennett Casey
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The Challis Messenger January 08, 1919, Page 7

Miners residing near the old camp of Florence report the probable death of Jerry Seaburg, the sole resident of Florence. A few days ago miners discovered that Seaburg’s cabin had recently burned to the ground. The old miner has not been seen nor heard from since.

source: The Challis Messenger. (Challis, Idaho), 08 Jan. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Link to Florence Part 1

Link to Florence Part 2

Link to Florence Part 3

page updated September 21, 2020