Idaho History June 2, 2019

Molly Kesler

Back County Pioneer

Warm Lake, Valley County Idaho

Molly Flanery Willey Kesler

FL224-Molly

by Gerri Pottenger

Mary Lou Flanery was born on Feb. 24, 1870 in Willamette valley, Oregon. Legend has called her “Molly of the Mountains”, doctor, midwife, hunter, fishing expert, bronco buster, owner of the Payette Lake House in McCall, builder of the Warm Lake Hotel, and savior of a lost Boeing Airliner , winter 1935. She was Aunt Molly to most everyone, but to Alvin, Fern, Ed and Bob Pottenger she was Grandma”.

Molly was five when she moved with her mother to Grand Rounde, Oregon and when her mother died six years later she did chores for her room and board when she was placed with strangers. She did a man’s work but her employer kindly sent her to school and tried to give her some home comforts. By fifteen Molly was cooking for ten, going to school part time and breaking horses in the evening. A year later her golden hair and blue eyes attracted Charles Willey and they were married. In May 1889, three years later, Molly, Charlie and their baby, Jessie, headed for Idaho. It took a month for horses and wagon to make the journey and they settled not far from where they forded the Payette River called Sagebrush Flats. It was later called Spink.

Molly told of their cattle disappearing and gardens mined when the cattlemen brought in a bunch of longhorns. The next spring, as her story goes, when the cattle were brought up to Long Valley, and fearing their food supply would again be destroyed, the settlers shot a total of 120 head in two separate instances. When this didn’t work the men masked themselves and threatened the cattlemen. This did the trick. Molly said, about identifying the masked men, “no amount o’ money could loosen a tongue, an’ we had no more trouble with ’em”.

The twenty years that Molly lived in Long Valley she was the only doctor. In one of her hair raising stories she tells of traveling ten miles on skis to deliver a baby and on the return encountered a blizzard. She was about to give up and started to dig a hole in a snowbank with a ski to await her fate when she saw a way ahead and found the door to Mrs. Routsella’s cabin.

Famous for her fishing and hunting prowess, it is interesting to note that in addition to trout, she caught salmon from Boulder Creek This was before the construction of the Black Canyon dam. She hunted until she was 77. She insisted her aim was still perfect but “get-a-long was too ketchey”.

Molly and Charlie Willey divorced after 19 years in 1907 and a year later she married Bill Kesler. Bill built Molly a log cabin about 25 miles from Van Wyck in a settlement called Knox. Here she fed 25 sheepherders a day and was renowned for her pies made with bear grease. She would only use the grease from bears that ate huckleberries. She insisted the bears that ate fish made crust that wasn’t fit to eat.

She tells of a young John Knox who was very handsome and owned 12 claims in back of the settlement named for him. He and Bill Kesler mined together. The mining claims started to pay off and Knox had a future. The Keslers decided to buy up all nine buildings (not counting their home) in the settlement. The deal was made and seemed legal. The next year a stranger showed up claiming ownership of all nine buildings. Molly ran him off. It went to court and the stranger satisfied the courts as to his legal ownership. The Keslers were fleeced and the one who did it was gone.

A new life was about to begin. About five miles east was Warm Lake. Molly and Bill bought a large parcel of land close to the Lake. They kept their plans secret and built the first road into Warm Lake with a team of horses and their own hands. They were now middle aged and this would have to be their last business venture. This title could never be challenged. Then they built the Warm Lake Hotel. Molly saw them through the first rough years by raising silver foxes. The beautiful pelts could bring as much as $175. Molly’s great-granddaughter, Linda Robbins, still has one of them. The beauty of the area near the lake, in the pines, soon gained a reputation as a favorite resort for the city people, hunters and fishermen. Molly acted as a guide and taught her fishing and cooking secrets. A fawn she had saved from a dog pack became a pet that sometimes slept by the fireplace.

The following story is in Molly’s own words spoken to Ruth T. Knight:

“It was while we still had the hotel at Warm Lake, an’ we had been havin’ quite a spell o’ winter. Towards evenin’ the air sniffed o’snow an’ the wind began howln’ an’ I says to Bill, ‘If we don’t have more snow by mornin’ I’m a dead coyote.’ So, long about 11 ‘clock that night we went to bed. Before we had got to sleep Bill says, ‘What the hell’s that roarin’?’ I raised up on my elbow an’ listened an’ then I said, ‘O, my God it’s a lost airoplane, a good 140 miles off course.’ So I jumped out ‘a bed an’ listened again and heard it go out towards the Sawtooth range an’ come back, then go again. I ran outside in my bare feet, but couldn’t see a thing for a blizzard was ragin’. I could hear the plane roarin’ right over my head, an’ as I looked up I prayed, ‘O, my god, what can I do to save it?’

Molly decided to call the Boise airport, so she ran indoors to the telephone hoping and praying that the lines would not be down. Unable to raise the operator she continued to ring and call, “Hello, hello,” with the hope that someone along the mountain line would hear her, “I want the airport, get me the airport.” Finally a voice in the distance said, “This is the airport, have you seen or heard of an airplane up that way?” Yes, yes, that’s what I want to tell you. Its overhead now,” Molly replied.

Giving him her location, Molly pulled on her shoes and threw a coat about her. With a lantern in hand she went out into the night, the wind and snow impeding her steps as she groped her way down to the lake where she built a fire on the ice. Back at the telephone again she succeeded in raising some of the other subscribers along the line and fires were built to guide the plane to a good landing field at Cascade. There the townspeople were aroused and with their cars surrounded the landing field, flooding it with light. The plane was landed safely, the passengers never having been aware of the danger.

Molly was the recipient of letters and telegrams from grateful passengers and their relatives. The Boeing Aircraft Co. presented her with a model of the plane she saved, and gave her a life pass on their planes. Molly’s great grandson, James, Pottenger, has the model today.

The locals and their grandchildren know “Aunt Molly” as a legend. They fish her fishing haunts, picnic at “Aunt Molly Warm Springs” (named in her honor). And they talk of this woman who could mush as well as ride a dog team, saved many lives, encountered wild animals, could out-ski any man in the area at age 72 and still retained her femininity.

Molly’s poem shows her sensitivity:

I have mushed through the snow of Long Valley
To care for the sick and the dead
When all the light that I could see
Was the little North Star overhead

I have listened to the coyotes and wolves,
I have mushed through the blizzards of hell,
I’ve known what it is to be lonely and sad,
With longings I never could tell.

Some day you will find by the side of the trail
My tall ghostly figure of white,
Lying still in the snow where my journey will end,
In the silence and peace of the night.

Please bury me there `neath the carpet of God,
Where the little North Star never pales,
By the side of my mate in the land that I love,
At the end of the valley’s long trails.

(Signed) Molly Lou Kesler Dec. 29, 1943

from “Molly Flanery Willey Kesler” by Gerri Pottenger, pgs 223-227, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
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1908 Idaho Map

Showing Long Valley (Spink) and the Wagon Road to Warm Lake
1908-Idaho-SprinkKnox
1903 Post route map of the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming showing post offices with the intermediate distances and mail routes in operation on the 1st of December, 1903
Link to full sized map:
[h/t SMc]
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Spink Post Office

established January 16, 1906, Lydia A. Spink
discontinued May 15, 1914, mail to McCall.
SE Sec. 27 T17N, R3E
about 4 1/2 m. S of Lakefork.

source: Valley County GenWeb Post Office History
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Knox 1905


1905 photo, Univ. of Idaho Library digital collection, Idaho Cities and Towns.
source: AHGP
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Warm Lake Time Line 1907 – 1939

1907

Bill & his wife (Aunt) Molly Kesler moved to Knox and later built the Warm Lake hotel (between the existing lodge and the lake).

1911

Bill and Molly Kesler started building at the Warm Lake hotel site (now Warm Lake Lodge). The hotel was located some 500’ toward the lake from the existing lodge.

1915 May 20

Bill & Molly Kesler bought 8 buildings and their home from a fellow they thought was the owner. A year later Robnette appeared and claimed title to all 9 buildings. Molly ran him off the place and down the road 3 miles where he took refuge with an old miner. They thought there was to be a future for Knox. They were fleeced and the “fleecer” was gone.
Source: Boise Statewide newspaper Jan. 24, 1947 titled “Molly of the Mountain”.

1931, Oct.3

Mary L. “Molly” Kesler vs. C. S. Jones case went to the Idaho Supreme court and was remanded to the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, in and for Valley County for retrial. Molly was awarded $40.00 and cost of the suit for the value of the fox pelt. They had raised foxes at Warm Lake for a period of time.

March 1935

Molly Kesler heard an airplane circling around 11 PM in a snowstorm over Warm Lake. She phoned Cascade and they called Boise to confirm the United Airlines plane was lost. She built a fire on the frozen lake so the pilot could get a bearing on Cascade. Cars lined up to light the runway 1.5 miles east of town. The pilot and one passenger were treated for frostbite since the heater was not working. Nine were on board. The next day the plane was flown to Boise.
Cascade News March 29, 1935.
Molly thought the plane was a Johnson Flying Service plane and called Johnson but it wasn’t theirs. The next morning one engine wouldn’t start so they drained the oil and heated it on a stove. (Don Campbell oral history.) The plane was a twin engine Boeing 247.

1939

Warm Lake Hotel was purchased from Bill & Molly Kesler by Dr. Leo E. Jewell MD of Meridian. His brother-in-law Bill Dodds was manager. They sold to Bert and Ester Brewster in 1945.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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1928 Warm Lake – from near Warm Lake Summit


(click to see original photo)
from the Harry Shellworth Album Idaho State Historical Society, photographer Ansgar Johnson Sr.
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Warm Lake Homesteads

[Knox] … In the Warm Lake area, the largest settlement was an area called Randall Town. Charles Randall settled there in 1898 and filed for a homestead in 1909.

…While Randall still owned the property, the Kesler family, Bill and Molly, moved there from Spink. When Robnett took over the Knox Ranch, the Keslers moved to Warm Lake and started a hotel business and a fox farm on the side.

Excerpted from “Homesteads and Ranches” by C. Eugene Brock, pages 22-24, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
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Warm Lake Hotel, 1936

301-Warm-Lake-Hotel-1936-a

Warm Lake Hotel, 1936. Bill & Mollie Kesler by tree
photo courtesy Bob Hood from the Don Campbell collection
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Warm Lake Hotel

“The Warm Lake Hotel was built in 1910. It opened in 1911 and burnt to the ground in the 1949s.

“This hotel and store and a few cabins were built by Bill and Mollie Kessler [sic]. The hotel was operated by Clark and Buelah [sic] Cox in 1924-26. The next year they bought the ranch on Johnson Creek and started a dude ranch. When Clark and Beulah operated the business their prices were 60 cents for meals and rooms from 50 cents to $1.00 per night according to the room you got and how many shared the room.

“The Warm Lake Hotel became more popular after the road was built from Landmark down Johnson Creek and became the main road to Yellow Pine. The road over Warm Lake Summit to Landmark for a long time was used only by people going into the Deadwood area.”

Duane Petersen, “Valley County – The Way it Was” (p.88)

source: ID AHGP [h/t SMc]
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Charles Gill Interview About Warm Lake

Audio taped by Richard Wilkie July 1978 and transcribed by LeRoy Meyer

G: Old Burt Bostwick was another one of those fellows they all knew and he knew all of those people. They would all get together up at Molly and Bill Kesler’s lodge (now Warm Lake Lodge) there for a session.

W: When did they build that lodge at Warm Lake?

G: Oh, I don’t know, that was built sometime before we came up here. It could hardly be called a lodge. It was a frame building called Warm Lake Hotel, a two story building. I don’t know how many rooms it had; I imagine it had four or five rooms in it and they, Molly and Bill, lived on the ground floor. Then off to the side they had a little building they called a store, not more than 20′ x 20′ as far as size was concerned. Just a frame building.

W: Was it where the new lodge is? No, it was further down towards where the workshop and shed is. That’s further down.

W: Did that burn down?

G: I don’t think it burned down, I think they tore it down after Molly and Bill sold out and left here. They left Warm Lake because it was getting too crowded and went up some place near Yellow Pine but not in Yellow Pine. They wanted to get away but away from Yellow Pine. I don’t know where their home was up there; anyway they sold out to some body that bought out the place (Dr. Leo E. Jewell). They tore the buildings down and built the cabins and lodge that are now there. Molly and Bill lived up there a few years. They were getting along in years and came down to civilization. I don’t know where they went to first. But Bill seemed to me Bill Kesler died in Emmett, I’m not certain of that. After that Molly went to Portland where she had a sister and spent some time with her sister. Then she died and she was buried at Weiser, which was a surprise. When we lived there and noted she was buried there I didn’t know why, but found out later she had relatives that had been living in Weiser. It might have been her mother or father (daughter).

W: When did she die?

G: I can’t recall but it seemed like the 50’s when she died (Nov. 19, 1951). I don’t know how much longer before Bill died (Aug. 3, 1955). Never the less that’s where she was buried.

excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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A Baby on Her Hip and a Gun in Her Hand

The Story of Molly Kesler, Idaho Pioneer

kesler-cover-a

By Sheila D. Reddy, Heritage Program, Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest, April, 1994 [photo unknown woman and baby.]

Rain fell through the old trees in the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1875, sliding down the windows of a small cabin. Inside five year old Mary Lou (Molly) Flanery sat on her little trunk, tears filling her eyes. Her high button shoes tapped the hollow side, the sound reflecting the pain in her heart. Molly was about to make the most difficult decision a child is ever forced make.

Her Mother and Father were separating and Molly had to decide who she would live with. The old trees around the cabin swayed in the wind as Molly slid off the trunk, slipping her fingers into her Mother’s hand, tearfully leaving her Father alone in the empty room.

Molly and her Mother boarded the stage coach for Grand Ronde, Oregon, where they lived there until her Mother’s death in 1881. Unable to locate her Father, eleven year old Molly moved to a ranch with a family named Fairbanks, working for room and board. By the time she was fifteen Molly cooked for a family of ten in addition to helping with ranch chores. Mrs. Fairbanks was kind to Molly, insisting she continue her schooling.

Life on the western frontier in the late 1800’s was challenging, not easy for the weak of body or spirit. Molly was neither of these. Chances for excitement and fun occurred in some unusual ways.

Bill Newbry was a cowhand on the Fairbank’s ranch who had contracted to break 500 head of horses for saddle stock. Bill was a handsome young man and infatuated with Molly. In the evenings he hung around the kitchen after supper was over, helping Molly dry dishes while they talked. Trying to find a way to spend more time together Bill ask Molly if she would like to help him break horses in the evenings after finishing chores.

It was a perfect setting for a summer romance. Molly rode the broncs, her golden hair flying against the setting sun, her eyes sparkling with excitement. Never once was Molly thrown. That may have been the reason the love affair ended when the horses were broken, however, Molly always looked back on that summer as one of her happiest.

In 1886, she met and married Charles Willey. Three years later, in May of 1889, the young couple and a new baby joined a wagon train headed for Idaho. One of the children with the train had whooping cough, and before the trip was over, every child came down with the disease. Adding to the misery of the journey, rain fell nearly every day of the month-long trip. Finally in June the weary travelers arrived at the Payette River in Long Valley.

Snow was melting in the high country, and the Payette River was running high. Dark waters swirled dangerous and deep as the wagons prepared to ford. A young cowboy, who had acted as guide on the trip, volunteered to lead out with his cow pony. Wrapping the rope around his saddle horn he tossed the other end to Charlie, who tied it to the wagon tongue. The cowboy’s horse waded into the turbulence, and began swimming. Eight horses pulling their wagon followed behind. The water hit the wagon, pounding against the bed and lashing the animals, pulling them downstream.

Molly clung to the baby with one hand and tried to hang on to a rope with the other. She would remember it as one of the most harrowing moments of her life. The horses swam for the opposite shore, their hooves searching for solid ground. The wagon wheels hit river rock, crunching and wobbling while the wagon bed swayed uncertainly, finally the horses and the wagon settled onto the sandy shore. Molly’s hand was burned from hanging on to the rope. She had nearly abandoned hope as the wagon lurched and surged in the swirling waters.

The settlers camped, then homesteaded farms near the river crossing in “Sagebrush Flats.” The settlement would become known as Spink.

“Then came the tug,” Molly remembered. “We had cleared the brush from the land and was aiming to raise our gardens. The vegetables was showin’ nice an’ green when cattlemen brought in a bunch of longhorns. They not only ruined our gardens but after the roundup, we found most of our milk cows was gone.

“Our places weren’t fenced yet, so we couldn’t keep our stock to home nor theirs away. But come next spring we laid fer ’em. When they started eatin’ our garden greens, the men folk rounded up these wild fat steers and killed 60 of ’em.

“Still the cattlemen refused to take their cattle away. We knew we was goin’ to starve if things kept up, so we killed 60 more..

“It made quite a pile, an’ the smell should a driven ’em away if nothin’ else did. But all the killin’ did no good. Then it was a case of the settlers or the cattlemen, so our men folks masked their faces an’ threatened the owners instead o’ the cattle. That did the trick. ’bout six months later the cattlemen returned to arrest those who threatened ’em, but no amount of money could loosen a tongue, an’ we had no more trouble with ’em ” (Knight 1947:2-3).

Molly hadn’t really felt carrying a gun was necessary when she and Charlie first settled in Long Valley. But after the men had headed out to work in the mines, Molly changed her mind.

One morning while Molly finished her baking she laid the baby on a quilt in the front yard. Every few seconds she would glance out the kitchen window to see if the baby was staying on the blanket. Turning back from the cupboard, Molly looked out to see a wolverine sniffing its way towards the baby. Dropping the pan in her hand she raced out the door, snatching up the infant, then heading for the cabin. She laid the baby in its bed, grabbed up the rifle and headed out after the animal. The wolverine ran towards the creek as Molly fired, and missed. Never again would Molly leave the house without a gun. She became an excellent marksman, refusing to stay home when a hunt was planned.

Molly’s outdoor skills also included fishing to supplement their diet. She didn’t just settle for putting a grasshopper on a hook, but studied the eating habits of various fish, tying flies to mimic the insects the fish were biting. She loved to tell the story of a salmon she caught.

“I’m minded o’ the time the little one an’ I went fishin’ in Boulder Creek. We had caught twelve nice trout and’ had just crossed a ridge where the river turned, an’ as I looked down the creek I saw a big salmon comin’ my way. I run him into shallow water an’ he swam towards the bank. I come up on him easy like, an’ with one hand on each side o’ his body, I moved my fingers along his sides, closer and closer, then quick as a flash run my thumbs in his gills. His mouth opened an’ I quick clamped my fingers in his mouth. He thrashed’ bout so much I could hardly stay on my feet.

“‘O Mommy, see him kick’, my little girl hollered.

“There weren’t a dry spot on me when I finally landed him on the bank. Comin’ home through the deep grassy meadow we came across a wild duck on the nest. When she flew away, I broke one of the eggs an’ found it good, so we took a dozen eggs besides the trout and salmon. We was right proud o’ ourselves that day” (Knight 1947:4-5).

Molly and Charlie Willey were married for nineteen years, then in 1907 they divorced. A year later Molly married Bill Kesler. The newlyweds moved to Knox, about twenty-five miles east of Cascade. Bill built Molly a small cabin and she hired on to feed twenty-or-so sheepherders working in the valley.

Molly hunted and fished to supply food for the table along with doing the cooking. Spring was the time she baited bear traps, for bear grease ran out by spring. “Pies just ain’t fit to eat,” according to Molly, “‘les they’re made o’ bear grease. But you must make sure they’s been fattened on huckleberries, ’cause if a bear’s eatin’ fish, his flesh tastes fishy. Don’t never try makin’ pie crust out anything ‘cept bear grease, taint fit to eat” (Knight 1947:5).

Her skill with a rifle was excellent. One evening after the men had finished eating and were resting outside on the porch, three buck deer wandered up the trail. Everyone scurried for their rifles. Molly was the last to shoot, picking off two of the three animals. As the smoke cleared, and the men realized what had happened, they threw down their guns and stalked off in grim silence. Undaunted, Molly cleaned and skinned her kill. There would be deer steak for breakfast.

Molly had a second, gentler occupation in the mountains. For twenty years she was the only doctor in the valley. Traveling over the trails both winter and summer, she delivered babies and nursed the sick and aged, never charging a penny for her services. In all those years she never lost a mother, and only one abnormal baby. Her logic saved many lives.

“You know in those days we didn’t know about such things as blood transfusions, an’ there weren’t no ergot within a hundred miles, but God O’Mighty did give me a head an’ I was aimin’ to use it. I decided there was only one way to stop them hemorrhages, an’ that was to give her a shock. I had the men folks bring in a tub o’ snow an’ melt it, then I wrung out sheets out o’ that ice cold water an’ wrapped ’em ’round.

“You know, women can pick the most god-awful times to have their youngins’. Why I’ve seen ’em deliberately wait fer a blizzard or until the water was high and the bridge out. Then again I’ve seen ’em when they wouldn’t wait to finish sneezin’.

“Now take the time little Dove Eye Taylor made her first landin’,” Molly reflected as she put a piece of wood on the fire. “How Mrs. Taylor did want a boy, but all her boys were girls. Well, it was a 10 mile trek across to Taylors, an’ the snow was least three feet deep and so soft my skis sunk in a foot, but I made it there.

“After we got little Dove Eye all tied and dried, an’ her Mother restin’ easy like, I started fer home. When I’d gone about two miles there come one awful blizzard. I couldn’t see ten feet ahead. The wind lashed the snow against my face, an’ near blinded me. My legs was just as heavy as fence posts, but stumblin’ round, I found I had reached an old washed out bridge that crossed Lake Fork, and beings as how I couldn’t go back the way I came, I started across on the stringers of the of bridge.

“I laid one ski from one stringer to ‘nother, stood on it, then reached back and picked up the first one an’ stepped on it, then laid it in front again. When I finally got across, the snow had drifted ten feet deep over the end of the stringers, so I couldn’t climb out. I let myself down through the stringers to the edge of the ice below an’ followed the river until I could find a place to climb out.

“Feelin’ my way along, with the blizzard whippin’ and lashin’ at me from all directions, I knowed I must give up. I took off one o’ my skis and started to dig a hole in the snowbank to await my fate. Lookin’ up sudden-like I saw I could climb out. “You know,” Molly reflected with a shining light in her eyes, “heaven ain’t ever far away. The next five minutes proved it. I stumbled right to it’s door. It happened to be Mrs. Routsella’s door too, an’ she thawed me out with hot coffee and cake” (Knight 1947:3-4).

Molly did some rescuing of her own after she and Bill moved over to Warm Lake. Buying a large piece of land next to the lake, they built and ran the Warm Lake Hotel in the pines. The place became a favorite stopping spot for hunters, fishermen, and folks just wanting to spend some time in the mountains. For almost thirty years travelers relaxed next to the fire, and ate Molly’s cocking. Molly still found time to hunt and fish, supplying wild game and huckleberry pie for her guests.

But it was in the winter of 1935 when Molly saved the airliner. A blizzard raged over the mountains of Central Idaho on the evening of March 25, 1935. Molly and Bill Kesler were settling down for the night when Molly heard the sound of a plane’s engine over the roar of the wind. The Cascade News reported:

After battling for over three hours against the furious storm which whipped it off its course, the Salt Lake-to-Portland giant airliner of the United Airlines landed safely at Cascade at midnight Monday during a lull in the storm with its gasoline supply nearly exhausted and its nine occupants nearly frozen, the heating apparatus having failed.
The lost ship was first located by Mrs. Mollie Kessler [sic], high over Warm Lake. Knowing something was wrong she phoned to Cascade and Earl Welch and Dr. Theil gave the Boise office its location. It was then put on its proper course by radio (3/26/1935:p.1).

United Airline officials were so grateful for Molly’s help they sent her a lifetime pass. In 1947 Molly remarked, “I ain’t never used it yet, but don’t get the idea I’m scared, fer I’m not, but I just ain’t had no ‘cassion to use it” (Knight 1947:9).

After thirty years at Warm Lake Hotel, Molly and Bill decided to “move to town.” In the late 1940’s they moved to McCall, next to the lake, but Molly couldn’t leave her mountain way of life totally behind. when interviewed by Ruth Knight in 1947, Molly opened the closet door; two worn-out 30-30 rifles leaned against the wall. A .38 lay under her pillow.

“I know you think I’m crazy, but beings as how I had to depend on a gun so long, I just can’t get used to bein’ without it, no more’n I can get used to these electric lights. I wanted to stay there in those hills. Yes, I wanted to die there, fer thats home to me” (Knight 1947:1).

Author’s Note: Molly’s life story was recorded in 1947 by Ruth T. Knight, under the title, “Molly Of The Mountains”. After finding the unpublished manuscript in the historic files of the Payette National Forest, McCall, Idaho, I realized Molly’s story was unique and inspirational. So few stories tell of the early life of Idaho pioneer women. I rewrote the information gathered by Knight in story form, using the facts as a base format and quotes of dialogue taken by Knight from Molly at the time of the 1947 interview. I have added generally to the scenes of that data, and corrected punctuation; striving to maintain Molly’s charm and individuality. I researched and checked data in the Cascade News (Cascade, Idaho, Friday March 29, 1935, p.1) and Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, Idaho, Tuesday Morning, March 26, 1935, p.1 and 2), for details regarding the rescue of the United Airlines plane.

“Molly” Mary Lou Kesler

“Molly” Mary Lou Kesler was born 24 February 1870 at The Dalles, Oregon to Elijah J. Flanery and Lucy J. Kersey
(BYU Idaho Special Collections & Family History).

She died November 19, 1951, in Blackfoot (USGenWeb Archives) and is buried in Weiser as is her husband Bill

source: ID AHGP [h/t SMc]
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Mary Lou Kesler

Birth: 24 Feb 1870 Salem, Marion County, Oregon
Death: 19 Nov 1951 Blackfoot, Bingham County, Idaho
Burial: Hillcrest Cemetery Weiser, Washington County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave

William Kesler

Birth: 7 Dec 1864 Wirt County, West Virginia
Death: 3 Aug 1955 (aged 90) Emmett, Gem County, Idaho
Burial: Hillcrest Cemetery, Weiser, Washington County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave
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Link to Warm Lake History part 1

Link to Warm Lake History part 2
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