Idaho History Oct 27, 2019

Annie “Peg Leg” McIntyre Morrow part 2

Atlanta and Rocky Bar, Alturas (Elmore) County

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Peg Leg Annie Tragedy’s Child
by L.C. Auer

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Orphaned and widowed, tragedy never eluded Annie Morrow. Caught in a raging blizzard, Annie was finally rescued, but it was to late to save her legs.

The story of Annie Morrow of Atlanta and Rocky Bar is one of the most colorful legends of early Idaho history. It is also the story of frontier courage and resourcefulness.

When Annie was a beautiful black-eyed child it seemed as if the tapestry of her life was woven of dazzling hues, as brilliantly picturesque as the multi-colored design of a Joseph’s coat.

But the year that her father was killed in the mining camp of Rocky Bar, there came into focus a tiny ebon thread which was, as the years marched on, to enlarge in length and breadth, gradually marring the overall radiant pattern and finally to eclipse it entirely with death’s own somber pigment, — black!

Where Annie was born is shrouded in mystery but it has been. definitely established that on the fourth of July 1864, her father, Steve McIntyre, carried her in a pack on his back into the booming mining camp of Rocky Bar. The camp was to be her home for the major portion of her life.

When Annie was growing up her father became partners with George W. Jackson, owner of one of the richest gold mines in the vicinity, the Gold Star. The two men quarreled, there was a shoot-out and McIntyre was killed, leaving Annie an orphan.

At the age of fourteen Annie was mature and the most beautiful girl in Rocky Bar. It was at that age that she married a man by the name of Morrow. The marriage was not a happy one, for Morrow beat his child bride.

With her husband, Annie left Rocky Bar but returned a few years later as a widow. Whether her husband died or whether she left him is not known. She began operating a boarding house in Atlanta, Idaho, fourteen miles from Rocky Bar over a four-mile mountain summit. Several times a week a mail carrier traveled on snow shoes to the mountain top and exchanged mail with a carrier from Rocky Bar.

Like famed Nellie Cashman of Tombstone, Annie was an angel of mercy in the mining camp. She never turned down a hungry man or one without money. Her boarding house was a haven to those who were down on their luck.

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Atlanta, Idaho at the turn of the century, in a mountain pass on the way to Rocky Bar, Annie Morrow almost froze to death.

Annie’s best friend was a German woman, Emma Van Losh, known in the mining camp as Dutch Em. Em spoke seven languages fluently. She had saved up a nest egg from her earnings and decided to return to her home in Bavaria. She persuaded Annie to go with her.

Early in May on a Friday night the two women started on the first lap of the journey on foot. The trail between Atlanta and Rocky Bar lay around Bald Mountain, a height of some 7000 feet. The next morning Bill Tate, the mail carrier from Atlanta, started to Hog Back to make the exchange at the summit with Bob Jackson, the carrier from Rocky Bar. Tate reported passing the two women on the way up, but a mountain blizzard swept down before he made his descent and he failed to see them in the thick curtain of snow that engulfed the whole mountain side.

The raging blizzard lasted for two days and everyone in the two mining camps of Atlanta and Rocky Bar were worried over Dutch Em and Annie. The third day after their departure, when the mail packer, Jackson, went on his run, he began a search for the two women. Three feet of fresh snow had fallen during the storm and all the bushes and trees were covered with a mantle of white. Finally, in a deep canyon on the Atlanta side of the mountain, the mail man came upon Annie crawling about in the snow, jabbering in delirium. Her feet were frozen. Jackson carried her back to Atlanta and sent for Dr. M.J. Newkirk in Mountain Home eighty miles distant.

For five days Annie waited for the doctor. She drank whiskey to kill the intense pain she was suffering from her frozen feet. Tate had made the mistake of building a fire in her room and as Annie’s feet thawed, her agony was almost unendurable. As she was alone the miners took up a collection and hired a Mrs. Prey who had done practical nursing to take care of her.

During the five days it took the doctor to reach Annie, various people of the camp suggested remedies to alleviate Annie’s suffering. Mrs. Prey even tried poultices of grated potatoes. The entire camp was sympathetic and tried to help in every possible way. When Dr. Newkirk finally arrived, gangrene had set in. He placed Annie on the kitchen table, gave her an anesthetic and amputated both legs just below the knee.

After a time Annie’s delirium left her and she was able to relate her experiences on the tragic trip across the blizzard-held mountain. Search parties were dispatched to Bald Mountain to locate Dutch Em, and her frozen body was found about a mile from where Annie had been rescued. The men who found her saw that she was covered with Annie’s underclothes.

Annie said that she was sure that she could have made it to safety after the blizzard struck but she would not desert Em who collapsed. The two women found a huge boulder and huddled against it. Annie tried to build a fire but the snow had wet her matches, so the two lay close together in an effort to keep from freezing. Annie removed her underclothes and covered Em but after twenty-four hours the German woman froze to death. After that Annie could remember no more.

After her legs healed Annie made woolen pads for her stumps and started doing the laundry for the miners of Rocky Bar. These kind-hearted men paid her much more than her work was worth.

Annie worked hard and saved her money. Then she met an Italian named Henry Longheme. Annie took her savings of twenty years, some $12,000, and gave it to Henry to deposit in a bank in San Francisco. She received a letter from Henry in New York. He advised that he was on his way to Italy. She never heard from him again. Nor did she ever hear of her money. She inquired of the bank in San Francisco and leaned that her money had never been deposited there.

For a short time after prohibition came into effect, Annie bootlegged in a little cabin near Rocky Bar. Toward the last years of her life she was broke. The tenderhearted miners bought her groceries and carried wood to her cabin.

Then when she was old and alone, tragedy struck again. Annie suffered from cancer of the face. It was that disease that finally brought about her death, She was buried in Morris Hill cemetery in Boise.

Though Annie’s story is one of tragedy, it is also a story of courage, the kind of courage that made the West.

Reference Sources: Records of the Idaho Historical Society RW 17

courtesy Jim Bartholome
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Pioneers, Atlanta, Idaho

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Group of three women and two men posed with shovels against pile of loose earth. Only one person is looking toward the camera. (date undetermined)

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Peg Leg Annie

For a while Peg Leg Annie lived at Rocky Bar in a cabin which is still standing. Reportedly she sold whiskey to anyone with the money to pay for it. Being incapacitated, however, she lined up whiskey bottles under cover along one side of a building near her cabin. With a shotgun across her knees, she would direct the would-be purchaser to the spot where the booze bottles were hidden. The story goes that she always paid for her liquor – in advance.”
(also quoted from Ghost towns of Idaho by Donald C. Miller)

Submitted by: Angelia Heeb
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Rocky Bar, Mines, Miners

Miners outside one of the camp buildings at a mine in Rocky Bar, [Alturas] Elmore County, ID, probably taken in late 1800s. The men are holding miners candlesticks with unlit candles, pipes, and other equipment.

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Pegleg Annie’s Ordeal
(1896)

It was the silence that finally awakened Annie. For a moment she wasn’t sure she was alive, didn’t believe it could have been possible, given what she and Em had endured. But it seemed the three-day blizzard had stopped. It felt as though someone were prying her eyelids open with a dull steel blade. Frozen shut, just like everything else, she thought. Her jaw barely moved, even with the greatest effort, and before she began she abandoned the idea of unwrapping herself from her friend’s cold body.

And that sudden thought stopped her: Em was cold. Surely that couldn’t mean that she … died? Sometime the night before, Annie had given Dutch Em her own jacket, blouse, scarf, hat, skirt – nearly all her clothes, just before she herself succumbed to the sickly allure of sleep, huddled there between the two coarse, gray boulders. The great lumps had barely offered protection from the slicing wind. By the time she finally forced one of her eyes open, she wished she hadn’t made the trip, wished all over again that she could take it back.

Annie finally managed to slide her arms from around Em. She leaned back and looked at her friend’s face in the bright glare of the snow-reflected light. A peeling breeze, sharp as a skinning knife, cut straight through her. I was foolish to think we could traipse up here with nothing but light woolens and snow-shoes. And all for what, Annie? All for money.

She’d been eager to check on her other “house” and her girls. And Em, or Dutch Em as most folks called her, had wanted a change of scenery. Wanted to set to work over the hill, as they called it. “Should have told her no, should have left her there.” She spoke the words between the stuttery jabs of wind and the shivers wracking her voice. Nothing mattered now. She knew she would soon join Em in death.

The blizzard had blown out days before, leaving behind crusted, drifted remnants, as with so many spring storms. It made the going fairly smooth for the search party. But soon, what the men saw stopped them from venturing higher up the pass. The man in the lead shook his head and squinted upslope. The wind whipping the snow had played a mind trick on them. Surely the body before them hadn’t moved. It had been more than three days since anyone had heard from the ladies, so they never expected to see either of them alive. Especially not after that late-season blizzard. And yet something was there, just ten yards off, crawling side-slope. It moved again – they clambered forward.

“By God, it’s Annie Morrow! She’s alive!” The man in the lead dropped to his knees and bent low to lift the clawing, prone form from the snow. The other men crowded close. It was not possible that anyone could have survived such vicious weather, and yet here she was.

They busied themselves with building a fire and swaddling her with extra clothing. She was clad in nothing more than a slip, a pair of flimsy undergarments hardly worth the fabric it took to make them, and little else. Not even socks.

“Annie, Annie, can you hear me? What’s happened? Where are your clothes, girl? Where’s Em? Annie, where’s Dutch Em?”

She made no response.

“Hold her down, she’s out of her mind. And hurry up with that fire.”

A short while later, as they warmed Annie by the fire, she revived enough to tell them that Em had died. The rescuers decided that several of them would head back to town with Annie, three others would stay behind to look for Dutch Em.

One of the men bent low, speaking quietly to a companion. “Did you see Annie’s feet before we bundled her up?”

The other man nodded and kept his eyes on Annie’s sleeping face. She had severe frostbite. They had all seen enough of such things, living as they did in the high mountains of Idaho, but never had any of them seen such a bad case. They’d wrapped her feet well in layers of socks and someone’s sweater but then had packed the feet in snow in hopes of slowing the damage. When they found her, howling and dragging herself along the snow-crusted ground, Annie’s feet had been swollen, blackening things.

“I don’t get why she would give nearly all her clothes to Dutch Em?” the youngest of the group asked.

“You have to ask that, boy, then you probably ain’t got too much in the way of friends, wager.”

“Huh?”

The older man smiled and sighed. “It’s what you do for a friend, you dippus.”

“I reckon,” said the young man.

It took another day of heavy, hard work to get Annie back to Rocky Bar, the mine camp she’d lived in since she was four, when she’d been carried into it in her father’s pack basket. Now she was carried back to that town by men. The other members of the search crew would also soon return to town, carrying Dutch Em’s dead, frozen body, pulled from her crevice in the rocks.

“I’ll need more whiskey than that! And you all had best take good care of my kids. If I die, I want them well tended. You hear me?”

The few men and women who had gathered to lend a hand during the operation wore fearful looks. Annie was doing her best to keep it light, but she knew there was a good chance she’d not make it through this operation – being as there was no doctor in attendance. She upended the whiskey bottle again, glugged back a few pulls, as some of it leaked down her cheeks and trickled along her chin and around the back of her neck.

“This is for you, Dutch Em, a better woman I never knew.” Her lips began to quiver, and tears coursed out of her eye corners. “I only wish it could have been me and not you, girl.” She wept and whispered inaudibly a moment more, then her head slipped to the side.

Someone grabbed the nearly empty bottle before it dropped from her loosened grasp.

The man charged with the operation was the best butcher in town. He was also the one who owned the best meat saw. Someone else had sharpened an array of hunting knives and joint boning knifes [sic]. Beyond him, on the dresser, stood three full bottles of whiskey, to help prevent more infection.

He checked to make sure Annie was unconscious before flipping back the blanket covering her legs. There were two stout men on either side whose job it was to hold the legs still so he could get a good purchase. Cutting through the flesh would pose no problem, but the bone, thick as it was between the knee and ankle, would be slower going. He also wanted to leave enough flesh to help the nub heal over on itself. It would be a tricky task, to be sure. Butchering was easier, as you didn’t have to worry about such things.

The flesh had blackened even farther up the legs than they expected. Instead of taking them off at the ankle, they had to go well above the blackened skin to healthy flesh, in hopes that the decay wouldn’t continue to travel upward and kill her with an infection. Which could still happen, anyway.

“Right,” said the butcher. “Nothing ventured…” He bit his bottom lip and nodded to the men who clamped tight to the poor woman’s leg. Several more men were at the ready and held Annie down by her shoulders, should she awaken in the midst of the gruesome task. He used the sharpest, thinnest knife blade first, dumping whiskey on it as he went, to clear the blood from the clean, new wound and to keep the infection from taking hold.

Once the flesh was sliced through all around, he wasted no time and set to work on the bone with the meat saw. He had sharpened it earlier that morning, and the keen blade and sure, tight strokes made quick work of Annie’s leg bones. The rotted feet were put in a canvas gunnysack and tied off. They would be buried later. Two women, one a midwife, helped bandage the poor woman’s stumps.

“Keep the whiskey handy,” said the butcher. “She’s going to need all that and more. The pain ahead of her isn’t something a human body should have to endure.”

Though it has been reported that the operation to remove Annie Morrow’s feet was performed in the maw of the storm, atop a mountain, with nothing more than a hunting knife and to bottle of whiskey, other sources state the more realistic claim that Annie was carried down the mountain to the mining town of Rocky Bar, where she was then operated on. Her feet and lower legs were removed, below the knees and ankles, and she was thereafter known as Pegleg Annie.

Born Annie McIntyre, she arrived at the new gold camp of Rocky Bar on July 4, 1864, as a four-year-old in her father’s pack. She grew up in the gold camp and later married, raised children, and owned her own mining claims and several “houses of entertainment” in Rocky Bar and over the mountain at another mine camp called Atlanta.

Annie was thirty-six years old when her life-changing journey with Dutch Em took place in the late spring of 1896. Unstoppable despite a new nickname and a distinct lack of fleet, the irrepressibly vigorous Annie Pegleg” Morrow continued with her career as a successful businesswoman. She raised five children and wore a pistol while crawling around her popular restaurant and boardinghouse. Various friends crafted artificial limbs for her, but she preferred crawling. Annie lived another thirty-eight years after her ordeal and died of cancer in 1934 at St. Al’s Hospital in Boise. She was seventy-five years old.

In her later years she had taken up with an Italian who ran a saloon next door to her restaurant. He planned a trip for himself back to Italy to visit his family, so Annie gave him her life savings, to be deposited in a bank in San Francisco before his departure. She never saw or heard from the man again, nor did she ever receive word that her money had been deposited. Despite this unfortunate turn of events, and ever the optimist, Annie continued to tell people that he had most likely been waylaid by bandits and killed.

from Chapter 39 “Pegleg Annie’s Ordeal”, pages 210-215, “Sourdoughs, Claim Jumpers & Dry Gulchers: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of Frontier Prospecting” by Matthew P. Mayo 2012
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Ambulance Service, 1918 Rocky Bar Idaho

shared by Leiana Rogers Knight‎
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“Peg Leg Annie” McIntyre

One sunny morning in May 1896, Annie and her friend “Dutch Em” von Losch set out on foot from Atlanta for the neighboring mining town of Rocky Bar, some 14 miles distant. Unfortunately, the weather changed dramatically and they were caught in a spring blizzard near James Creek Summit, at 7,500 feet elevation. The storm raged for two days. When it finally let up, a search party found Em frozen to death and a maniacal Annie crawling through the snow. Annie survived, but her feet were so badly frostbitten that they had to be amputated.

A century ago, prostheses were not what they are today. But “Peg Leg Annie” lived to be an old woman. She remained in Rocky Bar for several years, selling whiskey and doing laundry; she died in Boise in 1934. Her cabin is one of several structures still standing amid the abandoned mining equipment in Rocky Bar.

from page 153 “Idaho” By John Gottberg (Google Book)
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St. Alphonsus Hospital, Boise, ID.

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April 29, 1899

courtesy John T. Richards
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Felicia Anna “Peg Leg Annie” McIntyre Morrow


Added by Kat Carter

Birth: 13 Sep 1858 Van Buren County, Iowa
Death: 13 Sep 1934 (aged 76) Boise, Ada County, Idaho
Burial: Morris Hill Cemetery Boise, Ada County, Idaho


Added by David M. Habben

Gravesite Details During the gold rush, Annie owned “houses of entertainment” in Atlanta, ID and Rocky Bar, ID. She lost her feet from frostbite after being caught in a snowstorm. She owned businesses and mining claims.

source: Find a Grave
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Emma “Dutch Em” Von Losh

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Birth: unknown Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Death: 16 May 1896 Atlanta, Elmore County, Idaho
Burial: Atlanta Cemetery Elmore County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave
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Link to Annie “Peg Leg” McIntyre Morrow (part 1)
Link to Alturas County, Idaho 1864 to 1895
Link to Esmeralda, Alturas (Elmore) County, Idaho
Link to Rocky Bar, Alturas (Elmore) County (part 1 general)
Link to Rocky Bar, Alturas (Elmore) County (part 2 mining)
Link to Rocky Bar, Alturas (Elmore) County (part 3 Transportation)
Link to Rocky Bar, Alturas (Elmore) County (part 4 Newspaper clippings)
Link to Atlanta, Alturas (Elmore) County, Idaho
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