Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History Sept 16

Idaho Sheep Ranching

Ballantine Wool Wagons in Sweet

(click on imagr for larger size)
“Ballantine wool from Ola. Feed store owned by Frank Noland. Frank and James Noland Sr, Sweet, standing on porch.”

Sheep Industry

“Idaho Almanac,” 1977: The sheep boom took place in the 1880’s as the railroads were constructed. The census of 1890 showed 357,712 sheep. . . The sheep industry reached its greatest growth in 1910 when the census counted 2,418,000 head in Idaho. In the 1950’s the sheep industry began a downhill slide . .. Virtually all sheep in Idaho utilize the forage on the federal lands.

Andy Little, a Scotsman who immigrated in 1894 with his sheep dogs, built a sheep empire with over 100,000 sheep, reputed to have been the largest in the United States, headquartered in Emmett. For further reading, see Shaddock’s “Andy Little, Idaho Sheep King.”

source: Copyright © 2008 – Gem County Historical Society – 2017 All Rights Reserved.
[h/t SMc]
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Sheep grazing, Dubois research station, Idaho

U. S. Dept. of Agriculture
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Cattle Ranchers Demand Limit Law on Sheep Grazing

by Evan Filby South Fork Companion

On December 13, 1872, the Idaho Statesman (Boise) published a letter from pioneer J. H. Whitson, which said in part: “But the people of Ada county, and perhaps other counties need, ask for and demand a relief that is of much more importance than the retrenchment so much talked of. It is a law ‘Restricting the herding of sheep,’ as in Oneida county, passed by the last legislative Assembly.”

Whitson then described the problems created when herders tried to have sheep and cattle share a piece of range: “There is room enough for all. But the range must be divided, and the rancher has a right to that nearest him; for no man in this country is ignorant of the fact that sheep will drive all other stock away.”

The state did finally pass the desired law three years later. The Act prohibited the grazing of sheep within two miles of a homestead (“possessory claim”) not belonging to the grazer. That first law applied only to Ada, Alturas, and Boise counties. In time, the legislature expanded the scope to more counties, and finally passed a statewide law in 1887.

The later statutes – typically called “two mile limit” laws – became even more specific in that they excluded sheep from “any range usually occupied by any cattle grower, either as a spring, summer, or winter range for his cattle.”

The legal application turned on that word “usually.” Idaho courts generally accepted even one season of cattle grazing as defining the area as strictly cattle range. To give an appearance of fairness, judged did apply the same criteria to “customary” sheep range, but in most cases the cattlemen had arrived first anyway. Challenges to the constitutionality of these laws – in the Supreme Courts of Idaho and then the United States – repeatedly failed.

Eventually, the limit laws became moot. By around 1890, most of the available rangeland was claimed and market factors began to favor sheep products – wool plus meat – over cattle. Thus, many stockmen began raising sheep along with cattle, or abandoned cattle altogether.

In fact, sheep outnumbered cattle in the 1890 census, whereas cattle had outnumbered sheep by more than three to one ten years earlier. And the U. S. Agricultural Census for 1910 recorded over 3 million sheep in Idaho, versus less than a half million cattle. At that time, Idaho ranked sixth in U. S. wool production, despite being 44th in population.

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Western sheep herding

Library of Congress
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Sheepman Hugh Fleming Found Dead. Killed by Cattlemen?

by Evan Filby South Fork Companion

On April 2, 1894, riders on the range near American Falls, Idaho discovered the body of sheepman Hugh Fleming. The unarmed herder had been shot four times. Suspicion instantly fell on local cattlemen, who had threatened Hugh and his brother John on numerous occasions.

The dispute centered largely on the use of the public lands in Idaho, as it did in other Western states. Sheep came early to Idaho, arriving in 1860 with the first Mormon colonies along the southeastern border. These small flocks generally produced meat and wool only for local consumption, as did the cattle operations that followed the gold discoveries of 1861-1863.

However, with vast amounts of open range, cattlemen soon looked further afield. By the early- to mid-1870s, Idaho stockmen were trailing many thousands of cattle to railway terminals in Nevada and Wyoming. Sheep bands had also expanded, although not nearly so much as cattle herds. Even so, sheep holdings had become large enough to gain the attention, and ire, of resident cattlemen.

Thus, in 1875, the state passed the first regional “Two Mile Limit” laws, prohibiting the grazing of sheep on range “traditionally” used for cattle [blog, Dec 13.] By 1887, the law had expanded from an initial three counties to the entire state.

Challenges all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court upheld the law, as long as the restriction followed a “first-come, first served” rule for cattle or sheep or, oddly enough, horses. Equitable in theory, the law favored cattle in practice. Until the railroad arrived, large-scale sheep raising was impractical. Long-distance wagon shipment of wool cost too much, and sheep cannot “walk to market” as easily as cattle.

Then the railroad arrived, and sheep flocks grew (as did cattle herds), and crowded the range. Stockmen even pushed into forested lands. Idaho had no widespread range wars, but isolated shootings of sheepmen, and of cowboys, did happen. Back-and-forth slaughters of cattle and sheep were much more common.

The Fleming brothers had brought sheep to the American Falls range before 1884, and by then they had five thousand head. Despite death threats and harassment of their stock, they had hung on … and now, ten years later, one brother was dead. With plenty of known suspects, the Idaho Statesman confidently reported (April 3, 1894), “It is only a question of a short time when they will be placed under arrest.”

Law officers promised quick results, and soon had four cattlemen in jail. However, in those days before scientific criminology, officials had no way – other than some muddled tracks and, apparently, vague rumors – to connect the suspects to the crime. A week later, the newspaper reported that the men had been released for lack of evidence.

Although the Governor offered a $500 reward for information on the murder (Idaho Statesman, April 21, 1894), nothing further was learned until an unrelated court appearance took a bizarre twist. During a trial for cattle rustling, the defendant claimed (Statesman, January 31, 1895) that he had witnessed the murder. He testified that three of the four men arrested and released earlier had indeed done the shooting. However, later investigation proved that the claimant was in McCammon, fifty miles away, on the actual day of the murder.

No one was ever convicted for the murder of Hugh Fleming.

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Sheep Grazing

Library of Congress
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Emma Russell Yearian: Wife, Mother, and “Sheep Queen of Idaho”

by Evan Filby South Fork Companion

Emma Russell, “Sheep Queen of Idaho,” was born February 21, 1866 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Her father had been born in Illinois and served in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War. By 1870, the family was back in Illinois, living near Chester, about 35 miles west and a bit north of Carbondale. After completing high school, Emma attended Southern Illinois Normal College (now Southern Illinois University) in Carbondale. She received her teaching certificate in 1883 and immediately came west to Idaho in search of a position.


Emma Yearian

She began as a tutor and governess for a family living 5-6 miles north of Salmon. She then spent the next two years teaching at tiny schools in the Lemhi Valley. Having been trained on the piano, she was also in demand to play at country dances around the area. At one of those dances, in 1887, she met Thomas Hodge Yearian, a young cattle rancher who played the fiddle at those dances.

Coincidentally, Thomas was born in DuQuoin, Illinois, a small town about 32 miles east Chester. However, the family moved west the same year Emma was born. They lived near Bannack, Montana (15-20 miles west of Dillon) for awhile before purchasing a ranch 25-30 miles up the Lemhi River from Salmon.

Thomas and Emma married in April 1889. Soon, the couple moved into a log cabin on what came to be called Yearian Creek. Between then and 1902, they had six children, one of whom died as a pre-teen.

About that time, Emma decided to go into the sheep business. Her decision was not a popular one, because the Lemhi and Salmon river valleys had always been viewed as cattle country. Thus, Emma had repeated problems with Idaho’s “Two Mile Limit” law, which prohibited the grazing of sheep anywhere within two miles of a cattle property. In reality, however, she and Thomas were ahead of their time, as more and more stockmen began raising both or switched entirely to sheep.

In any case, the “experiment” was a success. In 1910, the family moved from their old log cabin to a fine six-bedroom stone house, equipped with electric lights and indoor plumbing. Despite bouts of severe weather and down markets for wool and lamb, she persevered. It’s unclear exactly when she acquired the “Sheep Queen of Idaho” sobriquet, but it was well deserved and “stuck.”

She even found time to contributed to the literature of her industry. In 1920, the American Sheep Breeder and Wool Grower journal published Emma’s article about her experience in breeding range sheep. She had wondered if she could somehow avoid bringing in fresh “blooded” rams every year or two. (As a given ram’s progeny spread through a flock, the quality deteriorated due to in-breeding.) The first generation from her trial resulted in “splendid bunch of grade rams.” But the second generation was disastrous. Unfortunately, she wrote, “Instead of reproducing the good qualities of both sire and dam, they seemed to emphasize their poorer ones.”

By the 1930s, the sheep operation had spread over 2,500 acres of range, with around 5,000 sheep.

Emma’s forceful personality and staunch Republican feelings led her into politics in 1930. She ran for the Idaho House of Representatives and became the first woman to represent Lemhi County in that body. (Some accounts describe her as the first ever woman Representative in Idaho, but that is not correct. The first three women were elected to the House in 1898.) Her re-election bid was swamped by the Democratic landslide in the next election cycle.

Emma continued her operation until very late in her life, despite a steady decline in U. S. demand for wool and lamb. She passed away on Christmas Day in 1951.

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Sheep in the Forest

U. S. Forest Service
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Sheep Grazing on the South Fork Salmon River

Sheep Herding

1910 First Official Sheep Permit Granted On The District

1931 Range Allotment Analysis Shows Range Use Beyond Carrying Capacity

The first grazing permit on the district was in 1910. Up until the 1920’s grazing was pretty much on a small scale such as Deadshot Reed’s 100 sheep allotment in Nasty Creek. With the railroad into Long Valley to facilitate shipping and with the deterioration of the range in the more accessible areas, the sheepmen began to push into the South Fork. Most were driven over the Van Wyck driveway on West Mountain, across Long Valley, over the Buckhorn and Blackmare Trails and into the South Fork.

By 1920 there were over 114,000 sheep on the forest. About 25,000 of these grazed on what is now the Krassel District. Andrew Little, L. E. Wilson, and P. J. Connolly were the biggest permittees. There were also some C&H (cattle and horse) permits given to homesteaders on the district like Reed, Parks and Rebillet.

It was the job of Ranger Lee Kessler in the early twenties and later W. H. Boles to try and maintain some sort of control over this activity. First priority was to set up allotments of land for each permittee and thus eliminate common use of the same area. This made control of numbers easier and as certain areas became denuded, responsibility could be fixed and the permittee encouraged to avoid continued use until the area recovered.

Early maps and written descriptions tell of erosion problems along the sheep driveways in Buckhorn, Four Mile, and Blackmare Creeks. Areas in upper Buckhorn Creek and Cougar Creek were overgrazed and closed to sheep. The wintering of cattle and horses on the river became common practice among the residents and claim holders. Buckhorn Bar was described as a “dustbowl” by Ranger Johnny Wick.

The great depression and low profits brought voluntary reductions to many herds. Then the higher cost of labor during the 1940’s and poorer grazing opportunities on the district made further reductions possible, especially through the efforts of Ranger Johnny Wick during the early 40’s and Yale Mitchell afterwards.

From the 1930’s on, range allotment analysis had shown low carrying capacities and poor range conditions.

In 1953, Ranger Finlay McNaughton summarized the general conditions in the following letter to the Forest Supervisor:

“The Problem:

Basically, our problem is securing management in the public interest on extremely steep slopes and on the immature, easily disturbed granitic soil type. The west slopes of the South Fork of the Salmon River from North Buckhorn Creek south to and including Blackmare Creek have been grazed with sheep since about 1910.

Permitted use on this range has been periodically reduced from about 5700 head and 11,400 animal months to the present obligation of 1988 head for 6627 animal months.

Approximately 84% of the 61,250 acres in this range is made up of inaccessible, unusable and used – but should-not-be-used range. Of the remaining 16%, all of it is in the conditional use class and generally poor condition. This 16% of conditional use range is made up of small meadow stringers and related areas, severely used in the past and extremely limited as to accessibility. The forage that is produced on these restricted areas is harvestable only at the price of extreme soil disturbance on all adjoining slopes.

It is generally recognized within the Service that we do not have forage to sell on this range and that grazing should be eliminated.”

By the late 1950’s the grazing pressure had been significantly reduced and by the 1970’s only one allotment remained on the District in Lick Creek.

source: “Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” by Tom Ortman 1975
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See also: William Lee “Dead Shot” Reed

See also: Willey Ranch – Rebillet Ranch


Idaho History Sept 9

William Craig “Father of Idaho”

“Father of Idaho” William Craig (1807–1869) and friend of the Nez Perce

William Craig Killed a Man, Ran Away, Became a Mountain Man and ‘father of Idaho’

By Syd Albright Special to The CdA Press August 09, 2015

William Craig had a rocky start in life in Greenbrier County, Va.

Around 1825, when Craig was 17, he had a quarrel with a neighbor and killed him. Even though it was self-defense, he feared the worst and took off for the West, spending the rest of his life as a trapper, mountain man, explorer, Army officer, interpreter, treaty negotiator, Indian agent and pioneer – making his mark in Western history.

He was also the first settler in Idaho – sometimes called the “Father of Idaho.”

He married and lived among the Nez Perce Indians, built a hotel and ferry service, carved a farm from the wilderness and befriended Native Americans at a time when they were ill-treated by the newly arrived white population and U.S. Army troops attempted to keep the peace – though not always with an even hand.

William Craig was an extraordinary man of his times. He was tough, resourceful, fair-minded and respected by whites and Indians.

According to Glen Jones of Portland, Craig’s great-great-grandson, Craig was attending a military school in Lewisburg, Va., when the fight broke out. He says there are two versions of the story: “One was that he beat up a classmate at the military school. The other was that he killed a guy much older than him. Both times it was over a woman.”

Fleeing to St. Louis after the fatal altercation, he then headed up the Missouri River with a party of French-Canadians. At Fort Benton, Mont., he joined a party of trappers heading for the Rockies. The teenage runaway was on his way to becoming a mountain man of the western frontier.

In the fall of 1829, Craig was at Fort Bridger in Wyoming, a rendezvous point for trappers. There he first met the Nez Perce Indians, a meeting that would change his life. They told him about the plentiful beaver and other fur animals in Idaho’s Clearwater and Salmon areas, so that’s where he headed – trapping there for about two years.

In 1832, he fought at the Battle of Pierre’s Hole against a band of Gros Ventre Indians. Then he joined an expedition to Mexican-held California organized by Capt. Benjamin L.E. Bonneville and commanded by fellow mountain man Joe Walker. Their mission was to look for a new route to California, trap beaver and rustle Spanish horses. They came back with no beaver but with 500 horses, and they did pioneer Walker’s Pass over the Sierra Nevada Range.

Four years later, Craig and two partners built Fort Davy Crockett trading post in Colorado. Then he married Pahtissah (Isabel), daughter of Nez Perce Lapwai Valley Chief Big Thunder (or Thunder Eyes). He learned their language and earned their respect. During conflicts with the Indians, he became a valuable interpreter in negotiating the multiple Indian treaties that followed years later.

By 1840, the fur trade was collapsing – beaver top hats giving way to the new silk top hats – and trapper-mountain men sought new pastures. Craig and Isabel settled in Lapwai Valley, earning him the title of Idaho’s first non-missionary settler. Two years later daughter Martha was born.

At Lapwai, he met the Rev. Henry Harmon Spalding who was not too happy to see him. “I have seen enough of these mountain men already!” Spalding wrote in his diary. They didn’t get along but managed to work together nevertheless. Spalding was trying to convert the Nez Perce to white man ways, while Craig favored preserving Indian traditions.

Then in 1847, a series of grim events took place in the Northwest that occupied William Craig’s attention for the next dozen years.

On Nov. 29, while Spalding’s fellow missionary Marcus Whitman was away from his mission at Waiilatpu near Walla Walla, his wife Narcissa and 11 others were murdered by a band of renegade Cayuse and Umatilla Indians, triggering the Cayuse War.

Craig sheltered Spalding’s wife Eliza and children at his home in Lapwai.

Oregon volunteer regimental Col. Cornelius Gilliam led more than 500 white settlers in retaliatory attacks against Oregon’s Cayuse Indians for the Whitman Massacre. The war ended only when five Cayuse were captured, tried, convicted and executed for the Whitman murders. But troubles were far from over.

In 1853, Washington Territory was established and Isaac I. Stevens was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs and territorial governor. He did his best to bring peace to the region but ended up pleasing neither the whites nor Indians.

In the years that followed, Craig settled in with the Nez Perce, developing a farm on 640 acres of land that they gave him in appreciation of his support. Meanwhile all around them tension was building between Indians and the white settlers taking over the region. The former mountain man would soon be thrust right into the middle of it.

In 1848, he was appointed as the first Indian Agent to the Nez Perce, holding the post at Fort Boise for 10 years.

Over the years, Craig and Spalding managed to work together despite their prickly relationship. Spalding praised his neighbor’s strong work ethic and appreciated his help in compiling a dictionary of the Nez Perce language, which was needed to help teach the Indians to read and write.

In 1855, Indian discontent erupted in the Yakima War. The situation was made worse by the discovery of gold on the Yakima Reservation, followed by eager miners swooping in and running roughshod over Indian rights.

Craig had volunteered to help the Army maintain law and order, and Gov. Stevens enlisted him as an aide, eventually attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. His main job was keeping the Nez Perce peaceful and act as interpreter during treaty negotiations with the Indians. His fair-mindedness earned him the trust and respect of the Indians.

During the ensuing violence, the Army’s commander in the region, Col. George Wright, ordered the slaughter of 800 Palouse Indian horses between Spokane and today’s Idaho border (on the north side of the truck inspection station on Interstate 90). The Indians were no match for the U.S. Army and were eventually worn down and forced to negotiate peace treaties. Craig did not take part in the slaughter.

Five separate treaties were formed with tribes of the Plateau (Inland Northwest) at the Walla Walla, Flathead, and Blackfoot councils. It was a tough job for Gov. Stevens. The Indians were far from united and the white settlers – also entitled to protection of their rights – had little sympathy for their plight.

Craig participated in the Walla Walla, Nez Perce, Hell Gate and Blackfeet treaty talks. His Indian language and negotiating skills proved invaluable to both sides, but in the end, he was dismayed at the results.

The Nez Perce came to terms with the federal government, while other regional tribes continued hostilities into the late 1870s. Before the Nez Perce signed the treaty of 1855, they insisted on Article 10:

“The Nez Perce Indians having expressed in council a desire that William Craig should continue to live with them, he having uniformly shown himself their friend, it is further agreed that the tract of land now occupied by him and described in his notice to the register and receiver of the land-office of the Territory of Washington, on the fourth day of June last, shall not be considered a part of the reservation provided for in this treaty…”

About the time of the horse slaughter in 1858, Craig moved to Walla Walla to become its postmaster for a short time before returning to his farm at Lapwai – his homestead often used as a meeting place for Nez Perce councils, sometimes attended by as many as 2,000 people.

He spent the rest of his life running the farm, hotel, and a ferry service he built on the Snake River in 1861. He sold the ferry service three years later and it continued operating until 1913.

William Craig died in Lapwai of a paralytic stroke in 1869 at age 62.

In his book “History of the State of Idaho,” Cornelius James Brosnan wrote, “But for his liberality he would have been rich, but he has given away enough to make several fortunes.”

In return, William Craig is remembered as the Father of Idaho.

Kind words when William Craig died…

“The deceased was a man of nerve, kind heart and generous impulses and will be regretted by all who respect the toil and suffering endured by the early pioneers.”

– Walla Walla Statesman (1869)

Founder of Walla Walla…

“Due to unrest among the Nez Perce in 1857, Craig was directed to establish the agency in the Walla Walla valley under the protection of the U.S. Army’s new camp. His residency there was the beginning of the town of Walla Walla.”

– Idaho State Historical Society

Nez Perce camp, Lapwai, Idaho (1800s)

Drawing by Gustav Sohon of arrival of Nez Perce Indians to Walla Walla Treaty council in May 1855 where William Craig was interpreter.

Syd Albright is a writer and journalist living in Post Falls.

source: Syd Albright Special to The CdA Press August 09, 2015
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1918 Recollections of William Craig

Recollections of Wm. Craig

Lewiston Morning Tribune, Sunday, March 3, 1918, page 8

He came to the Lewiston Country in 1829 – Craig Mountain Named in His Honor

(By Thomas J. Beall.)

To the Tribune — Will you please grant the space in your columns that I may inform your readers as to my early recollections of William Craig the trapper of the Rocky mountains, frontiersman and after whom Craig mountain was named. I first met Craig in the latter part of September, 1857. He was at The Dalles, Oregon, for the purpose of purchasing his winter supplies accompanied by several Nez Perce Indians, among them Chief Lawyer and Reuben. As I wanted to see the Walla Walla country, my cousin, Lloyd Brooke, of Vancouver, thought I would have an opportunity in so doing by joining Craig’s party on his return trip to that country, so he gave me a letter of introduction to Craig which I tendered on my arrival at The Dalles.

Craig was the sub-Indian agent for the Nez Perces at that time and the agency was at Walla Walla. I was at The Dalles two days visiting the army officers stationed at the garrison. I was soon informed that Craig would not be able to return to the agency for several days and as I was anxious to proceed on my journey, I joined a party of Hudson Bay people who were on their way to Fort Colville and traveled with them as far as old Fort Walla Walla, now Wallula. I there severed my connection with the Hudson Bay people and proceeded to Cantonments Stevens in the Walla Walla valley, Occupied by two companies of the First Dragoons and two of the Ninth Infantry, U.S. army, under the command of Col. E. J. Steptoe. I was there nearly two months and saw a great deal of Craig nearly every day during my stay, and our intercourse with each other soon ripened into an ever lasting friendship.

In the fall of 1858 Craig was superseded by A.J. Cain as Indian agent for the Nez Perce Indians and the agency was at Cantonment Stevens, it being abandoned, and the U.S. troops were removed to the garrison built for them and now called Fort Walla Walla.

In the latter part of December, 1858, Mr. Cain received orders to move the agency on to the Nez Perce reservation, but it was not accomplished until the early spring of 1860. Craig then concluded that he would move to his old home on the Lapwal and I accompanied him also Jake Schultz. Nearly all of the old timers knew Jake, and that reminds me of a little incident that occurred in which Jake took a part. Craig had some hogs running up what is now called Mission creek. One evening Jake returned to the house and in a very excited manner accosted Craig, who was reading, and told him there was a cougar up the creek eating his hogs. Craig says: “Jake you ride back and tell that cougar I’ll mess with him.” The next morning the old man saddled his horse took his gun and dogs and went for Mr. Cougar, and it was not long until he returned with the hide of the cougar.

Craig was rather reticent as to his past life and not very communicative on that subject unless he was out in camp and then by the camp fire in the evening he became reminiscent and his stories and accounts of his exploits and travels in the mountains and on the plains were very interesting. There was no egotism in his recounting his exploits. He would invariably say, in speaking of his travels, “we” did so or “he” never “I.”

It was in the fore part of the month of May, 1867, that Craig and a man by the name of Mike Mayer and myself took a trip to the headwaters of Potlatch creek for the purpose of hunting and prospecting. We departed from his old home at what is now called Jacques Spur on the Camas Prairie Railway and we intercepted the Clearwater river at Big Eddy, twenty-five miles above Lewiston, thence up the river to a point four miles above the present railway station at Lenore. It is not necessary to give any details as to our trip from there on; suffice to say we crossed the river and traveled in a northerly direction to the head-waters of the Potlatch, remained there several days, passing the time in prospecting, hunting and fishing. It was on this trip that I learned a great deal of Craig’s past life.

He was born in the Old Dominion, as he loved to call his native state (Virginia) in Green Brier county about the year 1799 or 1800. At the age of eighteen he became involved in an altercation or quarrel with one much older than he was and was forced to kill him in self-defense. Being quite young and somewhat alarmed at his act he made his “getaway” and he found himself in time in the city of St. Louis. This city at that time was the emporium for the fur traders, trappers and frontiersmen of the northwest. Craig soon joined a party of French Canadians who were on the eve of starting up the Missouri river on a trading expedition and their mode of transportation was with bateaus which made it a long tedious journey. When near Fort Benton they encountered a party of trappers, their destination being the Rocky mountains. Craig severed his connections with the Canadians, joined the trappers, and in time became a full-fledged trapper and plainsman.

The main rendezvous for the trappers, and Indians also, was at Fort Bridger on Green River, now Wyoming. It was there that Craig first met the Nez Perces who told him of the quantities of beaver and other fur animals there were in the waters of their country.

In the fall of the year 1829, William Craig, Joe Meek and Rob’t Newell accompanied a party of Nez Perces from the rendezvous to their country to engage in trapping on the waters of the Clearwater and Salmon. I never knew how long they remained in their new field of operations, probably not more than two seasons.

It was here among the Nez Perces that they got their Indian wives and accompanied by them they returned to their old haunts east of the Rocky mountains.

At one time Craig in his reminiscent mood told me that in the year 1832 or 1833 a party of mountaineers were organized on Green river, now in Wyoming, for the purpose ostensibly of trapping for furs on the waters flowing from the Sierra Nevada mountains into the Pacific ocean. In fact the object was to steal horses from the Spaniards residing in California. In this party was Joe Walker, the headman; Joe Meek, Joe Gale, Bill Williams, Mark Head, Bob Mitchel, Alex Godey, Antoine Janise, William Craig and some others.

When they camped on a stream where the water would admit they usually stripped at their tepees or lodges and proceeded to the stream to take a plunge.

Now Craig tells this story: “The waters of the Humbolt river are of a milky cast, not clear, so one afternoon while camped on the said stream and being the first to strip, I started for the swimming hole and was just about to plunge in when I got a hunch that things were not as they should be and I had better investigate before taking a dive. I did so and found the water was about a foot and a half deep and the mud four, this condition being in the eddy. So I waded to where there was a current and found the water a little more than waist deep, no mud and good smooth bottom. In looking towards the camp I espied Joe Walker coming and he was jumping like a buck deer, and when he arrived at the brink he says to me: ‘How is it?’ ‘Joe,’ I replied ‘it is just splendid.’ With that he plunged head-first into that four and a half feet of blue mud.

Fearing trouble and not being interested in the subsequent proceedings, I made myself scarce by hiding in the brush on the opposite side and in so doing I ran into some rose brier bushes and scratched myself some, but I was so full of laughter I did not mind that. I peeped through the bushes just in time to see him extricate himself from the mud. He then washed the mud off as well as he could, returned to the tepee, put on his clothes, shot his rifle off, cleaned it, then reloaded it and hollered at me and said: ‘Now show yourself and I’ll drop a piece of lead into you,’ which I failed to do as I did not want to be encumbered with any extra weight especially at that time. I was compelled to remain in hiding nearly the whole afternoon. Before sundown I was told to come into camp and get my supper and leave, that I could not travel any further with that party.

I was very glad of the permit for it was rather monotonous out there in the brush with nothing but a blanket around me and nobody to talk to and my pipe in camp. I soon dressed myself and then it was time to chew. Our company was divided into messes and each mess was provided with a dressed buffalo hide. It was spread on the ground and the grub placed upon it. When supper was announced we sat down. I sat opposite to Walker and in looking at him I discovered some of that blue mud of the Humbolt on each side of his nose and just below his eyelids and I could not help laughing. He addressed me in an abrupt manner and said: ‘What the h–l are you laughing at.’ I told him that gentlemen generally washed before eating. With that the others observed the mud and they too roared with laughter in which Walker joined, but he threatened if ever I played another such trick on him he would kill me as sure as my name was Craig.”

This place on the Humbolt river was ever afterward called by the mountain men. “Walker’s Plunge,” or “Hole.” Craig says in this raid, Walker’s party got away with five or six hundred head of the Spaniards horses and they drove them through what is now known as Walker’s basin and Walker’s pass of the Sierra Nevada mountains, which is south of the Truckee pass where the Central Pacific railway now traverses. The most of these horses were traded to the different tribes of Indians they encountered for furs, buffalo robes and such other things as they wished to barter, especially the mares and colts. I think that this was the only means by which the Indians east of the Rocky mountains acquired their ponies. They evidently came from California and New Mexico, either stolen from or traded by the Spaniards. The tribes on the west side of the Rockies secured their horses from the Pacific coast by trading or raiding.

I once questioned Craig as to the bravest of the frontiersmen. He told me that actually Bill Williams was the bravest and the most fearless mountaineer of all: that the tribes from the Mexican border to the Canadian know him and feared him thinking perhaps he was some supernatural being. He never trapped in company with anyone else, always alone. His furs were the best dressed and he received more for them. He could speak the dialects of several tribes, especially the Osages and was proficient in what is termed the sign talk among the Indians, that is with the hands, hence he could go among any of the tribes and make himself understood.

Craig told me at one time that a missionary preacher came among the Osages to preach the gospel and Williams was to do the interpreting for him. It seems that Williams at one time was a minister of the gospel previous to his becoming a trapper and he asked the missionary from what part of the bible he’d select his text. He was told it would be from the book of Jonah. Than said Williams, “I will advise you not to mention that fish story for you will not get one of these Indians to believe you, but if you insist in telling about the big fish do so and I’ll interpret for you.” The missionary got no further in his discourse than reading the text, for one old chief arose and pointing his finger at the preacher said: “We have heard several of the white people talk and lie, we know they will lie, but, that is the biggest lie we ever heard.” Then he gathered his blanket around him and proceeded to his tepee followed by the others to their respective places of abode, leaving the missionary meditating on their conduct as predicted by Bill Williams. I am digressing from my subject, but the aforesaid story was told to me by Craig, hence I insert the same in writing my recollections of him.

The land on the Lapwai creek known as the Craig donation claim, was not donated by the government but by the Nez Perces. In the treaty of 1855 at Walla Walla between Governor J.J. Stevens of Washington territory on the part of the government on one side and the Nez Perces on the other, there was a stipulation in the said treaty that Craig or his heirs should have so much land (one section) on the reservation. I think this is on record in the department at Washington D.C. and Craig had the privilege of selecting it.

In 1862 I visited Craig who was then living on Mission creek, a half a mile from its junction with the Lapwai. After I had put up my horse he said to me: “See here Thomas, I am glad you came I have got some barley to deliver to Weingerber and Gamble at the brewery in Lewiston tomorrow and it will require two wagons to hold it all and I want someone to drive one of the teams.” I told him I would assist him. He then proposed to load the wagons that evening so as to get an early start in the morning. He had two teams, one being mules. He asked me which I preferred. I told him either would be satisfactory. He then said: “I’ll drive the mules.” The next morning we had an early start and in due time arrived, delivered the barley, then put our teams up at the White Front stable. Craig went to the different stores to make his purchases, not forgetting Blue John (an appellation put on a one gallon blue keg) to have it replenished.

After dinner we went to the stable to hitch up and return home. While waiting for our teams to be harnessed he said to me: “See here, Thomas, I don’t like this way of traveling.” I knew what he meant so I told him I would hitch his mules to my wagon, it being the heaviest, put my horses in the lead and tie his wagon behind, then he could ride with me. This proposition was agreed on. I then hitched the mules to my wagon and drove to the different places where he had made his purchases. After collecting them I drove back to the stable hitched the other team in the lead and tied the other wagon behind mine and then started for home with Craig sitting beside me on my left.

We were traveling along very nicely until we arrived at Mulkey’s orchard, since called Lindsay’s orchard. Mulkey had constructed an irrigating ditch, the waters of which were taken out of what is now known as Lindsay creek and the road was on the edge of this ditch for some distance. I was driving along telling some story and not paying much attention to the team when suddenly one of the fore wheels went into the ditch and Craig and I parted company – he fell on his back into that ditch. He got out of it, pulled off his coat, shook the mud off of it, then made the remark that: “if that was the way I drove a team he’d be — if he would ride with me.” I told him it was optional. He got into the trail wagon and laid down on the empty barley sacks. I drove along whistling and singing and I never thought to look behind till I was half way down Soldier canyon; then I observed that I had a wagon missing and I didn’t know how far back it was to where I lost it. I tied my team to some trees dropped the tugs and went back in search of the lost one. Just at the head of the canyon I discovered the wagon silently approaching. I placed my optics on the form of my friend Craig in the arms of Morpheous I did not wish to disturb his peaceful slumbers so I picked up the tongue and started down the canyon. A short distance beyond was a rather steep piece of road and on approaching it I stopped and put on the brake, but I could not move the vehicle with the brake on and it would move too fast with it off. I took another peek at my sleeping friend and he seemed so comfortable: therefore, I did not feel inclined to wake him up, so I grasped the tongue once more and proceeded on. This particular piece of road was about thirty feet long and steep, but I thought I could manage to get along. I soon discovered that the wagon wanted to go in advance and not wishing to be run over I jumped aside to let it proceed on but it did not do so, it ran off of the road and upset. I could hear Craig’s muffled voice, he being covered with grain sacks, saying. “What the h–l does all this mean.” It was an extremely ridiculous situation and I being in a hilarious mood I could not reply, but I approached the wagon, raised the body and let him crawl out. That being done he stood up, rubbed his eyes and took a reconnaissance of the situation, and in a solemn manner said: “Well I’ll be d–m:” then exploded with laughter from which the canyon replied in echo.

In getting our wagon back on the road we were assisted by a young man passing by. We were now ready to move on and I asked Craig on which side he wished to work, off or nigh. He said he’d push. I told him I thought he had better work by my side, that we were well matched and made a good team hitched up together. He complied. We soon had our two wagons attached together and was ready to move on when Craig asked me if I did not think the incident just occurring demanded a sentiment. I told him it absolutely did. He then went to my wagon, resurrected Blue John and giving the usual salutation, “how,” then passed John to my embrace and I followed suit by moistening my lips with John’s tears.

In the year 1863 a portion of the territory of Washington was cut off and the territory of Idaho was created from it. A republican convention was held at Mt. Idaho to nominate a delegate to congress. Rob’t Newell, a frontiersman, a companion of Craig, aspired to get the nomination, so he started for Mt. Idaho, accompanied by Craig. The first day they got as far as Durkeeville on Craig mountain.

This place was a road house established by a man named Durkee, afterwards called Masons, in fact he sold out to Harry Mason. There was quite a crowd at this place that evening whose destination was Mt. Idaho. Newell being tired, and not wishing to sit up, retired early. Some were reading, some conversing and others engaged in playing cards, in which pastime Craig participated. He soon became tired of card playing and concluded to retire. He and Newell were to sleep together, so when Craig came into the room he saw the prepared speech of Newell sticking out of his coat pocket. Craig took the speech and returned to the lower room and read to those there assembled and perhaps added some to it, for when Newell made his appearance next morning he was hailed as a good fellow, a brick and a fine old man. He was invited to have a drink and a cigar both of which he refused. They had their breakfast and by that time their team was ready to convey them on.

They had not proceeded very far when Newell says to Craig: “Bill, if I am the nominee at the convention as the delegate to congress, I’ll go to congress and all h–l won’t stop me.” Says Craig: “See here, Bob, I’ll tell you what I think.” “Well what is that.” “I think you’ll go to h–l and all congress won’t stop you.” Newell made his speech but he was told in the convention that they had heard it before. In that convention Governor Wallace was the nominee.

In 1868 Craig received a paralytic stroke from which he never entirely recovered. I was contemplating on going to Moose creek and I paid him a visit before doing so and we sat up nearly the whole night talking of the pleasant hours spent together and when I bid him good bye, he said: “Thomas I’ll never see you again on this earth.” He invariably addressed me as Thomas.

I had been to Moose creek and on my return at Weippe I received a letter from Sam Phinney, his son-in-law, informing me of his death which was in the latter part of September 1868. The Nez Perces always called him William; did not know him as Craig. He is buried at what is now known as Jacques Spur; also his wife, two sons and two daughters. He has one daughter living; her age is about seventy-five, and she lives at Theon, Umatilla county, Oregon.

Thos. J. Beall

source: © 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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Nez Perce Tipis, Montana, 1871

source: William Craig – Frontiersman and Trapper, Legends of America
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Mountain man William Craig, ‘Father of Idaho,’ almost stayed in Oregon

By John Terry, Special to The Oregonian March 20, 2010

Had William Craig stuck with brothers-in-law Robert “Doc” Newell and Joe Meek, his name might well be emblazoned on the Capitol walls in Salem along with theirs and those of other early Oregon luminaries.

However, Craig apparently didn’t like soggy western Oregon and backtracked to his Native American wife’s homeland.

His membership in the rough-and-tumble fraternity known as mountain men probably would have been enough to assure him passing reference in the history books. But he didn’t stop there.

“Throughout his life, William Craig wore many hats — trader, farmer, interpreter, agent, colonel, guide, politician and ferryman — and his actions left an indelible impact on the land and people he came in contact with,” Benjamin Baughman wrote in the spring/summer 2005 issue of Idaho Yesterdays magazine.

Indeed, Craig has been called the “Father of Idaho” and in some quarters credited with giving the state its name.

He was born in Greenbrier County, Va., circa 1807 and attended a military school in Lewisburg, W.Va.

“There are two stories on why he came west,” says Glen Jones of Portland, Craig’s great-great-grandson. “One was that he beat up a classmate at the military school. The other was that he killed a guy much older than him. Both times it was over a woman.”

Just age 18, Craig fled to St. Louis in 1825 and hooked up with a group of French Canadian trappers. Somewhere on the upper Missouri River he joined an American outfit whose members included Meek and Newell, who became lifelong friends. By 1829 he was in what’s now southeastern Idaho.

He fought in the 1832 battle of Pierre’s Hole between the mountain men and a band of Gros Ventres and worked a while with explorer and soldier of fortune Benjamin L.E. Bonneville. Then he joined Joseph R. Walker’s expedition to California, which garnered few beavers but made off with 500 or more Spanish horses and proved overland travel to that region was practical.

In 1836 he and two partners established Fort Davy Crockett, a trading post in Colorado. In 1838, following Newell’s and Meek’s lead, he took a Nez Perce wife — Isabel (nee Pah-Tis-Sah), a daughter of Nez Perce Chief James (Big Thunder).

When the declining fur trade doomed his trading post around 1840, Craig might have come to the Willamette Valley and spent some time with Meek on Tuality Plains, Jones says, but not long.

In September that year he and his family arrived in Lapwai on the Nez Perce Reservation, where the Rev. Henry Harmon Spalding was trying to proselytize natives.

Craig’s arrival did not please Spalding. “I have seen enough of these mountain men already!” Spalding grumbled in his diary.

Craig would be a constant thorn in Spalding’s side. While the minister worked fervently to strip the Nez Perce of their ways, Craig led them in ignoring Spalding’s dogmatic onslaughts.

Still, Spalding found Craig useful. He praised him as a hard worker, and Craig’s home provided refuge for Spalding’s wife and children in the panic after the 1847 Whitman Massacre.

Craig served as Indian agent at Fort Boise and on the Nez Perce Reservation, ran a ferry across the Snake River at (today’s) Lewiston, Idaho; was the first postmaster at Walla Walla; and helped both sides in negotiations during various disputes over Native American rights and land.

“Throughout his life in the Lapwai Valley, Craig served as a peacemaker and as an ameliorating influence in the friction and difficulties that were bound to arise between the Nez Perce and the settlers,” Marcus J. Ware wrote in the spring 1981 issue of the Nez Perce County Historical Society Journal.

The Nez Perce, in their 1848 treaty, paid him unique honor by granting him 640 acres inside their reservation, making him the first official homesteader in what’s now Idaho.

The poet Joaquin Miller in 1861 credited Craig as the source of the state’s name, supposedly from an Indian term, “E-dah-hoe,” meaning “the light or diadem on the line of the mountains.” That, like the origin of “Oregon,” is widely disputed.

Craig died in 1869.

source: Oregon Live
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Col William Craig

Birth: 1807, Virginia
Death: 16 Oct 1869 (aged 61–62) Lapwai, Nez Perce County, Idaho
Burial: Jacques Spur Cemetery, Jacques, Nez Perce County, Idaho

Added by Dick Jones on 5 Sep 2012

Family Members


Isabel James Craig (Pah-Tis-Sah) 1813–1886


Annie Craig Fairfield unknown–1906
Martha Craig Vaughan 1842–1930
Adeline Craig Phinney 1845–1886
Joseph Craig 1869–1934

source: Find a Grave
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William Craig’s Homestead History

William Craig was born in Virginia in 1807. At the age of 18, around 1825, he joined a group of fur trappers of the American Fur Company. At a trapper rendezvous in 1838, a Nez Perce headman known as Thunder Eyes met Craig. Craig fell in love with his daughter, who the trappers called Isabel, and married her. When the American Fur Company went out of business in 1840, Craig came to Nez Perce country to settle in the Lapwai Valley in the fall of 1840.

Thunder Eyes, now Craig’s father-in-law, in 1836 had allowed Henry Spalding to establish his first mission close to his village. By the time Craig arrived, Spalding’s relationship with the Nez Perce had deteriorated. Craig sided with the Nez Perce in their disputes that led, in turn, to the decision in 1842 by the American Missionary Board to close down Spalding’s mission. Due to the timely intervention of Marcus Whitman, the crisis was averted and the relationship between Craig and Spalding gradually improved.

While not all of the Nez Perce liked Craig, they respected his opinion and his dedication to his Nez Perce wife and family and, likewise, Craig respected the culture of the Nez Perce. In the aftermath of the killing of Marcus Whitman in 1847, Craig sheltered the Eliza and Henry Spalding when it was feared that the same thing might happen at Lapwai. Craig’s relationship with the Nez Perce was further cemented with his role as an interpreter in the negotiations that led to the 1855 treaty that established the Nez Perce reservation. As a reward for his services, Article Ten of the 1855 treaty allowed Craig to keep his homestead on the new reservation.

In the aftermath of the treaty, the Yakama nation went to war and Governor Isaac Stevens appointed Craig a Colonel in the territorial militia. Craig also briefly worked as a subagent for the Nez Perce. He remained in Nez Perce country and died in 1869.

source: NPS

William Craig’s Homestead no longer stands. The land is now privately owned and is not accessible to the public. On the highway pullout off of U.S. Highway 95, there is a historical marker that remembers William Craig, a mountain man, interpreter, and friend of the Nez Perce.
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The name ‘Idaho’…

The poet Joaquin Miller in 1861 credited Craig as the source of the state’s name, supposedly from an Indian term, “E-dah-hoe,” meaning “the light or diadem on the line of the mountains.” Origin of the Idaho name is still debated.

source: Syd Albright Special to The CdA Press August 09, 2015
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Idaho, Its’ Meaning and Application

Bancroft Library Reprinted from Oregon Historical Quarterly VOL. XVIII. No. 2, 1917

Portland. Oregon The Ivy Press 1917 By John E. Rees

Considerable speculation has been indulged and much thought expended regarding the word “IDAHO”; its origin, meaning and the manner in which it came to be applied. Other writers have expressed opinions and published their knowledge concerning this word or name, creating rather an extensive literature on the subject; while both the wise and the otherwise have guessed at its meaning. My object in this article is an endeavor to assemble this information and offer an explanation of the word from the light of other facts perhaps not yet known and at any rate not yet published. These, it seems to me, will give a fairly good interpretation of the word.

“Idaho” has been so nicely explained and elaborated so profusely by the poetical and idealist, that Idahoans feel proud of a name which signifies such a noble and expressive thought as the “Gem of the Mountains” ; and whatever the word may have originally meant, this is its meaning to us now, and one not to be now molested. It is not my wish or purpose in this article to disturb this meaning nor to detract one iota from its inspiring sentiment, but simply to offer a version of the matter, for history’s sake, from my knowledge of the Shoshoni Indian language, gained by forty years’ residence near the Lemhis, one division of the Shoshoni tribe and among whom I was Indian trader for fifteen years.

“Idaho” is a Shoshoni Indian exclamation. The expression from which the word is derived is heard repeated as often, perhaps, in a Shoshoni Indian camp, in the early part of the morning, as is heard the English expression, “It’s sun up,” repeated in the home following the early dawn. The word is contracted from a meaning which requires much writing to correctly express it in English. Those who are used to translating languages readily understand the difficulties of this labor, which at times becomes almost an impossible task. The word “Idaho” consists of three component parts, each of which must be analyzed to correctly understand its derivation and the idea thereby conveyed. The first is “Ee,” which in English conveys the idea of “coming down.” This syllable is the basis of such Shoshoni words as mean “raining,” “snowing,” etc., which words when properly translated would be, “water coming down,” “snow coming down,” etc. The second syllable is “Dah,” which is the Shoshoni stem or root for both “sun” and “mountain,” the one being as eternal and everlasting to the Indian mind as is the other. The third syllable, “How,” denotes the exclamation and stands for just the same thing in Indian as the exclamation mark ( !) does in the English language. The Shoshoni word is “Ee-dah-how,” and the Indian thought thus conveyed when literally translated into English means, “Behold! the sun coming down the mountain.”

The mere word does not indicate much, for it is composed of simple syllables, the significance of which requires pages of written English to correctly convey the idea which this exclamation suggests to the aboriginal mind. Every one who has lived in a mountainous country has observed at sunrise the rim of sunlight coming down the mountainside, as the sun was rising in the opposite direction. This is the Shoshoni “Ee-dah-how.” It can only occur in and among the mountains which is represented by the English thought, “the lofty mountains upon which the morning breaks.” Also it can occur only at those times when the atmosphere is still, clear and bright, elements producing that invigorating and exhilarating feeling which only high mountainous countries possess.

In the imagination this sunlight on the mountainside can be interpreted to mean “Sunshine Mountain,” or “Shining Moun- tain,” and the rim of sunlight can also represent the “Diadem on the Mountain,” while a peculiar sunlit peak could be imagined a “Sun-Crowned Peak,” or a brilliant display of sunlight upon a snow-capped mountain where the rays of sunshine are refracted into their natural colors may convey to us the thought or image of the “Gem of the Mountains” ; but when the word is uttered in a Shoshoni camp, at early dawn, the hearer knows that a rim of sunlight is coming down the mountainside as the sun is rising in the opposite direction, and that it is time for him to be up and at the labors of the day ; just as much so as a person hearing the English expression, “It’s sun up,” knows that the sun has risen in the sky and he should be up and at work.

The idea conveyed by “Ee-dah-how” may be a kind of sun worship as contended by some, but it appears to me to be no more so than is the English expression, “It’s sun up.” This exclamation expresses to the primeval mind a confidence in the continuance of nature, for the sun has returned to replenish all things, and this display on the mountainside is the evidence; and to the Indian mind this exhibition of an eternal sun making its first appearance upon an everlasting mountain denotes a stableness worthy of his attention and is his signal to arise, as he habitually does at the first appearance of “Ee-dah-how.”

The effect which day and night might have” had upon the habits of primitive man is a subject within the province of the anthropologist. However, we are informed that civilized man is ofttimes influenced by custom survivals and will, long after the necessary fact for a certain action has ceased, continue to act as if it were still in existence. Whatever might have been the reason, in times past, we know and realize that the expression, “It’s sun up,” has a meaning to the majority of mankind of an influence which the rising sun has upon his actions. The emphasis in this expression, “Ee-dah-how,” is placed upon the “Dah” syllable, as it is the keynote to the utterance, for the eternal sun arrayed upon the everlasting mountain is the splendor which the speaker wishes to especially impress upon his hearer. The Indian has a name for sunrise, sunset, morning and evening, but “Ee-dah-how” conveys the idea of a beginning or renewal of natural phenomena and the sunrise is the symbol, while other parts of the day follow in sequence only and do not attract the same attention, sentiment or acknowledgment.

The Shoshonean Indians were the third family, in the extent of territory occupied, of the fifty-five that formerly inhabited the United States. The Shoshoni are one tribe of this great Shoshonean family of which the Comanche are another. The two tribes speak almost the same language, varying only in dialect ; their traditions are very similar and they readily converse with and understand each other. Ethnologists consider the Comanche an offshoot of the Shoshoni. It was not many years ago, geologically considered, when they lived adjacent to each other in Southern Wyoming, from which place the Shoshoni were gradually beaten back by other Indians into the mountains, while the Comanche were forced southward. So that the first rush of miners to Pike’s Peak in 1858 and what afterwards became known as Colorado, found this tribe within this territory and located especially along the Arkansas river. The country was at that time a part of Kansas. Here, also, they came in contact with the “lofty mountains upon which the morning breaks,” which were quite numerous and in commanding evidence. As all the elements were present, it was no wonder that they found the expression, “Ee-dah-how,” a familiar one in this new Eldorado, and the word “Idaho” was known to almost every one and was said by all who had any knowledge of it, to mean “Gem of the Mountains.” The first permanent settlement made by those hardy pioneers in this new territory in 1859 was named for this Shoshoni word and called “Idaho Springs.” In 1861, when Congress organized this new territory, “Idaho” was proposed as its name which should have been applied to it, but the Spanish word “Colorado,” which referred to a river and country foreign to this new country and which had no application whatever, was selected instead. This selection was suggested by Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, who was afterwards Vice- President associated with General Grant in the Presidency, and who was chiefly responsible for the naming of Colorado, Idaho and Montana.

The next heard of this word was when “Idahoe” was applied to a steamboat launched at Victoria, B. C, in the fall of 1860. It was built for the Yale Steamboat company to run upon the Fraser river, and was so called by one of the owners for his former home in Colorado, “Idaho Springs,” which was an Indian word signifying “Gem of the Mountains,” but the name of the steamboat was soon changed to “Fort Yale,” and it was afterwards blown up by a boiler explosion.

The permanent settlement of Idaho territory began with the discovery of gold at Pierce City, on Oro Fino creek, in 1860. It was then a part of Washington Territory and the name “Idaho” was not known or applied at that time. The rush to these mines was made principally by the Columbia river route and so extensive did the traffic, carried on by river boats, become that a company was formed called the Oregon Steam Navigation company, of which Colonel J. S. Ruckel was a stockholder. One of the steamboats constructed by this company, lying on the Columbia river, was called the “Idaho,” and launched in 1860. Mr. George H. Himes, curator of the Oregon Historical Society, informs me that he heard Col. Ruckel tell Mr. D. C. Ireland, who was the local news gatherer of the “Oregonian,” in answer to the question as to the origin and meaning of the name “Idaho,” which he had applied to this steamboat, “That it was an Indian word meaning ‘Gem of the Mountains,’ and that he got it from a Colorado friend who was interested with him in mining operations in that state, and he thought the name very appropriate for a steamboat that ran on a river like the Columbia which penetrated a range of mountains like the Cascades.” Thus the name became transferred to the great Northwest, and as Joaquin Miller said, “The name was familiar in 5,000 men’s mouths as they wallowed through the snow in ’61 on their way to the Oro Fino mines.”

However, the word became corrupted by these miners into “Idaho,” but happily through the writings of the poet, Joaquin Miller, the bard of the Sierras, the proper orthography was restored and for the first time in history an attempt was made to give the origin and meaning of this name and to publish it to the public. Mr. Miller said, “I was riding pony express at the time rumors reached us through the Nez Perce Indians that gold was to be found on the headwaters and tributaries of the Salmon river. I had lived with the Indians and Col. Craig, who had spent most of his life with them, often talked with me about possible discoveries in the mountains to the right, as we rode to Oro Fino, and of what the Indians said of the then unknown region. Gallop your horse, as I have a hundred times, against the rising sun. As you climb the Sweetwater mountains, far away to your right, you will see the name Idaho written on the mountain top, at least, you will see a peculiar and beautiful light at sunrise, a sort of diadem on two grand clusters of mountains that bear away under the clouds fifty miles distant. I called Col. Craig’s attention to this peculiar and beautiful light. ‘That/ said he, ‘is what the Indians call E-dah-hoe, which means the light or diadem on the line of the mountains.’ That was the first time I ever heard the name. Later, in September, ’61, when I rode into the newly discovered camp to establish an express office, I took with me an Indian from Lapwai. We followed an Indian trail, crossed Craig mountain, then Camas Prairie, and had all the time E-dah-hoe Mount for our objective point. On my return to Lewiston I wrote a letter containing a brief account of our trip and of the mines, and it was published in one of the Oregon papers, which- one I have now forgotten. In that account I often mentioned E-dah-hoe, but spelt it Idaho, leaving the pronunciation unmarked by any diacritical signs. So that perhaps I may have been the first to give it its present spelling, but I certainly did not originate the word.”

In 1858 the territorial legislature of Washington created a county within this territory which contained all lands north of the Clearwater, east of the Columbia and west of the Rocky mountains. It was named Shoshone for the largest tribe of Indians in this section of the country, and in 1861, when the population in the mines demanded it, another county was formed including all lands lying south and west of the Clearwater and named Nez Perce for the next largest tribe of Idaho Indians. The rest of the Idaho territory was formed, in 1862, into the largest county ever created within the state, embracing all lands lying south of Nez Perce and east of Snake river and called Idaho county in recognition of this word. In 1863, Boise county was created, so that Idaho had four counties in existence, formed by the Washington legislature, when the territory was organized.

Hon. John Hailey, Idaho’s state historian, in his “History of Idaho,” says, “The organic act passed by Congress and approved by the President March 3, 1863, creating and organizing a territorial government for the people residing within and those who might come hereafter, in certain limits and boundary lines of territorial lands, gave to that territory the name Idaho. Various reasons are given for the origin of the name Idaho. By some it is claimed that it is an Indian name. One story is that some miners had camped within sight of what is now Mount Idaho. In the morning they were awakened by the Indians calling ‘I-da-ho* and pointing to the rising sun just coming over the mountain, hence the term ‘The Rising Sun.’ Another is that the name was taken from a steamboat built by the late Col. J. S. Ruckel to run on the Columbia river in the early days. This boat was named The Idaho. W. A. Goulder, one of the oldest living (now dead) pioneers of Idaho, saw this steamer on the Columbia in 1860 and noticing the name asked the meaning and was informed that it was an Indian word, ‘E-dah-hoe,’ and stood for ‘The Gem of the Mountains.’ Frederick Campbell, one of the pioneers of the Pike’s Peak excitement, says that the word Idaho is an Arapaho Indian word and that in Colorado a spring was named Idaho before the word was known in the Northwest, and that it was even suggested for the name of Colorado.”

Col. William H. Wallace was delegate in Congress from Washington territory when the bill was passed in 1863, organizing, from the eastern portion of Washington, a new territory, which was named Idaho. Mrs. Wallace was in Washington, D. C., at the time and her account of the episode, which was afterwards published in the Tacoma Ledger, is as follows: “I may refer with pride to my connection with the establishment of the territory of Idaho, at the expiring days of the session of Congress, 1862-3. Quite a delegation was present at Washington city who favored the division of Washington territory, which then included all of Idaho and Montana west of the Rocky mountains, extending as far south as the northern line of California and Nevada. It was an immense region and contained South Pass, the great entrance of Oregon, Washington and California, by the great immigrant route. The Colonel was overjoyed at the assured passage of the bill, which he had in charge and his friends who had assembled at his rooms joined with him in conferring upon me the high privilege of naming the new territory. I answered, ‘Well, if I am to name it, the territory shall be called Idaho, for my little niece, who was born near Colorado Springs, whose name is Idaho, from an Indian chief’s daughter of that name, so called for her beauty, meaning the ‘Gem of the Mountains.’ Dr. Anson G. Henry, the surveyor-general of Washington territory, then on a visit to Washington City, was in the room. He clapped his hands upon his knees and said to me, ‘Mrs. Wallace, Idaho it shall be.’ The evening of the day upon which the bill was passed my husband came home and said, “Well, Lue, you’ve got your territory, and I’m to be governor of it.’ A short time after the bill was signed my husband was appointed its first governor, and at the first election held in the newly organized territory, he was selected delegate to Congress.”

There were others beside Mrs. Wallace who claimed the honor of naming Idaho territory, and while their contributory suggestions may have had some influence in designating it, yet the true history of the application of the word to this particular geographical territory for political administration discloses the fact that it occurred in an ordinary way and that instead of any sentiment influencing the act, it was simply a result of legislative enactment. In the fall of 1861, Wallace, Garfield and Lander were candidates for Congressional delegate from Washington territory and while stumping the country during the campaign met at Pierce city. The people in- habiting this section of the country were so far from Olympia, the capital, and had for some time agitated a division of the eastern part of Washington territory ; so through the solicitation and request of these people each of these candidates agreed that whoever was elected would favor this division and every one agreed that “Idaho” should be the name of the new territory. That this agreement was carried out is proven by the fact that Mr. Wallace, the successful candidate, at once had introduced in Congress a bill creating the new territory of Idaho.

The Congressional history of this act shows that in the committee to which the bill had been referred three names were suggested, namely, Shoshone, Montana and Idaho, and that in the bill as it passed the House of Representatives the name of “Montana” was applied to this new territory. When the matter came before the Senate for consideration, the bill was modified very materially, for while it scarcely included what is now Idaho, the modified bill included all of the present states of Montana and Wyoming, in which form it was approved and became the law. Later these states were created out of Idaho. Senator Wilson moved to strike out the word “Montana” and insert “Idaho” in its stead. To this Senator Harding of Oregon agreed, saying, “Idaho in English means ‘Gem of the Mountains’.” Senator Wilson’s amendment was agreed to and when the bill went back to the House it was concurred in and the new territory was henceforth designated Idaho.

Thus Senator Wilson selected the name Idaho, whilst Senator Harding was instrumental in continuing its meaning.

How the Shoshoni Indian word “Ee-dah-how” was eventually transformed into the English word “Idaho” is a task for the etymologist ; but, whatever may be its etymology, the word “Idaho” and its meaning, “Gem of the Mountains,” are forever fixed as correlated terms in the vocabulary of the people of Idaho.

source: © PBC Idaho County GenWeb – Miscellaneous Published Articles and Newspaper Items From Idaho County and the Vicinity, compiled by Penny Bennett Casey

Idaho History Sept 2

Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

(Part 4)

Mount Idaho 1900

Mt. Idaho Has A Newspaper

Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho February 21, 1900

The County seat of Idaho County now has a newspaper, a very creditable publication called the “Mt. Idaho Mail”. The paper says that precinct will this year cast the largest republican vote in its history. That is likely to be true of practically all precincts in the state.

source: © PBC Idaho County GenWeb – Miscellaneous Published Articles and Newspaper Items From Idaho County and the Vicinity
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Mount Idaho 1934

Historic Mount Idaho

Lewiston Morning Tribune – Nov 4, 1934

“I would like to live where the summer breeze,
Cooler in some cavernous glacial crack,
Picks up the tang of western trees,
Cedar and pine and tamarack,
Noses along down the red deer’s track,
Then gath’ring the scent of June’s wild rose
and the odor of of clover hay,
At evening blows where a garden grows.
(That’s where I’d stay It I had my way,
Today – and every day.”)

By Dr. H. L. Talkington

The poet might have added, “This is Mount Idaho,” and have made the additional statement: “I want to go where the cool, pure water gushes from springs fed by the mountain snows; where I can feel the breeze, coming across three-quarters of a million acres of fine farm land, blow; this is Mount Idaho.”

In the spring of 1861 gold was discovered at Elk City and in the fall of the same year at Florence, and the next year at. Warrens. The fabulous riches of these mines is too well known to need further comment. Sufficient it is to say that it attracted thousands of men; these had to be fed. Lewiston was the supply point but it was over 100 miles away, so a sub-station was necessary.


Founded As Toll House

In the spring of 1862 Moses Millimer began a trail from Camas prairie to the Florence mines, completing it in July of the same year. His toll station became the mountain house first erected on the present sits of Mount Idaho. In July of the same year he sold his house and his tall raid to L. P. Brown, who was the most prominent factor In that section of the country for almost a third of a century.

Soon a stage line was established between Lewiston and Mount Idaho and supplies were brought to that point and re-shipped to the mines. It is unbelievable, almost, the freight that could be carried by pack train; a square piano and machinery weighing as much as 900 pounds were taken in this manner to the mines at Florence.

Here came the first families – the L. P. Browns, the James Odles, the Seth Jones and one or two others. Here was built the first hotel and established the first store. Here was held the first republican territorial convention; here was built the first saw-mill and the first grist mill; near here was plowed the first furrow ever turned on the prairie; here was organized the first lodge of Masons, of Odd Fellows and Eastern Star; here was taught the first school on the prairie; here was the home for many years of Miss Sue McBeth and Mount Idaho was the county sent of Idaho county for over a quarter of a century.

All of north Idaho for a time was included in the two counties of Shoshone and Nez Force, each reaching back to the Montana line. There was little in the way of settlement in what after become Idaho county for many years except in the Salmon river mines. All of Camas prairie, Mount Idaho, as well as Elk City, were in “grand old Nez Perce,” Idaho county containing that territory reaching up Salmon river and south of it for many miles.

Civil War Echos

The county seat question, as is always true, was one of bitter contest, not only between towns but between the union and southern factions. The unionists offered as their site a place called Washington, while the southern element farther down the river gave the name of Richmond to their site. Florence was chosen and later Warrens was successful.

During the mining excitement, little attention was paid to agriculture on the prairie but the chief interest centered in the little town of Mount Idaho that had several hundred inhabitants. Vollmer & Scott soon had a store there for general merchandise. The stockmen came there for their merchandise. The only physician in the county for many years, Dr. J. B. Morris, was located there and Mount Idaho claimed the county seat when the officers of the county, lawyers, etc., located in the town. Some of the show residences of the territory in the ’80s pictured by the histories of that time are those of L. P. Brown, Dr, J. B. Morris, Colonel Forney and others. Pictures also of buggies and ladles horseback riding using side-saddles are seen in these same histories.

Lodges And Schools

Masonic lodge No. 9 received its charter December 9, 1873; the Odd Fellows at the same place was organized June 8, 1880. and about the same time a chapter of the Eastern Star was organized. The last mentioned did not survive very long and the other two were removed to Grangeville.

The first master of the Masonic lodge was Farrington B. King; others well known to Lewiston people are L. P. King, James Witt, who served on seven different years, A. W. Talkington, the master for five years.

Mount Idaho had one of the first public schools in the state, it being organized in 1867, two or three years after the Lewiston school was established. This was taught by Bianca Reed. The only two living who attended that first year are Mary Baird, Lewiston, and Roland O. Brown, Grangeville.

Heroics Deeds

Mount Idaho was the haven of safety during the Nez Perce Indian war. To this post came the settlers from Salmon river as well as different places on Camas prairie. Breastworks were thrown up and preparations made for a regular siege, fortunately, the town had a general merchandise store as well as a grist mill so plenty of flour could be had, sacks of this being used in the breastworks as well as for food.

There are two outstanding instances of heroism that will ever be known where the Nez Perce war is mentioned, the one of a friendly squaw, Too-lah. A few men, women and children had assembled on Slate creek and built a small stockade; this Indian woman knowing of thole predicament started over the mountains to Florence, 25 miles away. The ride killed her pony but she returned with 25 additional men and then quietly returned to her home.

Another instance he that of Pat Brice. When the Manuel family on Salmon river was attacked by Indians and Mrs. Manuel and her babe in arms were killed, the husband and little girl of 7 escaped into the brush. The father and daughter became separated and the little girl, whose arm was broken, was heard crying at night by Pat Brice; he made his way to her, improvised a box in which he placed her and after two days and nights of scouting and eluding the Indians, he arrived at Mount Idaho, having been without food for 48 hours.

Brice died about 1906, and Nannie Fabrique, a student then in the normal, recounted his thrilling adventure in a poem.

First G. O. P. Convention

In the summer of 1863 a call was issued for a union convention to be held at the L. P. Brown hotel in Mount Idaho. There were 51 signers to that call, 21 of whom were Lewiston citizens, among them C. C. Bunnell, S. E. Thompson, Thomas Moxley and other well-known business and professional men. Lewiston, Mount Idaho and Elk City represented largely the population of Nez Perce county at that time. A pioneer address given by L. P. Brown in 1888 states that the convention was held in a log building, rather than in his hotel. Wallace was nominated and elected as a delegate but it is interesting to note that he was the only republican delegate elected in Idaho for 20 years after the organization of the territory, showing that the southern element predominated.

The democratic convention was held at Passer John’s cabin, New Meadows. James M. Cannady was nominated on the democratic ticket. Goulder claims that the convention was at Idaho City but the preponderance of evidence is in favor of the former place.

Another interesting incident is that of a call to Lloyd McGruder of Elk City, to state his position on the questions of the day. Among others who signed this were Joel Martin and James Witt. McGruder responds in a column reply in the Golden Age in which he makes a strong defense of state rights and slavery and then the editor takes him to task and slashes him in the rawest kind of a way.

In 1874 a bill was introduced in the legislature annexing to Idaho county all of the territory of the Camas prairie and Elk City section. It failed to pass but the next year another bill was introduced and succeeded. The county seat then was by vote removed to Mount Idaho, where it remained until 1901 or 1902.

Beginning Of End

As the commercial factor was the stronger in a few years as the mines were worked out, so the agricultural element became the stronger as Camas prairie was developed. In 1884 Grangeville was spoken of as a hamlet with a few houses, Cottonwood boasted of a fine hotel but little else, as it was simply a stage stand. Since Camas prairie was far from market, stock was the leading industry after the mines. The late B. F. Morris had his stock farm of 1,440 acres; L. P. Brown had six or seven thousand sheep; two retired English army officers were extensively engage in sheep raising as well, how many cattle the Jones family had is not known. All of this, however, represented what may be termed the “grange” element, and since L. P. Brown did not like this organization very well, he refused to sell them a lot on which to erect a hall, but someone at Grangeville gave them a site and soon there was a sawmill there and Mr. Brown, like many another pioneer of the northwest, over-estimated his power in real estate, to gradually people went to Grangeville rather than to Mount Idaho, and when the railroad was completed to the former place about 1908 it sounded the death knell of the little town at this foot of the mountains.

Today there is nothing there, but the site representing blasted hopes and fading historical memories – nevertheless, a beautiful place.

link to full article:

source: Talkington, Dr. H.L. (November 4, 1934). “Historic Mount Idaho”. Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1.
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Mount Idaho 1962 Centenial


Bustling, booming Mount Idaho Now Nothing but a Ghost Town

Lewiston Morning Tribune – July 1, 1962

Editor’s note: Norman Brown Adkison, a native of Grangeville, and now of Boise, is a free lance writer. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Adkison, went through the Nez Perce Indian War and his mother was a niece of Loyal P. Brown. Because of limitations of space, it has not been possible to include in this article all of the material submitted by the writer on the descendants of early Mount Idaho families.

By Norman B. Adkison

Mount Idaho, the first permanent settlement in that great expanse known as Idaho County, still nestles under the pines, against the mountain in the southeastern corner of Camas Prairie.

The Home of L.P. Brown at Mount Idaho, photographed in the 1860s

It has been a ghost town for half a century. Of the old buildings only the wreck of the once beautiful home of L P. Brown remains — that and the cemetery.

Few towns in the state, or in any state, can whisper the tales as told around the fireplaces of the truly noble men and women of Mount Idaho who wrote history in their tears and blood.

With the ruins torn away and the many new cottages of the millworkers, it is again a pretty little town in a most beautiful spot. Hundreds of descendants will answer the pull of the soul of this old town in July when they remember its centennial birthday.

A lumber mill at Mount Idaho, from a sketch made in the [1870s]

First we must tell you about “Mose” Milner, the first settler who saw his opportunity to profit by the fabulous Florence placer gold mines, without mining. He established a way station at this spot and built a toll trail around the mountains toward Florence, about 40 miles in all, in the spring of 1862.

Moses E. Milner, known throughout the west as “California Joe.” had been one of the best known Indian fighters and Army scouts of the frontier, ranking with Kit Carson and Bill Hickok in courage and ability. According to his grandson, as recorded in his book, “California Joe,” he was a famous mountain man. Mexican war veteran, a Forty-niner in California and a pioneer in Oregon. His Army scout service had been verified from War Department records.

Milner’s chief contribution to this famous “Milner Trail” was the clearing of a three-mile stretch around a steep mountain which cut the distance to the mines by several miles. The toll gate was six or seven miles up in the mountains from Mount Idaho, which Milner first called the “Mountain House.” He built an addition to his cabin and began to serve meals.

Daisy Brown Smith, daughter of L. P. Brown, stated years later that this old Indian campground was known to the Indians by a name which meant “Skin Lodge.” The Rev. Mark Arthur, a former native Indian Presbyterian minister, claimed that Mount Idaho was called “Pe-yersh-i-neet,” meaning tepee.

The First Woman

Mrs. Seth Jones Sr. was the first woman to ride over the Mose Milner Trail and she was given a permit to ride the trail, free of charge, whenever she wished.

In the bad winter of 1862-63 the unusually deep snow made the trail impassable and the Florence miners were kept alive by men who on foot carried from 50 to 80 pounds on their backs through snow sometimes as deep as 10 feet. These men were called “Boston Jackass” and were paid 40 cents a pound for a terrific ordeal which sometimes meant a last resting place in the snow.

Mount Idaho’s fortunes rose and fell with those of one man – Loyal P. Brown.


Cradled in the granite hills of New Hampshire, this sturdy yet kindly soul gave of his personal strength and foresight not only to carve a niche of civilization from the pines and hills of his adopted state, but to bestow freely from the depths of his great heart the blessings of Christian love upon his neighbors.

On his journey from Oregon to the famous Florence mines in July, 1862, Brown stopped at the Milner cabin with his wife and son. Realizing the possibilities of this settlement as an outfitting this settlement as an outfitting point for the mines, he joined forces with his brother-in-law, James Odle. and bought the station from Miner.

Two gray mares were given for the squatter’s rights to the land on which the tavern was built.

The next year Odle filed on the land just west and later sold his interest in the Milner claim to Brown.

Loyal Parsons Brown, son of Samuel F. Brown of Stratford, Conn., stock, was born at Stratford, New Hampshire, Sept. 26, 1829.

At the age of 16 he went to Boston and worked as a clerk in a store until he could no longer resist the call of California gold. In the spring of 1849 young Brown joined the “Massasoit Company” and sailed from Boston on the schooner Harriet Neil for California via the Isthmus. After a hazardous trip across the Isthmus, beset with swamps, reptiles and malaria, from which many perished, this youth of 20 years re-embarked and reached San Francisco July 12, 1849.

To The Gold Fields

Brown shook off the pleasures and temptations of the Barbary Coast and went to the gold fields of the Middle Fork of the American River and mined at Rector’s Bar. He accumulated enough capital to engage in the merchandising of miners’ supplies the next spring on the Trinity River.

He moved to Scottsburg on the Umpqua River in 1852 and was a merchant for three years.

In 1855 be answered the call for volunteers in the bloody Rogue River Indian war and served to the end of the war in the Quartermaster’s Department. He then engaged in stock-raising and farming in Douglas County, Oregon.

On Oct. 24, 1854, Loyal Brown and Sarah T. Crusen, formerly of La Salle County, Illinois, were united in marriage. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. George W. Crusen, the father having been born in Virginia and the mother in Maryland.

At the age of 15 she accompanied her father and mother across the plains by ox team, arriving in Oregon in the autumn of 1852.

Unusual hardship, pestilence and Indian massacres accompanied that particular train but did not deter the young bride from making two other trips by wagon train across those rolling deserts.

In the spring of 1858 Loyal and Sarah Brown returned to his birthplace in New Hampshire and in the spring of 1859 fitted out six-horse teams and wagons and crossed the plains via Fort Hall on the Snake River. He was accompanied by his mother, step-father and other relatives and arrived on the Umpqua in September the same year.

Brown engaged in stock-raising and farming on the Umpqua until the new, rich gold fields at Pierce, Elk City and Florence lured him to the Washington Territory. (This area became a part of Idaho Territory in 1863.)

Brown and Odle bought out Mose Milner on July 18, 1862. The toll trail was improved and a new hotel and residence were built. Brown changed the name of the station to Mount Idaho.

The Brown family was the first to settle in Idaho County, that of Seth Jones Sr. second and that of James Odle the third, all in the summer and fall of 1862.

Hiram Lusk built the first house on Three Mile Creek in 1862 and sold it to John Crooks and Aurora Shumway in the spring of 1863. Seth Jones Sr. later settled on Three Mile.

The first house in the county was built in the fall of 1861 by Capt. L. Francois on the north side of the Whitebird summit. He and his wife for many years were the popular hosts at the famous old DeFrance Hotel in Lewiston.

In the spring of 1863 L. P. Brown set up a store at Elk City and ran a pack train to take in supplies. He hauled freight from Lewiston by wagon teams and at Mount Idaho transferred it to aparejos on mules.

For many years he had the mail route to Lewiston and was postmaster at home.

He bought the Cottonwood House as a way station for his stage and mail route from a Mr. Allen, who had built the first cabin there in the spring of 1861.

Aaron F. Brown, brother of Loyal Brown, also from Douglas County in Oregon, ran a store and pack train at Florence for one year and for a short time had charge of his brother’s store at Elk City.

The Big Strike

A prospecting party from Elk City, on its way back from the Salmon River in the fall of 1861, after testing its bars, camped one night in a high basin.

One of the men washed out a pan of soil, not expecting to find any “colors” at that altitude, but the results were phenomenal. J. M. Miller was given credit for making the actual discovery and his immediate companions were John Healy, James Ayres and Lemuel Griggs.

The camp was known as “Millersburg” for some time and was even on some of the early maps.

The first claims were recorded Oct. 3, 1861, by J. M. Miller, Sam Graham and David Osborne. Soon added to these names were those of Charles May, Benjamin Beewise, Nathan Smith, E. Bostwick, George Leatherman, George Pomeroy and Moses Splawn. (Moses Splawn later was one of the actual discoverers of the rich Boise Basin.)

The first recorded transfer of title of ground in the camp shows Alonzo Leland as the purchaser of two claims on Baboon Gulch, one for $1,000 and one for $800.

Stephen S. Fenn, A. Manning and A. Benson are given as other early operators.

In October, 1861, T. H. Mallory reported on this fabulous camp: “Miller’s Creek is perhaps the richest. From the first pan of dirt washed, taken out of the first hole sunk in this creek, $25 was obtained. Miller washed out $100 with the pan that afternoon … Each claim has since averaged with the rocker from S75 to $100 per day to the hand. Baboon Gulch is next richer.”

Thousands of men from all over the nation flocked to this new camp. Very rich pockets were found, but the chief handicap was the shortage of water. Gold was brought out, not in ounces but in pounds.

Jacob Weiser’s Baboon Gulch claim, working four men and two rockers, is reported as yielding at the cleanup on Nov. 19, 40 pounds of coarse gold and 60 pounds the next day. This claim is reported to have produced $20,000 in eight days, and in December of ’61 Weiser reached Walla Walla with his “mule loaded with dust.”

The name “Millersburg” was soon changed to Florence, after the name of the first child born in the camp, the daughter of Julia Hunt, wife of one of the first storekeepers. Chinese or “Celestials” flocked to Florence in spite of the law covering the district which said in Article 14, “Chinese or Tartars are hereby prohibited from ever working these mines under all or any circumstances.” In later years the Chinese practically controlled the mining camps of Pierce, Elk City, Florence and Warrens. L. P. Brown found them good and reliable customers.

Florence had its share of tough characters who “toiled not, neither did they spin.” yet lived by sapping the miners of their hard-earned gold.

Here it was that the infamous “Cherokee Bob” (H. J. Talhotte), a suspected member of the Plummer gang of killers, got his final earthly deserts. He had threatened to kill Orlando Robbins and J. D. Williams because of a slight to his lady love but they were ready for him and shot him down in a free shooting match along with his henchman, William Willaby. Orlando Robbins was later an Army scout for Gen. O. O. Howard.

Most of the rich pockets in the Florence camp were worked out in the best and final year of 1862 and the miners drifted on to other new camps. Several millions of dollars were extracted from the grass roots of that camp that year and Brown and Odle prospered along with the miners.

There was continuous business with the Elk City, Florence and Warrens mines for many years. At present at Florence only the cemetery remains.

Education for the children had been growing in Loyal P. Brown’s mind. He spoke about the early schools in his address to the pioneers in 1888:

“The first school ever taught in Idaho County was by Miss Biancia Reed, who came from Wilbur, Douglas County. Oregon, in the spring of 1867. She remained here for two years and then went home. The school was opened in the old log building at Mount Idaho, and the children attending were the Odles, Arams, Browns, Kings and Joneses.

“The first school house built in the county was by a few pioneers and located near F. B. King’s house in the year 1868. Soon after, another school building was constructed near Aram’s place on Three Mile Creek.”

Brown brought the teacher from his old home county and not only paid her way to Idaho put paid most of her salary as long as she was in Idaho. His own children, Rollin and Adda were among the students.

His youngest daughter, Daisy Brown (Smith), in her own handwriting states, “My first teachers were Cassius Day, Harriett Brown (niece of L. P. Brown and who later married John Riley Adkison), Frank A. Fenn (later a major in the Spanish-American war and supervisor of the U S. Forest Service), Fremont Cobb, J. A. Rainey, James H. Forney (later U.S. district attorney and provisional president of the University of Idaho), Jessie Clark, Alice Riggins and Rena Poe.”

Harriet S. Brown taught in 1876 in a log house near Mount Idaho and was teaching in 1877 in a school on John’s Creek when the Indian war broke out. “Billy” N. Knox tells of going to school at Mount Idaho in 1880-81 with Fremont Cobb as teacher.

The Florence school district was organized in 1864 and the first school board was Stephen S. Fenn, Harry Stites and Harry Moomau.

Major Frank Fenn later said of this school: “There were many people in the camp competent to serve as teacher but all were bent upon gold mining . . . One citizen here, J. H. Robinson, had come West from Ohio and left his wife and two children in the old home. Mrs. Statira E. Robinson, his wife, was a professional teacher and the trustees decided that she should be the instructor for the new school.”

A purse was raised to pay the expense of the trip.

Fenn stated that Mrs. Robinson had to travel from an Atlantic port to Panama. cross the Isthmus and on to San Francisco by water to Portland, thence to Lewiston and wagon conveyance to Brown’s Mountain House and thence by saddle horse to Florence.

For a woman with two children this was a long ordeal, but Mrs. Robinson had pioneer stuff in her veins.

Frank Fenn further stated:

“Furniture (for the school) was simple and unquestionably durable. There was one long heavy puncheon, hewed smooth on top side and set up on four solid legs, which sufficed for a desk for the entire school . . . Needless to say the school, which was held during the summer months, was a success. When the school closed every pupil regretted it. The six who attended, and they made up the entire public school enrollment of the territory then, were Charles Robinson. son of the teacher; Abbie and Edgar Hall, sons of Solon Hall; Fanny, George and Frank Fenn. children of S. S. Fenn . . . none of those who were so fortunate as to attend the first Idaho school can ever forget Mrs. Robinson’s lovable nature or cease to revere her memory.”

The Indians were not neglected in the school program. Miss Sue McBeth, a Presbyterian missionary, spent almost 20 years among the Nez Perces, the last eight years at Mount Idaho, where her pupils gathered around her. Her sister. Miss Rate McBeth, conducted the school after the death of Sue and was assisted by Mrs. Carrie Shearer.

Religious services were encouraged at Mount Idaho and although ministers from many denominations held meetings. none succeeded in building a church there.

The first churches were built in the rival town of Grangeville. Mrs. Daisy Brown Smith stated that Father Joseph M. Cataldo held services at Mount Idaho in the early seventies, and Mrs. John Sullivan (Edna Brown) recalled a visit from the Most Rev. Alphonsius M. Glorieux, Bishop of the Boise diocese, in 1893.

Mass was said at the hotel, which was managed at that time by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brown. Bishops Tuttle and Talbot brought Episcopal services occasionally to the prairie and the mines.

The two best remembered Protestant ministers at Mount Idaho and the prairie during the eighties and nineties were the Rev. W. N. (Billy) Knox and the Rev. J. B. York, both Baptist exhorters. Knox came to Mount Idaho at the age of 16 and went to school to Fremont Cobb.

In 1881 he became a clerk in the store of Grostem & Binnard. After three years he worked for Herman C. Brown and then was with Vollmer & Scott until 1892. Later he was county auditor and recorder. He was a rare combination of business man and minister, and in his true devotion and humility he had the respect of all.

Knox included Florence and other rough mining camps in his revivals. It would be hard to overestimate the Christian influence of this minister.

The Rev. J. B. York came to Lewiston in 1887 and then entered the Clearwater country. He was a regular preacher at Mount Idaho and established his first Baptist church at Clearwater.

He established 19 churches and missions in northern Idaho. The author of this article, as a small boy, remembers attending a real baptizing at Harpster, where this pioneer revivalist led a group of men and women, 20 or 30, out into the depths of a limpid pool of the Clearwater River and baptized each one separately.

With the beautiful stream, in a setting of forest green. with hundreds of people assembled there, this was an impressive sight – and it was more than 60 years ago.

Florence had been the county seat of Idaho County from the very first, even while it was in Washington Territory. Mount Idaho was in Nez Perce County.

In 1868 the county seat of Idaho County was moved from Florence to Washington in Warrens’ Camp. In 1875 the Idaho Territorial Legislature added the Clearwater section and Camas Prairie to Idaho County. In a county seat removal election, Mount Idaho won out over Warrens and Slate Creek, and was the new county seat of Idaho County, Territory of Idaho.

Old Courthouse – The courthouse was built at Mount Idaho in the ’70s when the town was the county seat of Idaho County. The washing indicates it was being lived in when the picture was taken in 1911.

First Postmaster

Frank A. Fenn was the first postmaster at Mount Idaho, from 1862 to ’64.

Alonzo Brown states in his autobiography that his brother. Loyal P. Brown, was postmaster in 1870.

In 1873 a more commodious hotel was built and this served as the post office.

The courthouse was built at Mount Idaho in 1876, after the county seat had been gained, and then a jail was added. The site of these buildings was donated by L. P. Brown with the proviso that the land would revert to him if the county seat were ever removed.

Mount Idaho was the site chosen for the first Republican convention held in the new Territory of Idaho. The date was Sept. 28, 1863 and the call for the convention was published in the Golden Age, first weekly newspaper published in Idaho, at Lewiston.

Convention Site – L.P. Brown’s hotel at Mount Idaho, shown in an early day sketch, was the scene of the first Republican territorial convention in 1863.

William Wallace, an appointee of Abraham Lincoln as the first governor of the Territory of Idaho, was chosen as the first territorial delegate to Congress. His chief opponent was Robert Newell, a former mountain man and one of the leaders in the first legislature in the provisional government of Oregon. He was an old-time close friend of William Craig.

Masons On The Scene

One of the first Masonic lodges in northern Idaho was organized February. 1874, at Mount Idaho by Sewell Truax, although the Masonic Hall was not built until the early 1880s. This hall was a prominent landmark at the top of the hill north of the town, where the earthworks fort had been built during the Nez Perce Indian war.

It was afterwards used as a school building, and the writer vividly remembers trudging up that hill one winter, about 1894-95, in the mud, slush and snow to receive instruction, literally from the hands of an imaginary ogre, “Professor” Waltz and his beautiful, song-bird wife.

The first sawmill was built at the foot of the mountain on Three Mile Creek in 1869 by Peter Walters.

Walters in September, 1870, murdered, without cause, Joseph Yates. Ten of Yates’ friends, provoked at the delay of justice at Lewiston, took Walters from the jail and hanged him.

The first flour mill was built in 1873 by a group of men: William Coram, prominent settler near Mount Idaho who had been a sailor for years, C. B. Toothaker, H. H. Wheeler, and Dr. M. A. Kelly of Lewiston.

These mills were destroyed by fire and L. P. Brown built a flour mill and then a sawmill in 1878. These were destroyed by fire in 1896 and were not rebuilt.

In the early days Camas Prairie was a natural pasture for both horses and cattle. Hundreds of native Indian horses originally roamed at will over this bunch grass paradise but they were gradually crowded out by the settlers who began to fence their homesteads.

This was a cause of trouble with the Indians, who retaliated by getting a lot of good beef from the “nesters” at a minimum of cost.

Grain and timothy were planted in 1863. according to L. P. Brown, presumably the first timothy in the state. Brown brought the first apple trees from Walla Walla and planted them at Mount Idaho. Several of these trees are still bearing, nearly 100 years old, on the Daisy Brown Smith property in this ghost town.

In the fall of 1887. L. P. Brown brought to Mount Idaho the first blooded Hereford cattle introduced into Idaho. They were driven by Lee Smith from Uniontown, Wash., the end of the railroad at that time.

In the spring of 1863 John M. Crooks and Aurora Shumway became the pioneer stock company of Idaho and brought in a thousand head of cattle from The Dalles country in Oregon.

(Continued on page 2)


Seth Jones Sr. in 1863 put up the first fence and broke the first Sod in farming on the prairie. Starting with 10 cows, he soon became one of the big cattlemen of the prairie and the Salmon River. His daughter, Belle, later Mrs. Charles Cone, was the first white child born on Camas Prairie.

His sons, Will, Sam. Seth Jr. and Bob, were leading growers, buyers and shippers of cattle in the prairie and river territory for many years.

One of the leading families in the development of the stock industry was the John Aram family, classed as the fifth family of the Mount Idaho group. John Aram Sr. was born in upper New York, moved to Ohio thence back to New York, and shipped at the age of 18 on the English steamer Sarah Sands for San Francisco. The ship was disabled by terrific storms around the Horn but finally landed in Lower California and young Aram was forced to walk 600 desert and mountain miles to San Francisco.

He later returned to Ohio. He married Sara Elizabeth Barr there in 1852 and in 1854, with 12 covered wagons and driving 3,000 sheep ahead of him, he crossed to California in six months.

Mrs. Aram made the trip by the Isthmus, alone with a young baby. Later the family moved to Portland and thence to Mount Idaho.

Two sons, James and John T. (known as Tom) carried on an extensive cattle business on Joseph Plains for years, until Tom was drowned in a ferry accident while crossing cattle near Lewiston. He had married Carrie Moore, daughter of Joe Moore, and Emma Brown, sister of L. P. Brown.

Clara Aram Fitzgerald, daughter of John Aram Sr., recently passed away and her only son, Oren, an instructor at the University of Idaho, passed away six months later.

John Aram, a son of James Aram, is executive assistant to the president of the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. at Tacoma.

First General Store

The first general supply store at Mount Idaho was naturally that of L. P. Brown. In 1872 Ralph Jacobson and two brothers opened a store in one end of Brown’s hotel. They sold out to a man by the name of Rudolph, the only merchant until Vollmer & Scott opened a store in 1875.

In the fall of 1878 Grostein & Binnard set up a store at Mount Idaho. It became Binnard & Weiser in 1885 and later Weiler & Wax.

Matt H. Truscott in 1892 became the manager of the Vollmer-Scott store. He had been employed by Brown as chief engineer in the mills until 1883, when he became clerk in the hotel. He was postmaster of Mount Idaho in 1886.

The Vollmer – Shearer – Truscott family group for years was one of the most prominent families at Mount Idaho.

Caroline Vollmer of Indianapolis came west in 1873 to visit her brother, John P. Vollmer, who was in business at Lewiston and Mount Idaho. She returned to Indiana in 1881 and became the bride of Maj. George M. Shearer, whom she had met during the Indian war. They returned to Mount Idaho where three children were born – Elizabeth, Philip Alfred and Virginia FitzHugh.

The two latter never married and now live in Lewiston. Elizabeth married David Bodine and to this union two children were born – Richard Shearer Bodine, who never married, and David Philip Bodine, who with his wife and two children lives at Grangeville. Major Shearer died Jan. 2, 1889, and Mrs. Shearer married Matt Truscott in 1894.

Mount Idaho was the home of some of the leading professional men of the territory. One of the most beloved was Dr. J. B. Morris, the only physician and surgeon on the prairie for years. He and his brother, Ben Franklin Morris, came West from Missouri.

Dr. Morris was one of the real heroes of the Indian war. He was absent at Portland when news came of the outbreak and realizing the dire need of his services at Mount Idaho, rushed back to Lewiston, procured a horse and, riding at night, to avoid the Indians, reached Mount Idaho.

Day and night he was tireless in his efforts to save the victims of red butchery, both civilian and military, in addition to caring for at least 200 settlers who had gathered in the town.

Children were born; amputations were necessary and the sick were cared for – all without adequate facilities of hospital, trained nurses and anesthesia.

He later moved to Lewiston, was a leader in his profession, and became mayor of the city.

James H. Forney was an attorney at Mount Idaho and his card was in the Free Press it 1886 and for some time after. He was appointed by Gov. Norman B. Willey in 1891 as one of the first regents of the University of Idaho, and was prevailed upon by the chairman of the board to become its provisional president. He later became a resident of Moscow and was appointed by the president as U.S. district attorney.

J. W. Poe was one of the first attorneys of the Mount Idaho, Florence and Warrens areas. He was a graduate of Portland Academy in 1861 and then went into the mines at Florence. At one time he was a business partner with Sylvester S. (Three – Fingered) Smith, a veteran of the Modoc Indian war, and Joseph Haines.

He studied law in his spare time and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He was chosen district attorney in 1876 for the First Judicial District and again in 1878. He was elected to the Council (Senate) of the Idaho Territorial Legislature.

He removed to Lewiston, practiced his profession, and was one of the first trustees of the Lewiston Normal School.

The Indian War

No story of Mount Idaho would be fair or faithful without telling something of the dramatic and tragic part that it played in the Nez Perce Indian war of 1877.

It will be recalled that the Wallowa Nez Perces under Chief Joseph and the Salmon River and White Bird bands under Toohoolhoolzote and White Bird had been given 30 days by Gen. O. O. Howard at Lapwai to go on the Clearwater reservation. The two latter sub-chiefs were opposed to going and met with Joseph’s band at their old campgrounds at Lake Tepahlewam (Split Rocks), later called Lake Tolo, about 10 miles from Mount Idaho, to hold a council. Peace or war was the question.

Three young bloods of White Bird’s band precipitated a bloody Indian war by sneaking out of camp June 13 and going up the Salmon River to Slate Creek and John Day Creek and wantonly murdering unsuspecting Richard Divine, Henry Elfers, Robert Bland and Henry Beckroge (Mrs. Elfer’s brother).

Samuel Benedict was wounded and later killed by the next marauders and Mrs Benedict. mother of Grant Benedict. escaped with her badly injured children.

Mrs. John Manuel and infant child were butchered in their own home. William Osborne and Harry Mason were also killed in this raid.

Elfers, head of a prominent family in northern Idaho, and Divine Benedict and the Manuels were all well known at Mount Idaho and over the prairie. Therefore news of this massacre was a terrible shock to the settlers, and most of them hurriedly loaded their families and some household goods into wagons and raced to Mount Idaho.

In the meantime. L. P. Brown, who was apprehensive but had not heard of the Salmon River murders, sent a courier to Gen. Howard at Lapwai, urging the general to send soldiers to the prairie to prevent an outbreak:

“They say openly that they are going to fight the soldiers when they come to put them on the reservation . . . a good many were in town today trying to get powder and ammunition . . . I believe it will be well for you to send up, as soon as you can, a sufficient force to handle them without gloves . . . sharp and prompt action will bring them to understand that they most comply with the orders of the government.”

On the afternoon of June 14, after Brown had heard of the two murderous raids, he dispatched Lew Day with another urgent message to Lapwai.

But Day was attacked and severely wounded a short distance beyond the Cottonwood House and barely had strength to get back to that station.

Ben Norton and Joe Moore. proprietors of the Cottonwood House, decided to take the family and Day and go to Mount Idaho that night.

John Chamberlin, his wife and one child just then drove in from the Lewiston road with a load of bacon and groceries. Norton’s horses were out at pasture and in their haste they took the worn-out freight team and when dusk came started on their drive across the prairie to Mount Idaho. about 14 miles since there were few fences on the prairie at that time.

About half way across the rolling hills the Indians began their attack and soon the horses were shot down. Chamberlin, his wife and seven-year-old boy tried to escape but were quickly killed. Hill Beachey Norton, 11 years old, and Mrs. Norton’s sister, Lynn Bowers, 14, escaped in the darkness and were found wandering the next morning by Frank Fenn.

Joe Moore was badly wounded and died later at Mount Idaho.

Ben Norton was fatally shot trying to hand water to the feverish Lew Day, who died later at Mount Idaho.

Mrs. Norton was shot through both legs.

The Indians, evidently thinking that the entire party had been wiped out, withdrew toward morning. The dead and wounded in and under the wagon were rescued next morning by a party of heroic men who ran their horses from the vicinity of the Grange hall, cut the harness off the dead horses, tied their ropes to the wagon and rode their horses at full speed, with the wagon bouncing over the rocks, toward the settlement.

The Indians issued from the rocky canyon and gave chase but the rescue was completed. Frank Fenn had gathered up Charles Rice, James Crooks, John Adkison, Doug Adkison and James Adkison to bring in the Nortons.

Brown’s hotel was turned into a hospital and “Aunt Sarah” Brown opened her home to Mrs. Norton and other wounded. They all had the care of the indefatigable Dr. Morris and young women became nurses. Harriett Brown, 19-year-old teacher, niece of L. P. Brown, helped take care of Mrs. Norton, among others, and remembered watching the doctor run a silk handkerchief through Mrs. Norton’s legs with a ramrod.

The day after the war started, on June 15, the first Idaho Volunteers were mustered in at Mount Idaho with three officers and 126 privates. Soon about 260 to 300 people had flocked into Mount Idaho, about 100 families.

A fort was built at the top of the hill north of town and for the first few nights many of the women and children stayed there. The fort was mostly a trench and earthworks, rocks and some fencing with one side made up to four or five feet high with sacks of flour.

Harriet Brown (Adkison) lived to be 101 years old, but even in her last few years remembered helping her fiance, John R. Adkison, mold bullets in the fort one night while Luella Brown, later Mrs. Theodore Swartz Jr., soothed the children and anxious ones by singing some beautiful old songs.

Pat Price had brought in little Maggie Manuel in a rude chair on his back. Only the cross tattooed on his chest saved him and Maggie when the savages caught them on the trail out of the canyon.

Maggie had had part of her tongue cut off so that she could not tell, as the Indians thought, but that did not deter her later as Maggie Bowman, from making an affidavit that she had seen Chief Joseph stab her mother and baby sister to death and had heard her mother call Chief Joseph by name.

(Whether or not Joseph personally entered into the killings is one of the chief controversies of the war.)

Others Arrive

Other wounded and burned-out settlers continued to arrive. In the meantime, in response to L. P. Brown’s urgent message. Col. David Perry and 90 cavalrymen had ridden one day and two nights to reach the hostiles. He had two friendly Nez Perce Indians scouts, Jonah and young Reuben, and was joined by 11 volunteers from Mount Idaho under command of “Major” Robert M. Shearer. (He had served with that rank in the Confederate army.)

Ad Chapman was second in command of the volunteers.

The Indians led the soldiers into an ambush, killed 33 men and one officer, Lt. E. R. Theller. Colonel Perry said that his men, straggling and retreating, carrying their wounded and many riding double, were pursued by the Indians to within four miles of Mount Idaho.

General Howard’s troops came, buried their comrades on the hill and crossed the Salmon River in pursuit of the Indians. The Nez Perces went down the river and crossed back at “Billy’s Crossing” opposite Rocky Canyon and came back upon the prairie on their way to join Chief Looking Glass on the Clearwater.

They ambushed 2nd Lt. Sevier Rains and 10 men on a reconnaissance and killed them to a man. Scout William Foster was killed with the Rains’ party and his companion, Scout Charles Blewett, was killed a short time before.

Lieutenant Rains’ detachment had been wiped out on July 3 and the Indians were making a desperate effort to destroy Perry’s remnant at Cottonwood on July 4. Capt. D. B. Randall of the Mount Idaho volunteer company decided to go to the aid of Colonel Perry, to help him hold off the savages until General Howard could get back out of the Salmon River canyon.

Captain Randall asked for volunteers to scout the area where Rains and his men had been killed and ten men responded. Just then a rider came in from Colonel Perry asking for all the force available and more volunteers came forward.

Wives prayed as Captain Randall rode forth, followed by 1st Lt. James Cearley, 2nd Lt. Lew Wilmot, and Pvts. D. H. Howser, C. W. Case, Charles Johnson, Peter Beemer, Cassius M. Day, Frank A. Fenn, Frank D. Vansise, George Riggins, Ben Evans, A. B. Leland, Ephraim Bunker, A. D. Bartley, James Buchanan and Henry C. Johnson.

These volunteers were soon enveloped by large bands of Indians with the thickest group between Randall’s men and the soldiers. Randall ordered a charge and occupied a knoll and fought the enemy from that position for nearly an hour.

Firing Fierce

Firing was fierce and heavy as the men used their horses for breastworks. George Shearer and his nephew, Paul Guiterman, who had been scouting with the soldiers, dashed out and joined the seventeen.

Some of the volunteers were the best marksmen on the frontier, according to Frank Fenn, and the Indians soon learned to stay at a distance.

After about an hour a detachment of the cavalry under Lieutenant Sheldon dashed out to the volunteer post, but not until Captain Randall and Ben Evans had been killed and Howser, Leland and Charles Johnson had been wounded.

Henry Johnson stated that Randall had received his mortal wound when the charge was made to the knoll. Peter Ready had carried the news of the Rains massacre to General Howard, and Colonel McConville with his Lewiston volunteers and Capt. George Hunter with his Dayton volunteers rushed to Perry’s aid.

The situation was relieved and Captain Hunter brought the dead and wounded back to Mount Idaho.

“Never did men fight such an overwhelming force,” L. P. Brown said of the “Brave Seventeen,” “with a full determination to win or sell their lives as dearly as possible.”

(Whether or not Colonel Perry should have gone to the aid of the volunteers is still one of moot questions of the war.)

Not until after the Battle of the Clearwater, when the combined forces of the Nez Perces under Looking Glass started their retreat into Montana, did the people of Mount Idaho relax.

Some of the Mount Idahoan, took part in the Clearwater battle and drove back hundreds of Indian ponies. The settlers began to move back to their homes, many of them pillaged or burned.

When it was reported that a white man had been seen driving off stock, L. P. Brown said or June 27, “We cannot stand to be robbed by both Indians and whites, and should anyone be caught driving away stock they will need no justice, jury or coroner to pass on the case.”

This was a very strong statement for the kindly, judicious and law-abiding Loyal Brown.

Perhaps one of the few mistakes made by Brown was his refusal to grant a site for a hall for the newly organized Charity Grange, Patrons of Husbandry.

The organizer, Henry Hart Spalding, son of the Rev. Henry Spalding, pioneer Presbyterian missionary at Lapwai, then accepted a site offered by John M. Creeks on Three Mile Creek.

This grange hall, built in 1876 was one of the first, if not the first, in the Pacific Northwest. During the Indian war it was barricaded with logs and served as a fort for the immediate settlers and later became a focal point for the new town of Grangeville.

Many of the returning miners liked what they saw on the prairie and settled there, many of them around Mount Idaho and the new town of Grangeville. Soon the “Grangevillains” began to long for the prestige, the convenience and the business of a county seat and began to campaign for the removal of the courthouse to the new town.

This was the last big battle of Loyal P. Brown’s strenuous career. Loyally and vigorously he accepted the challenge and rallied his people to support Mount Idaho.

The first county seat removal election was held in 1892 and while Grangeville received a majority, 470 to 375, the percentage was not high enough to force the move.

But 10 years later Grangeville won the vote by 2,637 to 743, and Mount Idaho’s rapid deterioration began.

Business Bad

Mount Idaho’s business with the Florence mines had fallen almost to nothing, except for trading with the few Chinese who were working over the old dumps and a few white men who sank shafts.

From 1880 to 1895 it was a dead camp, but then for five years stamp mills were sent in and some rich free-milling gold quartz operations were carried on. Then it faded out.

The Elk City mines kept producing, but most of that business went to Grangeville. The Buffalo Hump boom of 1899-1900 kept hopes alive for a short time.

On April 9, 1896, Loyal P. Brown died at Mount Idaho, less than 67 years of age.

His last few years were handicapped with a growing blindness and the light and guiding genius of the town was gone. But like Montcalm he was spared seeing the surrender of his Quebec. It was a dying town but it grew old, hallowed and gracious.

Abandoned Home – This was one of the fine old homes built at Mount Idaho in the community’s heyday and abandonded when the town died. The picture was taken in May of 1911, when only a relatively few people remained.

For half a century Mount Idaho has lived only in memory. But like the ancient Judean “cities of refuge,” it became a shelter in the time of dire need and after fulfilling its destiny it became just one small leaf in the crumbling pages of history.


source: Adkison, Norman B. (July 1, 1962). “Bustling, booming Mount Idaho now nothing but a ghost town”. Lewiston Morning Tribune. p. 1-sec.2.
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Mount Idaho Cemetery

source: Find a Grave (search by name)
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Mount Idaho 1971


Second Oldest Idaho town historic place

Spokane Daily Chronicle – Oct 27, 1971

(click image for larger size)
– Ruark photos
Jonathan Chamberlin, 29, and his daughter, Hattie, 3, who were killed by the “Nece Perce” Indians on the opening day of the Indian War of 1877, June 14, and James Baker, 74, who was killed one day later, are among those settlers whose graves are in historic Mount Idaho Cemetery.

By Janice Ruark Chronicle Correspondent

Grangeville, Idaho – Three miles southeast of Grangeville at the foot of the mountains and nestled among tall pines is the small community of Mount Idaho.

It is the second oldest town in Idaho County. Florence, now a ghost town, is the oldest.

Mount Idaho had its beginnings as a way station in 1860. It was one of several on the route to the Florence gold mines.

A few years later Mount Idaho was the first county seat of Idaho County. It boasted a substantial courthouse and jail, a good hotel, two stores, a saloon, a Masonic Hall, a furniture store, a flour mill, a post office, two schools and a Chinatown.

The first Republican convention,for the Idaho Territory was held there in 1863. In addressing the convention, L. P. Brown, the town’s main promoter, said that “aside from Lewiston, Mount Idaho is the most important town in North Idaho. It is a sub-supply station for mines on the Clearwater and Salmon rivers; it is the end of the wagon road from Lewiston and the beginning of the toll trail to Florence.”

Only 50 inhabitants live there now. There are no commercial enterprises. The county seat was moved A Orangeville in 1902.

A small well-kept cemetery above the town gives mute evidence to the part the town played in the Nez Perce Indian War which lasted from June to October 1877.

The day after the war broke out 13 officers and 126 privates enlisted for service at Mount Idaho. It was one of the principal bases from which operations were carried on.

On the evening of June 14 the terrified settlers of Camas Prairie flocked here and remained at the fort al Mount Idaho until the war was over. The hotel was turned into a hospital for the wounded.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce is quoted as saying of the brief war: “If General Howard had given me plenty of time to gather up my stock and had treated Toohulhulsuit as a man should be treated, there would have been no war. My friends among the white men have blamed me for this war. I am not to blame. When my young men began the killing, my heart hurt. Although I did not justify them I remember the insults I had endured and my blood was on fire. Still I would have taken my people to the buffalo country without fighting if possible. I could see no other way to avoid a war.”

link to full article:

source: Ruark, Janice (October 27, 1971). “Idaho town historic place”. Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 5.
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Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain

Chief Joseph (Photo: MPI/Getty Images)
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See also: Idaho History Nov 12 Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]

Idaho History Aug 26

Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

(Part 3)

Lewiston Mount Idaho Wagon Road

The Lewiston-Mountain House [Mount Idaho] Wagon Road began in Lewiston, Idaho and ended at Mount Idaho, some 75 miles later. The route climbed out of the Snake River Canyon, crossed through the Craig Mountain area and ended at the eastern edge of the Camas Prairie. It was used by miners, trappers, gamblers, outlaws, girls of the night, immigrants, farmers, merchants, the Chinese, and the U. S. Army. The road was a major route into Idaho County from the spring of 1862 to June of 1924.

The Lewiston-Mountain House Road from Mount Idaho to Cottonwood has been obliterated by farming. Most evidence of the road has succumbed to the plow. However, some evidence might be found where the road crossed Shebang Creek.

(click image for larger size)
This picture taken northwest of Cottonwood on the Lewiston-Mountain House [Mount Idaho] Road Courtesy of the Idaho County Genealogy Society

(click image for larger size)
Stage coach leaving Grangeville, Courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society (copyrighted)

(click image for larger size)
Mr. Jackson with coach in front of Jersey Hotel, Grangeville, Idaho. Courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society (copyrighted)

source: Lewiston-Mountain House Wagon Road, The Mapping And Location Of The Road And Associated Sites In Idaho County, For the Idaho County Historic Preservation Commission, & Idaho State Historical Society, Assessment prepared by James G. Huntley, Winter of 2013-2014
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North Idaho Stage Lines Lewiston-Grangeville-Mount Idaho

Mining excitements at Florence, Elk city and other interior locations bordering the Salmon River created a need for adequate transportation routes. Lewiston became the supply headquarters for the new mines and Mount Idaho the dispersal point. Suitable wagon and stage roads soon developed between those two points, but beyond Mount Idaho pack trains remained the standard for supplying the mines until the emergence of wagon roads in the 1890’s. Following the Nez Perce War in 1877, Camas Prairie rapidly developed as an important agricultural and stock area and Grangeville became the leading town, eventually surpassing Mount Idaho as the dispersal point for the interior mining camps.

In the summer of 1862, Francis and Company initiated a stage line between Lewiston and Mount Idaho. Way stations emerged at Sweetwater (run by James Donnelly), Mason Prairie (C. W. Durkee and George Crampton), Cottonwood (Mr. Allen), and Mount Idaho (Mose Milner and his partner Francois).
(Idaho County Free Press, July 27, 1888, p. 4, c. 1-2, hereafter cited as ICFP)

The following May C. W. Durkee and George Crampton began a semi-weekly stage line to Mount Idaho. They ran the line with Concord coaches and carried Wells, Fargo & Co.’s express. The fare was $15 and their stage office was located in the Luna House.
(The Golden Age [Lewiston], August 8, 1863, p. 3, c. 6)

In the fall of 1863, George Crampton sold his share in the line and returned to Boston. Durkee also sold his share and traveled to Burnt River in Oregon, where he started the popular station known as Express Ranch. Frank Shissler succeeded the pair and continued to run the Camas Prairie line.
(History of North Idaho, p. 389.)

The success of a stage line depended upon the owner receiving the government mail contract, which was periodically placed open for bids. If a stage owner failed to receive the bid, he was usually obliged to sell his outfit to the successful bidder. Often individuals not familiar with the terrain and weather conditions would receive the bid, but soon let the contract lapse after realizing the folly of a low bid. Sometimes, though, the successful bidder would sublet the contract to the current owner and still be able to realize a small profit.

The Walla Walla, Washington, paper in March of 1864 noted, “New Mail Contract.–The former contractor having failed to fulfill his contract, the Department of Washington has made a new contract with Capt. John Mullan to carry mails from here to Lewiston, Oro Fino, Florence, Colville and Helgate. New contract will be effective in April.”
(Washington Statesman, March 26, 1864, p. 3, c. 1)

Between 1859 and 1862, Mullan had been in charge of the construction of a military road between Fort Benton, Montana, and Walla Walla, Washington, which became known as the Mullan Road. He would later attempt to start a stage between Boise and the South Boise mines and one from Silver City to California. In the spring of 1870, the Lewiston and Warrens mail contract was let to Samuel Phinney for $2,575 a year.
(Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, April 12, 1870, p. 2, c. 3)

By 1874 Ezra Baird and his two brothers, Lewis and William, were running an express line between Lewiston and Warrens. They operated stages to Mount Idaho and provided saddle horses for the remainder of the journey.
(The Northern [Lewiston], September 12, 1874, p. 1, c. 3)

… In 1878 L. Dunwell and D. Merrill received the mail contract and purchased the stage and stock of the Baird brothers.
(Lewiston Teller, June 28, 1878, p. 3, c. 1)

The new company placed the following advertisement in the Teller: Dunwell & Morrill, proprietors of the Lewiston and Mount Idaho Stage line, transacting business with Wells, Fargo & Co.’s Express. Also carrying the U.S. Mail from Lewiston to the above named places, and intermediate points. Always supplied with the best of horses, coaches and “accommodating drivers,” never failing to go through on time. Transportation of passengers, treasure, collections, orders &c made a specialty, and any and all business entrusted to them will be attended to promptly. Tri-weekly trips to and from Lewiston, I. T. and Mount Idaho, I. T. Leave Lewiston 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Leave Mount Idaho at 5 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday & Friday of each week, make weekly connections with the expressmen from the upper mining camps.
(July 5, 1878, p. 2, c. 5)

Winter travel was often hazardous for stage drivers, and in January 1879 the upward-bound stage became lost in a snowstorm between Cottonwood and Grangeville. The driver wandered around all night on the prairie and did not arrive at Mount Idaho until after dawn. The newspaper article describing this ordeal noted: “Who would not be a stage driver at $50 per month.”
(Ibid., January 17, 1879, p. 3, c. 2)

In August 1879 the Teller mentioned the possibility of a new route to Grangeville from Lewiston. “We learn that it is contemplated soon to have opened a new route to Camas Prairie via Waha Lake and along the mountains south of the traveled road just this side of Cottonwood.”
(August 15, 1879, p. 3, c. 1)

In January 1880 the Utah, Idaho and Oregon Stage Company received the mail contract and John Hailey, superintendent of the line, arrived in Lewiston to make the necessary arrangements. The company hired Ezra Baird to carry the mail at $20 per day on a temporary basis. Baird set out and stocked the road in order that the mail could be carried through in one day on a daily schedule.
(Ibid., January 30, 1880, p. 3, c. 1)

After Dunwell & Co. lost the contract to Hailey’s company, residents of Camas Prairie passed a resolution praising the fine stage and mail service provided them by Dunwell and asked the sheriff to find him a good job.
(Ibid., February 6, 1880, p. 4, c. 1-2)

In the spring of 1881 a Chinese was running a four-horse team and presumably would also haul passengers for a price.
(Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, April 23, 1881, p. 3, c. 1)

By April 1881, the Lewiston and Mount Idaho line was owned and operated by the Baird Brothers. They made daily trips, Sunday excepted, and left Lewiston at 3 a.m. and Mount Idaho at 5 a.m., arriving at both places by 6 p.m. They maintained an office in Lewiston at the Raymond House.
(Nez Perce News [Lewiston] April 28, 1881, p. 1, c. 3)

On May 16, 1881, Loyal P. Brown, a prominent Mount Idaho businessman, purchased the stage line from the Baird brothers and kept the line on the same schedule as that of the previous owners. Brown maintained an office at the Hotel de France in Lewiston.
(Ibid., May 19, 1881, p. 2, c. 2; May 26, 1881, p. 3, c. 2)

Baird kept his hand in the stage business and commissioned L. Wiggins and a Mr. Wishard to construct some new coaches.
(Lewiston Teller, June 30, 1881, p. 3, c. 2)

In the spring of 1882, a Mr. Campherson of San Francisco received the mail contract between Lewiston and Mount Idaho for $2,780. Apparently, he never became actively involved with the route, as in August Postmaster Hunt, of Lewiston, received a telegram from Washington authorizing temporary service on the daily route at the rate of $5,000 per year or $16 for each round trip. Ezra Baird again returned to the line and started on the road to perform the service while the roads were still in good condition.
(Ibid., March 16, 1882, p. 3, c. 1; August 10, 1882, p. 3, c. 1)

In August 1884, G. D. Smith was operating the line and ran the following ad in the Teller: “Lewiston to Mt. Idaho Stage Line. Transacting business with Wells, Fargo & Co.’s Express. Also carrying the U.S. Mail from Lewiston to the above named place, and intermediate points. Always supplied with the best of horses, coaches and accommodating drivers. Never failing to go through on time. Transportation of passengers, treasure, collections, orders &c. Daily trips (Sunday excepted), to and from Lewiston and Mount Idaho, I. T. Leaves Lewiston at 3 a.m. and leaves Mount Idaho 5 a.m. Agents – Lewiston, E. J. Bonore, post office bldg.; H. Titman, Grangeville; L. P. Brown, Mt. Idaho.”
(August 14, 1884, p. 1, c. 4)

In February 1886, L. P. Brown was back at the helm of the line and the Nez Perce News complimented Brown on the efficiency of his operation.
(February 4, 1886, p. 5, c. 1)

The Free Press on August 6, 1886, p. 1, c. 3, remarked: “The Hon. L. P. Brown is determined that the efficiency of his stage line not be allowed to retrograde. Several fine hacks have been placed on the route lately, the stock is in excellent condition, and is cleverly handled by those efficient and gentlemanly drivers, George Anderson and Steve Fenn. We learn the former has been steadily ‘throwing the braid’ for the last eighteen months.”

In the summer of 1886, Brown traveled along the new Lake Waha road to ascertain the feasibility of transferring his stage to that route. “He says it can easily be made a good road and will do much to stimulate settlement on that part of the mountain. The Nez Perce county commissioners have already appropriated $200 to be used on their side just as soon as viewers from both counties can meet on the county line and arrange a point of departure each way.”
(Ibid., August 27, 1886, p. 1, c. 3)

In October 1887, Brown applied to the Interior Department for permission to establish a stage station on the Nez Perce Indian reservation at Willow Creek. The erection of this station was to insure that the mail would not be stopped by a build-up of snow on the mountain, as had happened in the past.
(Ibid., October 21, 1887, p. 1, c. 4)

An early spring thaw allowed the stages to begin their summer schedule on May 1, 1888, with Jay Rhoads and Neil McMillan handling the driving duties.
(Ibid., May 4, 1888, p. 1, c. 4)

The popularity of a stage line was often determined by the food and conversation served at the stage stops. The Free Press on March 22, 1889, p. 1, c. 5, wrote: “The eating houses on the stage road between the Prairie and Lewiston were never in better hands and it is now almost a pleasure to travel. At Riley Dixon’s and at Fountain’s, the tables are liberally supplied with substantial food and excellent service.”

A change of mail contracts in 1889 saw Felix Warren take charge of the line on July 1. He bought all the stock of the former owner and prepared to run the line until the new mail contracts were let the following year.
(Ibid., July 12, 1889, p. 1, c. 6)

Warren soon hired John Lemmon, a former division agent for the Northwestern Stage Company who had at one time managed Rattlesnake Station on the Overland Road, to oversee the Lewiston and Mt. Idaho Line. The Free Press noted that “Felix now owns every stage line running out of Lewiston except the Asotin and Pierce City routes, and he has bought Baird Bros. stable in addition. He is a rustler and a thorough stage man.”
(July 19, 1889, p. 1, c. )

In September the stage made its first trip over the Lake Waha route and the Free Press commented: “The stage was three hours late Monday evening. The trip was made for the first time ever over the new road and was found to be too rough for the mechanism of the vehicle, consequently there was a breakdown on the other side of Mason and the rest of the distance had to be traversed in a lumber wagon.
(September 20, 1889, p. 1, c. 4)

Despite this setback, Warren reported that the stage would continue to travel the new road and take in the Lake Waha and Tammany settlements.
(Ibid., September 27, 1889, p. 1, c. 3)

Further changes were made in the road in November: “Another change in the stage, throwing it still further to the southward, has been made on the Cottonwood side, and if the stage drivers were not Sunday school graduates they would swear lustily at having to break new roads so frequently.”
(Ibid., November 1, 1889, p. 1, c. 5)

The Free Press reported: “Stage men and passengers claim that the new stage route via Waha Lake and on the Willow creek is superior to the old route across the reservation. They find settlers all along the route and much more business and some claim it is a shorter distance.”
(December 13, 1889, p. 1, c. 6)

In May 1890 Warren hired Charley W. Austin to assume the management of all his stage lines.
(Ibid., May 30, 1890, p. 1, c. 5)

During the winter of 1891-1892 grain and freight haulers used the old stage road, and in April 1892 the stages once again resumed operations over the old road by way of Spring Ranch and Sweetwater.
(Ibid., March 18, 1892, p. 4, c. 2; April 22, 1892, p. 1, c. 5)

In the summer of 1892, a Mr. Graham, of Moscow, began a stage line to the Prairie from Lewiston. He planned to put on four horses between Lewiston and Denver and a fast team from the latter place to Grangeville.
(Ibid., August 12, 1892, p. 1, c. 5)

In the spring of 1893 Felix Warren was planning big changes for his stage operations. “Felix Warren has traded his Pomeroy and Lewiston Stage line to C. A. Lundy for the latter’s Elk City route. Felix talks of putting on a four-horse team and coach between Lewiston and Grangeville when the summer schedule goes into effect, and arriving here at six o’clock sharp, every evening. He also contemplates putting in a barn, feed yard and livery stable here, to feed his stage stock, and also the horses he has bought for his new saddle train and express line he is going to run between Grangeville and Elk City this spring. If Felix carries out these improvements he will mount the pedestal of fame at a single leap, and all hands this way will rise up and bless him as a public benefactor.”
(Ibid., March 31, 1893, p. 1, c. 6)

The following month Warren disposed of all his stage lines with the exception of the Lewiston-to-Grangeville and Grangeville-to-Elk City lines. He made arrangements to make Grangeville the headquarters for the two lines and planned to put on four horses and Concord coaches on the Grangeville and Lewiston run. Until completion of the wagon road, he would continue to run a saddle train to Elk City.
(Ibid., May 12, 1893, p. 1, c. 5; July 7, 1893, p. 1, c. 3)

Another change in the stage road occurred in May and the Free Press remarked, “the new road now traverses a wet, soft and marshy lane lying on the north side of Dave Yates’ and the south of the land owned by the Denver syndicate. A softer piece of ground than this land cannot be found on Camas Prairie; and it can never be made into a good road . . . .” (Ibid., May 5, 1893, p. 4, c. 2) The article further commented that the road had only been opened a few days and already numerous teams had mired in the mud at the side.

In May 1893 John Riggins began a competitive Grangeville-to-Lewiston line. He ran four-horse stages three times a week and made connections with the steamers in Lewiston. The stage left both places in the morning and met on the mountain. Here passengers were exchanged and each driver returned to his place of origin.
(Ibid., May 12, 1893, p. 1, c. 5; July 7, 1893, p. 1, c. 3)

By the fall of 1893, Warren was running stages from Lewiston to Mount Idaho, Uniontown, Pomeroy, and Moscow. His Lewiston-to-Mount Idaho line made four stops to change horses. The noon dinner stop was at Soldiers Meadow, where the meal was served by Mrs. Smalls and Mrs. Warren.
(Lewiston Tribune, October 5, 1893, p. 2, c. 6)

In January 1894 another change of ownership for the mail contract transpired; “C. F. Taylor, of San Francisco, has been awarded the mail contract from Lewiston to Mount Idaho for the four years commencing July 1, 1894, for the sum of $2,600 per year. The present contractor gets $3,400 per year for the same service. We presume Mr. Taylor intends making a horseback route of it. It is a matter of indifference to our people whether our mail comes in a stage or a wheelbarrow. All we ask is that it shall be delivered on time.”
(ICFP, January 5, 1894, p. 1, c. 6)

In April 1894 Grangeville was made the distributing post office for Idaho County and Felix Warren reduced his stage fares between Grangeville and Lewiston from $8 to $6 one way, and $12 to $9 round trip.
(Ibid., April 13, 1894, p. 1, c. 6; April 20, 1894, p. 4, c. 2)

Also during April, Warren changed his office from Pearson & Bonebrake’s to the Jersey House with Auchinvole & Fitzgerald as agents.
(Ibid., April 27, 1894, p. 1, c. 6)

C. F. Taylor, after receiving the mail bid, must have had second thoughts after investigating the line, as “Felix Warren has signed the contract papers to carry the mails between Lewiston and Mt. Idaho for four years ending July 1, 1898. He has bought two fine Concord coaches costing $450 each, and is going to hook on six white horses and a spotted dog to each coach and otherwise run the line as it ought to be run. The government allows $570 per year compensation for the new Sunday service. Felix promises the best stage service we have ever had.”
(Ibid., May 25, 1894, p. 1, c. 3)

In June Warren reported the roads in bad condition over the mountain and that a storm had blown down forty-one big pine trees at his place on Soldier Meadows.
(Ibid., June 15, 1894, p. 1, c. 3)

In order to better outfit his line, he ordered the construction of two new Concord coaches from a firm in Stockton, California.
(Lewiston Tribune, July 26, 1894, p. 4, c. 1)

By March 1895, new owners were once again in charge of the route. Messrs. Baird & Stonebreaker, proprietors of the Lewiston and Mt. Idaho Stage line, are progressive wide-a-wake and up-to-date men. Their latest move is to transfer their coaches and stock to the Fountain route for the accommodation of passengers and through freight, thus saving from two to four hours travel, both coming and going. When summer schedule goes into effect they will take breakfast in Lewiston at 6 a.m., have an early dinner at Fountains’s, and put their passengers up in Grangeville in good time for supper . . . . The way mail will come by Waha in a light rig so that passengers will not be delayed by stoppages at small offices on the mountain. Covered coaches and four or six horses if required will be on the route at all times.
(ICFP, March 9, 1895, p. 1, c. 3)

Baird and Stonebreaker’s winter schedule called for the stages to leave Lewiston at 4 a.m. and arrive in Cottonwood at 5 a.m., leave Cottonwood at 5 a.m., and arrive in Grangeville at 9 a.m. On the return trip the stages left Grangeville at 2 p.m. and arrived in Cottonwood at 6 p.m. They left Cottonwood at 5 a.m. and arrived in Lewiston at 6 a.m.
(Ibid,, March 15, 1895, p. 4, c. 5)

In May Ezra Baird purchased Stonebraker’s interest in the line and planned to run it by himself. “The service by way of Fountain’s will be discontinued, and Mr. Baird will devote his entire attention to putting mails and passengers through by way of Waha promptly on schedule time. The summer service is now in effect, so that travelers can leave Lewiston in the morning and take an early supper in Grangeville. The same coaches and four-horse teams will be continued right along.”
(Ibid., May 13, 1895, p. 1, c. 4)

The summer schedule had the stage leaving Lewiston at 4 a.m., arriving Cottonwood at 3 p.m., arriving Denver at 5 p.m. and reaching Grangeville at 6 p.m. The return stage left Grangeville at 4 a.m., arrived in Denver at 5:30 p.m., made a stop in Cottonwood at 7 a.m., and reached Lewiston at 5 p.m.
(Ibid., May 10, 1895, p. 4, c. 4)

In November the Free Press made note of the winter schedule: “From Lewiston, by Waha, Forest, Westlake, Cottonwood, Denver and Grangeville to Mt. Idaho, 69.50 miles and back, seven times a week. Leave Lewiston daily at 12 m., arrive Waha by 6 p.m. Leave Waha at 5 a.m., arrive Grangeville by 6 p.m. Leave Grangeville at 6 a.m., arrive Waha by 6 p.m. Leave Waha at 6 a.m., arrive Lewiston by 12 m.”
(Free Press November 29, 1895, p. 4, c. 3)

In April 1897 the Free Press reported another change of ownership:

Jerry S. Baker and Frank Coston have purchased from Ezra Baird the Lewiston and Mt. Idaho Stage line and took possession yesterday. Mr. Baird has been running the line in good style, with good stock and frequent changes, and Mr. Baker assures us that the new proprietors will keep running it right up to the handle, with new stock and will himself be over the road twice a week to give his personal attention to all the details. Messrs. Baker and Coston also own the stage line from Grangeville to Florence and will operate both together. They are both experts on stage business and will do their best to give the public good satisfaction.
(Free Press April 16, 1897, p. 4, c. 1)

Apparently the deal with Baker and Coston failed to materialize, as the next month the line was reported as having been sold by Baird to Felix Warren. (Ibid., May 14, 1897, p. 1, c. 5) In October the Free Press wrote, “Felix Warren was over the road last week. He is erecting a fine barn at Soldier Meadows with the intention of making Meadows the stopping place for the stage over night, after December 1, instead of Lake Waha as heretofore. This should insure you an earlier arrival of your mail during the winter.”
(Free Press October 15, 1897, p. 4, c. 2)

The following month the stage changed to its winter schedule. This meant that the stage left Lewiston at 1 p.m., spent the night at Waha Lake, and arrived in Grangeville the following night. On the return trip the stage left Grangeville about 5 a.m., laid over at Waha, and reached Lewiston in the forenoon.
(Ibid., November 24, 1897, p. 1, c. 4)

In December the stage to Lewiston was held up by a couple of inexperienced robbers. The driver threw down the mail sacks as ordered but kept the locked mail pouch under his feet. After relieving two passengers of $28.30, the robbers left the scene. A halfbreed named Frush and his accomplice Dan Hurley were arrested soon after the incident occurred.
(Ibid., December 31, 1897, p. 1, c. 5)

By the summer of 1898, the line had been purchased by the Idaho, Nevada and California Stage Company. “W. E. Travis, of Salt Lake, who is connected with the Idaho, Nevada and California Stage Co., is in Lewiston. He has purchased the Mt. Idaho line from Felix Warren and in the future his company will handle the mails and passenger traffic between Lewiston and the Idaho County towns. He states he will immediately put new wagons and horses into service and make available the best of accommodations possible for passengers.”
(Lewiston Tribune, July 2, 1898, p. 2, c. 6; August 26, 1898, p. 5, c. 1)

The Tribune noted the following activities of the new owners along the line: “W. E. Travis, owner of the Lewiston-Mt. Idaho stage, arrived in Lewiston with three stage coaches, three large hacks and sixteen head of horses which he will put immediately on the line. He has decided to establish a relay station seven miles from Lewiston at the Nelson farm in Tammany Hollow thereby providing a change of fresh stock between Lewiston and Waha. From Waha, the stations will be fifteen miles apart. He hopes to reduce running time by three hours.
(September 30, 1898, p. 4, c. 6)

In July O. E. Clough, of Cottonwood, provided the new company with a little competition by running a four-horse covered passenger rig between Grangeville and Lewiston, but his efforts did not last long.
(ICFP, July 22, 1898, p. 1, c. 4)

In September, W. E. Travis ordered four coaches and fourteen horses delivered to Grangeville for use on the line. The horses and coaches arrived in Grangeville the last part of September and were immediately placed into service. Travis informed the Free Press that he would put on stations every twelve miles and run the line on schedule time or go broke in the effort.
(Ibid., September 23, 1898, p. 1, c. 3; September 30, 1898, p. 1, c. 5)

Travis reported the establishment of a new station at the Nelson farm in Tammany Hollow and related that the stage would continue to come through from Lewiston in a day as long as the weather permitted. He made Grangeville the terminus of the line for passengers and planned to deliver the Mount Idaho mail by horseback.
(Ibid., October 7, 1898, p. 1, c. 4)

With the coming of the railroad, the Free Press noted the following decline in areas formerly serviced by stage: “The stage system of Lewiston has been generally reorganized. The Leland and reservation mails now go by train to Spalding and are from there distributed to the reservation points. The Mt. Idaho stage now leaves at 6 a.m. and goes through to Cottonwood in one day and to Grangeville and Mt. Idaho the next day. Lewiston’s stage days are becoming things of the past. The Mt. Idaho line is the only one that is a public necessity. It is increased in importance. The others are auxiliary connecting links, that are only shadows of former importance.”
(December 9, 1898, p. 2, c. 5)

As noted, other stage lines declined in popularity with the coming of the railroad, but the Grangeville route continued to gain in popularity, if only temporarily. “Two stages will go out this morning on the Mt. Idaho line loaded with passengers, says the Lewiston Tribune. Mr. Travis bought twenty-four head of stock yesterday for his line, and expects two of his new stages today from California. In a few days two stages will be run regularly every day.”
(Ibid., March 10, 1899, p. 2, c. 2)

Most of the increased traffic on the line was due to the discovery of rich quartz at Buffalo Hump in August 1898, and Grangeville became the jumping-off place for the new mines. In March the stage company was forced to hire an extra four-horse rig at Cottonwood to handle an overflow of passengers heading for the new mines.
(Ibid., March 17, 1899, p. 2, c. 2)

Since the stage did not go to Mount Idaho, Bibby & Jerome started a line between Grangeville and Mount Idaho in an attempt to receive some of the passengers heading for the Hump.
(Ibid., March 24, 1899, p. 3, c. 7)

In April W. E. Travis reported that his company had added three more stations, Westlake, Denver, and Meadows. He also stated that the distance between stations was not more than twelve miles.
(Ibid., April 7, 1899, p. 3, c. 7)

During the same month Travis and veteran stage driver Felix Warren made an inspection trip over the line. Travis reported that the company had 100 head of horses on the line between Lewiston and Grangeville and that he had purchased 65 more head. “He now runs six horses from Lewiston to Waha, four from Waha over the snow to Westlake and six from Westlake to Grangeville. Additional stations have been established at Tammany, Soldier Meadows, Westlake and Denver, making seven changes in all or an average of nine miles between stations along the 65 mile route. . . .”
(Ibid., April 14, 1899, p. 2, c. 3)

The company also ran a six-horse baggage wagon three times a week and boasted of having three of the largest and best coaches that money could buy, each holding seventeen passengers.

The Free Press remarked: “There are two stage roads from Lewiston to this place, one known as the mail route running through the mountains by way of Waha Lake and the other coming around to the north and east via the Fountain road. The latter road is a little shorter than the main line and passengers are given their choice of the two routes. It requires about the same amount of time on each as the Fountain line joins the mail route at Westlake. First stop is at Nelson’s, 8 miles out–next is Waha Lake–steepest part of route is beyond Waha, stage next stops at Meadows–goes on to supper stop at Westlake, here passengers from the Fountain road join forces–Stop at Cottonwood and Denver–One way fare is $6.50. Two stage companies are operating between the two points.”
(Ibid., April 28, 1899, p. 3, c. 3)

W. E. Travis placed the following advertisement in the Lewiston Tribune: The Idaho, Nevada and California Stage Co. daily service from Lewiston to Grangeville and intermediate points, making close connections at Grangeville for the Buffalo Hump Mining District. This line affords a daily service to all the following points: Buffalo Hump, via Florence, Slate Creek, Adams Camp, Mt. Idaho and Grangeville: Buffalo Hump via Badger, Elk City, Bridgeport, Grangeville, Denver, Cottonwood, Westlake, Morrow and Waha Lake. C. F. Leland, General Agent, Lewiston. Six-horse stock, seventeen passenger coaches, Buffalo to Lewiston in 36 hours, all daylight travel. First class eating stations. W. E. Travis, General Manager, Salt Lake City, Utah.
(May 24, 1899, special edition to paper in magazine form. Cited in Elsensohn, V. I, P. 202.)

Travis also hired Felix Warren as superintendent of the line. Following a tour of inspection along the route, Warren stated that in the future the stage would start from Grangeville at 6 a.m. and make the trip to Lewiston in thirteen hours.
(ICFP, May 19, 1899, p. 4, c. 4)

An opposition line, the Lewiston and Buffalo Hump Stage Company, advertised a twelve-hour trip between Lewiston and Grangeville made in the comfort of Concord coaches. This company maintained its office in Lewiston at the corner of 5th and C streets and another at the Great Northern Express office.
(Lewiston Tribune, June 2, 1899, p. 2, c. 6)

In July, L. J. Dimmick, who had been running a stage between Grangeville and Mount Idaho, discontinued the line to devote his time to freighting.
(ICFP, July 21, 1899, p. 4, c. 3)

The following month, the Wilson Stage Line, which had been operating a stage line between Lewiston and Grangeville, also discontinued service. The stock used on this line were sent to British Columbia. Travis responded to this notice by stating that his company would soon begin supplying a six-horse service along the route and noting that all of his coaches had recently been refurbished.
(Lewiston Tribune, August 4, 1899, p. 3, c. 2)

In February 1900 W. E. Travis announced that his company would move all their equipment to Grangeville as soon as the Clearwater Short Line reached Stuart (known as Kooskia by 1902). At that time he would establish a daily service between Stuart and Grangeville, a distance of eighteen miles. He noted that arrangements had already been perfected to bring Camas Prairie mail from Lewiston to Stuart. He also planned to start a railroad ticket office in Grangeville and remarked that the people of the Prairie would no longer have to endure a long stage ride when traveling to Lewiston.
(Ibid., February 2, 1900, p. 1, c. 5)

In May the Free Press reported: “Commencing on Monday last [April 30] the stage left Lewiston at 4 a.m. and arrived at Grangeville the same night. This is the regular summer schedule and will be maintained until such time as the mails are sent to the Prairie by way of the Clearwater Short Line railroad.” (May 4, 1900, p. 1, c. 5) The following week the Free Press continued its report on the progress of the railroad and noted: “In a short time the stage company will discontinue hauling passengers over the Craig’s mountain route and will devote its energies to the line between Grangeville and Stuart. Until arrangements can be made with the postal department mails will continue to be brought over Craig’s mountain in a two-horse rig.”
(May 11, 1900, p. 2, c. 2)

Arrangements were soon negotiated with the postal authorities and mail for the Prairie began arriving on the train at Stuart about June 25. The Idaho, Nevada, and California Stage Co. At that time began hauling the mail and passengers on its stages between Stuart and Grangeville. At the same time, W. E. Travis reported that his company had received the mail contract between Grangeville and Florence and would be running a daily stage from Stuart to Florence. He would also arrange for stages to run from Adams Camp direct to Buffalo Hump.
(Ibid., June 22, 1900, p. 1, c. 4)

When the railway reached Stites in September, the stage company began running their line from that point.
(Ibid., September 7, 1900, p. 1, c. 4)

In the winter of 1902, Felix Warren received the mail contract between Lewiston and Cottonwood with a bid of $2,416 per year. He responded with an announcement that he would put on a daily stage line between the two points and take in many of the towns along the Culdesac-to-Grangeville extension of the Northern Pacific railroad. He ordered a new coach and planned to leave Lewiston every morning at 5 a.m., making stops at Tammany, Williams stage station, Morrow, Ferdinand, Cottonwood, Denver, and Grangeville. He also promised to put on an extra coach during the fruit season if the express proved too heavy for the regular coach.
(Ibid., April 25, 1907, p. 3, c. 2)

When the extension of the Northern Pacific railway reached Grangeville in December, 1908, the days of the daily horse-drawn stage between Grangeville and Lewiston were over. The train hauled its first passengers between the two towns on December 9, 1908. The train left Grangeville at 7 a.m. and arrived in Lewiston at 11:25 a.m. The return trip left Lewiston at 2 p.m. and reached Grangeville at 6:45 p.m.
(Ibid., December 10, 1908, p. 4, c. 4)

An era was over. After nearly fifty years of operation, horse-drawn stage coaches between Grangeville had become an item for old-timers to reminisce about at family gatherings and reunions.

The arrival of the automobile soon gave the railway some competition by offering an alternative form of travel. In the summer of 1915 S. C. Henderson initiated an auto stage between Grangeville and Lewiston. He made his first trip on Sunday, July 4. He announced that he would leave the Imperial Hotel at seven in the morning in his Winston Six and return from Lewiston at 2 p.m.
(Ibid., July 8, 1915, p. 8, c. 2)

On June 29, 1920, W. G. Peacock started an automobile stage line between the two towns, making a daily round-trip run. He left the Imperial Hotel at 7 a.m. and passed through the towns of Fenn, Cottonwood, Westlake, Forest, and Waha. He arrived at the Bollinger Hotel in Lewiston at 11 a.m. and started on his return trip at 2 p.m.
(Ibid., July 1, 1920, p. 1, c. 4)

Peacock continued to run his auto stage through the summer of 1921.
(Ibid., May 19, 1921, p. 1, c. 3)

During 1921, he encountered some competition from the 560 Transportation Company, which also offered a daily service to Lewiston. Their auto left Lewiston at 7 a.m. and reached Grangeville at 11:30 a.m. It left Grangeville at 1 p.m. and arrived in Lewiston at 6 p.m., making stops at Cottonwood, Ferdinand, Craigmont, Culdesac, Sweetwater, and Lapwai.
(Ibid., May 12, 1921, p. 5, c. 1)

As automobiles became cheaper and road systems improved, the small auto stages soon disappeared. Those who did not own an automobile could either ride the train or the vehicles of companies that began to offer a bus service throughout the state and nation.

source: North Idaho Stage Lines Lewiston-Grangeville-Mount Idaho, Idaho Historical Reference Series Number 814, 1985, Prepared by Larry R. Jones
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A stagecoach connection in Stites, 1907


source: Idaho County Free Press, Lauri Chapman, September 30, 2016
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Building the North South Highway

By the mid-1860s, two routes existed to get to Florence, the hotbed of mining, from the north. The first brought travelers south from Lewiston across the Camas Prairie, over White Bird Hill, and down the Salmon River to Slate Creek, where they turned up into the mountains to access Florence. The other route turned east from a point much further north on the prairie near what is now the town of Grangeville, and headed over Mount Idaho via the “Mose Milner” trail, constructed by Moses Milner in 1862.

Both routes charged users a $1 toll per pack or saddle animal.

… On February 5, 1889, the Idaho Territorial Legislature passed the Mount Idaho to Little Salmon Meadows Wagon Road Act financed by $50,000 in 20-year bonds. The act provided for state financing to cover the cost of the route’s initial construction, but required counties to continue maintenance. The press lauded the legislation, but the proposed route was controversial. The approved route originated at Idaho County’s Mount Idaho, the county seat, and traveled south via Florence and Warm Springs Resort (Burgdorf), then west to Little Salmon Meadows (Meadows) in Washington County, bypassing the Little Salmon River entirely.

(figure 2)

The state intended for this route to open more areas to settlement, connect the two regions of the territory, and provide easy transport of military supplies and troops in the event of Indian uprisings. But detractors felt that this mountainous route was far less sensible than the course of the proposed military road, which would have meandered lower along the Little Salmon River. Some felt that Governor Norman Willey’s experience as a prospector in Warren, a town more easily accessed by the mountain route, had unduly influenced the route selection.

Despite the controversy, the U.S. Congress ratified the Idaho territorial wagon road legislation in May 1890. Following Idaho’s admittance to the Union on July 3, 1890, the state legislature began taking bids for what came to be called the Mount Idaho-Little Salmon Meadows Wagon Road or hereafter the Mount Idaho Road. This route traveled from Payette Lake up and over Secesh Summit, past Burgdorf, and down to the Salmon River’s confluence with French Creek, well above the river’s confluence with the Little Salmon. Here, it crossed the Salmon River and continued north to Florence. Work on this road commenced immediately and continued to push through the ridges and valleys east of the Little Salmon River for the next few years.

As road construction progressed up in the mountains, advocates for the alternate route along the Little Salmon River did not give up their cause. The Mount Idaho Road did open rough access to mining areas (though it was incomplete), but the state still needed a road that easily facilitated settler access, and, perhaps more importantly, would remain open even during winter and inclement weather.

In January 1893, the State Legislature debated wagon road legislation that included a provision to connect Meadows with Riggins via a branch road along the Little Salmon. Riggins itself was already connected to Mount Idaho by the Salmon River Road. The measure passed, but required Idaho County to supply some of the funding. As Idaho County stalled, the state completed surveys of new state wagon routes, including a road that would connect the Salmon River Road with Meadows via the Little Salmon River rather than the mountains. The State Wagon Road Commission began advertising and awarding bids for construction of the road from Riggins south towards Meadows.

By February 1894, however, Idaho County still had not supplied any funds and the State Wagon Road Commission let half the contracts go. Road building stopped near Pollock, leaving the canyon along the Little Salmon River still untouched. The road gap between Meadows and Riggins had narrowed, but transportation between the two towns still required travelers to brave an incomplete road through the mountains. [This gap is represented on figure 2 above as the yellow area labeled “Little Salmon Canyon.”] In 1895, private parties took it upon themselves to connect Meadows and Pollock with a trail along the surveyed Little Salmon River wagon route. The trail allowed travel along the west bank of the Little Salmon River, but was not wide enough to be a road.

At this point it was clear to many in Idaho that the mountainous north-south route had been a mistake. The rugged terrain and wild water the Mount Idaho Road was supposed to traverse challenged engineers and the high elevation near Florence on the north side of the Salmon River and Warrens on the south meant long winters, which hampered road building. The state’s impassable route between north and south Idaho permitted the divide between the two regions of the state to persist.

Meadows to Riggins Travel Timeline

Meadows, Idaho ca. 1897

1862 – Population at Florence peaked, and settlers left to prospect in Boise Basin or Warrens. Residents of Florence and others had built two trails into the settlement. One trail travelled from Camas Prairie to White Bird and Slate Creek and then up into the mountains. The other travelled from Mount Idaho across the mountains to Florence, called the Mose Milner Trail.

1889 – The Territorial Legislature passed the Mount Idaho to Little Salmon Meadows Wagon Road Act, which used bond issues for financing. The route was to travel over the mountains, following the Mose Milner Trail, rather than down the Little Salmon River Canyon.

1893 – The Idaho Legislature passed the State Wagon Roads Act, authorizing the establishment of a system of state wagon roads and providing for construction of a branch wagon road to travel down the Little Salmon River, linking Meadows with the Mount Idaho Road at Slate Creek. It required Idaho County to fund part of the road.

source: “Road of No Return” The Story of Travel Through the Little Salmon River Canyon

Idaho History Aug 19

Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

(part 2)

Mount Idaho, Idaho


Mount Idaho is a ghost town in Idaho County, Idaho, United States. The town served as county seat of Idaho County from 1875 to 1902.

A 45-mile (72 km) stretch of trail opened in 1860 in the Mount Idaho area is believed to be one of the earliest examples of a toll road on record in the region. According to local legend, the owner of this road, Mose Milner, was forced to sell the area to Loyal P. Brown after being permanently disabled in a fight with a mountain lion. Brown is considered the founder of Mount Idaho.

The town of Mount Idaho was founded around 1862 as an outpost serving nearby gold mining areas. By 1873 Mount Idaho was connected by stagecoach with Lewiston.

During the 1877 Nez Perce War a hotel in Mount Idaho served as a hospital. Some of the dead from that conflict were buried in the town’s cemetery.

By 1892 Mount Idaho was in competition with nearby Grangeville, some 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away, as the main town in Idaho County. The county seat was moved from Mount Idaho to Grangeville ten years later. By 1922, when the town’s post office closed, Mount Idaho had been effectively assimilated by Grangeville.

source: Wikipedia
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LP Brown Hotel Mount Idaho

undated – no credit

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

Idaho County was originally founded as a region of Washington Territory in 1861, named for a steamer called Idaho that was launched on the Columbia River in 1860. It was reorganized by the Idaho Territorial Legislature on February 4, 1864. In this context, the name of the county predates both the Idaho Territory and the State of Idaho. The county seat is Grangeville. Previous county seats were Florence (1864–75) and Mount Idaho (1875–1902).

Idaho County is the largest County in Idaho. It covers 8,503 square miles, and has 6,925 square miles of National Forest land within the county.

Mount Idaho is a ghost town in Idaho County. The town served as county seat of Idaho County from 1875 to 1902.

A 45-mile stretch of trail opened in 1860 in the Mount Idaho area is believed to be one of the earliest examples of a toll road on record in the region. According to local legend, the owner of this road, Mose Milner, was forced to sell the area to Loyal P. Brown after being permanently disabled in a fight with a mountain lion. Brown is considered the founder of Mount Idaho.

The town of Mount Idaho was founded around 1862 as an outpost serving nearby gold mining areas. By 1873 Mount Idaho was connected by stagecoach with Lewiston.

During the 1877 Nez Perce War a hotel in Mount Idaho served as a hospital. Some of the dead from that conflict were buried in the town’s cemetery.

By 1892 Mount Idaho was in competition with nearby Grangeville, some 3.5 miles away, as the main town in Idaho County. The county seat was moved from Mount Idaho to Grangeville ten years later. By 1922, when the town’s post office closed, Mount Idaho had been effectively assimilated by Grangeville.

source: Elmore County Press
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Mt. Idaho

The City of Graves and Springs; An Embryo Metropolis, etc.

The Nez Perce News Thursday, May 26, 1881

Mt. Idaho, the county seat of Idaho County was first located in 1875 and contains a population of about 400 souls. The town is admirably located on Butcher Creek, in a grove of timber on the base of the foothills at the head of Camas Prairie; being two miles from the Clearwater River and fifteen miles above the mouth of its middle fork and fifteen miles distant from Salmon river. An extraordinary volume of business for the size of the place is transacted here, as may be readily conceived when the fact is stated that all the numberless mining camps in the hundreds of miles of territory drained by the Salmon and Clearwater rivers are largely dependent upon this point for their supplies of the necessaries of life. From early summer till the winter rains have demoralized the roads, an almost endless procession of pack trains with freight en route from Lewiston to Mt. Idaho line the main thoroughfare between the two places. This continuous arrival and departure of pack trains lend to the streets of Mt. Idaho a scene of cheerful business activity that is heightened by the pleasant location of the town in the timber, while the presence of mules and idle Indians clad in the gorgeous blanket paraphernalia of burden and barbarism contrast admirably with the plain dress and somewhat abrupt manners of the miners and packers busily engaged around, and these again, combing with the spruce appearance of a few blue coats from the neighboring military post of Camp Howard and the broadcloth and white shirts of the resident citizens, blends into one harmonious whole and forms the picturesque foot ensemble of a model frontier mountain town.

Such is what may be termed a bird’s eye view of Mt. Idaho. To come down to the actual details of which the whole is composed, its business interests comprise three general merchandising stores, one flour and grist mill, a hotel, livery stable, saloon, variety store, two blacksmith shops, butcher shop, drug store, boarding house, cabinet shop, three attorneys, two saw mills in the near vicinage of the town, the finest court house building in the territory of Idaho, and a Large number of private residences built in the most approved styles of modern architecture. The stores of Mt. Idaho are more spacious and carry larger stocks of merchandise than many more pretentious places. The branch establishment of Messrs. Grostein & Binnard, of the city, under the management of Maj. Binnard and Mr. Greenburg is doing a splendid business and the firm as usual is always enlarging their extensive warehouse or building new graineries to accommodate their extensive transactions in the products of Camas prairie. J.P. Vollmer & Co., of this city, also have a branch store at Mt. Idaho under the management of Mr. Wallace Scott, the resident partner of the firm; they carry a large stock of goods adapted, to the varied interests which concentrate there, are doing a good business and will have a big two story brick store when bricks are cheaper. The establishment of Mr. H.C. Brown completes the merchandising interests of Mt. Idaho. Mr. Brown has a magnificent display of goods on exhibition and for sale, and has a large constituency of friends on the prairie and in the outlying mining camps. The Mt. Idaho hotel is a fine, hand finished building, owned and run in tip top shape by Hon. L.P. Brown, the original proprietor and locator of the town site and the father of the town. He also owns the grist mill on Butcher creek, fitted to run by steam power, and has also vast interest all through the Salmon and Clearwater country and in addition to being the great sheep raiser of North Idaho, he owns and operates the daily stage line between Lewiston and Mt. Idaho. John Denny has a variety store stocked with useful notions; John McPherson owns the livery stable where stock are carefully tended at living rates; at Auchinvole & Co.s Saloon, the choicest grades of Hybrid refreshments are served in real ? style by the boss mixolygist, J.J. Manuel; Dr. J.B. Morris is the resident physician and proprietor of the drug store and being an ? student of medicine is ? in the practice. Crooks & Sebastian supply the burg with the succulent meat for which Camas prairie is justly?. G. Ellsworth manufactures furniture at his cabinet shop; Mrs. ? ? private boarding house in the summer; the two blacksmith shops are operated by the one, by Adams Schubert , a thorough master of his profession, the other by C.R. Aben, who knows his business equally well. Shissler & Mathison’s saw mill is located on Butcher creek, three miles from Mt. Idaho and Bartley’s saw mill on three mile creek.

One of the solidest muldoons on the prairie is Hon. B.F. Morris, clerk of the District Court, who in conjunction with others, owns 1,200 acres fenced, and much of it under cultivation in the heart of the prairie, in the locality known as Centerville. The county officers of Idaho county who have their offices on the ground floor of the fine court house are, Treasurer, Wm. Baird, a brother of Ezra Baird of this city, and just as good a man, auditor and recorder, J.B. Chamberlain, as good a “watch dog of the treasury” as was ever elected to that position; sheriff, T.J. Rhoades, who knows his duty and goes for it on the spot; the probate judge is John Bower, in whose hands the interests of widows and orphans are ever safe; we can personally vouch that W.J. Rainey is a zealous assessor, for he stopped us on the trail and cinched a $4 poll tax out of us, but we forgive him for that as he serves Chinamen just the same way. The county surveyor is Fremont Cobb a late arrival from Kansas, who is inducing a large immigration to Camas prairie from that state by the glowing descriptions he is publishing of this favored country. The law practice is confined to A.H. Gordon, Hon S.S. Fenn and J.H. Forney. Mr. Fenn is North Idaho’s favorite statesman; he has represented the territory in Congress for four years as it was never represented before nor since; besides being repeatedly sent to different legislations; we accepted his hospitality for a night and gleaned much valuable information from his well stored mind, for which our thanks are due. Mr. J.H. Forney is a gentleman of southern birth and a natural born lawyer, who has so assiduously cultivated his talents by hard study that he has become a ripe scholar, ? we were not surprised to hear that he has been uniformly succeeded ? his practice, never having ? case, which speaks volumes for the industry ability and zeal which he puts into his clients cause, and accounts for the good practice he is building up.

At this point our notes are very indistinct so we are reluctantly compelled to bid a temporary adieu to Mt. Idaho an din so doing return our special thanks to Hons. L.P. Brown, B.F. Morris, J.H. Forney, F. Cobb, Joh McPherson and S.S. Fenn for valuable courtesics extended and also generally to a large number of other friends on the prairie including the county officials for favors and hospitality accepted and preferred. No stronger proof of the hospitable character of the people of Camas prairie can be advanced than the bare statement of the fact that we have accepted 30 invitations to dine with different hosts on Camas prairie on the coming glorious Fourth of July.

©pbc 2004-Present – Keeping Genealogy Free
source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Lumber Mill Mount Idaho 1870s


photo from Lewiston Morning Tribune – Jul 1, 1962

Mill Men Wasted No Time

Jul 11, 2011 Lewiston Tribune

Because of the back-breaking task of whipsawing lumber, primitive sawmills were introduced early into Idaho mining areas.

Two of the first on record were established in 1862, one in the Pierce area and the other at Mt. Idaho. Alonzo Leland, later a Lewiston newspaperman and attorney, was instrumental in the start of the Pierce-area mill.

Lumber from the Mt. Idaho mill, which was probably the first to do any planing, was used for the construction of the DeFrance Hotel at Lewiston. L.P. Brown, who owned most of the town of Mt. Idaho and operated a sawmill for many years, probably started the mill there.

For most of the 28 territorial years, the Lewiston area was lumber hungry and whatever was produced was quickly used in building.

Mill owners of those years did not thrive, however. Instead they were plagued with hard luck of various types – machinery failed to come through or was forever breaking down and there were long waits for replacements.

Water power, which turned the wheels of the earliest mills, was undependable since the rivers were either too high or too low most of the time.

Worse still, fires often erased the work of years and insurance rates were considered prohibitively high.

excerpted from: The Lewiston Tribune (pulled from a seven-section volume of work compiled by Tribune staff during Lewiston’s 1961 centennial.)
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Notable Mount Idaho Residents

from “An Illustrated History of Idaho” 1899

One authority states that the first permanent settlement in Idaho was made at Mount Idaho, the present county-seat of Idaho county.
Pg 59

Jay M. Dorman

No man has been a more prominent factor in the growth and improvement of Mount Idaho than this gentleman, who for many years has been identified with its building interests, nor have his efforts contributed alone to his individual prosperity, for he belongs to that class of representative Americans who promote the public good while securing their own success.

A native of Delaware county. New York, he was born August 27, 1837, and is descended from an old American family, early settlers of the Empire state. His father, Anthony Dorman, was likewise born in Delaware county and married Miss Charlotte Bursack, a lady of German descent. Their only child, Jay M. Dorman, was left an orphan at a tender age and was reared by his aunt until fourteen years of age. With her he removed to Louisiana, where he learned the carpenter and joiner trade.

In 1861 he went to California by way of the isthmus route, sailing on the steamer North Star, which arrived in San Francisco in July. He worked in a sawmill on the coast range for a time, and by the water route went to The Dalles and then by mule train to the place of the gold discoveries in Idaho. He traveled with a company of eight, who ultimately reached Lewiston, which was then a town of tents, with only two log houses. Mr. Dorman proceeded to Elk City, and engaged in mining at different claims for nine years, but met with only a moderate degree of success. He had at times as high as three thousand dollars, but like many other miners sunk his capital in a bedrock tunnel. He, however, never lost anything through gambling or in the saloon, as so many men did in those early days.

In 1871 he came to Mount Idaho, at which time there was but one log house in the town. Here he began work at the carpenter’s trade, and since that time has been actively interested in the erection of most of the buildings of the place, so that Mount Idaho now largely stands as a monument to his skill, thrift and enterprise.

In 1877 he built his own commodious residence, one of the most attractive homes of the place. In connection with contracting and building, Mr. Dorman has also superintended the operation of his ranch, comprising three hundred and twenty acres of good land, on which he raises hay and grain.

The county-seat of Idaho county was established at Mount Idaho in 1875, and our subject erected the court-house and jail there. He served the county for two years in the position of treasurer and for one term as county commissioner, discharging his duties in a most prompt and commendable manner. In politics he has been a lifelong Republican, and in addition to the other offices mentioned he has served as school trustee, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend and one zealous in advancing its interests. Thus in many ways he has been prominently identified with the advancement of his county along material, political and educational lines, and at all times is a progressive, public-spirited citizen.

He was a volunteer in the Nez Perces Indian war, in 1877, and assisted in building a rock fort in Mount Idaho, which formed such a protection that the Indians made no attempt to attack the inhabitants of the town, and many settlers from the surrounding country also found shelter there.

In 1880 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Dorman and Mrs. Arabella J. Randall, widow of Captain D. B. Randall, who served his country as a lieutenant in the great civil war and as a captain of volunteers in the Indian war. She was the daughter of Captain A. P. Ankenv, of Virginia, and crossed the plains to California in 1849, going to Oregon in 1850. Mrs. Dorman was only four years of age when she went with her father’s family to the Sunset state. By her first marriage she had live children, namely: Oronoka L., wife of S. D. Ingram, of Lewiston; Henry A.; Bell J.; Maude E.; and Ada L., wife of Lewis D. Stevens. Mr. and Mrs. Dorman have one daughter, to whom was given the full name of her father, – Jay M. Mrs. Dorman is a member of the Episcopal church and is one of the honored pioneer women of Oregon and Idaho.

Our subject holds membership in Mount Idaho Lodge, No. 89, F. & A. M., has held various offices in the lodge and served as its treasurer for ten years. He is one of Idaho’s worthy and reliable citizens, and since early pioneer days he has labored for the welfare of the state, proving especially active in the upbuilding of the northern section. He is highly esteemed for his integrity in all the walks of life, and well deserves representation in this volume.
Pgs 318-319

Evan Evans

… He remained in California until 1880, when he came to Grangeville, where he has since made his home. Here he was first employed in carrying the mail, under contract, between Mount Idaho and Pierce City, making the journey on horseback. He received a fair remuneration for his services, and continued that labor until the route was discontinued.
Pg 333

Henry Spalding

A son of the pioneer [Henry Harmon Spalding (1803–1874), and his wife Eliza Hart Spalding (1807–1851).] H. [Henry] Spaulding, early in the year 1874, came to the Camas prairie for the purpose of organizing a grange. The population of that portion of central Idaho scarcely numbered three hundred white men. and the settlers were widely scattered; the prairie was a place of magnificent distances. In July a representative gathering was obtained, which met one day in a school-house near Mount Idaho. Sixteen persons signified their willingness to unite with an order to be known as Charity Grange. Initiations followed; William C. Pearson was chosen worthy master, and J. H. Robinson, secretary. The foundations of the city of Grangeville. the coming commercial center of the Clearwater country, were thus laid.

At that time the land upon which Grangeville subsequently grew was a pasture belonging to the farm of J. M, Crooks. Two stores were in existence in Mount Idaho, which made that place an outfitting place for miners, the only town between Florence and Lewiston. a gap of one hundred and twenty miles. Three miles below the foothills that serve as a site for the hamlet Mount Idaho, the members of Charity Grange commenced building a hall in 1876.
Pg 350

Matthew H. Truscott

The leading merchant and efficient postmaster of Mount Idaho, Matthew H. Truscott, has been a resident of this state since 1865, and has therefore been a witness of the greater part of its growth and development, has seen its wild land reclaimed for purposes of cultivation, its rich mineral storehouses give forth their treasures, and the forests yield their trees to be converted into the homes of white men, who thus replaced the tents of the Indians. He was a young man of only twenty years when he arrived in the territory, his birth having occurred in England, March 20, 1845. He was educated in the schools of his native land, there learned engineering and was for some time employed in that line of industry and at mining.

In 1861 he went to Chili, and two years later proceeded up the Pacific coast to California, where he was engaged in mining and engineering until the spring of 1865, when he came to Idaho, making the journey on horseback through the Indian country, Nevada and the valley of the Humboldt river, to Idaho City, in the Boise basin. He remained there only a month or two, when, attracted by the gold excitement at Coeur d’Alene, he went to Clearwater station and mined in the different camps of Elk City and Newsom. He met with a fair degree of success and still has mining interests on the Clearwater.

On coming to Camas prairie he was employed as engineer in a saw and flouring mill until 1883, when he accepted the position of clerk in the Mount Idaho Hotel. In 1886 he was appointed by President Cleveland to the position of postmaster, an office which he has since filled most satisfactorily to the people of the town and most creditably to himself. He was also agent for the Wells-Fargo Express Company for two years, and in 1892 he entered into a contract with the firm of Vollmer & Scott to manage their general mercantile store in Mount Idaho. The following year he purchased that store, and has since carried on the business on his own account, having the principal establishment of the kind in the town. He is now enjoying a good trade and is meeting with excellent success in his undertakings.

In addition to his duties in the post-office Mr. Truscott has performed other public service, having been deputy sheriff, deputy county assessor, deputy county treasurer and deputy school superintendent, and at the present time he is capably filling the position of county superintendent of schools. In his political affiliations he is a stalwart Democrat, and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, doing all in his power to promote the growth and insure the success of the party. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and has attained the twentieth degree of the Scottish rite. In his life he exemplifies the benevolent and inspiring principles of the order, and throughout northern Idaho he is widely and favorably known.
Pg 384

Keith Wood White

In 1886 Mr. [Keith Wood] White was elected sheriff of Idaho county, and during his incumbency made his home in Mount Idaho, the county seat. He was also county assessor and also served for one term as deputy sheriff, during which time it was his unpleasant duty to aid in the execution of Walleck, who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a man at Warrens. He has always taken a deep and active interest in the upbuilding and improvement of his county and state, has given his support to all measures for the public good, and was especially zealous in maintaining order at a time when a lawless element infested this then new region.
Pg 713

The legislature of 1889 appropriated fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a wagon road from Mount Idaho to Little Salmon Meadows. This section of the public highway, after it was completed, for a long time was the only means of communication within the state between the northern and southern counties.
Pg 529

excerpted from “An Illustrated History of Idaho” 1899
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“Judge” James W. Poe

The man known as “Judge” James W. Poe was a member of the original group of miners, headed by James Warren, who are credited with the discovery of gold on Warren Creek. James Poe was an important leader in the first years of Warren’s existence and then went on to a distinguished career as a lawyer in the Idaho Territory and then the State of Idaho. …

In 1869, Poe was admitted to practice in the district court, was elected the first district recorder of Warren’s mining district, and then practiced law at Warrens and Mount Idaho until 1876, at which time he was elected attorney for the district comprising all of northern Idaho. Poe then established a law office in Lewiston, where he served as deputy district attorney for ten years. James Poe was elected and served in the territorial legislature in 1879-80, taking an active part in shaping the destiny of the territory during that period. He was a leading member of the state constitutional convention, his knowledge of constitutional law rendering him an important factor in framing the organic law of Idaho. He also had the honor of presiding over the first mass meeting, which was called for the purpose of adopting measures to secure statehood for Idaho.

excerpted from: Pg 28-29 “A History of Warren Idaho – Mining Race and Environment”, by Cletus R. Edmunson

Link to Mount Idaho (Part 1)

Idaho History Aug 12

Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

Part 1

Why They Call it Mount Idaho

Lewiston Tribune – November 5, 1933

Two miles southeast of Grangeville, snuggled at the foot of the spur of the Clearwater mountains (so designated in government surveys) is a settlement named Mount Idaho, named after Idaho Territory and prefaced with Mount on account of being at the foot of a majestic eminence.

The glories of Mount Idaho will forever live in the annals of Idaho as a territory and as a state. It was there the civilization was introduced in much of the wild central Idaho country; the Masons instituted their first lodge in Idaho there; it served as county seat of Idaho county, being selected by the legislature to replace Warren as the county seat after Warren had been designated to replace Florence, the first seat of government of Idaho county.

Mount Idaho is a picturesque place. In its hey-day it boasted mills, stores, and good buildings, and the little city teemed with life. Loyal P. Brown and B.F. Morris were largely responsible for Mount Idaho developing into a flourishing community, and it was not until the late 70’s that Grangeville sprung up as a serious contender for municipal honors, finally winning. A fine farming community is contiguous to Mount Idaho.

According to the 1930 census, Mount Idaho had a population of 231.

©pbc 2004-Present – Keeping Genealogy Free
source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Mount Idaho Courthouse, built in the early 1870s

(click image for source size)
[Hawley] (photo probably taken around 1911)
(courtesy South Fork Companion)
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Idaho County History

… By 1875 Mount Idaho was developing into a prosperous town. Built largely as a stop for traffic to the gold fields, it seemed destined to be a more permanent settlement than the boom towns. It won a special election in 1875 for county seat. Mining was spreading to other areas: Orogrande, Dixie, Newsome, Salmon River, Golden, Marshall Lake, Burgdorf and others. Seventeen mining districts existed at that time, according to the Bicentennial Edition of the Idaho County Free Press published in 1976.

source: Idaho County Voices, From The Pioneers To The Present, Pioneer Days in Idaho County Volume 1 by Alfreda Elsensohn.
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Mount Idaho (written in 1884)

In the spring of 1862 Moses Millmer commenced to open a trail from Camas Prairie to Florence, and finished it by the first of July of the same year. He built the first house at the foot of the mountain, known as the Mountain House, where Mount Idaho now stands, and sold it to Mr. L. P. Brown on the eighteenth day of July, 1862.
Pg 240

1863 Postmaster, Loyal P. Brown; sixty-five miles east of Lewiston. Population 200.
Pg 226

Mount Idaho

Mount Idaho, the county seat, is situated at the further edge of an extensive camas prairie, near the mountain spurs that lie between the Salmon and the Clearwater Rivers. Its distance from Fort Lapwai is sixty miles, in a direct southeast line.
Pg 242

HON. L. P. BROWN is well worthy of the title of “Pacific Coast pioneer,” and in a remarkable degree embodies in himself their leading characteristics, — most generous impulses, indomitable energy, iron will, and public spirit that never fails to respond to duty’s call.

He was born at Stratford, New Hampshire, September 26, 1829; and, being early in life impressed with the fact that, although a grand old State to be born in, it was well to emigrate from it early, he removed to Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of sixteen years, and commenced his career as clerk in a mercantile establishment. The excited reports of unbounded gold discoveries in California, in 1848, electrified the whole country, and fired his heart; and in the early part of 1849 he joined the Massasoit Company, then organizing, and sailed from Boston, March 12, 1849, on board the schooner Harriet Neil, for California, via the Isthmus, and reached San Francisco July 12, 1849. Spending but a short time among the exciting scenes of San Francisco and Sacramento, as they existed “in the days of ’49,” he went to the gold fields of the Middle Fork of the American River, and engaged in mining at Rectors Bar with three of his associates of the Massasoit Company, and during that season realized the visions that inspired him when leaving the “land of stead)’ habits.”

In the spring of 1850 he went to the then called Northern Mines on Trinity River, and engaged in the usual merchandising of mining-camps, viz., in packing and selling miners’ supplies, and continued in the business until the spring of 1852, when he moved to and settled at Scottsburg, on the Umpqua River, in the then territory of Oregon, and followed merchandising for about three years.

The Rogue River Indian War of 1855 then burst forth. The Territorial Governor, Hon. George L. Clerey, called for volunteers for the defense of homes and firesides, and punishment of the treacherous foes. Mr. Brown responded, and served in the Quartermaster’s department until the close of the war, when he engaged in farming and stock-raising in Douglas County, Oregon.

In the spring of 1858 he returned to his birthplace with his family, and in the spring of 1859 fitted out six-horse teams and wagons, and crossed the plains via Fort Hall. His mother, step-father, and most of his relatives accompanied him and his family on his return to Oregon, and arrived at their home in the Umpqua Valley in September, 1859, and was there engaged in stock-raising and farming until the gold discoveries at Pierce City, Elk City, Salmon River, and Florence, in the then eastern portion of Washington Territory, and made a part of Idaho Territory by its Organic Act of .March 3. 1863, reanimated his old spirit of adventure, and in 1862 he removed with his family to what is now the town of Mount Idaho, and settled there on the 18th of July, 1862, where he has since remained, engaged in stock-raising, farming, milling, and other pursuits incident to a new country possessed of great mining and agricultural advantages.

He has always taken an active part in all public matters; has filled many positions of public trust, among which were two terms as a member of the Territorial Council of Idaho Territory, and was in a great measure instrumental in procuring a change of the county boundaries between the counties of Nez Perce and Idaho, greatly enlarging the area of the latter county, and resulting, at an election held in 1875, in selecting Mount Idaho for the county seat of Idaho County, where quite a prosperous town has sprung into existence, securing to itself a large portion of the farming and mining trade of the county.

For a time during the Nez Perce Indian War, in the summer of 1877, a large portion of the people of Idaho County were compelled to stockade at Mount Idaho for self protection. The memory of his sound judgment in every emergency, his open house, and open purse to meet all wants, public and private, will ever be remembered and cherished by those who participated in the horrors and trials of those bloody and devastating times. About 1861 Mr. Brown, forgetting or turning his back upon the good old Democratic faith of his father, in which he had been reared and had labored faithfully, allied himself to the “Black Republican” Party, and has ever since been their ardent partisan; but his devotion to party never interferes with his business or social relations, and he has even been known to espouse the cause and secure the election of a Democrat when he felt that public interests required of him the sacrifice.

The writer of this sketch has been personally acquainted with Mr. Brown for the last twenty-one years, and has only enunciated what is generally known and acknowledged by his acquaintances.

MRS. SARAH T. BROWN, at the age of fifteen years, accompanied her father, G. W. Crusen, and her mother and sister across the plains from La Salle County, Illinois, with that usual conveyance of pioneer.s, an ox-team, in the summer of 1852, arriving in Oregon Territory late in the fall. In the spring of 1853 her father and family moved to Umpqua Valley and settled on a farm, where she remained until married to Mr. Brown, on October 24, 1854. Mrs. Brown possesses all the ennobling qualities of the pioneer mothers and daughters of the Northwest, who have left their impress upon the people and institutions of an empire but recently the haunts only of wild beasts and Indians equally wild and savage.

The experience of her trip across the plains with her father and family, in 1852, with the attendant pestilence and Indian warfare of that memorable year, did not deter her from making another trip by team with her husband and two infant children, in 1859, over the then desolate route.

She accompanied Mr. Brown and her family to Mount Idaho, Idaho Territory, in July, 1862, when there were very few families in the whole of what is now northern Idaho, and remained to see the country transformed from unsettled wilds to the abode of large and thriving communities, with well-attended public schools and large worshiping congregations of their respective faiths.

After all the hardships incident to frontier life, she now enjoys the fruition of her and her husband’s early hopes and aspirations.

They are blessed with one son, Rollin C. Brown, who is married and lives near Mount Idaho, extensively engaged in stock-raising and farming; and two daughters, aged seventeen and fourteen years respectively, upon whom she looks with pride, as they cheer and cherish her with their love and affection.
pg 276-277
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J. B. MORRIS, M. D., of Mount Idaho, was born in Ray County, Missouri, October i, 1850, and resided in his native place up to the time he emigrated to Mount Idaho, his present.home. He left Richmond, Missouri, on June i, 1875, and arrived in Mount Idaho on the 25th of the same month, and engaged in the practice of medicine and the drug business. Dr. Morris married Miss Laura J. Billings in 1879, a native of Canada.
Pg 256

source: “History of Idaho Territory with Illustrations” 1884 (81 meg)
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Loyal Parson Brown

Photo added by Rooty Poe

Added by Richard Johnston

Birth: 26 Sep 1829 Stratford, Coos County, New Hampshire
Death: 9 Apr 1896 (aged 66) Idaho
Burial: Mount Idaho Cemetery, Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

(click image for source size)
Added by Michal


Samuel F Brown

Caroline Bishop Brown


Sarah T. Crusen Brown
1837–1906 (m. 1854)


Rollin Crusen Brown

Ada B. Brown Hovey

Daisy B Smith

source: Find a Grave
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Government Appoints Postmasters and Creates Post Offices in Idaho Territory

On May 4, 1863, the Evening Bulletin in San Francisco published the following brief item: “Post Office Matters. … The following appointments have been received: Charles Welsh, Florence City, Idaho Territory; John Flanagan, Elk City, I. T.; Joseph Patty, Orofino, I. T. … New offices have been established at the following places: Durkeeville, Idaho Territory – Clark H. Durkee, Postmaster; Mount Idaho, I. T. – Loyal P. Brown, Postmaster.”

In the spring of 1863, Florence City (or just Florence), Elk City, and Oro Fino (now Orofino) were still flourishing gold towns. But soon, the fields played out and the towns withered. Ironically, Florence was county seat of Idaho County for a time, but it’s now a ghost town.

Durkeeville and Mount Idaho began as way stations on the road between Lewiston and the gold camps of the Clearwater River and lower Salmon River. Clark Durkee emigrated to the Pacific Coast from his native Vermont in 1850, when he was not quite thirty years old. After successes in California and Oregon, he followed the gold rush into Idaho. However, Durkeeville, located about twenty-five miles east and a bit south of Lewiston, only lasted a couple years, after which Durkee returned to Oregon.

Loyal P. Brown was born in 1929, in Stratford, New Hampshire. He moved to California in 1849, did well there, and then in Oregon. He too followed the gold rush into Idaho, bringing his family along. In July 1862, he and a partner purchased the waystation what would become Mount Idaho.

(click image for source size)
L. P. Brown. Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho.

Brown soon bought out his partner. Then, over the next thirty years, he led development in Northern Idaho, becoming quite a wealthy man in the process. He served twice in the Territorial Council and secured selection of Mount Idaho as the county seat of Idaho County, from 1875 to 1902.

In 1887, Brown helped organize the Idaho County Pioneer Association, and became its first president. He passed away in April 1896.

source: South Fork Companion
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Loyal P. Brown: North Idaho Merchant, Rancher, Developer, and Legislator

North Camas Prairie businessman, rancher, investor, and public servant Loyal P. Brown was born September 26, 1829 in Stratford, New Hampshire, in the northeast corner of the state.

His mercantile experience began when he was 16 years old. After a few years of that, he became a Forty-Niner, traveling the isthmus route to California. He did well in the gold fields, and then with stores he opened in northern California and in Oregon. After a year back East, he returned to Oregon and settled in the Umpqua Valley.

When gold was discovered near Florence, he brought his family to Idaho. In July 1862, they reached the waystation of Mose Milner, near the southeast edge of the Camas Prairie. Sensing opportunity, Brown and a partner purchased what would become Mount Idaho.

Brown, a life-long temperance advocate, disagreed with his partner about building a saloon onto the hotel, so Brown bought him out three years later. The structure then housed a post office, with Brown as postmaster, and a modest store. L. P. also opened a small blacksmith shop. Brown’s holdings grew extensively: many leased lots in Mount Idaho, a grist mill, another store in Elk City, and a substantial ranch. The ranch held “quite a band of cattle” and exported horses into Montana.

Brown represented Nez Perce County on the 1874-75 Territorial Council. (He had also held that office in 1866-67.) During that session, he worked a bill through the legislature that redrew county boundaries, resulting in the selection of Mount Idaho as the county seat of Idaho County. That fueled even further growth before the Nez Perce War broke out.

L.P. played a major leadership role in the 1877 War: His dispatches provided the first warning of the outbreak to the Army units at Fort Lapwai. He also supplied materials and supervised construction of a hastily-built stockade at Mount Idaho, and provided shelter for all who had to flee their homesteads.

Brown expanded further after the war. Merchants added new structures in Mount Idaho, and he built a steam sawmill northeast of town. Elsewhere, he bought up much of the town of Cottonwood and encouraged its growth: a post office in 1879, a blacksmith shop, and, in 1880, a store and Brown’s own hotel.

During the early 1880s, Brown broadened his holdings even more to include six or seven thousand head of sheep along with his cattle and horses. Of course, he wasn’t the only stockman. On July 20, 1885, ranchers in Idaho County created the Idaho County Stock Growers’ Association. (As elsewhere in the state, one of their main concerns was rustling). The Association elected Brown as its first president.

Settlers continued to arrive in the area and, in July and August of 1887, leaders organized the Idaho County Pioneer Association [blog, July 16]. Again, L. P. Brown was its first president.

Brown even found time to invest in Clearwater mining ventures. However, he sold perhaps his most promising lode mine property to a California firm in early 1894. He passed away in April 1896.

source: South Fork Companion
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Idaho County Pioneer Association Holds First Organizational Meeting

The first organizational meeting of the Idaho County Pioneer Association was held on Saturday, July 16, 1887. Within a few weeks, the group adopted a constitution, elected officers, and recruited its first members.

The Association selected Loyal P. Brown as its first President. In 1862, L. P. (as he was often called) decided to move his family from Oregon to the Florence, Idaho, mining district. On the way, he saw opportunity at a road waystation. He and a partner purchased the holding, which became the town of Mount Idaho.

(click image for source size)
L. P. Brown with his wife and daughters, 1882. Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho.

Brown eventually promoted “his” town into the county seat of Idaho County. Besides many businesses in Mount Idaho, Cottonwood, and elsewhere, Brown owned extensive herds of sheep and considerable productive farm land.

The first Association Secretary, Michael H. Truscott, took up mining around Elk City in 1865. Five years later, he went to work as an engineer for L. P.’s lumber and flour mills. Truscott moved to managing one of Brown’s hotels in 1882, and was appointed Mount Idaho postmaster in 1886. In 1892, he became manager of the Vollmer & Scott mercantile store.

Jay M. Dorman, the first Association Treasurer, began mining around Elk City in 1862. Moderate success kept him in that area until 1871, when he moved to Mount Idaho. There, he helped build most of structures in the town, including a jail when Mount Idaho became the county seat. Dorman also operated a ranch in the area, where he grew hay and grain for his stock.

excerpted from: South Fork Companion
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Grangeville Wins County Seat From Mount Idaho

On November 4, 1902, voters decisively favored the transfer of the county seat of Idaho County from Mount Idaho to Grangeville. This result culminated a vigorous decade-long campaign to wrest the seat away from the older town.

Pioneer Loyal P. Brown established Mount Idaho as the first town on the Camas Prairie. He started in 1862 from a waystation on the road to the Florence gold fields [blog, Sept 26]. In 1875, his political maneuvering won the county seat for the town.

Grangeville began with the establishment of Charity Grange No. 15, Patrons of Husbandry, in August 1874. When Loyal P. refused to donate a Mount Idaho plot for a Grange Hall, members asked rancher John Crooks if he would help. He agreed, and donated land about three miles to the north. To finance the hall project, Grange members organized a milling company and built a flour mill.

… By 1892 it [Grangeville] was the largest town in Idaho County. (That was also the year when Grangeville’s first two banks opened.) An undercurrent of sentiment to relocate the county seat burst into an active campaign. Although supporters polled a simple majority in the subsequent election, they failed to garner the necessary two-thirds vote. The setback was perhaps a tribute to L. P. Brown, who was still highly respected. But Brown would pass away in 1896.

… The election in 1902 gave Grangeville nearly three-quarters of the votes in their favor for the county seat.

excerpted from: South Fork Companion
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Mount Idaho

by Bob Hartman

The story of Grangeville really begins with the story of the story of Mount Idaho in 1862, the only town between the Florence Mines and Lewiston. Mount Idaho was named by it’s first Postmaster L. P. Brown for the nearby mountain.

In 1874, three or four miles out of town the local farmers and cattlemen organized the Charity Grange No. 15. In 1876 they built a grange hall on some land donated by John Crook, and nearby built a flour & gristmill. The village that would be named after the grange started growing up from this spot.

As the mining came to a close in the Florence area Mount Idaho was on the road to nowhere, while Grangeville was on the new north/south highway and was served by the Camas Prairie Rail Road. In 1902 Mount Idaho lost it’s County Seat to Grangeville, and in 1922 lost it’s Post Office.

source: Bob Hartman, Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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1888 Mount Idaho Mortgage

(click image for FB link to full size)
1888 Real Estate Mortgage from Mount Idaho for Zachariah and Amanda Shurgart

courtesy: Penny Bennett Casey
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Murders, Poisonings and Executions in Idaho County

Idaho County Free Press – Friday, October 19, 1888

Murder! Murder!

One “Good” Chinaman and a Likelihood of Several More Going to the Celestial Kingdom by the help of a Rope

The readers of the Free Press will remember an account, published two weeks ago, of the mysterious disappearance of a Chinaman from Mt. Idaho on Sept. 25th, and the Chinese in that place and vicinity being much exercised thereabout. The dead body of a Chinaman was found yesterday in a canyon about a quarter of a mile back of Mt. Idaho, by a little boy, with his skull fractured in 20 places, and his hands mangled fearfully, as if he had been protecting himself from the deadly assault, which was seemingly done with a hatchet, and all indications go to prove that he was murdered by his compatriots while in his cabin and then carried to the place where his decomposed body was found, as he was old and indigent and dependent upon his fellow countrymen for support. The inquest will be held this morning by Coroner S.E. Bibby and a jury Full particulars next week.

source: Transcribed by Penny Casey from original microfilm.
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Idaho County Free Press – Friday, October 19, 1888

Old Silas Johns left his camp on Clearwater last Saturday to hunt up his saddle horse and has not been seen or heard of since, although diligent search has been and is still being made. It is feared that the old man has dropped dead and rolled down a gulch.

Idaho Free Press, Idaho Territory – Friday, October 26, 1888

Is It Murder?

Silas Johns Mysteriously Disappears – Suspicions of Foul Play

On Saturday morning, October 13, Silas Johns left his placer Claim on the south fork of Clearwater to hunt his saddle horse and has never since been seen or heard of. His hands, fearing the old man might have fallen dead, instituted a search which has been maintained to the present time, but no clue to his whereabouts has been discovered, and fears are entertained that he has been murdered and buried.

It was first thought that he might have wandered off in a fit of insanity, but since the discovery of the remains of the mutilated Chinaman near Mt. Idaho the impression prevails that he has been murdered and the body buried. A stranger was camped a short distance below the claim for several days and left the day after the disappearance for parts unknown, but as there is no evidence implicating him or indicating a crime, it may have been only a coincidence.

It is thought that if Mr. Johns had died while hunting his horse the body would have been found, as he would naturally have kept to the high ground. On the other hand, it is thought that he may have been killed by someone who thought he had some gold dust in his possession, as he was going to clean up the boxes that afternoon, and his going for the horse may have led to the supposition on the part of the murderer that the clean-up had already been made.

All this, however, is pure conjecture, as the old man has disappeared and left not a trace behind him, and there can be no earthly doubt but that he is now dead. He was 74 years old and had been here since 1863. He was very eccentric and preferred being alone to associating with his fellows. The suspicion of foul play is so strong and there have been so many affairs of the kind in the county that we suggest the offering of suitable rewards by the county commissioners for the discovery of the body, for evidences of crime and for the apprehension of the criminals if a crime has been committed.

source: Transcribed by Penny Casey from original microfilm.
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Helena Independent – Helena, Montana November 18, 1899

Rancher Killed – Shot Through the Heart by a Sheepman in a Quarrel

(This article also appeared in the Idaho Statesman, Boise on the same day. Under the heading of “KILLED A FARMER Had A Dispute Over the Possession of Some Land – Murderer Gives Himself Up to the Authorities”)

Lewiston, Ida., Nov. 17 – A special to the Tribune from Cottonwood, Idaho County, says: A tragedy which resulted in the killing of Charles Maughmor by Clifford Riggs, a prominent sheep man and a member of the firm of Riggs Brothers, occurred this morning near Maughmor’s farm on a disputed tract of land, where Riggs’s sheep were grazing.

Maughmor, it appears, accompanied by his brother, both on horseback, went to a point where Riggs had established a camp and an old dispute regarding possession of land was revived. Hot words followed, and according to a statement subsequently made by Riggs, Maughmor started to pull his revolver, when he raised his rifle and fired. The bullet entered just above Maughmor’s heart and he fell from his horse, dying in a short time.

The dead man’s brother and an employee of Riggs were the only witnesses. Riggs later rode to Mount Idaho and gave himself up to the authorities. He says he acted in self defense. Rigg’s home is in Lewiston, where he is well known.

Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho December 4, 1899

The Mt. Idaho correspondent of the Lewiston Tribune says:

Clifford Riggs has been for the second time vindicated for the act resulting in the death of Charles Maughmor. The coroner’s jury declared he did the killing in self-defense and today Probate Judge Vincent, before whom the preliminary examination was conducted, rendered the same decision.

Copyright Notice: All materials contained on these pages are furnished for the free use of those engaged in researching their family origins. Any commercial use or distribution, without the consent of the host/author of these pages is prohibited. All images used on these pages were obtained from sources permitting free distribution, or generated by the author, and are subject to the same restrictions/permissions. All persons contributing material for posting on these pages do so in recognition of their free, non-commercial distribution, and further, is responsible to assure that no copyright is violated by their submission.
Transcribed by Penny Casey from original microfilm.
source: Murders, Poisonings and Executions in Idaho County from Area Newspaper Articles compiled by Penny Bennett Casey, Idaho County GenWeb
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Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

Mount Idaho Cemetery Memorials

451 Records sorted alphabetically.


source (w/2 more photos): Find a Grave

Idaho History Aug 5

Goff, Idaho

Entrepreneur J.J. Goff

Sign in Riggins, Idaho

Goff Trail and Ferry

Before the wagon road from White Bird to Meadows was completed in 1903, travelers endured a trecherous and roundabout overland journey. Seeing the need for a faster and more direct route, the enterprising J.J. Goff offered ferry service across the Salmon River at Race Creek and built a one-mile trail from Race Creek to Gouge-Eye Flat. Parts of the primitive trail are still visible today.

Goff’s Exclusive Rights

In 1866, Idaho County Commissioners granted J.J. Goff the exclusive right to establish toll charges for his trail and ferry on Race Creek.

Goff — Salmon River Stage Stop


By the late 1870s, the area at the mouth of Race Creek was known as “Goff.” Ever the entrepreneur, Goff bought the Race Creek property, including a stone house and race. The race, or water ditch, was used for irrigation and nearby placer mining.

In 1894, John Levander purchased the property, built the Goff Hotel and Store, and established a post office and stage stop. Levander’s sons, Homer and Edgar, also operated the nearby Goff Ferry.

Goff Bridges

The first automobile bridge spanning the Salmon River at Goff was built in 1911 and 1912 at the then astronomical cost of $15,000. Construction of this bridge completed the first auto road between north and south Idaho. The original bridge was replaced in 1934 with a $34,000 bridge that lasted 65 years. In 1999, the bridge was replaced with the present modern design at today’s thrifty sum of 12.4 million dollars.

source: Idaho Historical Markers
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Goff Post Office 1894-1913

Source: Idaho Post Offices – Idaho County
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Goff, Idaho

The following description of the town of Goff was taken from the Grangeville Standard, Industrial Edition Newspaper. December 1904

One of the most picturesque places along the Salmon River is the stage station and post office known as Goff. It is the home of J.O. Levander, whose enterprise has made this station the beautiful point that it is.

Goff is situated at the mouth of Race Creek, six miles below Pollock. it is the supply point for about a dozen fine farms situated along Race Creek, as well as a large part of the ever-busy mining country along the Salmon river. Mr. Levander first settled at Goff in the spring of 1896. He conducted a general merchandise store, a post office and a hotel. He also had a feed barn and made a business of keeping travelers. His station is the first stop over on the stage line between the Meadows and Grangeville and the only place between the two points where a lay over is made longer than it takes to change the horses.

Two years ago Mr. Levander erected the fine hotel and residence shown in the accompanying cut. (*the microfilm was very faint and a copy of the photo was not able to be copied) It is a real treat to the eye of the stranger who is making his first trip up the Salmon river. He is told that it is a short distance to Goff. He looks up the river and sees nothing but barren hills for miles. He is usually joked and no explanation given. He is just reconciling himself to a long wait and commenting in his own mind upon the estimate of defiance made by his fellow travelers, when he suddenly comes to the little cove in the hillside which he would have never guessed was there.

The following is derived from information in various other publications.

It is supposed that Goff was a road station that was named after Mr. John Goff about 1871. John O. Levander started the first Post Office there for the settlement about 1895.

Mr. Levander was born in Sweden. He came to the U.S. when he was a teenager. He became a freighter in Boise for several years and then began raising stock.

There was once a ferry across the river near Goff, and later a swinging bridge was constructed near the town. There was still a hotel there in the early 1900’s.

source: ©pbc 2004-Present – Keeping Genealogy Free, Idaho County GenWeb
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(click for original)
Courtesy Idaho GenWeb

March 5, 1914

John Levander Dies

Death of a Well Known Resident of Goff Occurred February 24

A report of the recent death of J. O. Levander, the well known pioneer of Goff, in the Salmon river country, is contained in the following clipping from the Meadows Eagle. Mr. Levander was a highly respected citizen of this county and his death will cause regret and sadness among his many friends. The Eagle’s comment follows:

News of the death of John O. Levander reached town yesterday and brought with it sorrow to the many friends of the old pioneer. He passed away Wednesday, February 24, 1914 at his home near Goff, attended by his son and daughter, who have been his faithful attendants during the weeks of his last illness. We understand his funeral will take place tomorrow on the arrival of his children living in Washington county and in Oregon.

Mr. Levander has been a prominent figure in the life of this part of Idaho for nearly fifty years. He was a broadminded man of generous impulses and never forgot the hospitable ways of the pioneer. The stranger, tho in rags, never failed to find food and shelter and help at his home. He endured the hardships of the pioneer bravely and enjoyed quietly and without ostentation the prosperity that came to him as a reward of his industry. He filled the honor many posts of duty and as husband, father, brother, friend and public official proved himself every inch a man. Who can do more?

May he rest in peace and enjoy in the life to come, the reward of his services to mankind on earth.

Exerpt from the book, “Spirits of the Salmon River” by Kathy Deinhardt Hill, —–John and Sarah Levander share the only headstone in the Levander family cemetery, located on Race Creek Road, one-quarter mile west of Highway 95. According to the book, the Levander house still stands, and the cemetery is located directly north of the house where purple irises bloom every spring.—-even though the picture is not clear, it appears to be a beautiful stone monument with inscription–Chris Cornett

Idaho County Free Press, March 12, 1914


A recent dispatch from Riggins contains the following obituary of the late John O. Levander, who died there on February 24:

He was born at Gottenburg, Sweden, December 27, 1837. The father was a civil engineer, born in Flanders, France, and went to Sweden with Bernadotte, who became King Charles XVI of Sweden and Norway. He was closely associated with the king and held a high position in the army. When 16 years of age John came to the United States, and went to visit his brother, who was a California miner, having dug gold on Spanish bar, American river. In 1869, Mr. Levander fitted out a 6 yoke team of oxen, started for Pike’s Peak, but came to the Willamette valley. He had a hard fight with the Snake Indians at the Malheur river, which is near the present agency. Later on Mr. Levander drove cattle to California, returning to Douglas county, and later went to Pierce at the time of the excitement. He mined for Captain Pierce who discovered the diggings and then went to Boise Basin. He was on the stage with Governor Wallace and attended the first county convention ever held in Idaho at Pierce. He refused to act as a delegate to the territorial convention at the Meadows. At Boise, Mr. Levander freighted and also located a ranch. In 1891 Mr. Levander came with his wife, Sarah, to the Salmon river country, where he established a store, and also conducted a hotel. Here he resided till the time of his death. Mr. Levander was one of the most honorable citizens of the Salmon river section. That he had a great host of friends was evidenced by the large concourse of people who attend his funeral services. He leaves five sons and daughters to mourn his loss, Emma J. Hart of Union, Oregon; Edgar, of Cambridge, Idaho (biography located in the book, “Illustrated History of North Idaho, 1903”, Homer of Riggins, Ella May Riggle of Goff, Idaho (Allen L. Riggle biography, Illustrated History of North Idaho, 1903) and Virgil of Asotin, Washington.

Note: In addition to the information above located in his biography in the book, “Illustrated History of North Idaho”, relates he was the son of Gustave and Jane (Kay) Levander. Jane was born in London, 24 June 1796. Her father was a lieutenant in the British army. In 1884, he removed to the Meadows for his wife’s health and there raised stock. Mr. Levander was prominent in getting the wagon road to the little Salmon, building part of the road by his own contribution.

In 1864, at Boise, Mr. Levander married Miss Sarah E. Cox, of Gentry county, Missouri; this was the first marriage celebrated in the Boise valley and occurred in a tent. Mr. Cox was a pioneer of Oregon. Mrs. Levander has the following brothers and sisters, John, Jesse, Oliver, Elvira Prosser and Martha Teal. Mr Levander is the youngest of this family and his only brother, Charles A. died recently. His wife, Sarah, passed away May 29, 1909—“River & Prairie News, 1904-1913”, compiled by Carol Anglen.

Copyright Notice: All materials contained on these pages are furnished for the free use of those engaged in researching their family origins. Any commercial use or distribution, without the consent of the host/author of these pages is prohibited. All images used on these pages were obtained from sources permitting free distribution, or generated by the author, and are subject to the same restrictions/permissions. All persons contributing material for posting on these pages do so in recognition of their free, non-commercial distribution, and further, is responsible to assure that no copyright is violated by their submission.

source: Idaho County GenWeb, Information submitted by Chris Cornett
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Adams County Leader, June 15, 1951

“Jonathan Edward McMahan passed away at his home in New Meadows, Monday, June 4, at the age of 73. He was born at Burnt River, Oregon, April 17, 1878 and spent his early childhood there. When he was eleven years old he moved with his family to Indian Valley, Idaho, ad at the age of sixteen he moved to Meadows Valley. During the winters of 1896 and 1897 he packed the mail on his back and snowshoed into Warren, Idaho. In the winter of 1898 he carried the mail from Meadows to Goff, which was located at the mouth of Race Creek below Riggins. He owned an operated the first store in McCall.”

excerpted from : Newspaper References to the Council, Idaho Area 1877 through 1950 Compiled by Dale Fisk, Council Valley Museum
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Will Hanover was born Aug. 2, 1882, the son of Dr. William and Minnie Whelihan Hanover and spent his boyhood in Superior and Delvan, Wisconsin.

… The owner of it, the summer Will was twenty, paid his train fare and trusted him to care for, on the trip, and deliver 2 fine stallions to a horse dealer at Stites, Idaho and there collect the pay for so doing. There he heard of the mining excitement up Rapid River and after a few months took a stagecoach from Grangeville for Pollock, which was then a thriving village at the mouth of Rapid River and from which place travelers and supplies went to the mine. At a stage stop-over-station-hotel at Goff, Idaho, at the mouth of Race Creek, the ranch owner and proprietor there, J.O. Levander, convinced him that the mine promoters and suppliers made more money than the mine workers, persuaded him to stay on as an all around hired hand. He learned the various pioneer skills necessary to stock and ranch management and in serving the public in the Post Office, store, and stage station.

excerpted from: White Bird News, by Toni Baker, Idaho County Free Press, August 22, 2017


Goff, Idaho (6 miles from Pollock)

Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – October 15, 1904

Broke Revolver on Head

Assault on Tennyson Wright, Formerly a Resident of Boise

The following, from a Grangeville dispatch, tells of an assault made on a former resident of Boise: Tennyson Wright, who lives about four miles from Pollock and 60 miles from Grangeville, arrived here this morning stating that an attempt had been made on his life by A.E.(Fred) White, a stockman of Salmon River.

Mr. Wright is a prior settler and owns some valuable land which was given him by a decision of the land office at Boise last month. The claim was contested by A.E. White, who, Wright claims, took it away from him by force. Wright was arrested and brought [to] Grangeville about four weeks ago on a charge of insanity, but was dismissed as sane.

In relating the story of the attempt upon his life, Mr. Wright said: “My wife had company yesterday, and when our company returned home my wife and I accompanied her across this contested land. We met Mr. White and I gave him notice to move his improvements within 30 days. He advanced upon me and struck me about the face and head with his six shooter, knocking me down. He kicked me about the body until my wife interfered and gave me a chance to run into the house. He ran after me for about 30 yards and then turned back and tried to find the barrel of his revolver, which my wife afterward told me he broke over my head.

Later my wife and I went to Pollock. We heard that White and his gang were drinking in a saloon near by.

While we were in a store one of the gang came in and bought a box of cartridges, and I, thinking that another attempt was to be made on my life, slipped out of the store, through some brush and ran up the road about a mile, where I met a man with a horse, and came on to Grangeville, making the ride of 60 miles in 10 hours over a very rough road. I will swear out a complaint for White’s arrest in the morning. My head and body are very sore and cause me much pain every time I move. I am confident that if he had not broken his gun he would have killed me.

Mr. Wright’s face and head show the marks of violence. He also states that the Whites kill his stock and turn their own cattle into his fields, destroying his crops and breaking his fences. He says that he has been shot at several times by unknown parties, and that one night a man who was staying at his place was almost killed by someone in ambuscade.

Copyright Notice: All materials contained on these pages are furnished for the free use of those engaged in researching their family origins. Any commercial use or distribution, without the consent of the host/author of these pages is prohibited. All images used on these pages were obtained from sources permitting free distribution, or generated by the author, and are subject to the same restrictions/permissions. All persons contributing material for posting on these pages do so in recognition of their free, non-commercial distribution, and further, is responsible to assure that no copyright is violated by their submission.
source: Murders, Poisonings and Executions in Idaho County from Area Newspaper Articles compiled by Penny Bennett Casey, Idaho County GenWeb
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – February 24, 1905

Tennyson Wright Killed at Goff

Is Shot to Death by Fred White as Result of Row Over Land

White Goes to Squaw Creek and Commits Suicide – Wright’s Father, Dr. J. B. Wright of Caldwell, Notified of His Son’s Death and Remains Will Be Held for Relatives

Meadows, Feb 23 – Tennyson Wright was shot and killed by Fred White at Goff on February 22. Immediately after the killing White went to Squaw creek where he committed suicide by shooting himself. The tragedy was the climax in a long series of bickering between the two men over the possession of land. On a previous occasion. White shot at Wright and gave him a sever beating.

White will be buried at Squaw creek. Wright’s father, Dr. J.R. Wright of Caldwell, has been notified of his son’s death and the body will be held at Goff until the relatives have been heard from.

Tennyson Wright was a son of Dr. J.R. Wright of Caldwell and a brother of Junius Wright of this city. He leaves a widow.

The father was notified by telephone from Meadows, the message conveying the additional information that the deceased met White at Goff, both being on their way to Grangeville to attend the trial of the latter for the assault upon deceased last May.

This information was telephoned by Dr. Wright to his son here last evening. He further informed him he was sending a messenger to the scene to bring the remains to Caldwell for burial.
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – February 26, 1905

Shot Down by an Assassin

Tennyson Wright the Victim of a Cold Blooded Murderer

Details of Double Tragedy at Goff

A.E. White Fired the Fatal Shots Without Warning and Then Committed Suicide

The Two Men Were on Their Way to Grangeville Where White Was to Have Been Tried for Assault to Murder Wright – Bloody Culmination of a Feud Which Existed for Years and in Which White Was the Persecutor and Wright the Persecuted

Details of the killing of Tennyson Wright by A.E. White at Goff on the evening of Thursday, February 22, and the subsequent suicide of White, show that Wright was shot down in cold blood without the slightest warning. The shooting occurred at Levander’s place in Goff and two of the Levander boys were eye witnesses. Wright was in the act of leaving the house in order to avoid a possible clash with. White, when the latter suddenly drew an automatic revolver and shot Wright twice, killing him instantly.

The story of the tragedy from its inception to its climax reads like that of a Kentucky mountain feud, excepting that Wright at all times was a law abiding citizen and did his utmost to keep out of trouble. He was shot at time and again, his horses, cattle, hogs and dogs were killed, his hay burned, his fences demolished, his crops destroyed and he was even arrested on a trumped up charge of insanity.

The trouble arose over the possession of a tract of land in the Squaw creek district. Wright being the oldest settler, had first claim to the land. When the survey was made it was found that White’s house and a portion of his improvements were located on the tract claimed by Wright. White contested Wright’s claim and was beaten in the courts.

Last autumn when Wright’s title to the land was cleared by the courts, he notified White that the latter must move his improvements from the land within 30 days. White became enraged and beat Wright over the head with a revolver and threatened to kill him. White was arrested on a charge of assault with intent to kill and bound over to the district court. The two men were on their way to Grangeville to attend the trial when the tragedy occurred.

Subsequent and prior to the last assault Wright’s life was in constant jeopardy. White and his friends were determined to run Wright out of the country and they resorted to despicable and criminal means to accomplish their purpose.

His cattle were shot down, one by one until he only had one head left. The same thing happened to his horses. Even his dog did not escape the bullets of his belligerent neighbors and his hogs were killed or stolen. ON several occasions White and his friends tore down Wright’s fences and turned their stock into his fields, daring him to interfere. Shots were fired into Wright’s house time and again and when he attempted to save his hay from from destruction by fire bullets whizzed by his ears.

Through the instrumentality of White and his friends Wright was arrested on a charge of insanity. Mrs. Wright was away from home at the time and it is supposed that the White faction intended to burn down Wright’s house and barns when the latter was under arrest. The timely arrival of Mrs. Wright on the night of her husband’s arrest, it is believed, prevented the execution of the plan. The charge of insanity was disproven with ridiculous ease and Wright returned to again become a target for his neighbor’s bullets.

Cold Blooded Murder

Wright arrived at Levander’s on the afternoon of February 22, intending to remain there over night. He was on his way to Grangeville to appear in court. A short time after his arrival White rode up to the house, tied his horse and went into the room where Wright and the two Levander boys were sitting.

What transpired afterwards is told by Stage Driver Freeman and a Mr. Thompson who was a passenger on the Meadows stage.

When White came in Wright said: “I’m afraid of you, White, and I don’t want to go out with you.” “That will be all right, Tenny,” responded one of the Levanders, “we will not put you in the same room and if you don’t want to you need not sleep in the same house.”

Wright immediately started to leave the room and as he did so White whipped out a revolver and shot him twice. One shot took effect in the neck and the other in the short ribs. Wright dropped to the floor dead.

Immediately after firing the last shot White dashed out to his horse, mounted and started back towards his home. The Levander boys started after him on horseback. As they neared Squaw creek, about three miles south of Goff, they overtook White. As they did so they heard a shot and supposing that White had fired at them they turned back for help. Returning with a posse they found White’s body about 60 feet from the road with a bullet through the brain. It is supposed that White feared he was about to be captured and committed suicide.

White was buried at Pollock on Friday afternoon. Wright’s body was brought to Pollock on Friday and will be taken in to Caldwell at once, reaching the latter place on Tuesday morning. The funeral will probably occur at Caldwell on Tuesday afternoon, Mrs. Wright’s father, Mr. Fuller of Moscow, will accompany the remains.

Tennyson Wright came to Boise in 1876 and lived here until 1885. He went to Squaw Creek about 10 years ago and located the land over which the dispute arose. White and others came to the district some time later and immediately began to make trouble for Wright. Their conduct was notorious and at one time the matter was brought to the attention of the state authorities and the officials of Idaho County were instructed to protect.

It is possible that the tragedy will result in a searching investigation of conditions at Squaw creek and possibly some indictments.
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – March 6, 1905

Wright’s Murder Was Premeditated

Evidence Obtained by Idaho County Officers Shows That Alfred White Planned to Kill Wright at Goff

The Grangeville Standard published the following account of the investigation connected with the murder of Tennyson Wright by Alfred White at Goff and the suicide of the murderer:

Sheriff Greene and Coroner Irvin have returned from their trip up the Salmon River where they investigated the circumstances of the death of Tennyson Wright and Alfred White. They say that there can be no doubt as to the correctness of the facts as stated in recent reports. There can be no question as to the fact that White ended his own life, and the powder marks on his coat showed that the gun had been pressed close against him when the shot was fired. The bullet passed directly through his heart.

The evidence in the case they say shows that White had no intention of coming to Grangeville, but left home with the avowed intention of killing Wright. They were both sitting in the waiting room at the hotel. White had arrived late, his horse lathered with sweat, and when he entered he did not speak to anyone, a performance very different from his ordinary action as he usually was very sociable. He was asked by Mr. Levander if he was going to Grangeville. He nodded that he was. He was asked if he wanted a ticket, and only pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to Levander over his shoulder never taking his eyes from Wright. When it came time to go to bed everyone else had left the room, and White and Wright remained alone. It is supposed that each was waiting for the other to leave. Wright finally made a start, and he had no more than stepped outside the door, when White sprang to his feet and was after him. Riggles who was standing in the door saw him draw the gun, and spoke to him, but White turned the weapon threateningly to toward him, and he kept silent. An instant later a report rang out, “oh,” was the only exclamation which came from the wounded man. White shot him twice more as he was falling, and a fourth time as he lay prostrate on the ground.

The weapon used was an automatic Colts, that belonged to Wright. It is supposed that White has had the weapon ever since their trouble last fall. It is supposed that White heard Levander and Riggles coming after him and fearing there was a mob that would end his life, he decided to turn the weapon upon himself rather than be caught. White was buried at Riggins.

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source: Murders, Poisonings and Executions in Idaho County from Area Newspaper Articles compiled by Penny Bennett Casey, Idaho County GenWeb
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Grangeville-Salmon River-New Meadows Stage Lines

Shortly after the discovery of gold at Florence in 1861, settlers and miners became interested in the Salmon River area between Riggins and White Bird. Ranches along the river provided needed supplies for the miners, and some served as way stations along the trail to the mines. Although it attracted a few early placer miners, the area did not receive too much attention until the 1890’s. The Nez Perce War in 1877 had an unsettling effect on the river population, but soon after the cessation of hostilities the area experienced an increased growth.

Pack trains and saddle horses remained the standard mode of transportation for supplies and travelers until the beginning of a road system in 1894.

… In September Fred McGaffee replaced Roy Gordon as driver on the White Bird-Goff portion of the line. Gordon moved to Lewiston to care for his brother Sida, who was incapacitated with typhoid fever.
(Idaho County Free Press., September 28, 1898, p. 4, c. 3)

In the spring of 1899 a tri-weekly stage was operating between White Bird and Goff, where connections were made for Meadows. The stage left White Bird on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:30 a.m. The return stage left Goff on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 4 a.m. and arrived in White Bird at 11 a.m. A. A. Robinson, the general state agent, maintained an office in Grangeville.
(Idaho County Free Press., March 24, 1899, p. 3, c. 7)

In September 1901 the State Wagon Road between Grangeville and Meadows was nearly completed and wagons passed over the route daily. By November the road had been accepted as completed by the State Wagon Road commissioners and officially opened for traffic.
(Idaho County Free Press., September 5, 1901, p. 4; November 7, 1901, p. 4, c. 2)

On July 1, 1902, a daily mail service went into effect between Grangeville and Meadows, which made Boise accessible in two days from Camas Prairie. “The stage leaves here every evening at 5:40 and keeps going until Meadows is reached, where there will be direct connections with the P. I. & N. Railroad at Council. From Grangeville to White Bird Leroy Gordon will operate the line, and from White Bird to Goff and from Goff to Meadows the line will be in the hands of Allen Riggles and Freeman and White.”
(Idaho County Free Press., June 2, 1902, p. 1, c. 5)

… In February 1903 Homer Levander and Charles Goodno purchased the Goff-White Bird portion of the line from Allen Riggles, Levander and his wife soon moved from Meadows to the stage station about twelve miles out from White Bird.
(Idaho County Free Press., February 26, 1903, p. 4, c. 2)

excerpted from: Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series Number 793, 1985
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Building a North South Road

With surging populations and the establishment of postal routes, it was becoming clear to those in the north that they needed a reliable and passable route between Lewiston and the population centers to the south. And, when the 1864 Territorial Legislature met in Boise instead of Lewiston, it was clear that a competitive spirit between the two sections of the territory had developed, a rivalry that some believed could only be cured with a physical connection between them.

Recommendations on a route were first made in 1872, when Washington town (in today’s Washington County) postmaster C.A. Sears proposed a joint stock company to construct a toll road from Boise to the head of the Weiser Valley, then down the Little Salmon River to the site of old Goff’s Ferry, situated at the mouth of Race Creek, approximately six miles below the town of Pollock, near modern-day Riggins. Presumably, a traveler could connect to other trails there and get to Florence. However, a new competition soon arose in the quest to unite north and south Idaho, one that pitted one rough route against another. While residents of Warrens desired the construction of a wagon road to their camp further east, which would then connect over several mountainous divides to Florence via a rough trail, residents of the Weiser and Meadows areas believed that traversing the Little Salmon River canyon was the more logical way to proceed. Neither was ideal, though, thanks to the rough terrain, steep mountains and canyons, and the raging rivers.

Territorial leaders nevertheless recognized both the importance of the link as well as the impossibility of sparsely populated and poorly funded counties independently taking on the task of construction. In January 1874, the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman first reported that the Idaho congressional delegation was advocating a military wagon road between Fort Lapwai in the north and Fort Boise in the south, traveling along the Little Salmon River from Goff’s Ferry, down the Weiser River valley and into the Snake River valley to Boise. According to the paper, there was “already a trail over this whole route,” and the paper urged the bill’s passage to improve communications between north and south Idaho and to quiet northern rumblings regarding dividing the territory into northern and southern portions. The 1879 General Land Office surveys in the area show a trail along the Little Salmon River as well as another trail, coming up the Weiser River Valley, and connecting with the Little Salmon trail. (See Figure 2.) Furthermore, the paper argued that branch roads to this route – including to Warrens – could be constructed to allow for easier travel to the mining areas in the Salmon Mountains and for the introduction of machinery to the mines, which would bring additional revenues. This road would also shorten the route between from Boise to Lewiston from the existing 400 miles to a mere 260.


The Statesman reported nothing further on the north-south route until January 1877 when the Territorial Legislature passing a memorial for a military road between Fort Boise and Fort Lapwai, in which Idaho’s governing body reiterated the $80,000 request to Congress to build the segment of military road from White Bird Creek to the head of the Weiser River Valley (in Meadows). The Statesman reported that roads already existed between Fort Boise and the Upper Weiser and from White Bird to Fort Lapwai, which left only the construction of the 90-mile stretch along the Salmon and Little Salmon to complete a road between northern and southern portions of the territory.

excerpted from pgs 8-10: “Road of No Return” The Story of Travel Through the Little Salmon River Canyon
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Goff Bridge

The bridge, named after early local pioneer John Goff, also is known as the Time Zone Bridge because it marks the boundary between the Mountain and Pacific time zones in Idaho.

The current bridge [1997] was built in 1935-36. It replaced a smaller steel and timber truss bridge built in 1911. The first bridge also was moved. It went about 50 miles north to Stites, where it spanned the South Fork of the Clearwater River.

excerpted from: The Spokesman-Review May 19, 1997

Note: the bridge was replaced in 1999.
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Idaho State Historical Society Photos of Goff Bridge

1911 Old Goff Bridge – photographer Leonard J. Howard
link to original:

1935 Goff Bridge construction – photographer Leonard J. Howard
link to original:

1936 Goff Bridge – photographer Leonard J. Howard
link to original:

link to all 9 photos: Copyright is held by the Idaho State Historical Society.
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New Time Zone Bridge

Time Zone Bridge in Riggins in 2017.

The bridge marks the dividing line between the Pacific and Mountain time zones in Idaho. (Riggins Ambulance)

source: Eye on Boise