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Owyhee County Its History, Towns, Industries

In 1862 the present county of Owyhee was a part of Boise County, which comprised all of the western portion of Washington Territory lying south of what was then called Idaho county, its area being nearly equal to that of Pennsylvania. When Idaho was created a territory by act of congress, March 3, 1863, Boise county became part and parcel of the territory of Idaho, and at the first session of the territorial legislature, held at Lewiston, Idaho, Owyhee County was created, December 31, 1863, out of all territory south of Snake River and west of the Rocky mountains. In 1864 Oneida County, and in 1879 Cassia County, were cut off of Owyhee County, reducing it to its present limits. Its northern boundary line is the Snake River. Cassia County on the east, state of Oregon on the west, and the state of Nevada forms its southern boundary. Its area is 8,130 square miles, being somewhat larger than the state of Massachusetts. Its name, “Owyhee,” is believed to have been borrowed from the Hawaiian language, and to have been given to the Owyhee River by two Kanakas in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Prior to the spring of 1863, Owyhee County was an unexplored country, inhabited only by bands of hostile Indians, while at that time the diggings of Boise basin and Oro Fino boasted of a population of over ten thousand miners. A legend of the early immigrants to Oregon of the “Blue Bucket diggings,” in the vicinity of the Owyhee mountains, wherein they used sinkers of gold for fishing purposes, led several adventurous spirits to...

Biography of Colonel William H. Dewey

Among the prominent influential citizens of Idaho, Colonel Dewey, of Dewey, enjoys a unique position and reputation. He is a pioneer Idahoan in the true sense of that word, and the marvelous development of the interests and industries of his adopted state is largely attributable to his enterprise and sagacity. He is a man of remarkable resources, and has never failed to measure fully up to all the requirements and emergencies of life. Although over seventy years old, he is well preserved and exhibits unabated vigor of mind and body. Colonel Dewey is a native of the state of New York, and his first American ancestors were early settlers in Massachusetts. In the autumn of 1863 he came to Idaho and located where the town of Dewey now is, but subsequently removed to where the town of Ruby City was located, and with others, March 21, 1864, laid out the town of Silver City. The gentleman whose name introduces this review is a born miner, and from his first arrival in Idaho the Colonel became prominently connected with the mining interests of the northwest, in which connection it is perfectly fair to say that he has been one of the leading and principal factors in the development of the mineral resources of this state. He owned nearly half of the South Mountain camp during the period of its greatest activity and was one of three men to discover and locate this magnificent property. He purchased the Trade Dollar mine in 1889, and after making numerous and expensive improvements upon it, sold to the present owners one hundred and thirty-four...

Biography of Peter Donnelly

Among the prominent pioneer miners of Silver City we should mention this highly esteemed citizen of Dewey, Owyhee County. He is a native of Ireland, born in county Longford, October 31, 1833. In 1840 his parents emigrated to the New World, settling in Rhode Island, and young Peter was brought up in the city of Providence. He arrived in California in the spring of 1853 and for several years followed placer mining, in all the prominent diggings of that state. Upon the discovery of gold at Oro Fino he was among the first to arrive there, in April 1862, and engaged in furnishing the miners with meat. He arrived in Idaho basin in March, 1863, and in June following came to the vicinity of Silver City, as a member of the company headed by Captain Michael Jordan. The packers then at the gulch were Cyrus Iby, Dr. Rood (one of the original discoverers). Jack Reynolds and a Mr. Boon. A man named Thompson whipsawed the lumber and made and set the first flumes. Mr. Donnelly and his partner, Michael Jordan, set an Indian-head on the top of a pole at the camp, which became the occasion of the place being called “Skull Camp.” Another partner was a man named Charles Skinner. They together opened the wagon road to Snake River, having first obtained from the territorial legislature a charter, which had a life of fifteen years. The toll on this road was three dollars for a pair of horses and wagon, one dollar for a horse and carriage, and twenty-five cents for a saddle horse. At the same time...

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