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Historical Notes on the Work of the Catholic Church in Idaho

As the Catholic Church has ever been the pioneer in civilization, so that we find her name linked with the early history of all lands, so, too, is it true of Idaho. Long before the coming of the first settlers to our present “Gem of the Mountains,” we find the faithful Catholic priest, laboring not for earth’s golden treasures nor ambition’s honored guerdons, but for the upbuilding of that grand edifice whose comer-stone is Christ, for the elevating and saving of souls who, without the ministration of the “Anointed of the Lord,” would never have been drawn from the darkness of semi-barbarism into the bright light of Christian faith. It is fitting, then, that in a history of the state of Idaho the work of the Catholic church be not omitted: so with no apology to the reader of the present volume the author presents the following data carefully gathered from many sources, in the hope that by his feeble pen the work of so many of earth’s noble men may be preserved to future generations as an incentive to devoted labor on the part of their followers, not less than as a means of spreading a knowledge of the Catholic Church the mother of Christian churches and the fountain-head of so much that is good and true in history, art, science, and civilization. The Catholic missionary to whom belongs the honor of having held the first ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the territory now comprising the state of Idaho was the Most Rev. F. N. Blanchet, archbishop of Oregon, who, in 1838, in company of Rev. Modest Demers, was sent...

The Indians Of Idaho Nez Percé And Shoshone Uprisings

Some notice of the original inhabitants of Idaho is due the reader of this book, even though that notice must necessarily be short and its data largely traditional. With-out a written language of any kind, unless it was the use of the rudest and most barbarous symbols, they have passed away and left no recorded history; without architecture, except that which exhausts its genius in the construction of a skin wigwam or a bark lodge, they have died and left no monuments. Traditions concerning them are too confused, contradictory and uncertain to satisfy any who desire reliable history. Any real information at all reliable concerning them began with the publication of the journal of the exploring expedition of Lewis and Clarke in 1804 and 1805. Incidental notices of various tribes have been given to the world by other explorers and travelers, but very much that has been written concerning them was not the ascertaining of patient and continued personal investigation, nor yet the impressions of any extended personal contact, but the chance and hasty gatherings of unreliable traditions, or, what was even less to be depended on than this, the exaggerated recitals of some wild, camp-fire stories. All these, of course, have a value as literature, and occupy an interesting place in romantic story, but their history is not great. When these people were first brought under the study of civilized men two facts distinctly marked them: One was that the tribes east of the Cascade mountains had very different mental and physical qualities from those residing west of that range. The other was, that there was no form...

The Mormon Question

The fifteenth legislative assembly of Idaho convened December lo, 1878, when the people were excited over Mormonism more than in regard to all other things together. In all contested elections the Mormon candidates were excluded, and even an undue prejudice was bitterly exhibited against them. Congress was memorialized to refuse Utah admission into the Union, and also to require of homestead and preemption settlers an oath giving a statement of their polygamous practices. Already the local law required superintendents of schools to sub-scribe to an affidavit that they were neither bigamists nor polygamists, but at this session it was so altered that in case the person challenged were a woman the objectionable terms should not be included in the oath! At this session, also, was created the county of Elmore from the western portion of Alturas county, and Logan and Custer counties were formed. In the case of Elmore county, after much display of parliamentary tactics, the bill was passed, although the speaker became so excited that he bolted and left the chair abruptly during the reading of the journal on the last day of the session. The president of the council also left his chair on the last day of the session, in order to obstruct the passage of a measure obnoxious to him. In neither case was the action successful, as the house immediately elected George P. Wheeler, of Bingham, chairman, and the council chose S. F. Taylor, of the same county, president. To encourage the settlement of the territory a board of immigration was established. This measure was recommended by the committee on territorial affairs, whose...

The Press Of Idaho

In the promotion and conservation of advancement in all the normal lines of human progress and civilization there is no factor which has exercised a more potent influence than the press, which is both the director and the mirror of public opinion. Idaho, both as a territory and a state, has been signally favored in the character of its newspapers, which have been vital, enthusiastic and progressive, ever aiming to advance the interests of this favored section of the Union, to aid in laying fast and sure the foundations of an enlightened commonwealth, to further the ends of justice and to uphold the banner of the “Gem of the Mountains.” In a compilation of this nature, then, it is clearly incumbent that due recognition be accorded the newspaper press of the state, and in view of this fact this chapter is thus devoted, in appreciation of the earnest labors of those who have represented Idaho journalism in the past and who represent it in these latter days of the century. The Idaho Daily Statesman The press has not only recorded the history of advancement, but has also ever been the leader in the work of progress and improvement, the vanguard of civilization. The philosopher of some centuries ago proclaimed the truth that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and the statement is continually being verified in the affairs of life. In molding public opinion the power of the newspaper cannot be estimated, but at all events its influence is greater than any other single agency. In the history of Idaho, therefore, an account of the paper whose name...

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...

Washington County Its Towns, Resources, Etc.

Washington County lies on the western border of the state of Idaho, and about five hundred miles from the Pacific coast. It contains a large area of land suited to various purposes. It has a population of over five thousand people. Its inhabitants are, generally speaking, enterprising and thrifty people, many of them having settled here in the early 6o”s and have remained ever since. The early settler devoted himself to stock-raising and placer-mining, and he thought that was all the county was fit for. But as the county began settling up it was soon found that anything which grew in a temperate climate would grow here. Washington County is now considered to be a kingdom within itself, as it produces everything necessary for comfort and happiness. Its resources are so varied that it would be impossible to mention all of them in this connection. Agriculture and kindred industries are pursued more at present than anything else. This in the past has been confined largely to the raising of wheat and hay. But of late years our farmers have been planting large orchards and diversifying their products generally. Anywhere in the valleys all kind of grain, fruits and cereals can be successfully grown. Wherever Washington county fruit is exhibited it always carries away a premium. At a recent state fair held in Boise, Washington County carried off more premiums than any other county in the state. But agriculture is not the only industry of the county, by any means. The northern portion of the county, which is mostly mountainous, is thickly studded with pine timber, the supply of which...

The Payette Valley, Its Towns

For the following graphic and ably written article in regard to the attractions of the Payette valley we are indebted to a souvenir edition of the Payette Independent issued in March, 1898: The Payette valley lies in the southwestern part of Idaho, with its upper and narrow end extending far back into pine-clad mountains and its lower flaring into broad, fertile fields, terminating at the banks of the Snake river, just across whose waters rise the mountain peaks of Oregon. Its length is upward of forty miles, its width varying from two miles at the upper point to eight where it merges into the larger delta of the Snake. On its northern side rise foothills which succeed each other with in-creasing height until they are lost in the great chain of the Seven Devils mountains: on the south a long, low line of hills divides it from its sister valley, the Boise; and through it from end to end the Payette river, broad, deep, perennial, threads its way around innumerable islands. At its mouth, its gateway and outlet, within half a mile of the confluence of the Snake and Payette rivers, is the flourishing town of Payette: midway in its length, on its mesa or bench lands, is New Plymouth, a new community established on the co-operative principle: still farther up the valley is Falk’s Store, which in an early day was one of the most widely known stage stations in the state and an outfitting point for cattlemen of a large adjacent territory: and at its upper end, where the waters of the Payette, cold and clear, come...

Prominent Cities and Towns of the State

Boise, The Capital City The following descriptive article is an excerpt from the souvenir edition of the Boise Sentinel, issued in June 1897: So much has been said and written and sung of “Boise, the Beautiful,” that the task of saying any-thing new seems utterly hopeless; and of this there is little need. While those who have made their homes here from the beginning, and those who from year to year have come to stay, might naturally be expected to be most fervent in their praises, they have not always been the happiest in laying appropriate tributes before the shrine of the object of their love and admiration. Strangers and transient visitors have often been more fortunate in their offerings. Perhaps the first question that arises in the mind of a stranger in regard to this locality is why was it so named. After more than a third of a century has passed since the first human habitation was erected on the present site of the town, and after the story has been so often repeated in print, the inquiry continues to be daily made. Why Boise? Briefly, this is what the ancient chroniclers tell of the origin of the name: In the summer of 1834 a party of French Canadian voyagers, belonging to the expedition of Captain Bonneville (whose explorations and adventures were afterward immortalized by the pen of Washington Irving), in traveling across the treeless and arid Snake river plains, reached the edge of a plateau overlooking a beautiful valley, which, extending westward beyond the limits of their vision, seemed to present a continuous forest belt of...

Bingham County

While not one of the most populous nor one of the most wealthy counties in the state, Bingham county does not by any means stand at the foot of the list. In 1891 the Idaho Register, published at Idaho Falls, in giving a description of Bingham County, stated that it was the largest county in the state. Its length was one hundred and seventy-six miles, its width ninety miles, and it contained about fourteen thousand square miles, or about eight million acres of land; it extended from the Montana line on the north to within about twenty-one miles of the Utah line on the south. By an act approved March 6, 1893, a strip of about fifty-six miles was taken from the south end of the county and a new county formed, called Bannock county, and by an act approved March 4, at the same session of the legislature, a strip of about seventy-five miles was taken from the north end, forming a new county, called Fremont. This left Bingham county about ninety miles east and west and about forty-five miles north and south. The central portion of the county is traversed by the Snake River, and what is known as the great Snake River valley composes a large part of the central portion of the county. It is a very fertile section of country. The most extensive yield of wheat, oats, hay and potatoes is here shown. Many fields of wheat average fifty bushels to the acre, machine measure, which would usually hold out to nearly fifty-five bushels by weight, as nearly all the wheat runs sixty-two to...

Political, Resumed

In 1890 there were two important supreme-court decisions rendered which were of popular interest. The legislature remained in session for a time beyond the sixty-day limit prescribed by the constitution, and the question was raised as to the validity of the laws passed after that limit was passed. The supreme court of the state decided that they were valid, and this decision was finally affirmed by the supreme court of the United States. The other decision concerned the great Mormon question and the test oath so stringently adopted by the early settlers of the territory. The territorial statute provided that no person should be entitled to vote who was a “member of any order, organization or association which teaches, advises, counsels or encourages its members, devotees or any other person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime defined by law, as a duty arising or resulting from membership in such order, organization or association, or which practices bigamy, polygamy or plural or celestial marriages as a doctrinal rite of such organizations.” To enforce this provision it was further en-acted that every person applying for registration should take a stringent oath, known as the “test oath,” to the effect that he “does not and will not practice bigamy or polygamy, and is not and will not be connected in any way with the Mormon organization or aid it, or teach its doctrines.” It was claimed by the Mormons that these statutes violated the first amendment to the constitution of the United States, which forbids the passage ‘ of any law “respecting the establishment of religion...
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