Idaho is essentially a mining territory. It was her mines that first stimulated immigration to within her borders, and it is to the results of the mines that her present prosperity is due in a great measure. Now that mining has been reduced to a legitimate occupation, there is less reckless speculation, perhaps, than of old, but more solid, substantial business. The days of stock gambling in mining properties are about over. Science, aided by practical experience, has taught the best methods of treating ores. Capitalists no longer purchase prospects for fabulous prices on the strength of picked specimens or the vicinity of rich claims. It is a fortunate circumstance for Idaho that mining has been for the most part a steady, productive industry, yielding rich returns to the patient and intelligent prospector, and that it has not been necessary to rely on fictitious “booms.”Read More
Collection: Illustrated History of the State of Idaho
Before the mining period, commencing in 1862, Idaho was a comparatively unknown region belonging nominally to Oregon and afterward to Washington. During the years 1862-3 such was the rush of immigration to this section that Idaho was erected into a territory of the United States government. The enabling act to organize as such was passed by congress in the spring of the latter year, and on the 22d of September William H. Wallace, late delegate to congress from Washington, who had, on July l0th preceding, been appointed governor of Idaho by President Lincoln, issued his proclamation for organizing the territory, with the capital at Lewiston; but the fact of this proclamation was scarcely known to the miners in the wilderness, far removed from mail facilities, until the following spring. Meanwhile the laws of Washington were in force. The first occurrence of the name Idaho territory in the public records seems to have been under date of August 7, 1863, in Boise. James Judge was on that day made assessor. Previously to his election as delegate Wallace had districted the territory, for judicial purposes, as follows: First district, Nez Percé and Shoshone counties, A. C. Smith judge; second, Boise county, Samuel C. Parks judge; third, Missoula county and the country east of the Rocky mountains, Sidney Edgerton judge. Florence, Bannack City and Hellgate were appointed as the seats of federal...Read More
In 1833 Captain Bonneville, an officer in the army, secured leave of absence and spent about two years here, mostly in the Snake river valley. He left his horses for the winter with some Indians at a camp near where St. Anthony is now located. He and his men made their way down Snake river in boats till they reached Black Rock canyon, where now is Idaho Falls, the thriftiest town in southeast Idaho: but they dared not venture in their boats through the canyon. Captain Bonneville found a desolate sage-covered valley, holding out no promise of ever being more than a range where Indian cayuses might pick a precarious living on bunch grass. Not a tree as far as the eye could reach, except an occasional wind-twisted and gnarled juniper growing out of the seams in the lava rock along the banks of Snake River. In 1849, when the California stampede was on, many of the gold-seekers passed over the same Snake river valley, and, in after years, relating their experience, described it as one of the most hopeless spots encountered in their ox-train journey across the continent. In 1864 the stampede for Alder Gulch, Montana, was fairly under way. Whether from east or west, the Snake River valley was on the route. A ferry was put in by John Gibson just below where Blackfoot now is, and...Read More
Prospecting early indicated that the future mineral wealth of Idaho would depend upon quartz mining, and accordingly efforts were early made to develop that feature of Idaho’s principal industry. In the autumn of 1863 it was found that thirty-three claims of gold and silver quartz-mines had been made on the south Boise alone, ail of which promised well. The Ida Elmore, near the head of Bear creek, the first and most famous of the south Boise quartz mines in that year, was discovered in June. In an arastra it yielded two hundred and seventy dollars to the ton of rock; but at length it fell into the hands of speculators. The next several mines of this class were the Barker, East Barker, Ophir, Idaho, Independence, Southern Confederacy, Esmeralda, General Lane, Western Star, Golden Star, Mendocino, Abe Lincoln, Emmett and Hibernia. The Idaho assayed, thirty feet below the surface, one thou-sand seven hundred and forty-four dollars in gold and ninety-four dollars and eighty-six cents in silver; Golden Eagle, two thousand two hundred and forty dollars in gold and twenty-seven dollars in silver, from the croppings. At the Ida Elmore a town was laid out called Fredericksburg, and other towns were also laid out elsewhere, many of which remained towns only in the imagination. Rocky Bar, however, laid out in 1864, beautifully materialized, while Boise City, founded at the junction of...Read More
The first settlements made by whites with-in the present boundaries of Idaho were effected by Jesuit missionaries, as is true throughout the Pacific coast region; and previously to 1863, the beginning of a new era in this region, there were but two or three settlements made by others. In the primeval stage the country was not at all inviting to civilized people. The almost omnipresence of red savages precluded all thoughts of prospecting in the mountains for valuable minerals, while the valleys seemed to be only arid deserts absolutely irreclaimable for agricultural purposes. In the outside world ideas as to the climate were de-rived only from hunters and trappers, who spent only the winters here, in the mountains, where the cold was intense and snow abundant, and from emigrants, who passed through here only during hot weather, when the valleys they traversed seemed to deserve connection with what was known as “the Great American desert.” One authority states that the first permanent settlement in Idaho was made at Mount Idaho, the present County seat of Idaho County. Probably the first permanent settlement, however, was made in 1834 in which year Nathaniel J. Wyeth, with a party of sixty men, started across the continent and established Fort Hall as a trading post near Snake River. This fort was the most important point between the Missouri River and Salt Lake to...Read More
As to the exact time and period in which the United States acquired possession of what is now the state of Idaho there seems to have been somewhat of confusion in the minds of historical writers, and while it is scarcely demanded that we enter into a consideration of the various theories and conjectures that have been advanced, it is proper that the matter receive due attention and that the most authentic evidence be recognized. The majority of writers and text-books have assigned the region as a part of the vast area included in the Louisiana purchase, to which due reference is made on other pages of this work. This view, however, can not be held as essentially correct in its premises. What was generally known as the “Oregon Country” was not an integral portion of that purchase, and no better or more concise evidence to this effect may be found than that given in the following excerpt from James G. Blaine’s valuable work, “Twenty Years of Congress:” The Louisiana Purchase did not extend beyond the main range of the Rocky Mountains, and our title to that large area which is included in the state of Oregon and in the territories of Washington and Idaho rests upon a different foundation, or rather upon a series of claims, each of which was strong under the law of nations. We claimed...Read More
The claims of the European nations to ownership of the lands and resources of America rested on a somewhat flimsy basis in right. Its morality was that of might. There was a quasi yielding to these claims as against each other on grounds of discovery and formal occupancy. At the same time not one of these powers stopped for a moment to consider what rights of these people that were found there when they came would be violated by their assumptions. Barbaric nations never had any rights that nations calling themselves civilized have felt bound to respect. England, France, and Spain were, as relates to what were termed barbaric nations, the freebooters of the world. America was a field for civilized rapine worthy of the struggle of these racial giants. Under some forms of treaty, designed mostly by either Party to limit the pretensions of the other, but as far as possible leaving itself free to enlarge its own claims as it might have power to enforce them, these powers moved forward first in the agreed division of the area of North America among themselves, and then in using the allotted areas as the small change that settled the balances of peace and war in continental Europe. Plenipotentiaries sat in European capitals, five thousand miles away from the regions most interested, and arbitrated American destinies. In this wav America...Read More
The Mountains have ever been the bulwarks of freedom. Valor is born there; virtue is cherished there, and these are the seeds of song and story. No land ever yet had a literature to endure that had not these for its theme, these off-springs of the pure, sweet atmosphere and sublime splendor of inspiring Mountains; and the more glorious the Mountains, the more glorious the song and story. What then may we not prophesy for Idaho when her torn and devastated placer fields all are terraced vineyards, as in Savoy, and the peace and rest of the old pastoral days of Greece shall possess her? Meanwhile it remains for us to dwell rather upon the vital present; to note the assurances offered in the fair new state of Idaho as this wonderful nineteenth century draws rapidly to its close. Here nature has been lavish to prodigality; here mountain and valley yield forth their treasures; and here are the homes of a progressive, enlightened and a loyal people who honor and receive honor from the whole noble sisterhood of states. The Gem of the Mountains may well challenge admiration, and it is hoped that the pages of this work may bear their part in perpetuating the dramatic story of the brave men and virtuous women who gathered about the cradle of the infant Idaho, and also tell the latter-day story...Read More
In General it may be said that the mountain ranges of Idaho are volcanic upheavals, the mighty bending upward of the crust of the earth’s surface when its inborn fires were lashed to unwonted fury in some stormy age of old eternity. The valleys were doubtless formed by this upheaval of its enclosing ranges, leaving the floor of the surface here comparatively undisturbed. This really rests on a foundation of aqueous rock of unmeasured thickness, on which the alluvial matter that forms its soils has been deposited. With this there are, in many places, deep deposits of water-worn pebbles and stratified sand, which were made at an era much more modern than that of the underlying sandstone. It is useless to endeavor to identify these changes chronologically, as creation in its being and in its mutations writes its historic days in millennials of age, and thus puts our conception of time, drawn as it is from human experience and human history, entirely at fault. Of course, in indicating the forces that formed the now verdant valleys, glacial action must not be forgotten. Far extending moraines and wide glaciated surfaces tell the story of the far-away eras when these mighty ice-plows furrowed and planed down the broken face of the earth’s crust, and smoothed it into its now beauteous vales. Enough has already been said to indicate to the reader...Read More
During the long period of time in which the Pacific coast of North America was being slowly brought to the knowledge of civilized man, the course of narrative shows that the Frenchman and Spaniard were the pioneers of exploration in this region, both by sea and land. Spain led the maritime nations in distant and successful voyages. The voyage of Columbus, under the auspices of Ferdinand and his noble queen, Isabella, whose reign over the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon gave Spain so much glory in that adventurous and chivalrous age, had kindled every maritime Spaniard into a very knight of the seas, and inspired the whole nation with a burning zeal for discovery and conquest of distant lands. Her rulers were among the greatest and most renowned of all ages of the world. Ferdinand and Isabella were succeeded by Charles V., one of the most enlightened and powerful monarchs that ever sat on any throne. He was succeeded by his son Philip, who, though haughty and imperious, so carried forward the ideas and purposes of his great father that his kingdom reached the very zenith of power and influence in the councils of the European monarchs. The woe pronounced upon a “land whose king is a child” could not fall upon Spain during this period. Weak and lusterless as may now be the condition of the Spanish...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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....Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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