WILLIAM A. COUGHANOUR
History of Idaho, Volume 2, by Hiram T. French, M.S.
The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1914, Page 815-816
William A. Coughanour has been prominently identified with the business and civic life of Payette, Idaho, of which he has long been a resident, and in fact, may almost be looked upon as one of the founders of the city. He has been connected with many of the greatest industries that have come into existence in Payette, and has played a large and important part in the growth and advancement of the city to its present status. As mayor of the city through nine successive years, he has contributed no little of time and energy to the direction of its affairs in a municipal way, and has ever exhibited the most worthy interest in the advance of the civic life of the community.
Born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, on March 12, 1850, Mr. Coughanour is the son of Dutch parents. The father, H. S. Coughanour, was born in 1815, and passed practically his entire life in Fayette county. He was a ship-builder, and gave his attention to the work throughout all of his active career. He married Caroline Conkle, a daughter of one of the good old Dutch families of his neighborhood and they became the parents of four daughters and a son.
William A. Coughanour was thus the one son of his parents. He was reared in the place of his nativity and received his education in the public schools of the community. He was twenty years of age when he made his first appearance in the state of Idaho, and this state has since represented his home and the center of his business activities. When he arrived in Idaho, after a long and tedious trip overland, he assumed the management of the Gold Hill mine, at Quartzburg, becoming secretary and treasurer of the company and retaining the position of importance for a matter of fifteen years, as well as being superintendent of the mine and mill for practically the same time. Today this is one of the big mining properties of Idaho, and under his management ore to the value of three million dollars was mined.
In 1885 Mr. Coughanour came to Payette, where he at once assumed a position of considerable weight as the promoter of many needed industrial enterprises in the community, which have not alone tended to advance his personal interests, but have resulted in great good to the community at large. He has large landed interests in Oregon and Idaho and for many years conducted an extensive lumber business in Payette, with yard and manufacturing of lumber that would supply every demand of the public in the way of building material. He was a director in the Payette Valley Bank and a stockholder and secretary of the Lower Payette Ditch Company, a concern which has been a most potent factor in the irrigating of lands in this section of the state. He has been deeply interested in fruit growing in Idaho, and it is generally conceded that Mr. Coughanour laid the foundation for the wonderful development of Idaho into a fruit growing country, he being the first to enter that enterprise and the most enthusiastic in advertising the splendid results that accrued as the result of his efforts. He developed one of the finest orchards in the state, located a short distance from the city. Further, he has gone into stock raising to a considerable extent, and has had as high as five hundred head of cattle on his ranch at one time. His reputation in the fields of agriculture and horticulture is wide and he served for six years as president of the State Horticultural board of inspection, resigning from his office at the end of that time.
Politically, Mr. Coughanour is a Democrat, and prior to his location in Payette served as county commissioner of Boise county. In 1896 he was elected to the state senate, from Canyon county, and while serving in his official capacity he introduced the horticultural inspection bill, which he pushed through to a successful issue, securing at the same time an appropriation of ten thousand dollars, in order that the horticultural board might be able to carry forward its projected work of protecting the fruit interests of the state from destructive fruit pests. While he served as president of that board, he was able to bring about many effective measures for the further protection of the fruit industry of the state, and in that capacity alone he has done for the state a work which it can never repay. As mayor of Payette through seven successive terms, the city passed through its greatest period of prosperity and municipal activity, as during his incumbency of the office he put forth every possible effort to promote such measures as would conduce to the greatest public benefit. He has occupied an important place in the political life of the state for a number of years, and has been instrumental in bringing about many of the important reforms, as well as aiding in the ultimate election of various executives. In 1910 his was the honor of placing in nomination his old time friend, Honorable James H. Hawley, for the governor and saw him elected to the gubernatorial chair. Mr. Coughanour was a member of the governor's staff, and in 1912 placed Governor Hawley in re-nomination, and the last official act of Governor Hawley was the appointing of Mr. Coughanour on the board of regents of the State University of Idaho at Moscow, Idaho.
In 1874 Mr. Coughanour was united in marriage with Miss Galena Bunting, a native of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, like himself, and a son and daughter were born to them. The daughter, Emma L., married Dr. We. R. Hamilton, of Weiser, Idaho, where they now reside, and the son. William M., married Miss Alta Stroup, of Fayette. Mr. Coughanour has long been prominent in fraternal circles, being affiliated with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Of the latter named order he is past grand master and grand representative, being at the present time grand treasurer of the grand lodge of the state of Idaho. He is vice president and a member of the Payette Commercial Club, and is now vice president of the First National Bank of Payette.
Mr. Coughanour is a man of splendid attainments, and is widely known throughout the state as an orator, as well as a most effective and entertaining after-dinner speaker, welcomed everywhere in that capacity. His public speaking is always marked with a spice of humor that wins him the attention and applause of any audience. When the golden spike was driven which marked the commencement of the railroad which connected the entire Payette valley with Emmett, Mr. Coughanour delivered an address that attracted state-wide attention to him as a public speaker, and he is always in great demand when forceful, logical and entertaining speech-making is in order. His political, fraternal and business prominence has won to him a wide acquaintance throughout the state, and it is not too much to say that hi is regarded everywhere as one of the chief citizens of Idaho, who has been up and doing in the best interests of the commonwealth since the first day he located within its borders, and cast in his lot with its citizenship. In 1908, on Second avenue, North, in front of the depot he built a pavilion in the center and on the top of which is mounted an oxidized copper elk, nine feet in height, life size, its antlers illuminated with electric bulbs. Our subject has perhaps one of the rarest collections of mineral specimens in the United States, which represents in value thousands of dollars among which are several gold nuggets ranging in price from $25 to $150.