History of Idaho, Volume 3, by Hiram T. French, M.S.
The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1914, Page 1141-1142
Idaho has an established reputation as a stock country, and since early settlement has produced and sent to market a great annual volume of wealth in cattle, horses and sheep. The livestock industry usually brings up the familiar western picture of the range and the ranch, the cowboy, sheepherder and the regular type of stockmen. The modern highly developed stock farm with its fenced fields, its great barns and feeding lots, its equipment resembling that of a well regulated factory, and its business system belongs to the new era. It required pioneer enterprise of as high an order to undertake modern stock farming as was necessary half a century ago to bring a herd of long-horns into these valleys and establish a ranch under the threatenings of Indian foes.
Thanks to the initiative of some Idaho men, possessed of modern business talents, the way has already been broken out towards this new phase of agricultural enterprise, and in the next quarter century the state will be known as much for its fine livestock products as for its fruit and minerals. For its value as a teacher of Idaho history, the following paragraphs will describe briefly one of the finest enterprises in modern stock farming to be found in the entire state, with something about the career of a man whose work has not only brought himself a high degree of prosperity, but is proving a stimulating example to the agriculture development of all the Boise Valley.
Eight miles out from the city on the line of the Idaho Traction Company Railroad, the visitor who is seeking the highest standard of Idaho stock farm enterprise will be gratified with a view of the George V. Leighton & Son stock farm. The farm comprises three hundred and twenty acres of the best land to be found in the state. Substantial well built barns, equipped with all the modern conveniences and facilities for stock comfort and management, are the conspicuous features of this farm. The barns have a complete water plant, water being supplied through every needed point, they are electric lighted, and there are a number of other facilities such as feed cutters and mixers, conveyors, and everything to lighten labor and increase the power of managing and caring for the stock. The Leighton ranch is stocked with thoroughbred horses, cattle, sheep and hogs. In the horse stable are found the beautiful dapple-gray sire of many of the best horses in Idaho. This is "Charlemagne," to whose credit are first prizes in both America and in France, from which latter country he was imported. Charlemagne is of the Percheron breed. The swine on the Leighton farm are from several prize-winning Duroc boars and sows, and one of these was the first winner at the International Stock Show at Chicago in 1911. Mr. Leighton's Hampshire sheep, thoroughbred, were the first of the kind to be brought into the Boise Valley, and the increase of this flock are sold three years in advance. The cattle are all thoroughbred Holsteins, and without doubt the finest herds in Idaho, as well as one of the finest in America. Several of the cows in this herd cost one thousand dollars apiece at the age of four months, and a number of them have won prizes in the foremost shows in America, and several blue-ribbon animals stand in the Leighton stalls.
The most important contribution of the Leighton enterprise is in laying a firm foundation and making a substantial beginning in the dairy business. Dairying is a comparatively new industry on a modern business scale, and Mr. Leighton and son are really pioneers in the business. Eventually Idaho will become one of the great dairy states of the Union, since there is no other state better equipped with natural resources, good water, good natural gas, and abundant alfalfa. The dairy barn on the Leighton place is equipped with all the facilities for large production, and for sanitary handling of the products. A record is kept of all the milk produced by each cow, and an analysis is made in the barn of the constituent elements of the milk, especially as to its amount of butter-fat.
George V. Leighton, the founder and developer of this monumental industry in the Boise Valley, was born in the far east at the town of Cumberland, Maryland, February 22, 1856. His parents, Isaac and Elizabeth Leighton, were both born in England, where they were married, and then came to America. While their eight children were growing up they moved from place to place in the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, finally settling in Pennsylvania, where both parents died in December, 1911.
George V. Leighton received a common school education, and when about twenty-two years of age, in 1877, came out to the northwest, locating at Pendleton, Oregon. In the subsequent thirty-five years he has been essentially a stock man, and has never enjoyed any particular success in any other line. At Pendleton he developed a large horse ranch, and there made a reputation for producing high grade horses. His home was at Pendleton for nine years, until 1886, at which time he came to Idaho, locating in Washington county, near Weiser. He continued there in the stock business until 1908, in which year he moved into the city of Boise. Like many others, he had the delusion that the city was a fine place to spend the latter years of his life, and in Boise at the present time he owns at the corner of Maine and First streets one of the beautiful residences of that city. In a short time, however, Mr. Leighton discovered that the city had no attractions that were permanent and satisfying, and he regards those few years spent in Boise as the only part of his life that he cannot look back upon with satisfaction. Having returned to the farm, he has now perfected plans for the erection of a beautiful country home with all the material facilities and conveniences which his city home had, and with the delightful surroundings which the country alone makes possible. The street car of the Idaho Traction Company runs close by his door, and in addition to this means of transportation he has a large touring car in his garage. And back of all these creature comforts are his thoroughbred stock, his valuable orchards and beautiful meadows, where the sun shines and the birds sing, and with his children about him it would be difficult to conceive of a happier man in Idaho than George V. Leighton.
To those who believe—and there are many who do that life has its highest possibilities and opportunities in the free and open country, the position of George V. Leighton seems ideal. He has built his success upon permanent foundation of the oldest and most honorable vocation in the world, and his career has been productive of those essential material goods without which humanity would quickly come to want.
In 1885 Mr. Leighton married Miss Martha Kern, a native of Oregon. Their four children are: Daisy, wife of William Abbott of Boise; Willie, who is associated with his father and a partner in the business; Elizabeth, wife of Thomas White of Idaho City, and Georgia, wife of Claude Roberts, who has charge of the dairy and cattle of the Leighton Ranch. Politically Mr. Leighton is a Republican. He was county commissioner for Washington county, Idaho, for the years 1890 and 1891, was a director of the First National Bank of Weiser, Idaho, for the years 1900, 1901, 1902; president of Payette Valley Bank, and was also president of the First National Bank of Payette, Idaho, from 1900 to 1905.