Falk's Store

By Ron Marlow

A mile up the river from "The Payette Store," which was established in 1864 by James Toombs, was Falk's Store. Built in 1865 by Nathan and David Falk it operated until 1910, serving as a post office with Ed Shainwald as postmaster and also as a stage station. Falk boasted a hotel, two stores, saloon, meat market, blacksmith shop and several other small enterprises. It was reported to have made over $60,000 a year. Gold dust paid for a meal, clothes, whiskey, a stack of chips, a doctor or a lawyer. In the early days of its existence it was the only trading center between Boise and Boise City. There was a cemetery on the hill, the first in the county. The Kennedy-Applegate Cemetery, northeast of New Plymouth, was once a part of the original Kennedy homestead taken up in the 1860s. It holds the graves of over 50 people who died from 1873 to 1850. The oldest grave is that of Nancy E. Foster who died at age 35 in 1873.

There were two stage stations along the river. One was the "Payette Store" and station of A. J. McFarland. The other was northwest at the mouth of Little Willow Creek operated by J. Ashbough.

A tall building, erected in 1885 near Falk's Store, was called The Falk Milk Skimming Station. Farmers brought their cream and milk in for churning into butter. The milk was "set" in vats and skimmed until the cream was ready for churning. This plant was in use until 1910.

Adjacent to Falk's Store was Fort Jefferson, built by settlers in which to take refuge during Indian uprisings. It was constructed like a stockade with two inch planks, 12 feet long, with sharpened ends on the top and cut out portholes to shoot through. Built in the late 1860s it saw much use during Indian raids of 1877 and the Bannock War of 1878. Children were taken to the fort by their parents when Indian raids threatened or on sightings of the legendary Bigfoot. Although there was no water at the fort, the spring was nearby. The stockade was torn down in 1891.

Falk's Store was also a recreation center. One old timer recalls a certain night: "My brothers and I were playin' for a dance in the Grange Hall at Falk's Store when a buckaroo and his friends shot out the lights. The ceiling light went first, then all the candles in the wall brackets. Everyone tried to run outside because the room was full of gunpowder smoke." The man who caused the ruckus was angry because his number was not called for a square dance. There was always such a big crowd that people had to draw numbers for the quadrilles. Nobody was hurt. Afterwards the manager rigged up the lights, everyone came back in and started dancing.

Another resident recalled that in 1880 someone stabbed a Negro to death in Falk's Store saloon. He was buried on the edge of the Falk Cemetery, 250 feet from the other graves in an unmarked grave.

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© Independent Enterprise, Payette Idaho
First Printed in The Independent-Enterprise Newspaper, Payette, Idaho, Wednesday, April 04, 2001

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