Early Fruit Growers
By Ron Marlow
In 1888 George and Alice Shurtleff bought 160 acres of land on the northern edge of what is now Payette County. Sagebrush had to be cleared before potatoes and grain could be planted. Prices were low so fruit trees were planted. The newly constructed Extension Ditch made it possible to irrigate crops of melons in the rich sandy loam soil. There was a big market for them in the area. In their packing shed all the apples, cherries, and prunes were packed by hand in wooden crates and shipped all over southern Idaho, Wyoming, and as far east as Omaha, Nebraska. A storage and packing plant operated at Wood Spur on the railroad north of Payette. The family still operates their own orchards and have established a vineyard which produces excellent Concorde grapes. This fourth-generation fruit growing family have been in business for over 100 years.
C. F. Broderson, born in Germany in 1859, came to America in 1878 upon the urging of his uncle, N. A. Jacobsen. He went to work herding sheep at Old's Ferry for his uncle.
Marauding Indians stole sheep often. Frontier life didn't suit him. His fear of Indians made him decide to go into farming north of Payette. After working for wages constructing irrigation ditches he saved enough money to buy 200 acres.
On a trip to Germany in 1885, he returned with his brother, August. Together they decided to go into the sheep business. August took care of the sheep and Broderson managed the farm and 25 acres of prunes. In 1896 he shipped his first carload of prunes east making enough profit to purchase another 72 acres of land. Soon prunes were the main crop and were shipped to England, Germany and eastern big cities.
Raising sheep became a problem so their five bands were sold and emphasis placed on farming and raising prunes. Their brand name was "Best Brand." Broderson died in 1940 and his two boys took over the business which continued into the 1950s.
P. P. and Susanna Dawson came to the valley by covered wagon in 1878 from Virginia. They settled at Crystal (north of Payette) with their two daughters. The first home was a dugout, later building three homes on their place. Dawson was active in politics and raised prunes. He developed the "Dawson Prune" which won a gold medal at the 1906 World's Fair in St. Louis. When the Dawson family were gone, their place was sold to Harvey Dungeon.
A. C. Dungeon had 40 acres at the mouth of Cherry Gulch. In 1912 he planted his first prune orchard. Crystal soon became the largest shipping point of prunes in Idaho. A. C.'s son, Harvey, took over the business when his father died in 1953. For 20 years prunes were raised. Harvey died in 1978, ending the family's fruit venture.
The Garman family, N. J. and Linnie, moved to Payette from North Dakota in 1901 with a son, Ralph, and daughter, Mabel. For two years they raised melons and fruit on their small farm on River Street. In 1903 they purchased a 20 acre orchard northeast of Fruitland which they operated for several years. Because of bug and worm infestations, Garman had to develop his own tree sprayer as well as a spray of lime and sulfur solution.
In 1911 they sold their orchards and moved to New Mexico Territory for 18 months. Dissatisfied there, they returned to the Payette Valley, purchasing 10 acres in the Washoe Bench area. The price was $750 an acre for the land, complete with apples, berries and grapes. Soon another 55 acres of fruit trees was purchased. Previously this land belonged to pioneers Levi Eby, E. W. Blakesley and B. P. Shawhan. Other land was purchased later. On the original tract of land, a 200 cow dairy was established and managed by their grandson, Donald, while the orchards were managed by the youngest grandson, Walt Garman.
In the spring of 1902, Noah Webster Lewis and son, Harry T. Lewis, arrived in the Payette Valley from Newton, Iowa. They purchased 80 acres of land one half mile east of Gayway Junction and planted fruit trees. By 1910 the apple trees were bearing. In 1912 N. W. Lewis was elected State Representative. He was an organizer of the Idaho National Guard, and served with distinction in World War I. In the 1920s he became Idaho Adjutant General. He served as president of the Idaho Horticultural Society in 1930. He died in 1951.
One of the largest Packer and shipper of fruit and vegetables in the Pacific Northwest was F. H. Hogue, Inc. Hundreds of people were employed in three states. Thousands of tons of fresh and dehydrated fruit were shipped annually under the brand names "Golden Falcon," "Challenger" and "State Seal."
Hogue got his start in the fruit business in Payette in 1905. He was a manager and soon became a business owner with packing houses in Emmett, Fruitland, New Plymouth and cold storage facilities at Payette. His six fruit evaporators employed more than 600 people. During the Depression wages were fifteen cents an hour. For two years he managed the Mesa orchards project for the Western Idaho Production Credit Association to try to re-coup their losses. He died in 1945.
Jacobsen Brothers, N. A. and August, left Germany for the Idaho gold fields, arriving in 1864. When Mining declined, they came to the Payette Valley in 1871 and settled southeast of the present Payette townsite. August started a freight line which ran from Idaho City through the hills to the Payette River Valley. He built a home at 1122 First Avenue South in 1899, which was last occupied by granddaughter Leslie Bergman.
N. A. Jacobsen purchased 100 acres of land on a tax foreclosure. It stretched from 11th Street to 21st Street bounded on the north by 3rd Avenue North and on the south by Center Avenue. He planted hay to feed his sheep and cattle in addition to planting 40 acres of Italian prunes. In 1899 he shipped 25 carloads of fresh prunes to eastern markets. N. A. often made trips east to promote his Italian prunes which seemed to be preferred by European immigrants. When that Idaho Canning Company was organized in 1903 he was one of the stockholders. In 1908 he built a home on the western edge of his farm at 1115 First Avenue North which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Several downtown buildings in Payette were built by him.
In 1908, C. B. Henggeler purchased a farm 1 1/2 miles south of Fruitland and planted an orchard. In 1909 his father, Charles Henggeler, purchased an adjoining farm raising fruit, hay, grain and dairy cattle. All the family worked on the farm and in the orchards. The family still owns their original land holdings, and in 1939, the Henggeler Packing Company was organized. A packing plant, originally owned by the McMillan Fruit Company at Buckingham railroad siding, became part of, and still is, the site of the Henggeler Packing Company operations. Their brand name is "Fortress." An apple sizer was purchased and is believed to be the first of its kind in the apple business. Cold storage warehouses were built and controlled atmosphere - some of the earliest in Idaho's apple industry.