Idaho Territory

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From History of Idaho Territory Showing Its Resources and Advantages with Illustrations
Descriptive of Its Scenery, Residences, Farms, Mines, Mills, Hotels, Business Houses, Schools, Churches, Etc. From Original Drawings
Wallace W. Elliott and Co. Publishers, 1884

BOOMERANG (Page 233)

BOOMERANG, on the railroad at the crossing of the Payette River, is just commencing to boom. It at present consists of some half dozen newly-erected board houses. The town is situated on the line of the Oregon Short Line, and near the mouth of the Payette River.


"In very early days, Capt. Jonathan Keeney, the first American settler, who lived for many years in Payette Valley, made his first fence by driving willow stakes into the soft, moist soil and 'watling' them with smaller specimens of the same wood. The 'watlings' decayed and the fence was superseded by a better structure, but the stakes were allowed to remain in their places, where they grew into long rows of beautiful shade trees, most of which have now a diameter of over twelve inches, and with their tall trunks and wide-reaching branches present a scene of rural beauty that would grace an English manor that counts its age by hundreds of years."

The first building put up in what is known as the Lower Payette Valley was the Pickett Corral Fort, two miles above Emmettsville. This place was once the most notable on the Payette River, and will ever be remembered by the old settlers, although it is torn down and entirely removed. It was built about the last of December, or first of January, 1862. A cabin was first built of pine logs, and this surrounded by a picket fence of piles set in the ground, and ten feet high. It was built to corral stock at night against the Indians, and to keep a public house, or station. The proprietors were John Price, who died in Boise City some few years ago, Sam. Wakefield, and Lew Roadpath, who were hung in Montana by the vigilantes. It is unknown what became of the other three, Paddy Miles, Scotty, and Wooley. The place soon became noted as the head center of horse thieves and bogus-dust operators.

The citizens of Payette organized a vigilance committee, and, in connection with the officers of the law, the bogus-dust operators and horse thieves were hunted down.


From Snake River to Picket Corral, fifty miles, the silvery Payette flows through a sage-brush plain, but on each side of the river and between it and the sage plain, are rich belts of alluvial bottom-lands, ranging in width from one to three miles.

All this land is under careful cultivation, and produces rich crops. Portions of the sage-brush land have been irrigated and found to be equally productive. Back of the sage land commences a series of rolling hills, which rise higher and higher as they recede from the river until they reach an altitude of 5,000 feet. These hills are covered with the luxuriant, nutritious bunch grass (Festuca pratevsis var: Eriocoma cuspidata), upon which thousands of cattle, horses, and sheep feed the year round. A dense growth of timber crowns the summits of the hills on the eastern side, while a heavier growth of bunch grass covers all the western hills. There is not less than one hundred miles of this grass, so that stock never suffer for want of feed.

From Picket Corral to Horseshoe Bend is thirty-two miles, and still the dense growth of bunch grass is found on both sides of the river. The country around Horseshoe Bend and up to Jerusalem is very fertile, and contains about one hundred farms, having under cultivation about 15,000 acres. The principal productions are wheat, oats, barley, hay, corn, and potatoes; but many varieties of vegetables, fruits, berries, etc., are successfully cultivated. Stock-raising is a profitable industry.

Further up the river it emerges from a deep canon, probably forty miles long, whose precipitous sides are covered with dense forests of the finest timber. In this canon the two streams known as the North and South Forks of the Payette unite.

A short distance up the South Fork is one of Idaho's most beautiful and fertile valleys, and known to fame as the Upper Payette Valley. It contains thirty farms, a good school, and a prosperous community.


The principal rivers are the Snake, Salmon, Boise, Clearwater, Kootenai, Bear, Malad, Raft, Payette, and Weiser, all clear, strong streams, grand currents, worthy of their mountain sources. These streams, and all others in the Territory, are well stocked with the most palatable food fishes — trout, salmon, white, and numerous other species. To the tourist, the pleasure-seeker, the scientist, and the sportsman, the Territory presents distinctive and attractive features not excelled elsewhere on the continent. It is not possible to mention even the chief points of interest, but it may not be amiss to note the fact that Idaho has one of the greatest cataracts in the world, the great Shoshone Falls of Snake River, equal in height and volume of water to Niagara, and far exceeding it in beauty and grandeur of natural scenery.

The Snake River is over 1,000 miles long. Clarke's Fork, of the Columbia, Coeur d'Alene, and St. Joseph Rivers, are each navigable and larger than the Ohio at Pittsburgh. The Salmon, Boise, Clearwater, Kootenai, Payette, and Weiser are larger and compare favorably in picturesqueness with the Susquehannah, or other similar streams which are recognized as the noblest and most beautiful possessions of the Alleghanies or Blue Ridge. All of these and hundreds of minor water-courses are swift and clear currents, full of trout and other species of fresh-water fish. They furnish power illimitable in extent and easily utilized, and a never-failing supply of water for irrigation and domestic uses.


The Indian name for this river is " Pohogwa " or "Sage Brush River," a very appropriate name. The head-waters of the Snake River, gathering snow-drainage from a considerable portion of the Rocky Mountains, find their way through a series of upland valleys to the eastern margin of the Snake Plain, and there gathering in one main stream flow westward, occupying a gradually deepening canon, a narrow, dark gorge, waterworn through the thin sheets of basalt, cutting down as it proceeds to the westward, until, in longitude 114° 20', it has worn 700 feet into the lava. Several tributaries flowing through similar, though less profound canons, join the Snake both north and south. From the days of Lewis, for whom this Snake or Shoshone River was originally named, up to the present day, rumors have been current of cataracts in the Snake Canon. It is curious to observe that all the earlier accounts estimate their height as 600 feet, which is exactly the figure given by the first Jesuit observers of Niagara.

That erratic amateur Indian, Catlin, actually visited these falls; and his account of them, while it entirely fails to give an adequate idea of their formation and grandeur, is nevertheless, in the main, truthful. Since the mining development of Idaho several parties have visited and examined the Shoshone Falls.


The Snake River and its branches drain the whole Territory, except a portion about I20 miles long, and 45 wide, in the extreme northern part, which is drained by Clarke's Fork of Columbia and its branches, and an irregular-shaped corner of the southeastern part drained by Bear River, and headwaters of numerous other small streams. The Bear empties into Salt Lake.

The principal branches of Snake River, in Idaho, are the Clearwater, Salmon, Payette, Boise, and Wood. There are a large number of small rivers and creeks, particularly at its head in the mountains of the east side of the Territory. All these uniting form alarge river with many falls and rapids, and in places a current of great swiftness.

The river is navigable to Lewiston, and some distance above. A small steamer was built near Fort Boise some years ago, but the swiftness of the current rendered navigation always diflicult, and sometimes dangerous.


EMMETTSVlLLE is what may be termed an inland town, as it is situated at the head of the Lower Payette Valley, and twenty-eight miles from the railroad and twenty-five miles from Boise City, with good roads leading to either place, and on the direct route from here to Upper Weiser Valley. The bridge across the Payette will be completed this fall, and open up a good trade for Emmettsville and Boise City, with those who live on the other side and beyond the Payette. The large area of farming land around Emmettsville is being watered and improved very rapidly, and the town is growing.

Aaron Bascom has built a new store, and has just received a well-selected stock of goods, and is doing a thriving business. There are three saloons. A blacksmith shop, wagon shop, and several other shops are in successful operation.

David Murray is the proprietor of the hotel and feed stable, where you can get good accommodations for both man and beast. He owns a ranch adjoining town, and his orchard is loaded down with choice apples, so much so that many of the trees need propping up. A large and profitable lumber business is carried on here. Below town is a large saw-mill.

Two irrigating ditches are taken out by Rossi & Co., and Colonel Stevenson & Co. These ditches will carry about 25,000 inches of water each. Colonel Stevenson’s ditch is completed, the water running in it some fourteen or fifteen miles, and will extend down twenty miles or more from the head. It will cover a large area of land in the Payette Valley proper, and also the high bench land above Colonel Stevenson's house. Probably the two will cover sixty sections of fine agricultural land, which will be open to settlement in another season, capable of sustaining a population of 4,000 or 5,000 people, equal to the present population of Ada County.

FALK'S STORE (Page 199)

FALK’S STORE is situated near the junction of the Boise City and Emmettsville road, which leads down the valley. The place contains a store owned by Falk & Co., under the charge of W. R. Cartwright, that does a good business, and one saloon. There is also a hotel, blacksmith, boot and shoe shops, and one of the best school houses in the valley.


John Gorman, Sheriff; S. C. Silsby, Treasurer; Tim Carroll, Auditor and Recorder; C. S. Kingsley, County Attorney; M. B. Moore, Probate Judge; Alex. Orchard, Assessor and Tax Collector; Ben T. Davis, H. A. Mattox, and W. A. Coughanour, County Commissioners.

COUGHANOUR (Pages 209-210)

The Gold Hill Mill is crushing away day and night, with twenty-five stamps, crushing fifty tons per diem. This the the finest mill in the Territory. As a gold ore reducing work it is unsurpassed, being in all its appointments complete and perfect. The power of the engine is 60-horse, and all the machinery works with the smoothness and precision of a clock. The ore is hoisted up a shaft by means of steam-power, and is conveyed to the batteries in cars, dumped upon a platform, from which it is fed into the batteries by hand. There are about eighty men employed in the mine and mill.

No one on the outside knows what the Gold Hill pays, but it is known that the company has grown wealthy, and always have money on hand to pay all demands. The mechanical skill and inventive genius of the present Superintendent,William Coughanour, is exhibited in many things connected with the mill, and his constant presence and attention to business is a guarantee of success. In the office of the company are two valuable cabinets of minerals and curiosities from different localities, but the richest and rarest are those from the Gold Hill Mine. It would take a day’s time to satisfy one in the examination of them.

HENRY ERVIN (Pages 261-262)

HENRY ERVIN, one of the most extensive cattle raisers of Ada County, may be justly ranked among the selfmade men of our country. Born in County Down, Ireland, July 11, 1839, he came to America when only sixteen years of age, dependent upon his own resources. He located at Springfield, Illinois, where he worked at gardening until 1862, when he started for Idaho. His journey was accomplished by steamer on the Missouri to Fort Benton, where, in company with eight or ten others, he crossed the country to Walla Walla, with saddle ponies. From Walla Walla he joined a company of thirty others and came to the Idaho Baisin, in Boise County, walking the intervening distance, and using mules to carry the necessities of life. After a six weeks’ journey the company reached the Basin, and Mr. Ervin commenced mining at Placerville. He followed this business for ten years, being also interested in ditches, and for a short time was owner of a ten-stamp quartz-mill.

In his mining pursuits Mr. Ervin was unusually successful. Having accumulated quite a fortune, he quit mining and entered into partnership with Peter Pence in the cattle business, located at Bluff Station, now Payette, on Payette River, buying out the other partner, Mr. John Ramsey. The number of cattle then owned by the company was estimated at about 1,500 head. This partnership lasted for about four years, when the stock was divided and Mr. Ervin continued in the business by himself. His business was prosperous, and the increase of stock was rapid.

He estimates the number of cattle which he now owns at about 3,500 head. In 1880 he sold 1,800 head. Besides his cattle business, Mr. Ervin owns about 1,000 acres of land at Payette, on Payette River. He has made many improvements on his property, having erected a fine dwelling, and one of the largest barns in Ada County. He also has built several miles of wire and board fence. On the ground about his dwelling he has a fine orchard of various kinds of fruit trees, numbering about 100.

Mr. Ervin was married, September 5, 1877, to Miss Josephine Bivens, who was born in Kansas. Mrs. Ervin’s father was engaged in freighting between the Missouri River and Denver, from 1858 to 1861. He controlled forty teams, and did a thriving business.

During the early part of the war a Missouri River steamer, on which all his freight and teams were loaded, was captured by a body of troops under General Price, and all his property confiscated. Meeting with so severe a loss, and fearing for the safety of his family, Mr. Bivens determined to go to Oregon. Arriving in Union County, Oregon, he engaged in farming and freighting.

In 1864 he came to Idaho, his family remaining in Oregon till 1869. In Idaho Mr. Bivens was variously engaged till his death, which occurred in 1879.

DAVID MURRAY (Page 259-260)

DAVID MURRAY, the genial and popular host of the Emmettsville Hotel, is a native of County Cork, Ireland, where he was born, in 1842. He lived in Ireland till 1866, being at one time a member of the constabulary.

Leaving Ireland he came to America. He remained in the city of New York for about four months, and then went directly to Centreville, Idaho, by the Nicaragua Route.

At Centreville he engaged in mining and butchering, being principally in the latter business. Here he remained till 1872, when he removed to Emmettsville, and engaged in cattle-raising. Returning to Centreville in 1876, he again engaged in the butchering business, retaining his interest in cattle-raising in the Payette. In 1880 he again returned to Emmettsville, but did not move his family till 1882. In the spring of 1883 Mr. Murray sold out his cattle interest to Henry Ervin, and purchased the hotel property of A. Bascom

In 1868 Mr. Murray married Miss Fannie McAuliffe, who was a native of the same place in Ireland from which Mr. Murray emigrated in 1866. Mr. and Mrs. Murray are the parents of five children, ranging in age from eighteen months to fourteen years. Their names are Thomas Patrick, the eldest, Margaret Mary, John T., David Walter, and Lilian Frances Murray.

Besides his active business life, Mr. Murray has taken part for a term of years in the public interests of Boise County, being for four years County Commissioner, between the years 1878 and 1883.

SOL. NEWCOMER (Pages 266-267)

SOL. NEWCOMER, a native of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was born February 1O, 1832. His parents moved to Ohio when he was five years old, in 1837. His father was a farmer. Mr. Newcomer remained on the farm doing general work until twenty-four years of age, when, in 1856, he went to Nebraska, and remained there until 1862. He and two others then fitted out three ox-teams and loaded them with provisions, bound for Denver. Nothing of any consequence happened on the way. The Indians were troublesome but did no serious harm. While on the Platte River, they heard that flour was worth $1.00 per pound and other provisions according in the Salmon River country, so they changed their minds and struck out for Salmon River; but it was farther than they expected, and delays caused them to be too late in the season to reach Salmon River, so they diverged their course towards Oregon, and struck the Snake River a few miles below where the Payette River empties into the Snake.

Here they wintered and helped build a ferry known as Moore's Ferry. It was used a number of years, but is now moved. This was in the fall of 1862, the same summer that Boise Basin was discovered. They remained here until the spring of 1863, when he and a man by the name of Hill went out to a place known as Willow Creek. Here they kept a wayside house. It was during the rush of miners from Oregon and California to Boise Basin. They sold meals readily at $1.25 each. They often had as many as seventy-five people for supper and breakfast. They had a man and woman hired to cook for them at $150 per month. They remained here until June, 1864, when a new route was made and took all the travel from their trail.

Mr. Newcomer then sold out, in 1864, and went to Camas Prairie and bought a third interest in a hay ranch, put up a lot of hay during the summer, and bought up a lot of emigrant cattle. These he took down to the Payette to winter, but the hard winter of '64 and ’65 killed all his stock. He then sold out his interest in Camas Prairie and bought an interest in the Warm Spring Ranch above Boise City. Here he planted a lot of vegetables, but the black crickets ate everything up. After this he commenced teaming from Boise City to Rocky Bar until winter, when he sold his team and went to the Atlanta country, where he prospected the summers of 1866 and 1867.

During the winter of 1867-68 he carried the mail on snow-shoes from Kenyon Creek to Rocky Bar for five months.

During the summer of 1868 he worked in the White West Mine, on the Red Warrior. During the winter of 1868-69 he again carried the mail from Rattlesnake to Rocky Bar and Atlanta.

In the spring of 1869 he bought Clark's livery stable at Rocky Bar and kept it until 1876. He carried the mail from Rocky Bar to Atlanta.

On December 8, 1870, a young man by the name of Jimmy Hicks lost his life in a snow-slide while carrying the mail temporarily from Rocky Bar to Atlanta, while Mr. Newcomer was absent at Boise City. Mr. Newcomer was elected Assessor in 1870, and re-elected in 1872.

He was married, in 1874, to Mrs. Mary E. Ford, who was a native of Illinois. Her parents moved to Oregon in 1845. She came to Idaho in 1865 and kept a boarding-house at Red Warrior, and in 1870 bought a hotel at Rocky Bar, and was keeping it when they were married. They run the hotel and livery together until 1876, when he sold out the livery business. He has continued the hotel business until the present time, 1883. In the summer of 1875 he built a large hotel and got considerably in debt; the mines gave out, and business fell off, and the hotel was sold. Then he built another and still runs it.

In 1878 he was elected to the office of Justice of the Peace, and has held that ofiice to the present time.

He was commissioned Notary Public of Alturas County in September, 1882, for four years. He was appointed Postmaster in the fall of 1882, and took charge of the office January 29, 1883. He is also Deputy Recorder of Bear Creek District.

RUFUS EMERY (Page 260)

RUFUS EMERY, born in Penobscot County, Maine, in 1836, was the second child in a family of six children, who were obliged to labor to help support the family. He early learned the many ways an active boy finds to earn a few pennies, which training aids in developing the habits of industry and the spirit of enterprise for which the Yankee is generally noted. His school training was limited, as he was obliged, when a very small boy, to help his father peel bark for the tanneries, then one of the main industries. When older he went to the logging swamps in winter, and aided in driving logs in the spring, varying his labors by working on the farm summers.

This class of duties occupied his attention till the spring of 1857, at which period he had attained the age of twenty-one. He went to Anamosa, Jones County, Iowa, where he worked on a farm for two years. He then joined a train going overland to California.

The trip was a prolonged one, occupying several months, and was attended with the usual toil and privations experienced by the early pioneers. Trouble was experienced with the Indians, and the train was at times scattered. But there was much compensation in the wonders of this strange country; the curiosities of nature, the mirage of the desert, and other objects of interest contributed to relieve the monotony of those weary days of travel. One event of the trip was the death of Colonel Lander, from whom the "cut-off," or branch road, takes its name. He was one of the party bringing his family to settle in the far West, and one whose bones make one of the many mounds that mark the pathway of the early settler.

The remainder of the train reached the mining—camp of Shasta, Shasta County, California, in the year of ’59, where Mr. Emery commenced mining. He followed this industry with fair success for a year or more; then, in company with some others, went to Oregon, and took up the business of packing from Portland, Vancouver, and Umatilla, over the Mullen road to Helena and Virginia, Montana, until the Basin was reached in 1860.

He continued packing until he was robbed of his stocktrain by Indians at Olds Ferry, on Snake River, when he left the road, and bought a few cattle, which he brought up from Oregon to the upper Weiser. He settled in Salubina in 1868, and in December, 1870, married Miss M. W. Tharp, who had lately come from Seneca County, New York. Regretting his inability to attend school in his youth, and believing improvement to be a duty, he chose his wife with a view to companionship, rather than for wealth or beauty, and after marriage devoted his evenings to study and reading, of which he was very fond.

He was a subscriber to the Statesman, the first paper published in the Territory, and though but a six-column page sheet, cost per year $15.00; soon, however, the circulation increased, and the price was reduced to $10.00, and still later to $5.00, and the size of the paper increased to eight columns. Finding the deep snows of winter an objection to stock-raising in the Weiser country, he, in 1872, drove his stock about seventy-five miles, where the range was open nearly all winter, and located near Hunt’s Ferry, or Bluff Station, on the Payette River, where he resided till his death, which occurred in 1881.


The ranch owned by the late Mr. Emery is situated about fifty miles from Boise City. The Oregon Short Line which passes a mile and a half to the west, has just been finished.

The Payette River is a mile away, and the Snake is six miles from the residence, neither of which is navigable. The school house is within half a mile of the place, and is also used for church services. The post-office is about one mile farther away. The stock now owned is confined mainly to horses. Enough cattle and hogs are raised for use on the ranch, about twenty of each.

A FINE RANCH. (Page 260)

Though owning a large farm, much of his time was taken up with his cattle. So he did little more on the ranch than keep up the fences and put up the hay. Some time prior to his death he sold his cattle and commenced raising horses. This branch of stock-raising is still continued on the ranch, and a valuable Norman stallion is owned by Mr. Emery’s widow, now Mrs. Harrington.

Although many men have accumulated more property than Mr. Emery, few enjoyed whatever of good life gave more than he, but none, perhaps, lived more conscientiously or tried harder to live so that men could say, The world is better for his having lived in it.

The ranch formerly owned by Mr. Emery, and now in possession of his heirs, is on the north side of the Payette River. It is mostly free from alkali, and readily sub-irrigates, making the production of large yields of various farm products a comparatively easy task. Water is very much needed, and this is likely to be furnished at no very distant day. Considerable produce is already raised, but the capabilities of the soil have not by any means been yet realized.


The first load of cats was brought from Oregon by some enterprising fellow, and some specimens sold as high as $16.00. One of the first acts of extravagance committed by the doctor was in purchasing a California newspaper at a newsstand in Boise City, for $2.00 in greenbacks, the day of his arrival in the city in 1864. Some may think "a fool and his money is soon parted," but few persons can realize the keen relish one has for a newspaper after being deprived of seeing one for four or five months, or the pleasure of being once more introduced to the great and busy world, after five months’ communing with nature, only interspersed with a few dirty Indians.

The spirit of extravagance pervaded in every department of life, and the two or three first sessions of the Legislative Assembly, in the exuberance of their prosperity, created new counties and county offfices, and endowed them with princely salaries, some of the offices being worth at least $10,000 per annum. But with the decline of prosperity consequent upon the partial failure of the placer mines, the people began to call loudly for retrenchment in county expenditures, upon the retrenchment platform. Doctor Wright was twice elected to the Idaho Legislature, once to the House, and once to the Legislative Council.


"The real opposition, however, to settlers," Mrs. Emery Harrington says, "is the presence of that curse to civilization, the Indian; not the 'noble red men' of Cooper's novels, and the one from which Eastern humanitarians get their models, but the real Indian, with all his idleness, cruelty, and thieving that the settlers in the valleys have to contend with, as history within the last five years will verify.

"The people in Payette and Weiser Valleys could make no permanent improvements up to the year 1878-79, as the settlers were so annoyed by these Government pests that, for three years in succession, the people who had lived longest in these valleys, and wishing to remain, were compelled to send their families to Boise City during the summer, or were sent up the valley, leaving their effects to care for themselves till the winter, when these brutes were recalled to their several reservations, provided with supplies for winter and arms for the next summer by the Government, which appropriates large sums annually for these savages.

"Nothing is done to protect the settler, and only when the people do as they have ever done in new countries, adopt Casson’s plan, and fight Indians in their own style, can they have any peace or go on with any permanent improvements. Railroad men and Eastern people come here and marvel that men and women of intelligence, as pioneers are known to be, can so long live without the comforts of civilization, while to the actual settler, who knows the difficulties under which they labor, and how many times their homes and property have been destroyed by the red fiends — to these the wonder is they have done so much, for many of the first have gone to the land beyond, sent there while guarding their rights against these same red devils.

"Not a single neighborhood but has its story of Indian raids, and the wanton destruction of property so late as the Bannock and Nez Perces war, or rather outbreaks, where the sheep were maimed by the hundred, and left to die on the range, and brood mares especially were slain in large numbers, and the sucking colts fell into the hands of these Indians. These things were mostly in the vicinity of Steene’s Mountain, Owyhee County, Idaho."

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