HISTORY CORNERs

From 1st one: Dec 93 or Jan 94  TO  6-16-95

Then a gap, then 11-1-96 to 5-21-98

  

#1   12-30-93

     This article is the first in what is planned as an ongoing series of articles about Council's fascinating past. 

    With all the digging going on in town, I thought it would be a good time to tell about some interesting discoveries from the last time the town was dug up.

    In 1940, the WPA was putting in many of the sewer lines that are now being replaced.  At the bottom of an eight foot deep trench under Galena street, west of what is now the Council Valley Market, the crew found a large spear head and a stone axe head.  Both were made of flint.  The spear head (which may actually have been a cutting tool) measured about four inches long. 

    Several arrow heads were found during the 1940 excavations, especially around the settling tank in the west part of town, and along the trench leading west from the tank.

    I've been told that if the present workers find any artifacts, the job might have to be stopped until an archaeologist can be called in to examine the site.  While this is both good and bad, the immediate result is that the workers might simply keep quiet about anything they find in order to keep the project moving.  That's understandable, but if it happens, the community will lose a once in a lifetime chance to learn more about how the native culture used this valley.

    Future articles, in addition to stories of Council's history, will keep you informed of what the museum is doing.  Several ambitious new members have been added to the museum board, and you will be seeing some good things happen.  This should matter to you.  It should matter to you because local history is incredibly interesting.  It enriches our lives in ways beyond measure.  And Council has one of the best historical collections in the state for this size town.   It should also matter to you because museums and other historical attractions account for a very high percentage of tourist dollars: cold, hard cash for our local  economy.

    Stay tuned.

 

#2        1-5-94

HISTORY CORNER        by Dale Fisk

            One of the most striking facts of life in the Council Valley about a century ago was the handicap of inadequate transportation.  When the Moser family settled here in 1876, there wasn't a road of any kind into the valley.    George Moser used a plow to scratch a ditch down the north side of Mesa hill, and by placing the upper wheels of the wagons in it, managed to keep them from tipping over.

         The basic route that the Mosers established was used up until about 1920, and is still visible in the first canyon east of the present highway.  It cuts down the hill and across the old paved highway.  If you look about 300 yards up the Middle Fork from the present highway bridge at the base of Mesa hill, you can see the abutments for the bridge the old "Moser grade" used. 

            When roads were finally built, they were what we would call four-wheel-drive trails.  These dirt roads were very often impassible (or even dangerous) for weeks at a time during wet seasons.  Until communities were big enough, and organized enough, to afford such luxuries as bridges, travelers used fords on smaller rivers, and ferries on larger ones.

            Railroads were the only mode of transport that was fairly dependable.  When Indian Valley was first settled in 1868,  the nearest railroad was in Utah.   By the time the Mosers arrived here, rails had just crossed Idaho's southern border.  The nearest major supply points were Boise or Baker, although there was a small store at Falk's crossing, east of present day Payette.  Six years later (1882), the railroad reached Weiser.  This was a milestone in the settlement of  Council.  Now it only took a journey of two days (one way) to get tew up, they didn't seem to age at all, but now, many of them are old.  Some, like the Ridge school house,  have begun to lean precariously ... and some have died.    It

ust doesn't seem right.  From my point of view, they were always here - like the mountains.   These men have been my reference points ... my Landmarks.

            There is little we can do to prevent the loss of living Landmarks.  But there is much that can be done to preserve the priceless legacy they leave behind them.   That's why I'm researching and writing their stories.  That's why the Council museum exists, and why it is so important to support it.

            For over a year now, the museum board has been diligently investigating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand the space available for the museum's exhibits.  The room we have is inadequate for even the present collection, not to mention other heirlooms that would be donated or loaned if space were available.

            We have finally come up with an approximate plan for an addition to the City Hall building for the museum, and nailed down an agreement toward this goal with the initial financial backer: Evea Powers (Vernie Harrington's daughter).   She will match any money we raise, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.  Through private grants and local contributions, we plan to raise enough for the addition.

            We are hoping that the community will pull together and help with this investment in a cultural and economic legacy that will benefit us and our grandchildren.

            You'll be reading and hearing more about this soon.

 

#3

1-12-94

HISTORY CORNER         by Dale Fisk

             It was a cold day, less than two weeks after Thanksgiving.  The Christmas season was starting.  The older students of Council's overcrowded old brick school were looking forward to moving into the new, $48,500  high school that was nearing completion across the highway from the courthouse.

             People who were listening to the radio were startled by the sudden interruption of regular programing.   It was announced that Japan had just attacked the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Soon after that, President Roosevelt announced that the United States was declaring war.   The word spread quickly through Council.  Whether they heard it in a store, or by a phone call, or on the radio, the shock of the news, and the date December 7, 1941, was indelibly stamped on the memory of everyone who was old enough to realize what had happened.  From that day on, the history of this nation, and the lives of millions, was irrevocably altered.

            A few days after Pearl Harbor, a new siren was installed in Council to serve as a fire and air raid alarm.  Military experts were saying that attacks by enemy planes this far inland were very probable, and blackout instructions were issued.

          As near as we can tell, the big bell that now sits in front of the city hall / museum building was used as an alarm before that time.  If anyone has any more information about this bell, please call me: 253-4582.

            A letter recently arrived at the Council Post Office from a WWII vet who is trying to locate someone he knew during the war.  The man who wrote the letter is Robert Hull, and he is looking for Robert M. Keyes.  The two men served together in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  Keyes was the lieutenant in charge of the Demolition Platoon, and stayed with the unit until it arrived in New Guinea.  At that time, Keyes left the unit, and Mr. Hull has never heard what became of him.  Mr. Hull says that Keyes lived in the Council area, and may have owned a ranch here.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Robert Keyes or his relatives is asked to contact Robert M. Hull at 1926 S. Johnson St., Visalia, CA  93277 .   He will gladly accept collect phone calls at (209) 625-3027.

 

 

#4        1-20-94

HISTORY CORNER   

by Dale Fisk

            In my writings, I will occasionally use the term "Landmarks".  I'll try to explain my usage of that word.

         Just after 1900, a number of homesteaders settled on "the Ridge" west of Fruitvale, and a one-room school was built  in 1915 for the children of the new families.  My father was one of those children.  

         When I checked on the old school a couple years ago, it was in pretty sad shape.  The porch had fallen down a few years before. The brick chimney had long since been shot to pieces by squirrel hunters in lack of more suitable targets.  The weathered shingles had given up clinging to the roof, and now the whole building was leaning to the point of no return.  

        All my life I had seen that old school as a symbol of a precious heritage, and as a landmark in more than just the physical sense.  I saw the ghosts of noisy children running and laughing in the school yard.   I imagined figures whirling  around the floor at special Saturday night dances, as the notes of a fiddle drifted above their heads.  To me, this neglected old friend represented a way of life that had faded away like the echoes of the music and the laughter.  Now it stood empty ... silent ... dying.

            The old school finally collapsed under the weight of a heavy snowfall on the night of December 8, 1992.

            When I was a boy, I used to go with my father to the cattle auction.  I would listen to the men talk about politics, the price of cattle, or the best way to operate some complicated piece of farm equipment.  I thought they must be very wise, these men who held the world in their hands.  I was intimidated by the thought of ever being able to know as much about life as they did.

I learned a lot from those men.  As I grew up, they didn't seem to age at all, but now, many of them are old.  Some, like the Ridge school house,  have begun to lean precariously ... and some have died.    It just doesn't seem right.  From my point of view, they were always here - like the mountains.   These men have been my reference points ... my Landmarks.

            There is little we can do to prevent the loss of living Landmarks.  But there is much that can be done to preserve the priceless legacy they leave behind them.   That's why I'm researching and writing their stories.  That's why the Council museum exists, and why it is so important to support it.

            For over a year now, the museum board has been diligently investigating a once-in-a-

lifetime opportunity to expand the space available for the museum's exhibits.  The room we have is inadequate for even the present collection, not to mention other heirlooms that would be donated or loaned if space were available.

            We have finally come up with an approximate plan for an addition to the City Hall building for the museum, and nailed down an agreement toward this goal with the initial financial backer: Evea Powers (Vernie Harrington's daughter).   She will match any money we raise, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.  Through private grants and local contributions, we plan to raise enough for the addition.

            We are hoping that the community will pull together and help with this investment in a cultural and economic legacy that will benefit us and our grandchildren.

            You'll be reading and hearing more about this soon.

   

#5 1-27-94

            Many long time residents of the Council area remember when this was a well known fruit producing region.  It was a dynamic, but relatively brief, time in our history.

             Although many early settlers grew a few fruit trees for their own use, William and Dora Black are generally credited with starting the first commercial orchard in the county.  The Blacks lived at the present day Gossard ranch on Hornet Creek.

            Even though local fruit was of high quality, the market was mostly limited to local sales until after the arrival of the railroad in 1901.  By 1904, B.B. Day, who now owned the Black place,  was shipping apples to markets as remote as Walla Walla and Nampa.  The next year, he was sending apples to Chicago by the railroad car full, and area farmers were beginning realize that there was money to be made in fruit.

             By 1909, orchards were the rage here, and it seemed that everyone was jumping onto the band wagon.  Local business men came up with a logo depicting a red apple accompanied by the slogan "The Home of the Big Red Apple" which was placed on envelopes, banners and other promotional material.(CL, Sept 17, 1909)   A metal printing plate for reproducing this logo is displayed at the museum in Council.

            That same year (1909), the famous Mesa Orchards began, about 8 miles south of Council.   This was also the year that the townsite of Fruitvale was established.  The name was doubtlessly a result of the fruit rage.

            In 1912, "The Council Valley Orchards Company" started developing orchards on the slopes north east of Council, mostly east of highway 95, and between Orchard Road and Mill Creek Road.  At one time, that whole area was almost one continuous orchard.

             By the fall of 1912, it was estimated that there were 3,000 acres of orchard within a twelve and a half mile radius of Council.  For about the next thirty years, fruit was a staple of Council Valley's economy.

            I have three questions this week.:

            1.  My best information is that, at its peak in 1929, the Mesa Orchards Co.  had 1,200 acres actually growing fruit trees.  It has been claimed that it was anywhere from "one of the largest commercial orchards under one head operated anywhere in the northwest", to "the biggest orchard in the world".   Does anybody have concrete evidence as to its actual size in relation to its peers?  Newspaper claims, opinions and memories don't count unless they can be corroborated.  An almanac printed during the 1920s might have this info.  Old horticultural journals might hold a clue.  Any solid leads would be very appreciated.

            2.  Early in World War II, the government considered Mesa orchards for use as a Japanese detention camp.  It was supposedly rejected as being too small to hold enough detainees, and yet I have read somewhere that local people remembered Japanese kids attending the Mesa school during the war.  If anyone has memories, or other info, about Japanese families being detained at Mesa, please call me.

            3.  In 1942, the last three apple trees that were planted by George Moser in 1880 were  destroyed. The trees stood in front of Bob Young's house near the corner of the high school property, and the street curved around them.  Somebody who knows where this exact spot was, please give me a call.  253-4582           

 

#6   2-3-94 History Corner

            As I write this, the old parsonage next to the Congregational church is being torn down.  By the time you read this, it may already be gone... another Landmark down the drain.  Right after I originally had this article all written and delivered to the newspapers, Dick Parker's outstanding article about the parsonage was printed.  He knocked big holes in my estimation of when the parsonage was built.  I had found a bit in a 1910 Council Leader paper  that said,  "The Congregational church has decided to install a regular pastor in the valley."  A meeting was reportedly called to decide site to build new parsonage.  Dick's more dependable date (1901) from church records made me realize how undependable old newspapers can be.

            As to the concern that the old papers on the walls of the parsonage were lost to posterity, there was only one local paper: Council Journal, Mar 25, 1902.  It was an issue of which there is no original or microfilm copy as far as I can tell, but it didn't contain any significant news relevant to Council history that can't be found in other issues.  The rest of the "wall  paper" was Saturday Evening Posts and other non-local publications.    

            More tidbits on the church or parsonage from my research:

            1912 -  A new organ was purchased by Rev. Stover

            1915 - Rev. Cox set out 20 shade trees around the church and parsonage.

            1922 - A Boy Scout troop (probably Council's first) was organized under the sponsorship of the church.  

            1927 - A Mr. Summer and a Mr. Teems, who had a sawmill on Johnson Creek, were starting a lumber yard across the street from the congregational church parsonage.

            1935 - The parsonage was extensively remodeled, and a bathroom was added. 

            1940 - The Council library was in the "annex" of the church.   A small rental library of new books was maintained at the parsonage, where books rented for 3 cents per day.

            Bill Winkler said the first religious service in the valley was held by Sylvester Shrieve, a Methodist minister, in 1879.  There were many traveling preachers until the late 1880s when the first regular services were conducted by Rev. Hopper who came up from Midvale once a month.

            In 1910, my great great grandfather, J.L. Baker, who was a Methodist preacher at Cambridge, was sent to Council to establish a church here.  Construction was finished and the building was dedicated on Sunday, Dec. 10, 1911.   It was located just across the highway, south of the present Starlite Motel.   The parsonage was just torn down just a few years ago.     

            The Methodist church was abandoned by the time the Nazarene congregation started  holding services there in the mid 1920s.  In 1934, Rev. F.D. Brown moved to Fruitvale and held Nazarene church services in the McMahan school house. [As noted in a later column, this was actually another new school.] While the Congregational church parsonage was being remodeled in 1935, the Nazarenes were tearing down the old Methodist church in Council and using the lumber to build a small church at Fruitvale.  It was built at the east end of  Jonathan Ave., just north of the road, and east of the ditch.  The building was later converted to a house that was owned by Fred Burt, and is still there.  In 1938, another Nazarene church was built on the south east corner of Dartmouth St. and Illinois Ave. in Council.  It was just demolished a couple years ago.

            Coincidentally, the first LDS church was also located in Fruitvale.  Beginning just after 1930, services were held in private homes there for a year or two.  In 1932, Elder J.L. Sandidge began holding services in the Legion Hall in Council.  In 1935, construction of a log church was started just south of Jonathan Ave. in Fruitvale.  It was wired for electricity, just in case power ever reached Fruitvale.  The building was completed and formally opened on Sept. 11, 1937.  Pete and Chris Friend converted the old church into a home which they torn down and replace with their current house a couple years ago.

            As you can see, we have lost a number of Landmarks fairly recently.  Another one that is about to fall is the old John Kesler (1867 - 1937) house.  It's the big, white, square house just south east of the airport.  The Keslers contracted with Adams county as a "poor house" in the 1920s to care for county indigents.  Frenchy David, the pioneer Seven Devils prospector who shot himself near Bear, spent some of his last days there.

            Stay tuned.      

 

#7   2-10-94 HISTORY CORNER

 

            I guess a few words about earthquakes would be appropriate, in light of recent events.  Most of us remember the quake in Idaho a few years ago, but there have been several over the years.

            The first one I could dig up in the old newspapers was on May 13, 1890.  Miners in the Seven Devils were shaken awake in the middle of the night.  The sound was described as "...a loud rumbling sound like that made by a number of horses stampeding."   I think it was Al Towsley who said he thought someone was trying to blow up his cabin with blasting powder.   Surprisingly, the quake was not felt by anyone on Hornet Creek.

            A few local people had friends and relatives in the great San Francisco quake of 1906, and sent help in the way of cash and supplies.  Weiser businessmen sent a railroad car of flour.  It was the biggest earthquake in the nations history at the time.  Think how horrible it must have been to have hundreds of victims trapped under rubble before they even had any kind of machines to move it.

            There were a couple of  local earthquakes in 1908.  The first was a fair sized trembler in the Meadows area.  The other was a smaller one, centered near Weiser.

            In 1915, a man in the Cambridge area awoke in the night to the sound of objects on the kitchen table rattling around.  Half asleep, he got up and put the cat outside, thinking it had been knocking things off the table.  The next morning everyone was talking about the earthquake.  It was centered somewhere in Utah.

            Only eight months later, in May of 1916, the northwest was rocked by what people in Boise called the strongest earthquake in the city's history.  Several chimneys collapsed, but there was little other damage.

            In 1920, there was another earthquake in the Los Angeles area.  It was experienced by a local man, Sterling McGinley, who was there at the time.

           

            This week, I want to ask several important questions. 

            First, when the Council area was just getting started as a community, it had no central core that could be called a town.  Several years before John Peters built a store where Shaver's now stands,  he established the first store in the valley at a location described as being on what was later "the Bedwell place".  This was about a mile, or a little less, north of town.  It most probably would have been somewhere along Galena Road, which was the main road out of town.  It might have been on the east side of the road.  Does anybody know the place?

            The first school, aside from classes in the fort, was also said to be close to this spot north of town, on what much later (1943) was the Ed Shannon place.  Where was this? 

            Speaking of schools, the library is collecting photos of old schools in this area.    There doesn't seem to be a photo anywhere of the Orchard school.  Does anybody have one, or know who might?    Please, somebody come up with one!

            Another picture we're looking for is one of Ham's Texaco service station.  Photographs can easily be copied without even removing them from your home.  If you have any iformation about these locations, or if you have any pictures from the past that you think might be interesting, please give me a call.  253-4582

 

2-17-94

4???????

HISTORY CORNER            by Dale Fisk

      Just within the past year or so, we have lost several Landmarks. The one with the most direct connection with the pioneers of the Council Valley was John Gould.  John and his brothers, Lester and Clarence, were local institutions, and we lost them only fairly recently.   Their father, George Gould, came to the Council Valley in the fall of1888.  That was a drought year followed by a mild winter.  The next winter ('89 & '90) happened to be just about the worst one in the history of this area... something like last winter, only with extensive flooding the following spring.  Hundreds of livestock starved, froze or drowned that winter and spring..

      In 1890, George aquired the ranch on Cottonwood Creek that is now owned by the Fraziers.  It was the Gould who built the present Frazier house.  By acquing this place, George felt he had  begun to establish himself, and he adopted the "90" brand in honor of the year of  this accomplishment.  The 90 brand has been in uninterrupted use by the Gould family ever since.

     In Feb. of 1893, George married a neighbor girl, Viola Duree.  All four of their children were born on that place: John - Jan. 3, 1894, Clarence - Sept. 15, 1895, Annie - Dec. 27, 1897, and Lester - April 16, 1905.

    In 1909, the Goulds traded ranches with the Becksteads who lived on a ranch 3 miles north of Council.  The Becksteads had built the large ranch house which still stands on the Gould place.  The ranch had been settled in 1878 by George Winkler, and was one of the earliest homesteads in the valley.    Mr. Winkler planted some of the first fruit trees in the valley here.  Although it was badly broken by snow last winter, I suspect the huge apple tree in front of  the old house today was one that Winkler planted.

            The big white barn on the ranch was built in 1915, and quickly became a landmark in itself.

            In 1938, when Clarence married Nancy Stover, the teacher at the White School just across the highway from the ranch, they built the smaller dwelling next to the main house for their home.   Clarence has been called a genious, and maybe he was in some ways.  To say the least, he was very mechanically creative.    A number of  the machines that he built are cached away on the ranch, including a water-powered generator, down by the river, that provided electricity for the ranch years ago.  Clarence died Aug. 8, 1987

            Viola Gould died in 1948.  When George died three years later, the estate was divided among the kids.   John and Clarence continued to run the main part of the ranch as one unit.  Lester acquired the place that Steve and Elsie Shumway now own.

            Lester died Sept. 1987   John died June 6, 1992

            Clarence's three children now own the ranch.  Donna Gould Nelson and her husband, Todd, now live on the Gould Ranch.

            If only that land could talk - what stories it could tell.   Like the time in January of 1895 when George Winkler was awakened in the middle of the night by an uproar in the chicken house.  Sleepy-eyed, George lit a lantern, picked up his shotgun, and stumbled out to the coop.  He proptly encountered the cause of the chicken's panic: a very large cougar.  Everyone but the cougar (and maybe a couple chickens) survived the evening's entertainment.

 

 

2-24-94 ?       

7 HISTORY CORNER  by Dale Fisk

            In one of the display cases at the museum, there is a pair of horse snow shoes.  That's right - snow shoes that were worn by horses.  In the days before good roads or snow plows,  pack animals were often the only way to haul supplies to remote mining towns.  In the winter, dog teams were sometimes used between  McCall and the Warren area, especially for carrying the mail.  I don't think they were used much for heavier hauling.

            Putting snow shoes on horses doesn't seem to have been a very common practice.  Mickey Aitken Hendrickson said that Eston Freeman, an early mail carrier to Warren, introduced snowshoes for horses in this part of Idaho.  People laughed at him and said they wouldn't work, but they did.  Hendrickson said they were used extensively in this general area.

The horse snow shoes in the museum are made of metal.  This may have been an uncommon  material for this purpose.  The ones that Hendrickson described were made of wood.  Wooden snow shoes were used on horses in the Buffalo Hump area, north of the Seven Devils.   A man who told about the ones used there, said they were made by crossing two boards to make a shoe about twelve inches by ten, with the forward corners rounded.  Holes were burnt into the boards to fit extra long calks and toes on the horse's regular shoes.  Each snow shoe was held on with bolts.  The horses seemed to like the snow shoes after they  learned how to walk a little spraddle-legged while wearing them.  The man said that  "...when the wooden contrivances are fitted on, they [horses] can be driven anywhere and are enabled to go along with greatest ease.  On these shoes they do not sink more than six inches at any time in the trail, and rarely over a foot in the loose snow."(From the Salubria Citizen newspaper, Apr 14, 1899)

            A hundred years ago, if you were to mention "snow shoes" to someone, they would have thought you were talking about what we now call skis.  And they referred to what we call snow shoes as "webs". 

            In the late l800's and the early part of this century, skiing was a whole different story from today's sport.   Almost everyone made their own skis.  They consisted of shaped and bent wooden slats with a loop to hold the toe of the skier's foot, and some method of holding the foot forward into this loop.  Our museum at Council has two pairs of these old-style skis on the wall, along with one pole.  It's amazing how huge they are.

            Before the 1920s, at least in this country, skiing was primarily a way to get from one place to another, as opposed to recreation.  Except for experts, it was almost literally a "straight forward" activity.  Slalom type turns were pretty much unheard of.   To go down a hill, you simply pointed your skis down the mountain and let gravity do the rest. 

            Instead of ski poles, a single, long, heavy pole was used, primarily for balance and braking.   If your speed became excessive, the pole was placed between your legs and the trailing end was pushed into the snow to create drag.

Stay tuned.      

 

 

3-3-94             9 HISTORY CORNER 

            Baseball was probably the first intramural sport played in Council.  Although travel was difficult, there were games between neighboring communities as early as 1890.  After the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad reached the towns along the Weiser River, games became common between teams located along the trains route.

            When the teams along the tracks adopted a league name, it was only natural to call it by the railroads initials - the "P&IN League".   There is a P&IN League baseball trophy in the Council museum.   In everyday local slang, the railroad was called the "Pin" or "the pin road".  Likewise, the sports league became known as the Pin League.  I would assume that when teams  were added to the league that were from towns that were not located along the railroad, it became known as the "Long Pin League".  If somebody has better info as to how "Long" got added onto the Pin League name, please give me a call.

            Weiser had a football team as early as 1906, but some of the Council boys had never even seen a football game, much less played in one, until 1922.   A team was established here, and showers were built in the old, brick, combination grade school / high school that year.  The first Council High School football  game was at home against Payette in November.  Council lost ten to nothing.

            Basketball came to Council High a short time after football, after the Legion Hall  was built in 1923.  The upstairs of the building served as a basketball court.  Even after the old high school was built in 1941, it was occasionally used for that purpose.

 

            I recently came across some old Council High School year books from the 1940s.  It's interesting how much has changed, and how some things are shared by every generation.  High School year books are a valuable resource for recording Council's past.  The pictures are priceless.  If you have an old Council High School year book, that you could donate, the Library and/or Museum would like to have it so it can be preserved for the whole community. 

            Ruth Husted has generously donated year books from 1941-42 through 1945-46.  They are unique because construction of the high school had just been finished in December of 1941, and because these were the war years.  Annuals from this time frame (and into 1947) contain photos of some well-known local folks that still live here: Everett Harrington, June Ryals, Leo Mink, Ferd Muller, Art and Alice Deeds, Eunice Madson, Ruth Husted, LaDell Merk, Alma Fisk, Mary Owens, Maxine Hallet, Norman Kilborn, Ed Kesler, Frank Hulin, and more.

            These kids got to go to school in a brand new high school after being cramped into the second story of the old brick school.   The new school must have been a marvel to them.  It was said to be "... not only the newest, but the most modern physical plant in the state".  It had a real gymnasium, and separate rooms for science, business, home economics, library, etc.   

            Does anyone know when the first year book for Council High came out?  We would welcome the donation of annuals from any year, but especially old ones.  They are the ones that will be the hardest to find, and are the most interesting.  If you have a year book that you could donate, please bring it in to the Library, or contact me. 

            A few weeks ago, I asked if anyone knew the whereabouts of Bob Keyes.  It turns out that quite a few people knew the Keyes family, and knew  that Bob now lives at Donnelly.  Several people called or wrote to Mr. Keyes, as well as to Mr. Hull who was looking for him.  Mr. Keyes didn't remember exactly who Mr. Hull was, and looked through his old photos, etc. to jog his memory.  I'm sure the two men had a pleasant visit, remembering experiences of 50 years ago.  My thanks, and theirs, to the people who helped get them together.

            Now I have another "Where Are They Now?" question.  I got a call from Frank Thompson who went to school at Council for only one year, during the 1940s, and moved away in about 1948.  Most of his school years were spent at the Cottonwood school.  He would like to know if anyone knows how to get ahold of Jay or Albert Thorp.  If anyone has an address or phone number for one of them, or of someone who would know how to contact them, drop a line to Frank Thompson at Valley, WA  99181 or call me at 253-4582.

            I need to correct a mistake from a couple weeks ago.  I said that in 1934, Rev. F.D. Brown moved to Fruitvale and held Nazarene church services in the McMahan school house, near where Raffetys live now.  It was actually the "new" Fruitvale school where these services were held, not the McMahan school.  The McMahan school had been abandoned for about eight years by this time, and had collapsed under heavy snow the year before.

 

3-10-94

10 HISTORY CORNER

            I guess it's time to stick my neck out.  Over the years, there has been a running battle between two camps on the issue of "the Council Tree".  Just where was it?   And was there more than one? 

            One side says there was a single tree, and that it was located just south of Mill Creek on the west side of highway 95.  The tree to which they refer is still standing, although it has long been dead.

            The other group claims that there was not one, but a grove of five Council Trees, and that they stood just north west of the present town of Council.  After reading every available issue of the Council Leader, the Adams County Leader, the Fruitvale Echo and the Council Advance newspapers between 1901 and 1944, as well as issues of the Weiser Signal, the Salubria Citizen, the Cambridge Citizen and the Cambridge News to cover 1882 to 1901 for which there were no Council papers, I have found not one single reference to a Council tree anywhere near Mill Creek.  Instead, I found numerous references to five Council trees located north west of town.  For a time, the Adams County Leader even had a big logo, along with the paper's name, across the top of the front  page of each issue that showed the five Council trees with Indians smoking a peace pipe under them.

            The clincher came when I read a high school history essay written in 1930 by Rose Freehafer (former Senator Jim McClure's aunt).  She personally interviewed Bill Camp, who had known some of the Indians in the area, and even spoke some of the Nez Perce language.  An Indian that Camp worked with told him that the Council trees were located on the Kesler place about three quarters of a mile north, and slightly west, of Council.

            Until the 1920s, there were five pine trees in a field at this location, in a group by themselves, but the landowner later cut down all but one of them.  When Arthur Hallet acquired ownership the land where the Council trees stood in 1917, all five trees were still there.  Arthur's son, Byron (Buff) Hallet said the last tree died in 1928, and was cut down for firewood.  Buff Hallet planted five young pine trees at the approximate location of the original Council trees in1986. They are growing on the south side of Airport Road, straight south of the Council airport.

            I suppose this will upset a few fondly held beliefs about "the Council tree", but it seems very evident that there were five trees, and that they were located at the spot mentioned above.  I have simply not run across one scrap of evidence to the contrary, or any hint that the site near Mill Creek is legitimate.  If someone can tell me how and when this Mill Creek spot came to be associated with the Council tree, I'm very curious.     

 

3-17-94

12 HISTORY CORNER

            Recently I asked for info about Jay or Albert Thorp because their old friend, Frank Thompson, was looking for them.  I got a call with info as to how to locate Jay, but before I could pass it on to Frank, I got a letter from Jay.  He gets the Record, so he saw the article and he sent a letter to Frank.

            Last week, I wrote about the Council Trees.  Dick Parker gave me some great info on that story.  It seems that Ralph Finn started the idea of a single Council tree near Mill Creek.  Before the three dams were built on the Snake River west of here,  Ralph was an advocate of an idea that had been proposed to build one giant dam in Hells Canyon instead.  He felt that the huge reservoir created by this dam would bring a great boom to Council, and he pushed the idea of making a tourist park at the Mill Creek site.  The pine tree growing there was to be promoted as the Council tree.   Dick says that Hugh Addington, and other old timers, always referred to there being several Council trees, and that they were located at the spot north west of town.  Hugh remembered the trees as being more or less in a line.

            I also got a call from Ervin Bobo who gave me some real gems of information.  The most exciting one, for me, concerned a pile of rocks on a hilltop on the Ridge, west of Fruitvale, at a spot called "Eagle Point".  This pile, made of chunks of basalt rocks, is about five or six feet tall.   My dad said that the pile was there when the first settlers arrived on the Ridge.  Nobody knew who put them there, or why.    My brother and cousin once took the whole pile apart to see what was under it, and found nothing.  They rebuilt the original pile, and heaped up another bunch, so now there are actually two piles there. 

            Lewis and Clark noted seeing a somewhat similar pile of rocks near the top of Lolo Pass.  They said, "On this eminence the natives have raised a conic mound of stones six or eight feet high and erected a pine pole fifteen feet long." (From the "Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" edited by Reuben G. Thwaites, 1904, vol 3, p 180) This Lolo trail spot has come to be known as the "Indian Post Office".

             A few years back, a scholar of some type found more rock piles in the Lolo area and naturally figured they had a similar Indian origin as the one Lewis and Clark had mentioned.  Ervin was watching TV one day, and saw a program about these rock piles and their history.  He was pretty amused, and/or irritated at the education the public was getting about these rock piles, and called up the TV station.  You see, Ervin had a pretty good idea how the piles got there.  He had helped pile them up!  He was with a surveying outfit in the 1950s in that area.  They used an old method of surveying that incorporated line of sight calibration, using telescopic instruments.  Rocks were piled around the base of  a long pole with a big white flag attached to it.  Such flags were visible from miles away, and served as reference points for determining survey lines.  The rock piles were simply the remains of these flag pole supports.  I imagine the scholar was pretty red-faced.

            Ervin said that the Council area was surveyed in the 1880s, using this same line-of-site, flag pole method.  The rock pile on the Ridge sits on a bare hilltop that can be seen from many miles in several directions.  The Fruitvale area was just starting to be settled in the 1880s, and the Ridge was homesteaded after 1900, so the pile could have been made by surveyors before anyone lived in the vicinity.   On the other hand, since the Nez Perce Indians made at least one known rock pile that was similar to this one, I suppose it could be of native origin.  Anybody have more clues?

            I want to thank both Ervin and Dick for calling me.  Getting information like this is better than finding a gold nugget.  My thanks, also, to the others who have called.  I sincerely hope that anyone who can add a piece to the puzzle of the history of the Council area will call and fill me in. 253-4582

 

3-24-94 Missing

 

3-31-94

            It's amazing how recently electricity came to some parts of this area.  Thomas Edison lighted a section of New York City with electricity in 1882, but widespread use of the technology didn't appear until about the turn of the century.  Electric lights had appeared in Weiser in 1903, but no one here in the "upper country" had entered the electrical age by that time.  (With the possible exception of Iron Springs in the Seven Devils.)

            You might be surprised to know just how long ago plans were made for a power plant on the Oxbow of the Snake River south of Hells Canyon.   The present dam was finished in 1961, but plans were made for one at this site since just after the turn of the century.  At least as early as 1905, people were making big plans for that unique convolution of the river.   A concrete dam was planned that was to be 800 to 1000 feet long.    An electric generator was to be built at the bottom of a tunnel that would be blasted through the solid-rock neck of the bow.   It was thought that the generator could supply power to an area including the Seven Devils mines and Baker, Oregon.  The plan was finally abandoned about 1907 because of a lack of customers.  Very few people in the region had a single light bulb in their home.  Grandiose schemes that put the cart before the horse was not at all uncommon in those days.

            The same year as the Oxbow scheme made the news (1905), Dr. Starkey built the first hotel at his sanitorium, on the hill north west of the present pool.  He installed electric lights in each room of the hotel, and provided power by installing his own water powered generating plant on Warm Springs Creek.

            About this time, electricity was becoming the rage in the U.S.  At first, it was pretty much only used for lighting, but people soon investigated just about every possible use for the new miracle.  Since a railroad line was being contemplated north from Council to link Boise with Grangeville and Lewiston, it was proposed that it be an electric railway, powered by generating plants that would be built at intervals along the Salmon River. 

            Meadows was the first town in the upper country to have electricity, in 1908.  I'm not sure what the initial source of power was, but in 1910, the County Commissioners granted permission to build a power line to Meadows from what must have been a generator on the Falls of the Little Salmon River, some miles north of town.

            In 1911,  Isaac McMahan's nineteen-year-old son, Ernest, installed an electric power plant on their ranch at Fruitvale.  The generator was driven by water from the irrigation ditch.  Private generators like this were relatively rare at the time, and was thought by some to be the only one of its kind in the County.  That claim may or may not have been true.  Clarence Gould built an elaborate power plant on the Gould ranch, three miles north of Council, during this approximate time frame.  The building that housed the plant is still standing, just east of the river.  It think the generator itself may even be around the ranch somewhere.

            The beginning of general public access to electricity on the upper Weiser River valleys began in 1912 when the Adams County Light and Power Company installed a hyro-generator on Rush Creek, eight miles north of Cambridge.  The lights were turned on in Cambridge on Christmas day of that year.

            Before power lines reached Council, private generators were used by a few businesses in town.  My guess is that they were driven by small gasoline engines.  By 1913, the Opera House (now the theater) had electric lights.  The next year, Charlie Warner (not the one from Bear) installed the first electric fan in Council, in his barber shop, for the comfort of his patrons.  

            Right after the big fire that burned half of downtown in 1915, Council signed a contract with the Adams Co. Light and Power Co. to supply electricity from its Rush Creek plant.  The first lights powered by this source were turned on in a number of homes and businesses here on August 28, 1915.

            In 1923, a power line was extended north of Council to Orchard road to supply the fruit packing plants there.  Jack Darland provided the first electricity in Cuprum with his power plant in 1931.  A power line didn't reach the Fruitvale store until 1940.  At about the same time, line extensions gave lower Hornet Creek, and most of Council Valley, access to electricity.  I don't know when Bear and Cuprum was reached by power lines, but I think it was surprisingly late.  Would someone who knows give me a call? 253-4582

 

4-7-94

13th History Corner

            Picture yourself living in an area where you were born and raised, where your parents and your grandparents, and even their great great grandparents, were born and raised.  Imagine that these ancestors handed down a deep spiritual tradition, involving a reverence for your family and your country, around which you center your life.

            Now suppose man-like creatures from another planet come into your community.  Soon, they take over.  They chop down the trees that your great great grandfather planted, and are burning them in their camp fires that they build on top of your mother's grave. They walk into your house and tell you that you have to move out.  They tell you that your way of life is wrong, burn your Bibles (or other sacred books), and tell you that you are to stop practicing your evil religion.  Next, they force you to live in concentration camps. There is no food, and your children slowly begin to starve to death.

            Wouldn't most of us fight to our last breath against such a fate?  The tragedy is that a scenario very similar to this has already happened.   It happened right here in the United States when the natives of this country were conquered by Whites.  The differences in the situation from my imaginary one are subtle.  Basically, it was a clash of two irreconcilably different cultures.

            Indians were a source of constant anxiety for the earliest settlers in this area.  Settler's feelings towards Indians were very similar to how we would feel if vagrant motorcycle gangs were roaming our area today.  Indians were accustomed to a hard, or even violent, lifestyle.  White people in the early days generally thought of Indians as being very dirty.  And since Whites of that era usually only took a real bath about once a year, we can assume that some American aborigines were pretty unsanitary by modern standards.    Indians were seen as having backward ways of acting and talking, and manners that often seemed rude or arrogant.  They would often camp on ground claimed by homesteaders, and according to some reports, would turn their horses loose to graze in grain fields. 

            There were constant reports of Indian thievery which were often unfounded, but all too frequently were true.   Many of the displaced natives were desperate, and resorted to stealing to survive.  They had been uprooted from their homes and the only way of living they had ever known - left to wander in a hostile, bewildering nightmare with no way out.

            You can imagine what barbaric creatures white people must have seemed through Indian eyes.  Native Americans had a totally different view of private ownership and property rights. The idea of an individual owning a piece of land was so foreign to them that they often failed to even grasp the concept.  Their survival depended on being able to roam the land freely, sharing it as a group. Any one person owning a part of the earth was as ridiculous to them as someone owning the air.  It seems to them that white people cut the earth-mother into pieces to be bought and sold like their prostitutes, for whatever selfish purpose the owner pleased.

            In spite of the abuse that was being demonstrated against the members of their race, the Shoshoni Indians along the Weiser River showed themselves to be an extremely tolerant people.   Even after Whites began to take away their wintering grounds by settling in Indian Valley, the natives remained cordial to them, even going so far as to show the invaders how to harvest and preserve salmon from the rivers. Indians also became a source of hired labor on farms, helping with the harvest of crops. 

            Eventually, all of the natives in this area were forced onto the Fort Hall reservation.  They were told they must live like white people, but were given no means or training with which to do so.  Food was very often scarce or non-existent.  The concentration-camp existence they were forced to live under must have been almost impossible to bear.  In their culture, everything sacred, everything that gave purpose and meaning to their lives was based on their relationship with mother earth, from whom they had been ruthlessly torn.  What cultural values could they pass on to their children when almost every value they understood had been made irrelevant? 

            It seems bitterly ironic that a culture that outwardly professed spirituality, but was really based on materialism, so brutally crushed a culture so totally immersed in spiritual values.  Few people, other than women who have been raped, can understand the crushing emotional damage that results from someone violating and stealing the most precious, sacred, personal parts of your life, and being powerless to do anything about it.

            Today, the damage that was done to the natives of this country is insidious ... the stories of their lives mostly unknown... but their former presence here underlies everything that has followed them. The places where we now live, work and play, were all a precious legacy handed down from native fathers and mothers (Landmarks) to sons and daughters for almost 100 centuries longer than the blink of an eye that our European culture has been here.

            The museum in Council has an extensive collection of Indian projectile points and stone tools.  Recently, we have begun a long range project to classify them as to their where they came from, and how, when and by whom they were used.  The result will be an interesting display in our new museum space.   More on that subject, and how we need your help, soon.

           

4-14-94

15 History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            John Hancock was one of the very first businessmen in Council.  He and Milt Wilkerson built the first actual business establishment here in 1891.  Called the "Council Valley Hotel", it stood just south of the present Ace Saloon.  The picture of this building that is in the museum is the oldest photograph, that I know of, ever taken in what is now the town of Council. 

            About 1884,  John Hancock and a friend drove some cattle from Salmon River into the Seven Devils.  This was a common route for taking cattle and supplies into the Devils, especially before a road was built from Council.  After spending some time looking for stray cattle in the direction of the Snake River, the two men headed back east toward the Salmon River.  There were few trails, and they just trekked in the general direction. 

            When it got dark, they made camp without really knowing where they were.  Maybe they felt a little like mountain man, Jim Bridger.  Bridger once said he had never been lost in his life, but he had been mighty confused for several days.  When Hancock and Company got ready to build a camp fire, they discovered they only had one match.  After carefully preparing the tender and kindling, they struck their one and only chance at a warm supper and camp.  The match flared up and promptly went out. 

            Soon, they heard what sounded like a cow bell off in the distance.  Following the sound, they found the camp of an old man who was in the area trapping beaver.  The man welcomed them to stay for the night, and they gladly accepted.  During the course of the evening, they asked their host where they were.  He said, "About six miles west of Price Valley."  Since Hancock and his companion admitted to being lost, they called the place "Lost Valley".  The name has stuck to this day.

            About 1900, two brothers, Frank and Colonel Ryan, came west from Kansas, intending to take up land near Walla Walla, Washington.  Near Payette, they were told their was good homestead land available near Council.  One way or another, they found themselves in Lost Valley, and liked the place well enough lay claim to it.  Frank built a cabin in the middle of the Valley, and Colonel erected his more toward one edge. 

            Both brothers studied law during this time.  Frank got his law degree in 1905.  That same year, the Weiser Irrigation District filed on the land at Lost Valley for a reservoir site.  This didn't coincide very well with the Ryan boys' homestead idea.  A law suit followed.  While the dispute was making its way trough the courts, the reservoir was built in the fall of 1909.  The lawsuit was settled the next year.  The Ryans proved, ironically, that the highest and best use of the land was as a reservoir site.  They established that they should be paid for their homesteads on the basis of this value, and were paid $16,000 for the two homesteads - a substantial sum in those days.  Colonel went back to Kansas and practiced law.  Frank moved to Weiser, built a house at 747 W 2nd Street, and practiced law in that town until his death in 1956. 

            Frank's son, Harold "Hal" Ryan,  followed in his father's footsteps, and is now a Federal Judge in Boise.  I had a nice visit with him last week, and copied two old photographs of his dad standing in front of his Lost Valley cabin.  My thanks to Kenny Schwartz for telling me about Hal and this great story.

            As near as I can tell, Frank's cabin site was about where the middle of where Lost Lake is now.  My dad remembers seeing a cabin floating in the reservoir back in the late 1920s.  It was drifting near the campgrounds on the east side of the lake, just south of Slaughter Gulch.  Colonel's cabin may have escaped being flooded out.  Anybody know where it might have been located?

            Speaking of Slaughter Gulch, the story I got of how it received this name is that Isaac McMahan had of bunch of his cattle stolen and butchered there in the early days.  Anybody know any more particulars on this story?  253-4582

            A few notes on the Reservoir from old newspapers:   1912 - a lake trout was caught in Lost Lake that was as long as a man's arm.   1925 - Lost Valley Reservoir Co. was incorporated.     1928 - Nine salmon were caught just below the Lost Valley Dam.  1929 -  Lost Valley Reservoir  Dam was raised.

            Since last week, Lila Coats told me the power line reached Evergreen about 1950 or '51. Tina Warner and Gay Carter said that the power line only reached the Bear Cuprum area about 1979!  Tina also informed me that Jack Darland would have been a pretty young boy when he was credited by the paper as running a power generator at Cuprum in 1931.  Maybe it was his dad, Tony, or his grandfather, John. 

 

4-21-94 Missing

 

 

4-28-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Big game animals have always been a big part of life in the Council area.  They were a basic source of food for the first miners and settlers. 

            When the Wilson Price Hunt expedition came through Idaho in the winter of 1811, the group led by Donald McKenzie passed through the southern part of the Seven Devils.  They almost starved for lack of game.   Deer were not plentiful in the Hells Canyon - Seven Devils area until several years after the establishment of the Black Lake Game Preserve in 1912.  This preserve, which covered 67,200 acres north of Black Lake, was abolished in 1935. 

            According to Charles Winkler, when his family came to the Council Valley in 1878, white tail deer were as common around Council as mule deer, although he said deer in general were not plentiful here back then.  Since that time, and until fairly recently,  white tailed deer were rarely seen.   Over the past twenty years or so there has been an increase in the number of white tail deer in this area.  They have generally been more common in the northern part of  the state during my lifetime.

            Elk were unheard of here in the early days.   There is a record of trappers sighting a large herd of elk in Long Valley in 1831,  but by the time the Black Lake Game Preserve was established in 1912, there were no known elk in Idaho west of the Island Park Divide near the Wyoming border.  Council's Socialist legislator, Earl Wayland Bowman, the author of the bill that created the Preserve, persuaded the state Game Warden to use $5,000 to buy Yellowstone Park elk from the U.S. government, and put them in the new protected area.

Another story says the U.S. Government donated the elk: 35 cows and 15 bulls.  At any rate, the elk arrived in 1915.  They were shipped in by rail, and when the train stopped in Council, a crowd of fascinated locals gathers to gawk at the strange new animals. 

            The elk were released near New Meadows, and for the next 34 years, they had a chance to adapt to their new habitat, undisturbed by hunters.  Elk were originally a plains animal, and they didn't naturally take to the higher mountains on their own.  For instance, the Rapid River drainage, where a number of elk herds thrive today, was pretty much devoid of the animals until they were pushed into the area in the late 1940s or early '50s.

            By the time the local elk hunting season was reopened in the fall of 1949, a large herd had established itself near the head of the West Fork of the Weiser River, just west of Lost Lake.  On  opening day of the first open season, a large number local men hunted this prime location.  This was also opening day of deer season, and either sex was legal game for both species.  For some time after it was light enough to shoot that morning, it sounded like there was a war going on in that vicinity.  In addition to bucks, does and cow elk, eighteen bull elk were killed.  A number of these bulls had trophy sized antlers.  One monster bull had ten points on one side and eleven on the other.

            The State enforced game laws in the early days as best they could, but before cars and roads were common, it was hard for an official to cover much territory.  Also, there were few game wardens in this part of Idaho.  For a long time, game laws were widely ignored by local people.  After 1923, Forest Service officers were supposed to help enforce game laws.  Apparently, this didn't help much. 

            Some of the early Idaho game laws are of interest:

            1889 - Illegal to kill buffalo, elk, deer antelope or mountain sheep between January 1 and Sept 1.

            1903 -  Moose, buffalo, antelope or caribou must not be killed at any time. Elk, mountain sheep and goat season Sept 1 to Dec 31.  Limits: one elk (either sex), two deer, one mountain goat, one mt. sheep.  A hunting and fishing license cost $1.

            1907- Elk, deer, mountain sheep and mountain goat season Sept 15 to Jan 1.  Hunting and fishing license still $1      

            1927 - A resident fish and game license cost $2.00

 

5-5-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Following up on last week's History Corner, here is some info on other game animals.

            Mongolian pheasants were released in this part of Idaho sometime around the turn of the century.  Hunting them was not allowed until 1907.   In 1909 there was a report that Chinese peasants were being released into this area.  Chukkar partridges were introduced to the Snake River country, east of here, in the 1940s.  The bird that is being chased around the mountainsides this time of year, the Merriam's turkey,  is a recently introduced species to our vicinity.

            The 1907 Idaho season for prairie chicken, pheasant, partridge and turtle dove was Sept 1 to Dec 1, with a limit of 12 to 18.     Snipe, plover, ducks and geese were legal from Sept 15 to Jan 1 with a limit of  three geese, and 24 of any one of the other birds.  Quail season was Nov 1 to Dec 1 with a limit of 18.

            On a tape recording that Jim Camp made of  Hugh Addington, Hugh commented on how many grouse there were in the Seven Devils area in his younger days.  He said, "The grouse... was so thick that you could have a grouse any time you wanted one.  I've seen them on Horse Mountain after the grasshoppers so thick... just thousands of them! That whole country was just saturated with them."

            In 1891, a tongue-in-cheek report in the Salubria newspaper tried to point out how rich the mining district was by saying that several people were making a good living by shooting Seven Devils grouse which had gold nuggets in their craws.

            The subject of Salmon fishing could be a whole other column, so I'll stick with the smaller species.  The old pioneers of the Council area said that fishing was always very good here.  They considered the main Weiser River the best place to fish for trout, especially the deep holes in the river.

            In 1899, the local fishing season was from May 1 to November 1 for trout.  It was a felony to take fish by the use of dynamite, but that didn't stop some people from doing it.  As I understand it, dynamite was put into a jar, or some other watertight container, the fuse was lit and the lid put on.  The jar was thrown into the river, and the shock of the explosion would stun or kill any nearby fish.  The fish were collected when they floated to the surface, sometimes by the dozen.  I haven't heard of anyone practicing this method in

recent years, but it was not that uncommon for a few decades after the turn of the century.

            In 1903, there was a limit of 20 lbs. of trout, bass, catfish, grayling, or sunfish.  Any fish under 4" had to be thrown back.  No use of snag hooks, explosives or nets was allowed.  It was that year  that several Council people went on an outing at East Fork of the Weiser River.   Dr. Brown caught 325 small trout.  The next day, L.L. Burtenshaw caught 180 and T.W. Johnson caught 45.

            By 1905, fishing was allowed year 'round.  The limit was still 20 lbs.; limit of 30 lbs. in possession at any time.  Trout and black bass had to be at least 4" long.

            In 1912,  some Council men caught over 600 fish in the Bear Crk and Lick Crk area.

            In May of 1925, it was announced that,  "A new fish hatchery is to be built by the state on the Weiser river about 10 miles north of Council, ..." toward Evergreen.  This hatchery provided thousands of fish that were planted all over this area for many years.  The cement "ponds" are still there as far as I know.

            Looking back like this makes one think.  The salmon are gone here, and fading fast in other places...  some species of other game fish are becoming hard to find...  and what's the limit for trout now?  So much for the "progress" we have made by multiplying the population of our own species.

 

?5-12-94?

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            There is a grave south east of Lost Lake with a morbid, but interesting, story behind it.

            The story begins back in 1930, when cowboying was a lot different than it is now.  Most of the ranchers who summered cattle on the Forest's Warm Springs grazing allotment in the West Fork / Lost Valley area lived around Fruitvale. The Circle C ranch was the one exception, having bought the large McMahan grazing permit.    Most outfits didn't have a truck to haul horses or cattle, and nobody had a horse trailer.  When they had riding to do anywhere on the Forest, the only way to get there was to get on their horse and endure however many hours in the saddle that it took to get there.     

            There wasn't even a road up the West Fork of the Weiser River beyond the Finn homestead at the mouth of Lost Creek until the 1950s.  There was a crude road in to the reservoir from Tamarack that was put in when the dam was built in 1909.  The present road from Pine Ridge was built about 1935.  

            Because of the time and distances involved in traveling to and from Lost Valley, a "cow camp" was set up in the meadow, just over the little hill east of Lost Lake where the cowboys could stay.  About all that's left now is the old log corral.  The main campground was a couple hundred yards north west of it.

            That summer of 1930, Dick Fisk (my father who was 17 at the time), Ike Glenn, Sterling McGinley, Fred Glenn, and possibly some other cowboys, were camped here when a stranger, an older gentleman, approached the camp, carrying a pack on his back.  He introduced himself as Tom Cleggette.  During the course of their conversation, Cleggette mentioned that he was doing some prospecting in the area, and implied that he had found a little gold somewhere in that part of the country.  After a brief visit, the old fellow hiked off again.  As he left, Ike called after him to be careful.  Cleggette replied that he had been in the woods all his life, and knew how to take care of himself.  It would be the last time any of them ever saw Tom Cleggette alive.

            The next June (1931) Tommy Clay, who was riding for the Campbell ranch, and Fitz Mink, riding for the grazing association, were hunting cattle south east of Lost Lake, just south of where the present road from Pine Ridge tops out.  As they rode through the trees, something out of place caught there eyes.  Coming closer, they were stunned to find the badly decomposed body of a man crumpled up against the trunk of a tree.

            Sheriff Bill Winkler, who by this time was no spring chicken at the age of 65, and County coroner Bob Young came up from Council to investigate.  The clues they found told a tragic tale.

From a hunting license in the man's wallet, he was identified as Tom Cleggette, age 71.  The rest of the information on the license, including where he might have come from, had been obliterated by water stains. 

            A few hundred yards from the body, a crude camp was found.  It consisted of a tarp stretched over a ridge pole, with vertical logs forming a wall at one end.  A large pile of fire wood was stacked nearby.  Cleggette had evidently become snow bound here during the winter.  On the margins of a road map, he had written a sort of diary, little of which remained readable.  The one, ominous notation that was decipherable was dated January 11.  It consisted of the stark statement, "All is gone."  Apparently he had eaten the last of his food supply.  Another note began, "Tell ...", but the rest of the message had been washed away.

            There was some evidence that Cleggette had killed and eaten a deer during his ordeal.  He had finally fashioned a crude pair of snow shoes and tried to escape his dire predicament.  After a desperate struggle through deep snow, he only made it the short distance to where his body was later found before giving up.  It could have been that he was too weak to return to camp.  Or maybe he decided it was useless to even try.  In his hand was found a semi-automatic German Luger pistol.  Two shots had been fired.  One had pierced his heart.  Winkler and Young speculated that the second round, which had not entered Cleggette's body, had been the result of a contraction of his hand as he died.

            The men had planned to transport the body to Council for burial, but it was so decomposed that it wasn't practical.  For the past 63 years, Tom Cleggette's body has reposed under the spot where it was discovered.  No relatives or further clues to his identity were ever found.

            If you enjoy stories like this, please support our effort to improve the museum.  The word "history" is mostly "s-t-o-r-y".  Each item in the museum has a tale to tell, and we want to tell it.  We want to create a fitting place to preserve the incredible stories of what happened here... for you, and for generations to come.  Please consider a contributing whatever you can.

 

5-21-94???

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Lately there has been some publicity concerning the Idaho State Seal, and the woman, Emma Edwards Green, who designed it.  You may not know that Emma Edwards (her maiden name) also designed a U.S. half dollar, lived in this area for a time, and taught school at Lick Creek.

            Emma's  father, a former governor of Missouri, came west to California in the 1840s, and later to Boise.  When Idaho became a state in 1890, the first legislature authorized a competition for the design of a state seal.  By this time, Emma had studied art in New York City.  She submitted a design, won the contest and was awarded $100 for her work.    A painting she did of the seal was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.  The Idaho Historical society now has the painting. 

            Idaho has the distinction of having the only state seal that was designed by a woman.  Emma's name has been missing from the state seal ever since Paul Evans revised it in 1957.  Recently, Governor Andrus signed a bill to put her name back on the seal, along with Evans' name.

            About 1895, while living in Salubria (near present - day Cambridge), Miss Edwards submitted a design for a new fifty cent piece.  The woman depicted on her drawing for the coin was patterned after a local young lady who was an acquaintance of hers.  Emma's design was picked by the Treasury out of several hundred proposed.  Of course the coin is no longer in circulation.

            Emma Edwards was friends of Arthur and Pearl Huntley.  The Huntleys were a couple who had the ranch just south of Cuprum that is now owned by the Speropolus family.  In1896, Emma was teaching at the Lick Creek school.   I assume that the Lick Creek school was near the OX Ranch headquarters there, which was the location of a hotel run by Charley Anderson at the time.  (If anybody knows for sure where this school was at, please call me.)  This was ten years before Arthur and Pearl were married in 1904, and Emma was acquainted with Arthur Huntley at the time.  Emma stayed with the Huntleys for a time after their marriage.  Someone with a fertile imagination (not me of course) might wonder if Arthur and Emma ever courted, and just what the relationship between the trio was later.

            The summer that Emma taught at the Lick Creek school (1896) was also the year that Arthur Huntley's friends, the Caswell brothers, discovered gold at Thunder Mountain.  You may be familiar with the story of how Huntley had grubstaked the Caswells with $50, and consequently became quite wealthy from this investment.

             At some point, Emma Edwards married a miner named James Green, and lived with him in Boise. Emma Edwards Green died in 1942.

 

 

 

5-17-94…

 

?5-24-94…?

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            The year of 1862 probably brought more change to what was soon to become the territory of Idaho than any other.  The previous April, the breaking threads of national tension in the Eastern U.S. had turned into a rip at Fort Sumter.  By 1862 a giant gaping rent had torn the national fabric apart as the Civil War swung into its bloody stride.       But people in Idaho were too distracted to exhibit much interest in the War.  It was as if a curtain had opened, spot lights blazed and trumpets blared.  Thousands of fortune seekers dashed onto the pristine wilderness stage to begin a frenzied performance.

            If one month of 1862 were to be singled out as the most pivotal, it would be July.  It was that month that Levi Allen discovered copper in the Seven Devils.  That story has been told enough, including in Heidi Bigler Cole's recent book, that I won't detail it here.

            Also in July of 1862, another rich gold bearing area was discovered at Warren's Diggings, about 23 miles to the south east of Florence.  At almost the same time, enormous gold deposits were discovered in the Boise Basin in the mountains north east of present-day Boise.

             Another major event that fateful month was that Tom Goodale started a wagon trail through the Weiser  River territory.  Looking for an Oregon Trail shortcut, Goodale took a train of about 60 wagons from Boise, through the Emmett area, and across the Crane Creek hills to near present day Cambridge.  Here the party was at a loss as to how to proceed for about two weeks.  Exploring to the north, the Cuddy and Seven Devils Mountains convinced them it was not wise to continue in that direction.  To the west, they ran across John Brownlee's ferry, which he had just built across the Snake River near the mouth of Brownlee Creek..  Brownlee came to the wagon camp and made a deal with the group to ferry the wagons across the Snake without charge if they, in return, would build a road to his ferry. This was agreed to, and the road was built.  It probably following the well marked Indian trail that already existed on this route.

            While the wagon train was camped in the Cambridge area, a girl named  Martha Jane Robertson died on August 21.  She was buried near that location.  A monument commemorating this first White grave in this part of Idaho now stands in front of the Cambridge museum.

            Although it was never adopted as a popular route for west bound wagon trains, Goodale's cutoff between Boise and eastern Oregon quickly became a major route traveled by thousands of miners and others coming from Oregon to the Boise Basin gold strike. This cutoff became known as the "Brownlee Trail".

            Instead of continuing to Oregon, three wagons from Goodale's train split from the party near Midvale, and headed north for the mines at Florence.  The fate of these wagons, and the story of the eight men who accompanied them, has become a local legend.  Their story next week.

            Have you written that check yet?

 

?6-2-94…..?

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Instead of continuing to Oregon, three wagons from Tom Goodale's train split from the group, near Midvale, and headed north for the mines at Florence.  Although whites started using a trail up the Payette River that same year, which went through Long Valley, past Payette Lakes and on to Warren and Florence, these men either didn't know about this route, or it had not yet been established.  One has to remember that, at this time, the vast area between Boise and Florence was totally uninhabited and, except for the earlier fur trappers, virtually unexplored by white people.  These men may have been the first to attempt to reach Florence from the south instead of via Lewiston.  They certainly were the first to attempt this route with wagons.

            The best known of the men on this expedition was Dunham Wright, a distant cousin of Abraham Lincoln.  Almost 70 years after this journey, Wright returned to the area to recount his adventures.  It was 1929, and Council was holding the first of several community "Pioneer Picnics".  Wright, then 87 years old, was the featured speaker at the event.  The following is a combination of his oratory to the crowd that day, quoted here from the June 14, 1929 the Adams County Leader, and letters written by Wright.  I have made some punctuation changes  and added my own comments within brackets ([]). 

 

   I was here, in these hills and valleys 67 years ago and was doing everything in my power to find a way out of here,...

    It was August 1862 that I passed through this district, and as we drove up this morning I wanted to see some of the old sarvice bushes from which we picked sarvice berries on that former trip.  Friends, without those sarvice berries, I would not be with you today.

    With seven other men I left the main emigrant train of 60 wagons at Middle valley and started to go to Florence where rich placer diggings were reported.  We started with three wagons.  The first day we left one wagon and doubled our ox teams on the other two.  Then we rolled rocks, cut trees, got down steep mountains by tying trees behind the wagons, and the hill sides were so steep that it seemed the wagons would tip over endwise.  [They went up the Little Weiser River drainage.] Then we came to more difficulties and finally to what looked like the jumping off place.  [This was at the head of the Little Weiser, overlooking the steep drop off into Long Valley.]  There we abandoned the other two wagons and cut up the wood of them to make pack saddles. 

 One of the men was a carpenter and had some tools with him.  Cinches and other straps were made from the canvas tops of the wagons.  We camped here for about two weeks

We had to make pack animals out of our cattle and that is a mighty hard thing to do.  Cattle won't stand for it.  But we put our blankets on them and we had one pony that we packed with our small quantity of flour and ammunition.  Everything in readiness we took a long last sorrowful look  at our old wagons that we had mutilated, leaving chains, trunks, and all other paraphernalia that could not well go on oxen's backs.

    Finally, when we started with this pack train, we did not proceed far when the pony rolled down the mountain side and landed in a small lake at the bottom.   It took two men half a day to get him back, delaying our trip down the mountain, dark overtaking us long before we were half way down, having to stop and tie our oxen to trees and so dark we had to feel for the tree, took our packs off and got into our blankets, etc. the best we could, tired, hungry and thirsty.  I woke next morning almost 15 feet below my blankets.

    When we got the pony out and repacked, we neglected to put on the ammunition, and went away without it.  Then we found ourselves in a hostile Indian section without ammunition.  The Indian signs were to be seen here - figures with arrows sticking in them, and we knew what that meant. [On peeled trees along the trail, the Indian s had drawn pictures of men, and an arrow was left sticking in them.] We did not take to the Indian trail, but traveled after dark among the lodge pole pine - tired, hungry, chilled, and anything but comfortable. I was then a boy of 20.

    We followed down a stream and came to a valley where there was high grass [Long Valley], and during camp, a yellow jacket swarm attacked our cattle, causing them to go bucking and bawling in every direction and scattering our food and bedding to every quarter of the compass.   It was the greatest stampede the world has ever known for the size of it I think.  Eight big steers going bucking, spiking, bawling, tails in the air, tinware rattling like a chaviri, they turned their packs underneath them and tramped our bedding and wearing apparel into strings, and tinware into a cocked hat, the whole thing looked as though it had passed through a terrible cyclone.]  We spent three days getting things together, salvaging what food we could find through the high grass and what clothing and quilts we could get that would hold together.

 

            Wright was almost overwhelmed by the ordeal.  He felt they were hopelessly lost somewhere in the uninhabited vastness of the Rocky Mountains.  The men camped at Payette Lakes for three weeks, trying to find a way out.  They climbed to the top of the highest mountain they could find in an effort to detect smoke from a friendly camp fire, but saw none.  They almost froze at night; having nothing but a few blankets to sleep under.  And they soon had almost nothing to eat but service berries.  He noted that in this strange country, the familiar stars in the sky were the only things he had ever seen before.  His gold fever, which had burned hot until that point, left him and never returned.

           

            Dunham continues:

 

    Like old Moses leading the children of Israel out of the wilderness, we had to lead out of that wilderness, but while he was forty years at it, we were only three weeks.  Finally we were obliged to take the Indian trail down the Salmon.  After many difficulties, we saw in the distance what we thought was a band of elk, but what proved to be cattle.  When we found they were cattle, we shouted for joy.  We had subsisted on a little piece of bacon each morning and those sarvice berries.  We were hungry and exhausted, but salvation was at hand.

            The young men finally made it to Florence, but they met with the same disappointing failure to strike it rich as most of the other fortune seekers there did.

            A few years later, early residents of Indian Valley found the wagons left behind by Wright's party, and were puzzled as to who would have taken them to such a remote spot, and why.  It remained a mystery for a good many years until Wright's story became known.  These early settlers burned what was left of the wagons to salvage the iron.  Iron was a precious and hard to acquire material in those days, given the distance to anyplace to buy it.  A good blacksmith could turn almost any piece of iron into a useful item.  The location where the deserted wagons was found became known as "Burnt Wagon Basin".  The Forest Service has planted a permanent marker on this spot.

            In a glass case at the museum, there are a few pieces of the wagons, some nails from them, and a photo of Dunham Wright.  Why don't you drop by and see it, and while you're there, drop some money in the donation jar?

 

6-9-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            All of the early mining done in the Seven Devils was "underground" as opposed to open pit.   The term "tunnel" is usually used to indicate a horizontal opening.  A "shaft" refers to a vertical tunnel, and an "inclined shaft" is a slanting tunnel that slopes at an angle, between vertical and horizontal. 

            The old style of underground mining was similar to modern methods except that there were few machines to do the work.  Except where huge, extremely expensive boring machines are used,  digging a tunnel still requires drilling and blasting.  Instead of pneumatic rock drills, early miners used a hammer and "star drill".  The hammer was usually a single or double jack.  The drill was a chisel which was up to several feet long, and had a star design on the business end instead of a single, flat tip.  One man would hold the chisel while another would drive it into the rock.  After every blow, the chisel was rotated slightly.  After the hole was deep enough, it was filled with blasting powder.  A blasting cap was placed on the end of a long piece of fuse and then shoved into the powder.  The fuse was lit, everyone backed off a safe distance.

            In a tunnel, after the smoke and dust had cleared, the loosened ore was shoveled into ore carts.  These hand-pushed ore carts had wheels similar to those on a railroad car, and  ran on a much smaller version of a train track.  This track was extended into the mountain as the tunnel was dug, and led back to the "portal" or opening where the contents of the ore carts were unloaded.  If the blasted material was not worth keeping, it was dumped off the end of the tracks onto the "tailings pile".

            This cart and track method of removing ore also applied to moderately inclined shafts, except that a powered hoist had to be used to bring up the carts.  On vertical shafts, buckets were used instead of carts.

            The blasting process was not without its hazards.  Even after dynamite replaced black powder, it was very touchy if it was too old, or especially if had been frozen.   And fuses sometimes burned much faster than they were supposed to.

            One of the most common types of accidents was the result of a "missed hole".  A typical mishap was reported in 1905, in the Weiser Signal newspaper.  The account said that  Ed Fulp and Fred Powell were seriously injured at the California Mine in the Seven Devils.  A number of charges had been fired, and all but one exploded.  Waiting a sufficient length of time, the men returned to investigate.  As they approached the spot where they had placed the charges, the remaining one exploded.   Both men were bowled over and showered with sharp pieces of rock.  They escaped with their lives, but were badly cut and bruised.

            Another missed hole accident happened at the Queen mine in 1906.  Bill Carrick and Fred Lincoln were on the night shift.  They were digging with picks when Carrick hit a "missed shot" left by the day shift, exploding the charge.   One piece of rock hit Carrick over the right eye, knocking him down and rendering him unconscious for a short time.  Lincoln was uninjured.  Dr. Peacock, the mine foreman, fired the day shift crew for negligence and carelessness.

            What may have been the most spectacular such stories on local record  involved one of the areas best known pioneers, Charlie Allen.  Charlie learned the dangers of mining the hard way in 1892.  He and two partners had dug a vertical shaft at their Lobo mine in the Seven Devils.  It was about 6:00 PM and Charlie wanted to knock loose an extra big bunch of rock so they would have plenty of work the next day.  The other two men cleared out before Charlie lit the fuse.  After the fuse was burning, Charlie yelled, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!"   As he scrambled up the first of a set of wooden ladders, he was 110 feet underground.

            Knowing the undependability of fuses, Charlie was in a hurry... maybe too much of a hurry.  Or maybe he was just tired at the end of a long, hard day.  At the 65 foot level, he had to change from one ladder to another.  He slipped.  In an instant, he was falling, headfirst, into the blackness below him.  About eight feet from the bottom of the shaft, he slammed into a rock ledge, landing on his side.  Charlie lay there in agony, knowing that he was about to die.  If the fall hadn't injured him beyond recovery, the double charge of giant powder just two feet below him would certainly snuff out his life like a candle in a hurricane.  It would only be a matter of seconds now.   dependability

            Charlie's companions waited at the top of the shaft.  They listened in horror as they heard him slip and fall.  A minute later, the muffled boom of the exploding powder shook the dirt under their feet.  Dust and air rushed up the shaft in front of them.  Feeling overwhelmed by the tragedy, they descended into the abyss to recover Charlie's lifeless, mutilated body.

            As the two men neared the bottom of the shaft, they heard something move.  They went closer, and there, in the light of their lantern sat Charlie, calmly smoking his corncob pipe.  He was scratched, badly bruised and generally a mess, but, miraculously, none of his injuries were life-threatening. 

            This account is based on an account of the events in the Idaho Citizen newspaper of Salubria, Feb 12, 1892   The editor noted that even though the story was hard to believe, the men swore it happened.

 

6-16-94

            I apologize for missing a week sometimes in writing the History Corner.  I have the roof off of our house, and have had to to burn the midnight oil on my remodeling job between rain storms.

            This time, I thought I would throw together a few things about one of the families that helped make this area what it is today.  Part of what peaked my interest is a grave of a fairly young woman, located under a pine tree just off the Council Cuprum road.

             Forty-two year old Frederick C. Wilkie, his wife Sarah, and their four sons, (Fred, Arthur, Ralph and Richard) settled on Hornet Creek at "Dale" (now called "Upper Dale") in 1882.  They lived where Mill Creek meets Hornet Creek, just south of the old Hornet Guard station.        

            In the spring following their arrival here, Sarah gave birth to a fifth son, Oscar Craig Wilkie.  (He was known by his middle name, Craig.) Almost exactly a year later, in March of 1884, Sarah died.  Her grave is about a quarter of a mile east the Wilkie homestead, about 100 yards above the road.  She was only 33 years old.

                Just over a year and a half after Sarah died,  in 1885,  Frederick married Fannie Fletcher.  A girl and two more boys were born during their ten and a half year marriage.  Frederick and Fannie were divorced in the spring of 1896.  During the time that Fannie was married to Frederick, she taught school at Upper Dale and at several locations near Salubria and Midvale.

            Frederick Wilkie had been a Major in the Union army during the Civil war, and was known locally as "Major Wilkie".  He was involved in local politics, serving as  justice of the peace and county commissioner.  He and his sons are probably best remembered for establishing one of the first sawmills in the area. 

             The first sawmill that  the Wilkies used was one Frederick bought in 1885 from A.F. Hitt, the man after whom Hitt Mountain near Cambridge is named.  Hitt had run an active lumber business with this mill on Hitt Creek some miles west of Cambridge, until one day in 1884, while working at the mill, he slipped and fell into the sharp teeth of the saw.  One of his feet was caught in the saw in such a way that the heel was cut off.  It was an extremely painful, debilitating injury that never did heal, forcing him to sell the mill the next summer.

            This sawmill was a "sash" type mill that had a saw blade that reciprocated up and down.  It was outdated even at that time.   When Hitt operated the mill, the Indians in the in the area didn't understand how it moved by itself and were extremely afraid of it.  They would come no where near it.    Former residents of Norway, however, are said to have had a different reaction to the sash mill.  The mill made a peculiar sound that resembled the rhythm of a Norwegian folk song, and any time a Norwegian came within hearing distance of a sash mill, it is said they had the irresistible urge to do a folk dance.

            By all indications, the sash mill was a water powered mill under the ownerships of both Hitt and the Wilkies.  It is thought that when Wilkies operated the mill, it sat beside the creek in the depression just north of the Council - Cuprum road, just before the road turns up Mill Creek.  It is probable that the creek here was named "Mill Creek" because of the presence of this early mill.  Also, the narrow canyon through which Mill Creek flows just before reaching Hornet Creek is called Wilkie Canyon.          

          There were very few sawmills in the Council Valley vicinity during the early years of settlement, and demand for lumber constantly increased as more and more people came to the area.  By 1891, the Wilkie sawmill was not able to keep up with the demand for lumber.  In 1894, they acquired new mill equipment.  The new set up probably had two circular saws which were aligned so that one cut the upper part of the log, and the other cut the lower part.

             The Wilkies operated mills in various locations in the head of Hornet Creek and Crooked River.  By 1899, they had mills both on Hornet Creek and  the Middle Fork of the Weiser River.

            Fred Wilkie Jr. had more scholarly interests than his sawmilling brothers.  He worked for several newspapers, including the Weiser City Leader, the Idaho Citizen (at Salubria) and the Idaho Statesman.  He later became president of the Northwestern Engineering Co. After a stint at a paper in Utah, he came back to Hornet Creek in 1900. His house was just across the creek from the Upper Dale school.  This house later belonged to W.R. Shaw (Deb Shaw's father).

            Although he didn't seem to take to the vocation of sawing boards, he didn't stray far from the family business after he moved back to the area.  He made his living here as an architect and carpenter.   When the old I.O.O.F. hall was built in Council in 1905, Fred Wilkie drafted the plans for the building.

            More on the Wilkies next week.

 

6-23-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Of the Wilkie boys, Art and Rich were apparently the most ambitious.  The two seemed almost driven to achieve.    Whether it started out as the grand plan it would become, may never be known, but things began to fall into place in 1908.   About this time, Art Wilkie built a planing mill at the railroad about a half mile east of the main Weiser River, about six and a half miles north of Council.  Here, the road to the West Fork of  the Weiser branched off of the crude wagon trail that criss-crossed the river on up to Starkey where the trail ended.  The mill was probably built on the flat between the railroad tracks and the lone hill at the present site of Fruitvale.

             By the fall of that year (1908), the operation was in full swing and things were looking good.  The P+IN railroad even built a siding at the mill, probably at the request of the Wilkies.  But it wasn't long until their good fortune took a turn for the worse.  Sparks from the steam engine that powered the planer mill started a fire which destroyed the mill, the lumber yard, and  even the engine itself.  Undaunted by the major setback, the Wilkies immediately built another, even bigger mill on the same spot.

            It must have been late 1908 or early1909, when the Wilkies, under the name " Wilkie Traction and Transportation Company", built a road over the "Ridge" to the present site of Fruitvale.  The plan was to process the lumber from their sawmills here at their planer, and load it on train cars.  The tracks were closer to their operations at this point than at Council. 

            The Wilkies were some of the first people to use steam powered tractors, then called "traction engines", in this part of the country.  They almost certainly used them to build this route which became known as "the traction road".  Stationary steam engines had been in common use for some time in applications such as the Seven Devils mines.  But these mobile engines were something new, at least in this area.  One of the steam engines in Council's town square is thought to have belonged to the Wilkies.

            Maps of the area dated 1912, show the Wilkie Traction Road going east across the hills from the Peck place near Dale. (This is the old Armacost place - the OK ranch - a mile or so toward town from the old Hornet Guard station.)  Traces of it can still be seen here.  The road  went across to North Hornet Creek, then continued east, probably up what is now known as "Traction Gulch",  to the present end of the Ridge Road.  From the head of this gulch, it most probably followed the route of the present  Ridge Road except for a half mile or so just before it crosses the West Fork of the Weiser.  Here, the original road followed the creek bottom.  Sometime around the 1940s, it was changed to the side hill.  Before this, the original stretch of road here was sometimes a bottomless mud bog in the spring.

             Sometime between 1909 and 1912, homesteaders on the Ridge built a shorter road connecting the  Hornet Creek road to the Wilkie traction road.  It started just up from the Lower Dale school and went north west up what was known as "Warner Gulch", and connected with the traction road where the road now tees at the cattle guard.  This Warner Gulch road, along with the traction road that went on to the present site of Fruitvale, became the county road in 1912, and is now called Ridge Road. 

            At the time the Wilkie Traction road was built, about 1908, there were five homesteaders living on Pleasant Ridge.  By 1912, the Ridge had become a booming homestead area with about 26 families living on scattered dry land farms across the rocky hills between Hornet Creek and Fruitvale.      Using two traction engines, the Wilkies pulled three or four wagons at a time with each engine, hauling about 10,000 to 12,000 board-feet of lumber each trip.  By 1912, the Wilkies would ship about 7 million board feet of lumber from Fruitvale by rail.

             In 1909,  a post office was granted to a spot  near the Wilkie planer mill.  The general area had heretofore been referred to as "West Fork".  The new post office was officially given the name "Lincoln".  At the same time, Art Wilkie, along with some other men, formed the Lincoln Lumber Company, with Art Wilkie as president.  A young man named Andy Carroll became the first Postmaster.  Carroll, a friend and sawmill employee of the Wilkies, was also Secretary and Treasurer of the Lincoln Lumber Company.  The post office may have been in the Lincoln Lumber Company store which records show was managed by Carroll in April of 1910.  Andy's father, Joseph Carroll, who had run stores in Midvale and Council and had run the hotel at Lick Creek,  may have been involved with the store at this time.  Another source says that the store belonged to Rich Wilkie.  Almost as soon as the name Lincoln was granted by the Postal Department, the name was changed to "Fruitvale".

            After moving to Fruitvale, Rich Wilkie sold fire insurance, was a notary public, and helped publish a newspaper called the "Fruitvale Echo".   Art Wilkie, owned and operated the Fruitvale hotel for a time. (Joslin's house now.)   Aside from the family operations in this area, he was also was involved in logging operations at Tamarack for a time.   

            By 1910, things were going so well that the Wilkie brothers found the traction road inadequate to handle the demands that lumber and freight traffic placed upon it.  They made plans to build a railroad line between Fruitvale and Crooked River and organized a stock company to sell shares in the venture.  The planned route was to parallel that of their traction road.  For one reason , the rail line was never built. 

            More on Fruitvale and the Wilkies next week.       

 


6-30-94

HISTORY CORNER

by Dale Fisk

            At some point, the Wilkie brothers began to form a plan that would make the place where their new road met the railroad nothing less than the hub of the local universe.  Aside from serving their own lumber shipping needs, they realized that, with their new route, Lincoln would be the nearest railroad point to upper Hornet Creek and all of the Seven Devils mining area.  And it was also very near the hot springs at Starkey, which, since being reached by the railroad, was becoming a very popular tourist destination.

            As county after county was being created across the West, the competition between towns for the prize of becoming the county seat was very heated.  Sometimes it even resulted in violence.  When Adams County was carved out of Washington County in 1911, it was a custom made opportunity for Art and Rich.   The Idaho legislature appointed Council as the temporary county seat, but a permanent county seat would be determined on the next election, which would be in November of 1912.    If Fruitvale could become the county seat, it would turn the Wilkie real estate holdings into gold.

            The Fruitvale Echo newspaper began publication in April of 1912.    The publisher was listed as the "Fruitvale Commercial Club", but public perception seems to have been that it was published by Rich Wilkie.  And in reality, the paper may have been little more than a vehicle for his personal ambitions.  

             The new Fruitvale newspaper was almost immediately a thorn in the side of its rival, the Council Leader.  For months after the Echo first appeared in print, the Leader editor, James A. Stinson, patiently ignored the soap box editorials printed in the Echo as one would the tirades of a younger sibling.  His only comment was the veiled reference when the Echo first began publication, "It was only an 'Echo' drifted down from the hills."   Finally in September, Stinson reached his breaking point and cut loose with a scathing front page attack,  responding to a comment the Echo had made on an article in the Leader.  In one of the three separate shots at the Echo, Stinson said, "... the poor thing does the baby act by crying that we abused it.  If you can't stand it why don't you get a man in your place?"

            During the short life span of the  Echo, Rich Wilkie waged an incessant, unrelenting, almost religious crusade to make Fruitvale the county seat instead of Council.   Among other virtues, he extoled the central location of Fruitvale in relation to other communities in the county.  Wilkie spent a great deal of time and energy traveling all over the new county, especially in the Seven Devils, gathering 506 signatures on a petition to put Fruitvale on the upcoming ballot as an official candidate for county seat.  When the deadline for filing the petitions had passed, Wilkie went to court to bar New Meadows and Council from appearing on the ballot.  Represented by well known attorney Frank Harris of Weiser, Wilkie claimed that Council and New Meadows didn't gather the number of signatures required by law.  Wilkie also contested the names of 73 New Meadows petition signatures.  He must have gone through them with a fine toothed comb.

            The controversy dragged on for months, but by a few days before the election, Judge E.L. Bryan ruled that the law didn't outline requirements for inclusion on a ballot in such a case, and ruled that the towns could indeed appear on the ballot.

            At this time, some Meadows Valley people were still steaming from the fact that the railroad had been built to New Meadows instead of to the established town of Meadows.  They felt that land investors at New Meadows had pulled strings in order to make themselves wealthy.  Some thought that Wilkie's motives in his lawsuit were suspiciously similar, as he and his family had much to gain from the success of Fruitvale.

            When election day rolled around, the weather was miserable.  A blinding storm with a mixture of rain and snow plagued the area all day.  The weather proved to be an ill omen for the dreams of the Wilkie family.  Council won the county seat election by a land slide, with a total of 919 votes.  To add insult to injury, voters from the Fruitvale precinct gave 76 votes to Council, a number almost equal to the total number of 87 votes that Fruitvale received from all over the county!  The Seven Devils towns proved to be the most supportive of Fruitvale, but only by a narrow margin.

            When it became clear that Fruitvale was not going to become what the Wilkie family had hoped, they seemed to lose interest, and left for greener pastures.  Not long after the election, Ralph moved to Portland.  The following spring, Art and Craig moved their families to Ashton, Idaho.  In the election of 1924, Art, who was still living in Ashton, ran as a candidate for the Idaho Supreme Court judge.  Evidently he lost in the primary election.

            Rich Wilkie soon followed his brothers to south eastern Idaho, settling in Idaho Falls.  He eventually became a lawyer there.  He died there of a heart attack, in 1925, at the age of 49.

            A few years ago, some relatives of the Wilkies were in Council looking for local information on the family.  This was before I collected all of this, so if anyone knows how to reach them, please let me know.

 

7-7-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            One of Council's best known places of business in the early days was a store that once stood where the Council Valley Market 's parking lot is now.  The first merchants associated with the beginnings of this store were Sam, Harry and Abe Criss and a man named Cohen.  Initially, they had no store, but traveled up and down the Weiser River valleys, selling goods out of a wagon.   Every week, during the mid 1890s, their ad appeared in the Weiser paper:

 

COHEN & CRISS 

     The traveling merchants will sell you goods and strange to relate they

 DON'T WANT ANY CASH!

      But prefer to take chickens, eggs, butter, hogs and such things, allowing the highest market price for everything, and they come right to your door and get the produce and deliver the goods.  Carry dry goods, notions.

 

            By 1898, Cohen and Criss had stores Salubria and Council.  The one in Council was built in the fall of that year, about where Shavers is now.  It was operated by Sam Criss.  Carlos Weed's father, Carl Weed, had been in business with Sam Criss in one way or another about two years at this time.  Weed had joined up with Criss right after leaving college in Oregon in 1896, at the age of 22.

            In 1900, the Salubria Citizen newspaper reported an incident here concerning Weed:  "News has been received of a prize fight or some other kind of a scrap at Council between Carl Weed and Chas Irish.  Particulars are lacking."  And in another place in the same issue:  "Chas. Irish has sold his saloon business in Council and left for new fields since his bout with Carl Weed, in which he came out second best."

            In 1901, Abe Criss was on the train headed for Weiser.  Just as the train pulled into the depot, he dropped to the floor of the car - dead of a heart attack.  The Council store was soon bought out by Bernard and Herman Haas and run as the Haas Brothers store.

            In January of 1902, the store burned, along with several other businesses north of the town square (now the park) in Council.    The following April, the company was reorganized as Haas Bros. & Co.   Sam Criss and Carl Weed became partners with the new owners, and a new store  was built where the parking lot for the Council Valley Market is now.   In 1905, it measured 26 by 100 feet, and had two warehouses, one 30 X 80, the other 30 X 40.  The Knights of the Macabees held their elaborately costumed lodge meetings upstairs.

            The store became a center of activity in Council.  It was a common sight to see large pack trains loading supplies for the Seven Devils mines.  People came from as far as Long Valley to stock up here.       

            Sometime during the next five or so  years, Carl Weed became the owner and / or manager of the store.  In 1909, Tom Doughty ran it as a hardware store.  By 1912, George M. Winkler became partners with Carl Weed, and ran the store.  He sold guns, ammunition and farm equipment in addition to the usual assortment of hardware.

            By 1920, the business had become the Council Grocery Company.  At some time before this, Jim Winkler had become Carl's partner, but now was being replaced by Charles Weed, Carl's brother.  Charles had just returned from teaching at a college in China  for about 20 years.  The store soon became known as the "Weed & Weed" store.  The partnership lasted until 1928, when Carl bought out his brother.

            In 1941, the local paper reported that due to "ill health",  Carl had sold the store to Sam Cream of the Weiser Grocery Company.  If the paper had its facts straight, the new owner apparently never operated the establishment.  Soon after the Second World War started, scrap paper that was being collected for the war effort by school children was stored in the empty store building.  Finally, in 1943, the paper reported that Ernest Winkler, who had owned the building for several years, was tearing it down.  So ended a Council landmark.

            It was in 1941 that the present Council Valley Market building was built just east of the old Weed store.  It was originally the Golden Rule Store, and also housed the Adams County Bank.  I'm not sure exactly when the Golden Rule went out of business, but I remember it, so it must have been in the late 1950s.  I wouldn't mind hearing from someone who knows when it was, who ran it, etc.  Also, when did the bank move out?  Did it move from there to what is now the drygoods section of Shaver's?  Was that a different bank? 

            I have shown my slide show to two Junior High history classes, the Odd Fellows and the Grange.  It's a pretty interesting and educational presentation, so if your group wants to see it, give me a call.  I got an interesting call from former Council lad, Tim DeHaas, recently.  He gets the Record where he lives in Arizona, enjoys the History Corner and says that his neighbors down there enjoy reading it too.  And I was also able to help Barbara Pittman of Ukiah, CA get some info on her grandmother, Grace Hutchinson, who taught at the Upper Dale school in 1912.  She sent a donation toward the museum project.  So far we haven't been overwhelmed with people shoveling money at us, but now that I have a roof on my house again I'm gonna start trying to rock the boat a little.

 

7-14-94

HISTORY CORNER

by Dale Fisk

            Another store that was well known in Council was the Cool and Donelly feed store.  It stood just east of the current location of Norm's Corner, just south west of the Ace building.  It was a very long, narrow building, run by Fred Cool and Dale Donelly.

            Fred's brother, L.S. Cool, started the first newspaper in Council about 1901 or so.  It was called the Council Journal.  The office was on the north west corner of Moser and Main, just west of the old Winkler and Cox blacksmith shop.  (If you've seen my slide show, you've seen both of these.)  The Journal didn't stay in publication over a few years for some reason.  It was replaced in 1908 by the Council Leader, which was the predecessor to the Adams County Leader.

            Fred Cool originally had a store across the corner of this intersection, on the south east corner of Moser and Main.    Around the turn of the century, famous sawmill man, Steve Richardson had a store there.  By 1908, Cool was operating a feed store at this location.  In 1910, The Washington County Land and Development Company bought Cool's lot and built the Pomona Hotel there.  Fred then bought the lot east of  The Whiteley Brother's Store (now Norm's Corner) and built a new store.

            In 1912, an ad in the local paper proclaimed, "Public weighing on a Fairbanks scale by a licensed weigher, at Cools."  also selling "pure river ice", grain sacks, sack needles and twine.  Another mainstay that he sold was coal.  About 1914, Cool was joined in the business by Dale Donelly, who lived on Hornet Creek.  The two men sometimes organized shipments of hogs, cattle or other livestock via the railroad.

            In 1922, Cool retired, selling out the Donelly.  Cool moved to Portland and ran a hotel there for a number of years.  Donelly continued with the business for some time.  According to my father, Dale Donelly was one of the finest men he ever met.  I guess that's why he named me after him. He died when I was very young - in the 1950s.

            Somebody please tell me when Donelly closed the store, and / or when it was torn down.  It was before my time.  There is a photograph in the Idaho Historical Society's file in Boise of  the inside of the store.  But we don't have one at the museum yet.  If any one has a picture of the store, please let me know.  For that matter, you probably know by now that we are trying to collect all the old pictures we can.  The library even has budgeted some funds for this.  If you have interesting old pictures of  people or places in the area, let me know.  Tony Schwartz loaned me a few great ones recently so I could copy them.  My thanks to him on behalf of the community.

            Just for general information, it's easy to copy photographs.  About all you need is a camera with a lens that can focus (like most 35 mm cameras), and a magnifying lens.  I have a set of lenses that screw onto my camera lens, but before I got them, I just used a magnifying glass.  Most of the time I just use whatever color film I have in my camera: anything from 100 to 400 ASA.  To use color film on black and white photos, you have to use natural (sun) light.  If you don't, the picture will turn out an amber color.  A well lit window sill, but not with direct sun on the photo you are copying, works great.  The hardest part is holding still enough if you don't use a tripod, and focusing precisely.  I've had pretty good luck taking hand-held shots at a 30th of a second, but a tripod is best.    Give it a try.  It's a great way to share old family pictures and make sure those memories don't get lost.

 

7-21-94 Missing?

 

7-28-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

    The events of human history usually flow in a gradual progression, punctuated by major events that greatly change the direction and magnitude of that flow.  One of the major motivators in the European "discovery" and conquest of America was the almost insane lust for one thing: GOLD.  Columbus, and those who followed him, including the first white people to exploit Idaho, were motivated to a large extent by the possibility of finding untapped sources of this precious purveyor of wealth and power. .

    It's hard to pinpoint an exact starting point for the settlement of Idaho by white people, but probably the most influential domino to fall in the line of events occurred near the Sacramento River in 1848.  James Marshall was cleaning out the ditch down stream from the water wheel at John Sutter's sawmill, when an unusual looking rock caught his eye. The moment he picked up that rock, which turned out to be a gold nugget, it was as if he had set off an explosion that rocked all of North America, if not the world.          Beginning the following year (1849), a tidal wave of humanity that was almost unprecedented in the history of this planet surged west in a mad rush to strike it rich.  This flood of tens of thousands of gold seekers soon splashed some of its overflow into the Northwest and Idaho.

            In 1852, E.D. Pierce , a "49'er" and trader in California, came up the Columbia River to the Clearwater River.  He soon suspected that there was gold in the area.  During the next 8 years, there were a number of gold rushes to various areas in the North West, but resistance to any invasion of whites by the Nez Perce Indians prevented mineral exploration in the Clearwater and Salmon River areas.  A treaty was made between the United States and the Nez Perce which was to keep whites out of  their homeland.  Pierce however, was determined to exploit the area, and worked incessantly toward that end.

            Wrapped in a self righteous mantel of "Manifest Destiny", Pierce smuggled prospecting equipment into Nez Perce territory on the North Fork of the Clearwater in 1860.  He did indeed find gold, and began to energetically promote the area.  Word spread all over the west that a fantastic new gold region had been located.

            Although it risked starting a war with the Indians, the unscrupulous Pierce invited prospectors to sneak into the area, and even guided them to the most promising locations.  By May of 1861, nearly 1000 prospectors had invaded the Clearwater region to seek their fortunes, and many more were hot on their heels.  Several small towns sprang up, including Pierce, Elk City, and Oro Fino.  By the end of the summer, the white population of the area that would become Idaho had gone from almost zero to over seven thousand souls, all of whom were located in the Clearwater River area.

               That same year (1861), gold was discovered just to the south, and the boom town of Florence was established.  The gold along the Clearwater had been fairly evenly distributed in the ground, with few if any rich veins. But around Florence, the deposits were close to the surface and more concentrated.  Here, a man could become fabulously wealthy over night.  The result was an even more wild rush of whites to the area.  Faced with such an overwhelming deluge, the Nez Perce gritted their teeth and bitterly did what they could to resign themselves to their fate...at least for the time being.

            Next week - more gold discoveries, and the rush of fortune seekers leads toward the settlement of the Council area.

 

? 8-4-94

Corner

by Dale Fisk

            One of the most historical spots on any tour of the Seven Devils mining district would have to be the old townsite of Helena.  It was the first town to be established in the Seven Devils.  Helena was located several miles north west of the present site of Cuprum, up and over the steep ridge between Indian Creek and the Snake River, and .  It was tucked into in the Deep Creek drainage, just across Copper creek from the Peacock mine.

            Levi Allen discovered copper at what would become the Peacock mine in 1862, but because of  its remoteness and Indian wars,  the area wasn't exploited unit the mid 1880s.  Mining didn't really get started there until Albert Kleinschmidt arrived on the scene and poured massive amounts of money into the mines.  Albert had the famous Kleinschmidt Grade built in 1890.  Most of us think of the Grade as the steep set of switchbacks south west of Cuprum, but it actually started at the Peacock mine and Helena.

            The Weiser paper reported in 1884 that a new town was being laid out in the Seven Devils that was to be called "Copperville."  This may have been the beginnings of Helena, but there is some information that a tent town by that name, or by the name "Copper Town" existed at the South Peacock mine, just to the south west of the main Peacock mine, prior to the birth of Helena. 

            Again in 1887, the paper said that a new town was being established as "Anna Bristow".  Most historians have said that this was Helena before a name change.  But, three years later (1890) the Weiser paper again reported that "a new town" called Helena was being started. This time, a post office and about twenty buildings were under construction.  Town lots measuring 25 X 100 feet were selling for $50 to $150.  When you consider that wages at that time were around a dollar a day, an equivalent price in todays dollars at even $5 and hour ($40 per day), would be $2,000 to $6,000 per lot.  That's $32,000 to $96,000 per acre!

            Moses Fuchs, a Salubria business man turned miner, was apparently the main owner of  the Helena townsite, eventually holding title to 202 of the 237 lots.  He became the first postmaster, running the post office in a store he had built.   I have no idea as to the significance of these names and dates as yet, but Fuchs filed two plats of the townsite with the County.  The first, in 1897, was filed as the town of "Seven Devils" and designated as "The world's Greatest Copper Camp. Terminus - Weiser and Idaho Northern Ry [Railway]".    He filed an identical map in 1907 as the "Helena Townsite".  The townsite was about 1500 feet long, north and south, and about 600 feet wide.  The two streets running north and south were labeled "Center" and "Main".  The two avenues crossing them were called "Copper" and "Peacock".

            It is said that Helena was named after first girl born there: Helena Smith.  But it is much more likely that the town was named for other reasons.  Helena, Montana was THE copper town in the U.S., and it was common practice to name a fledgling town after a successful one in order to be associated with it.  In addition, both Albert Kleinschmidt and Levi Allen were from Helena, Montana.

            According to one source, Helena once had three mercantile stores, six saloons, one brewery, two assay offices, two saw mills, and was served by two small dairies.  The town was very active during the mining boom, but, like all human endeavors in that district, it eventually faded away.  By 1919, there were about 25 deserted log cabins remaining at Helena.  Some of them had fallen in, others were roofless, and only one or two were habitable.

            In the late 1920s, the townsite was taken by Adams County for back taxes, and sold at auction.  The entire site was bought by Jake Wallace of New Meadows for only $15.  A few weeks afterwards, this humorous letter appeared in the Adams County Leader:

 

    Mr. E.D. Wallace, President

    General Manager and Selling

        Agent of Helena Townsite

    Main Office, New Meadows, Idaho

 

    Dear Mr. Wallace:

        Having learned of your recent acquisition of the townsite of "Helena," Idaho, I hasten to write you to ask you if you have a good corner lot which you will sell me for a nickel.  Must be clear of incumberences with deed and abstract brought down to date.  Would prefer a location near the depot and post office and preferably on the street car line.

                            Yours Very Truly,

                            H.R. Ackley

 

 

                In 1988, a camper on the Snake River near Eagle Bar thought he was being environmentally conscientious by burning his toilet paper after using nature's outdoor facilities.  The result was a raging forest fire that destroyed over 15,000 acres .  The last two or three remaining structures at Helena that had stood for almost 100 years were burned as the fire swept through the old town site.  By the fall of 1991, erosion and salvage logging had virtually wiped out any sign of the town except for piles of tin cans.  The cans seem to have been simply thrown out the door when empty, and many of the buildings had a trash pile next to it.  Today, it's even hard to find the cans.

            This week, Ethel Gossard has made a donation in memory of her late husband Mac Gossard.  Thank you Ethel.

                        This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,790... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with he name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

8-11-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            The main body of copper ore that was mined in the Seven Devils lays in one huge underground formation.  It starts at Lockwood Saddle, and slants downward like a giant subterranean wall, running north east all the way to Landore.   Along its path, the Alaska, Queen, Blue Jacket, Helena, Arkansaw and Decorah mines tapped into it.  All of these mines, except the last two mentioned were located in the Garnet Creek drainage. 

            As early as 1885, which was at the very beginning of the influx of miners to the Devils, a camp was established on Garnet Creek, just below the Queen mine.  Today, the collapsed opening to this mine sits just above the road that goes through Garnet Creek, connecting Lockwood Saddle and the main Cuprum - Landore road.  A huge, old metal ore bin has stood beside the tailings pile, right beside the road, for years.

            The camp on Garnet Creek was initially known as "Garnet", and had hopes of become a town.  I don't think it ever quite made that status, but it is mentioned by that name as the town a few times in newspapers of that day.  It has also been called the "Blue Jacket Camp", I suppose because the office for that mine was built there in 1899.  The two story log office building is still standing at the site of the old camp, about 100 yards down the creek (along the old road that runs straight down the canyon) from the main road and the Queen mine.  In old photos, which by the way are in the album at the library, there was hardly any brush here.  Now, the place is choked with it to the point that it's hard to see what's left of the dozen or so cabins that once stood along the creek.  The walls of the old cook house are still there and easy to see, just across the creek from the mine office.

            The old cook house was the scene of an odd but tragic event in February of 1901.  A young man named John Shroeder had been cooking at the camp since the previous July.  One evening after he put supper on tables, John stepped out the back door to get more wood for the stove.  About an hour passed before, Blue Jacket mine manager, Stuart French, and his brother William, realized that John had not come back inside.  The two men went to investigate.  As they stepped outside, they saw two hands protruding from under a large pile of snow.  It was John.    Apparently, a deep load of snow had accumulated on top of the uncovered pile of fire wood.  Instead of disturbing the snow by taking wood from the top of the pile, John had been undermining it for some time by removing wood from lower down.  His luck ran out when he pulled out one piece too many, and the whole thing collapsed on top of him, killing him.

            Another death took place in one of the cabins at Garnet, or very nearby.  Heidi Bigler Cole mentions the story of his death in A Wild Cowboy.  I've dug up a few more details.

            Albert Kleinschmidt's sons stayed in the mining district for many years after Albert sold out and left the area.   Two of the "boys", Harrison and Franz, had been living together near the Blue Jacket mine, but at some point a disagreement occurred, and Franz moved into Cuprum.   Harrison spent the winter of 1937 -38 alone in the cabin with his dog.  Toward the end of March, he felt something very wrong in his chest.  He sat down at his table and started to write a note stating that he had suffered a heart attack and needed help.  Just how the note was to get to anyone is unknown.  Maybe he planned to tie it to the dog and send him for help.  As he wrote the note, Harrison fell off his chair onto the floor.

            A week later, John Darland, Cuprum postmaster and proprietor of the Cuprum Hotel, became concerned that he had not heard from Harrison in about two weeks.  Darland headed for the cabin, finding nine feet of snow in the area when he arrived.  When he entered the cabin, Darland found Kleinschmidt dead where he had fallen.  The unfinished note was lying on the table, and the pen he had used to write it was still clasped in his hand.

            Evidently temperatures had been above freezing and Kleinschmidt's body had badly decomposed in the eight days since his death.  In her book, Heidi said that Harrison's dog had eaten part of the dead man.  I have heard this disputed, but Bert Warner says it's true.

            Darland went back to Cuprum and phoned sheriff Ed Wade and coroner Joe Ivie.  Along with Alex Shaw, they took Dr. Thurston's "snowmobile" as far as Bear.  The snowmobile was a model A Ford with skis instead of tires on the front.  There was one other like it in the area, operated by Gene Perkins to deliver mail between Council and Cuprum.

            The snowmobile couldn't make it any farther than Bear, so the men rode horseback to Cuprum.  From there, they had to take skis the remaining six miles to the cabin.  Kleinschmidt's decomposed body was wrapped in blankets and strapped to a pair of skis for the arduous journey back to Cuprum. 

            Harrison had a wife somewhere, and a son who lived in Seattle, but due to the condition of his body, he was buried immediately in the Cuprum Cemetery.  His photograph was integrated into the tombstone, and is still plainly visible.  The Cuprum cemetery is located short distance this side of Cuprum.  A small dirt road leads north west from the main road it.  Many of the grave markers have deteriorated or been destroyed, so the location and identity of all who are buried here is hard to determine. 

            The Council - Seven Devils tour is still in the works.  It's just a matter of waiting for a time when there will be less dust and the fire danger.   In the mean time, I will be presenting my slide show on Friday night, Sept. 23 at the Library meeting room at 8:00 PM.  I'll take you on a stroll up the main street of Council around the turn of the century, and tell you some things you've never heard before about why Council is the way it is today.  The informal admission price will be a donation of whatever size you see fit.

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,750... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with he name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

8-18-94?

History Corner

            It's going to be interesting to see just when we can schedule this tour that I keep talking about.  It would be nice if it would cool down and rain before we invade that area. 

            One of the historical ranches along our tour will be the Gossard place on Hornet Creek.  William and Dora Black and their two sons settled on this ranch in1889. 

            A year after they arrived, the Blacks traded a milk cow to a nursery man in Boise for young fruit trees.  They added to their orchards as they were able, and it soon became the first, and largest, commercial orchard in Washington County.  At its peak, the Black place had about 1500 fruit trees, and a half acre of strawberries.

                Dora Black told of an incident they had with Indians in the early days:

   "The Nez Perce Indians came on their annual trip to Weiser and camped near our house.  We had a house full of friends from Weiser the same Sunday.  In the evening we were singing and dancing to the music of violin and guitar, raising lots of noise, when an Indian messenger came asking us to keep quiet. It was Sunday and the hour for their prayer services.  We were quite ashamed and kept still."

 

            In 1892, there was an outbreak of diphtheria that killed 9 people in the Council area.  Both of the Black's only children, sons died from the disease that December.  Harry was two years old.  Ralph was only two and a half.  The nearest doctor was Dr. Wm. Brown, 35 miles away in Salubria, and the medicine he sent arrived too late to save them.

            The graves of these little boys are visible from the both roads that go by the place today.  They were buried under a pine tree on the hillside, north west of the ranch buildings.  In those days it was believed that burial at night would help prevent the spread of the disease, so many diphtheria victims were buried after dark.  This may well have been how these little boys here were buried.  If so, what an eerie, heart-breaking ceremony it must have been.  The vast blackness outside the small circle of lantern light under this tree must have made it seem to Mr. and Mrs. Black that they were escorting their precious sons even farther than usual on their journey into eternity.

            Later, the family wanted to move the boys bodies to a cemetery near Council, but authorities would not allow it. Diphtheria is an extremely contagious bacterial disease and it was feared that disturbing the graves might cause a new epidemic.

            Originally an Iowa girl, Dora Black had taught school in Oregon, and then in Montana where she met and married William, before coming to Idaho.  Between 1893 and 1895, she taught in almost every school in the Council area.   Getting to and from the Upper Dale school was no problem, since it was practically next door. When she taught at the Lower Dale school, then called the "lower Hornet" school, Dora rode six miles, to and from work, each night and morning.  When engaged at the lower Council school (just north of town) and upper Council school (later called the "White" school, three miles north of town) she probably boarded with someone near the schools.  Since school terms only lasted a few months in those days, she would often be employed at two or more of these schools during the same year.  Dora helped mold the childhood minds of  such well known local citizens as Matilda Moser,  Jose Biggerstaff - White - Allen,  and Mary and Albert Robertson.        

            William Black, better known as "Billie", would seem to have been a jack of all trades who jumped from one career to another.  His parents may have started the trend.  Originally from England, they emigrated to Canada where Billie was born, then moved on to the U.S. when he was 16 years old.  He was about 30 years old when he came to this area.

            In 1896, Billie ran unsuccessfully against Art Wilkie and another man for the office of state representative.  Early in 1898, he was caught up in the fever of the Klondike gold rush, and headed north to strike it rich.  Along the way, he came to his senses and stayed in Washington until July.

            No sooner had he arrived home, when was determined to go back to Washington to make his fortune.  The Salubria Citizen reported that Billie sold his ranch to Benjamin Day, who ran the Inland Hotel in Salubria, for $4,000, and in turn, the Blacks leased the hotel from Day.   Dora later said that they traded the ranch for the hotel.  She said that one reason they gave up the ranch was that her father had died, and that his death added to the loss of their sons made her not care to live there anymore.   

            Dora, apparently also no stranger to a variety of careers, was already experienced in the hotel business, and ran the establishment while Billie went off to chase his dreams in Republic, Washington.  Those dreams were apparently short lived, as he returned within a few weeks to help run the hotel.

            Benjamin B. Day, originally from Ohio, had been a member of the Washington State Senate in 1886.  He lived in Warren before coming to Salubria at about the same time the Blacks had come to Hornet Creek.  Upon acquiring the Black ranch, Day set out to make it "... a summer resort and general stopping place for weary travelers ...".

            Ever on the move, the next summer (1899), Billie Black announced his retirement from his brief career as a hotel magnate, and the Blacks turned the business back to Mrs. Day.  By the next spring (1900), the sale of the ranch to Mr. Day had fallen through, Billie had become part owner of a mine in the Heath district, had leased the ranch to Al Jewell,  and was once again heading north with the gleam of gold in his eyes.  This time he hitched his star to the gold rush at Nome, Alaska.   And this time he actually made it there... but he only stayed a short time.            The following year (1901) Benjamin Day made another stab at buying Black's Hornet Creek property.  This time the deal stuck.  A year later, Billie and Dora were back in the hotel business, leasing the Vendome hotel in Weiser.  Again, this vocation didn't satisfy Billie's itch for very long.  By 1904, he was running a cigar store in Weiser.  From here, Billie's trail, at least through the local newspapers, becomes cold.  He apparently ran the cigar store for a longer period than most of his other callings had held him.  Billie died in 1931, and Dora continued to live in Weiser until her death in 1948.

             J.R. Sowash bought the place from D.D. Day in 1906 (for $11,000) and then sold it to August Kampeter the next year.  After August died  in 1936, his son, Bill, took over the ranch.  Bill and his wife, April, ran the ranch for many years until they sold it to Mac and Ethel Gossard  in 1971.

            I would like to thank Dr. Bruce and Rachel Gardner for a generous donation to the museum, made in memory of several people who have left us within the past year or so:

            Mac Gossard

            Chloe Ludwig

            Cleone Fraiser

            Dr. Fred Stovner

 

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,750... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with he name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

8-25-94?

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            On our upcoming tour of the Seven Devils mining district, we will stop here.  It looks like a thousand other ordinary places in the mountains around Council.  A creek runs through a culvert under a gentle curve in the dirt road, brush and trees bury the hillsides in green, and the road continues on without giving the slightest hint of anything unusual.  The only clue that there is anything special about this location is a few symmetrically piled logs just off the road: the rotted remains of  a couple of cabins. 

            Like so many other places we pass by each day, this nondescript turn in the road once held the hopes and dreams of a generation that came before us.  This spot was once at the vibrantly beating heart of the Seven Devils mining boom.

            It started when E.D. Ford, who later developed the Black Lake mines, built a cabin along Indian Creek here in the 1890s.  In 1898, Thomas G. Jones came along.  He was a flamboyant, wealthy man who had been in on the discovery of the enormous Homesteak gold strike in Montana.  One story says that he won the land here in a poker game from Lewis Hall, president of the P&IN Railroad.  At any rate, Jones divided the land into lots and established a townsite that he dubbed "Landore" after his home town in Wales.

            By the end of that year (1898), the little burgh had a population of some 20 legal voters.  In 1900, a road was built from Landore to Bear that made for a shorter trip from the mines to Council.  It would also be less steep and muddy than the old route via Cuprum and the Huntley grade.  When the road was being planned, it was said that in good weather the new road would save two days every trip for loaded teams, and during the muddy season, teams loaded for that section might make the trip in from three to four days less time.  The shorter route caused Landore to replace Cuprum as the dominant town in the mining district.  A number Cuprum and Decorah businesses moved to Landore as a result.

            Landore grew rapidly, and by 1901, had a newspaper, a post office, several stores and hotels, and the luxury of long distance telephone service.  Just about all of these were located along the one main street which is now the curve in the road that I described at the start.

            The next year (1902) was a bad one in the Devils, and the area was very economically depressed as mining came to a standstill.  The newspaper, the "Seven Devils Standard", which had only recently relocated there from Cuprum, packed up and moved to Meadows.  Here, its name was changed to the "Meadows Eagle".  One of the Standard / Eagle editors, Ben Edlin, later became editor of the Weiser Signal for a number of years.

            Things picked up in Landore and in the Devils is general in 1904 when construction began on a copper smelter at Landore.  T. G. Jones gave the Ladd Metals Co. five acres to built it on.  Charley Allen set to work to supply 300,000 ft of lumber for the project from his Landore sawmill, and the company advertised for 5,000 cords of wood to fire the smelter.

            In one month, from June to July, the population of Landore went from eight souls to nearly 200 residents.  The result was a "tent town addition".  The school also grew from 2 students to 16.  Between July and September, over 800 loaded freight wagons had arrived in Landore with supplies, machinery, etc.  Every mining company poured tens of thousands of dollars into new machinery and general expansion.  Things had never looked brighter in the Seven Devils.

            The size of the town of Landore is an interesting topic.  Winifred Lindsay, who grew up in Cuprum and Landore, said she remembers it having a peak population of one thousand and three.  I have serious doubts as to the validity of that figure, but I suppose it's possible that this number was reached for a very short time. Lindsay said the population was very transitory, and shrank and grew radically from season to season.  It was said that between 5,000 and 6,000 people once lived within a 7 mile radius of Landore during the mining boom.

            The new wood-fired smelter at Landore was said to have used an unusual process. The Weiser Signal reported,  "The heat is supplied from a gas flame... from the carbon of wet rotten white fir wood mixed with oxygen and hydrogen at the proper moment."  This "water gas" was said to have burned with a white glow similar to that of an electric light and was free from soot.  I have no idea how much truth there is to all this, but the paper seemed very serious about it, mentioning it in several issues.

            But by winter, it was clear that the process was not working as well as the company let on.  In December, the company ordered 1,000 tons of coke to replace the wood as fuel.  (Coke is partially burned coal - the coal equivalent to wood charcoal, but it burns hotter.)  This seemed to work for awhile, and the smelter processed 60 tons of ore each day from mines all over the district.   At least one pure copper "matte" was freighted from the Landore smelter to Council.  The bar(s) measured 24" long by 10"X12" and weighed about 400 pounds. 

            Problems continued, and the smelter was rebuilt with a "reverberatory" furnace made of brick.  (A reverberatory furnace radiates heat from the roof onto the ore.)  As always, the company said the new process was a tremendous success.  But by fall, it was announced, "On account of being unable to procure the necessary fluxing material and proper fuel, without enormous extra expense to the company in the way of transportation, the Ladd Metals Company smelter at Landore has suspended operations indefinitely, but it is earnestly hoped they may be able to resume early next year."  It never resumed operation, and the doom of the Seven Devils mining district was sealed.

            Landore continued to struggle through the ups and downs of the mining cycles, but never could relive its short-lived glory days.  In 1916, half the town burned down when the postmaster went to sleep with a candle burning beside his bed.  Finally, by 1920 the town was virtually deserted, and the post office was closed.

            In 1941, fire lookouts reported dense smoke coming from Indian Creek, and they sounded the alarm.  It was soon learned, however, that it was only someone burning the old smelter at Landore to salvage scrap iron for the war effort.  At the time, there was a big pile of rotting firewood still stacked in the smelter from its wood-fired days - approximately 8 to 18 cords. 

            For years, the brick smelter chimney stood just a short way off the road, and served as kind of a landmark.  I have heard that it fell down fairly recently, but I'm not sure.  The old mine office and one or two other log structures are very far gone, and will probably not even be visible for much longer. 

            If you are interested, I have carefully drawn out a diagram with the locations and names of most of the buildings that once stood in Landore, based on a drawing by Anna Adams and on old photos.  These photos and the diagram are in the photo album at the library.   If you haven't seen this album, or haven't seen it is a long time, I have added over a hundred photos to it in the last year or so.

_____________________

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,700... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with he name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum. 

 

??????

 

10-5-94????

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Two small streams enter Hornet Creek, about nine miles out of Council.  The first is Hanson Creek.  It was named after the Rasmus and Anna Hanson family who came to live here about 1883.  When they came to the U.S. from Denmark in 1881 with their infant son, Soren, they spoke no English.  The Danish spelling of their name was "Hansen", but the immigration officials misspelled it "Hanson" on their papers, so rather than fight bureaucracy, the family retained that spelling from then on.

            The Hansons came West with a group of Mormons, and spent two years living at Logan, Utah before coming to Idaho.  The tongue-in-cheek story among the family was that Anna insisted on the move to Idaho because she didn't want Rasmus to adopt the Mormon practice of taking a second wife.

            Indians used to come through Hornet Creek twice a year in those early days, traveling up the creek in the spring, and then back down in the fall.  One fall in the 1890s, as the Indians came through, they took the Hanson's little blond-haired daughter, Anna, with them.  It took Rasmus two days to figure out what had happened to her,  catch up with the Indians and take her back.  The Indians gave him the excuse that she had wanted to come with them.  This type of  casual abduction by the Indians was not an altogether unusual occurrence in those days.

            During the mining boom, the Hanson family made extra money by selling vegetables to miners in the Seven Devils.  When their son, Bill, started school, Mrs. Hanson taught herself to read and speak English as Bill was learning to read.  (You may know Bill Hanson's daughter, Mattie Thomas.) 

            In 1896, Rasmus hired Elisha Stevens of East Fork and Mr. Sevey of Fruitvale to  build a big barn on his place that is still standing.  (Does anybody know Mr. Sevey's first name?  The Robertson - Sevey Ditch is 1/2 named after him.)  In later years, the Hanson place belonged to Sam King, and now belongs to his son, Larry Walling.

            In 1902, Soren Hanson of Hanson Creek married a neighbor girl, Dora Lakey, from the next creek up the valley.  The next creek up was, of course, Lakey Creek. 

            The families of John and Lewis Lakey settled along this tributary of Hornet Creek that came to be named after them in 1881.  In the museum, there is a small pocket watch that was given to Lewis and Pheby Lakey on their wedding day.  ( I'm not sure if we have it on display right now.)  If I have the story straight, they were married on their way west, near the Continental Divide.  The watch is said to have started west from Kansas in 1875.

            Lewis and Pheby Lakey, and their nine children, at first lived in a one room, dirt floor cabin.  Even if they would have had money to buy clothes, there were no stores any closer than Weiser.  Phoebe made pants for the boys out of seamless sacks.  Unable to buy shoes, they often went barefoot, sometimes even in the winter.

            Some of the Lakeys operated a sawmill here, and it has been said that Lewis planted the first orchard on Hornet Creek.  Pheby Lakey died in 1904 or '05, and Lewis followed in 1911 .  They are both buried in the Hornet Creek cemetery. 

              One dramatic Lakey family story from the spring of 1894 illustrates the hazards of the days before good roads.   At the time, there were no bridges on the road up Hornet Creek, and Jake Lakey, his wife and baby had to cross Hornet creek several times before they made it home from Council.  At one crossing, the team balked right in the middle of the swift, muddy water.  Just as Jake got out to urge the team forward, the raging torrent tipped the buck board over, throwing Mrs. Lakey and their baby out into the swift water.  Jake jumped toward them in time to catch the baby, and Mrs. Lakey was able to save her self by grabbing a hold of Jake's coat.  By making a desperate effort, Jake was able struggle to the shore with his family intact.  Their panicked, wild-eyed horses were swept away to their deaths, lunging and kicking frantically to escape a broken tangle of buck board and twisted harness.

            A donation came in from Jay Thorp this week. You may remember that, some time back, I mentioned that Frank Thompson was looking for Jay.  The History Corner got the two old friends in touch.  That was the second time this happened.  If any of you are curious about what became of an old aquaintance, let me know, and I'll mention it in this column.  There are people from all over who subscribe to the Record, and may know how to get in touch with that person.

            Also, a very nice donation arrived from "The Royal Order of the Golden Neckyoke Leatherhood", as a memorial in memory of Lila Downey, who was a charter member of the organization.  Thank you, on behalf of the community and those who knew Lila.    The letter along with the check was signed by Harold and Opal Smith.  Harold did some growing up in the Bear area, and wrote quite an interesting book about mountain man, Jim Summers.  His book is in the Council library.

            Thanks also to those others who contributed this week.  Every dollar helps and is very much appreciated.

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,750... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with he name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

            Don’t forget my slide show Friday night at 8:00 ;.m. in the Council Valley Free Library meeting room.

           

10-13-94!

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            The spot with the most concentrated amount of history along our Oct. 22nd tour route might be the place where the Wildhorse road branches from the Council - Cuprum road. 

            Long before the arrival of settlers, Indians used this general location as a favorite campground.

            In the late 1800's, as many as 400 head of cattle ranged the Seven Devils area.  They were allowed to roam the mountains with little herding.  One of the cattlemen who had stock here during that time was John McGlinchy.  The McGlinchy family trailed cattle from their ranch near Payette to this area for the summer.  They maintained a camp here which included a cabin that stood just to the north east of the current cattle guard.  A pile of stones from the old chimney is still in evidence. Imagine what an isolated place this must have been in those days before there was a road anywhere near it.   John McGlinchy owned Zim's hot springs north of New Meadows for a time.  He sold it in 1904.

            Byron and Nancy Davis bought this land from McGlinchy in 1890, about the time that the Kleinschmidt grade was built and mining really got started in the Seven Devils.  Byron had been a scout for many emigrant wagon trains coming west, and later drove freight wagons between Umatilla Landing and Boise City.  Byron's older brother, Tom Davis, came to Boise City in 1864, and planted the first orchard and some of the first shade trees.  When he later gave his orchard to the city for a park, he asked that it be named after his wife.  That's how Julia Davis Park was established.

            The Davises built a big, two-story log house here on a stone foundation.  A  daughter that was stillborn is buried on the bench east of the road junction.  For a while, this location was known as "Old Davis" because it was the old Davis place.

            By 1912, a log school house had been built near the Davis place.  It was called the Crooked River school.  The school continued through the late 1920s, but by 1927, the attendance was only 4 students.  This lack of students was probably what led to the closure of the school soon afterwards. 

            In the fall of 1931, Lee Zink, who had the mail contract from Council to Cuprum, bought the school building.  He moved it a short distance, and converted it into a half-way stage station for winter use.  Otto Russell lived here for a time, tending the horses that were sometimes used to relay the mail on that part of the stage line. Even though a truck was used on the mail route by this time, the roads were not well maintained in winter, and horse drawn sleds often had to be used.

            An illustration of just how bad things could get on the mail route had occurred just two winters before Lee got the mail route. In the winter of 1929, Zink's predecessor on this route, Frank George, had set out for Cuprum with his mail truck, but had to abandon it after shoveling through snow drifts for several hours.  He finally borrowed a team and sleigh and continued on.  That team became too tired from wading the deep snow, so he borrowed another one.  With relentless dedication to getting the job done, he wore out five teams of horses by the time he reached Cuprum at 12 o'clock that night.  By the winter of 1932, Zink used two other men to relay the mail to Cuprum.  Zink took it to Old Davis, Oscar Russell took it to Bear, and Toby Warner carried it on to Cuprum.

            In late 1938, the Boise - Payette Lumber Co. (later called the Boise Cascade Corp.) sat up a portable sawmill here.  A small community sprang up in conjunction with the mill, with a cook house, office building, tool shed, gas and oil house and eight portable houses.  The company originally planned to saw logs here, then haul the rough lumber to Council.  From there, it was to be shipped by rail to Emmett for finishing.        A small dam, which is still in evidence, was built to form a log pond, but there wasn't a  adequate amount of water to consistently serve that purpose very well.  The plan was abandoned, and the company decided to build a sawmill at the present mill site in Council.  Before the portable mill was taken down, the timbers for the  framework of the first Boise - Payette sawmill in Council were sawed here. The Council mill burned down in 1958, and was replaced by the present mill.

            In late 1939, Andy Anderson, a logging contractor for the Boise - Payette Company, arrived in the area, and set up his headquarters here.   Soon, another school was started here for the children of his logging crew.  Katie Marble was probably the first teacher.  School was conducted in one  half of  on of the portable buildings, and the teacher lived in the other half.

            After only few years, the logging operation moved on, and the community was dismantled.  A number of the houses were moved to Council and set up west of the railroad tracks.  Some of the present houses are remodeled versions of these previously portable homes.

            The big tour is set to begin at 9 AM on the morning of October 22.  Meet in the Council library parking lot.  Find a friend to share a ride with if you can.  I've discovered that the road will be good enough for most cars.  Bring a lunch and your camera.  It's going to be a memorable day of seeing the locations of historic stage stops, mines, homesteads, schools, graves, town sites,  geology, etc. Because we are raising money for the museum addition, a minimum $5 per person donation is requested.  If you have any questions, call me.  253-4582 

 

10-20-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Who are you? 

            Think about how you would answer that question.  Most of us might include something about where, and how, we were raised.  We might mention major events in our lives at certain ages that made us who we are today. Without knowing how someone grew up, you can never completely know them.

            Without knowing how and why a community or town grew up, you can never fully know it either. 

            So why is the town of Council located where it is?  This place was the intersection of  major trails that connected the areas north and south of here.  One trail went up Hornet Creek to the Seven Devils area.  Another went up the main Weiser River valley, and was used by miners and pack trains to reach Warren.  The third leg of the trail connected the other two branches with all the country to the south.  I'm not sure if the trails were created by Indians or whites, but I would guess they were Indian routes, adopted by whites.  Apparently, the intersection of these trails was right in front (east) of  where Ruben's is now.

            I think the trail toward Hornet Creek angled to the northwest, around the western base of the hill, and then turned west, crossing the Weiser River about where the bridge is now.  Later, Moser Avenue and other streets were laid out at right angles, and the more direct, original route of the trail in town was obliterated. 

            I'm not sure about the trail that went north, up the main valley.  It may have skirted the south edge of the hill like Illinois Ave. does now, and turned north around the east edge like Galena does.  I base this on the fact that Galena street was the road leading north out of town up until about 1920.  It seems like I read somewhere that the area just north of the hill was quite marshy, and caused problems with the road.  Can anybody confirm this? Call me.

            Why was this valley settled when it was?  It is the last valley up the Weiser River, and is also separated from the lower valleys by the geographic barriers of  the steep, narrow canyons along the river and the hills on either side.  It also has a smaller amount of farmable land than any of the lower valleys.  That's why it was the last to be settled, starting for all practical purposes in 1876, eight years behind the Indian Valley and Cambridge areas.

            The Seven Devils played a major role in the development Council.  The mining activity there furnished employment, and a market for a variety of products, including locally grown food.  But the thing that really made it possible for a town to blossom here was the railroad.

            In those days, the railroad was almost literally the life-blood of a community.  You have probably watched old western movies about how the fate of communities and individuals hinged on where the railroad was built.  This was no Hollywood fantasy.  Towns in this area, such as Salubria, Meadows and Roseberry virtually vanished after the tracks bypassed them.  The railroad was the only dependable way to move people and goods.  Without it, Council would have been nothing but a wide spot in the road, practically cut off from the rest of the world.  The need to transport ore from the mines of the Seven Devils  was the major motivation for building the railroad into the Council Valley.

            This weekend you can see the places that steered Council toward its destiny.  Like  obsolete, discarded foundation stones of our community, the crumbling mine shafts, rotting cabins and rusting steam boilers lay scattered through the mountains.  If only they could talk ... the stories they could tell. 

            Join us Saturday morning at 9 AM in the Library parking lot. Come along on our tour and hear some of the stories. Learn about your community and the places that made it what it is today. Bring your car. Sahre a ride if you can. Bring a picnic lunch, a camera, binoculars,, etc. The roads are good enough for most cars. We are asking for a donation to…

 

10-27-94 missing…

 

11-3-94?

            Quick riches from the earth was the dream of many around the turn of the century.  While the Seven Devils were stirring with excitement in this area, there were other places that sang the siren's song.  One of those was an extremely remote region of the Yukon Territory on the Klondike River.  The story of the Klondike gold rush of 1898 is almost  beyond belief, and is much to long to go into here.  In short, a journey of incredible hardship was necessary to make it to the gold region.  Three reckless young men from the Indian Valley - Salubria area, Wylie Anderson, Erwin Mickey and Jeff Saling, set out for the Klondike in March of that year. 

            In early April, they reached the point in the trail called  Chillkoot Pass.  At that time of year, it was a steep incline of snow, several hundred yards long, climbing up to the border between Alaska and Canada.  Canadian Mounties were stationed at the top to enforce the rule that every person had to have enough provisions to survive the journey to the Klondike.  It usually took more than one exhausting trip to get one's gear and supplies to the top of the pass.  Twenty four hours a day there was a shoulder-to-shoulder line of men (and a sometimes even a few women) climbing up the icy steps that were carved into the hill. 

            One fateful day, there was a rumbling on the mountain above the trail, and a mass of snow and ice hurtled down the hill, burying the trail and everyone on it.  About 100 people were killed.  One of the victims was Jeff Saling.  His companions, Anderson and Mickey, immediately returned home - thoroughly disillusioned.

            Two years later (1900), there was a similar gold rush to Nome, Alaska.  Gold nuggets had been found on the beaches there, and it caused imense excitement.  My grandfather, Jim Fisk, was an experienced metal worker, and earned his passage to Nome on a steamship as the steamfitter on board the ship.  He said that even before the ship docked, men were jumping over the sides and dashing up to the beach, expecting to pick up hands full of nuggets.

            Meanwhile (1900), in Council, the long awaited railroad  was coming, and it caused as much excitement and uproar as any gold rush.  Several hundred men were in the area, building the railroad grade.  Buildings were going up right and left.  Downtown Council went from a few stores and a blacksmith shop gathered around a town square to looking like a real town in a very short time.  New people were moving in faster than the old timers could keep up.  As was often was the case with new railroad towns, part of that influx was an element of society that Council could have done without. 

            On a Friday night in January of 1900, the owner of one of  the new hotels in Council gave a dance to celebrate the opening of his establishment.  Dan Moore was "calling" the dances - deciding whether the next tune would be a waltz, a shoddish, etc., and calling the movements if it was to be a square dance.  Sam Harphan, undoubtedly influenced by the liquid refreshment provided for the occasion, became angry with Moore for calling the wrong kinds of songs.  The obnoxious Harphan kept harassing Moore throughout the evening until, finally, it came to blows. 

            During their tussle, Harphan pulled a revolver and leveled it at Moore.  The explosion of the shot rocked the room.  The startled crowd, their ears ringing, turned to see Mrs. Fisher wincing with pain.  The bullet has missed Moore and hit her.  Moore pulled his own pistol, and shot twice, killing Harphan on the spot.  The paper didn't say how seriously Mrs. Fisher was wounded.  Evidently, the law took no action toward Moore, since it was obviously an act of self defense.

            Only five months later (June of 1900), another malcontent caused a similar incident in Council.  Charles Bowman had been hanging around the saloons of Council for two days, imbibing freely in their stock and trade.  One of the establishments that Bowman had patronized was the Headquarters Saloon, owned and operated by George Bassett.  The saloon was said to have also had a restaurant in connection, and prostitutes upstairs. 

            Before he was finished with his holiday on the town, Bowman discovered that he was flat broke.  Feeling that the saloon must have taken advantage of him, he went approached the bartender and demanded a refund.  The bartender refused, and Bowman left.  A short time later, Bowman returned and repeated his demand, this time at gunpoint.  The Cambridge Citizen newspaper noted that,  "Just at that juncture the bar-tender had business behind the bar in the region of the floor,..."      About that time, Mr. Bassett walked in, and Bowman turned the gun on him.  Bassett, evidently prepared for this turn of events, leveled his own weapon and fired.  Bowman was hit in the stomach, and one arm was shattered at the elbow .  Dr. Loder was called to the scene, amputated Bowman's arm and did what he could for the man, but the wounds were too serious.  Bowman died a day or two later.  Apparently, the law took a similar view of this shooting.

            Bassett later opened a second Headquarters saloon in Decorah.  It was the opulent sin palace that Winifred Brown Lindsay remembered seeing when she was a girl, after the saloon had closed down.  For those of you who went on our tour Saturday, I have figured out that Decorah really was on the wider flat just around the corner from the sign where we stopped.  Bassett's saloon, from Lindsay's description, was on the right (east) side of the road, and had a lawn that extended back to the creek.

            The Mining District tour was a big success.  Forty - five people came along, with 13 vehicles.  There were a couple people from Weiser and Payette, at least three from Cambridge and three from New Meadows.  In spite of dire predictions of rain and / or snow, it was a beautiful (but a little chilly) fall day.  The icing on the cake was that the tour raised more money for the museum than I had dared to hope: $431.00!  Thanks go to all of you who took part in the tour, especially to Kevin Gray and Gayle Dixon for their help and generosity.  Our fund now stands at about $2413.00  Stay tuned.

 

11-10-94!

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            This week I'm going to back up to more or less the beginning, and start a series of articles.

            We are all immigrants here in Idaho, but some of us have been here a few thousand years longer than others.  The first humans wandered across the Bering Strait land bridge from north east Asia to North America at the end of the last ice age.  The archaeological evidence is still being collected and evaluated, but so far seems to indicate that  the first humans arrived in what is now Idaho in the neighborhood of about 14,000 years ago.  One site in Southern Idaho contains human artifacts dated at 17,000 years ago, but this date is not universally accepted.

               During the first era after human arrival here, it appears that this part of Idaho was used lightly by people who mostly passed through it.   For a long time, the climate for these early Idahoans was cooler and wetter than it is now.  Most of their activities centered on the valleys along the Snake, Boise and other major rivers.  Then, about 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, the annual precipitation began to decrease and the temperatures rose.  This brought a climate something like we have today.  Much of southern Idaho became a desert.  Because water was more abundant here in the higher valleys along the upper Weiser River, they became more populated.

            The oldest directly dated native burial site in western Idaho was discovered  on the DeMoss ranch at the southern end of the Meadows Valley in 1985.  I think it was Craig DeMoss who was digging out a spring with a backhoe (a standard archeological tool for dedicate work) to get more water to flow, when he started seeing human remains.   The Indian graves there are estimated to be about 6,000 years old.

            By the time the second group of immigrants arrived on this continent, this time traveling west from Europe, two general groups of people had established themselves in what is now Idaho.  To an extent, the two native groups were separated by the natural geographic barriers of Hells Canyon, the Seven Devils mountains and the rugged country along the Salmon River.  To the north of these boundaries, was the "Shahaptian" or "Plateau" culture, which primarily consisted of the Nez Perce tribe.   To the south, was the Basin culture, composed mostly of the Shoshoni tribe. The west central edge of Idaho south of the Snake River, and eastern Oregon was home to the Paiute tribe.

            The Shoshoni, made up of several subgroups, were an offshoot of the Comanche tribe, and the two tribes had a common language up until sometime between 1700 and 1800.  In his journal of a wagon trip across Idaho in 1853, Henry Allyn spelled out, phonetically, the way that the Shoshoni pronounced the name of their tribe as "Shaw-shaw-nee".

            The Shoshoni as a whole were often referred to as the "Snake" Indians.  There are several stories as to why they came to be called by this name, but the most plausible one claims that a hand movement the Shoshoni used in "saying" their tribal name with sign language was a wiggling motion reminding one of a snake.  Interestingly, I saw a Western movie on TV recently, involving Comanche Indians.  A Comanche in this movie used a snake like movement in saying the name of his tribe in sign language.  I'd like to know if this was based on reality.  It makes sense, considering the Comanche's shared linguistic history with the Shoshonis.

            The names given to various Shoshoni subgroups can be confusing because they have been called different names by different people.  Whites often had trouble translating Indian names, and many times uncaringly came up with a bastardized terms that were "close enough", or they simply made up their own names for the natives.  One of these names for the poorest of the Shoshoni who managed to survive in the deserts of southern Idaho was "Diggers".  Many of the tribe names that are used today, including "Nez Perce", are non-native labels bestowed by whites. 

            Aside from the standard name of "the people", used by all tribes in whatever language they spoke, even the Indians themselves were not consistent, by white cultural standards, in what they called themselves.  Sometimes it depended on where they were and what they were doing at the time.  For instance, when northern bands of the Shoshoni were in the mountains where they often hunted mountain sheep, they called themselves "Tukadeka" (Sheep Eaters).            

            In general, the Indians in the northern part of the Shoshoni territory were called "Northern" or "Mountain" Shoshoni.  The Mountain Shoshoni group most commonly known as the Sheep Eaters were made up of scattered groups who ranged across the Seven Devils and Salmon River areas.  They survived by constantly moving from one place to another in small family groups, over a large territory.  During the summer, they roamed the headwaters of the Weiser, Payette, Boise, and Salmon Rivers, and wintered in lower elevations such as along the main Salmon and Snake Rivers.  Big Bar, in the upper Hells Canyon, was a favorite wintering spot.  When Charlie Warner farmed at the mouth of Kinney Creek along the Snake River in the early days, he found old sun-bleached mountain goat and mountain sheep horns that Indians had left hanging in the brush there.

            The Indians who spent a great deal of time in the general Weiser River drainage, were sometimes called the Weiser Shoshoni or "Weisers" by whites.  They were not necessarily a completely separate group from the Sheep Eaters, and in some old accounts are referred to as such.  The Weisers traveled in small family groups during the summer, but often had a common winter camp at Indian Valley, or near the mouth of Crane Creek.

            To some extent the Shoshoni shared the northern and western edges of their territory with the Nez Perce and the Paiute tribes.   On the north, the Nez Perce sometimes hunted and fished in the Seven Devils, Hells Canyon, and the upper reaches of the Weiser and Little Salmon Rivers.  As a result of contact with the Nez Perce, the Weisers adopted some elements of the Nez Perce life-style, such as heavy dependence on Salmon and Steelhead as a food source.  The interaction was generally, but not always, cordial.  Over the centuries there were times when the Shoshoni and Nez Perce fought each other.

            Relations between the Shoshoni and their Paiute neighbors to the west was also generally friendly.  The Paiutes that often lived with the buffalo hunting Shoshonis of Idaho and Wyoming became known as "Bannocks".

            I would like to thank Helen Robertson of Payette for a nice donation made in the memory of her late husband, Fred Robertson.  Fred passed away 20 years ago at the Robertson's cabin at Cuprum. 

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2,490... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.  

 

11-17-94

History Corner

      As with most native Americans, the life-style of the Mountain Shoshoni can be divided into at least two eras: before the horse, and after the horse.  Before the Weiser Indians acquired the horse (probably around 1750), they were a quite different people from the classic romanticized image we have of the "noble red man".  In the summer, they lived in woven grass mat lodges, or temporary shelters made by placing deer hides or other skins over a frame of willow branches. Their style of dress was simple and plain.  It's hard to imagine Indians without fancy beadwork, but before Europeans introduced trade beads to Native Americans, the Weisers used porcupine quills, what sea shells they could acquire through trade, and other natural materials to decorate themselves.

            Another item that has become synonymous with Native Americans is the bow and arrow.  But it was not until only about 1,000 years ago that they acquired this weapon. Until that time, the atalatal was the only means they had of throwing a projectile.  The projectile was dart that was a little like a cross between an arrow and a light spear.  Most of the so called "arrow heads" that we find today were actually points used on atalatal darts.  Arrow points were generally smaller, and are sometimes misnamed "bird points" by people who find them today.  After they acquired the bow and arrow, Shoshoni bows made of wood and laminated with mountain sheep horn were highly prized among Indians all over the West.

            The source for much of the obsidian that the Shoshoni used for projectile points came from Timber Butte, north east of Emmett.  When highway 95 was rerouted down the north side of Mesa Hill in the 1970s, a locally used Indian quarry for stone tool materials uncovered when the cut was made though the small hill just south of the Middle Fork bridge.

            Before the horse, the Shoshoni eked out a subsistence by hunting primarily small game, and making optimum use of well over 100 species of plants.   They sometimes used poison tipped arrows, had snow shoes, and used dogs for hunting and as pack animals.  

            Winter was always a challenge to their survival.  One of the first, life saving foods that could be harvested when spring arrived was the root of the arrow leaf balsam root, sometimes locally known as sunflowers.  The first run of Salmon was also a vital, early-season food source.  The Weiser River was a major salmon spawning stream, with several species running up the river at different times over the summer.  The Shoshoni would gather at various locations along the Weiser to harvest the fish, generally catching them in nets.  Two other staples of the Weiser Indian's diet was dried chokecherries and service berries.  They returned to this area to pick these berries up until the early 1900s.     

            In the mid 1700s, the Shoshonis acquired horses, most probably from their Comanche cousins to the south.  The Nez Perce acquired their first horses from the Shoshonis.  Although some have claimed the Nez Perce acquired horses from plains tribes, this seems improbable.  The Shoshoni were more closely tied to the Nez Perce, both socially and geographically. Plus, there is a Nez Perce story of how they got their first horses from the Shoshoni and took them back over a trail through the Seven Devils.

            After the Shoshonis got horses, they were able to travel much farther, hunt big game animals more often, and meet socially in larger groups.  For the Weiser Indians the horse brought more frequent contact with the Nez Perce, plus new contacts and trade with more distant tribes.  As many other tribes had, the Shoshoni adopted many of the elements of Plains Indian life-style including living in hide tipis, wearing more stylish clothing such as feathered headdresses and war decorations, and practicing certain dances of Plains origins.  In general, between the coming of the horse, and the arrival of the white man, they enjoyed a period of greater prosperity than they had ever known.

            The more conservative, isolated Sheep Eater groups who lived farther back in the mountains, did not adopt many of the new ways.  Because of the harsh terrain, they didn't even make much use of the horse.  Although they spoke the same language as other Shoshonis, they retained an older, slower style of speech.  The other Shoshoni groups thought of these Sheep Eaters as being quite backwards.  Max Pavesic, the archeology professor at BSU, says the Shoshoni felt toward these Sheep Easters a little like we would feel about ignorant hillbillies.

            Stay tuned.

 

11-24-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

    The first white people to enter Idaho were those of the Lewis and Clark expedition on their way west in 1805.  On their return journey from the coast in 1806, a party was sent to the Salmon River from their camp near Kamiah to gather fish.  The party did not go far toward the Seven Devils beyond the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, but mentioned that both rivers appeared "to enter a high and mountainous country".

    Lewis and Clark asked some of their Indian guides to draw a map for them, showing the principle rivers of the region.   When the Indians obliged, their drawing showed a great river flowing across Southern Idaho and swinging north to near where the expedition was camped.  Lewis and Clark called this body of water "Lewis's River", but it later became known as the "Snake River" because of the dominance of the "Snake" Indians along its course in southern Idaho.  In making their own map of the North West to take back to President Jefferson, Lewis and Clark drew in other rivers, based on native descriptions, and named the various rivers after members of their party.  The Weiser River was named after Peter Weiser (or

"Wiser", as Lewis spelled it).  There was some confusion later as to the origin of the name when a well known trapper named Jack Weiser became one of the first white men to trap in the Weiser River area.    

    The first whites to venture close to Council came west with an expedition sent by John Jacob Astor.  Astor expanded his fur company interests to the north west coast in the spring of 1811 by establishing fort Astoria near the mouth of the Columbia River.  Aside from the limited exploration of Lewis and Clark, the area inland from there was unknown territory to whites.  Astor knew that the Columbia was somewhat navigable, and if he could find a route from the head waters of the Missouri River to the Columbia he would be several jumps ahead of everyone else in exploiting the new territory.

    The same year (1811), Astor hired Wilson Price Hunt, to locate such a route.  After reaching the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in October, Hunts expedition made dugout canoes from cottonwood trees, and proceeded in these crude boats down the river.  By the time the Hunt expedition reached a spot near the present site of the town of Burley, they were thoroughly defeated by the river.  They found they could no longer ride out the rapids, and often could not climb out of the canyon to go around them.  The party, which consisted of 65 people, including a seven months pregnant Indian woman and her two children (ages 2 and 4), had lost much of their gear, and was virtually without food.  The party split into five groups.  Three main groups continued north and west, each trying a different route.

    The group led by Hunt cut north to near present day Boise, then on to where the town of Weiser would later be established. From there, they proceeded up the Weiser River, then up Mann Creek to its head, and back to the Snake.  As they continued down the river toward Hells Canyon, on the 6th of December, Hunt's party rejoined one of the other groups from the original expedition.  Here, Hunt was informed that the mountains on the west side of Hells Canyon seemed impassible, but that the remaining party under Donald McKenzie had continued north on the east side of the river.  All three divisions of the expedition had seen no game, and was on the brink of starvation.

    It seems strange that the Hunt expedition saw no deer along the Snake River as they approached the Hells Canyon area in that December and January.  That area now has been the wintering ground of great herds of deer for many decades.

    Hunt decided to try a route north through the Weiser River valleys to reach the Columbia River.  This route made sense, even with our present knowledge of Idaho geography.  These valleys are the least mountainous way to reach the Salmon River drainage from southern Idaho.  This may well have been why the Weiser River was so familiar to the Nez Perce that Lewis and Clark encountered.   However, the Shoshoni that Hunt encountered along the Weiser convinced him that the snow was too deep in this direction. 

            Hunt then tried to get a Indians to guide him over an alternate route toward the west.  These natives must have thought Hunt was out of his mind to be trying such a journey in the dead of winter, and they wanted no part of it.  After much arm twisting, and several gifts, Hunt was able to convince one of the Shoshoni men to guide his party over the Blue Mountains and on to the Columbia.  The route they followed, with slight changes, later became a portion of the Oregon Trail.

    One has to wonder why the snow would have been too deep to the north of the Weiser River drainage.  The highest point, between the Weiser and Salmon Rivers by modern road is between Price Valley and New Meadows, and is not significantly higher in elevation than Council.  From there, a trip down the Little and main Salmon Rivers would have been hampered by relatively little snow.  If the main trail used by natives to reach areas to the north was a route resembling the Boise - Lewiston Trail route through the Seven Devils, then it would indeed have been impossible to have made such a journey in winter. 

 

12-1-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Donald McKenzie led the group from Wilson Price Hunt's expedition that had forged on  north along the east side of the Snake River.   McKenzie was a rugged Scotsman from Canada.  Weighing over 300 pounds, this red-headed giant had tremendous physical strength and endurance, and was so energetic that he earned the nick name "Perpetual Motion".    He was very experienced in the fur business, and had a natural ability to lead men.  McKenzie was later to become governor of the Territory of Manitoba, Canada.

            McKenzie's party of ten men had no horses or food.  As they struggled along the snowless breaks of the Snake River, they took a route high up on the ridge tops.  Although they could often see the river far below them, they suffered terribly from thirst.  Try as they might, they could find no game to shoot.  Desperate for food, the men dug out an old beaver hide from one of the packs, and ate it.

            Finally, probably near the Seven Devils Mountains, the weakened and exhausted group was caught in a snow storm.  Their situation seemed utterly hopeless.  Finding a sheltered place, they sat down and tried to resign themselves to certain death.  It was then that one of the men looked out through the swirling blizzard, and beheld a sight that must have made him think he was hallucinating.  There, not far up the hill, was a bighorn sheep!  The animal was humped up under a rocky overhang, seeking shelter from the storm just as they were.  It must have taken almost all the strength the man had left to make his way to a spot where he could get a shot at the sheep.  He managed to drop the animal where it stood, which was fortunate.  Had the sheep been able to run any distance in that steep country, the men may well have been too weak to follow it.

            It's hard to imagine the elation these men must have felt. Their lives were saved.  No one knows just where this fortuitous event occurred; it would be interesting to know the spot.  Not doubt the men of the McKenzie party would have thought it appropriate to erect a monument on this location.

            After a difficult journey that totaled 21 days, the McKenzie group reached the confluence of the Salmon and Snake Rivers.  Historians have speculated the course taken by these men, and to make a long story short, nobody really knows.  They probably followed what would become known as the Boise-Lewiston Trail part of the way, but it is doubtful that they traveled through the most rugged part of the Seven Devils.  They probably cut to the east, and may have traveled through some part of the Rapid River drainage.  They may even have gone father to the east through Price Valley and hit the Little Salmon before the main Salmon. At any rate, on the Salmon River they encountered Nez Perce Indians who took care of them, and helped them continue down the Salmon, and on to the Snake and Columbia Rivers.  They arrived at Fort Astoria in February, about a month ahead of Hunt.

            In 1813, John Reid, a former member of the McKenzie's group from the Hunt expedition, returned to the mouth of the Boise River to establish a trapping camp.  With him was the Indian woman, Marie Dorion, her husband and two of her children.  Everyone in this outfit, except for Marie and her children, was killed by Bannock Indians early the following spring.

            Donald McKenzie returned to this same area with a large group in the fall of 1818, to trap and establish friendly relations with, and between, the Indians of the region.  In this party was Jack Weiser after whom the Weiser River has mistakenly thought to be named.  Also in the group was a Canadian named Francois Payette, after whom the town of Payette, the Payette River, and the Payette National Forest are named.  Francois Payette trapped and explored this part of Idaho off and on for about 18 years, and is said to be considered by some historians as one of the most important figures in the early history of southwestern Idaho.

            At the time of McKenzie's return to Idaho, there was a great deal of fighting going on between the Shoshoni and the Nez Perce and other Shahptin-speaking groups.  There was also a constant problem with vicious Blackfoot war parties raiding deep into Idaho from Montana.  After a number of council meetings, McKenzie was able to bring relative peace, at least between the Idaho tribes.

            In the eastern states, it had been the practice of whites to induce Indians to do the actual work of trapping, in exchange for trade goods.  In the west, however, the male natives generally spurned trapping as women's work, but by the time McKenzie left the area in 1821, many of the Shoshoni had begun to trap.

            During McKenzie's escapades in the Idaho area, he wanted to see for himself whether the Hells Canyon route was practical for travel.  About 1819, he and a party of men pulled a barge up the Snake River, starting from the mouth of the Clearwater River.  After almost two months of superhuman effort, they actually made it through, but it obviously was not worth it.  Nearly 50 years passed before anyone was foolhardy enough to venture onto this stretch of the river with a boat.

            The first recorded mention of exploration of the Weiser River drainage is that of a trapping excursion led by Alexander Ross in 1824.   By 1826, American trappers had penetrated deep into the Weiser River country as far as Payette Lake, and the Weiser River had become one of the area's prime sources of beaver pelts.

 

12-5-94

History Corner

            I got word from the courthouse last week that they were cleaning house and had some things the museum might want.  The most exciting thing they had was a stack of Adams County Leader newspapers from 1918 and 1919.  Until now, there were only three copies of 1918 Leaders remaining in existence, even on microfilm.  Now we have ten more.  There were no copies of 1919 Leaders before this find of 42 out of a possible 52 issues! 

            The Leader office was moved around town several times before it ended up where it is now. 

In one of the moves, all of the back issues for 1916 through 1919 that were kept in the Leader office  were lost.  Former County Clerk, Matilda Moser, who was a member of the first family to settle in the Council Valley, was responsible for initially saving the issues found in the courthouse.  She saved her  issues of the paper for many years.  The courthouse gang also gave us back issues that Matilda had saved for 1925 and 1948 through 1953.  We will keep them at the museum with some other ones from various years.  The Leader office also has these years issues on file, and they are on microfilm at the State Library in Boise.

            There are lots of records that the County stores for a few years and then discards.  Most of them are pretty boring statistics - records of routine expenditures, etc.  Once in awhile something interesting pops up.  In some receipts issued to Sheriff Ed Wade during the summer of 1941 there were some interesting expenses: 100 miles @ 7 cents per mile to investigate "Arizona cars with wild animals, supposed to the same people that were run out of Canyon County".

            The same mileage rates were paid for these duties:  Investigate two people "living in adultery" - "let get license at Council" ... "Move destitute woman from Hornet Creek to Mesa in order to keep them off Adams County" ... "Clear highway of crippled horse.  Reported by Fred Muller." ... "Get prisoner at Weiser for stealing 1 1/2 ton Chevy truck from Mesa" ... "Get prisoner at Walla Walla, Wash. and return to Council" ..."Wreck South of Council - L.V. Davis - two trips in cleaning up wreck and taking party to hospital."  I'll bet what goes on at the sheriffs office nowadays is just as interesting.

            On many of the otherwise uninteresting documents that were being discarded were the signatures of some of Council's "Landmarks":  sheriff William F. Winkler = signed as "W.F. Winkler", large, bold, sweeping across the page ... Geo. A. Winkler = energetic and sweeping, but not as big as uncle Bill's ...  Fred E. Weed = stylish, moderate in size ... Matilda Moser = classic, flawless script right out of the penmanship primer ... Sheriff Chester Selby (Loraine Ludwig's father) = large and easily read ... William Lemon (Leader editor, probate judge, owner of the Pomona Hotel, and owner of the big ,square, stucco building next to the Leader office) = signed as "Wm Lemon" with the W and the L very large and stylish ... Sheriff Frank Yantis = a large, stylish F, plain Y, moderate size over all.

            I thank Mike Fisk and the others at the court house for thinking of the museum.  If anyone else has "junk" that might be historically interesting, please let me know.

            After my inquiry about an outlaw corral somewhere in the hills east of Council a few weeks ago, someone told me about the remains of an old corral and cabin up Camp Crk.  Sounded like it is on a ridge on the south "breaks" of the creek somewhere.  Anybody know the story on this?

            Since this column is so fragmented already, I'll go off on another tangent that is more or less related to history.  This time of year you always hear a lot about people who "have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas."  In order to understand the "true meaning" or "original meaning" of something, it pays to look at its history.

            Way back before most religions were established, people were mighty glad for the time of year when the days stopped getting shorter and started getting longer.  This happens on or about the 21st of December by our modern calendar.  They used to call it the "Ule Tide" because it was kind of like the low tide of the ocean as it reaches the lowest point and then starts rising again.  The celebration of this season was about the return of the sun to bring more light to the world.  A few thousand years later, Christian missionaries decided to subvert this "pagan nonsense" with their own idea of a return of "the light of the world".  Even though most historians and theologists agree that Jesus was probably born closer to summer time, they began to promote the season as the time of year to celebrate of the birth of their Messiah, Jesus.  Since "The Church" dominated European culture and governments for quite a period we now have an indelibly established Christian tradition of "Christmas"  in our culture.

            There is a similar story behind Easter.  That's why we have such a strange mixture of eggs, bunnies and sunrise church services.

            So if you disagree with the way someone observes or doesn't observe Christmas, stop and realize that the tradition is thoroughly man made, and is not the original one.  There is no reason why everyone - Jews, Muslims, atheists and Christians alike - should not make this season special in their own way.

            I hope you have a very merry Christmas / Ule Tide.

 

12-8-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            The next expedition to venture near the Weiser River area was that of Captain Benjamin Bonneville.  In 1832, Bonneville took a leave of absence from the U.S. Army to lead an exploratory expedition through the Northwest.  Since claim to much of this territory in the  was in contention between the United States and England, it was suspected that Bonneville might have been spying for the United States.  No one has ever determined whether this was true or not.

            By this time, more outposts had been established in the vicinity of the Columbia River.  After spending some time at a base camp in southern Idaho, Bonneville set out for Fort Walla Walla.  Apparently Bonneville, like Wilson Price Hunt, was either undaunted by a journey of several hundred miles in the dead of winter, or else he was not aware of the rigors of the terrain and climate he was to encounter.  He began this journey on Christmas day of 1833, with 3 men, cutting across southern Idaho through the Snake River plain.   Upon reaching the Blue Mountains, they encountered too much snow to continue west.  As they had already traveled part of the way on the frozen surface of the Snake River, a decision was made to return to the Snake, and continue in this fashion down the river through Hells Canyon.  To their disappointment, the weather had warmed, and the water had become relatively free of ice except for narrow ribbons along the banks, and occasional ice "bridges" that spanned the river.  In spite of this, they went on, mostly using the ground along the shore when it was not too steep to do so.

            Imagine what it must have been like for these men when they tested the ice.   Picture yourself hundreds of miles from even the most crude outpost of civilization, in the dead of winter, on the back of a bug-eyed, snorting horse, as he edges across the rumbling, settling ice, while untold millions of gallons of water plunges mere inches below you through the deepest canyon in North America.  What must the nerves of these men endured on that last stretch of creaking ice before they admitted that it was just too foolish to continue? 

            Where the ice was too thin and rocky cliffs plunged straight down to the water, the party sometimes climbed far up the side of the canyon.  At one point, two of their horses fell into the river.  One of these horses was rescued, but the other was swept away by the rushing water.

            It is thought that they made it about as far as the mouth of Thirty-two Point Creek (just across the Snake from Sawpit Creek and Sheep Rock) before the steep walls of rock on either side made it impossible to continue down the river bank, and travel on the ice became too risky.

            The party then tried to climb over the mountains on the west side of the river, but after making it almost to the summit, they could find no way through this incredibly rugged country.  Their only alternative was to go back down the way they had come, but this proved even more difficult than the climb up had been.  After an exhausting ordeal, using rappelling ropes, they were able to get both themselves and their horses safely back to the river. 

            At this point, they considered killing their horses, drying the meat for food, and using the hides to make boats in which to continue down the Snake.  Before resorting to this dangerous alternative, they  decided to try once again to climb over the mountains to the west.  Knowing what we now know about the nature of the Snake River through Hell's Canyon, can you imagine trying to ride the rapids in a horse hide bull boat?  I would have almost certainly have been the last mistake Bonneville ever made. 

            The party back-tracked about four miles up river where they found a more passable, though still difficult, route over the summit, and succeeded in reaching the Imnaha River.   There, the starved and exhausted group found some Nez Perce Indians who fed and cared for them, and eventually guided them to Fort Walla Walla.  The Nez Perce had always been friendly to whites.  Captain Bonneville, as well as Lewis and Clark, noted that the Nez Perce were among the most friendly Indians they encountered in the West.  This tribe continued to befriend white people up until about 45 years later when their kindness and friendship was rewarded with murder, imprisonment, and the theft of everything they held sacred.

            Accounts written by Washington Irving of the hardships of the Bonneville and Wilson Price Hunt expeditions in the Hells Canyon area were widely read, with the result that the canyon, and the Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains on either side of it, were avoided, and remained relatively unexplored by whites for many years.  

            About 1834, the Hudson's Bay Company built Fort Boise on the Snake River.  Two years later, the fort was moved to a location near the mouth of the Boise River under the charge of Francois Payette.

            About 1840, the fur trade started to decline because of low prices in the East.  As the white trappers faded from the scene along the Weiser River, the Indians went back to their old, undisturbed life-style.  However, storm clouds were brewing on the eastern horizon.

 

12-15-94 …

 

12-22-94

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            In 1840, a branch of the Oregon Trail was established over the Blue Mountains, and by 1843 there was a flood of immigrants coming through the Boise area on their way to western Oregon.  One of the wagons that came through on this route in the 1840's was that of the Allen family.  Traveling with them on their way to the present site of Portland, Oregon was their young son, Levi Allen, who was later to play a key role in the history of the Seven Devils and the valleys along the Weiser River.

            In 1846, the United States acquired what is now the Northwestern U.S. in a division of territory with the British, and even more settlers came through on their way to Oregon.  Although the Weiser Indians were not directly influenced by the hordes of people, wagons and livestock, their neighbors along the Snake found the camp sites they had carefully used for untold generations destroyed.  The camps and streams were filthy from the immigrant's domestic animals, and the surrounding areas were bare of grass, and stripped of fuel for fires.  The Indians of the arid Snake River plain, who had already had to struggle to scratch out a subsistence, "... had to watch their food sources destroyed by whites ignorant of Indian culture and blind to the delicate balance of the area's natural resources."

            Deprived of their usual sources of life, the Shoshonis and Paiutes resorted to preying on wagon trains to survive: stealing horses and livestock.  Whites retaliated, and the situation quickly escalated into full scale war.

            In 1854, Fort Boise was abandoned because of this serious "Indian uprising".  For a number of years, native Idahoans along the Snake River massacred whites at every opportunity.  Aside from futile efforts by military authorities, most of what is now Southern and Central Idaho was practically "given back" to the Indians.  It was expected the vicinity would remain unsettled for another 50 years except as a stopping point for travelers who dared to pass through on the Oregon Trail under heavy military protection.

            But the discovery of gold along the Clearwater River started the beginning of the end of this hostile standoff between the races.  I've already written about the pivotal year of 1862 in this column - Levi Allen's discovery of copper in the Seven Devils, Goodale's cutoff, Dunham Wright's adventure and the gold rush to the Boise Basin.       

            At this time, most people came to settle or prospect in Idaho from more settled areas to the west of here, usually via the Columbia River.   The town of Boise City was established in 1863.  Freight started to be shipped to Boise from a landing along the Columbia at Umatilla, in a sort of reverse flow of the usual Oregon Trail traffic of immigrants.  It was not until later that central Idaho became a planned destination for supplies and settlers from points south and east, as "civilization" filled in the vast unsettled areas in those directions. 

            I would like to thank Tom Gaston for a generous donation to the museum.  Our balance is now about $2670.00            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.  We need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

 

 

 History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            If you have seen my slide show,  looked at the photo display I put up in the library, or spent much time studying the pictures in the museum, you have seen a small, white house that was built in about 1901.  It is visible behind the old Haas Bros. / Weed store that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago,  in a couple of old photos.  This house, still looking very much like it did when it was built, now stands at 104 N Fairfield, just north of the West One Bank.  It is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Fish.

            The house was built by one of the giants among early Council citizens - Luther L. Burtenshaw.   Burtenshaw was a lawyer, and was known to his friends simply as "Burt".  For almost four decades, he was an anchor of Council's civic life.  If anyone could be called a pillar of the community, it was Burt.  It was hard to find a community project or organization in which he was not either the leader or a key player. 

            Burtenshaw arrived in Council at the age of 40, just as the railroad reached town and a new era was beginning for the Valley.  Born in Missouri, he had come West with his parents by ox drawn wagon to the Willamete Valley in Oregon where he grew up.  After being admitted to the bar, he practiced law in Washington and Oregon before coming to Council.

            Burt and his wife, Nettie had one child, Edward, who was seven years old when the family set out to find a place to establish a law practice.  Upon arriving in Idaho, Burt made the acquaintance of fellow attorney, Frank Harris, at Weiser.  Harris recommended Council, and the rest is history.

            Burtenshaw was a muscular, bear of a man:  stocky, and maybe a little less than average in height.  He was not a person one would want for a legal adversary, much less an enemy.  It was said that he was "A man of dominant will and personality..." "Short and snappy in manner of conversation and often harsh in words of reproof and castigation, [but] after the heat of argument or battle of words he held no grudge and welcomed a return to friendly tranquility and good will."

            Burtenshaw was regarded by some as being the father of Adams County.  He was a tireless advocate of secession from Washington County, and wrote the bill that created Adams County in 1911.  It was Burt who came up with the name "Adams" for the new county.  He reasoned that since Washington County was named after the nation's first president, the new county formed from the upper part of it should be named after the second president.    When Adams County was formed, Governor James H. Hawley appointed Burtenshaw as the new county's first prosecuting attorney.  Burt was reelected to that office a number of times.

            Burt became an expected fixture at high school graduation ceremonies, which were often held at the opera house (now the People's Theater).  As a long-time member of the school board of trustees, he handed diplomas to many a Council graduate.  He could often be counted on to give the oration for these, or many other occasions.

            One thing Burt was renowned for was trap shooting.  He had honed his expertise with a shotgun since he was a young man.  While living in Council, he competed in trap shooting tournaments, often traveling long distances to do so.  But he reached his peak as a competitor in the sport after he was sixty years old.  In 1922, he won first place in more than one Idaho contest, and then went on to a regional competitions in Pendleton and Portland, Oregon.  The next year, there was a "Burtenshaw trophy" that went to any trap shooter who could win it 3 times. At the age of 65, Burt won the Capital News "high average medal" for the 1927 Telegraphic Trapshooting Tournament by hitting 192 out of 200 targets. Three years later (1930), at the finals in Boise, he shot 100 consecutive clay pigeons without a miss.  Out of a total of 200 shots that day, he only missed three times.  The next year, at the age of 70, Burt placed close to the top in the National Trap Shooting Tournament.   L.L. Burtenshaw became an honorary life member of the Pacific International Trap Shooting Association, a rare honor which had been bestowed upon fewer than a dozen people at the time.

            Nettie Burtenshaw was no stranger to firearms either.  She was quite a deer hunter.  After one particularly successful hunting trip in 1914, the editor of the Leader said of Nettie, "We will bank her against any woman huntress in the state."

            In 1926, Burt ran on Democratic party ticket for U.S. Representative, but lost the election.  Later, in the 1930s he became Adams County's state senator.  

            The first World War brought tragedy to the Burtenshaw household.  Their only son, Edward, had married, become an attorney, and was practicing law with his father when the U.S. became involved in the War in 1917.  Edward, like many other patriotic young men, soon found himself on the battlefields of France.  He made it through the bloody conflict without a scratch, and was no doubt looking forward to coming home.  But in November of 1918, just ten days before the armistice was signed ending the war, he died from influenza.  Three and a half months later, and half a world away, his wife gave birth to a baby boy.  He was named Edward after his father.

            It was over two years before the family could get Edward senior's body shipped back to the U.S.  Finally in June of 1921, Burtenshaws were able to lay Edward to rest under Council Valley soil.  The community rallied around the grief-stricken family at one of the largest and saddest funeral services ever held in Council.  It was held at the opera house, which probably held more people than any other building in town, but it  was woefully inadequate to hold the throng of people who came to comfort one of the town's most loved families.

            In 1938, Burt reached the end of his earthly trail, and was buried beside his son.  The Adams County Leader commented, "The vacant place he leaves in the town and community cannot be filled because Luther L. Burtenshaw was himself, a character, separate and apart from other men, an man that will be missed by all who knew him.

            We plan to do another anthology before too long, to raise money for the Museum.  Maybe Burt or Nettie will show up there and reveal more about their lives and what this area was like back then.

            Many of you have been reading and enjoying the History Corner since I've been writing it.  I've spent almost every spare minute of the past four years  - hundreds of hours - researching and writing these stories.  I don't expect to see a penny from it for myself, but I want to ask you a favor ... not for me, but for yourself, your community and for future generations.  Get out your check book in the next few minutes, and write out a check to the Winkler Museum ... just for five or ten dollars ... or more, of course, if you can afford it.  Then, the next time you are in the bank, or at City Hall, give it to the clerk as a donation toward making a permanent showcase for Council's history that we will all be proud of.  It is going to happen.  Be a part of it.

 

History Corner

This one may be out of order - don't know the date

            This little piece of earth that we inhabit is a stage upon which countless dramas have unfolded.  All around us, in the places we walk or drive every day, events have taken place that would startle us if we only knew what had happened there.

            In the museum there are several pieces of mastodon jawbone that were found less than a mile south east of Council.  It is thought that the earliest people here hunted these huge ancestors of the elephant.  Just think what kind of amazing scenes were "acted out" right here.

            Stories from the past can be just under our feet, or, as in my case right now, just over my head.  Right now I'm in the middle of a major remodeling job on our house.  This used to be a two story house before my uncle Hub remodeled it a couple of times.  Now, I'm putting the second story back on.  For the past few days, I've been taking out the original second story floor boards and joists to replace them.  I'm finding things there that fell down between the subfloor and first story ceiling in the time since the house was built in 1910. 

            I guess the item I found that relates back the farthest is a Christmas post card that was mailed to Cora Glenn in 1913.  Cora Sult was the daughter of Long Valley pioneers.  She married Joel Glenn in 1902.  They lived here, and had this house built.  "Joe" Glenn, as he was known, came to the Council area with his parents, William D. and Rebecca Glenn  about 1883.  After living at Cottonwood for a short time, I think they settled the place just above me here on West Fork, where Harold Hoxie lives now.  Apparently, after Bill Glenn died in 1893, his son, Tom Glenn, took over the place until 1915.  After that James Finn (Ralph's father) owned it, then Bolan Abshire.  My mother lived there for awhile when her parents rented the place.  In later years, Vince Schwartz, and then Tony Schwartz owned it.  Now Scisms have it.

            According to Hardy Harp's obituary, he settled the place where I live in the 1880s.  At some point, Joe Glenn acquired it.  Many of the ancient apple trees that are growing on this place were planted by Tom and Joe Glenn in 1912.  Joe and Cora Glenn had 14 children.  I think most of them were born, in this house.  The original building was 24 feet square.  Can you imagine 14 kids living in a house that size?

             I'm not sure who built this house, but I found a piece of construction paper in one wall with "H.H. Cossitt and Sons, Council, Idaho" printed on it.  Cossitt was a builder and lumber yard owner who is credited with building the old school house that stood on the hill in Council around the turn of the century.  He was Adams County's first coroner when the County was created in 1911.

            In 1924, my grandfather bought Joe Glenn's place and moved his family here from their homestead on the Ridge.  During one trip to haul furniture to the new home, Dad's brother, Sam, was run over and killed by the wagon they were using.  His funeral took place here in this house, a few feet from where I'm writing this.

            Another of the things I found in the old upper floor was the cardboard cover for an old  Edison cylinder record.  The title of the song printed on the end cap was "The Preacher and the Bear".  Dad remembers well the old phonograph that they use to play those records on when they lived on the Ridge homestead, long before they ever had a radio.  They played some of the songs over and over again.

            I also found a sheet of paper containing "Important Information".  It was "Directions for Assembling - Operating and Maintaining the Aladdin Kerosene Mantle Lamp".   Another find was a metal lid that reads, "KC Baking Powder, 50 oz. - 50 cents, Same price for over 30 years."

            Other items tell of a time when my uncle Hub lived here.  This is the house where our County Clerk, Mike Fisk, and his sister, Linda, grew up.  I found three Lincoln logs, half a dozen marbles, a one-piece wooden clothes pin, a few playing cards, illustrations from kids books from the 1950s or so, and the wrapper from a pack of Camel cigarettes that Hub used to smoke.

            What I found the most of was dirt... just plain soil from the ground.  I hauled out bucket after bucket full of it - probably 40 pounds or so.  There are dozens of  mud dauber wasp nests on the rafters, and it's my theory is that the dirt came from them, built up as they fell down over the past 84 years.  As I swept up the fine, powdery dust, I was reminded of how my uncle John caught tuberculosis, when he was a young man, from a neighbor boy who slept up there in the bed next to his.  It cost him a lung.  In spite of the fact that I was wearing a good respirator, I was hoping TB bacteria don't live that long.

            As I said, history is all around us if we take the time to look and learn.  The museum's job is to help you do just that, but we need your help.  Awhile back, the museum board was thinking about getting a WWII display that the Historical Society would loan us.  Then we got to thinking... where would we put it?  There's no room in the museum without taking up all the space where the City Council meetings and other gatherings are held.  There really isn't enough room for the displays that are there now.  We have the solution ready to launch as soon as we get the funds.  We need your donation.

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

 

            For the next few weeks, I'm going to be writing about events that happened between Council and the Seven Devils Mining District.  Some of you went along on  the museum sponsored tour of that vicinity  in 1990.  Since then, we have heard nothing but how much people enjoyed it.   Now we are planning another tour to raise money for the museum.  The exact plans haven't been made yet, so keep watching this column.  It will probably be in September.

            One of the most interesting things I have turned up in my research concerns the first settler in the Council area.  Whenever the subject comes up, it seems that the Mosers are always mentioned.  The George Moser family, who arrived in the Council Valley in 1876, was the first family to settle here, but they were not the first non-native people to make a home here. 

            As far as I can tell, the first person to settle in the Council area was a bachelor named Henry Childs.  He established a home at a location that will be on our tour.  It was about three miles up Hornet Creek, where Old Hornet Creek road now  forks from the Council Cuprum road.  Childs arrived here in 1868, some eight years before the Mosers.   

            Childs arrived here, alone, at the age of about 32.  He was a single man who never married.  Just why he came here is not clear, but he may well have been looking for gold at first.  He was known to have been a prospector.  At the time Henry Childs arrived in this area (1868), the Salubria and Indian Valleys were just beginning to be settled.  This was at the tail end of some very serious Indian conflicts in Idaho, and the trouble wasn't over yet. Ten years later, in 1878, when Bill Munday and two other Indian Valley men were killed by Indians in Long Valley, Childs was with a party of miners who were feared to have also been attacked and killed by the same Indians.  A military unit was sent to look for them, and they were found alive and well.

            Childs lived in this area for about 42 years.  He served as a justice of the peace in the mid 1880s.  He eventually moved back to his home state of New York in 1910. 

            It is because of Henry Childs that Hornet Creek got its name.  According to one account,  the summer that the Mosers arrived here was a bad one for hornets.  After one particularly bad hornet encounter that Childs had with these pests that summer, he apparently complained to his new neighbors, the Mosers.  From that time on, the creek along which Childs had settled was called Hornet Creek.  For a short time, the whole Council area was referred to as "Hornet Creek" since it was the location of the confluence of that creek with the Weiser River.  This was a common practice.  The Fruitvale area was, at first, called West Fork.

            Another spot along our upcoming tour is the location of the Lower Dale school house.  It stood near the place where the Old Hornet Creek Road comes back onto the Council Cuprum Road.  The school was built in 1906.  It was called the "Lower" Dale school to distinguish it from the school at "Dale" farther up the road.  The school at Dale became known as "Upper Dale" as a result. 

            The last mention that I can find of the Lower Dale school being in operation was 1942.  I don't know when it finally closed.  I hope someone will call me and fill me in.  I would really like to know.  And when was it torn down? (Call me: 253-4582)  Also, there are some pictures at the library of some kids in front of the Lower Dale school, with their teacher, Olive Addington.  The photos may have been taken in the early 1920s.  We would really like to identify these kids.  If you went to this school or knew people who did,  please go into to library see if you can help.

            Since forest fires are on our minds lately, I can't resist throwing out an amazing story I was just reminded of.  The fires near McCall have been burning for a couple weeks now, and have consumed 50,000 to 60,000 acres, last I heard.  In 1910, a fire burned for only two days in northern Idaho and western Montana ... an burned THREE MILLION ACRES.  It covered an area 160 miles long, and fifty miles wide.  Four towns and a number of mines and mills were destroyed, and over 100 people were killed.  It was the worst fire in the history of North America.

            Hey! I got some great news today.  The Council Exhibit Committee (quilt show) is donating $300 dollars to the museum fund.  Thank you!  Now doesn't that make you feel guilty if you haven't donated yet?  I know you plan to.   It doesn't have to be a lot.  If everybody in the area would just kick in the amount it would cost them to go out and have a hamburger, we would have it made.  If mailing is easier for you, send your donation to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612. 

            Be sure to watch for more info on the Council - Seven Devils tour.  It will be one of the most fascinating days you have ever spent.

 

 

 

 

History

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            You have probably stopped to read the sign at the old stage stop on the summit between the Hornet Creek and Crooked River drainages.  This spot along the route of our upcoming tour is known as "Kramer" or "Summit".  The Summit designation is obvious.  The name Kramer comes from Peter and Martha Kramer who came to live here at least as early as 1899.  It was in November of that year that Pete got the mail contract between Council and Curprum. 

            By 1900, a combination saloon and hotel called the Summit House was doing business here, run by the Ross Brothers - probably Dick and James, but I'm not sure.  Dick Ross had a homestead just west of Kramer, and the Creek there is named after him.  Dick was the City Marshal in Council in 1909, and a pair of brass knuckles that he confiscated from a trouble maker is on display in the Museum. James Ross briefly owned the Overland Hotel which, until the fire or 1915,  stood where the Ace / Grubsteak building is now.

            By 1901, Pete Kramer had a stage leaving Council six days a week at 7 AM and arriving at Cuprum about 6 PM.  It also went on to Landore and Decorah.  This schedule varied over time.  For a while, the stage traveled from Council to the Devils on Mon., Weds. and Fri.,  stopping at Summit (which was about halfway to the mining district) for the night, and continuing on the next day.  I think another stage took passengers the opposite direction, back to Council, on a similar schedule.  At various times, there were also stage stops at Lick Creek (where the OX Ranch headquarters are now) and at Bear.

            At its peak of activity, Summit was quite a busy place.  On the west side of the road there was the Kramer house, which doubled as a hotel.  Martha Kramer cooked for the guests.  Also on that side of the road was the post office, saloon, store and bunk house.  Some of these probably shared a common building.  On the east side of the road was a log barn and corrals for the horses, wagon sheds, a livery stable and blacksmith shop.  Dances were often held at Summit, and people would come from miles away.

            Pete Kramer was a slender, dark haired man.  He was born in Germany of  Danish parents, and had a heavy accent.  More than one source has said that he was a man who liked liquor. It is said that by the time the stage rolled into its destination, he would sometimes be obviously drunk.  His passengers were, in general, mostly men, and at times, they were also pretty well inebriated.

            Over the 23 years or so that he was in business here, Pete Kramer had various drivers, routes and vehicles.  In 1904, it was noted that his main rig was a four-seated mountain spring wagon, built a little on the Concord coach pattern, like the ones in the movies.  One of his wagons held up to 12 people.  His wheeled vehicles were generally pulled by four horses.  In the winter, sleds were used, pulled by two horse teams.

            The only pictures I've seen of Kramer's stages show open-top vehicles.  It must have been an incredibly dusty ride in the summer when dozens of ore and freight wagons used the Council - Cuprum road.  There is one photo in the museum of Kramer with a load of passengers in front of the old Pomona Hotel, and the caption notes that all in the coach were coated with dust.

            Eventually, Kramer got contracts to deliver mail all the way from Council to Black Lake and Iron Springs, and down to Homestead along the Snake River.  Stage drivers made $35 a month.    A few of the drivers, aside from Pete Kramer himself, were Norman Nelson, Roy York, Ralph Wilkie, the notorious Tommy White and Fayette Davis.

            Fayette Davis was the son of Byron and Nancy Davis, who settled the place where the Wildhorse road branches off.  Fayette's wife, Mary, was the first postmaster when a post office was established at Kramer in 1907. (The post office closed in 1910.)  Fayette ran the saloon there for a time.

            During the winter of 1906, Kramer and Bob Barbour went together on a deal to haul 3,000 tons of copper ore from the mines to the railroad at Council.  They hired 50 teams and sleds for the job.  They wanted to have as many as 75 teams hauling ore, but more of the right kind of heavy sleds were hard to come by.  It was reported that it took the sleds four days to make the trip.  I assume they meant round trip.

            By1920, things had pretty well fallen apart.  The mining boom had ended.  Autos and trucks were replacing the horse and wagon.  Pete and Martha Kramer were divorced that year.  Two years later Pete sold out and moved to Hillsboro, Oregon.  In 1923, Martha apparently married a man named Stevens.   M. D. Shields got the place after Kramers.

            Just a couple of minor corrections from last week.  It was an Indian who volunteered to go bring Anna Hanson back when the Indians took her.  He advised Rasmus not to go.  And it was Soren that was in school when Mrs. Hanson learned English, not Bill who came along later.  Also, I'm told Mr. Sevey's first name was Loring.

            We had a pretty good bunch at the slide show Friday night.  Everybody seemed to enjoy it, and almost $60 were raised for the museum.  My sincere thanks to those of you who turned out.  There were some people who couldn't make it that night, so I plan to show the slides again at some point.

            Believe it or not, the Council - Seven Devils tour is still on.  There are only two Saturdays that would be practical: Oct. 22 or Nov. 5.     The museum board has yet to pin it down.  Tell ya what... if you are interested in the tour, give me a call.  253-4582  I'm starting a list so we can get organized.  It will be an all day tour.  It will be a fund raiser, so there will be a charge.  If you have a big vehicle, like a suburban, and could take a couple extra passengers, that would make things go more smoothly.  I hope the seniors can get a bus load to go along.  I was just reading that a similar tour in 1968, with Winifred Lindsay as one of the guides, took about 200 people along! 

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,952... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Guess what? It's on!  October 22, we will be taking our Council to Seven Devils Mining District Tour.     If you have been following this column for the past few weeks, you know some of what lays in store on the tour.  The mining district played an essential role in the history of this area.  There are places along the road that you have seen as you drove past, but never knew the story of what happened there.  Once you learn, that place will never be the same to you again.

            Here's an example.  Last Saturday, Anna, Blaine and I went on a tour of the early events in the Nez Perce War, north of Riggins.  It was guided by local historian, Ace Barton.  He showed us a nondescript bench where a house sits beside highway 95 that I have driven by a lot of times.  It was the place where Mr. Devine, the first victim of the war, was killed with his own rifle by Nez Perce warriors.  On up the highway, we saw several other scenes of violence that are right along the road.  I had heard the stories before, but had never known just where things happened.

            For our tour, we will meet in front of the Council library on the morning of the 22nd.  Mark it on your calendar.  The exact time, whether the museum will provide a lunch and whether we will charge a set price or ask for donations will be determined by the time you read this.  Watch this column next week and look for posters around the area.  Unfortunately, elk hunting season will still be on that weekend, but it's just about our last chance to do this before it might snow up there.  We encourage anyone who can take an extra passenger to do so, in order to save on unnecessary vehicles.  Some ride sharing can be arranged as we get organized on the morning of the tour.  A vehicle other than a low-to-the ground car would be advised. 

            Here's another spot along the way that you will see on our tour:  Just about a half mile past the Kramer stage stop at Summit is the former site of the Rooker sawmill.    W.S. Rooker, a former business man and then Wild Horse rancher (1904 - ?), built a mill here in 1926.    Although it was sometimes called the "Crooked River Sawmill", it was actually on Dick Ross Creek, a branch of Crooked River.

            Early pioneers of Wild Horse built the original road out of that canyon to this point along the Council - Cuprum road.  At the time, the Council - Cuprum road was across the flat from the present road, on the west side of the flat. 

            Rooker's loggering crews and mill workers lived in tents until the mill was running and could provide lumber.  Then "lumber jack shacks" were built all over the flat.  The mill employed more than 30 men until it burned down in the fall of 1935.

            The summer before the mill burned, a notorious accident happened here.  Frank Fanning, who was about 75 years old, was working underneath the mill, probably cleaning out sawdust and pieces of slab wood that had accumulated there.  Not realizing he was so near the whirling circular saw above him, he stood up right underneath it.  Blood and hair sprayed the air as the saw cut through Frank's skull and into his brain cavity.  Miraculously, he was not killed.  In fact, the next week, Dr. Thurston announced that aside from having a metal plate where part of his skull used to be, Fanning would be "normal again after a few weeks."  Frank lived another 22 years, dying in a Weiser nursing home in 1957.

            Another event that happened at the Rooker mill, was that my maternal grandparents met here.  My grandmother, Mae Baker - Kite, was a cook for the crews as the mill was being built in 1926.  My grandfather, Russell Merk, was on a logging crew, but was hired to build an addition to the cook house where grandma was working.

            If you are interested in going on the tour on the 22nd, please give me a call.  This is not a necessity, but it will enable us to do better advance planning.  253-4582

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $1,962... we need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

 

 

           

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

             Soon after Idaho Territory was established, the valleys along the Weiser River began to be settled.  The first non-natives to live along the Weiser were William and Nancy Logan who ran away from their parent's homes near Baker to get married about 1863. 

            At the time, Old's Ferry was about to be established to cross the Snake River at Farewell Bend about 12 miles below the mouth of the Weiser River.  The Oregon Trail crossed to the west side of the Snake River at Fort Boise, near the mouth of the Boise River.         

            The Logans figured that wagons traveling the Oregon Trail would soon be continuing along the east side of the Snake until they reached the easier and safer crossing provided by the new ferry.   

As things turned out, they  were right, and they took advantage of the fact.  The young couple built a house of willows and mud along the new route near the mouth of the Weiser River, and operated a successful road house for a short time.

            When Thomas Galloway and Woodson Jeffreys arrived at the present site of Weiser in 1864, the area was nothing but sagebrush desert.   Galloway opened a stage station and supply house, and generally catered to the traveling public.  The location soon became known as "Dead Fall".   In 1866, Jeffreys established the first post office here, under the name  "Weiser Ranch".  The post office was closed in 1870, but reopened in 1871 as "Weiser".  The location changed official title again in 1878 or 1880 to "Weiser Bridge".    

            All of these activities took place at what is now the east end of the town of Weiser, close to the Weiser River.    The name "Weiser Bridge" derived from the fact that there was now a bridge here across that river.   After the railroad arrived in 1882, the main part of  town shifted to the west, to its present location.    In 1883, the name was changed permanently back to "Weiser".  The original section of Weiser was sometimes referred to as "old town".

            Before hordes of fortune seekers started occupying Idaho, fighting between Indians and whites had been mostly restricted to the area along the Oregon Trail.  But after the non-native invasion of Idaho in 1862, the friction spread over a wider area.

            During the 1860s, whites in Northern California, Nevada, Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana were in a virtual state of siege as Indians rampaged anywhere they could.  The government tried a combination of treaties and military force to stop the depredation.  At first, nothing seemed to work.  Resentment toward the Indians grew to the point that statements were openly made in public newspapers advocating genocide.  In 1867, one upstanding citizen recommended inviting all the Indians to a feast containing strychnine to poison every man, woman and child of them.  Finally, in 1868, after a series of military confrontations referred to as the "Snake War", tensions were somewhat reduced.

            Meanwhile, the loop in the Oregon Trail to Olds Ferry had brought large numbers of emigrants across the mouth of the Weiser river on their way farther west.  This undoubtedly helped bring the Weiser drainage to their attention.  Many of them must have felt like the children of Israel wondering in the desert after months of traveling through mostly desolate, sagebrush wasteland.  By the time they got this far west, it was late in the season.  The land would have been baked dry by the summer's heat and punctuated only occasionally by narrow strips of green along the rivers.   As they trudged along, mile after mile, they must have grown weary of seeing land that was devoid of trees other than scattered Juniper.  When they reached the mouth of the Weiser River, the scenery would still have been the same depressing desert drab, but far off to the north they would have caught a glimpse of forest-clad mountains.  The word that there was a lush valley somewhere in that direction, surrounded by wooded hills must have peaked their interest.

             With the winding down of Indian wars in the general area, the idea of ending their journey and settling in a mountain river valley prompted some of them to investigate the valleys along Weiser River.  More than a few families continued on to eastern Oregon, settled down briefly, and then backtracked to this area.

             Mann Creek, and the valley it formed, was the first farmable ground north of the flat land near the mouth of the Weiser River.  Although not along the Weiser, it became the first settled land along the main line of travel up that river.  My guess would be that an Indian trail followed a similar path to the present highway to avoid the narrow canyon just south of present day Midvale.  From very early on, wagon trails to reach the upper Weiser River valleys went up Monroe Creek, then over into Mann Creek and on into Middle Valley. 

            The next valley up the Weiser River acquired the name "Middle Valley" because it was between the upper and lower valleys along the river.  The first settlers came here in 1868, but the actual town of Midvale wasn't started until 1903.  The first bridge across the Weiser River (other than the one at its mouth) was built at Midvale, on the site of the present bridge.  The first road to points north crossed the river here and proceeded through the "sand hills" to the north east.

             The next valley up the river was just north of the sand hills, and began to be settled about 1868.  The community of Salubria was established here, a little over a mile south east of the present site of Cambridge.  It was granted a post office in 1870.    The location was named Salubria because it was said to be "salubrious", which basically means "pleasant and beneficial to ones health".  The building of an actual town of Salubria began with the first store, which was erected in 1885.  Salubria was the only town in that vicinity until Cambridge was established along the railroad when the tracks reached the valley in 1900.  Almost no remnant of Salubria remains to mark the spot today.  To reach the site of the old town, turn south at the power station just this side of Cambridge.  Salubria was at the first intersection south of the highway.

            The next valley up the Weiser, where the Little Weiser River joins the main river, was more or less an extension of the Salubria Valley.  It was called "Indian Valley" because the Weiser Shoshoni often wintered there.  The Salubria and Indian Valley areas began to be settled at about the same time, about1868. 

            About the time the first settlers began to inhabit the Salubria and Indian Valleys in 1868, the first non-native person to establish a home in the Council area settled on Hornet Creek.  He was a 32 year old bachelor named Henry Childs.  Just what enticed Childs to this area is not exactly certain, but he was known to have done some mining and trapping.  He built a home and did some farming about 2.5 miles up Hornet Creek from the present site of Council.  His place was located where the Old Hornet road now branches from the Council - Cuprum road and goes across to the west side of the creek.  Hornet Creek was named after a nasty encounter that Childs had with a nest of hornets while he was clearing brush.

            The Salubria and Indian Valleys, and even Middle Valley, were referred to as the "upper valleys" or the "upper country".  The Council and Meadows Valleys were later included as part of the upper country.  Early upper country residents referred to the Weiser area as the "lower country".  This tradition continues today, and the terminology has evolved.  New-comers hearing an upper country person say they are going "down below" are often confused until it is explained that this generally indicates a trip to anywhere between Weiser and Boise. 

 

??????

            From 1862 on, some miners started traveling up the Weiser and Payette Rivers to reach the mining areas around Florence and Warren.   As the area around Boise City grew, the Weiser River route through the Council Valley became a principle avenue of travel for pack trains carrying supplies to the gold camps at Warren.  This route was easier to travel than the more direct but torturous terrain along the Payette River.  The Weiser River trail was also clear of snow earlier in the spring.

            Old timers who frequented the Council Valley in those early days told of huge groups of Indians gathering in the Council Valley.  Perry Clark, a member of the Idaho Territorial Legislature and later an Indian Valley school teacher, described what he saw near the present town of Council.  He said that from on top of the little hill just north of present day downtown, he could see "... many hundreds of Indians and thousands of head of Indian horses at one sight, literally covering the valley as a blanket."  In the early 1870's, Perry, who never actually lived here, named the place "Council Valley" because of the Indian "Councils" held here.

            The word "council" is, or course, a European term, and probably doesn't fit the principle nature of the native gatherings.  The Weiser Indians spent most of the year roaming in independent family groups, and had little use for political organization.  The Shoshonis were fond of festivals, and held large gatherings at least once a year where they would, among other things, hold council meetings.  But trade was probably the most important function of the gatherings, enabling each group to acquire items that couldn't be found in their own local area.  The next priority was probably having a good time.  At these festivals, the Indians would engage in competitive games, like gambling and horse racing, and generally celebrated the beginning of the salmon runs.

            Before 1862, the main annual Indian rendezvous was held in the Snake River Valley in the general vicinity between the mouth of the Boise River (near Parma), and the mouth of the Weiser River (near Weiser).  Held in the early summer, it would last for a month or more.

            After the introduction of the horse to Native Americans, members of more distant tribes began to attend the festive gatherings on the Snake River, and it became one of the biggest annual native gatherings in the Northwest.  It must have been an incredible sight: thousands of Indians with their camps spread out across the valley, surrounded by enormous herds of horses.

            Smaller festivals were evidently held in the Council Valley during that time.  Alexander Ross, a trapper who explored this area in 1824, reported encountering such a native gathering at a location on the Weiser River that would seem to indicate the Council Valley.  Although it is thought that he grossly overestimated their numbers, he reported seeing about 4,500 Indians with about half that many horses, and 900 teepees.

            After the sky seemed to open up and rain white men around the Boise Valley in 1862, the big native festival was relocated to the more remote Council Valley to avoid contact with Whites.  This is why Perry Clark and others saw so many Indians here.   This area was chosen partly because it had been relatively unaffected by the storm of white activity all around it.  In addition, Eagle Eye, the most influential leader in the area, was able to maintain peace between the various Indian groups.

            Although the Shoshoni band who roamed the Weiser River drainage was composed of independent groups, they did recognize Eagle Eye as their principle leader.  Born sometime during the fur trade era (1820s and 30s), he would have been in his 40s or 50s when white intrusion began in 1862.  Eagle Eye was very influential in avoiding native conflict, or even contact, with Whites.

            The Nez Perce name for the Council Valley is said to have been "Kos-ni-ma" (pronounced Quashnima).  The term indicates "red fish" or salmon.  The festivals here peaked about 1872 when about 800 Umatillas (Cayuses), 500 Nez Perces, 75 Klikitats, and 1,125 Shoshoni and Bannocks... a total of about 2,500... gathered here.  About 1876, the arrival of the Mosers to settle here, the battle at the Little Big Horn, and then the Nez Perce and Bannock Wars brought an end to the Indian gatherings here.

           

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            I mentioned the 1919 newspapers that the courthouse gave to the museum.  That year was an interesting time.  The First World War had just ended in Europe, but the joy of the end of killing was dampened by the awful knowledge that it was not the end of dying.  People were still dropping by the thousands ... and not just in Europe, but right in our own home towns.   

            The war had been the most horrendous the world had ever known, thanks to new inventions like airplanes, tanks, machine guns, submarines, trench warfare and poison gas.  But another blow followed the war like the second half of a combination punch.  A plague spread across the nation that, by 1919, had killed almost six times as many people as the number of American soldiers that had died in the war.  It was Spanish Influenza... and it killed millions around the world.  In the Council area alone, 16 citizens were claimed by it.

            It had started before the war had even ended, in 1918.  Reports came in that thousands of flu cases had appeared at Army bases across the U.S.

            Minnie Zink, who had a son in the war, ran a hospital of sorts in Council.  It was in her big square house on the corner of Railroad Street and Central Avenue. ( That's the spot where Dennis and Bea Maggard live now.)  Minnie's daughter, Mary Zink, and F.H. Morrison were kept busy nursing flu victims until they came down with it themselves. 

            Leo Rainwater  ran a grocery store in the building in which Sam Nightengale now has his TV and appliance store.  Rainwater had another store on that location when the big fire of 1915 wiped it out, along with half the business section.  He built back on the same spot.  Leo was known as a tireless worker, but in November of 1918, shortly after the armistice of November 11, he became run down and was put in the Zink hospital with a bad case of influenza.  By the end of the month, he was dead.  He was only 34 years old, and left a wife and baby behind.  The store was sold shortly afterward to pay debts.

            It was not actually the flu that killed most, people, but complications that caused: usually pneumonia .

            Council area schools were closed; churches stopped holding services; the People's Theater shut its doors.  All public gatherings were banned.  In January, 1919,  Ida Selby (age 40) and her son, Ray (age 20) died from the flu on the same day.   Ida's other son, Chet, (Loraine Ludwig's father) was still in the army in France.

            Whether by coincidence or from the flu, Teddy Roosevelt died that month.

            In Weiser a public policy statement read, "In the hope of stamping out influenza, the Weiser City Council, in conjunction with the school board, has ordered that all absentees from school shall be reported by teachers and that investigation, looking to quarantine, shall immediately follow such reports.  Police officers are authorized to call a physician to investigate any case of suspected influenza that has not been reported.  Violaters of quarantine will be vigorously prosecuted."

            Meanwhile, in Council, Public gatherings were allowed sporadically, as waves of the epidemic came and went.  Eventually, three quarters or more of Council school kids had already had the flu, and the school was set to reopen.  When it did, families that had not had the flu in their household were not required to send their children to school. The County Leader newspaper reported, "... the Health Officer shall visit the schools each morning for purpose of inspection and, further, that teachers shall watch closely for any appearance of illness on the part of pupils in order that if any suspicious cases appear they may be immediately cared for."

            By February, 1919, the paper had an Official Notice by Board of Health on the front page.  It said that the Spanish influenza epidemic seemed to be on the wane in the Northwestern U.S., but: "All cases of sickness in any way similar to influenza must be reported and a physician called AT ONCE.  Failure to do this is a misdemeanor punishable by fine." "All cases of Influenza shall consider themselves in rigid quarantine, the quarantine extending not only to the person sick but to ALL MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD for at least one week following the outbreak of the disease."  "Rooms occupied by Influenza patients must be thoroughly disinfected with formaldehyde at the time that quarantine is lifted."

            Over the next couple of years, even a few cases of the flu around Council caused scares that closed schools and public meeting places.  In 1920, there was the flu spread across Idaho, but it was not as serious as the year before.  But in the spring of 1922, it was bad enough to be called an epidemic again.  The Council school, churches and other public places closed temporarily.

            Some time back, I wrote about Council attorney, L.L. Burtenshaw.  You may remember that his, son, Edward, died of the flu just days before the armistice was signed.  After reading the 1919 papers, the picture becomes even more tragic.  The official War Dept. telegram bearing the news of Edward's death said that he had died on Oct. 6.  But the Burtenshaws had just received a letter from Edward dated Oct 20, saying, "... I am still in the land of the living ... and ... am well and feel fine."  The family thought that he must really be dead, and that the date must have been wrong on the notice ... but the nagging doubt before they learned for sure must have been terrible.  To aggravate their pain, just over two months after the death notice came, a letter arrived at the home of Carney Johnson, a Midvale boy serving in France and who was officially reported as having been killed in action.  The letter was from Carney saying that he was actually alive and well.  A few weeks later, Edward's wife gave birth to their son.

            Stay tuned.

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            A while back, a couple of my History Corners were about wildlife in this area.  Last week I had an interesting conversation with Jerry Thiessen who is researching a book on Idaho Wildlife.  He wanted information about when the first elk were released in this area.  I was able to provide him with some info on their release in the Meadows Valley in 1915.

            Until I talked to Jerry, it was my impression that elk were not found in the Weiser River area before they were planted here.  It turns out that there were scattered, small herds of elk in the Weiser and Payette River drainages when the fur trappers came here in the early 1800s.  When these mountain men traveled in large groups, as they did with the Hudson's Bay Co. expeditions, they often killed as many elk (or any other food animal) as they could when they had the opportunity.  They never knew when the next chance would be, so they stocked up.  Travelers on the Oregon Trail helped finish off the elk population when they passed though, sometimes roaming miles off the trail in search of meat.  As a result, the elk in this part of Idaho were gone by the 1850s.   By 1885, it was feared that elk would become extinct in Idaho.

            I had always wondered if reports of grizzly bears in this area were true or not.  Some of them probably were.  The salmon runs here would have provided a perfect food source for them.  Jerry's guess is that there were probably not too many because they need a large area for habitat.  Black bears, on the other hand, were probably very common.

            I had read that Big Horn Sheep were abundant in the Seven Devils before they were killed out.  Jerry says they may have been the most common animal in the State in the early days.

            There were also antelope in the Indian Valley area, and probably in Meadows Valley during some parts of the year.  They were very common in Baker and Malheur Counties in Oregon.

            The Winkler family reported seeing many white tail deer around Council when they came here in 1878.  White tails were sometimes called "Willow Deer" or "Brush Deer" because they liked the cover and feed that willows provided.  The river bottoms along the Weiser River used to be covered with dense thickets of  willows and cottonwood trees - prime white tail habitat.

            The story of what happened to the white tail habitat in this area was repeated in many other places.  First, livestock ate back some of the willows.  Thorn brush (Hawthorn) began to be more dominant because livestock preferred the more tender willows.  Then, settlers cleared the bottom lands for farming.  When the willow thickets disappeared, so did the white tails.

            Before the government organized to suppress forest fires, fires were more frequent but mostly burned the undergrowth, not the trees.  This left much less brush in the forests than there is now.  Because of this, there were fewer deer there, particularly mule deer.    

            Bitter brush has always been a prime source of feed for mule deer.  This large, sage-like bush that is so common here now (sometimes called buck brush), was not common except in very rocky places where fires could not easily reach them.  Bitter brush is not at all tolerant of fire.  Willows are fire resistant, sprout very quickly and grow in moist ground.  That's one reason the river bottoms remained brushy until they were cleared.

            Over the years, as fires were less common, the brush in the hills increased and so did the mule deer.  Their peak population was reached in the 1960s.  (Remember when we could buy two deer tags and shoot either sex?)  The brush is probably why white tail deer are becoming more common here now too.

            All this is probably an oversimplified version of the story, but it gives the general idea.

 

            Last week a very generous memorial donation was made in memory of Jay Quilliam by the "Royal Order of the Golden Neckyoke".  This group, of which Jay was a charter member, is a "vintage collection of veteran farmers who, at some time, planted and harvested with horses."  Much thanks.  Jay was one of the nicest people and best story tellers that I've ever met.

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2,770.  We need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Before I begin this column, I apologize for using the term "white" so much to indicate someone other than a Native American / Indian.  Even though the word is not always correct (not all pioneers, settlers etc. were Anglo-Saxon), it has become deeply ingrained in American culture.  Sometimes there are simply places where "white" is the only word that gets the meaning across without going to ridiculous lengths to be politically or technically correct.

            All during the fighting of the 1860s, the Weiser Indians had mostly stayed to themselves in the more remote mountains of their territory.  Even so, they were falsely accused of numerous atrocities.  Typical of the mind-set of the time,  Eagle Eye acquired an unearned reputation among many whites as being a murderous savage.

            In 1867, based only on rumors, the Weiser Indians were declared to be hostiles.  A scouting party was sent from Fort Boise to find them, but Eagle Eye moved his band into the Salmon River mountains before the troops arrived.  At the Indian's abandoned campsite along the Weiser River, the soldiers found footprints measuring seventeen and one-half inches long.  The newspapers made big news out of this, and the legend of "Bigfoot" began.  (There actually was a hostile Indian named Howluck in the Owyhee mountains at this time that was called Bigfoot.)

            In 1868, after false reports that the Weisers had been causing trouble, soldiers were sent from Fort Boise to capture Eagle Eye's band.  The Weisers were forewarned and moved north, but the troopers caught up with them near the present site of Riggins.  The forty-one Indians in the group, including Eagle Eye, were arrested without incident and taken to Fort Boise.  Among their possessions was a pair of moccasins over sixteen inches long, stuffed with rags and fur.  Apparently, these were the source of the fake footprints seen the year before.

            After a personal meeting with the governor of the Idaho Territory, Eagle Eye was able to convince him that the Weisers were peaceful and would cause no trouble.  The Indians were released, but public pressure to put them on a reservation continued.   At this time, the number of members of the Weiser band fluctuated between 40 and 100 individuals.

            Eagle Eye had no intention of living on a reservation.  He had seen how other Indians had faired who had surrendered to this fate.  Some of them were so destitute that they had resorted to begging on the streets of Boise.  Eagle Eye let it be known that if the government would leave his band alone, they would live in peace without relying on support from the government.  The newly arrived settlers in Indian Valley also didn't want the Weisers removed from their area.  They realized that Eagle Eye's peaceful group provided them with some degree of protection from more hostile natives that were roaming the countryside.

            For the next few years after the Snake War of 1868, there was little fighting between whites and Indians in Idaho, but there was constant friction.  Groups of heavily armed Indians roamed freely throughout many parts of Idaho and Oregon.  And they were not all well behaved.

            All during the 1860s and 1870s, there was continual hue and cry to put all Indians on reservations.  But the management of reservations was a bureaucratic quagmire, and the money sent from Congress to support impounded natives was pathetically inadequate.  To keep the reservation Indians from starving, they were allowed to leave the reservations and fend for themselves for extended periods.

            In 1873, the Modoc Indians in south western Oregon chose to fight rather than return to their reservation.  The resulting Modoc War instilled deep apprehension in both whites and natives in Idaho.  Everyone realized that the situation here was teetering on the brink of the same kind of disaster.

            Even though Eagle Eye's band kept a low profile, they were the target of a great deal of white resentment because their territory was the site of larger and larger intertribal gatherings.  As tribes from outside the Council Valley began to visit this last place of refuge in growing numbers, some of the outside Indians stayed permanently.  In spite of the odds against peaceful coexistence, Eagle Eye was able to maintain relative tranquility between the whites and all the natives who visited, or lived, in his area. 

            In March of 1874, Eagle Eye was ordered to bring his band in to the Fort Hall reservation.  He refused, and because of a lack of funds, the authorities were unable to enforce the order.

    The next year (1875), the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe was ordered to surrender to reservation life, and their lands were opened to white settlement.  This was the band of which Chief Joseph was a member, and was the last of the free roaming bands of  the Nez Perce. The Wallowas refused to come in, but the government was still too under-funded and disorganized to do anything about them or Eagle Eye.

            The following summer (1876), settlers on the upper Weiser heard rumors through local Indians about a big Indian victory over the horse soldiers.  The battle had supposedly occurred very recently in the buffalo country east of the Rocky Mountains.  Days later, vivid accounts came from Boise of how Indian savages had slaughtered Custer's valiant Seventh Cavalry on the Little Big Horn River in Montana Territory.  How the Weiser Indians had received word of this battle before local whites had heard about it left the settlers feeling uneasy.   News of the Custer massacre only accented the fears of Idaho whites, and deepened their resolve to rid the Territory of Indians.

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2670. 

 

            One of the things that  makes history  interesting is seeing how different things were in the past.  And one thing that has changed around Council is the way people make a living.

            A lot of homesteaders came here with what seemed like a vague idea of how they were going to survive.  I wonder if many of them really knew what they were in for.  It seems like they sometimes selected land that had no chance of  growing enough to supply an income.  To survive, a lot of them took whatever odd job was available whenever it was available.  Come to think of it, there are people who move here now with the same approach, so maybe things haven't changed much in that regard.

            At the turn of the century, it was said that the principle industries of the area were farming, stock raising, mining and lumbering.  "Lumbering" centered on small sawmills scattered about the vicinity.  Of course all the work was done with hand tools and horses, with the exception of the saw and carriage at the mill itself.  It hardly resembled the modern industry we know today, which  started in the late 1930s with the advent of practical chain saws.  Even so, lumbering provided a good many local, seasonal jobs.

             In the early days, it seemed like everybody and his dog around Council had a mining claim somewhere.   In 1890, Idaho ranked third in the nation for total income from mining.  Montana was in first place, followed by Colorado.   Local claims were worked whenever the owners had the time.  Frank Mathias and Lewis Winkler spent so much time at the Golden Rule mine, up on the South Fork of the Salmon someplace, that it was pretty much their second occupation.  All winter they mostly did blacksmithing, but in the spring they would disappear for the summer. 

            Placer miners had to get to their claims as early as possible in the spring so that they could take advantage of the available water flow in nearby creeks.  Water was needed to wash the gold out of the ore.  Often times, on mountain claims, the water would only last a short time in the spring before it dried up.  This type of work must have been wet, muddy and cold early in the season.

            At one time there were actually coal mines on the Middle Fork of the Weiser River.  The first mention I found of one was in the spring of 1895, when Ed Barbour was reported to have discovered a vein of coal there, "...six miles above Farleigh's old mill".   He found pieces of coal that measured eight inches square. 

            In 1899, the Salubria Citizen paper noted coal deposits on Crane Creek and Middle Fork.  It said that the Middle Fork coal had been used by local blacksmiths for several years.  That same year, the Seven Devils Standard reported that a coal vein had been found on Rapid River near Pollock Mountain.  It was said to have been "between bituminous and anthracite" in nature, and burned readily. 

            In 1905, The Weiser Semi-Weekly Signal reported that Ben Shaw, C.A. Barber "and others" had found a four foot wide vein of coal near the warm springs on Middle Fork.  It said a big slab of "absolutely  pure coal" measuring 4' X 4' X 8' was found far down in the canyon a number of years before, and many had been looking for where it came from on the hillside above.   In January of the 1909, Charley Whiteley and John Kesler were working the mine.

            Does anybody have any idea where these coal deposits were?  Has anyone heard of Farleigh's sawmill on Middle Fork, or know where it was?  And while I'm on that general area, somebody told me about a corral somewhere in the hills between Cottonwood Creek and Mill Creek that is said to have been used by outlaws (?).  If you have any info on any of these, please let me know. 253-4582

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2,413..

 

 

HC - 1-22-95

            Human beings are an interesting species.  When the first non-native people came to the West, they acted as if they had no concept of the idea that natural resources like timber, grazing, game animals or land had any kind of limits.  Like kids in a free candy store, they ate as much as they could as fast as they could.  It took a few decades for the stomach ache to set in.  Now, people have started running full speed in the opposite direction: don't cut any timber, kill any animals, graze any grass ... don't do anything that isn't "natural".  And spend six million dollars replacing the wolves that our grandparents paid to have eradicated.  I guess it would be more accurate to say they are "adding to" the wolves that are already replacing themselves.

             Trying to instantly turn around the long - time, fundamental practices of a society in this way is like throwing a ten ton truck into reverse at 90 miles per hour.  The only comfort to be found is in knowing that social tends often to go to extremes before they settle on a more sensible compromise somewhere in the middle.  So there is hope.... eventually.

            Last week, we were all shocked to hear that the Boise Cascade mill will be closing.  Talk about a Landmark.  Some of us can't remember a time when a mill wasn't there.

            It all started in the fall of1938, when the Boise Payette Company bought fifty-three acres from Bill Winkler on which to build a mill.  The paper reported,  "It is said that the life of the local plant during the time of cutting the adjacent timber will be approximately twelve years.  If, after that, the Meadows timber holdings should come to this plant, the life of the local plant would be indefinite." "When this operation was originally planned, the company had no idea of remilling and storing its lumber at Council but had planned to truck haul the lumber from the [portable] mill in the woods [at Old Davis on Crooked River] to Council, load it on cars there and ship it to Emmett for remilling."  "Neither the present roadbed or bridges between Council and Crooked river and Bear will stand the heavy traffic required by this operation."

             By the summer of 1940, the mill was in operation.  The mill, the new technology and the aggressive logging activity of the company brought a growth spurt to Council.  The population expanded as many new families moved in.  About a dozen portable houses were moved to Council from the camp at Old Davis to house these new arrivals.  The houses were put on land the company bought on the west side of the railroad tracks where remodeled versions of some of them continue to be used today.

            Mechanized logging had started in the 1930s, but the Depression had put a damper on many business ventures.  In spite of shortages of manpower and other basics during World War II, the demand for lumber and the momentum of the Boise Payette Co. was high enough to sustain a boom in the Council area.  After the war, two critical factors came together to start a new era in the timber industry.

            First, the housing boom that followed World War II created an unprecedented demand for lumber.  Second, by that time, chain saws, logging trucks, crawler tractors and other machinery needed for modern timber harvesting had evolved to the point of being fairly dependable and available.  In the old days, it had been a monumental task to build a road into the mountains to harvest timber.  With "cats" miles of roads could be built with relative ease.  Because logging had been on a comparatively small scale up until this time, there were vast roadless tracts of virgin timber on every side of the Council Valley.  Within only three or four decades after 1940, most of the Payette National Forest (except for Wilderness Areas) was logged at least once, and the majority of the roads now in existence on the Forest were built.

            As modes of transportation improved and the area centralized, the timber industry followed the same trend.  Most of the small sawmills scattered around the country disappeared as it became more practical to haul logs to big mills like the one in Council.

            The Council sawmill, and its associated logging operations quickly became a vital anchor of the local economy.  In 1957, the Boise Payette Company merged with the Cascade Lumber Company of Yakima, Washington, and adopted the name by which we know it today: the Boise Cascade Corporation.

            The next year, (1958) the fire siren sounded in Council in the middle of the night, and local citizens were stunned when they peered out their windows.  The sawmill was engulfed in flames!  The loss of this prominent part of the community was unthinkable.  But a new mill that sported all the newest technology arose from the ashes, and it became even more of a source of pride than the old mill. 

            Now, the community faces the unthinkable once again.  Looking at the big picture, the fifty-five year period from 1940 to 1995 has been a short one.  Eventually, the pendulum will find its equilibrium, the emotionalism and ignorance will subside, and a sustainable way of managing the forests that is balanced with the needs of people will emerge...maybe.  There is an enormous fly in the ointment. 

            At the time the mill was first built, there were just over 2 billion people on earth.  That number has more than doubled to about 5.7 billion.  The number of trees big enough to cut has not grown, or has even decreased.  In another 50 years, the world's population is expected to double again if we don't wise up.

            I apologize for climbing on my soap box, but I'm absolutely convinced that overpopulation is the most serious problem we face - not just in the future - not just in the "third world" - right here in Council, right now.  The whole ball of wax - the salmon issue, the sustainable forest issue, and every other environmental problem is either directly caused, or greatly exacerbated, by more people needing more natural resources of which there are continually less. There is no amount of recycling, replanting or conserving that can possibly keep up with the suicidal growth rate we now have.

 

History Corner 3-30-95

by Dale Fisk

            It was almost midnight as Edgar Hall approached the outskirts of Boise City.  His horse stumbled and almost fell as the exhausted animal struggled to keep going through the blackness.  The bottoms of Edgar's pant legs were stiff with dried, lathered horse sweat.  He had been in the saddle for 16 hours without a rest.  The bones in his backside felt like they had cut completely through the muscles to rub relentlessly against the hard leather seat of the saddle, and his legs ached for relief.  He had left Indian Valley at 8:00 AM that morning, and the only thing that had kept him going for the past 100 miles was the hope that Sylvester Smith was still alive, and that Edgar could send a doctor to him in time.

 

            The August 22, 1878 issue of Boise's newspaper, the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, was filled with accounts of various military units in pursuit of hostile Indians all over the West.  Almost as a casual side note, there was a brief remark among the outlying-area news items.  It said mail carrier, Solan Hall, had reported that Indians had stolen three horses at Indian Valley.  This simple announcement would turn out to be opening sentence in one of the most violent and tragic chapters in the history of Adams County.

            About a day and a half after the routine news of William Munday's stolen horses was printed, the quiet slumber of the troops at the Boise Barracks was disrupted about midnight by an exhausted, young man.  It was Solon Hall's 19 year old son, Edgar.  He said that a doctor was badly needed.  Three men had been killed by Indians, and a fourth victim was lying seriously wounded at Calvin White's cabin at Salmon Meadows (now called Meadows Valley).

        The story of the "Long Valley Massacre" has been retold and expounded until the real, factual details of the event may never be known.  There was only one eye witness who survived the massacre, and he left no first hand account.   It is known that the chain of events started on Saturday, August 17, 1878 when Indians stole some horses at Indian Valley.  Stories of the number of animals that were taken range wildly, from three horses to sixty.  Whatever the number, William Munday seems to have been the principle victim of the crime.

            One improbable account of a possible contributing factor in the thievery was an incident that reportedly occurred earlier that summer.  About 70 Indians under Eagle Eye's leadership were said to have been camped at Indian Valley  near the farm of Tom Hailey.  The Hailey place was south east of "downtown" Indian Valley, at or near the present Atkins ranch.  Hailey was said to have had an Indian wife.   The Indians were "holding pow-wows" in the evenings, on a hill near the Hailey house.  Hailey told them "If you don't stop that, the Whites will kill every last one of you."  So they stopped, but "kept plotting against the whites".  Because of this, a grudge was supposedly initiated against Hailey and/or whites in general.

            Spelling in those days was not standardized as it is today.  This applied to names as well.  The name "Hailey" was also spelled "Healy, Healey, or Haily" in various accounts.

            Solon Hall and his sons, Edgar and Abner (Abby), farmed at Indian Valley and carried mail on the 125 mile route between there and Warren.  William Munday was the Postmaster at the Indian Valley Post Office.  His name could also be spelled "Monday".  His house was at or near what is Ralph and Scotty Yantis's place now.  If you remember, in a recent History Corner I told how the panicked settlers had gathered at Munday's place before they built a fort, during the Nez Perce War the year before.

            One account says that Munday was working for Solon Hall at the time the horses were stolen, harvesting hay or grain.  Munday reportedly left his team tied to a wagon for the night, and they were gone the next morning.  Ellis Snow's account said that Munday owned a reaper drawn by four horses, and was cutting Hall's grain.  He said the horses were stolen after they had been turned loose to graze for the night.

            Munday was said to have been friends with certain Indians, and that he had hired them to help on his farm.  It is doubtful that the horses were stolen by these natives.  The Indians were probably one of many wandering fragments of hostile bands from outside the area that simply took advantage of the opportunity for the time-honored Native American practice of stealing horses from an enemy.

            To be continued next week.

            This column is written to promote the Council Museum.  We are raising money for a badly needed addition to our current space.  (Our bank balance is now up to about $3,350.)  Please help by making a donation at City Hall, mailing a check to Box 252, Council, or by dropping something into the "Pennies for the Past" jars around town.  You don't have to put your pennies into rolls.  We can do it for you. 

            Hey! We had a great turnout at the slide show Saturday night.  Thanks.  Hope you all enjoyed it.

            Bob Thompson sent photocopies of pictures of Placer Basin and more.  He also sent a list of people he remembered working there.  Thanks Bob!  I also got a call from people in Riggins who will let us copy their photos of Tamarack taken in 1915.  Fantastic!

            We finally met with the state archivist concerning the photo project.  I can't emphasize enough how important this project is.  For one thing, we are using your tax money.  That's where the Idaho Humanities Council  grant funds came from = about $3500.   To accomplish what needs to be done, we need your help.  We need new pictures that I know are out there.  This is the best chance we will ever have to preserve them.  One photo we are looking for is one of Dr. Gerber.  Surely somebody has a good one.

            Also, we need to recopy some of the photos that you have already let us copy.  Here is why.  First, this time we will be using a much better camera for higher quality copies.  Second, the negatives will be processed and stored in a way that will preserve them for the next hundred years and more, so that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will have the priceless heritage that we treasure. 

            The reason we haven't announced a time and place to bring pictures, etc. is that we need to wrap up a few loose ends first.  In the mean time, please find your old pictures - even ones not so old.  We are also interested in old, home movie footage, and are following up on some leads on that.  If you have any questions or comments, please call me at 253-4582.

 

History Corner 4-21-95

by Dale Fisk

            After interviewing Sylvester Smith at White's Cabin at Meadows, Parker's volunteer group set out for the ambush site.  For reasons unknown, Capt. Drum had not yet arrived at the site, even though his unit was much closer and knew about the attack at least a day earlier than the volunteers.

            Parker's group found 14 empty cartridges scattered around the bodies of the victims; their cartridge belts lay empty beside them. The rifles contained only empty shells.  This evidently was all the ammunition the men had with them, as it seemed obvious to Parker and the others that the Indians had not disturbed the bodies at all to steal anything.  It appeared that the Indians had left in a hurry immediately after being unable to find Smith.

            Figuring that the army troop would arrive soon and bury the dead, the four followed the trail of the Indians for two days and nights, until a heavy rain storm wiped out any sign of the tracks.  They returned to the battle site, and found that the army had buried the bodies and inscribed the names of the victims on a rock above the common grave.  Along with the names, were the date of the ambush (August 20, 1878) under and image of crossed rifles.  A hand carved on the rock pointed to the grave.

            Parker's group must have been completely out of rations, because they dug discarded bacon rinds out of the fire pits left behind by the army, and ate them.  The next day, Parker's group found the troop, spent one night with them and then went on to White's cabin to check on Smith.  The doctor had left for Boise the day before, leaving the assurance that his patient was recovering so well that he "could not be killed with and axe".   The four then returned to Weiser.     

            Captain Drum later reported what he had found at the massacre site.  He said that the bodies of the slain men were about sixty yards from the spot where they had been killed.  He continued:

    "The bodies had been thrown together in a pile by the Indians, but had not been scalped or mutilated.  At the moment of attack Munday had been shot dead by a bullet through he heart and had fallen from his horse, leaving his gun hanging to the horn of the saddle.  The gun was found where it had been dropped by Munday's horse when he ran from the scene. Groseclose was fatally shot soon after dismounting and his horse fell into the hands of the Indians, but being a vicious and refractory animal the horse escaped from them and was afterwards found running in the hills some distance from the scene of the murder and was with difficulty caught and brought in.  Tom Healy made a fight with the Indians, from behind the rocks where he first took up a position, as three empty cartridges were found at that spot.

 

            Parker reported that at least some of the horses had been killed, saying, "The carcasses of the horses were far apart in the valley."

            Smith had said that there had been at least 75 Indians in the group that attacked his group, but Drum found sign of only fifteen at the most, and maybe as few as only five.

             Drum's unit followed the Indians trail at least eight miles past the ambush site.   Here, at "Pearsall's Diggins", they found the bodies of two prospectors who had evidently been killed the day after the Munday ambush, by the same Indians.  One man was a Mr. Wilheim from Idaho City.  Not description was given as to how or where his body was found, but the Statesman printed a grizzly account of the second victim, Daniel Crooks of Mount Idaho: 

            "Crooks was found some distance from the spot where the two were first attacked, lying in the grass on his back.  The grass was beaten down all around him, as if a violent struggle had taken place.  He had been shot through the body, and the last shot, which seemed to have been given where he was found, was in the head at close range, tearing completely of the frontal part of the skull and brain.  He still held a rope in his hand and was probably running to get his horse,..."

            Many years later, Bill Winkler gave the distinct impression that Three Fingered Smith knew exactly who at least four of the Indians were.  They were supposedly Eagle Eye, War Jack(Shoshoni), Chuck (Lemhi Shoshoni) and Booyer (Blackfoot).  Winkler said that, after spending "some years" in Wyoming, Smith traveled about the country, locating and  killing Chuck and Booyer.   Apparently he couldn't locate War Jack or Eagle Eye.

            I find Winkler's story very improbable.  All during the investigation, there was no indication that anyone involved had a clue as to the identities of the Indians.  The only guess was made by  General Howard, at Walla Walla.  He believed it was hostile Nez Perce (returned from Canada) from White Bird's band who had done the killing.  One would think that if Smith knew who had murdered three of his friends and neighbors, he would have immediately informed Captain Drum and anyone else who could bring them to justice.  Aaron Parker met with Smith again only five years after the massacre (1883) and interviewed him a second time.  Again, either Smith evidently said nothing about who the Indians were or about his having wreaked revenge on them.  If he had, Parker would certainly have included it in his account.

            It is no surprise that Eagle Eye was a prime suspect, as he was usually blamed for almost every real or imagined native depredation that occurred within a weeks ride.   Ironically, there were eye witness reports that Eagle Eye had been killed in the battle with the Umatillas just the month before this massacre.  These reports were false.       

            Old time Indian fighter Ewing Craig "Pinky" Baird, who was an independent Indian scout during this time, and who was later a Council resident, boasted to Bill Winkler that he had personally shot and killed Eagle Eye sometime after the Long Valley Massacre.  Baird bragged that he had shot the Indian in the back while the man was getting a drink from a stream.   Either Baird coldly executed an Indian that he thought was Eagle Eye, or he was a bald-faced liar. Eagle Eye died of natural causes years later.  Whether or not Baird actually believed he had killed Eagle Eye, he went so far as to give Charley Winkler a pair of moccasins that he claimed Eagle Eye was wearing at the time he killed the chief.  These moccasins are now in the Winkler Museum in Council. 

            Sylvester Smith eventually recovered from his wounds, but his health was never the same again.  He probably wasn't actually known by his nick name "Three Fingers" or Three Fingered" until sometime after the Long Valley Massacre.  He received this title after an accident.   Visiting with a friend, Smith had one foot on the bottom rail of a fence, with his hands folded together, resting over the business end of his muzzle-loading shotgun.  His foot slipped off the rail, his knee hit the hammer of the gun and it went off.  When the smoke cleared, the middle two fingers on each of Smith's hands were gone.

            In 1929, the Sons of Idaho organization mounted a plaque on one of the rocks at the massacre grave site.   Part of our photo project, which is funded by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, will be to get some good photos of the grave site that were taken at about the time the plaque was placed there.  I've been told the grave and markers are about 200 yards north east of the Cascade Reservoir dam.  If anyone has better directions, give me a call.  I would like to find the spot.

            We have finally set a date for our open house and photo session at the museum.  We will be holding two afternoon - evening sessions from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM on consecutive Fridays, May 5 and 12 at the museum. Please bring your photos at that time to be copied.  If you will not be able to do this, please call me and make other arrangements.  If anybody has a light table (copy stand) that we could use for a couple weeks to copy photos, please call me. (253-4582)    Stay tuned for more info.

 

History Corner 5-5-95

by Dale Fisk

            If you are reading this on Friday, May 5, the museum board is at the museum copying old photos, talking to people about the stories behind the pictures they bring in and generally having a good time while working very hard.  Come on in, whether you have photos or not.  We'll be here from 1 PM until 8 PM, and the same next Friday, the 12th.  I have a cassette tape recorded to go with the slide show about Council's history, so if you want to see it, you can on either Friday.  It's a half hour long.

            I have to tell you about the wonderful photo discoveries so far in this project.  Last week, I stopped at the Weiser Court House and saw Lisa McKnight, the great granddaughter of  Frank Harris.  Harris was an attorney and judge in this area in the early days.  Lisa has a photo album with pictures of Frenchy David and his daughter, the inside of the Blue Jacket Mine with men at work, views of Landore that I had never seen, and more.  She said I could copy any of them I liked.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.

            The next day, I visited with Willard Bethel in Boise.  He is June Childers's brother, and a great guy.   He was born, and spent many of his formative years, at Fruitvale.  He had a few great photos, including area pioneers such as Bill and Jane Harp, Miles Chaffee and George and Martha Robertson.  He also gave me the name and number of someone who probably has more.

            Then I spent several hours looking through the files of the State Historical Library and Archives.  I had done this before, and found over 60 photos that we don't have and are relevant to our local history.  This time, I went through a set of files I hadn't noticed before, and found bunches more.  Maybe the most interesting one was of Sylvester "Three Fingered" Smith, the man who survived the Long Valley Massacre that has been the subject of my last few articles.  It is a very poor photo, but what an exciting find!  We are working on a trade between the Historical Society and our museum for copies of some of these pictures.

            It is really sad to think about all the wonderful pictures that have been lost over the years.  I find mention of them once in a while in the old newspapers.  Here are a few examples.

            In the Idaho Citizen newspaper, Aug 7, 1891, there was mention that "Professor Rhodes has taken many photos of the Seven Devils recently."  The same paper, in 1896, said, "Photographer, D. Marsh, of Weiser, is in Council where he will remain about a week."  We may have some of his photos in our collection.  The Weiser Signal, July 16, 1904, talking about happenings in the Seven Devils, said, "Every eight days, Stuart French, the official photographer of the company, takes views of the town (Landore) to keep tabs on the splendid progress."  We probably have some of those too.

            One that makes me very curious is a reference in the Council Leader,  Apr 30, 1909.  It mentions a "folder" published by the Pacific & Idaho Northern Railroad with articles and photos about the area between Weiser to Long Valley.  What I wouldn't give for a copy!

            In the Council Leader,  Fri. July 2, 1909: "P. Van Graven, Weiser photographer took some fine photos of the Council area last week."   In the Council Leader,  Fri. July 2, 1909 it was mentioned that W.T. Colvin has purchased the Rocky Mt. photo car, and "will be a permanent stand hereafter at Council."  Does anybody know what that was about?

            In the Adams County Leader, Jan 23, 1931, it was reported that Frank Peters brought big timbers through town for the new bridge across the Weiser river at the mouth of Cottonwood creek, from Pole Creek with 2 four horse teams and special sleds.  W.F. Winkler took a good photo.  If we have those in the museum, I don't remember seeing them.

            Just about everyone has seen the 1911 or 1912 picture of Adams County's first officials standing in front of the first court house.  J.D. Neale was the superintendent of schools at the time and was in the photo.  Years later, in 1936, Neale said,  "I am always impressed with the brutal frankness with which myself and my friends there have their likenesses recorded for posterity." 

            The Adams County Leader, July 21, 1939 said that the  July 10 issue of Life magazine featured a photo of "Hell's Canyon".  Anybody have a copy of that issue?

            There is a picture of Council in the library, and at the museum,  that was taken from an airplane.  We didn't know exactly when it was taken, but I ran across info on it in the Adams County Leader for Feb 6, 1948.  The photo was on the front page.  It was taken by Howard Jeppson (formerly of Council) and Fred Ulrich of Boise in January of that year.

            Speaking of old photos and losing them.  Right now would be a good time to get out your pen and write the names of the people on the back of your family photos.  So many times, the older members of a family die and leave old pictures that nobody knows anything about.  Please don't let this happen to the priceless legacy you have to leave your descendants.   Go through your old pictures, write who, where and when on the back of them, and while you're at it pick out the ones that should be copied for the museum.

 

History Corner 5-12-95

by Dale Fisk

            Jim Camp told me something very interesting about the Long Valley Massacre site.  It's underwater.  No wonder I couldn't find it.  I knew that the Cascade Reservoir was only created fairly recently (1950s?).  Jim says he's pretty sure that the remains of the men killed in the ambush were moved to another location.  I have seen photos of a metal plaque (placed there in 1929) and of a marble headstone (placed when?) with the names of the men on it.  The head stone was surely moved to the new grave site.  If anybody has some information about this, especially the location of the new grave site, please let me in on it.  This is such a dramatic story, that it would be nice to know.

            We're making great progress on the photo project.  We have copied about 75 new photos so far, and we know of more that will be brought in.  I went to Geneva Barry's house last week and copied a bunch of pictures concerning Indian Valley history.  She has one of  her relatives standing in front of Solan Hall's old house.  The Lindsays bought Hall's house in 1881.  It stood about where Geneva lives now, at 700 Indian Valley road.

            Geneva told me a little about how a number of women from this area went to work in defense plants in Seattle and Portland during WWII.  During this 50th anniversary of the end of the war, most of the attention is, of course, going to the men who sacrificed so much.  Geneva's story is an interesting example.  She left two small children behind in 1942, and went to Seattle to work in a sheet metal plant.  She assembled air ducts for airplanes.  Then she worked as a welder at a ship yard in Portland for about two years.  She said jobs were scarce in this area, and the jobs that a person could find, didn't pay much.  I think she said they were paid 72 cents an hour in the defense plants, and that was pretty good money at the time.

            Geneva is related to the Lindsays, Linders, Haworths and Mannings of Indian Valley.  Mel Manning brought in some great pictures of the Mannings and other Indian Valley people, places and events.  We copied some of the rodeo at the Adams County fair that was held in Indian Valley in, I think it was the 1920s.  The "arena" seemed to be an open field with no fence around it, and the ground looks very hard to get bucked off onto.  Some of the pictures of area cowboys of the time look like they came right out of Hollywood.

            Speaking of the Mannings, one of the best stories to go with a photo is the one that goes with a picture of Edward Manning.  He is said to have been the one who is responsible for bringing the first crab grass to this area.  He raved about the hardiness and nutritional value of this new variety of grass, and bought enough to plant 40 acres.   Well ... it certainly is hardy.  Thanks Ed.

            Hank Daniels brought in some prints and slides of Council in the 1960s.  Remember when the drygoods department of Shavers was a bank?  Remember the old Ham's Texaco station?  Unfortunately, Hank didn't have a good one of the Texaco station.  We have a good one of  it in about 1925, but we would like a later one too.  Doesn't ANYBODY       have one?

            A couple people have mentioned having old home movies of the Council area.  The most exciting one was shot during the 1930s, and includes the Adams County Rodeo.  We are going to look into how to preserve or copy or get still photos ... or ? ... from these.  Anybody have any ideas or experience with this?  We would sure like some info.

            We are still looking for some pictures that we know are out there somewhere because they have been published in the local newspapers.  One is a view of the town square with the "Addington Auto Company" in the background.  It shows a large group of people planting the locust trees there in 1917 on New Years day.  Please, somebody help us find this one!  The text under the picture says that it came from "the Addington collection at the Council Library", but the library certainly doesn't have it now.  It was printed in the Record - don't know what issue.  All I have is the cut out clipping from the paper.

            Another one that we absolutely must find shows the McMahan school at Fruitvale in 1907.  It was brought to the Record by Millie Bethel - don't know what year, but it was January, and Don Mentor was the Council Mayor.  It's not important when it was in the paper, but I hope somebody can tell me who has this photograph now.

            Another one is of Council's main street (Illinois Ave.) looking west in 1913 or1914.  It shows the Weed store, Freehaffer's restaurant, Rainwater's grocery, and the whole north side of the street from there west to where Shavers is now.  It ran in the Record twice, and was brought in by Lydia Bokamper.  Please help us track it down.

            We will be at the museum again this Friday (May 12) from 1 PM to 8 PM copying photos that you bring in, and generally gathering info and working on our photo project.  Bring in your photos or just drop by to get in on the fun.  If you have photos that are in an album, we can copy them without taking them out or harming them in any way.

            Don't forget about donating anything you can to our museum improvement project.  The pennies are still rolling in.  If this were a contest, the Seven Devils cafe and the Library would be neck and neck as to which penny collection jar received the most money so far. 

            I took my slide show to the fourth grade class last week, and they put together a donation of $9.67 for the museum.  Then Jeremy Stoker brought me another $1.50 on his own.

            Our bank balance is now close to $3800.   Our very sincere thanks to all of you who have given to this cause, in whatever amount.  It is very, very appreciated.

 

 

            History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            I'm sad to say that Council has lost another Landmark: Bert Rogers, publisher of the Adams County Leader. 

            The first newspaper in this area to regularly print Council news was the Weiser City Leader, established in 1882.  It changed names and ownership several times over the years, but is essentially the same "Signal" paper as is printed there now.

            The next was the Idaho Citizen, beginning in 1891 at Salubria.  It soon became the Salubria Citizen, and when Cambridge was established, the paper moved there and became the Cambridge News.  It is also still in business.

            The first paper in what is now Adams County was the Seven Devils Standard at Cuprum in 1898, published by C.W. Jones.  Jones was a man with big dreams who didn't seem to stick with anything very long.  He sold out to D.C. Boyd in February of 1899.  The Standard was shortly taken over by R.E. Lockwood and Frank Edlin.  The paper lasted through July 1902 when it was moved to Meadows to be published as the "Eagle".

            In the meantime, C.W. Jones is said to have established the town site of Decorah in late 1900.  If Jones did indeed establish Decorah, he apparently had no grandiose plans to ride this horse to fame and fortune, and bailed out very early in the game.  By 1902, he was in Council, busily publishing the "Advance" newspaper, in head to head competition with  L.S. Cool's  "Council Journal" which had been established in October 1900.  The Journal office was located on the north west corner of Moser Avenue and Main Street.  By 1905, Cool had acquired the Advance.  He published this paper in his home across Main Street and north of his former address.  This house later became the first Adams County Courthouse in 1911, and still later, it was Bill Winkler's home.  The Advance ceased publication when Cool left Council for Weiser sometime in 1905.

            Council had no paper for a few years, until in October of 1908, the first issue of the Council Leader was published by Ivan M. Durrell.  It was a four page paper until 1910, when it became eight pages.  Much of it was preprinted material that was syndicated to many papers, and contained national news and advertisements.  In 1911, the paper became owned by stockholders in the community under the name " The Council Publishing Company".  An attorney named James Stinson joined the Leader staff as editor, with Durrell as manager.

            At this time, there were two other newspapers in the newly-created Adams County: the Meadows Eagle and the New Meadows Tribune.  They were joined the next year by the Fruitvale Echo, and all four worked hard to promote their respective communities as the only one fit to become the center of government for the new county.

            In 1912, Stinson was replaced by Fred Mullin who had been publishing the Long Valley Advocate.  It is unclear where the Leader office was until this point, but in November of 1913, it was moved to a little building on the alley behind Dr. Brown's new brick structure on the north west corner of Galena Street and Illinois Avenue.

            Mullin was fond of editorializing, and had an acid pen when provoked.  An in-print feud developed in 1914, between Mullin and William Freeman of New Meadows who was running for political office.  Freeman finally ordered Mullin to cancel his subscription, writing, "Kill it! Pie it! Hell box it! Anyway to relieve me."  To which Mullin replied, "The above pus runs from a sore in the Meadows valley that has been lanced and he wants to represent us in the state legislature."

            In 1915, the Council Publishing Company was dissolved, and the paper was sold to Fred Michaelson who also served as an Adams County probate judge.  Michaelson had run a paper in Sauk Center, Minnesota where he employed a young man named Sinclair Lewis.  Lewis later went on to become one of the best known authors in the U.S.   It was Michaelson who changed the name of the "Council Leader" to the "Adams County Leader".

            Unfortunately, all the issues of the Leader from mid 1915 through 1919 that were kept in the newspaper's office were lost when the office was moved to another location in town.  Most of the 1919 issues have been replaced recently, from those kept by Matilda Moser at the Courthouse.   But the others, aside from a few, scattered issues, are a priceless window into the past that is gone forever. 

            By 1920 the Leader was the only paper being published in Adams County.  That year, the office was moved to an apartment house at __ Michigan Avenue. This big, old, square, stucco building is still standing, and can be seen in old photos from as early as 1912. It is rumored to have housed prostitutes in the apartments upstairs during Council's wilder days.

            In May of 1922, the paper was sold to E.E. Southard.   He started printing the first comic strips to appear in the Leader.  In 1926, the paper was purchased by William Lemon, another gentleman who served as a probate judge for the County.

            When the Pomona Hotel was sold at public auction in 1928, Lemon bought it and moved there with his newspaper.  During the depression, the paper almost went under.  It was reduced to its former size of four pages for a few years.  In 1937, the present Adams County Leader office building was constructed at 105 Michigan Avenue, just south of its old headquarters (the big stucco building).

            In 1937, Lemon leased the paper to his right-hand man, Carryl Wines.  Wines ran the paper until 1944, when Lemon sold it to F.E. and Harriet Rogers of Long Beach, California.(Adams County Leader, Aug 4, 1944)

            FIND WHEN F.E. DIED, THAT'S WHEN BERT STARTED HELPING HIS MOTHER.  SHE RETIRED FROM ACTIVE PUBLISHING IN __ .  NOTE BURT'S ACCIDENT,ETC.

             Bert took over the Leader in 1948, and has run the presses ever since.  As far as I know, it is the last publication of any kind to be still using the old lead type machines that were antiques long before now.  Bert may have been the last person who really knew how to run one.  How he kept the old machinery running, when replacement parts must not be made anymore, has to be a story in itself.

            Our heart-felt sympathy goes out to Shirley and the family.  Bert will be missed.

            If anyone has old copies of the Leader for these missing dates, mid 1915 through 1918, please PLEASE let me look at them.  The Leader has been one of the main sources of information for the history that I am writing.  Also, any old clippings about local history from any source would be very welcome.  Some of you have already contributed invaluable pieces of information like this, and you have my sincere thanks.  Pictures are also very important.  Fran Caward just sent a wonderful photo of Dora Black and another of Dora and Billie.  Bob Thompson, an old Fruitvale boy (now in Spokane), called last week to say he is sending photos of  the Placer Basin mill and buildings!  He says hello to all his old friends here.

            This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2770.  We need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

History Corner 2-8-95(?)

by Dale Fisk

            During the Bannock War, a significant wagon train reached Boise.  This group of immigrants contained more people who would become pioneers of the Council Valley than any single group before or since.   It also must have been one of the most complexly interrelated groups.  Among the crew were:

 

 Hardy and Rena Harp, and their two small sons

 William and Jane Harp, and two sons

 Sam Harp (single)

 16 year old Elizabeth Harp

George and Martha Robertson (Martha was the sister of Hardy, William, Sam and Elizabeth                 Harp)

James Copeland and his very pregnant wife, Ida

George A. and Letitia Winkler and their children:

            George M.(1856-1920), Mark (1858-1921), William F. (1866-1939),  Lewis (1867-  1952), James (1869-1956)

 

            The group was bound for the Council Valley, enticed there by the presence of the Keslers.  Martha Kesler (Alex's wife) was Letitia Winkler's sister and Ida Copeland's mother.  When the group had reached Missouri, George M. Winkler (George and Letitia's son) and Elizabeth Harp had eloped and gotten married before returning to the caravan.  Now, the Robertsons, Harps, Copelands, Keslers and Winklers were all related to each other through one marriage or another.

            Since Boise was the last real outpost of civilization in the general area, the Harps and Robertsons decided to stay near there until they could decide for sure where they wanted to settle.

            The Winklers and Copelands rolled into the Council Valley on August 6, 1878.  The worst of the Bannock War was over, but the settlers here were still spending time in the fort. When Ida Copeland gave birth in a small log cabin near the fort in September, William Copeland became the first white child to be born in the Council Valley.  Edgar Moser has sometimes been credited with this distinction, but he was not born until about four months later, in January of 1879.  The first white girl born here was Matilda Moser, in 1881.

            It is interesting to note that about this time the Council area was often referred to as "Hornet" or "Hornet Creek".  This seems reasonable, since it is at this point along the Weiser River that Hornet Creek enters it.   

            Lucy McMahan  said, "In 1877 the settlers met to name the valley.  The majority wanted to call it "Moser Valley", but Mr. Moser objected to the name.  So they decided to call it Council Valley,...".    The next year (1878) the Postal Department allowed "Council Valley" as the official name of the post office here.    

            George Moser's nickname was "Buckshot", and some early residents referred to the town by that name, even long after the it was officially named Council in 1896.

            I would like to thank Mary Owens for a donation in memory of Ed Kesler.  Thanks Mary. Our fund stands at about $3,240.   The Pennies for the Past drive is kind of fun, and is bringing in a pretty good haul of them - about $50 worth so far.  Keep 'em comin'!  So far, none of our grant applications have panned out, but ACDC may be able to get a good chunk of money from Farm Bill funds. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

            Don't forget the slide show Saturday night (25th) at the library at 8 PM.  I guarantee you will learn some interesting things you didn't know about the history of this town.

            Our plans to make plans with the state archivist didn't pan out last week (twice), so we are trying again today (Friday, 24th).  We kind of have to wait until we meet with him to start our photo gathering campaign.  The short version of the story is that we got a grant from the Humanities Council to copy and preserve historic photographs.  Please start digging them out of the closets!  This is our big chance to do it right.  Remember, we are especially desperate for old Fruitvale photos.  There don't seem to be any of the old stores.  We need pictures of people, places, events .. anything relative to Council's history up to the present. 

            Next week starts the only real story of Indian vs Settler violence in the history of this area.  Don't miss it.

 

History Corner 2-13-95

by Dale Fisk    

            The year after the Moser's arrived (1877), two more families settled in the Council Valley: the Whites and Lovelesses.

            Robert and Ellenor White and their children had traveled West with the Mosers, but had spent the winter in Boise before continuing to Council Valley.  Robert later became Council's first Postmaster, first school teacher, and probably the first justice of the peace.

            Zadock Loveless was a widower who came here with his son Bill.  They took up a parcel of land that joined the north end of the Moser property.  Lucy McMahan, an early pioneer of the area, said that Loveless built the first house in Council in 1876, but didn't live here until 1877.

            The new families had barely settled into their new locations, when a storm of terror blew in from the north.

            The following story is purely fictional, although the names, ages, places and background events  depicted here are true to the facts as recorded.    

            George Reibolt was dog tired and sagged wearily in the saddle as he rode into the Council Valley.  He had been riding all night in a desperate effort to get to Boise as soon as possible. 

            As Reibolt approached the Moser place, there was a wagon and team out front. Sixteen-year-old  Lewis Harrington sat in the shade of the wagon and watched the rider approach.  Lewis's nine year old brother, Robert, and their younger sister, Mary, were playing along the creek about a hundred feet south of the Moser cabin.  George dismounted in front of Lewis. 

            "Son, will you water my horse for me?"  Lewis took the reins.  "Make sure he drinks slowly, and not too much.  He's pretty hot," George added.  Lewis was irritated that the man would think he needed to be told how to take care of a horse.  After all, he was practically a grown man.

            George turned toward the cabin as two men sauntered out to greet him.  Introductions were made all around.  The younger man, who appeared to be about forty, was Reil Harrington.  Harrington, a widower, had come to Indian Valley with his four children the year before.  His oldest boy, James, had not come with them today on this trip to examine some potential homestead land on Hornet Creek.  George Reibolt had never met George Moser, but he had certainly heard of him.

            "You look like you're in a devil of a hurry, George,"  Moser said.

            "Yes Sir, I am."  Reibolt handed him an envelope. "I left Warrens late yesterday, and I need to get this to Governor Brayman as soon as possible."

            Moser unfolded the letter, and, with Reil looking over his shoulder, began reading.  The first sentence sent a chill up his spine and almost made him drop the letter: "The Nez Perce Indians are on the warpath."   As he read on as quickly as he could, his anxiety grew. Names and locations of men, women and little children who had been murdered seemed to go on interminably.  Worst of all, it was obvious that the savages were heading SOUTH.  One statement referring to the little town of Mount Idaho jumped out at him:"It is greatly feared that the entire Settlement has been annihilated...."

            Moser and Harrington finished reading the letter and looked up silently at Reibolt as if they wanted him to say it was all untrue.  Instead, he added to their fears.

            "It gets worse," he started hesitantly.  "Cavalry troops had a fight with the savages in White Bird canyon, and got beat pretty bad ... lost 36 men.  The hostiles are headed this way, and the soldiers can't stop 'em."        

            The shaken men abruptly wrapped up their conversation, and Reibolt went on his way south.  Reil Harrington gathered his children into the wagon and hurried along the rough wagon trail in the same direction.  The word was spread quickly, and soon the Whites, Lovelesses and Henry Childs followed Reibolt and the Harringtons.

            -

              Some of the early "information" that spread about the Nez Perce war was untrue or exaggerated, but is included because it is what the settlers heard.    The last statement, attributed to Reibolt, is from a letter sent to Governor Brayman from Milton Kelley of Indian Valley, and sent on to Boise with Reibolt.  Although it was initially reported in the letter that 36 soldiers had been killed at Whitebird, there were really 34 killed and four wounded.  No Indians were killed until later battles.

             When the Council Valley settlers arrived at William Munday's farm  (at or near the present home of Ralph and Scotty Yantis), they found about 20 to 25 women and children, and about that many men, gathered in a confused state of panic.

            Among this congregation was the family of Alex and Martha Kesler, and Alex's brother, Andrew.  They had arrived in the Salubria Valley about a year earlier.         Only about two thirds of the men had guns, and ammunition was very scarce.   George Reibolt continued on to Boise, accompanied by Edgar or Abner Hall.  They carried letters from the local citizens in which they practically begged Territorial Governor Brayman to send 100 well-armed citizens, 25 more guns for local men, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition.   On the outside of one letter, was penciled, "Those Indians are blood thirsty.  They are getting all the supplies and Liquor they want and will jump on fresh horse and come here in 36 hours after they leave Salmon if they come this way."

            The fear that Council and Indian Valley settlers had of Indians during this time is hard to overstate.  The morbid details of the Custer disaster, that had occurred almost exactly a year earlier, were still a common topic of discussion.  Indians were pretty much roaming wherever they pleased all over the Territory during this time, and now there was serious concern that Eagle Eye's group would join in the fighting and slaughter every white person they could find.

            The fear of Indian attack in this part of the Territory almost invariably proved  worse than the actual danger.  According to Indian Valley lore, in one tragic case, it was fatal.  Margaret Hall was left home alone at Indian Valley a great deal of the time because her sons (Edgar and Abner) and husband (Solon) were often gone, carrying mail.  She was hysterically afraid that Indians would attack her at these times.  In 1877 her fear overcame her and she took her own life rather than live with such horror.  Such stories are not altogether uncommon in the history of the West.  More than a few pioneer women felt overwhelmed by feelings of being trapped and alone in the middle of nowhere. 

            Again, I'm sad to note to passing of another Council Valley Landmark.  Ed Kesler was, if I have my facts straight, the great grandson of Alex Kesler, mentioned above.  He will be missed.  Ed was involved with the museum as much as his health would allow during the past couple of years.        This column is written to promote support for the Council museum.   The current balance in our account is about $2,900.  We need at least $10,000 to start our much needed museum addition project.  Please help.  Donations made as memorials will be acknowledged in this column, along with the name of the person in who's honor the contribution was made.   Please send contributions to P.O. Box 252, Council, ID 83612.  Make your check out to the Winkler Museum.

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Human beings are an interesting species.  When the first non-native people came to the West, they acted as if they had no concept of the idea that natural resources like timber, grazing, game animals or land had any kind of limits.  Like kids in a free candy store, they ate as much as they could as fast as they could.  It took a few decades for the stomach ache to set in.  Now, people have started running full speed in the opposite direction: don't cut any timber, kill any animals, graze any grass ... don't do anything that isn't "natural".  And spend six million dollars replacing the wolves that our grandparents paid to have eradicated.  I guess it would be more accurate to say they are "adding to" the wolves that are already replacing themselves.

             Trying to instantly turn around the long - time, fundamental practices of a society in this way is like throwing a ten ton truck into reverse at 90 miles per hour.  The only comfort to be found is in knowing that social tends often to go to extremes before they settle on a more sensible compromise somewhere in the middle.  So there is hope.... eventually.

            Last week, we were all shocked to hear that the Boise Cascade mill will be closing.  Talk about a Landmark.  Some of us can't remember a time when a mill wasn't there.

            It all started in the fall of1938, when the Boise Payette Company bought fifty-three acres from Bill Winkler on which to build a mill.  The paper reported,  "It is said that the life of the local plant during the time of cutting the adjacent timber will be approximately twelve years.  If, after that, the Meadows timber holdings should come to this plant, the life of the local plant would be indefinite." "When this operation was originally planned, the company had no idea of remilling and storing its lumber at Council but had planned to truck haul the lumber from the [portable] mill in the woods [at Old Davis on Crooked River] to Council, load it on cars there and ship it to Emmett for remilling."  "Neither the present roadbed or bridges between Council and Crooked river and Bear will stand the heavy traffic required by this operation."

             By the summer of 1940, the mill was in operation.  The mill, the new technology and the aggressive logging activity of the company brought a growth spurt to Council.  The population expanded as many new families moved in.  About a dozen portable houses were moved to Council from the camp at Old Davis to house these new arrivals.  The houses were put on land the company bought on the west side of the railroad tracks where remodeled versions of some of them continue to be used today.

            Mechanized logging had started in the 1930s, but the Depression had put a damper on many business ventures.  In spite of shortages of manpower and other basics during World War II, the demand for lumber and the momentum of the Boise Payette Co. was high enough to sustain a boom in the Council area.  After the war, two critical factors came together to start a new era in the timber industry.

            First, the housing boom that followed World War II created an unprecedented demand for lumber.  Second, by that time, chain saws, logging trucks, crawler tractors and other machinery needed for modern timber harvesting had evolved to the point of being fairly dependable and available.  In the old days, it had been a monumental task to build a road into the mountains to harvest timber.  With "cats" miles of roads could be built with relative ease.  Because logging had been on a comparatively small scale up until this time, there were vast roadless tracts of virgin timber on every side of the Council Valley.  Within only three or four decades after 1940, most of the Payette National Forest (except for Wilderness Areas) was logged at least once, and the majority of the roads now in existence on the Forest were built.

            As modes of transportation improved and the area centralized, the timber industry followed the same trend.  Most of the small sawmills scattered around the country disappeared as it became more practical to haul logs to big mills like the one in Council.

            The Council sawmill, and its associated logging operations quickly became a vital anchor of the local economy.  In 1957, the Boise Payette Company merged with the Cascade Lumber Company of Yakima, Washington, and adopted the name by which we know it today: the Boise Cascade Corporation.

            The next year, (1958) the fire siren sounded in Council in the middle of the night, and local citizens were stunned when they peered out their windows.  The sawmill was engulfed in flames!  The loss of this prominent part of the community was unthinkable.  But a new mill that sported all the newest technology arose from the ashes, and it became even more of a source of pride than the old mill. 

            Now, the community faces the unthinkable once again.  Looking at the big picture, the fifty-five year period from 1940 to 1995 has been a short one.  Eventually, the pendulum will find its equilibrium, the emotionalism and ignorance will subside, and a sustainable way of managing the forests that is balanced with the needs of people will emerge...maybe.  There is an enormous fly in the ointment. 

            At the time the mill was first built, there were just over 2 billion people on earth.  That number has more than doubled to about 5.7 billion.  The number of trees big enough to cut has not grown, or has even decreased.  In another 50 years, the world's population is expected to double again if we don't wise up.

            I apologize for climbing on my soap box, but I'm absolutely convinced that overpopulation is the most serious problem we face - not just in the future - not just in the "third world" - right here in Council, right now.  The whole ball of wax - the salmon issue, the sustainable forest issue, and every other environmental problem is either directly caused, or greatly exacerbated, by more people needing more natural resources of which there are continually less. There is no amount of recycling, replanting or conserving that can possibly keep up with the suicidal growth rate we now have.

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            During the Bannock War, a significant wagon train reached Boise.  This group of immigrants contained more people who would become pioneers of the Council Valley than any single group before or since.   It also must have been one of the most complexly interrelated groups.  Among the crew were:

 

 Hardy and Rena Harp, and their two small sons

 William and Jane Harp, and two sons

 Sam Harp (single)

 16 year old Elizabeth Harp

George and Martha Robertson (Martha was the sister of Hardy, William, Sam and Elizabeth                 Harp)

James Copeland and his very pregnant wife, Ida

George A. and Letitia Winkler and their children:

            George M.(1856-1920), Mark (1858-1921), William F. (1866-1939),  Lewis (1867-  1952), James (1869-1956)

 

            The group was bound for the Council Valley, enticed there by the presence of the Keslers.  Martha Kesler (Alex's wife) was Letitia Winkler's sister and Ida Copeland's mother.  When the group had reached Missouri, George M. Winkler (George and Letitia's son) and Elizabeth Harp had eloped and gotten married before returning to the caravan.  Now, the Robertsons, Harps, Copelands, Keslers and Winklers were all related to each other through one marriage or another.

            Since Boise was the last real outpost of civilization in the general area, the Harps and Robertsons decided to stay near there until they could decide for sure where they wanted to settle.

            The Winklers and Copelands rolled into the Council Valley on August 6, 1878.  The worst of the Bannock War was over, but the settlers here were still spending time in the fort. When Ida Copeland gave birth in a small log cabin near the fort in September, William Copeland became the first white child to be born in the Council Valley.  Edgar Moser has sometimes been credited with this distinction, but he was not born until about four months later, in January of 1879.  The first white girl born here was Matilda Moser, in 1881.

            It is interesting to note that about this time the Council area was often referred to as "Hornet" or "Hornet Creek".  This seems reasonable, since it is at this point along the Weiser River that Hornet Creek enters it.   

            Lucy McMahan  said, "In 1877 the settlers met to name the valley.  The majority wanted to call it "Moser Valley", but Mr. Moser objected to the name.  So they decided to call it Council Valley,...".    The next year (1878) the Postal Department allowed "Council Valley" as the official name of the post office here.    

            George Moser's nickname was "Buckshot", and some early residents referred to the town by that name, even long after the it was officially named Council in 1896.

            I would like to thank Mary Owens for a donation in memory of Ed Kesler.  Thanks Mary. Our fund stands at about $3,240.   The Pennies for the Past drive is kind of fun, and is bringing in a pretty good haul of them - about $50 worth so far.  Keep 'em comin'!  So far, none of our grant applications have panned out, but ACDC may be able to get a good chunk of money from Farm Bill funds. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

            Don't forget the slide show Saturday night (25th) at the library at 8 PM.  I guarantee you will learn some interesting things you didn't know about the history of this town.

            Our plans to make plans with the state archivist didn't pan out last week (twice), so we are trying again today (Friday, 24th).  We kind of have to wait until we meet with him to start our photo gathering campaign.  The short version of the story is that we got a grant from the Humanities Council to copy and preserve historic photographs.  Please start digging them out of the closets!  This is our big chance to do it right.  Remember, we are especially desperate for old Fruitvale photos.  There don't seem to be any of the old stores.  We need pictures of people, places, events .. anything relative to Council's history up to the present. 

            Next week starts the only real story of Indian vs Settler violence in the history of this area.  Don't miss it.

 

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            I've been interrupting the chronological flow of these articles with things that come up.  This week, I'll get back to where I left off.  You may remember I was telling about the Indian wars in Idaho in the 1860s, then how they subsided about 1868, and the Weiser River Valleys began to be settled.

            I mentioned Henry Childs, who was the first known settler in the Council area.  Another old bachelor, who lived farther up Hornet Creek than Childs, was John Mulligan.  It isn't known just when he arrived here, but it may have been before the first family arrived in 1876.

            By 1870, the heyday of placer mining in Idaho Territory was over,  other occupations pulled ahead, and the population shrank from its previous high of 20,000 down to 15,000.

            All during the 1860s and 1870s, there was continual hue and cry to put all Indians on reservations.  But the management of reservations was a bureaucratic quagmire, and the money sent from Congress to support impounded natives was pathetically inadequate.  To keep the reservation Indians from starving, they were allowed to leave the reservations and fend for themselves for extended periods.

            In 1873, the Modoc Indians in south western Oregon chose to fight rather than return to their reservation.  The resulting Modoc War instilled deep apprehension in both Whites and natives in Idaho.  Everyone realized that the situation here was teetering on the brink of the same kind of disaster.

            Even though Eagle Eye's Shoshoni band along the Weiser River kept a low profile, they were the target of a great deal of white resentment because their territory was the site of larger and larger intertribal gatherings.  As tribes from outside the Council Valley began to visit this last place of refuge in growing numbers, some of the outside Indians stayed permanently.  In spite of the odds against peaceful coexistence, Eagle Eye was able to maintain relative tranquility between the whites and all the natives who visited, or lived, in his area. 

            In March of 1874, Eagle Eye was ordered to bring his band in to the Fort Hall reservation.  He refused, and because of a lack of funds, the authorities were unable to enforce the order.

            The next year (1875), the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe was ordered to surrender to reservation life, and their lands were opened to white settlement.  This was the band of which Chief Joseph was a member, and was the last of the free-roaming bands of  the Nez Perce. The Wallowas refused to come in, but the government was still too under-funded and disorganized to do anything about them or Eagle Eye.

            The following summer (1876), settlers on the upper Weiser heard rumors through local Indians about a big Indian victory over the horse soldiers.  The battle had supposedly occurred very recently in the buffalo country east of the Rocky Mountains.  Days later, vivid accounts came from Boise of how Indian savages had slaughtered Custer's valiant Seventh Cavalry on the Little Big Horn River in Montana.  How the Weiser Indians had received word of this battle before local whites had heard about it left the settlers feeling uneasy.   News of the Custer massacre only accented the fears of Idaho whites, and deepened their resolve to rid the Territory of Indians.

            (I can't remember who told me the story just mentioned.  If anyone can give me the name of an old timer from whom they heard this, I would feel better about including it in my book.  Call me: 253-4582.) 

            The family of George and Elizabeth Moser was the first white family to settle in the Council Valley, arriving in the fall of 1876.   When the Mosers first arrived at the present site of Council, they camped along a tiny creek, a short distance west of where the creek flowed between a small, rocky knob and a larger hill that sat, somewhat conspicuously, in the southern part of the valley.    This camp site was in what would someday be the west side of Council, just west of the present intersection of Moser and Railroad streets, near where the train depot later stood.   The fact that much of the area was a jungle of brush indicated that there was good farm land underneath.

            Near this location, there was a fork in the well-worn trail through the valley.  The west branch was an Indian trail that went up Hornet Creek, and on to the Seven Devils Mountains.  Even though copper deposits had been found in the Seven Devils fourteen years earlier, there was little or no mining activity there when the Mosers arrived.  The main trail, probably also originally and Indian path, was being used by pack trains going on north to Salmon Meadows (later called Meadows Valley) and the gold mining country around Warren and Florence.    There were still no wagon roads this side of Indian Valley at that time, but the trail north was well traveled.  Since Warren had swollen to a population of about 5,000,  pack trains of  up to 100 animals sometimes traveled this route, just to supply the town with flour from Cuddy's mill near present-day Cambridge.

            Soon, the Mosers built a log cabin (and another one shortly afterwards) just north of the creek and south west of the hill.  The cabins were about where Ruben's is now, west of the town square (park).  In one old photo, it looks like one of the Moser cabins may have stood right in the middle of what is now Moser Ave.  Their homestead encompassed most of what would become the west side of Council, including the town square, Courthouse hill and the land on which the schools now stand.

            You may notice that "Moser" Avenue is generally misspelled as "Mosher" on the street signs.  This mistake was made at least as early as 1899 by an engineer who drew the first plat of the town.   He spelled it right every time in the plat text, but when he wrote it on the map itself it was wrong.  Elizabeth Moser didn't notice it for a good reason - she was illiterate.  She signed the document with an "X".  Every time the plat was copied from then on, engineers simply duplicated the names from the old plat.  This is why we have lived with this insult to Council's first family for almost a hundred years now.  Every editor in every newspaper within a hundred miles of here has ignored this stupid mistake and printed it as "Moser" when referring to this avenue.  I think it's about time the name of the avenue was spelled correctly.

            To remind you just what the plan is at the Council museum, if we can raise $10,000, Evea Harrington Powers will match that amount so that we will have $20,000 to improve the museum.  We have plans drawn up and approved to build an addition onto the City Hall building where the museum is now housed in very a crowded space.  We have about $2,900 so far.  We have applied for several grants, but none have come through.

            I would like to thank Carlos and Ella Weed for a very generous donation.  Carlos reminded me of the fact that your contribution to the museum is tax deductible if you itemize. I hope you will think about helping with the project by donating.  A museum with a higher profile in the community is the single most cost effective thing Council can do to increase its tourist trade.  If you are serious about improving Council's economy, get behind this plan.  If ever we needed this, it is now.  We can sit and cry about our bad luck, or we can stand up and pull together.  Mail contributions to the Winkler Museum, Box 252, Council, ID 83612.

           

History Corner 5-26-95

by Dale Fisk

            On Saturday, Anna, Blaine and I went on a ride with the Backcountry Horsemen.  We went through some beautiful country along the West Fork of the Weiser River that has some interesting history.   Unfortunately, much of the history that I have on this specific area is sketchy, so I would appreciate help from people who know more about it.

            Some of the riders unloaded at what has been known during my lifetime as the Harvey and Hazel Harrington place on West Fork.  It used to be known as the old Bridgewood place.  I don't know much about James Bridgewood or his family.  They were here in 1913, and the Leader said they moved here to stay in the spring of 1915 from Mountain Home. 

            The Bill Bear family lived on this place a few years later.  Bill had a daughter named Frieda who was remembered as having a beautiful singing voice.  She sang at Fruitvale literaries.  Literaries were common in the days before TV and radio.  People would get together at the local school house and entertain each other with popular songs and the recitation of long poems like "The Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight" and "Picture on the Barroom Floor". 

            I'm going to tell you about a tragic event about the side of life that is pretty much avoided (for good reason) by local historians.  In talking to Heidi Bigler Cole, and other people who know about local history, I keep hearing "... that's not the whole story, but it gets scandalous, and their relatives are still living here."  If someone were insensitive, they could undoubtedly write a whole book on the subject.  Anyway, story of Frieda Bear is one in which "scandal and shame" led to her death.  She became pregnant by a young man from a well known Fruitvale family of the time.  She tried to abort the pregnancy herself, and died - probably from bleeding or infection.

            At the beginning of our ride, we crossed the river near the mouth of Rocky Gulch, and passed near the old Ryals homestead.  William Ryals married Laura Robertson, and they had a cabin there just after 1900.  The cabin was just north of the mouth of "Ryals Gulch" on the west side of the West Fork.  Their son, Everett (Mel Ryals's father), was born in 1904. William worked away from home much of the time.  When he was gone, Laura was apprehensive about the mountain lions in the area, and sometimes had her sister, Millie Robertson (later Bethel) come spend the night with her. William died of what may have been stomach cancer at the age of about 29, when Everett was about four years old.  Laura was better known as being married to her later husband, Jim Ward.

            We rode up Muckenstrum Canyon, and stopped for lunch at the old Muckensturn homestead.  Lee Muckensturn and his son, Frank, lived here, apparently up into the 1930s.  Local people pronounced their name as "Muckenstrum" and the canyon is still known by that name.  La Dell Merk thought their was a second son.  Anybody know about that? 

            On top of the ridge west of the river, somewhere just south of where the power line now cuts across,  we went right by the old Fred Aiken homestead.  What a dry place this must have been.  Aiken was a World War I vet who told stories about his experiences.  The whistling sound that enemy shells made as they plummeted toward the trenches, and the boom when they hit the earth, was stamped indelibly on his memory. 

            During prohibition, Fred drank several alcohol - laden substitutes for liquor to get inebriated.  Among his favorites were lemon and vanilla extract.   Sometimes,  he would take a wagon and team to Council by way of Hornet Creek, and come back intoxicated to the point of being semi-conscious.  Occasionally, his horse would get him as far toward home as the Marks place.  They would bring him in an give him a place to sleep until morning, when he would go on home.

            Lemule Haines, a man with one wooden leg,  homesteaded  just to the west of Aikens's.    Haines had several sons.  At least one of them became blind from drinking the rot-gut moonshine that they made.  Another son died from it.

            As we rode south, back down the ridge toward the river, we could look down on the old Farlien place.  Denny Rice built the house there, and Scisms own it now.    Jacob Farlien, and his sons Dan, Henry (Hank) and Bill, lived on the east side of the river, north of Rocky Gulch.  They were well known house builders in this area around in the early part of the century.  Jacob died in 1913

            A meadow along the river that is known by some as the "Dillon Flat" is farther up the West Fork, and we didn't see it on our ride.    This spot was owned in the early 1900s by Benjamin (B. J.) and Lena Dillon.   Both Dillons were school teachers around Council about 1903.  They married here about that time, then moved to Hagerman, Idaho, returning to teach here in 1906.  They probably established their homestead on the West Fork at that time.  The couple lived in Cambridge for a short time shortly after 1909 while Mr. Dillon apparently moonlighted as a preacher in the Council and Cambridge areas.  By 1911, the Dillons were again living here.

            Ben was also an attorney, and was once described as "...one of the ablest speakers in the county ..."  In 1912,  he became the first elected Adams County Prosecuting Attorney.   He resigned from this office in 1921.

            Lena Dillon  taught at the McMahan school house, at least during 1911, 1912 and 1922.  Her maiden name was Wiffen, and her sister, Lillian, was married to Art Wilkie.

            We were hunting mushrooms there a couple weeks ago, and noticed that there are a bunch of blackberry bushes still there at the Dillon place, and one lonely apple tree.  The Fruitvale Echo newspaper reported that the Dillons had as many as three acres planted to potatoes here in 1912.  Where the house must have stood, there are the rusted remains of a Majestic brand cook stove and a set of bed springs.

            I would appreciate hearing from anyone who can add to this knowledge about the people I've written about here. 253-4582

            Don't forget about the nice quilts that the Worthwhile Club made that are being raffled off  to raise money for the museum.  The quilts are on display in the window at Shaver's where you can buy tickets.

            I keep forgetting to tell everyone that your donations to the museum are looked upon very favorably by the Idaho tax code.  You get a 50% tax credit for donations up to $100 (maximum total) on your Idaho taxes for contributions to educational entities such as historical museums.  In other words, a $100 donation to the museum could only mean $50 out of your pocket.  What a deal!

 

History Corner  5-19-95

by Dale Fisk

            All the recent talk about state's rights reminds me of another time in America when people were outraged at the Federal Government for some of the same reasons as they are now.  It resulted in the biggest loss of life in this country that ever came before or since.  More Americans were killed over this issue than all those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars combined plus every other U.S. war in history thrown in.  In just three days of this conflict over state's rights, almost as many men were killed as were lost in Vietnam.

            Of course I'm referring to our Civil War.  Slavery was one of the issues that led up to the war, but think about one obvious fact.  Why would anyone give their life for something they already had?  Slavery was perfectly legal in every state that rebelled against the Union.  Slavery didn't become a major focal point of the conflict until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation half way through the war, as a tactical maneuver designed to cause chaos in the South.

            Then, as now, one of the main issues was that many in the South saw the government as an overbearing bureaucracy that was dominated by city people who didn't know or care anything about life in the South, i.e. - Northerners who represented a more urban and industrialized way of life.   But enough about that.

            I have to note the passing of a true Landmark in the Council Valley - Fred Lappin.  He was a fine man.  His father was one of the first fruit growers here, and Lappin Lane is named after the family.  Fred ran the ranch that Rich Anderson has now, for many years .

            Our photo session Friday was great.  We started copying photographs just after 1 o'clock and didn't really get a break until we quit at 8 PM.  We copied about 120 photos!  It's hard to pick favorites, but Galen York should get a prize for bringing in the only known photo of the Middle Fork school.   Galen also had pictures of teams and scrapers building the Lost Valley Reservoir Dam.

            Other photos included one of a sawmill crew at Tamarack in 1915, the Shaw and Harrington families, the old Congregational church (the one before this one), the Adams County rodeo in 1949, Ike, Lillie and Herbie Glenn, and many more.

            Bobbie Darland brought in a photo of a young Dr. Dora Gerber, our former resident Dentist of many years.  This was in keeping with the fact that the Idaho Historical Society delivered some of Dr. Gerber's equipment to the museum that day.  They brought her old chair, a white cabinet full of instruments, and boxes containing some other interesting devises, tools, denture making supplies, and ... a big box full of wicked-looking drill bits.

            An boy did the stories start to fly!  Almost everybody who came in had a story to tell about their experiences with Dr. Gerber.  The general consensus was that she did not mind inflicting pain. 

            My own memories of her come from early childhood.  The anticipation of the ordeal while in the waiting room was almost as bad as the actual drilling.  She only had the old fashioned, slow, grinding drill that felt like your skull was going to vibrate apart.  One of the most welcomed news in my young life was that my parents were going to take me to Weiser to a dentist that actually used novocaine to deaden my teeth before he drilled them!

            People say that she did use novocaine for procedures other than simple drilling and filling.  But that doesn't mean it was always used effectively.  Many of you know what a good story teller Dick Parker is, and I can't do justice to his talent, but basically the story goes as follows.  Dick had a couple of teeth that were bothering him.  Dr. Gerber took a look at them and said (almost with what seemed like delight in her voice) something to the effect that he could kiss those teeth goodbye.  The way she injected the novocaine was absolute proof in Dick's mind that speed and efficiency don't equal tender, loving medical care.  The whole dose entered his gum in about half a second.  The good doctor immediately brought out her pliers and wrenched the teeth from their sockets.  Dick said that about the time he walked out the front door, the novocaine took effect.

            On the positive side, people say she made some of the finest dentures to be found anywhere.  I hear that her assistant, Mrs. Rubottom, was a valuable asset in this regard.  There are still people wearing dentures that were made at Dr. Gerber's office.  Her prices were also very reasonable.

            It must have been in 1980 that the Health Department closed Dr. Gerber down.   The Historical Society was called in to take her equipment.   I'm not clear about how they could legally take it, but her methods had become pretty unsanitary.  Even her fellow animal lovers probably didn't appreciate being worked on with dogs, cats and chickens wandering about in the same room.

            The guys from the Historical Society said that while they were hauling her equipment out the door, she kept trying to grab things out of the various cabinets, etc.  It was a sad end to the career of a genuine pioneer.

            As near as I can gather, she came to Council from Kendrick, Idaho in the 1940s.  Her office was on the north end of the upstairs of the old Drug Store / Doctor's office building that now houses the Ceramic shop.  (On the north west corner of Illinois Ave. and Galena St.) She was born in 1889, and would have been about 80 years old when she was forced to retire. She lived to be over 100. 

            She had a gold mine somewhere up in the Salmon River country.  She spoke the Nez Perce language, and someone said that it was the Indians who told her where to find the gold deposit.

            I would like to put together more information about Dr. Gerber so that we can have some to go with a display about her and her work for the museum someday.  We also need more photos  of her.  The only one we have shows her long before she came to Council.  I would also like to collect more stories and information about her.  We know that she has at least one daughter that is said to live in Alaska.  If someone has her address, please get it to me. 

            I would like to point out that we do not have room for any of the dentist equipment, and it was crowded in along side the already crowded items in the museum.  This is just one example of the kind of thing we face because we simply are out of room.  The addition to the museum for which we are raising money will help solve this problem.  We need your help.  Donations can be dropped off at City Hall, mailed to me at box 252, Council, or put in one of the Pennies for the Past jars around town.   

 

6-2-95

            I'm still getting conflicting accounts about the location of the Long Valley Massacre grave site.  If I find it, I'll let you know.

            The next year after the massacre (1879) there were several murders along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and Sheep Eater Indians were accused of committing them.  Troops were sent into the area from Boise to capture the "hostiles".   The Army spent four months struggling through the rugged country just trying to locate the Indians.   Over sixty army mules or horses were lost; most of them killed by falling off the trail on precipitous mountainsides.        Ironically, on August 20, exactly one year to the day after the Long Valley Massacre, one of the cavalry units sent after the Sheep Eaters rode into a very similar, fatal ambush.  One soldier, Private H. Eagan was killed.  This pathetic four-month-long campaign that became known as the "Sheep Eater War", managed to round up a total of 15 warriors and about 36 women, children and old people. 

            It's interesting to note that among the captured Indians were two men that were later rumored to have been involved in the Long Valley Massacre: "Tamanmo" (or War Jack) and a Weiser Indian named "Buoyer".  War Jack was listed by Lieut. Brown, in his journal, as being part Bannock and part Nez Perce, and that he claimed to be the successor to Chief Eagle Eye.  His wife and children were also captured.  Brown said that Buoyer had only been in the area for about a year, and did not know the country well.

            In the early 1880's some Indians still roamed the Idaho mountains. Most were eventually captured, or they surrendered, and were sent to the Fort Hall Reservation.  Small groups of Weisers were allowed to leave the reservation from time to time to hunt, fish and gather berries in their old territory.  This practice continued into the early 1900's.  Many of the old timers around Council when I was a kid remembered Indians coming through here.  An Indian woman took a liking to Ike Glenn (Georgiana Parker's father) and tried to buy him from his parents.

            Two small groups of Weiser Indians under Eagle Eye and Indian Charley, secretly established permanent homes in a very secluded, out-of-the-way valley south of Long Valley, west of the Payette River, near present day Banks, Idaho.  These families built cabins, raised gardens, and planted fruit trees.  By combining both white and native life-styles, they were quite self-sufficient.  Eagle Eye and Indian Charley were each able to die here, as they had lived: in peace.

            I ran across an interesting item in the Salubria Citizen newspaper for June 19,1896 quoted from another  Idaho newspaper, the "Index":   "Eagle Eye, chief of the Dry Buck Indians is dead, and the tribes are making a powerful lamentation over his remains."  It said they put his body in a pit for 10 days, and were taking it out and burning it.  The paper blatantly made the claim that Eagle Eye, "was a leader of the band that killed Monday, Haley and Groseclose in Long Valley about 16 years ago."

            It would seem that the type of unobtrusive settlement that Eagle Eye's group had established would have been an ideal solution to "the Indian problem".  For many years, whites didn't even know they were there.  But when they did find out about them, the dark side of human nature raised its ugly head.  Even though the Indians filed for rights to their land under the Homestead laws, they were eventually coerced into giving up even this last fragment of their homeland.  About 1900, the last remaining members of this group of free native people was imprisoned at the Fort Hall and Lemhi Reservations. 

            For native Americans, the concentration-camp existence they were forced to live under must have been almost impossible to bear.  In their culture, everything sacred, everything that gave purpose and meaning to their lives was based on their relationship with mother earth, from who's arms they had been ruthlessly torn.  What cultural values could they pass on to their children when almost every value they understood had been made irrelevant?  It seems bitterly ironic that a culture that outwardly professed spirituality, but was really based on rampant materialism, brutally crushed a culture so totally immersed in deep spiritual values.

            Today, the wrong that was done to the natives of this country is almost insidious...the stories of their lives mostly unknown... but their former presence here underlies everything that has followed them. The places where we now live, work and play, were all a precious legacy handed down from native fathers and mothers (Landmarks) to sons and daughters for more than 100 centuries longer than the blink of an eye that our European culture has been here.

            Imagine a time line, with each foot representing 1,000 years.  Going backwards from the present to a point14,000 years ago, about when the first Americans arrived here, the line would be fourteen feet long.  Columbus arrived on this continent only six inches ago.  Idaho Indians got horses about 3 1/2 inches ago.  And the Mosers arrived to settle the Council Valley less than 1 1/2 inches ago.

            You may remember my saying how where we live now is like a stage where many unknown dramas have been acted out.  Maxine Hallett found an arrow head on the ground just outside her Coleman apartment last week.  What stories lie behind it will never be known, but it represents volumes of fascinating tales that lie literally under our feet.

 

History Corner6-9-95

by Dale Fisk

       Settlement of this area didn't stop during Nez Perce, Bannock or Sheep Eater Wars.  I mentioned Calvin White in the Long Valley Massacre story.  It was he who discovered Three Fingered Smith lying wounded near Payette Lake.

       White was the first settler in the Meadows Valley, and had only arrived there the year of that massacre and of the Bannock War (1878).  He was born in Boston in 1833, and started out his long and eventful career when he was just a boy, going to work on sailing ships.  He followed the sea until he was 30 years old, traveling all over the world.  He apparently got gold fever and wound up in the Boise Basin during the heyday of that area in 1863.  There is a portrait of Cal White, taken during this time, in the files at the State Historical Library.

       At a social occasion near Falk's Store in the Payette Valley, White met, and quickly fell in love with Lydia Hopper, a girl from a wagon train headed west.  After the train moved on, Cal caught up with it near Baker, and the two were married on the spot.  This whirl wind romance apparently worked out.  They eventually had nine children.

       After living briefly in Garden Valley and Horseshoe Bend, Cal moved his family to Indian Valley about the time of the Nez Perce scare in 1877, and then moved to Meadows the next year, perhaps before the Bannock War heated up.

       If you remember, by 1878 there were only a few families in the Council Valley.  It was that fall that Robert White (no known relation to Calvin) became the first postmaster in this area when a post office named "Council Valley" was opened.  The "office" was nothing more than a small box containing mail that he kept under his bed in his home just north of the present town.  There were no individual post office boxes.  People may have followed what was sometimes the custom in those types of situations in which each family looked through the box for their mail.  So much for privacy.

       When Calvin White made his move from Indian Valley to Meadows, the Meadows Valley was known as "Salmon Meadows".  The name later evolved to "Meadows Valley".  At the time, there was no road north of the Council Valley.  White and his partner, W.C. Jennings took the first wagon through between the valleys.  They followed the Weiser River bottom, crossing the river repeatedly as the canyon narrowed.  They finally gave up this tactic just beyond Starkey.  From there, they climbed up onto the ridge tops north and west of the river.  Their exact route is unknown, but they reportedly passed through Lost Valley and Price Valley.

       Soon afterwards, White and some of  the settlers in the Council Valley, built a crude wagon trail between the valleys.  The route went over Fort Hall Hill, then dove into the brushy canyon and forded the river  37 times between Glendale and Tamarack.

       The White family established the first home (not counting Packer John Welch's layover cabin) in Meadows Valley, as well as the first store and post office.  Cal was the first postmaster and carried mail between Indian Valley and Warren.  Calvin White died at the age of 94 in 1927.

       As nearly as I can tell, it was in 1879 that William Rayle Harrington, as well as Rufus Anderson, came from Indian Valley to settle on Hornet Creek .

       It was during this time, before Weiser became established enough to have well-stocked stores, Council Valley residents often went to Boise or Baker City for supplies.  A trip to Boise and back took from ten days to two weeks.  Even after a wider range of supplies were available in Weiser, it was still a four day journey round trip with a wagon. 

       In 1882, the Oregon Short Line Railroad reached Weiser.  The company was building tracks from Ogden, Utah to Huntington, Oregon to meet a line coming east from Pendleton, Oregon.  Having a railroad as close as Weiser was a boon to the people of the Council Valley.  It meant that they were that much closer to a real shipping point ... that much closer to being connected to the outside world.  Thanks in large part to the closer proximity of the railroad, the population of the Council Valley area rapidly grew throughout the 1880s.

       I got a call from Fred Thompson, a former Fruitvale resident (Bob's brother) on Saturday night. .  Fred now lives in Bishop, California.  He said he has a picture of the Bill Bear family that I mentioned as having lived on the West Fork.  He plans to send us a copy of it and some other picutures.  It's great to here from people who used to live here and who either still get a Council paper, or have a clipping of the History Corner sent to them.  I hope any of you out there will keep in mind that we are still looking for old photos of this area.  Don't hesitate to write to me at Box 252, Council or call (208) 253-4582.  Also, if you have other things like scrap books or other information that can add to the story of this area, I am very interested in seeing them.

       Don't forget our fund drive to improve the museum.  Things have been awfully quiet on that front lately.  Save your pennies too!  Our fund is about $3782 right now.

 

6-16-95

            This week, I have the great pleasure of announcing the most significant development concerning the museum since the launching of our fund drive.  The museum project will be receiving $7,000 that ACDC  applied for from Farm Bill money!  This money will boost our funds over the top of the $10,000 that we need to match Evea Powers's pledge to equal that amount.  This means that we can go ahead with final plans to expand the museum!

            The museum belongs to the town of Council, and a general plan for the addition was approved by the City Council some time back.  There are still some important arrangements to be made as to exactly how the museum activities and city activities will each compliment the function of the other.  Hopefully, these loose ends will tie up easily and the project will get underway soon.

            Even though this means we have reached a goal that we have been working very hard toward for several years, it doesn't mean we will stop raising funds entirely.  The amount we have nailed down should get the addition built, but we will still encounter some expenses as we move and improve the displays.  Basically, the more money we have to work with, the better job we can do of making Council a better place to live.

            Last week, I ended this column by mentioning the rapid growth in the Council area in the 1880s.  In another History Corner some months ago, I wrote about how the town almost got established north of where it is now.  The first two post offices, the first store and the first organized school were located on Galena Street (which was the road through the valley) about a mile north of the present town.

            The first business in the Valley was the Moser home, which was located about where Ruben's is now.  They often housed and fed travelers in their cabin.  The next business was probably a blacksmith shop established in 1884 by Frank Mathias. Frank and Clista Mathias's homestead encompassed much of what is now the east side of Council.  Their home was at or near what was, until very recently, 303 North Galena street where Fred York's house stood.  The blacksmith shop was just south of it on the same (east) side of the road

            By 1885, their were about 300 settlers living in the Council Valley.  Activity in the Seven Devils had picked up with arrival of Albert Kleinschmidt.   There were enough settlers living in the Cottonwood Creek area south of Council that a post office, called "Rose", was established there that year

            In the spring of 1885, this "news" item from the Council Valley appeared in the Weiser City Leader:  "There is a new town in this valley, which already has two saloons and a blacksmith shop; they will probably call it Snortville, or Spitfire.  There is a young lady in Council who loans twenty dollar pieces to all parties who can give good security." One of the hallmarks of 19th century newspaper writers was heavy doses of  inside jokes and good-humored leg pulling.  Part of this item in the paper, especially the part about the young lady, may have been exaggerated or even untrue.  Nevertheless, it does indicate the beginnings of a town, as opposed to a scattered community.  The speculated names for the town were probably based on local nicknames.  Robert White's nickname was "Uncle Snort" because he was such a story teller.  The identity of the two saloons is a mystery, unless someone dispensed liquor out of their home, as there were no saloons here at that time.

            John Peters came up from Weiser to establish the first store in the Council Valley (at the location I mentioned north of the present town) in 1888.  By this time, so many new families had moved into the Valley that the Weiser paper said the Council Valley was "... cultivated clear up to the timbered foothills.

            Plans are being made to have an old fashioned booth at a couple of upcoming local events, partly to promote and raise money for the museum.   The events are the Arts and Crafts Festival at the Quilt Show on June 24, and the big fund-raiser for Council scheduled for August 5 & 6.  Some help is needed from people in the community.  A small, horse-drawn wagon may be needed if one hasn't been found by then.  Also needed are: old-style  "prairie" type dresses, bonnets, etc. for costumes ...  two small, old-fashioned trunks ... and a small, old-fashioned table.   The dresses, etc. can be dropped of with Nadine at the General Store in Council.  Also, volunteers are needed to help with the booths.   If you can help with any of these things, please call Irene Dodge (253-4711) or Mary Sterner (253-6930). 

 

6-19-96  The Jim Summers story, continued from the last two columns.

            Last week I wrote about a fight with Indians that involved Jim Summers and a man named Rattlesnake Jack in 1880.  Rattlesnake Jack's, real name was B.E. Said.  His earthly career had a colorful end when he was shot and killed by a Weiser deputy sheriff only two years later, in1882.  Jack got drunk in a Weiser saloon one evening, and started getting extremely obnoxious.  The sheriff's office was notified, and a deputy was dispatched.  When the deputy tried to arrest him, Jack pulled his revolver and shot at the deputy.  Several shots were exchanged, and the deputy retreated to get bigger artillery.  When the deputy returned to the saloon with a shotgun, the gun battle continued but soon ended when Jack received a mortal wound to his chest.  The editor of the Weiser newspaper said that when Rattlesnake Jack was sober, he was a quiet, industrious and inoffensive citizen. (Weiser City Leader, Nov 4, 1882)

            Rattlesnake Jack was buried in a location that was evidently not in an organized cemetery.  Almost twenty years after his death, his grave was inadvertently disturbed.  It was in late 1898 or early 1899 that the railroad began construction of the line to Council.  As the line was being built from the main line at Weiser, Jack's remains were accidentally dug up by the grading crew.  An enterprising Weiser business man acquired the bones and put them on display for the "enjoyment" of his customers.

            Jim Summers only lived about 13 years after the shootout with the Indians.  Toward the end of his life, cancer had completely destroyed his right eye, and he wore a handkerchief to cover it.  He was in pain much of the time, but didn't complain about it much.

            In 1889, the Weiser Leader reported that Summers was is dangerously ill at Pine valley, Oregon, and that there was little hope for his recovery.  "He lost one of his eyes several years ago, the effects of which he never recovered.  He has been under medical treatment for 6 months . . . now paralysis has set in."

            Apparently, Jim recovered enough to return to life on Cuddy Mountain.  In September of 1893,  he was found dead there.  According to James Thorp, his grandfather was the one who discovered Jim's body.  Mr. Thorp writes: "My grandfather was riding for cattle on Cuddy Mountain and came upon an apparently abandoned camp, but upon investigation discovered the body of Jim Summers.  Further investigation turned up several head of horses, corralled or tethered, that were in bad shape for lack of feed and water.  He turned the animals loose and buried Mr. Summers.  This in itself was a feat as my grandfather was a one-armed man."

            In his recollections of local history, Frank Harris said that two prospector friends of Jim's found Summer's body.  Harris said that as they approached a small grove of quaking aspen, they saw Summers's lying dead among the trees.  They buried him near that spot.

            Summers was alone when he died, so the exact date of his death was never known.  He was 56 years old.

            Jim Summers's grave is shown on Forest Service maps, and is located right beside road #234. To reach Jim Summers' grave, turn west from the main Council - Cuprum road just before the old Hornet Creek Guard Station, and take road #055.  For the most part, this road was built in about 1924 to reach the Cuddy Mountain mines, the remains of which can still be seen along its route, about 8.5 miles from the Council - Cuprum road.  This rocky road is shown on maps as a four wheel drive road, and it is that.  At the top of the mountain, road #234 turns north along the ridge top.  The view here in all directions is heart-stopping: especially that of the Pine Creek Valley in Oregon and the Snake River canyon far below to the west.   Summers's grave, marked with a marble headstone, and fenced with poles, sits right above road #234, about 3 miles from where it branches from #055.  A modern cabin and corrals are located here as well.  The total distance from the main road is about 13 miles.

    Ron Hillman told me that Helena Schmidt told him that Summers is actually buried down the canyon below the grave marker.  I haven't questioned Helena about this yet, but if anyone knows  about a different grave location, please give me a call.

 

HISTORY CORNERS

11-1-96  to 10-30-97

 

11-1-96

     In 1901, construction was started on a gravity-operated aerial tramway which to carry the ore three quarters of a mile from the Summit mine to the mill below Black Lake.  The unsupported span over the lake was 1,500 feet, and was thought to have been the longest single span in the world at that time.  The cable for the tram was freighted to the Lake in one long piece, on two wagons.  Anna Adams said that the crews worked almost a month "...jacking it up over high dive, [and getting it strung out] from the mine to the mill across the lake."

            After a crew worked all winter to finish the mill, it began operating in May of 1902, with about fourty men employed, including those in the mines.   The first bullion from the mill netted $5,000 after it was shipped to the gold mint in Denver.

            The tramway was not completed before the mill started production, and the ore was probably hauled to the mill by wagons.  By the time the mill shut down for the season in November, the tram was in place, but didn't operate properly.  It was supposed to run by gravity, with  the weight of the loaded ore buckets pulling the empty ones up.  The Meadows Eagle announced,  "The Salzer-Ford company has been compelled to assist their gravity aerial bucket tramway with water power.  The long span across Black lake seems to be too much for the gravity system."

            The next year (1903), the operation was really rolling, with sixty men employed.  After the first eight days of operation in March, the mill yielded forty pounds of gold.  This was in stark contrast to the copper mining part of the district, which was suffering a depressing lull.. 

            Robert Barbour, the famous moonshiner, was the first Postmaster at the post office that was established at Black Lake on September 18 of that year.  (Barbour was succeeded by John Nelson, a cook, who held the position until the post office was discontinued in October of 1907.)

            By October, the Black Lake mines had produced $75,000 in gold.  But the year was to end on a very sour note.  It started when a shortcut was taken in processing the ore.  The wet ore was initially put through a drier before it was crushed.  It was discovered that the ore didn't need to be dried to process properly, so the mill shut down, and a conveyor belt was built to bypass the drier.  After this was done, the mill processed wet ore for one afternoon, and then shut down.

            The next morning was October 31 - Halloween.  At 5:30 AM, the men awoke to someone yelling, "FIRE!".  Smoke and flames were pouring out of the mill.  A mad dash by all hands was made for water hoses.  Careful plans had been laid for just such an emergency, even to the extent of placing the water hydrants inside the mill so that they would not be frozen in case of a fire during cold weather.  The only problem was, the fire was also inside the mill,  and it was too hot for anyone to enter.  By despirate work, the men managed to save the bunk houses, stores and sawmill that were only a few yards away, but in a matter of minutes, the mill was little more than ashes.

            It was thought that the most probable cause of the fire was spontaneous combustion caused by damp ore mixed with lime.   But there was a rumor that someone nursing a grudge against the Fords had set it.    Thomas Nelson, editor, the Cambridge Citizen newspaper had his own explanation.  He said, "There has always been an unseen force holding back all kinds of progress in the Seven Devils, which may in a measure account for the burning of the Ford mill."

            Regardless of the origin of the fire, operations at Black Lake came to a grinding halt.  Since the first snow would fall any day, it was too late in the year to rebuild, and the camp was abandoned for the winter.

            The Black Lake mill was only insured for $20,000 - just one fifth of what it had cost to build.  In spite of their losses, the Ford brothers were not defeated, and immediately started making plans to rebuild.

            More next week.

 

 

 

11-8-96

            Construction on a new mill at Black Lake started in the summer of  1904, and took only ninety days to complete.  In the process, a water-powered electrical plant was installed and all the buildings were wired for electric lights. This time some fire hydrants were placed outside of the buildings.

            By early fall, the mill jumped into full production, processing 75 tons of ore per day - a 50% increase over the capacity of the old mill.

            It must have seemed that editor Nelson. might have been right about an "unseen force" haunting mining efforts the Seven Devils when misfortune soon struck again.  Only $25,000 in gold had been produced before a worker accidentally dropped a sledge hammer into the ore crusher, badly damaging it.  Again, the entire operation was shut down.

            While repairs were being made to the crusher, another blow came.  Nick Klosaner's saloon and Bob Barbour's store (probably containing the post office) were totally destroyed by fire.

            Still undaunted, the Fords forged ahead.  They invested in an unusual luxury in those days: an air-driven drill.  Drills were used, as they are now, to drill holes in which to place explosives.  The usual method at the time was the old-fashioned way.  A steel rod with a star-shaped tip on the drilling end was held by one man and driven by another with a sledge hammer.

            In spite of all the confidence, in spite of the years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, the Black Lake mines began to struggle.  In 1906, less than $10,000 worth of gold was produced.  By 1909, no gold at all was reported.

            In 1911, Ed Ford turned his attention back to a project that he had started years before.  In 1905, he had found a place along Crane Creek, south of Indian Valley, where he thought a reservoir should be made.  He worked on plans for the reservoir for several years.  The dam must have been built shortly after1911.  If anybody knows just when it was built, please let me know.

            The final blow to the mines at Black Lake came with the outbreak of World War I in Europe.  Germany was the primary source of the cyanide that was so vital to processing gold ore, and the Germans had other plans for their cyanide than exporting it to potential enemies like the United States.  The price of the chemical shot up beyond reason.  The mill was shut down for the last time in 1914, but a small crew kept working the mines.

            In the spring of 1916, Sim Ford was making plans to work the mines another season.  Before he could put his plans into action, all of his supplies burned when a good share of the town of  Landore went up in flames.  Also about that time, the remaining Salzer brother died, apparently without designating ownership of his share of his Black Lake interests.  Rather than try to overcome these obstacles, the mines and the mill were abandoned.  In some unexplained way, the Ford's and Salzer's Idaho Gold Coin Mining and Milling Company ceased to exist.  As a result, there was no legal owner willing to take responsibility for all the equipment at the lake.  It was simply left there.

       It has been estimated that a total of only about $125,000 in gold was taken out of the mines at Black Lake by the Salzer - Ford partnership.  This would have done little more than pay for just one of the mills they built.  Winifred Lindsay, on the other hand, said that the company ended without any debt

            By 1919, geologists, Livingston and Laney noted that most of the supplies and equipment at Black Lake had already ". . . been stolen or wantonly destroyed."

            My father, Dick Fisk, remembers seeing the mill in the 1930s.  He said there were hundreds of feet of new rope, cable and eight-inch pipe still there.  There were scores of tin cans full of food, but with the labels rotted off, stacked in store rooms.  The story of Alva Ingram hauling out lengths of pipe about this time is a classic illustration of what happened to much of the abandoned property.

            More next week.

 

 

11-15-96

            The abandoned property at Black Lake was eventually sold off by Adams County for back taxes.  I believe the Forest Service owns much of the ground now.  Ironically, the mill that was built back after the disastrous fire of 1903 was intentionally burned again during World War Two.  This was done to salvage the scrap iron in it for the war effort.

            Charlie Winkler claimed much of the tramway cable used at the Mesa Orchards came from the Black Lake tram.  And I've been told that Hugh Addington said the cable from the Mesa tramway was later used to build the first ski lift at Sun Valley.  If anyone has any more information on either of these stories, PLEASE tell me.

            Today, the Summit mine above the lake is still very visible.  The one remaining tunnel is about six feet tall and about that wide.  It goes back into the mountain about 75 yards or more.  There were two tunnels, and I assume this was the upper one.  It followed an ore vein that was 200 feet long and about two feet wide by 500 feet deep.  The lower tunnel was about 200 feet below the upper tunnel and went about 1,200 feet through rock, then about 1,000 feet on the ore vein.

            The old tram supports have all fallen down now.  Until a couple years ago, there was one standing on the edge of the cliff overlooking the lake.  There are also long lengths of cable and a few broken and twisted ore buckets on the hillside between the Summit tunnel and the cliff.  And there are still hundreds of rotting boards from the buildings that used to stand just back from the cliffs.   

            The Maid of Erin mine is also still very much in evidence.  As I mentioned, it's about 300 yards east of the outlet of the lake at the north end.  The base of a cabin still sits there, and there are a number of boards, peices of metal and a few bricks.  Both of the two tunnels there have collapsed.  The lower tunnel went about 800 feet into the mountain.  Where it collapsed, there are a couple of small openings to the surface where very cold air blows out like and air conditioner.  There has to be another opening for that air to circulate through like that.  It isn't coming through the upper tunnel because it's completely closed off.  It must be the vertical shaft.  More on that later.

            The quartz vein at the Maid of Erin was very narrow, varying in width from only a few inches, up to about three feet.  It is now exposed where the lower portal collapsed.  The quartz has a very pretty reddish purple color mixed in with a small amount of white.   

            The Maid of Erin was reworked in the late 1930s by a crew hired by Howard Hinsdale of Portland, Oregon his partner, a man named Higgins, who was also from that area..   Before it was reworked, the tunnel dead-ended at the 800 foot point mentioned above, and a shaft may have gone upwards for some distance from there.  A shaft of some kind may have gone completely to the surface, accounting for the strong draft that came through the mine even before it was reworked.  The reworking opened (or reopened) a shaft straight up, all the way to the top of the mountain.   Men climbed up the shaft on wooden ladders or hiked up the mountain to the top and then climbed down into the shaft on ladders.  There were landings and side tunnels (drifts) about every 50 to 100 feet along the shaft.  On the opposite side of the shaft from the ladders was an ore shoot leading to the tunnel below.  Ore was dumped into this chute to get it to ore cars which ran on tracks in the tunnel at the bottom.

            The ore was taken to the mill at Placer Basin for processing.  Alta Ingram used his 1 1/2 or two ton truck to haul it.  The road was in no better shape than it is today, and was very hard on tires. 

            Placer Basin was being reworked by Hinsdale and Higgins also, starting about 1934.  The claims were owned by the Hamill family of Fruitvale.  Gilbert and Nellie Hamill and their sons, Ray and Harold, moved here in 1910 when they bought 80 acres at foot of Fort Hall hill.   While Ray was working for the Forest Service in the 1930s, he became interested in Placer Basin.  The Hamills paid $10,000 for the property.  Before the mill was built, the ore was shipped to Murry, Utah for smelting.  The mine was closed in 1942 by Federal order because only strategic metal could be mined during the war.

            A "mucker" working for Hinsdale and Higgins was paid $4.50 per day.  They did all the least skilled work - shoveling ore into the cars, etc.  A "miner" was paid $5.00 per day.  They did all the pick work, drilling and blasting.  This was good money during the depression, especially when people were thankful for any kind of job. 

            I need to thank Lloyd Hamill, Robert Thompson, and especially Paul Phillips, for much of the information in this week's column.

 

11-22-96

             I found some information concerning Olaf Sorenson's grave.  When Eliza Sorenson Draper died in 1935, the paper said Olaf died in 1905 and "is buried in the Kesler Cemetery".  So maybe his body was moved off of the hill after all.  Just goes to show, once more, that the truth doesn't always make the best story. 

            Last year Robert Thompson sent me a list of some of the people he remembered working at Placer Basin and the "Smith Mountain Mill" in the 1930s.  I'm just gonna throw 'em in for those of you who remember these people.

            Owner - Howard Hinsdale of Portland, Oregon - also owner of Umpqua Navigation (tug boats, etc.) - later traded it for stock in Bohemia Lumber Co.

            Superintendent of mine - Carl Ingram.  Foreman and shift boss was his son, Walt Ingram.  Chet, his younger brother, was one of the miners.

            Cleve Reed was a blacksmith.  Mrs. Reed (Lulu) was head cook.  She was the mother of Frankie Ingram (a miner) - his wife, Mildred, worked in the cook house. 

            Harold Burns was the teamster.

            From Fruitvale:  Fred Glenn (ran hoist), Hub Fisk, Ray "Stub" Yantis, Fred Yantis, Bill Baker, Roy Benz, Clifford "Nip" McMahan, Robert Thompson

            From Council - Byron "Buff" Hallett, Floyd Gilmer, Bill Watson, Penny Emery, Ben Barbour, Cecil Huston and his uncle, Bill Huston, Dick Blurton, Merle Ball, Cecil Ball (who was killed in a cave in), Asa Whitney and sons, A.D., Floyd and Melvin Whitney - Chet Selby, Paul and Hank Phillips, Mr. Lee (older man) and two sons, Verne Lee (who was the diesel engineer and a good one) - the younger Lee brother's first name I can't recall, Emsley Glenn (who was killed by a falling tree - Earnest Lutiger was working with him in the woods cutting mine timbers), Max Boesigger was another diesel engineer from Boise (was captured on Wake Island in WWII), Ray (Roy?) Armacost, Kermit Krigbaum.

            From Oregon - Roy (Ray?) Rockwell, Ellis Allen, Carnahan (older man), Fred & Hank Titus, Fred Davis, Mary Gover (worked in cookhouse) Floyd Pollard, Ben South.

            Ray Lindgren, from Bear, was the step son of Jesse Smith.  Jesse's brother, Bill Smith, helped blacksmith, Cleve Reed.  Mrs. Smith worked in the cookhouse.

            From Troy, Idaho - Calvin Suksdorf and son Calvin, Tommy Gregg (don't know where he was from - was a cousin of Chet & Walt Ingram)

            Carl Anderson from Portland was a mining engineer.  His son, Johnny, worked there some also.  Fred Bartels worked with Carl Anderson.  He was from Cottage Grove, Oregon.  Owen Terry was another engineer.

            Alva Ingram did a lot of trucking up to the mine and mill (hauled cordwood from Landore that had been cut during WWI.)

            _?_ Phillips also worked for Bill Hunsacker at a small mine below Placer Basin.  It was located below the road on the last steep grade before the Basin.  I believe it was called the Little Giant. [Both Hank and Paul Phillips worked there at the Little Giant.  It was about 1/4 to 1/2 mile east of the main road.  The road to it left the main road just at the foot of the steep grade before Placer Basin.  Bill Hunsacker built a cabin there about 100 yard before the turn off to the mine on the west side of the main road.]

            Roy Garrison also worked some at Placer Basin.  Also Harry Raines.

            Museum notes -  We are planning an exhibit that we need help with.  There are some items that we would like to see if someone would donate to the museum, or loan for a minimum of two years.   For a pioneer house exhibit we need the following items, made before 1900, or copied from a pre-1900 pattern: a half-size (or small) bed, a hoosier (semi-portable kitchen cabinet), a kerosene lamp, an old fashioned apron (maybe someone could make one?), and a trunk.  If you have any of these, or have other things that would fit into this exhibit, please call Connie Mocaby at 253-4408

            Also, we still need help at the museum.  We're usually there on Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to about 4:00 PM.  Our goal now is to have it open this spring.  We're going to need volunteers to man the place.

 

12-13-96

            Like many of the mines in the Seven Devils district, the Iron Springs mining operation lost money for virtually everyone involved with it.  Whether it was simply an elaborate scam, as many claimed, is not clear.  But in its several years of operation it is said that not one shipment of ore ever left Iron Springs.

            The story of Rankin Mill parallels that of Iron Springs.  Both camps were being developed at about the same time, and eventually had the same owners.

            Not long after the Ford brothers built the road to Black Lake in 1900, H.D. Rankin appeared on the scene.  Rankin, a chemist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had invented a machine that could make nitric acid by combining the molecules of air and water by means of an electrical charge.  Nitric acid was used in a leeching process to extract gold from gold bearing ore, and Rankin's main objective would seem not to have been to make his fortune by merely mining gold.  He was an ambitious business man, and the principle stockholder in the Rankin Chemical Reduction Company based in Chicago, which reportedly had assets worth about $10 million.  If he could find a place to prove that his nitric acid making device would be a practical part of gold mining operations, he could revolutionize the industry.  Then, as became a familiar theme in the Seven Devils, he could find his pot of gold in the pockets of investors in his company stock rather than in the ground.

            Rankin agreed to buy several mines on the West Fork of Rapid River, about 6 miles north of Iron Springs, from Tom, George, and Jim Potter, and Jim Ross.  The Star, Jackley and Champion mines were the principle claims.   When the Iron Springs Company built a road into its claims in 1902 Rankin built a road from his holdings to connect with it.

            Rankin's operation in the Seven Devils was called the Rankin General Milling Company.  At a cost of $50,000, he built an ore mill, a nitric acid "factory" and a hydroelectric plant to power them

 and provide lighting.  Rankin was evidently in such a hurry to get his operation going that he had some of the equipment brought into this remote location in the dead of winter.  The Cambridge newspaper for Jan 9, 1903 reported that the Rankin Mill machinery had made it as far as Black Lake. The paper said the job had taken fifty horses to get it through snow up to fifty feet deep.

            About a quarter mile up stream from the mill, a small community sprang up where about 55 Rankin employees lived.   The little town was named "Rand", evidently after a man by that name.  A post office under that name was established in the fall of 1903.  Ruth Lake (about 2 miles south of Rankin Mill) was named after Mr. Rand's daughter, Ruth Rand, who was the first child born in the town.  A Forest Service sign identifies the site as "Old Town", but it was not known by that name during its active existence.  Not much is known about the town, except that it also had a hotel and a blacksmith shop.  The community

eceived its mail by way of Pollock, and supplies often came by pack train from Grangeville.

            More next week.

            We're still making progress a little at a time at the museum.  We got calls on several of the items we needed for the house exhibit.  Now we would like to get an old fashioned house dress that is small enough to fit on a mannequin.  It needs to fit into the 1900, or before, time slot.  We may also need shoes for that mannequin.  Some of you who made, or have, clothes from the Centennial might think about what you have that you could loan or donate. 

            Another thing we need is old fashioned windows and doors with windows to put into the walls of several planned exhibits, like a sheriff's office, doctor's office and dentist's office.   These should fit into a 1900 to 1930 time frame (or maybe a little later).   They don't necessarily have to have glass in them, as we can replace it.  An old screen door might even work if it's one that we can put glass or Plexiglas into.  The idea is to place these so that the exhibit can be viewed through them, but the items will be protected from handling, etc.  If you ever get a chance to visit the Idaho Falls museum, they have a fantastic little town set up on the lower floor.  We can't hope to match that, at least not yet, but that's the general idea that we are shooting for with these exhibits.  The sheriff's office is the one that excites me the most because we have so many things that Bill Winkler used when he was sheriff.

            Two other items we will need:  Any track lights, track light components, or similar, small spot-type lights.  Old-fashioned wall paper for the rooms mentioned above.

            Oh, there is one other thing we could really use: HELP.  We are usually at the museum on Tuesdays starting at 10 AM.  Drop in to help, or just see what we're doing.

 

12-20-96

            In September of 1903 the newspapers reported, "These facts have been made evident by a short test run made at the Rankin mill on Rapid river Monday evening, when, in the absence of a lot of necessary machinery, 50 pounds of nitric acid, the main reducing agent, sufficient to reduce 2 1/2 tons of ore, was manufactured from the air we breathe, in one hour and fifteen minutes, and the fact was also demonstrated that ore can be reduced at a cost of less than two mills per pound."  "The success of the Rankin process will make it possible for every mine of any value to be worked at a profit.  The mine owner can do the work himself if necessary and will not need more than a week's grub stake to start in with."  In January of 1904, the Weiser Signal claimed that Rankin had produced 500 pounds of Nitric acid in only thirty minutes.

            As so often was the case in the Seven Devils, much of the acclaim about the success of Rankin's process was exaggeration or outright falsehood.  Much of the hyperbole was  no doubt supplied to the newspapers by Rankin himself.  For one thing, the equipment needed was not simple or cheap.  Just the ditch and flume to bring water power to the machinery at Rankin's mill was over a mile long and must have cost more than "a week's grub stake". 

            Only a month after the Signal's fantastic claims about how much nitric acid Rankin was producing, it reported that the power the electric plant could generate was insufficient to run all of his equipment.  Rankin had enough power for his acid factory and lighting, but not enough for the ore mill.  This, however, may have only been what Rankin told the paper in trying to save face and the faith of investors in his invention.  It is probable that he didn't have enough voltage to make nitric acid all along.  Nitric acid (HNO/3) is composed of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.  Hydrogen makes up 11.1% of water, and is easily combined with oxygen, which composes 21% of earth's atmosphere.  Nitrogen, on the other hand is much harder to extract from the air.  Even though it makes up 78% of our atmosphere, it takes a very powerful surge of electricity, such as a lightening bolt, to link together the oxygen and nitrogen as Rankin was trying to do.

            The problems with his nitric acid mill were not the only clouds in Rankin's sky.  He still hadn't paid for the claims he had taken over.  By early 1904, the Potter brothers were tired of waiting for their money.  They locked up the Star mine which was only about 50 yards above the mill, stood at the mine entrance with rifles, and would not let Rankin's employees remove any ore.  (James Potter claimed the whole story was false.)  The confrontation wound up in court, and the Potters and their partner Jim Ross won the case.  Apparently this was too much for Rankin.  In the summer of 1904, the post office closed and everything was abandoned.   It is said that Rankin walked out of Rapid River with nothing but the clothes on his back.  But Rankin was not totally defeated.  It was later reported that he had a large nitric acid making plant in Joliet, Illinois, and was planning one at Salt Lake City.

            In 1905, the Iron Springs Company bought out the Rankin Mill properties.  The ore mill was converted into a more traditional cyanide plant.

            When the Iron Springs company went under the camp was again abandoned.   The wagon road to Rankin Mill soon deteriorated, as there was no reason to maintain it.  Because the area was so remote the buildings and equipment at Rankin's diggings were left mostly undisturbed.  As late as the early 1950s several of the buildings were still standing.  The last I heard there were rotting ruins of many of the buildings, in addition to the heavy machinery of the mill.  An ore car may  still sit on a section of rail that ran from the mill to the portal of the old Star mine. At the site of the blacksmith shop, remains of the hearth, old wagon parts, and the metal frame of the bellows may still be there.

            Museum notes.  Toward the end of the year, people think about ways they can allocate money for the best tax advantage before January first.  Remember that Idaho has a 50% tax credit for donations to educational institutions like your museum.  The maximum total you can donate and get a tax credit is $100.  The 50% credit means you get half the amount you donated taken off of what you owe the state in taxes.  The State is actually giving half  your money back to encourage you to donate.  For those of you who would like to help the museum, but don't have time, or live too far away, this would be a great way to help out.

            The museum would like to thank Stan Matthews for loaning the museum some great items for exhibits.  I'll be writing more about what we need.  One of our biggest concerns is the need for volunteers to man the museum next summer.  Please think about how you could help in that way, by either volunteering or by helping to find people who will.  Bear in mind the idea that your club or organization could help in this way.

            Since this is the last issue of the paper before Christmas, I hope you all have a great one.  If you gather around the old photo albums, how about doing your family a big favor: write on the pictures who is who, and other information, before that knowledge is lost.

 

12-27-96

            Two of the first things people notice when they drive trough Council are the old steam-powered tractors sitting in the city park.  This type of machine was originally called a "steam traction engine".  I don't know just exactly when traction engines started being used in the Council area.  Stationary steam engines were used for a long time at places like the Seven Devils, but I don't think these tractors appeared until at least some time after 1900.

            The first portable steam engines appeared in the eastern U.S. about 1855, and were used only for plowing fields.  Because it took time for a suitable steering mechanism to be developed, they did not come into common use until the late 1870s.  The first mention of a steam tractor that I have found in this general area was in the Weiser Signal in 1905.  In the Council area the Wilkie family, on Hornet Creek, were some of the first people to use steam tractors.  They used traction engines to build the Ridge Road about 1909, and the road was even called the "Traction Engine Road" for awhile.  I have no doubt that Traction Gulch, which is a tributary of North Hornet Creek, is so named because the road either came up it or near it.

            The most common use of traction engines here seems to have been to power threshing machines and sawmills.  The Wilkies used their engines to power several sawmills and planing mills that operated all over this area.  Prior to these portable steam engines, sawmills were limited to locations where water power was available, such as at the original Wilkie mill sight near the Hornet Guard Station.

            Old newspapers mention threshers operated by Jackie Duree, the Winklers, and Press Anderson before the turn of the century.  These may have been big combine-like machines that were pulled through the fields by huge teams of horses.  I don't know just when people started using steam engines to power stationary threshers, but it was common by the 1920s.

            Many of the farmers would get together and use the few available threshers.  Pug Robertson of Bear, and Jim Henson of Pleasant Ridge were two men in this area that traveled around at harvest time, pulling a thresher from farm to farm behind their steam traction engines.  Looking at the photos we have, Pug's steam engine appears to have been made by the Rumely Products Co.  This engine probably weighed about 10 tons, and had 20 horse power at the draw bar.  (Not very powerful compared to modern tractors.) 

            Threshers were also manufactured by many of the same companies who built steam engines.  Pug's thresher looks very much like an "Agitator" model, made by J.I. Case before 1900.  These old-time threshers used the "vibration" or "shaker" principle to separate the grain from the straw.  This method was put to use in the 1850's, and the basic technology is still used in most modern combine harvesters.

            One aspect of operating these old engines is one that is seldom seen anymore.  That is the use of a belt, run from the engine to the machinery to be powered.  (If I get something wrong here, some of you older and wiser readers please call me and set me straight.)

            It wasn't that long ago that most tractors came equipped with a large, flat-surfaced pulley to run a belt.  One end of the belt went around the pulley on the tractor (or steam engine) and the other end went around a similar pulley on the thresher or other machine to be powered.  Although I will be writing in past tense, I realize that some farmers and ranchers are still using some belt-powered equipment.

            One thing that always intrigued me was that the pulley was sometimes shaped the opposite way that it seemed it should be: bigger around in the middle than on the edges.  This made the belt grip harder in the middle, and that caused the belt to center on the pulley.  At least that was how it was supposed to work.  It took some maneuvering of the tractor to line up its pulley just right with the machine's pulley.

            The belts varied in width from three or four inches for smaller jobs, and up to about eight to ten inches wide to run a large machine.  Sometimes the belts were very long, with the engine and machine being ten, twenty, or even more feet from each other.  Depending on the desired direction of rotation of the machine's pulley, the belt was sometimes given a half turn between the engine and the machine, giving it the appearance of a figure eight.

            The belts were made of a fiber that was impregnated with a rubber type substance.  The ends were laced together with leather strings, or with special clamp that looked like a row of connected staples.  To get the belt to grip better, "belt dressing" was applied to it.  Belt dressing was a sticky substance with the consistency something like tar.  It's too bad that smells can't be written down or recorded.  The smell of a hot belt and belt dressing is pretty unique.

            Needless to say, this kind of belt hook up was not something you wanted to be careless around.  A loose flap of clothing or a hand could get caught between the belt and pulley, and you could get badly hurt or killed.

            More next week.

 

1-3-97

            With stationary threshers, the grain had to be cut, bundled and tied into sheaves, and hauled to the thresher.  The sheaves were thrown into a feeder opening.  The cleaned grain came out a chute and into a sack.  Each sack was sewn closed by hand, with string and a special needle which was usually about 3 to 5 inches long.  Sack sewers became very skillful, and took pride in the speed and quality of their work.  The straw and chaff came out of the thresher through a long pipe or conveyer, making a big pile on the ground.

            Great care had to be taken that sparks from the steam engine's smoke stack didn't land on the straw pile, as it was extremely flammable.  The loss of the straw and chaff would not be the real problem; the grain field could turn into a raging inferno in a matter of seconds.  The very flared smoke stack on the Case engine in the park. was designed to reduce the number of hot sparks that made it out the stack.

            In addition to the crew directly involved in threshing the grain, it sometimes took two or more men to operate the steam engine, including hauling wood (or coal), and water.  One of the motivations toward the development of gas powered tractors, aside from reduced fire danger, was to reduce the number of men needed to run a threshing operation.

            The Case engine in the park is a 20 horse power model, patented in 1899.  This may be the one that the Wilkies bought and took to their operations on Hornet Creek in the summer of 1910.  It is said that this engine was used by Jim Hensen to power the thresher that he operated on the Ridge and the Fruitvale area.  It may also have been used for plowing in that area.  

            In later years, Lawrence Warner used this engine to power a sawmill near Bear.  After Warner was done with it, Hugh Addington and Merlin Naser bought it.  They also acquired an engine, made by the Advance Thresher Company, that they found abandoned at Placer Basin.  The two men did extensive repairs on this second engine to get it running.  Both engines were driven to Council under their own power.  The bars, or lugs, that were originally bolted onto the rear wheels to provide traction were removed so they wouldn't damage the roads on the trip to Council .

            As Merlin was driving the Wilkie engine to town, he oversteered and it tipped over on its side in the Summit Creek draw between the Kramer summit and the North Hornet summit.  Both the engine and Merlin were unhurt in the accident.  The engine was left there until the next spring, when they got a logging truck to stop and help tip the engine back upright.  Merlin and Hugh drove the engines in parades for several years.  After Naser died, Addington parked them in the park in the center of Council where they remain today.  Merlin Naser's son, Delbert, donated his interest in the Advance engine to the town of Council.  It is my understanding that Hugh Addington's son, Bruce still has the other percentage of ownership.   

            The Advance Thresher Company (est. 1881), was bought by the Rumely Co. in 1911.  The engine in the park is probably a 12 to 16 horse power tractor.  As with most other steam engine manufacturers, the Advance Company also made threshers.   

            The rear wheels of Advance engines were generally placed farther forward than most.  Most traction engine builders reasoned that the rear wheels should have all the weight possible on them.  The Advance company, however, claimed that the most favorable footing for the drive-wheels was where the engine would have sufficient power to barely slip the wheels.  They reasoned that any additional weight on the drive-wheels would serve no good purpose, and would bog the engine down in soft ground.  By transferring the excess of weight from the drive to the front wheels, a better steering engine resulted.

            It's pretty hard to notice the wheel placement at the moment, since a mountain of snow has been piled on the poor old engine.

            Just as an interesting side note, Hugh Addington's father, Bud, tried to sell steam-powered cars when he owned the Addington Auto Company in what is now the "Ace" building, just across the street to the east of the old steam engines.  An ad in the Adams County Leader, Dec 31, 1920, said that these Baker Steamer autos and trucks ran on any oil type fuel.  This made them less expensive to operate, plus the vehicles got 20 to 30 miles per gallon.   Water was condensed after becoming steam, and then reused.  The ad said that there were fewer moving parts than in a gas engine, they lasted longer, and needed fewer repairs.  The ad said that these vehicles would be the "wave of the future". 

 

1-10-97

            By this time guess most of you realize that the flooding we just went through is a pretty historic event.  I haven't heard of a living person who remembers anything this bad along the Weiser River.  It reminded me of stories of 1890.  I already wrote about this in one of my columns, but it seems appropriate to look it over again since it is so similar to our current situation.

            By 1888 it had been twelve years since the first family ,the Mosers, had arrived, and there were quite a number of homesteads in and around the Council Valley.  The community was in its infancy.  Here are some of the things that occurred that summer:

            John Peters established the first store here, and the makings of a town were starting to form around it about a mile north of the present town.  Calvin White established the first store in the Meadows Valley.  Ten bridges were built over the Weiser River between Council and Price Valley.  (Before that it was necessary to ford the river a couple dozen times to make that trip.)  The first wagon load of copper ore was taken out of the Seven Devils.

            The winter of 1888 - '89 was very mild, with little snow.  By the following summer, a severe drought had set in.  The Weiser River was lower than anyone could remember, and the water was warm.  The Snake River was so low at Weiser that a man was able to drive a wagon across it, and the water barely came up past the axles.  In a time when many, if not most, people's livelihoods depended on growing crops or a big garden a drought like this one was very serious.

            Idaho was only a territory then.  That November the vote was taken to determine whether it would become a state.  Council Valley people voted 30 to 28 against it.  (The rest of the Territory was in favor, and the State was admitted to the Union the next summer.)

            By the fall of 1889, people were literally praying for rain or snow.  That winter, their prayers were answered ... and answered ... and answered.  Snow fell early, and kept coming.   By January, there was four feet in Middle Valley (Midvale).   Mail carriers had trouble getting through the canyon between Council and Meadows, and thirty feet of snow was reported at Warren.  For some reason, the precipitation was not consistent throughout the region.  In some places, like Bear and Cuprum, the snow level was at, or even below, normal.

            On the first day of February, the snow had settled to three or four feet deep in the Council Valley.  That was the day it started raining. 

            You may realize that if we had had ice in the rivers this year, the flooding would have been even worse in places.  In 1890 thick layers of ice broke up and formed huge jams all along the Snake and Weiser Rivers.  Angry chocolate torrents hurled headlong over riverbanks, destroying everything in their path.  Horses, cattle, sheep and buildings were swept away like specks of dust in a windstorm.  On Hornet Creek alone 88 head of cattle and horses were drowned.  Mud and rock slides wiped out wagon roads and railroads.  Every one of the new bridges over the Weiser River between Council and Meadows was utterly obliterated.   Transportation all over the region was at a complete standstill.

            On the first of February there had been three to four feet of snow in the Council Valley.  By the end of the month there was so much bare ground that some ranchers turned their cattle out to graze.

            This flooding sounds even worse than what we just had.  Of course in those days life was much different than it is now.  First, there were far fewer people, buildings, etc. here to damage.  The roads were nothing more than dirt wagon trails, and were a lot cheaper to repair.  All ten bridges up the canyon only cost $540 total to build.  (Of course that would be something like $40,000 in today's money.)  It would have been a lot of work to repair a washed out place in a road though because they had no machinery - just horse and man power.   Nobody had electricity, so nobody missed it -  same for TV, telephone or radio.  Everybody had wood stoves for heat and cooking.  Nobody was used to getting into a vehicle and getting to Weiser in an hour.  It took two days with a wagon when the roads were in good shape.  And nobody dreamed anyone would ever fly anywhere.

            I started to write that there was no railroad closer than Weiser to wash out.  It's pretty ironic that were basically back to the same situation on that score.

            I tried to get out and videotape the flooding in the area, but I could only make it a couple hundred yards from home, except up West Fork.  What I would like to do is compile a video of the flooding by getting some of the footage that other people took.  Still photos would work nicely too.  If it comes together, I'll put a copy in the library.  If you would like to contribute to this video give me a call or drop tapes or photos off at the library.  Hopefully this won't happen again in our lifetimes, and we need to get a record of it.

 

1-17-97

 

            Researching and writing history can be tricky.  I try very hard to be accurate and factual in my writing, and yet I know that some of what I write is untrue.  All the information I get came from a human being in one way or another.  All history is someone's version of what happened.  Often the stories I write were filtered through the viewpoint of several people.  For example, much of my historical information comes from old Salubria, Cambridge, Weiser and Council newspapers.  What was written in them was usually related to the editor by someone else.  If he was lucky it was eye witness; if not he got the story from someone who heard it from a first-hand observer.  The editor wrote his understanding of the story, and then I write my understanding of his story and put it into the context of my knowledge and understanding of the bigger picture.  So you can see that there is oportunity for misinformation to creep in.

            Even if you get the facts right, there is the interpretation to worry about.  Historian, Shelby Foote, once said, "Facts are just the bare bones out of which truth is made."   Last week I mentioned that the citizens of Council Valley voted 30 to 28 against statehood in 1889.  Then I said, "The rest of the Territory was in favor, and the State was admitted to the Union the next summer."  A friend of mine took that to mean that every other part of the territory, except Council Valley, voted for statehood.   Of course I knew what I meant, but I didn't word it carefully enough.  I should have said something like, "A majority of the voters in the rest of the territory as a whole voted in favor, . . ."  It makes we wonder how many times I've miss-worded something, or how many times I've misinterpreted what someone else wrote and then passed it on.

            Sometimes people see the same event differently, and there is more than one version of the same story.  If the originators of both versions are convinced they have the one and only true account, it gets a little perplexing. 

            And even hindsight changes with time.  It's been said that what is told as history not only tells us about the past, but tells us much about the time in which it was told.  Current conditions and social attitudes influence the viewpoint of any historian.  Writers interpret events in a way that fits with their own sense of values and the cultural attitude of their audience (readers).

            For instance in the last century writers didn't have any reservations about denigrating people who were different from the "norm" in any way.  Newspapers openly printed slanderous statements about blacks, Chinese, Japanese, Mormons, American Indians, and even ethnic groups that we don't think of as minorities anymore.

            One thing that became obvious early in my research was that people will often choose to pass on an exciting fictional story over a not-so-exciting true account.  This has led to a number of  inaccurate, local myths.  I was bemoaning this fact to Frank Anderson one day a few years ago.  He just grinned and said, "A lie well told and stuck to is better than the truth."   That must have been the attitude of  "Pinky" Baird.  His story illustrates both changes in cultural attitudes and the fact that people will sometimes just lie.

            Ewing Craig Baird, nicknamed "Pinky", was an old-time Indian fighter who lived in Council.  The story of his childhood says that Indians killed several members of his family, and that this resulted in Baird having a life-long hatred of Indians.   There is a pair of Indian moccasins in the Council museum that he gave to Bill Winkler.  Baird told Winkler that the moccasins had belonged to local Shoshoni chief, Eagle Eye.  According to Baird the last time he saw Eagle Eye alive was when the chief was standing in a stream getting a drink.  Baird said that the Indian jumped in the air and fell dead, and that's how he got the moccasins.  In other words this was Baird's way of bragging that he had killed Eagle Eye.  Today we would call it cold-blooded murder.  In those days, Baird was looked up to for eliminating a "bloodthirsty savage". 

            As to the truth of the story, Eagle Eye actually died of natural causes.  Baird claimed to have killed more than one Indian in this area, so he may have murdered an Indian he thought was Eagle Eye.  By the way Eagle Eye was known, by informed people, as more of a peace maker than a warrior.  Less knowledgeable people thoughtlessly classified him, along with all Indians, as a savage killer.

            The museum still needs someone to donate a door.  We would like one that is fairly old-fashioned with a large window in the upper half.  It doesn't matter if it is a single pane of glass or several smaller ones.  If it doesn't have glass in it we can replace it.  The window area needs to be large enough that part of a room exhibit can be easily viewed through it.            If you have one you can part with, please give me a call.  253-4582

            Also, some of us who are working on the video about the railroad would like to borrow any photos, videos or home movies you have of local trains or anything to do with the railroad.  Give me a call if you can share any.

 

1-24-97

 

            This week I'm going to start basing a series of columns on a really priceless manuscript that Edna Johnson let me copy.  It is basically an autobiography written by Ida Logan Hitt.  She was the wife of A.F. Hitt, the man after whom Hitt Mountain, near Cambridge, is named.  It was written in the late 1930s when she was in her late 70s.  She died at the age of 81 in 1939 at Portland.

            Ida's mother was Lavina Anderson who married David Logan.  When Logan died, she remarried Tom Price in 1884.   Tom Price is who Price Valley is named for.  Lavina's brothers, John and Rufus Anderson, were well known Indian Valley pioneers.

            Ida had distinct memories of coming west in a wagon train in 1868.  The 1860s was the worst decade of violence between whites and Indians in American history.  One story in particular illustrates how afraid of Indians people sometimes were.  One morning the group saw what they thought were Indians coming from a defile in the Black Hills. 

            "They came single file, and seemed to be coming directly to our camp.  There being only one man and two pistols, one of the guns was offered to the man.  He refused it, ran and crawled under the bed, wrapping a buffalo robe around him, also covering up his head and face.  My mother took the discarded weapon, determined to do what she could to defend her children.  Another woman having the other, they were ready to die fighting.  The Indians kept coming until at least 300 warriors were in sight, a formidable array for two women with revolvers to fight.  Other women armed themselves with axes, butcher knives and clubs; one had a broom.  I was 9 years old and remember this vividly. In the excitement they failed to notice that the hostile band was passing by the camp some hundred yards away.  All at once the procession stopped and the Indians turned their faces directly toward us.  Oh what joy!  They were antelope.  After staring a moment, away they ran.  My mother dropped the pistol and sat down on the floor of the tent.  Most of the women began to cry.  For my part, I could not understand why they cried when they found there was not danger."

            It's beyond me why they would have been traveling in such a small group, and were so poorly armed.  Apparently Ida's father wasn't with the family because he had been drafted into the army.  There are places in this manuscript that are very vague, or where things are left out.

            The Logans had planned to go on to Oregon, but decided to stay at Weiser when they found a relative living there.  Soon they moved on to Middle Valley (Midvale).

            In those days hogs were a common animal to raise - both for sale and home consumption.  Council's first family, the Mosers, sometimes drove large herds of hogs to the Boise Basin to sell them to the miners there.  Ida wrote of her family's experiences: "As the spring advanced the hogs were turned out to forage, but were fed a little wheat in the evening so they would come to their covered log pen.  It was the fear of bear that made such a pen necessary.  One night a bear came.  We heard the pig squeal, but when the men arrived with their guns the bear was gone, taking a nice young shoat along.  He had coolly pulled four logs off, seized the pig and was gone.  It showed it was a large bear, perhaps a grizzly; his footprint was enormous."

              It was quite common during the early settlement of the valleys along the Weiser River for farmers to have problems with bears killing livestock; especially pigs.  In 1882, George Moser and some other men pursued a bear that had been killing Moser's pigs.  After the dogs cornered the bear, it attacked Moser, badly wounding him by tearing away chunks of flesh from his legs.  Moser recovered, but the wounds bothered him the rest of his life.

            Some reports say that the bear that attacked Moser was a grizzly, but this has not been confirmed.  (The museum has a few claws that are said to be from this bear, and they do look like grizzly claws.)  Early reports of bear incidents were not usually clear as to the species of the bear.  People in those days seemed very inclined to exaggerate and overdramatize just about any aspect of life, so some stories about grizzly bears probably really involved black bears.  There probably were, however, a few grizzlies in the Council area.  The abundant salmon in the Weiser River would have been an ideal food source for them. 

            A  grizzly was said to have been killing livestock near Alpine in 1874.  This animal reportedly weighed over 600 pounds and had a ten inch long track.  In 1896, Gilbert Smith, the State Senator from Meadows, killed a bear that reportedly measured 9 1/2 feet from tip of nose to end of tail.

            More next week.

 

1-31-97

History Corner

by Dale Fisk

            Continuing from Ida Hitt's autobiography:

            "There was no travel during the winter excepting the mail man coming by once a week.  Before spring we ran out of flour and had to grind wheat on the coffee mill for graham flour to make bread.  There was no chance to get any supplies until the roads could be traveled in the spring, as it was 150 miles to Boise, our nearest market.  We also ran out of butter; as everyone packed their butter in summer for winter, all the cows were dried up in the late fall, with no milk.  (We knew nothing about canned milk; think it hadn't as yet been invented.)"

            "When spring came Uncle John and John Sailing took up homesteads across the Weiser River, Making it 2 miles to their places.  No one planted anything but gardens, as the men could go to other valley's and work thru thrashing and get all the wheat they needed."

            "One day a man came and made a proposition to Ma & Pa that he furnish the cows and they milk and make butter for half of it.  It was soon arranged and the man brought the cows and their calves.  In those days it was not known to take the calf away from its mother and feed it milk.  There was plenty of range for the cows.  There were 15 of them, Father milked 7, Mary 5, and I three of the gentlest.  But alas, no more sleeping mornings until ready to get up.  At 5:30 we had to crawl out.  Many mornings it seemed I just couldn't, but up I had to get.  Besides all the fresh butter we could use, we had lots of cream and milk to use, also cottage cheese. Mother made quantities as it was good for the chickens too, also milk to feed the hogs.  The butter was worked over twice, then packed in wooden tubs made for that purpose, 50 lbs. in each.  Every one ate packed butter thru the winter and early spring, in fact until the last of May.  As the cows ate grass on the range they also ate wild onions that grew up as early as the grass, but by the last of May were withered and the seed blown away."

            About 1872 the Logan family moved to the Salubria Valley.   This is the valley in which Cambridge sits now.  Salubria was the only town there until the railroad came in 1899.  The town of Salubria was a little over a mile south east of present-day Cambridge.  Mary, Ida's older sister who was sixteen, married Frank Mickey in 1873.   "As Mr. Cuddy had moved to Cuddy Mtn., built a saw and flour mill, my sister's husband was among the foremost pioneers."

            "As soon as the law allowed, there was a son born to the Mickeys.  When the Nez Perce war broke out on the 20th of June 1877, they had 3 children, Irwin, Cora and Everet; the latter was not yet two.  In the meantime my Uncle John and Uncle Rufus had moved to Indian Valley; my mother also with us 3 children.  By this time I was getting along in years, was 19 years old.  In that time I had six proposals of marriage, but would have none of them until the handsome young Mr. Hitt came along, at least I thought him the handsomest man on this earth, or any other.  We were engaged for 2 years, as he had bought his partner out and had to pay it off before we could marry.  The Indian war changed that."

            Continued next week.

 

 

 

Articles from 2-1-97 thru this one (3-21-97) are about Ida Hitt and are straight out of my book. 

This is the end of 3-21:

            There are so many mistakes and distortions in Ida's version of this story that it would take a whole column to straighten them out.  More from Ida next week.

            I'm told that Dr. Gerber died in the summer of 1990.  She was born in September of 1889, so she was almost 101 years old.  We have the walls of "her" office finished in the museum.  (Actually, we have built a three-room complex with a sheriff's office, Dr. Gerber's office, and a medical office that will probably be Dr. Brown's office, more or less.)  What I would like is for people to give us quotes about Dr. Gerber that we can print and place in the exhibit.  My plan is to just put up the quote, not necessarily who said it, so don't be afraid to be honest.  If you can help us, please write down a very short statement about an experience with Dr. Gerber.  Here's an example of one I'd like to use: "I've gone to sleep in a lot of dentist's chairs, but I never went to sleep in hers."   Please either mail your quote to me at box 252, Council, or call me at 253-4582.  Even if you just have a story that we might be able to get a quote out of, give me a call.

            Another thing we would like to do is stuff a chicken to put in her office exhibit.  That may sound odd to someone who is unfamiliar with Dr. Gerber, but if she was just your average dentist do you think we would be making a whole exhibit in the museum around her?  It will be an interesting exhibit.  Anyway, we have a volunteer to do the stuffing, and think we think we may have someone willing to give us a chicken.  But if you have a chicken that you are willing to give to the cause, keep us in mind.  I'm told she raised Bantam chickens, among others.

            If anyone has some extra 7" stove pipe, we need a section about 3 feet long, an elbow, and a short piece, maybe about 6 inches long for the stove in Bill Winkler's sheriff's office.

            As always, we can still use help at the museum every Tuesday. 

 

3-28     Ida Hitt's memoirs continued.  It is 1878, after the Long Valley Massacre.

                        More next week.

4-3-97        This will conclude Ida Hitt's memoirs.  We pick up her story about 1884.

            The man Amos Hitt sold his sawmill to was Frederick Wilkie.  I found mention of the sale in an 1885 newspaper.  Wilkie operated it near the present site of the old Hornet Creek Guard Station.  It was one of the first sawmills to operate in the Council area.  Ida continues:

            Ida Hitt had nine children.  She wrote the manuscript that I have quoted from in the late 1930s.  He died in Portland, Oregon in 1939 at the age of 81.

            I hope that you have enjoyed reading Ida's writing.  I found it fascinating to read a first hand account of such dramatic events as the Nez Perce and Bannock Wars, and how they effected the people who lived in this area.  In some ways those times were not very long ago.  It's amazing how much things have changed.

            I also hope that this makes you realize how valuable your memoirs could be to your family someday.  If you recall, some time back I said that it would be a priceless gift to your descendants for you to write down the story of your life.  You may not have lived through such dramatic days as Ida Hitt, but things are always changing.  Someday it will even be interesting to hear about the first computers we had just a few years ago because they will seem so crude by future standards.  What am I saying?!  A computer more than three or four years old is already behind the times.  Anyway, if you haven't written anything down yet, there's no time like the present.

            I'm still looking for Dr. Gerber quotes to use.  I got a couple of good ones this week.

            In 1996, volunteers spent over 600 hours working on the museum.  That's the equivalent of one person working almost four months.  And that's not counting MANY hours some have spent at home working on museum projects.  Because of the legal requirements concerning the bidding process I don't feel I'm at liberty to say too much yet, but the museum addition is going to built this summer.  We are planning to follow the example of the Cambridge Museum, and open the "old" part of the museum (which will be almost totally new exhibits) on about May 15.  The plan is to have it open from 10 AM to 4 PM.  We will need volunteers to be at the museum for one of the two, three-hour shifts each day: 10:00 to 1:00 and 1:00 to 4:00. 

            I'm still very willing to take any pennies you may want to donate to the museum.  Another fund raiser that Connie Mocaby is organizing is a home tour in June.  She has several homes lined up but needs a few more.  If you have an interesting house in the Council area that people would enjoy seeing, please give Connie a call.

 

4-10-97            I ran across an old "Frontier Times" magazine from May 1977 that has an article by Charles Luck, a man who came through Council in 1902 on his way to the gold fields at Thunder Mountain.  Gold was discovered at Thunder Mountain in 1896 by the Caswell brothers.  They were friends with Arthur Huntley who owned a ranch just south of Cuprum where the Speropulos place is now.  The Caswells cut Huntley in on their discovery because he gave them a grubstaked of $50.  The gold deposits at Thunder Mountain turned out to be very big, and they all became rich. 

            By 1902 Thunder Mountain was big news, and a gold rush started to the area.  The railroad had reached Council the year before, and since this was the nearest rail point to Thunder Mountain hundreds of people came through here.

            Mr. Luck wrote:  "In May I joined the stream and assembled my outfit at Council, the railroad terminus on the west.  There we camped for a while and watched the crowds go by.  It was an outfitting station.  The traders in that little town made money."

            "As pack horses were an essential part of every outfit, every available horse was bought and then the boys scoured the hill for cayuses.  They drove them into corrals, wild eyed and with kinks in their tails.  They roped and threw them, put on a breaking bridle, slipped the blinder over their eyes, cinched on a pack saddle and sacks of sand and let them buck.  After two or three days of this they sold them to the Argonauts from the East for trustworthy pack horses.  And the Easterners bought greedily.  They knew a horse when they saw one.  It was an animal with four legs, one on each corner."

            In the midst of this scramble, wagon loads of building supplies were making their way to Arthur Huntley's ranch where he was constructing an extravagant, three-story mansion.

 

            Earl Wayland Bowman arrived in Council in 1902, and later gave a vivid description of the town:

            "Dirty?  My gracious!  There were pigs wallowing along the streets, beer kegs piled out by the half dozen saloons, trash and litter everywhere and dogs - dogs! Suffering saints, I never dreamed there could be so many in a place so small!"

            "Don't you remember the ricks of manure that lined the main street - the accumulation of God knows how many years from the old barn where the stage horses were kept?"

            "The Thunder Mountain rush was on, and everything was hurry and hustle and rustle.  Pack trains stood in front of Lowe & Peter's . . ." [This store was where Adams County Real Estate is now.]

            "Freight wagons and mountain outfits lined the streets and Haworth's, Weed & Criss', McMahan's were busy - busy loading them for the hungry rush to the Devils, the Big Creek country, Thunder Mountain, Warrens."  [Weed & Criss' store was where the Council Valley Market parking lot is now.  McMahan's was about where the public restrooms are, south of the park.]

            "There was money everywhere.  Things were moving and Lew Shaw's, Denny Ryan's, the Old Overland Bar - where Bob Braden mixed any sort you wanted - and all the other irrigation emporiums saved the populace from perishing on the arid desert of unquenched thirst!" [The Overland was where the Ace is now.]

 

            In spite of Bowman's mention of  freight wagons, etc. loading ". . . for the hungry rush to the Devils, . . ." the Seven Devils mining district was having a dismal year.   After the Thunder Mountain gold rush subsided somewhat, the nearness of the railroad helped revive the boom in the Devils.  As many as eighty wagons were eventually employed by the mines to haul ore.  They turned the road along Hornet Creek, and the streets of Council, into a river of dust as they rolled through town to unload heavy sacks of ore onto train cars at the east end of town.

            It was in 1902 that the first automobile that had ever passed through Council stopped a few minutes in the town square.  At this time cars were little more than a rich man's toy.  Most local people had never seen a car, and it drew quite a crowd. Lucy McMahan said that the car created as much excitement in Council as when Lindbergh later flew nonstop across the Atlantic.

 

4-17-97

Those of you who have only been taking the Adams County Leader were probably a little surprised last week to get a copy of the Record instead.  The merger of the Leader and the Record happened very quickly.

            For those of you who enjoy the History Corner, you won't be without it because of the merger.  It's hard to believe, but I have been writing this column for both papers for three years now.  I intend to continue writing it for the Adams County Record for as long as I can come up with a new subject each week.

            While looking for a subject to write about this week I ran across my notes on a colorful character who used to live here: Hannibal F. Johnson. 

            Johnson was a miner and poet, who acquired the title "Seven Devils Johnson" from the local residents.  Johnson, born in Indiana in 1830, came west looking for gold, and was in the Boise area in the early 1850's.  He later located a mining claim in the Seven Devils about 1884. 

            The first time that I know of that Johnson became a published poet was in the Weiser Leader, Sept 27, 1889.  A 24 verse poem by Johnson was printed in that edition of the paper, but his name was not even mentioned.  Credit for the poem was given simply to "a Seven Devils Miner".  A number of you have probably heard or read this well-known poem that begins:

            "I'm sitting on a mountain high

            With blood and thunder in my eye,

            For I've been trying for an hour

            To bake a cake with Cuddy flour.

            But damn the stuff, it will not rise.

            And that's why blood is in my eyes.

            It's not because the dough's not sour,

            For sour as hell is Cuddy's flour."

 

            Johnson wrote the poem as good-natured teasing of John Cuddy.  Cuddy was having trouble adjusting the burrs in his flour mill near Salubria, and they were not grinding the wheat properly.  The newspaper said of Johnson's poem: "We publish the same by request, believing it to be written in a good spirit toward Mr. Cuddy and that it is aimed as a farewell to his burr mill flour."   The editor went on to say that Cuddy had installed new milling equipment, and implied this should improve the quality of Cuddy's flour significantly.

            About a month later, in the Oct 25, 1889 issue, the paper printed another of Johnson's poems, "Farewell to Idaho".   Again, credit was given only to "A Seven Devil Miner".

            In 1892 Johnson ran for the office of Washington County Senator against T.C. Galloway, of Weiser.  During the campaign, Galloway called Johnson "Pine Tree Johnson", claiming that Johnson had real no home and lived under a pine tree. 

            By this time, Galloway had already become a living legend in this part of Idaho.  You may remember him being mentioned a couple of time in Ida Hitt's memoirs.  Galloway was a pioneer and pillar of the Weiser community, and led a group of volunteer militia during the Indian Wars of the 1870s.  A street in Weiser is named after him.  In spite of the fact that Johnson had to have been a relative unknown, Johnson won the election and served one term.

            More on Seven Devils Johnson next week.

 

4-24-97      In the early 1890's R.E. Lockwood, for whom Lockwood Saddle is named, was doing some mining in the Seven Devils.  He was staying at a camp in the head of Rapid River near the North Star mine.  One evening Hannibal "Seven Devils" Johnson visited the camp, and all of the men present became caught up in lofty discussions of philosophy and literature.  Lockwood later wrote that it was a "feast of reason and a flow of soul".  Johnson recited one of his poems for the group:

"Some sing of life in cities fair.

Some sing of homes in valleys green

Some sing of pleasures on the beach.

Where wealth and gayeties are seen.

But I will sing of grandest scenes

That ever met the human eye.

Of forests green, of crystal streams,

Of turrets reaching to the sky."

 

            Lockwood recalled, "There, with true nature in all her vastness and grandeur spread out beneath us, (we were at an altitude of about 8,000 feet) with the green forests stretching away for miles, with mountain 'turrets reaching to the  sky' above us, it was easy to appreciate the impulses which inspired the lines."  

            I'm not sure if Lockwood already knew Johnson at this time, or if this was their first meeting.  I'm also not sure if Lockwood was the editor of the Weiser Signal newspaper at the time that Johnson's poems were first printed in that paper.  He was the Signal editor around this time, and must have been associated with the paper when the campfire recitation occurred.  At any rate, Lockwood was so enthusiastic about Johnson's poems that he risked his own money in 1895 to publish a 125 page book of the poets works, entitled "Poems of Idaho".  The book sold for 50 cents.  I've never seen a copy of it, but I remember finding it listed awhile back as being in an Idaho library somewhere.  Many of Johnson's poems were about mining and life in the Seven Devils.

             Johnson apparently never married, and did a great deal of traveling from place to place around the country, pulling a two-wheeled cart.   He was a good natured man with a keen sense of humor, and seemed to be liked by almost everyone.

            In a time when doctors were few and far between, Johnson was in demand as an authority on home remedies.  His father was a doctor, and had built the first house in Carthage, Missouri, where Hannibal grew up and was educated.  He studied medicine with his father, but not liking the profession he abandoned it. 

            Since last week, I ran across some info that should have gone with Johnson's early history. He crossed the plains with his parents by covered wagon, coming to Eugene, Oregon in 1853.  He mined until the outbreak of the Rogue River Indian War when he became a soldier.  After his first term of enlistment he and five other soldiers were surrounded by 125 Indians.  One of the soldiers was killed, but the rest escaped.  In 1858 Johnson was part of the Frazier River gold rush.  In 1862 he came to Florence and Buffalo Hump, then

arren, Walla Walla, and Auburn, Ore.  He packed and freighted to the Boise Basin until 1865.  That fall, he took a 28 animal pack string to Blackfoot, Montana, where he sold the pack outfit and started mining.  In 1868 he came to the Salmon River country and then Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Last week I said he came to the Seven Devils about 1884.  This info says he came to the Devils in 1882 and located the Golden Eagle mine.  He exhibited some very rich ore from that mine at the Worlds Fair.   He was offered $36,000 for this and other claims, but turned the offer down.

            I'll have more on Seven Devils Johnson next week.

 

            I got a call from Eldora Peebles on Monday.  She lived in the Council area for years and now lives in Weiser.  She says hello to all her old friends up here.

 

 5-1-97

            Hannibal Johnson had four sisters and two brothers.  One brother, Pleasant W. Johnson, was seven years younger than "Seven Devils", and lived with Hannibal on Rapid River at one time.  Pleasant W. Johnson was always called P.W. Johnson in newspapers.  People were almost always referred to by their first two initials in early newspapers.  I have sometimes read about someone in a decade's worth of papers before learning their first name.  

            It may well have been P.W. Johnson that induced his better-known brother to Idaho.  P.W. came to Idaho in 1861, and lived in Florence during the gold rush there.  He claimed to have owned the first ounce of gold that was mined at Warren.  In 1862 he went to the Boise Basin, then explored Oregon and Nevada as a prospector.    P.W. came to Council in 1900 at the age of 63.  In the census for that year he is listed as an accountant by trade.  Within two years of coming here, he was a "senior member of S. Haworth & Co" and secretary of the Council Board of Trade (which apparently was a kind of promotional organization for the Council area).  He shared his brother's interest in mining, and jointly owned a gold mine with Hannibal on Rapid River.  He also had claims near Iron Springs and Thunder Mountain.  Another thing P.W. had in common with Hannibal is that he also never married. 

            In 1903 through 1905 P.W. Johnson is listed as chairman of Council Board of Trustees.  This would probably be the equivalent of a mayor's position.  In 1905 he was working on a second book: "Fifty Years Out of Congress" ( a history of the Northwest).  His first literary work had been "Johnson's Encyclopedia of Transportation", which became an industry standard.  He wrote it during 8 years of employment (1880-1888) as General Freight Agent for a steam ship line on the Oregon coast.

            One source says that P.W. Johnson homesteaded on White Bird Ridge after leaving Council.

            Some of the activities of Hannibal Johnson can be traced by following old newspaper accounts: 

            Salubria Citizen, Apr 21, 1899 -  Seven Devils Johnson is "canvassing for two books . . .'The Illustrated New Testament' and a history of our war with Spain."  [I assume "canvassing" means selling door to door, more or less.]

            Cambridge Citizen, Mar 15, 1901 - "H.F. Johnson has taken the agency for a chemical fire extinguisher, and will be traveling the area demonstrating what his machine will do."

            Johnson played the fiddle, and is said to have held it in a unique way.  Someone described it as "holding it on his lap" instead of under his chin.  I would guess that he held it in the way some Cajun fiddlers do, in the crook of his elbow.  When someone is holding a fiddle like this, while sitting, the elbow is often rested on the leg, giving the appearance of having the instrument in one's lap.

            Hannibal Johnson must have been a truly remarkable man.  At the time Lockwood heard his poetry around the campfire, Johnson was over 70 years old and was still wandering some of the most rugged pieces of real estate on earth.  At some point between 1906 and 1910, when he was between 76 and 80 years old,  Johnson claimed a 160 acre homestead at one of his mining claims near Rankin Mill in the Seven Devils.  Although it would have been a very high elevation to have an orchard, it is said that he established one there, with about 100 trees on approximately two acres.  I've read that some of the trees are still there.  Hannibal also raised chickens and had a large garden covering about one and a half acres.  His home was a 18 X 20 one-room log cabin.   In this house, he had a sizable library, and did a lot of writing.  He got a pension of $8.00 per month from his Indian fighting days on the Rogue River.   He walked 10 miles to old Pollock to get his mail, and occasionally lectured in Riggins on political subjects.  I have heard that Johnson Creek (the one closer to Pollock) was named after Seven Devils Johnson.

            Johnson's "claim" to his homestead was not a legal one.  He was required to file under the Homestead Act of June 11, 1906 (concerning homesteads on federal land) but, he insisted that he didn't need to because he had been living there before the forest reserve was created.  The Forest Service eventually persuaded him to apply properly, and his application was approved in 1910.

            Johnson sold his homestead to Jay Rhodes at some point.  This location later became "Hannibal Ranger Station".

            Apparently Johnson wasn't living at his homestead very much during the time he was getting his homestead approved.  He is said to have moved to California in 1910, the year his homestead was approved. 

            During his last few years in Idaho, Johnson spent his summers near Pollock where he had mining properties, and spent the winters with the Alex Kesler family at Council.  One source says that he was spending his winters with a niece in California before he moved there year 'round.  Another source says he spent considerable time in later years at the Robinson ranch on Bear Creek.   

            Johnson returned to visit friends in Idaho about 1930 at the age of 100.  He died not long after that trip, and true to the unusual way he lived, he was one of the few men to speak at his own funeral.  Johnson had brought the first phonograph to the Council Valley, and he must have had an unusual interest, for his time, in phonographs and recording.  With extraordinary foresight, and the help of Robert Young of Council, Johnson recorded his funeral oration on a phonograph record.  Part of the agreement when he sold his homestead to Jay Rhodes was that Rhodes was to see that the recording he made was played at his funeral.  And it was.

            Connie Mocaby is organizing a home tour for June to raise money for the museum.  She already has several interesting homes lined up, but would like a few more.  If you are interested in helping the museum by allowing your house to be shown, please give Connie a call at 253-4408.

            I mentioned that we plan to stuff a chicken for Dr. Gerber's office, and I thought we had someone in mind who might donate a chicken.  My mistake.  We need someone to donate a chicken - preferably a bantee.

            Your club or civic organization may get a letter from the museum (or may already have received one) about helping with volunteers to man the museum this summer.  Please give it serious consideration.  We haven't determined an exact opening date at this moment, but should by the time this hits the presses.  It will be some time in the second half of May.

 

History Corner  5-9-97

            I have a question.  Does anyone know where the Cuprum school used to be?  I'm not talking about he Landore - Decorah school, but one that used to be at Cuprum itself.  The museum has a picture with the school in the background, but I don't know where it was.  The old bell from the school is still at Cuprum, sitting in someone's yard.

            We have had some nice donations and loans made to the museum in the last few weeks.  Shirley White brought in a dinner fork she found at the old Middle Fork CCC camp.  It has "CCC" stamped on it and a number that I think is probably the camp number.  Bud Gross brought in an old fire extinguisher.  Shirley Glimser donated some old shoe lasts from Ralph Finn's shoe repair shop that stood where Glimser's Adams County Real Estate building is now. 

            Henry Daniels donated several nice odds and ends for our mining exhibit.  He really helped our mine tunnel exhibit by loaning us an ore cart and rails to put it on.  It was just what that exhibit needed.  Henry is also going to do a painting for the museum that will be part of the Native American exhibit.  It will be a scene showing a big, native festival as seen from "school house hill".  For those of you unfamiliar with Council's history, Council got its name from these Indian gatherings.  Indians met here from all over the Northwest to have a big party and harvest salmon.  Early, white pioneers thought these big festivals were "council meetings", and so called this the Council Valley.

            Jack Wassard made a beautiful and authentic atlatl for the Native American exhibit.    The atlatl was a weapon what natives used for thousands of years before they got bows and arrows.  You'll have to come in an see it.

            I should also mention some donations that were made not so recently.  Tod Nelson donated a big section of wooden pipe that was first used as water pipe in Council and then installed for irrigation at the Gould ranch.  Boise Cascade gave us the old mill whistle.  Sue Lambert donated an old-time kitchen apron.  (By the way, Sue, we haven't forgotten the receipt.  Please be patient.)  Don Wood donated an outdated resuscitation kit that was used in Council.

            On behalf of the museum and the community, I would like to thank all the people who have donated or loaned items, or who have helped the museum in other ways.  There is so much to do, so few people, and so little time that we often neglect to show adequate appreciation.  So, thank you!

            We have finally figured out when the museum will open: May 31st.  We have sent out several letters to local organizations asking for help in staffing the museum this summer.  The museum will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM, and Sundays from 1 PM to 4 PM.  This way the day can be covered by two, three-hour shifts.  Three hours is not that much time to give at a time, and it will probably even be fun.  We may find it hard to find people who are willing to give up three hours out of their weekend or holiday, so please give that some thought.  If you can help, please call Mary Sterner at 253-6930.

            Over the past few months, a few people have mentioned that they might be able volunteer at the museum for a shift or two.  Those people need to call Mary.  We may have forgotten that you said anything, or may not know if you are still able to help, so please call.

            We are still looking for a chicken to stuff for Dr. Gerber's office.  If you have one you can part with, please give me a call at 253-4582.

            The museum is still collecting pennies for the past, so if you have a pile of pennies lying around that you don't want to mess with, give me a call.

            Sometime before our opening on May 31, we are going to put a "MUSEUM" sign with four-foot-high letters on the front of the museum.  Dale Lyttle has the letters finished.  Now it's a matter of getting Idaho Power, or someone else with some kind of hoist that will reach that high, to help us put the sign up.  It's about 30 feet up to where the letters need to be bolted on.  I if this sounds like fun to you, or if you have a farm hand, etc., that will reach up to 25 feet or more, give me a call.  We can also use a few hands that aren't too afraid of heights.

 

History Corner 5-15-97

            When I was preschool age, in the mid 1950s, I remember going to a couple of activities at the Fruitvale school.  I had older cousins who attended there.  It was about that time that the Fruitvale school closed.  It wasn't too long until Lillian and Marvin Imler bought it and converted it into a house.  They're both gone now, but the house still overlooks Fruitvale, just up the hill east of the old post office / store.  It's boarded up now and gets little, if any, use.

            When the Fruitvale school closed, the kids were bussed to Council.  This was the story of many of the similar, little, community schools in this area.  During the 1940s and 1950s many of them were closed and the students were bussed to Council.  Bear was one of the last holdouts, closing in 1968.

            I remember visiting the grade school at Council after my older brother, Clint, started attending there.   Being a kid, one of my most vivid memories are of the big slide at one end of the building.  It was for a fire escape, but, at the time, it was more likely to be used in case the old building started to collapse.  I don't know if the kids ever actually slid down that slide during fire (or collapse) drills, but it was my impression that they did.  I thought it must have been tremendous fun, and I was very envious.

            Getting back to the danger of the building collapsing.  I seem to remember hearing that they had drills like fire drills for the kids to practice how they would get out of the building if it started to fall down. At the time, that too sounded exciting.  I don't imagine it made any parents very happy.  I didn't know much about the old school building until I started doing all this research a few years ago.

            The school was built in 1907 to replace the overcrowded one on "school house hill" just north of downtown Council.  After the railroad had reached Council in 1901, the population had increase a lot.  An additional wing had been put on the school on the hill, almost doubling its size, but it soon became too small as well.  In 1907 a two story brick school was built in a field at the southeast end of town.  This was just east, across the street from the present LDS church, about where Economy Roofing stacks some of their trusses, etc.  There is a photograph of the old school over the door of Economy Roofing.

            For some time there was only a grade school in Council, and in other small, rural Idaho towns.  Council students who wanted to go on to high school had to go at least as far as Weiser.  A few years after the brick school was built, high school classes were started in this building.  By 1922 there were seven high school rooms in the school.  I think it was about this time that another wing was added to the school because it was getting too crowded.

            Many people who grew up in Council have countless memories of days spent at this old school.  If any of you care to write down any of them, I'd like to hear from you.  If you do write, please let me know if I can use your stories in my column.

            By 1957 the school was in bad shape.  A Boise engineer was called in to examine it.  The following are snippets from the engineers report printed Adams County Leader, Dec 27, 1957:

            "The Council grade school building is a composite of two buildings.  The west half is a brick-veneered, wood frame structure approximately 50 years old.  The veneer on the west wall has collapsed and been replaced with wood sheathing.  The east half is approximately 40 years old.  It has masonry (2-course) brick exterior walls . . . ."

            "The interior of the entire building has been finished with wood lath and plaster.  This has been replaced on most of the ceiling by acoustical fiber board."

            Many of you probably read that part about lath and plaster without a second thought, but some of you younger readers may not know what lath a plaster walls and ceilings were.  I say "were" because I don't know that it's ever done anymore.  "Lath" was a subsurface made from strips of wood.   Each strip was about 1 to 1 1/2" wide and about an eighth inch thick (or a little thicker).  The lath strips were nailed to the studs and ceiling joists and spaced about a quarter inch or less apart.  Plaster was then applied over the lath.  The lath is what held the plaster to the wall or ceiling because some of the plaster oozed though between the strips to anchor it.  I think plaster was put on in at least two coats - a "scratch" coat and a finish coat.  Plastering used to be a trade in itself, and probably took some skill to do it right.  Most old buildings have, or had, lath and plaster walls and ceilings.  I'm not sure when it started being used, but drywall (sheetrock) has pretty much, if not completely, replaced lath and plaster.  Drywall is much cheaper, more durable, and easier to install.

            More on the old school next week.

            On Monday, Andy Roundtree from Idaho Power came up with a hoist, and we put up the "MUSEUM" sign on the north side of the building.  We're hoping people can't drive through town without seeing it.  Dale Lyttle made and painted the letters.  Dale and his dad, Lee, ran the ground operations while Andy and I threaded our way through the power lines and bolted the letters on.

            If you didn't catch it, the museum is going to open on May 31st.  We won't be "done" by any means, but I think you will be impressed with the changes so far. 

            We have learned that the museum qualifies for the Senior Community Service Employment Program.  That's a Federal program that pays people who qualify to work at certain jobs.  What we hope to do is get a few people to man the museum this summer so we can cut down on the volunteer requirements.  We already have one interested person, and we would like to have a couple more.  The job pays minimum wage, and would entail being at the museum and performing a few light duties from 10 AM to 4 PM.  We will try to be flexible on who works what days.  To qualify, you must be 55 or older and have no more than a certain income ($9,865 for a family of one, $13, 265 for a family of two).  If you qualify and are interested, please call me right away at 253-4582.

            This does not mean that we won't need volunteers.  We appreciate those who have expressed interest so far.  This is a real head-scratcher as to just how to arrange scheduling while keeping all our options open.  I hope you will all bear with us while we muddle our way through our first season.

 

5-22-97

            Carlos Weed called me with a few details on the old brick school.  He and it were born the same year: 1907.  He started school there in 1914.  The addition was started in the summer of 1922.  That summer the basement was excavated and plumbing was installed - something the older part of the school didn't have.  That fall, a cold snap hit, froze all the pipes, and caused them to burst.  It must have been disappointing to have to continue using the outdoor toilets until new plumbing could be installed.

            By 1957 the old school was in bad shape.  A Boise engineer was called in to examine it.  The following are snippets from the engineers report printed Adams County Leader, Dec 27, 1957:

            "The Council grade school building is a composite of two buildings.  The west half is a brick-veneered, wood frame structure approximately 50 years old.  The veneer on the west wall has collapsed and been replaced with wood sheathing.  The east half is approximately 40 years old.  It has masonry (2-course) brick exterior walls . . . ."

            "The interior of the entire building has been finished with wood lath and plaster.  This has been replaced on most of the ceiling by acoustical fiber board."

            Many of you probably read that part about lath and plaster without a second thought, but some of you younger readers may not know what lath a plaster walls and ceilings were.  I say "were" because I don't know that it's ever done anymore.  "Lath" was a subsurface made from strips of wood.   Each strip was about 1 to 1 1/2" wide and almost a quarter inch thick or so.  The lath strips were nailed to the studs and ceiling joists and spaced about a quarter inch or less apart.  Plaster was then applied over the lath.  The lath is what held the plaster to the wall or ceiling because some of the plaster oozed though between the wood strips to anchor it.  I think plaster was put on in at least two coats - a "scratch" coat and a finish coat.  Plastering used to be a trade in itself, and took some skill to do it right.  Most old buildings have, or had, lath and plaster walls and ceilings.  I'm not sure when it started being used, but drywall (sheetrock) has pretty much, if not completely, replaced lath and plaster.  Drywall is much cheaper, more durable, and easier to install.

            The engineer continued his report, referring to the two foot crawl space under the first floor and then to the foundation. 

            "The foundation wall under the west half is of stone and mortar is approximately 2 feet thick.  There are stone and mortar pilasters 16 feet apart under the first floor beams.  The mortar between the stones has almost completely deteriorated in the visible areas.  It is possible to remove this mortar with very little effort since it is about the same consistency as damp sand.  The exterior of the foundation above the ground line also shows signs of extensive deterioration.  In several spots, the concrete can be scraped away with the bare hand."

            Referring to the 8"X8" wood columns that supported the first floor: "Several columns are rotted at the ground line to the size of a 3"X3" member."

            "The masonry on the exterior walls is in an advanced state of decomposition.  The bricks are badly weathered and their surfaces are generally soft.  The mortar between the brick is generally soft and it was noticed in some particular areas, is completely gone on the outside course of brick."

            "Above the first floor windows on the south side, the masonry has bulged out to a severe degree.  Since the inside wall appears unchanged, this displacement is no doubt in the outer course of brick only, which means that the two courses of brick have separated and rain water may be trapped in this area.  If this should be the case, it would take very little freezing and thawing to completely disengage this part of the wall from the structure.  Since this is one of the major bearing walls in the east half of the building, a failure in this area would cause a general collapse."

            The engineer said a wall on the east end of the building was also leaning slightly: "Some of this displacement appears to be recent, and a wall failure in this area could be imminent."

            The electric wiring was ". . . composed of cloth-insulated wires supported on porcelain split-knobs. . . ."  ". . . this type of wiring is outdated and creates a definite fire hazard."

            "In our opinion, the physical condition of the structure is such that a general failure could occur at any time. It is impossible to predict whether extensive collapse will occur immediately, or whether the structure might remain reasonably intact for a few more months or even a few more years.  It is apparent that the building is structurally dangerous and far below reasonable standards of safety for a public building of this nature."

            "We recommend that you take immediate action to condemn the building for further use in the interest of the safety of its occupants."

            More next week.

            Time is running short folks.  We need volunteers to man the museum.  We would like to get the first two weeks booked as soon as possible.  The SCSEP program to pay people to be at the museum is not a sure thing at this point, and we want to be prepared.  Please call Mary Sterner at 253-6963.  If she's not home, give me a call (253-4582) and tell me what days and times would fit your schedule.

 

5-29-97

            The old brick school was condemned and closed in December of 1957.  The students had an extended Christmas vacation, then began classes on January 6, 1958.  Since the old school could not be used, superintendent Jack Wing and a number of volunteers had to improvise.  Books and other teaching supplies and equipment were hauled to locations all over the community.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes were conducted in the Legion Hall, with "the split grade" at City Hall.  The 4th, 5th and 6th grades were bused all the way to the Mesa school.  The 7th and 8th grades were conducted in rooms in the high school.

            (I've covered the story of the high school in a previous column.  The short version is that the old brick school got very overcrowded, so a new high school was built in 1941.  It stood on the same spot as the present Council High School.  More on that later.)

            Covering the story of the unique classroom locations, the Adams County Leader, January 10, 1958 reported: "The hot lunch program has been organized and is now functioning again with the IOOF hall being used as headquarters.  by staggering the dinner hours, the hall has been most satisfactory.  The hot lunches are also being transported to the Mesa school by means of private vehicles."

            For those of you who aren't familiar with the old IOOF Hall.  It stood where the east section of Shaver's is now.  It was a two story building with a false front, built in 1905.  I think most of us remember it as being white, but it was painted a dark color in it's early years.

            Even as classes were first starting the scattered locations, the School Board was beginning to plan the construction of a new grade school.  It was to be built, ". . . just south of the high school, on the property where the baseball diamond was formerly located.  The new ball diamond will be located further south on the former Jim Winkler property."  The cost of the new school was estimated at $176,576.00.

            Everybody got through the remainder of the school year with classes in the odd locations.  That fall, school started, using the same, or similar, places.  Here's where my memories kick in again.  I turned six years old in 1958.  There was no kindergarten in Council then, so when I turned six I started school in the first grade.  Our classroom was in the basement of the Legion Hall, in the southwest corner.  Our teacher was Erma Armacost.  One thing that stands out in my memory is the how the burning coal from the furnace smelled.  That's not a very common smell anymore since few places heat with coal these days.

            I'm not sure when the new grade school was finished and we moved to it, but the school was dedicated on February 28, 1959.  The new building seemed very big and very nice.

            Five years later the high school had become overcrowded.   On May 18, 1964 local citizens voted on a "plant facilities fund levy".  It was said that if the levy passed it would, ". . . provide for future expansion of the [high] school building or buildings without the necessity of an expensive bond sale."  The levy failed.  That October the levy became irrelevant when the high school burned to the ground.  There were wild rumors that superintendent Wing had set the fire because he was so frustrated that the levy had not passed.  The actual cause of the fire was never discovered.

            For the second time in less than a decade, Council students attended classes all over town.    I remember them using the Legion Hall, the IOOF Hall, and the Congregational church annex.  There may have been more places, but I don't remember them.  Incidentally, this was at least the third time that students attended classes all over Council.  Before the old high school was finished in 1941, the old brick school had become so crowded that the high school kids went from building to building to attend classes.

            Construction started on a new high school (the present one) in the spring or summer of 1965.  As luck would have it, the building was finished in 1966, just as I was starting high school.  It was as if every time I started attending another school they built a new on for me.  Everything in the new high school was new - the desks, chairs, books, doors, walls, PE equipment, . . . everything.  There was not a mark or a scratch anywhere.

            Don't forget the museum is opening Saturday.  Drop by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m..  For this summer, the museum will be open those hours Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. 

 

ONE missing

 

6-12-97  Larry Kingsbury, the Payette National Forest Archaeologist, sent me a copy of a letter he ran across, and I thought some you might enjoy it.  It is from a scout named Thomas Singleton.  As usual, some of the handwriting is hard to read.  Anything within brackets are my comments or questions.  Eagle Eye, mentioned here, was considered the most prominent Shoshoni leader in this area.

 

"Fort Boise, I.T. [Idaho Territory] January 31st, 1869

"Sir,

            "I have the honor to report that in compliance with Special Order No 4, dated [11th?]  Ins. Fort Boise, I.T. January 18th 1869.  I left this Post on the 19th inst. with Sergeant Howard, Privates Vernen of Co. "H" 23rd Infy. and 3 Indian Scouts provided with ten days rations and the necessary transportation, forage, etc., for the purpose of ascertaining if Eagle Eye and his Warriors were still in the vicinity of Middle Fork of the Weiser River, I.T.

19th - Marched ten miles, and Camped at Dry Creek.

20 - Marched twenty five miles, and camped at Stuarts Station, on the Payett [sic] River.

21st - Crossed the Payett River, and followed a trail leading due north, and camped at the head of Big Willow Creek - distance marched 30 miles.

22nd - Marched 30 miles, and camped at night on Crain Creek.  The country through which we marched after leaving Big Willow Creek is very rough.  The snow varying from 3 to 4 feet deep. At 7 O'clock P.M. it commenced snowing, and continued 3 hours with very cold wind from the north.

23 - Marched a few miles up Crain Creek, and came upon a trail which we followed all day, and which finally brought us into Eagle Eye's Camp, which is at the head of the South East Creek of the Weiser River, about forty miles from Crain Creek.

            [This location would seem to be along the Little Weiser River east of Indian Valley.]

            Eagle Eye's Camp is situated in a deep rivine.  The country on the south side is very uneven, on the north side are the Weiser Mountains.  The Indians having discovered us descending the hill signaled our coming by giving a few yells, and running from one lodge to another, for about five minutes when they all disappeared with the exception of one who proved to be Eagle Eye's second chief.  He came out to meet us.  I informed him that we were friends from Boise, and had come to visit Eagle Eye and his warriors.  He then reached me his hand in token of friendship and passed 'round among the scouts.  The leading the way, we advanced into camp when Eagle Eye and his band came out and bid us welcome.  I found two white men living in the camp and that a third one lived there, but had gone down to the Settlement to purchase stores.  I ordered the two remaining out of camp.  I also ascertained that 10 warriors with 18 women and children (the most miserable party I ever beheld) arrived in Eagle Eye's camp on the 14th inst.

24th - Had conversation with Eagle Eye and his warriors and learned from them that the reason of Eagle Eye's not reporting at Fort Boise as he agreed at the time Col. Sinclair brought him in, was occasioned by these three white men above mentioned who it seems have been tampering with him.  Eagle Eye promises faithfully that he will try his utmost to keep the white men away from their camp in future, and to report at Fort Boise every moon.

            I gave the Indians that came into Eagle Eye's camp on the 14th inst. to distinctly understand that if any of them left camp at anytime, Eagle Eye's warriors would go out and kill them.  They resolved to be submissive, and to accept Eagle Eye as their Big Chief."       

            I'll continue with this letter next week.

            We now have two people to staff the museum for the summer.  Bobby Darland and Mike Ward are being paid through a Federal program that aims to give senior citizens a toehold to get back into the work force.  Please stop in and see the museum soon.

            I just got back from Wenatchee, Washington where my daughter graduated from high school (with honors and in the top 10% or her class of 320 kids).  We stopped in Coeur d'Alene to see Jeff Connaway.  Since leaving Council he has developed quite a sign business there.  He had to demonstrate his computer-operated sign machine for me, and in doing so, made the museum a nice sign for the front door with the hours the museum is open.  Great guy!

            Don't forget the home tour on the 21st.  This is an oportunity to have a fun day and contribute to your community.  What could be better?

 

6-19-97  First I need to apologize for the mix-up in my columns for the past couple weeks.  In my rush to leave on my trip to Washington the same column got printed twice.  I have one more column written about Council's schools that I will put in next week.  In the mean time, here is the second half of Thomas Singleton's letter from January 1869:

            "Twelve inches of snow fell during my 36 hours stay in [Eagle Eye's] camp.

25th - Left for Fort Boise, I.T.  Owing to the quantity of snow that fell during my stay in Eagle Eye's camp, and not deeming it advisable to recross the country through which we came, on account of the increase of snow, I therefore concluded to take the road leading through the settlements.  In passing through the upper Valley.  I found the snow three feet deep and it was very difficult to keep the trail.  Camped at the three Forks of the Weiser River twenty miles from Indian camp.

            [The "settlements" must mean the new towns along the Weiser River, most of which started to be occupied by homesteaders just the previous spring (1868).  The "upper Valley"  refers to Indian Valley.  The Council Valley was only occupied by Henry Childs, and possibly another bachelor or two.  There were no wagon trails, much less roads, north of Indian Valley.  "The three forks of the Weiser River" must refer to the Cambridge / Salubria vicinity, since that's where the Weiser is joined by Pine Creek and the Little Weiser.]

26th - Crossed the divide from the upper Valley to the Middle Valley.  Snow from three to four feet deep.  Camped on Mans [sic] Creek distance marched 16 miles.

27th - Marched from Mans Creek to the head waters of the lower Valley.  Commenced raining at 3 O'clock PM and continued until dark, when we camped at the head of lower [obscured by National Archives stamp] marched 25 miles.

28th - Marched 32 miles and camped at Butter Milk Ranch.

29th - Marched 32 miles and camped at Stuart's Station on the Payett River

30th - Marched 12 miles and camped at [unclear] Burges [?] Payett Ranch

31st - Marched 28 miles and reached Fort Boise I.T. at 6 o'clock P.M.

            Total distance marched 330 miles.

                        I am Sir,

                                    very respectfully,

                                                Your obdt. Servt.

                                                            Thomas Singleton,

                                                                        Interpreter and

                                                                                    Chief of Scouts

           

To

The Post Adjutant

Fort Boise I.T."

            I my column for two weeks ago but not printed I thanked the volunteers who acted as hosts at the museum during our opening week.  But since they never saw it, THANK YOU!  We couldn't have been open without you.  As I said last week, we now have two people who are being paid (thru a Federal program) to be at the museum.  This should mean that we won't need volunteers except for an occasional emergency.  So if you scheduled a shift at the in advance, you won't need to do it now.

            Another thank you goes to Dale Lyttle for the nice "Museum Entrance" sign out front.  It looks great.

            It's here folks - your chance to help the museum and have a good time.  The home tour is Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM.  Last I heard, we hadn't sold enough tickets to even pay our printing costs.  Please buy a ticket at U.S. Bank or the Frame Studio in Council, or at U.S. Bank or the Heartland Studio in Cambridge, or in New Meadows at Key Bank or Beyond the Trees, or in McCall at Key Bank or Krahns.

 

6-27-97

Bob Hagar wrote to me with some memories of the old Council school:

            "Enjoyed your column in last week's Record about the old grade school.  Since our family lived about a block from the school (three blocks when the snow was too deep to take the 'short cut').  I recall how some of us kids eagerly watched while the covered fire escape slide you mentioned in your column was being built on the north side of the building.  The slide was wide and the bottom was lined with a piece of slick metal . . . and it was a test of a kid's athletic ability to try to crawl or walk up the slide. . . until somebody boarded up the bottom of the slide during the summertime.  A few other memories about the old building follow.  Why is it one always remembers the forbidden activities?  Of course it was the 'other kids' who always did them:

            -Finding the access to the 'attic' in the building and hiding out in the belfry or tampering with the bell so it couldn't be rung on time.

            -During some of the winter power failures they would dismiss school if the temperature in the room dropped below a certain value, so as soon as the teacher would step out of the room for a few minutes, enterprising students would hang the thermometer out the window to hasten the process.

            -When the snow would start to melt on the time roof it would create some great overhangs of snow and ice.  A well thrown snow ball would bury an unsuspecting classmate who might be passing beneath.

            -During one particularly severe winter the snow piled up so deep under the eves that the quickest exit from the building at recess or lunch would be to jump out the second story window after distracting the poor teacher.

            -The ice on the steep steps on the west side of the building was great for sledding, except don't slip backwards as I did early one afternoon while in the second grade and then having to wait until nearly midnight until Doc Thurston got back into town so he could set and cast my broken arm.

            -I wonder if anyone knows what happened to the swing sets and merry-go-round that were on the school grounds.  As I recall they were ruggedly fabricated from heavy pipes and should survive today somewhere.  Very heavy.  It took a crew of several kids to carry the merry-go-round that from the school grounds to the middle of the highway 95 in front of the People's Theater on Halloween night."

            -

            I'm not sure what happened to the swing set.  (Wasn't it in the park by the courthouse?)  The County Commissioners just gave the merry-go-round to the museum.  I thought maybe it was as old as the school (1907), but the date on it says 1928.  It is heavy too.  Roy Mocaby lifted it onto a trailer with his tractor so we could haul it off.  It must have been quite a job for kids to carry to the highway.   When the museum addition is done, we plan to put it on the grounds somewhere - either fixed up and working, or as a stationary "bench", depending on how safe we can make it and if the City approves.

            Bob Hagar's memory about rigging the school bell reminds me of a story I once heard about a school bell at Garden Valley.  The kids turned the bell upside down and filled it with fresh cow manure.  When the teacher pulled the rope the next morning, the whole load came down on top of her or him.

            Some time I'd like to collect stories about local Halloween pranks pulled in the past.  If any of you care to write or call me about those, it might make an interesting column.  Seems like I remember someone saying something about a wagon being taken apart and reassembled on top of Sam Criss's store where Shavers is now.

 

DIDN'T COPY THIS ONE BECAUSE IT WAS MOSTLY QUOTES

 

7-10-97

Last week I quoted the Idaho Magazine from December 1905 as it outlined Council's attributes.  I'll continue quoting from it, and add comments.

            "Among its [Council's] engines of civilization is an inviting, three department school house, which tops Council Hill."  This is the hill just north of downtown.  It has been labeled with several names, but the one I'm most familiar with is "school house hill".  This is the school that was replaced in 1907 by the brick school I've been writing about. 

            "Some 150 pupils are presided over by an able corps of teachers; Prof. G.F. Gregg, principal, who is admirably assisted by Mrs. Olive Freehafer and Miss Maud Peters."  That's a lot of kids to put into what was a relatively small building! 

            Two of the teachers, George Gregg and Maud Peters married each other seven months after this article was published.  Maud was the daughter of John Peters, an ambitious, Weiser businessman who built the first store in the Council Valley.  After marrying Maud, George Gregg joined his father-in-law in running a couple of successive business here. 

            Gregg was later appointed as the first probate judge in Adams County.  He is shown in the well-known picture of the first County officials in 1911.  (This picture is currently on display on the outside wall of the Bill Winkler's sheriff's office in the museum.)  In this photo Gregg looks very gaunt.  The reason is that he had tuberculosis.  He died from it only three years later, in 1914.

            The other teacher, Olive Freehafer would have been a relative of our former Senator, Jim McClure.

            "The Congregational Church is an architectural gem, as also is its parsonage, structures which together represent an outlay of at least $2,500, and the soul's health of this community is zealously looked after by the members of this denomination."  Neither of these buildings are standing today.  The article refers to the old Congregational church that was demolished and replaced by the present church in 1950.  The old church sat where the church's parking lot is now.  The parsonage was torn down just a year or two ago.

            "The I.O.O.F. have recently erected a $3,500 building, one of the most commanding and pretentious in the town.  Fraternally the place is well represented by the I.O.O.F. [Odd Fellows], Rebecahs, K.O.F.M., L.O.T.M., and United Artisans."  I've written about the Odd Fellows Hall that stood where the eastern section of Shaver's is now.  The tall, false-front building was a landmark in Council for many years.  I have to wonder if the K.O.F.M. was a misprint and should have been K.O.T.M. (Knights of the Macabes).  I don't know what L.O.T.M. was unless it was a ladies' auxiliary to the K.O.T.M.  I don't have a clue about the United Artisans.

            "The Advance [newspaper], since 1901, has jealously guarded the interests of all this section and has proven a potent factor in its moral and material advancement.  Its founder and conductor meanwhile has been L.S. Cool."  Levi S. Cool's brother, Fred Cool may have been better known than Levi was.  Fred was Dale Donnelly's partner for many years in the Cool and Donnelly Feed Store.  It sat about where the public restrooms are now, south of the town square.

            The list of Council's businesses reflects the differences in the area's economy and needs compared to the present.  "On Council's commercial, industrial and professional calendar we find six general stores, one drug store, one planing mill, three saw mills, one harness shop, one hotel, three livery stables, three blacksmith shops, three restaurants, one bakery, one jeweler, two millinery stores, one newspaper, one physician, two attorneys, one meat market, two barber shops, four saloons, two stage lines, one lodging house, four contractors, builders and carpenters."

 

7-17-97 I forgot last week to thank Terri McFadden Ellsworth for the "Time Out" doll she made to raise money for the museum.  It was really cute.  Terri is a alumnus of Council High School from the days when I walked those halls.  Her doll was auctioned off in the park on the 4th, and, unfortunately, it only brought a fraction of what the dolls regularly sell for.  We really appreciate all the work she did in making the doll.

            Bruce Addington's daughter, Carolyn Addington McDonald loaned the museum several old, family photo albums so we could copy any photos we wanted from them.  Thanks Carolyn! 

            Dave Mink came through with some Mesa Applesauce cans with labels on them!  Thanks Dave!  This seems to me what the museum is all about: preserving things like these labels that are so unique and meaningful to this area.  We're still looking for a Meadows Valley Pea label. 

            Dave also loaned us some old letters from Mesa that he was given.  They are so interesting that I thought you might like to read parts of them.  For those of you who are new to the area, Mesa Orchards was one of the biggest orchards in the Northwest.  Some claimed it was the biggest in the world.  It was spread out over the rolling hills around the present site of Mesa, about eight miles south of Council.

            The letters were all written in 1930, the beginning of the Great Depression, so many of them concern overdue bills.

            One such letter is from William Lemon, the editor of the Adams County Leader.  It is actually dated Dec. 1, 1929:

            "E.G. [Enderse Van Hoesen]: Taxes and other items are causing me to squirm a little and a check will be appreciated at this time.  I did not send the bill to Edwin Snow for publication of the Mesa Sheep Co. dissolution notice.  It was $9.00.  I can send it to him if necessary.  Lemon."

            The Van Hoesen family operated the orchards at the time, along with H.J. Woodmansee.  I believe Enderse was the Secretary / Treasurer for the Company.  One of the letter heads still in use in 1931 says "Van Hoesen and Seymour".  Charles Seymour was killed in a fire at Mesa in December of 1920, and off the top of my head, I don't know if another Seymour was involved in the orchards after that.

            Many of the letters are to or from "Reilly Atkinson & Company, Inc." of Boise.  Apparently the orchards bought many of their supplies from them.  One letter contains revealing details about the operation:

            "Gentlemen:  The writer was sorry to have missed you when he called on you at Mesa the other day.  No doubt your brother has given you the inventory as shown on our books.  You will note from this inventory you are considerably back on your payments as per our contract for this year.  Briefly, our records show - bushel tub baskets - 65,197 - which is approximately eight cars of baskets and you inventory on this item as of last Thursday was approximately 600 dozen, making you short on your payments in the neighborhood of $10,290.00 covering approximately seven cars."

            "Our records show you have on hand - 19" corrugated caps - 79,399 but you actually have not over three or four thousand on hand, as of last Thursday, making a shortage on payments on this item of approximately $1,080.00."

            "As to Liners, our records show - bushel Hiat Liners - 100,299 - whereas you have on hand three or four thousand, making a shortage of payments on this item approximately $2,220.00.  The above makes a grand total amounting to $13,590.00 which has not been reported by you, but which has been used."

            The above, with the notes which we hold, amounting to $13,500.00, plus merchandised invoiced to you on direct shipments and items out of our Payette stock, also the two shipments of paper, all totaling $3,349.74 makes a grand total owing to us by you of $30,439.74 which is entirely too much for you to be owing us at this time of the year  Our agreement was that you were to pay for merchandise used and you were to remit to us each week.  We realize that you have been away for some time and no doubt have gotten behind in your payments, but we want you to know the exact status of your account, as it is a very serious matter with us.  We have our trade acceptances coming due each day and we are needing money very badly to take care of our own obligations."

            "Assuming these figures are correct we see no reason why you can not make additional remittances at this time as the total owing us is much greater tan the merchandise which you have actually on hand."

            More next week.

            I just found out that the Indian Valley Community Church is 100 years old this year, and there will be an open house on August 2nd and 3rd.  I'll have more information on this next week.

            The biggest news is that this week we are finally advertising bids for the museum addition!  I don't have many details at the moment, but things are going to be moving rapidly very soon.

 

7-24-97

The thing that makes history interesting is how it relates to the way things are now.  One example of this is the Indian Valley Community Church.  It is 100 years old this year, and an open house will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, August 2nd and 3rd, to celebrate the centennial of this local institution.  The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturday (the 2nd).  Then on Sunday the regular services will start at 10:00 AM and last until 12:30.  Following the services there will be a potluck dinner.

            The church was originally built nearby on land donated by Sylvester Haworth (Mrs. John Manning's father).  Mr. Haworth also gave the community an acre for the Indian Valley Cemetery.

            Construction on the church was started in 1897, but it was not completely finished because the cost was more than had been estimated.  A $400 interest-free loan was obtained in the fall of 1898 to finish the building.  That may not sound like a lot of money by modern standards, but at average wages of one dollar for a ten-hour day, that would be roughly the equivalent of $32,000 today.  (That's figuring an eight-hour day at $10 per hour times 400.)  The loan was finally paid off 68 years later.

            The Deacons of the church in 1897 are listed as: J. Alva Steward, Andy Lay, J.W. Hildereth, H.J. Imler, David Hutchinson, Mrs. Harriet Hutchinson, Mrs. Gray, and Marquetta Byers.

            For most of its existence, the church has had only temporary pastors.  Records show that in 1902, a lay minister named Boylan was paid $100 to shepherd the congregation for one year.   The money was raised through pledges.  Again the relative value of money at the time is noticeable, as many of the pledges were for 25 or 50 cents.  What must have seemed like a very expensive bell was purchased for the church about that time by A.J. Huddleson of Cambridge for $68.40.

            Reverend Howard Stover, who came to the Congregational Church in Council in 1905 and left in 1914, also pastored the Indian Valley church for several years.  It was very popular in those days for every community to have a band.  Under Reverend Stover's supervision, one was organized at Indian Valley.  The band's 14 members consisted of 13 young men: Thomas and Clarence Hutchinson, Ellis Snow, Earl Byers, Willard, Jess and Albert McDowell, Tilford Lindsay, Roy and Jim Hern, Phillip, and Bob and Paul Ware - and one girl: Orrill Lewis.

            Early records of the church are sketchy.  It was incorporated October 13, 1913.  The next year the church was moved to its present location.  It was put on skids and pulled by an astonishing 25 teams of horses!  This must have been quite an event, and taken more than a little horsemanship. 

            The land for the new location was donated by Jim and Flora Linder.

            At some point, the Pastor of the church was the one who held the mortgage, and the land where the church had formerly been was given to him to clear the debt.  He later sold the property to Tom Murphy. 

            Records from 1916 on are almost nonexistent.  It is known that two American Sunday School Missionaries - a Mr. Chandler and a Mr. McKay - worked in the Indian Valley area. 

            There was a period when attendance at the church was very low.  During this time, Hildred Manning, Hazel Johnson, and their daughters walked to church every Sunday to keep the Sunday School open.

            In the spring of 1949 there seemed to be a revival of interest in the church.  Money was raised for repairs.  The place where the "annex" was pulling away from the main auditorium was fixed, and the building was painted.

            One of the more interesting fix-ups was replacing the two front doors which were damaged during what must have been a wild a dance one night.

            The first couple on record as being married in the church was Lucille Manning and Richard Higgins in 1952.  As part of the wedding preparations, the bride's parents bought new wall paneling for the church, and it was installed by Duane Borror, a youth pastor from Cambridge.

            By 1955 the floor was so worn in one place that it was feared that someone might fall through it.  Again, money was raised and a crew of local men spent three days putting in a new floor.

            I'll have more on the Indian Valley Community Church next week.

            The initial blueprints for the museum addition are at the museum for anyone who cares to look at them. 

 

7-31-97  The story of the church in fairly recent times is mostly one of repair and improvement to the building and its facilities.  In every case, it took hard work and dedication on the part of local people.

              In 1955 a memorial fund was started.  Among other projects, it paid for new windows and casings.

            When the Baptist church in Cambridge bought new pews, the Indian Valley church bought their old ones for $80.00.  At one point the foundation of the church had settled badly.  It took more than two years to raise the money to repair it.

            There was a great deal of trouble getting the deed to the church settled.  It took about 30 years to get everything straightened out. 

            In 1970 a furnace was installed.  At some point, Jolaine Huey and her class cleaned up a room in the upstairs of the annex.  A stairway was built to it, and it was converted it into a classroom.  Other improvements over the years include a new vestibule, new doors, a cross, and pew seat covers. 

            In 1985 & '86 a fellowship room, kitchen and bathrooms were added.  The added rooms had "modern day", low-maintinance siding, and an on-going effort is being made to side the entire building with it.  In 1986 & '87 water was piped to the church.  This added a very big convenience. In 1987 & '88 the sidewalks were expanded.

            This year Malcolm Huey bought a organ at an auction and gave it to the church.

            The work on the church is, of course, an on-going effort.  The belfry has been repaired three times over the years, and is in need of work again.  The floor in one part of the sanctuary is starting to sag..  The chimney needs to be torn down and the wall straightened.  The roof  and the ceiling need work.  If the past is any indication, these projects, and more, will be accomplished by people with the same kind of spirit and dedication that has been evident at Indian Valley since pioneer days.

            One of the most enjoyable parts of my researching local history has been reading old newspapers.  To finish out this weeks column, here are a few of my notes concerning Indian Valley from the newspapapers:

            Idaho Citizen, Oct 30, 1891 -    New Post office established at Isaac McMahan's store in Indian Valley called Alpine.  Lucy McMahan - postmaster.

            Salubria Citizen, Feb 24, 1899 –

    The stage will now leave Weiser at 7 a.m., railroad time, and arrives at Salubria at 2 p.m.  "The time for the trip from Meadows to Weiser is 27 hours.  This will cause the stage to make the trip from Indian Valley to Meadows in the night."

            Weiser Signal, Jan 28, 1905 -    The Dale literary society debated the Indian Valley literary society.

            Council Leader,  Jan 1, 1909 -    Middle Valley has 25 phones.   Indian Valley has  27.

            Council Leader,  Sept 9, 1910   -  A.E. Hinke to build hotel in Indian Valley 30' X 56'

            Council Leader, Aug 1, 1912 -  "As many as 20 wagon loads of people from Indian Valley, Cambridge and other points have passed through here yesterday and today on their way to the hills north of town after huckleberries."  

            Council Leader, Aug 22, 1912 -    The Indian Valley Post office and telephone exchange have been moved from the A.M. Henke building to the IOOF hall.

            Council Leader, Dec 11, 1914 -   "...new road directly west from village of Indian Valley and connecting with the public road at the Richland school house."  A new concrete and steel bridge across the Little Weiser River will save miles.

            Council Leader, Feb 19, 1915 -   Phone lines are hooked directly to Indian Valley now "and we can talk to our neighbors to the south at 15 cents per talk instead of 40 cents, as heretofore."

            Council Leader, Sept 10, 1915 - New school room at Indian Valley.

            You may have noticed that some demolition is happening on the south side of the museum to get ready for the addition.  By the time you read this, the bids on the job will have been opened.  I will announce the contractor next week.

 

8-7-97      First, the big news.  After five years of work and frustration, the plans for the addition to the museum are finally starting to become more than a dream.  The job will be done by McAlvain construction.    

            Many of you remember, or still know, Doug and Sarina McAlvain.  They used to live at Fruitvale, and they still have a weekend house there.  (It was on the home tour.)  Doug told me some time back that he would build the addition for the money we had available, and he would donate whatever it cost him over that.  Torry McAlvain (Doug's son) has been planning the project along with Clinton Yaka (who married Tuesday McAlvain) of BRS Architects in Boise. 

            I couldn't say much about this until now because we were legally obligated to advertise for bids, even though we couldn't imagine anyone underbidding McAlvain Construction.  Their company was the one and only bidder.   Construction should start any day!

            My writing about Mesa Orchards got sidetracked because of the Indian Valley Church doings, but now I'll get back to it.

            There are several names in the old records Dave Mink loaned me that are mentioned as having apples packed or shipped by the Mesa Company, or who bought baskets, etc.: Tom Nichols, Charles Lappin, Stephan Nock (Mesa), Phil Bury (Mesa), Gray Brothers (Mesa), Frank Messing (Mesa), A.H. Keckler, Clyde Rush (Mesa),  H.L. Brooks, a Mr. Dahlgren, Hoover, I.L. Thurston, Wing, Walling.

            Other items from the old Mesa files:

            A bill from Reilly Atkinson & Co. of Boise lists three 8 foot ladders and two 10 foot ladders at 50 cents per foot - twenty 10 foot, and six 12 foot "Larson" ladders  at 48 cents per foot.

            A hand-written letter from Kenneth Harrington dated Nov. 13, 1930:  "Dear Sir, I have never received my check for the last apple picking.  I left my name and address so the check could be mailed to me.  I am sure it has been overlooked."  The letter is written in pencil, as are many of the other documents.  It must have been much easier to write with them instead of the old fountain pens or other types of pens.  A note at the bottom, in different handwriting, says,"mail check - $19.28" and below it, "check mailed 11/22/30".

            Another letter: "January 18, 1930 - Mr. Henry Heimsoth, Council, Idaho - Dear Mr. Heimsoth: We believe that we have a bay horse of yors down at our barn and we will appreciate it if you will come up and see if it is yours because if it isn't we want to advertise this horse at once.  Very truly yours, Mesa Orchard Company."

            And another, unsigned letter from the orchards, concerning Lost Valley Reservoir: "April 10, 1930  - Mr. Ed Holbrook, Tamarack, Idaho  - Dear Mr. Holbrook:  I am enclosing a few post cards which you can fill out and send to me after you make a trip to the reservoir.  Keep track of your time and we will adjust it with you.  I do not think it is necessary to go over more than three times a week until the water gets up to the concrete part in the spillway.  Would like to get it about half way up on the concrete before opening the gate very much so that we can be sure of filling the reservoir.  If there isn't much change perhaps you had better shut the gate again."

            You may know that the Mesa Company had the reservoir built so that they could trade water rights from it for water rights from Middle Fork.  Just what their involvement was in the management of the reservoir, I don't know, but they evidently kept a close eye on it at this time.  I seem to remember seeing the Van Hoesen name on old Lost Valley Reservoir Company documents.

             A letter from Holbrook about this time said, "I went over to the dam yesterday and I had some time getting over from Strawberry.  It took 7 hours to make the trip.  There was a lot of snow on the north slopes.  The water stood at 1770.  I will go over again tomorrow and that will give me some idea how fast it is raising."

 

8-14           More from the 1930 Mesa Orchards file cabinet.

            There are a number of letters similar to the one from Harry J. Deally & Co. of Pittsburgh that begins, "We would be pleased to represent you in this immediate territory as to the sale of any fruits or vegetables you may have to offer in car lots."  Others like it in the file are from dealers in New Orleans, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, New York, Dallas, Houston Tulsa, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

            A letter from Mesa states: "The Mesa Orchard Company grew and shipped a total of 265 cars of fruit during the past season.  Five cars of the above consisted of pears and eighteen cars of peaches, leaving a balance of 242 cars straight apples.  Our fruit this season will be sold through the Federated Fruit & Vegetable Growers, Inc. of new York City."

            In letters referring to a financial statement, total assets of the Mesa Company are listed at $438,286.68.  $197,828.45 of that amount was the value of buildings, the tramway, machinery and equipment, leaving $240,464.23 worth of land and fruit trees.  Liabilities totaled $111,858.09 most of which was not in the form of bank loans, but "carried in the east on a long term proposition."

            Mrs. Albert Campbell wrote: "Would you please ship a box of Delicious apples to my sister, Mrs. Henry Fouts, 501 West Lincoln St., Clarinda, Iowa.  I want choice apples, but not the extra large size.  I hope they are not all gone.  Please send them by express, C.O.D.  I am enclosing a check for you to fill out for the price of the apples."

            Another letter asking apples to be mailed came from the Council Pharmacy.  The letterhead says, "Council Pharmacy, The Rexall Store - A.E. Alcorn, Proprietor - Drugs, Tobaccos, Stationery, School Supplies".

            Another Council business that wrote to Mesa is one that you may be less familiar with.  The letterhead reads, "Council Box and Lumber Co. - Manufacturers of Pondosa Pine & Box Shooks".   According to an invoice in the file, the Orchards bought "88 bundles Tops and Bottoms" from the company.  The sawmill operated by this company was located just north of the old "stock yards" in the west part of town.  A big cement foundation used for the sawmill's machinery still sits in June Ryals's back yard.

            Joseph Carr represented the "New Zealand Insurance Company, Limited".  A letter from Carr billed the Orchards for a policy covering $3,000 worth of merchandise in the company store.  Coincidentally, Carr was also a pioneer fruit grower in this area.  He is credited as being one of the people who started the fruit industry here, and was the originator of the name "Mesa Orchards".

            A loan agreement in the file from the Continental Oil Company lists a "T-176 G&B hand operated visible pump", along with hose, nozzle, a "Conoco advertising globe" and three "60-gallon Bennett Hi-boys".

            A letter from United States Cold Storage Company of Kansas City, Mo. begins, "Dear Mr. Van Hoesen: Perhaps you remember our conversation in regard to the motion picture film of your orchard operations.  I would like very much to run this picture in our booth at the Apple Show to be held in Kansas City, December 11th and 12th of this year.  I am sure it would be of great interest to the attending growers, and it would also advertise your product on this market.  If you can conveniently send me the film I shall take good care of it and promise to return it immediately after the show."  Van Hoesen wrote back, "I have just returned from a two weeks trip to the coast where Mrs. Van Hoesen is now recuperating from an operation." "It certainly would have been fine to have shown the movies of our operations here at Mesa at the Apple Show.  However, there is no way of getting the films back from you in time.  They would have to go by parcel post air mail and on account of our train service the parcel would arrive in Kansas City too late.  However, if you desire the film at any other time, please let me know and I will send them to you."

            Those films may still be somewhere on a shelf.  The chances of us getting copies of them may be slim, but wouldn't they be priceless?  Drennan Lindsay tells me that Enderse Van Hoesen's daughter, Beth (Mrs. Mark Adams) is living in San Francisco.  Drennan said she thinks Mynderse Van Hoesen's son, David, is also living in that area.  If anyone out there has more information on how to contact these people, or about the films mentioned, please contact me.

 

8-21-97  Awhile back Bobbie Darland brought a jar to the museum.  It has a label on it that reads: "Council Valley Brand Dill Pickles - One Quart - Packed by J.R. Finn & Sons - Council, Idaho.  On the jar's green label is a drawing of a mountain valley in which several Indians are gathered.  One of the Indians, wearing a war bonnet, is holding up a jar.   The jar on which the label is glued is an ordinary Kerr canning jar.  This is the first I had ever heard of the Finns marketing dill pickles.  If anyone has more information about these pickles, let me know. 

            I know Ralph Finn was an interesting person, and I think he made goose calls, among other things.   It might be interesting to do an exhibit around him some time if we can gather enough interesting items.  If anyone has some memorabilia of Ralph's that they would like to donate, bring it by the museum.  If we get enough interest, we might like to take a few things on loan too.  I don't know where Eunice Finn moved to, but if anyone knows her well enough to ask her about items she might be willing to donate or loan . . . .

            Along the line of labels, I still haven't heard anything about a Meadows Valley Pea can label.  I heard that Bob Rumiser may have had a can with the label on it a few years back.  I guess Bob has passed on, but maybe this will give someone out there a place to start looking.

            Some of you may have read an article about our museum in the Argus Observer a few weeks ago.  It had a lot of mistakes in it, but they say any publicity is good publicity.

            I'll finish up with a couple more items from the Mesa file.  On Feb 5, 1930 Enderse VanHoesen wrote a letter to the "General Insurance Company of America" agent in Weiser:  "We had a fire on December 10th around noon which destroyed our boiler-house.  You are probably aware of the fact that we were washing apples at the time and since our water supply was shut off we were compelled to use a portable electric motor and pump to pump water to the boiler.  This portable outfit we use for irrigation purposes and for other work dealing with our orchard business."  He went on to list the prices of a pump and electric motor that was lost in the fire.  The total loss was $85.

            As I mentioned before, many of the letters in the files concerned debts owed by Mesa.  The most interesting one was from the "Stubbs Electric Company" of Portland.  At the top of the letter, a straight pin is stuck through he paper.  The letter reads, "Gentlemen:  Here's a pin.  Looks a good deal like any other pin -- doesn't it?  But it isn't an ordinary 'common or garden variety' pin.  It is a really and truly magic pin.  It will relieve you of a lot of bother, and us a lot of worry.  It will set you square with us, and help us square up with the other fellow -- so be careful don't lose it.  Better be sure of it and play safe, for it is the pin you will want to use to attach your check to this letter in payment of your balance as of January 31st which amounted to $14.95.  Thank you for the check.  No charge for the smile we hope you get out of this little letter."

            Below the signature of the credit manager is typed, "P.S. Please hurry.  We want to use the magic pin on another fellow."

            Straight pins used to be used a lot instead of paper clips, and they worked very well to hold papers together.  I suppose they were a little painful once in a while if you handled them wrong.

            A letter to Myderse VanHoesen from Martin Calwhite of Weiser on May 15, 1930: "Dear Friend, This is a confidential letter to you.  Sanford Becktel worked for me about 2 mos.  I find him very crooked and can't be trusted.  I think he has gone to Mesa to get work of you.  Mr. Williams the Banker here will tell you the same.  I feel you are a friend of mine is the reason for letting you know.  P.S. He is a penitentiary bird."

            As I write this, nothing has been done on the museum addition except for demolition work that I did with help from a few guests of our county jail.  They were great help by the way, and we appreciate it.  Hopefully we'll see big things happen on the addition soon.

 

8-28-97  About a month ago I quoted from articles the Idaho Magazine from December 1905 about the Council area.  I got sidetracked by other subjects, but I want to come back to that magazine because it gives such a detailed picture of life in this area that year.

            One paragraph said, "Alluring indeed are the inducements hereabouts for the establishment of a woolen mill as at least 200,000 head of sheep are grazed in the environs of Council; and excelsior factory, for dense and almost incalculable is the growth of cottonwood in all the country side.  And this balm or cottonwood, it has been demonstrated by experiment, makes the finest kind of pulp for wrapping and printing papers, and excelsior for mattress stuffing amid for packing purposes."

            Why the writer jumped from sheep to cottonwood trees in one sentence eludes me.  My dictionary says "excelsior" is "fine curled wood shavings used especially for packing fragile items".  I would assume that cottonwood trees must have covered much of the valleys along local rivers before fields were cleared.  I know this was the case along the West Fork, plus there were great masses of brush.

            "Apples grown in this region are distinguished as among the finest and most delicately flavored of any grown in the United States.  Moreover, it is noteworthy of all fruits produced here that they are absolutely free from all worms or other pests.  Tempting opening here also for a bank, a creamery, a laundry, an electric light and power plant, a foundry and flouring mill.  There is an exceptional opportunity for the founding of a horse ranch hereabouts and the introduction of blooded cattle and horses in is needed."

            As far as a bank was concerned, the "First Bank of Council" was being planned at least a month before this issue of the magazine was printed.   The Nov 18, 1905 issue of the Council Leader said,  "A bank for Council is an assured fact.  The directors for the first year are C.M. Jorgans, J.F. Lowe, Frank Hahn, Isaac  McMahan, and John Ennis."  The bank had no building in which to do business as yet, but rented half of the first floor of the Odd Fellows Hall.  Harry Criss rented the other half for his store.  The bank opened on February 1, 1906.

            In April of 1909, Jim Winkler got the contract to build a new building for the bank.  By September the building was completed.  It is still standing and very familiar to everyone here as the present Drug Store.  Apparently the bank moved into one half of the building in 1909, and Sam Criss used the other half as a general merchandise store.

            This was a boom period for Council, and the area was growing faster than anyone could keep track.  In February of 1910 Council got a second bank.  The "Council State Bank" opened in a small building belonging to William Fifer.  It was located about where Shaver's parking lot is today.  Fifer ran a jewelry store there for many years.  Being a "jeweler" in those days usually involved watch and clock repair.  A clock that Fifer made, or at least sold, is hanging in the Adams County Courthouse, and still works.

            When the big fire of 1915 destroyed much of downtown Council, the cement walls of the First Bank of Council (the present drug store) were what stopped the flames from spreading farther west.

            The First Bank of Council failed in January of 1926.  This infamous event is well remembered by older members of our community.  Whenever the subject of the failure of the bank comes up, the name N.H. Rubottom immediately surfaces.  Because he was the bank president, he was blamed for the failure and the consequent loss of money by many people here.  Rubottom was arrested and charged with embezzlement of $1300.  The atmosphere in Council was so heated that the trial was moved to Weiser.  He was found not guilty, but never came back to Council.

            In January of 1940 the Adams County Bank opened in the former First Bank of Council building (drug store).  Before that time, the building had been used by the Howell Company as a furniture display area.  A doorway was cut through the cement wall "to allow entrance from the store".  In the back of the "Elite Repeats" store, there is now a vault door with "Adams County Bank" written on it.  This vault door was moved there from the old bank next door.

            In 1941 the building that is now the Council Valley Market was built, and the Adams County Bank moved into half of it.  The other half became the Golden Rule store.  I remember that store still being in business in the late 1950s or early 1960s.  The first bank in my memory here was the Idaho First National, located in what is now the dry goods department of Shaver's.  If I remember right, it went from there to the present bank site.

            As I write this the museum board hasn't decided how much longer the museum will be open this fall.  The program for our paid employees runs out at the end of August, so we are going to need volunteers to host the museum until it closes.

 

9-4-97      I would like to thank Phil Soulen for calling me with Beth Van Hoesen's address and phone number.  Phil's father was a brother of Enderse Van Hoesen's wife, Freda.  I'm going to see if she, or some of the other family members has any photos or other memorabilia from Mesa that they would be willing to share with our community.

              Since I've been writing about Mesa, and because of a lack of time to write lately, I'm going to review some of what I've already written in this column about the local fruit industry.

            Early settlers in the Council area tried to be as self sufficient as possible.  This was partly because they were so far from any place to buy things even if they had a way to generate cash to make such purchases.  But they also had a strong sense of individualism and independence that lingers in some of their descendants to this day.   Whatever they could not or would not buy they either made, grew, or got by without.

            Naturally food production was basic to their survival, and they tried growing a wide variety of crops.  Early favorites were corn and beans.  In the early 1890s one traveler through the valley noted that these two vegetables were being planted in almost every field.  Sugar cane was grown here very early on, and later, in the 1920s and 1930s,  sugar beets were a popular crop.   Just after 1900 peanuts and tobacco were grown in Washington County (which included Council at the time), but this was probably in warmer climates closer to Weiser.

            One agricultural endeavor that was an early and immediate success here was fruit; especially apples.  George Moser and George Winkler planted the first fruit trees in the Council Valley at about the same time, around 1880.  Winkler was the first to actually harvest any fruit.

            Although many early settlers grew a few fruit trees for their own use William and Dora Black, who settled on Hornet Creek about 1888, are generally credited with starting the first commercial orchard in the county.  The Black place is now the Gossard Ranch.  Samples of fruit from the Black's orchard took a prize at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and some of their fruit was even sent to London and Paris for exhibition.

            Even though local fruit was of high quality the market was mostly limited to local sales for lack of a timely means of transporting it.  This changed with the arrival of the railroad at Council in 1901.  By 1904 B.B. Day, who now owned the Black place on Hornet Creek, was shipping apples to markets as distant as Walla Walla and Nampa.  The next year, he was sending apples to Chicago by the railroad car full, and area farmers were beginning realize that there was money to be made in fruit.  By the end of 1905 about 5,000 new fruit trees had been  planted in the Council area.  The same number of trees were planted here in the spring of 1906.

            Other fruit pioneers in the Council area about this time were A.E. Wiffin, Seward Piper, Morgan Gifford,  Eliza Sorenson, and Joseph Carr.  These orchards were on the slopes just east of town.   Carr, who arrived here in 1903, is credited by some as initiating the fruit growing boom in the Council Valley.   In 1907 he took an exhibit of apples to the National Horticultural congress at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and brought home seven silver cups as prizes, plus a number of medals and ribbons.  At least one of these cups, along with others won between 1907 and 1909, are in the Council Valley Museum.

            That same year (1907) local fruit men organized the Council Valley Fruit Growers Association.  They encouraged the planting and promotion of commercial orchards, and triggered a dynamic chapter in Council's history.

            By 1908 there were about 175 acres of young fruit trees growing in the Council area.  The Growers Association sent an exhibit to the Boise fair, and won 22 first prizes and 8 second prizes on their apples.   And apples were again sent to the National Horticultural Congress in Council Bluffs, Iowa where they won 17 prizes. 

            Suddenly, orchards were the rage in the area, and it seemed that everyone was jumping onto the band wagon.  Local business men came up with a logo depicting a red apple accompanied by the slogan "The Home of the Big Red Apple" which was placed on envelopes, banners, and other promotional material.   A corporation called the "Washington County Land and Development Company" was organized to promote the development of the Council Valley.

            The editor of the Council Leader newspaper championed the cause by bragging, ". . . Council Valley possesses a peculiar climatic condition which worms cannot become climated to."  He also claimed, "An apple failure on account of frost is something that has never been known of here."

            In the spring of 1909, about 20,500 young fruit trees were shipped to the Council Valley to be planted.  The Forest Service even joined in the frenzy by designating the Stevens Ranger Station near the East Fork of the Weiser River as an experiment station where various fruit trees were to be grown to determine which varieties were best adapted for the local climate.

 

9-11-97  The most ambitious fruit-growing plan of all in 1909 was a project that would eventually be called the "Mesa Orchards Company".  The goal was nothing less than the biggest orchard in the United States to be planted on a mesa eight miles south of Council.  There was already a post office at this location in 1908, under the name "Middle Fork".  The name of the post office wasn't changed to "Mesa" until 1912. 

            J.J. Allison started the idea for Mesa Orchards in 1908.  He had searched all over the West for five years for just such a place.  The land he found south of Council was being dry farmed without much success by several homesteaders.  Allison interested eastern investors, and organized the Weiser Valley Land & Water Company which purchased several thousand acres from the homesteaders.  The company then sold ten acre parcels to individual investors at $400 to $500 per acre.  For that price, the company would plant fruit trees, care for them for five years, plus pay 3% interest on the buyer's investment.  After five years, the owner could operate independently, or the company would continue to do the work for 10% of the net profit from the land.  The company would also build a house for the buyer at what it cost the company for "materials, labor, and supervision".

            Construction on Mesa projects actually began in 1909.  Some tree planting was done in 1910, but irrigation was not adequate, and most of the trees died.  An ambitious scheme was devised whereby they would take irrigation water for the orchard out of the Middle Fork of the Weiser River.  The only problem was that all the water rights to this river had already been taken.  Their solution was to build a $50,000 dam on Lost Creek, about 25 miles to the north, where they could obtain water rights.  They would then trade this reservoir water for water they would take from the Middle Fork.  But before a single drop of water could be put on the Mesa Company's land an elaborate, seven-mile-long, wooden flume would have to be built to convey the water from the Middle Fork, plus several miles of ditches (at an estimated cost of $300,000) would have to be dug.   Water was hauled in barrels on wagons until the irrigation system was finally completed in 1911.

            By the fall of 1909 the Lost Valley Reservoir dam had been completed and Council Valley fruit had won several more top prizes at the Horticultural Congress in Council Bluffs.  The Mesa Company had ordered 80,000 nursery trees to set out the following spring, was building a sawmill on the Middle Fork to cut lumber for the flumes, and had 100 men employed digging ditches.

            Also in 1909 a new townsite was established about seven miles north of Council.  In keeping with the local trend of the day it was called "Fruitvale", and most of the streets were named after apple varieties.  The name "Fruitvale" was the idea of Lucy McMahan.  There was also a division of Weiser named Fruitvale at the time. 

            Mentioning Lucy McMahan reminds me to get on my soapbox about misspelled street names.  As you know, it irritates me that the street in town named after the first family who settled here, the Mosers, is spelled "Mosher" Avenue.  Now they have named a lane at Fruitvale after the McMahans and spelled it "McMahon".  (#*'~@!!!! )

            Profits on investments in apples  in 1909 were said to be $100 per acre on six year old trees, and $600 per acre on 10 to 12 year old trees.  Peaches, pears, plums, grapes and prunes were also becoming popular.  And strawberries were a favorite, yielding $500 to $900 per acre to the grower.  Considering how fast and loose promoters played with facts and figures it is anyone's guess as to what the actual profits were.

            The desire of investors and homesteaders to get in on this type of money-making band wagon produced a multitude of land schemes during this general time period.   A popular practice of promoters was to buy land cheap, plant fruit trees, then sell tracts at high prices to people from the east who had idealistic visions of a homestead in the great western outdoors.  Thousands of acres were exploited in this manner, and it had a negative influence on fruit prices at times, even though the land involved was often not suitable for growing fruit.

            In the spring of 1910, local growers ordered 300,000 more trees, and the Mesa Orchards Co. was hiring every man they could find.

            More next week.

            Guess what!?  Work has begun on the museum addition!  Finally.

 

9-18-97            By 1912 another ambitious fruit growing effort was starting on the slopes north east of Council, east of highway 95 between Orchard Road and Mill Creek Road.  The power house behind this project, called "The Council Valley Orchards", was C.E. Miesse (pronounced Mee-see) of Chicago.  Miesse had been the president of the Weiser Valley Land and Water Co., but had resigned.  Now, as president of this new company, he was overseeing the planting of 17,000 peach trees, 2,000 pear trees, and the addition of 13,000 apple trees on land that a short time earlier had grown nothing but ". . . sage brush, rocks and a tangled mass of shrubbery, . . ."  The goal was a 500 acre orchard that would employ 75 to 100 men seasonally and 1500 workers to harvest the crop.

            The "Orchard District", as this area came to be known, included independent fruit growers along with those in the "Council Orchard Company".  The district developed rapidly, and soon had a population that supported its own school.  The "Orchard School" was on the south east corner of the intersection of Mill Creek road and Missman road.

            Since newly planted fruit trees would not yield a crop until they had acquired some degree of maturity both the Mesa and Council orchards adopted the successful practice of growing potatoes between the young trees.  Asparagus was another crop grown in this way at Mesa.  The plants kept sprouting up for years after the company had stopped planting them.

            In 1911 the Mesa Orchards Company built a temporary school.  In the summer of 1912, one of the more expensive school houses in Adams County was built at Mesa at a cost of about $5,000.  The brick building had two classrooms plus an assembly room for public gatherings.  All this for only nine students initially.

            By the fall of 1912 it was estimated that there were 3,000 acres of orchard, worth at least $500 per acre, within a twelve and a half mile radius of Council.  The reputation of the Council area as a fruit-growing cornucopia was attracting investors from all over the U.S.

            That fall some Illinois men arrived to look at the local orchards.  According to the Council Leader, they had heard that ". . . Council Valley was regarded as one of the safest and best fruit districts in the state, . . .", and they proclaimed this area was ". . . almost a miracle in fruit raising."  The editor, who accompanied the men on their local tour, went on to say,  "While going through Mr. Hildenbrand's big orchard he offered us one hundred dollars if we could find a single worm in his orchard."

            Even though the orchards didn't seem to have any problems with insect pests, "blight", a contagious disease that killed trees, was present and very much feared.  A State fruit inspector made regular examinations of local orchards, and outbreaks of this affliction were taken very seriously.  Several local orchard men were actually arrested and tried in court for not destroying their infected trees after the inspector had ordered them to do so.

            Local fruit growing businesses continued to be successful, even through the agricultural depression of the 1920s, and provided badly needed seasonal jobs for local residents.  But this self-proclaimed fruit grower's Eden was not to be without its serpent.  As the automobile became more common, and people and goods traveled faster and farther, noxious weeds and crop damaging insects began hitch-hiking into the area.  By 1920 the blister mite, one of the worst enemies of fruit growers of that time, had appeared in orchards at Council and Mesa.

            In 1920 the Mesa Company finished a unique, $45,000 tramway to carry fruit to the railroad three and a half miles to the north.  It consisted of 48 wooden towers which varied in height from 20 to 45 feet.  Its 42 steel baskets each carried six to eight boxes of fruit.  

 

             The community at Mesa had its own general store /post office, a school, several homes and a dozen smaller cottages, a bunkhouse, a machine shop, a number of packing sheds, storage cellars, company cookhouse, and other buildings.  One feature that the original promotion had promised never became a reality.  Originally, a railroad depot was planned near the foot of the mesa, and a trolley line was to take passengers to and from the depot there.

            It is hard to say whether the Mesa Orchards Company achieved its goal of having the biggest orchard in the nation.  Some have claimed that it was the biggest orchard in the world.  Since human nature ardently follows the adage that a good story is better than the truth, the actual size of the orchard in comparison to its peers is hard to pin down.    At its peak from 1920 to 1929, there were 1,200 acres actually growing fruit trees at Mesa: significantly short of  its goal of 4,000 acres.  During apple harvest, about 200 pickers were employed and the company had a total payroll of about $150,000.  A 1929 issue of the Adams County Leader printed what may be a realistic estimation of the Mesa Orchards as, ". . . one of the largest commercial orchards under one head operated anywhere in the northwest."

            More next week.

            Last week Charlie Fry's daughters came in and donated some great pictures of the Van Hoesens and Mesa.  One is a color, panoramic shot of the orchards from end to end, and shows the school, store, the houses, packing sheds, etc.  The museum is working on collecting labels from Mesa fruit boxes, etc.  It is now possible to reproduce them with a laser color copier so that they look exactly like the original.  Aside from the value of exhibiting them, we may be able to frame the copies and sell them to raise funds.

            The museum has now officially closed for the 1997 season.  Sunday, September 14 was the last open day.  Many thanks go to the volunteers who hosted the museum for the last two weeks.  When we reopen next summer we will probably be operating with volunteers only, so we will need people to help.  I'm hoping a number of you will donate one three-hour shift a week so that we don't have to continually recruit people.

 

9-25-97              During the 1920s the Orchard district expanded until fruit trees covered almost the entire area between Mill Creek and Orchard Road east of the highway.  Men such as William Hoover, Lawson Hill, Addison Missman, Tom Nichols and Frank Scholl were some of its prominent producers.  These men, and others, built "packing plants" where apples were sorted, boxed, and then shipped via the railroad.

            Hoover's packing plant was located on the south east corner where Orchard Road and Missman Road intersect.  When it was built in 1926 it was said to be the biggest one in the Council area, second only to Mesa's.  It had a cement floo r, contained a grading machine, and could store almost 80 railroad car loads of apples.  (The largest cars held 795 boxes and took about a day to load.)  When the packing plant was built, it took six railroad car loads of wood shavings for insulation to fill the walls.  Hoover employed 40 pickers in 1927, and kept at least 40 more workers busy at the packing plant.