Early Settlers of Boise and Boise Valley, Idaho

Calvin F. Bodfish, one of the pioneers of Ada County, was a native of Maine, whence he went to Australia in 1853, and thence to Cal. in 1858. He came to Idaho on the discovery of gold, and was one of the first settlers at Boise City. He was a member of the first Idaho legislature and was appointed assessor of internal revenue for the government. He died suddenly of apoplexy Nov. 7, l865, at the age of 43 years. Boise Statesman, Nov. 11, 1805.

H. C. Crane, another physician of Boise City’s early days, was fatally stabbed by a nephew of the same name, in a tit of temporary insanity, in the autumn of 1868.

L N. Coston, a native of Tompkins County, New York, was liberally educated and studied law. He immigrated to Idaho in 1862, and mined at Idaho City for two years, when he settled as a farmer in Boise Valley. He was elected to the legislature in 1870 and 1872 as councilman from Ada County, and was president of that body in the latter year. He was again elected in 1876. He was a good representative. Silver City Avalanche, Dec. 30, 1876.

J. C. Henley, born in Ohio, came to Idaho in 1862 from Iowa, and settled at Idaho City in 1863. On the organization of the judicial system of the territory he became clerk of the U. S. district court for the 2d district, which office he held until 1865, when he became a partner in the law firm of Gilbert & Henley. He was an accomplished German scholar, a republican in politics, and for 4 years a member of the national republican committee. He died August 27, 1872, at Boise City, aged 36 years, beloved and regretted.

D. N. Hyde of Seattle, Washington, was a pioneer of Boise City. Joseph Branstetter, one of the discoverers of Boise Basin, was a resident of this county. He was born in Berry County, Mo., April 17, 1842; immigrated to Walla Walla in 1860, and followed the mining rush to Idaho two years later. In 1870 ho married Laura Marlette of Wisconsin. Branstetter’s Discovery of Boise Basin is a manuscript narrative of an expedition which resulted fortunately to many.

Jonathan Keeney was born in Missouri. He left his home at an early age in 1834 to join the fur companies in the Rocky Mountains; returned and married in 1837, and immigrated to Oregon in 1846, going to Idaho with the gold seekers in 1863. He located himself at Keeney ferry on Snake River, near the month of the Boise, and resided there till about 1878, when be sold the property and retired to a farm on Willow Creek. He was accidentally shot on the l5th of August 1878, at the age of 78 years, by a gun in his own hands. Boise Statesman, Aug. 24. 1878.

John Lemp, a native of Germany, immigrated to Louisville, Ky, in 1852, at the age of 14 years. On the discovery of the Colorado mines he went to Denver and erected a brewery, but being caught by the rush to Idaho in 1863, went thither, and established a brewery at Boise City in 1864. He made money, and married in 1866. In 1874-5 was elected mayor.

John B. Pierce, a pioneer of Boise Valley, born in Cumberland County, Ky, in 1827, removed with his parents to Illinois in 1830. His opportunities for education were limited, but being a good observer and a student of public affairs, acquired by reading considerable knowledge of politics and law. He removed to Missouri in 1844, and crossed the plains in 1850 to Oregon, settling the following spring in Siskiyou County, Cal., where he was engaged in mining, packing, lumbering, and other business of the country. In 1860 he was a member of the central committee of the county, which supported John C. Breckenridge for president. In 1862 he prospected through eastern Oregon and Washington, engaging in mining in Boise basin among the earliest pioneers of that region. He assisted in organizing the Democratic Party in Idaho, and was nominated for the assembly al the first election, but was beaten. Ho joined with H. C. Street and J. H. Bowman in purchasing the Boise News from its republican owners, and converting it into the Idaho Worlds for the support of democracy. He was offered the nomination for delegate to congress in 1864, bat declined. He was several times elected to the legislature from Boise and Owyhee and Ada Counties, and served as chairman of the special code committee of the lower house in 1874, his popularity being attributable to his opposition to every kind of jobbery in politics, of which there has been much in Idaho in his own party. He was a prosperous farmer in Boise Valley; was twice married, 1 of his sons having families of their own.

James A. Pinney came to Cal. in 1850 at the age of 15, and went to Oregon in 1853, following the gold-hunters to Idaho in 1862, engaging in packing goods from Lewiston to the mines, and making money enough to set up as a merchant at Idaho City the following year, where he also served as postmaster. Ho was burned out in the great fires of 1865 and 1867, but recovered his hold upon fortune, and removed to Boise in 1870, where he carried on a large stationery and book business.

J. W. Porter, a native of Kentucky, came to Cal. from Iowa in 1850, served in the federal army in the Civil War, and went to Idaho at its close, where he became private secretary to Gov. Ballard and resided at Boise City until his death, March 29, 1870.

Albert H. Robie was a native Genesee County, N. Y. He came to the Pacific coast as a member of Governor Stevens’ exploring expedition, as I have noted in the previous part of this volume. After the Indian war of 1855-6 he was placed in charge of the Indians about The Dalles. In 1860, when the Nez Percé mines were discovered, he erected a sawmill at Lewiston, removing thence to Idaho City, and again to Boise City, where he was ever foremost in useful undertakings. He owned a large herd of cattle, which was grazed near Steen Mountain, in Oregon. When the Bannack war of 1878 broke out he was at his stock rancho and narrowly escaped with his life. Joining in the pursuit of the Indians, who had destroyed his herd, he fell a victim to an illness brought on by fatigue and exposure, and died July 26, 1878, at his home on Dry Creek, Boise Valley, aged 46 years, leaving a wife and 5 children. Boise Statesman, July 27, 1878.

Hiram E. Talbot was born at Richmond, Va, Sept. 22, 1809, immigrated to Cal. in 1859, thence to Oregon, and again to Idaho in 1863, practicing medicine in each of these commonwealths. He died Nov. 17, 1865, at the age of 56 years, leaving several sons and daughters. His obsequies were the most imposing known in Boise City at that time.


Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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