Idaho In 1890

The officers for the territory and state of Idaho for the year 1890 were: Governor George L. Shoup, Republican; secretary of state, Edward J. Curtis; treasurer, Charles Himrod; comptroller, James H. Wickersham; attorney general, Richard Z. Johnson; superintendent of public instruction, Charles C. Stevenson; chief justice of the supreme court, James H. Beatty; associate justices, Willis Sweet and Charles H. Berry.

November 1, 1890, the following state officers were declared elected by the state board of canvassers and soon thereafter assumed office: Governor, George L. Shoup; lieutenant governor, Norman B. Willey; secretary of state, A. J. Pinkham; auditor, Silas W. Moody; treasurer, Frank R. Coffin; attorney general, George H. Roberts; superintendent of public instruction. J. E. Harroun; justices of the supreme court, Isaac N. Sullivan, Joseph W. Huston and John T. Morgan. Justice Sullivan drew by lot the shortest term and thereby became the chief justice.

The population of Idaho in 1890 by counties was:

Ada 8,368
Alturas 2,629
Bear Lake 6,057
Bingham 13,575
Boise 3,342
Cassia 3,143
Custer 2,176
Elmore 1,870
Idaho 2,955
Kootenai 4,108
Latah 9,173
Lemhi 1,915
Logan 4,169
Nez Perce 2,847
Oneida 6,819
Owyhee 2,021
Shoshone 5,382
Washington 3,836
Total for the state 84,385

Increase since 1880 51,775

The total indebtedness of the counties in 1890, when Idaho became a state, was $1,320,795, of which $858,700 was bonded. The state debt October 1, 1890, was: Bonds of 1877, due December 1, 1891, $46,715.06; capitol-building bonds of 1885, $80,000; insane-asylum bonds of 1885, $20,000; outstanding warrants unpaid. $92,552.89; total debt, $239,267.95. The large amount of outstanding warrants was due to appropriations made by the preceding legislature for improvements upon the capitol grounds, the insane asylum and the university lands, and to unusual expenditures caused by the destruction of the insane asylum at Blackfoot by fire on November 24, 1889. Before the end of December the wagon road bonds, amounting to $50,000, authorized by the preceding legislature, were sold at a premium, to be delivered as fast as money for the road should be needed.

The balances in the various funds of the state treasury were: General, $799.39; capitol building, $20,774.95; library, $198.89; university, $78.32; common school, $758.60; insane, $334.57; general school fund, $10,919.40; total, $33,864.12.

The governor estimated the necessary expenses of the first year of statehood at $177,535, to meet which a tax levy, for 1891, of six and a half mills, would be necessary, exclusive of the half-mill levy for the state university and the one-fifth-mill levy for the wagon roads.

The state university was established at Moscow by an act of the fifteenth legislature, and the sum of fifteen thousand dollars appropriated for the purchase of a site and for procuring plans and specifications for a building.

The growth of the public schools during the two years ending August 31, 1890, was indicated by the following figures : The number of school districts increased from 337 to 410; school-houses from 269 to 315; schools from 376 to 497; children of school age (between five and twenty-one) from 20,433 to 25,471; the amount received for school purposes from $158,512 to $202,235.

The assessed valuation of property for the year 1890 was: Real estate and improvements, $11,173,511; railroad property, $5,358,338; live stock, $4,744,276; goods, wares and merchandise, $1,612,615; money, bank shares and other securities, $763,284; other personal property, $1,929,281; total, $25,581,305. The rate of taxation upon this valuation was four mills, three and a half mills being for general purposes, and half a mill for the university.

The mineral production for the year 1890 by counties, was:

CountyGoldSilver, at $1 per ounce. Lead, at 4cts. a pound

$ 16,000

$ 500



Custer 260,000 893,000 145,000

Besides, Custer County produced $75,000 worth of copper, and Washington county $50,000 worth, making the grand total $13,824,500.

During the year ending March 31, 1890, crops were raised in the state by irrigation on 217,005 acres of land, or 339.07 square miles, about four-tenths of one per cent of the area of the state. The number of farms on May 31, 1890, was 6,654, of which 4,323, or about two-thirds, irrigated areas, the remaining third being farms in the northern counties or stock ranges requiring no irrigation. The average first cost of water right was $4.74 an acre, and the average cost of preparing the soil for cultivation, including the purchase price of the land but excluding the cost of water right, was $10.56 an acre. The average annual cost of water is eighty cents an acre. The average value of the irrigated land was $45.50 an acre.

On August 1, 1890, there were seventy-five prisoners in the state penitentiary, which is located two miles east of Boise, on a tract of one hundred and sixty acres. Of these six were United States prisoners. There is no employment for the inmates of this institution, but occasionally some were employed in a quarry near by. During the year 1889 congress made an appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars for the support of this prison, consisting of an addition to the building, on which work was begun in March 1890, and completed before the close of the year. In 1893 it was reported by the officer in charge that the cost of keeping each prisoner was about seventy-three cents a day, the convicts not being employed at profitable labor. Indeed, nearly all of them had never learned a trade. On December 1, this year, there were one hundred and thirty-two prisoners. The cost of their food per diem was fifteen cents per capita.

The Idaho National Guard, in 1890, consisted of six companies, aggregating about three hundred and fifty men, supplied with uniforms by the national government.

The legislature of 1889 appropriated fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a wagon road from Mount Idaho to Little Salmon Meadows. This section of the public highway, after it was completed, for a long time was the only means of communication within the state between the northern and southern counties.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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