Various Subjects

Presbyterianism In Idaho

The history of Presbyterianism in Idaho embraces three separate histories: that of the work among the Nez Perces, that of the work among the whites in the Panhandle, and that of the work in the southern section of the state.

The work among the Nez Perces had its beginning in 1836, when Rev. Henry H. Spalding, the friend and companion of Marcus Whitman, established a mission station at Lapwai on the Clearwater, twelve miles above the present city of Lewiston. When the Whitman’s were massacred in 1847 Mr. Spalding and his wife were also marked as victims, and though they escaped with their lives they were shut out from work in that field until 1871. In that year Mr. Spalding was allowed to return and spent three busy years among the people from whom he had been separated for almost a quarter of a century. The seed sown with weeping so long before had not perished, and he was permitted to gather in his sheaves with rejoicing. During the last three years of his life he was permitted to baptize six hundred and ninety-four Indian converts.

One year before he died two women of heroic spirit, educated, consecrated, and in every way fitted, came to his help. They were the Misses Susan and Kate McBeth, whose names are now household words in Presbyterian homes. Miss Susan had worked among the Choctaws until the civil war compelled her withdrawal, and then she served as a nurse in the army hospitals in St. Louis until the close of the war. Shattered in health though she was, when she heard of the need of the Nez Perces she offered her services to the Presbyterian board and went out, accompanied by her, “sister-todie,” her friends said, to give twenty years of splendid service as her Master ordered it. She had said, “I will go to the Nez Perces: with such work to do for Christ I can rise to life again.” She continued an invalid, but who in health could have accomplished more than she?

Both sisters went to work with a will, Miss Kate to teach the women and the children, and Miss Susan to teach the men and train up an intelligent and consecrated native ministry. So great was her success that she has been called “a living theological seminary.” Her scholar-ship attracted the attention of Professor Joseph Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, while her personal character, and the efficiency of her labors secured for her the warm friendship of such men as Dr. Dorchester and General O. O. Howard. She died in 1893 and her work has since been carried on by her sister and others. The extent of the success of this work is indicated by the fact that at the meeting of the Presbytery of Walla Walla at Moscow, April 6, of this present year, there were in attendance eighteen Indian delegates.

* This sketch was prepared by Rev. Elmer E. Fife, the pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Boise.

The Presbytery of Idaho was organized in 1880. It embraced the entire territory of Idaho, together with the eastern portions of Washington and Oregon. It was divided in 1883, and the region lying “east and south of the eastern and southern boundary of Idaho county, Idaho territory,” was organized under the name of the “Wood River Presbytery.” The remaining portion continued to be Idaho Presbytery until 1891, when a second division was made and it was succeeded by the present presbyteries of Walla Walla and Spokane. (I regret that I do not have the data for a detailed sketch of the organization and later history of the Idaho congregations of these presbyteries.)

The first Presbyterian sermon within the limits of the Wood River Presbytery was preached at Boise City by Rev. H. W. Stratton, the synodical missionary of the Synod of the Columbia. He organized the first Presbyterian church at that place, with sixteen members, February 4, 1878. It was organized in the Methodist church, held its services for a time in the Baptist church, and built its own place of worship in 1879.

Rev. E. Pratt began work in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue in 1882. A little later, churches were organized at Hailey and Bellevue. The church of Caldwell is the monument to the energy of a few Presbyterian ladies who wished to have a church and a pastor. As there were no men there at that time who wished to unite with them in organizing a church they formed a “Presbyterian Church Society.” They made some money, secured the promise of more, and then wrote to the board of home missions telling what they had done, and stating what help they needed. The help was heartily given, and, some men having been found in the meantime who were ready to go into a Presbyterian church, it was organized by Rev. J. H. Barton, in 1888, with Rev. W. J. Boone as the first pastor. From Boise City and Caldwell as centers the work has extended until there are now a number of other very promising congregations.

Wood River Presbytery was divided in 1893, and the churches above mentioned were grouped together in “Boise Presbytery.” The eastern section of the state was organized as “Kendall Presbytery,” taking the name in honor of that fine old hero of Presbyterian missions. Rev. Henry Kendall, D. D. Montpelier was the first station occupied, ground for a chapel having been purchased there in 1883 by Rev. D. J. McMillan, who became later one of the corresponding secretaries of the home mission board. Miss Florence E. Baker opened a mission school at that place in the spring of 1884, teaching in a little log cabin until the chapel was completed. Rev. R. P. Boyd began work at Paris, the county seat of Bear Lake County, in March 1885, being the first minister of any evangelical denomination to make that county his place of residence. He is still faithfully at work. Since then many other points have been occupied, and chapels and mission schools have been built. As that part of the state is largely Mormon, the character of the work undertaken has been determined by that fact.

The College of Idaho, a school under Presbyterian auspices, that at present has the grade of an academy, was opened at Caldwell in October, 1891. It has made a steady, healthy growth un-der the management of its president, Rev. W. J. Boone, and is attended by a fine body of students who are old enough to know why they are going to school and eager to make the most of their opportunities. Eastern friends are manifesting increased interest in it, and generous donations have recently been made that will greatly in-crease its efficiency.

The work of our synodical Sunday-school missionaries is of prime importance. They organize schools where there are none, and endeavor to keep them alive and at work. In some places these schools have been of direct benefit to Presbyterianism, but its fundamental purpose is to better the religious condition of the state without regard to denomination. In addition to this they give such assistance as lies in their power to the smaller congregations, and also to evangelistic work in unoccupied fields. Rev. J. H. Barton is the missionary for Boise and Kendall Presbyteries, and Rev. Matthew G. Mann in the Panhandle.

The general oversight of mission congregations is entrusted to the synodical missionary, while they are under the immediate care of a Presbyterial Home Mission Committee. Rev. S. E. Wishard, D. D., is the synodical missionary for the southern part of the state, and Rev. T. AI. Gunn, D. D., for the northern part. The outlook for Presbyterianism in this state was never brighter.

The Fort Hall Canal

During the year 1896 the federal government let a contract for the construction of an immense irrigation canal in the Fort Hall reservation, preparatory to the allotment of land in severalty to the Indians. This reservation extends for twenty-five miles in every direction from Pocatello, and contains over a million and a half acres in Bannock, Bingham and Oneida counties, the greater part being in Bannock County. Of this land about four hundred thousand acres are as fine agricultural lands as can be found in any region, and of this amount fully three hundred thousand acres are in Bannock county and adjacent to the city of Pocatello. It is magnificent sagebrush land and easily watered.

The section of the canal first to be completed ends at Ross fork, twelve miles above Pocatello, thus arranging that the Indians should take their allotments above that point and leaving the thousands of acres near Pocatello for white settlers, as soon as a treaty for their purchase can be made by the government. The canal heads in Snake River above Basalt and runs south to the Blackfoot river, crossing it by a flume. Thence it continues in a southeasterly direction along the foothills to Ross Fork creek, which will be the terminus for the present; but as soon as there is a demand for the water along the foot-hills to Port Neuf, about five miles above Pocatello, the canal will be extended to that point, thus watering the great plains east of the city. When completed the canal will have a total length of fifty-five miles.

The reservation is now occupied by about fourteen hundred Shoshone and Bannack Indians, and besides the agricultural lands mentioned it also contains a number of ranges of mountains rich in valuable minerals, as noted elsewhere. The establishment of this great waterway will render inhabitable land enough for thousands of homes, which will contribute to the prosperity of Pocatello and Bannock County.

Pertinent Information On Various Subjects

It will probably be a surprise, to persons who have not had an opportunity for personal investigation, to learn that within the boundaries of the state of Idaho may be found the largest body of white and yellow pine, fir, tamarack and cedar timber now left standing in the United States. About six million acres of this timber is growing on the headwaters of the Payette, Weiser and Boise rivers and their tributaries in southern Idaho, the largest body being on the Payette river and amounting to about one million acres. This estimate is made from actual surveys by the United States government, which may be verified by reference to the report of ex-Governor Shoup, now United States senator from Idaho, who, in his report to the secretary of the interior, places the timber acreage of the state at ten million acres.

The United States still owns within the borders of Idaho eight million acres of land, which is open to settlement under the homestead, timber culture and the desert-land acts. These lands in many cases are as good as can be found in the state, only awaiting facilities for irrigation, when they will be rapidly taken up. New systems of irrigation are being constantly opened. By the Carey law, enacted by congress in 1894, the state of Idaho gets one million acres of this land upon very easy terms, and it is expected that aggressive work will soon be done toward taking advantage of the munificent gift of congress, and the lands will be sold to actual settlers at a nominal price, to encourage immigration.

The population of Idaho in 1870 was 14,999. In 1880, 32,610, of whom 29,013 were white and 3,507 were colored; 22,636 American-born and 9,974 foreign born; 21,818 males and 10,792 females. In 1890 the population was 84,385, being four-tenths of one to the square mile. That year the vote for governor was 10,262 Republican and 7,948 Democrat. The net territorial debt was $200,855; taxable property, $56,000,000. There were eighteen counties and two hundred and sixty-one post-offices, eight hundred and forty-four miles of railroad; annual product of manufactories, $1,200,000; number of public schools, three hundred and sixty-five; number of school children, ten thousand four hundred and thirty-three; number of newspapers, thirty-eight. The population of Boise was about four thousand; Pocatello, two thousand and five hundred; Hailey, two thousand; Lewiston, one thousand and six hundred; Bellevue, fifteen hundred; Ketchum, fifteen hundred; Moscow, fifteen hundred; Wardner, fifteen hundred; Shoshone, twelve hundred; and Wallace, twelve hundred.

The most remarkable group of mineral springs in America are the Soda Springs, of Bingham County, in eastern Idaho. They are situated in a romantic valley, 5,779 feet above the level of the sea, surrounded by lofty snow-clad mountains, and easily reached from the east or west by the Oregon Short Line. Within a radius of two or three miles are scores of large springs, the waters ranging from almost ice-cold to warm, containing magnesia, soda, iron, sulphur and various other constituents, in such proportions as to have a great power on disease, and some of them being so highly charged with carbonic acid and other gases as to prove a most pleasing beverage. The waters are a superb tonic, and are effecting remarkable cures of skin and blood diseases, dyspepsia, rheumatism, and many other ills our flesh is heir to.

Westward from Soda Springs, the Oregon Short Line route lies for forty miles amid some of the most interesting, pleasing and picturesque scenery in all nature. In winding its way down out of the confines of the rugged Wahsatch mountains to the great Snake river valley, it follows Port Neuf River. Giant cones and craters of extinct volcanoes, yawning chasms, extending into the earth’s depths, dark caves and caverns, lofty palisades, all relics of the volcanic age, vie with the gentler phases of an exquisitely beautiful valley panorama to fill the tourist’s eye. The river, sinuous as a serpent’s trail, is often broken by the loveliest cataracts. The valley is alternately a solid bed of highly colored wild flowers, a luxuriantly grassed meadow and well tilled fields. Midway between Soda Springs and Pocatello, a fine group of hot sulphur springs burst from the rocks at the water’s edge. Here, almost anywhere, the angler can land a basket of trout in a few hours, within a few feet of the railway track, or the sportsman can bag his dozen ducks or geese in an equally short period. At Pocatello, a junction point of the Oregon Short Line, are fine hotel accommodations, and this is an excel-lent rendezvous for the tourist.

North of Shoshone about fifty miles, the Wood river branch of the Oregon Short Line fairly enters the great Wood River region. Hailey and Ketchum located in the heart of this region, probably arrive as near to all the requirements of the tourist and health-seeker as any of the resorts located on the banks of the Wood river; Hailey at an altitude of five thousand two hundred feet, and Ketchum about five hundred feet higher.

Hailey Hot Springs, located in full view of the town, are only a mile and a half distant. The ride or walk thither is very pleasant, leading through a picturesque little valley, and the location, in a lovely glen in sight of several rich mines, is very pleasing. Large volumes of water, of a temperature of one hundred and forty-four degrees and containing sulphate of soda, iron, magnesia, sulphur and other desirable ingredients, are emitted from scores of springs. Four commodious rock-walled and cemented swimming baths and many solid porcelain tub baths are provided. These are all supplied with elegantly appointed dressing rooms, lighted by electricity, and under the same roof as the luxuriously furnished chambers. Many patients have gone to these with chronic cases, believed to be hopeless, of neuralgia, paralysis, dyspepsia, inflammatory or mercurial rheumatism, and other complaints for which the Arkansas springs are considered a specific, and after a few months of bathing and drinking have left completely restored.

The famous springs at Boise, and the magnificent natatorium, are known all over the United States. Beautiful for situation, located only one mile up Warm Springs avenue, connected with all parts of the city by elegant electric car lines, architecturally a perfect gem, designed after some Turkish building of ancient fame, with its diving plunge for bathers one hundred and twenty-two feet long and sixty feet wide, cement bottom, and ranging in depth on a gradual slope from three to fourteen feet; with its sixty retiring rooms for bathers; its spacious drawing rooms for ladies and gentlemen; its balcony overlooking the bathing plunge, where the visitor can see the sportive bathers darting merrily through the life-saving and healing waters, under the glare of the electric lights; its elegant parlors for private parties; its pleasant smoking and reading rooms its large billiard room and music hall; a splendidly equipped dining hall on the third floor, where the visitor can be regaled with all the delicacies of the season; with grounds handsomely laid out, where the visitor can wander at will through sylvan retreats; and, added to all this, the medicinal and healing virtues of the waters, being a specific for digestive and liver troubles of every kind, rheumatism, dyspepsia, gout, ulcers of the stomach, and all skin diseases, the natatorium may be called a realization of Ponce de Leon’s fountain of life and pleasure.

The United States Geological Survey in 1871 gave the temperature of the various thermal springs as follows;


Snake river, three miles below Salt River 144
Snake river, below the lower canyon
Lincoln valley, near Fort Hall 87
Steamboat Spring, Bear River bend 88
Near Fishing Flats, north of Snake River 164

Commencing in 1866 annual geological reports were made under the auspices of the general government. F. V. Hayden was the chief of the survey for the first years.

Of marble there is a good quality in Cassia County, quarried for the market. The value of all marketed in the state in 1891 had the value of $3,000; in 1892, $2,250; and in 1893, $5,500. The newly discovered deposit near Paris is of large extent, varying in quality in different localities and also in color. The colors are jet black, black with streaks of white, black and red, black and gold, and dark blue with gold markings. In one place a vein of onyx twenty feet wide runs through the mass. Blocks of a desirable size may be obtained apparently without flaw. Abundant waterpower is at hand, and efforts are in progress to develop the property. Of sandstone there were $16,060 worth marketed near Boise in 1896, which was an increase over that of the preceding year. Most of the limestone marketed in 1896 was quarried in Kootenai County, the total amount for the state being reported at $5,610 in value. Practically all the limestone quarried was burnt into lime.

The relative areas of Idaho mining lands, agricultural lands, grazing land, etc., cannot be exactly given. Various estimates have been made by public officials; but the following is as nearly correct as we can ascertain at present:

Total area of the state 55,000,000
Mountainous 17,400,000
Agricultural 15,000,000
Grazing 15,000,000
Forest (accessible) 7,000,000

In describing Idaho as she appeared at the World’s Fair, an enthusiastic writer declared as follows: “The hearts of Idaho’s mountains, trembling at the miner’s stroke, yield up the precious metals; her valleys quiver with the lisping grasses, and her gardens glow with flowers and fruit. Steadily she strides on, and if there is a floral heaven on earth, it is Boise City, her beautiful capital. No state has made a more decided impression on the public than Idaho. To a vast majority of Americans it is an undiscovered country. Little wonder, then, that they are amazed, when confronted with such a display of wonderful resources; such a demonstration of crude strength and noble possibilities, as they see illustrated in the Idaho building, and in the Idaho building, and in its various exhibits in all parts of the fair.”

The great seal of the state of Idaho, depicted in vignette at the opening of this volume, was adopted March 14, 1891.

In 1883-4 occurred the Coeur d’Alene stampede, when thousand gold-hunters crossed the terrible snows of the mountains,

The Idaho wool clip in 1895 amounted to nearly eight million pounds, and increase of a
million pounds over the preceding year. In 1894 there were in the state 575,178 sheep, valued at a dollar each; in 1895, 717,339, of about the same value.

Professor L. H. Bailey, of Cornell University, the eminent pomologist of this country, says of the Idaho fruits in his Annals of Horticulture: The region of large fruits seems to begin with Idaho and to include Oregon, Washington and California. The displays of apples shown from the northwestern states, Idaho, Oregon and Washington were characterized by fruit of enormous size, high color and remarkable freedom from scab. To the eastern man the most interesting variety from these states was the yellow Newtown pippin, which is the leading apple over a great territory there, and which is twice as the same apple grown in the Hudson River valley. There is a conspicuous difference in specimens of the same variety when grown with or without irrigation. The irrigated apples are said to be larger than the others, higher colored, better keepers, and to have superior flavor.”

From the market report of the Chicago Tribune of October 8, 1897, is quoted the following:

“A consignment of seven or eight cars of fruit from Idaho attracted considerable attention on South Water Street yesterday, being the largest lot to arrive from that section recently. Apples and plums constituted the bulk of the shipment. Varieties of the former were pippins, Jonathans and bellflowers. These came in fifty-pound boxes, and are by far the finest-looking fruit on the street. A peculiarity of the Idaho apples is that they are absolutely without blemish, such as gnarls or worms. In form and color the fruit is perfect.

“The eyes of the receiving interest are being opened to the fact that if Idaho continues to do as well as it is now doing the state will be a formidable rival to California as a raiser and shipper of high-grade fruits. While the Idaho season is a little later than California, being further north, anything that will grow in California may be raised in Idaho. Freight to the Chicago market is less than from California, and time en route nearly two days quicker.”

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

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