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Early Southeast Idaho History

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Southern Idaho - during the time of 
Jefferson (Compton) Davis

"Marsh Valley" by
Darrel La Mar Wakley

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Marsh Valley is situated in Bannock County in southeastern Idaho, covering an area thirty miles in length, varying from five to twenty miles in width, and has an area of about 1100 square miles. It is sheltered by high mountain ranges--the Portend on the north and east, and the Malad and Bannock on the south and west. Mountain landmarks of distinction are: Oxford mountain, rising to a height of 9400 feet, stands as a sentinel at the southern end of the valley; on the west two peaks reach inspiring heights, Wakley Peak separated from Oxford by a low divide which efforts passage to Malad valley, and Old Tom, an impressive mountain jutting up at the north end of the valley and extending to the junction of Marsh Creek and the Portneuf river; on the east likewise are two mountain peaks of note--Haystack Peak across the valley to the east of Old Tom narrows the valley, affording a winding passage out of the valley for waterways and travelers, and Old Baldy, whose foothills begin to the south of the Portneuf river entrance and which reaches a comparative height, then dwindles down to lower hills ending at Bed Rock pass which is supposedly the Pacific outlet of the once great Lake Bonneville, which covered the Great Basin Area.

Red Rock pass was cut through a sill of resistant Paleozoic shale, limestone, and dolomite, and forms a narrow gap two miles long. At one time the pass was at the shoreline of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, 300 feet higher. Lava flows in the vicinity of Pocatello diverted the Bear River through Lake Thatcher into Lake Bonneville. The sudden influx caused Bonneville to overflow at Red Rock. Marsh Creek Valley, immediately downstream, was flooded from wall to wall, and the rapid discharge eroded the pass to its present level. The Bonneville Flood, as it is known, was catastrophic. Maximum discharge as about 15 million cfs, or about three times the average flow of the Amazon, the world's largest river. The rate of flow was approximately sixteen-mph, and though peak flow lasted only a few days, voluminous discharges may have continued for at least a year. Radio-carbon dates from molluscan fossils associated with the flood debris indicate the event occurred 30,000 years ago. Red Rock pass attracts geological groups from miles around, to study the remains of the great forces on nature. Large flows of rushing water whirled forth and washed a meandering path down what is now know as Marsh Valley, forming an ever receding stream bed until finally the giant waterway was left to carry a small stream later called Marsh Creek. This stream finds its sources high on two sides of Old Baldy, and runs south down Marsh Creek Canyon to within a few hundred yards of Red Rock Pass, then swings north. It inches its way through the peat and reed beds of the former great stream. It stagnates and seeps--in places forming swampy bulrush areas, in others verdant meadows. At places, this ancient stream bed is more than a mile wide and at oat places some hundred feet lower than the main valley floor. Near Red Rock Pass in the valley proper is a natural Hot Springs which has now been developed into a swimming resort. In the water worn caves in Red Rock and around the natural hot springs, many Indian arrows have been found, indicating that this section of Marsh Valley was an area frequented often, if not usually inhabited, by Indians years before white man came west of the Rockies.

Pierre De La Verendrye made discovery of the Rocky Mountains somewhere in the vicinity of Yellowstone Park while in search of a western sea in l743.

In 1812-1813, the returning Astorians came along the Portneuf and eventually over what became known as South Pass in present Wyoming. This group known as the Stuart Party found Edward Robinson, John Hoback, Jacob Rezner, and one of Hunt's men by the name of Miller, starved and naked on the backs of the Snake many miles down stream from Henry's Fort. Stuart's diary indicates that, after leaving Mr. Hunt's party, these men had made their way about two hundred miles to the south, where they trapped beaver on a river, which, according to their account, discharged itself into the ocean to the south of the Columbia, but which we comprehend to be Bear River, a stream emptying into Lake Bonneville (Great Salt Lake), an immense body of salt water west of the Rocky Mountains (1) Miller returned east with the Stuart Party, leading them down the Portneuf. Thus white man entered Marsh Valley on the north and left it through the Portneuf Pass by way of present day Lava Hot Springs. This is possibly the first recorded entry of white men. Others followed: Peter Skene Ogden led his great Snake River expedition through what is present day southeastern Idaho in 1825, and might have traversed the valley then; some time later trappers going to and from fur rendezvous, some of which were held in present day Cache Valley, undoubtedly came from Cache Valley through Red Rock Pass and down the Marsh Valley to the Portneuf and the Snake.

Alexander Ross and Jedediah Smith lead separate expeditions in much of the Salmon River country in 1824. Russia cedes the Northwest Territory to the United State in a treaty in 1824.

In 1808 David Thompson commences fur trade near Bonners Ferry. David Thompson constructs Kullyspell House by Lake Pend Oreille, first establishment erected in the Northwest, built for the Northwest Fur Company, in 18O9. In 1811 Pacific Fur Company expedition, the Astorians, explore the Snake River Valley on their way to the Columbia River. Led by Wilson P. Hunt, the westward journey discovers the Boise Valley.

Donald Mackenzie establishes a winter fur trading post at Lewiston for the Astorians in 1812. In 1818 Donald Mackenzie makes first exploration of southern Idaho with his Snake River expedition of trappers. In 1818 a Treaty of joint occupancy between Great Britain and the United States leaves the Oregon country (including Idaho) open to citizens of both nations. In 1820 a Treaty between Spain and the US establishes the southern boundary of Idaho (Oregon Territory) at 42nd parallel. In 1852 French Canadians discover gold on the Pend Oreille River. In 1853 construction of the Cataldo Mission was completed, the Washington Territory established, and Idaho was divided between Washington and Oregon. In 1857 Oregon's eastern boundary (Idaho's Western boundary), was established by Oregon constitutional convention. In 1859 Oregon was admitted as a state, with all of Idaho included in Washington Territory. In 1863 Idaho Territory was organized with the capital at Lewiston. President Lincoln signed the act establishing the Idaho Territory on March 4.

In 1846 the Sacred Heart Mission was established on the Coeur d' Alene River. The US acquires all land south of 49 degrees longitude by a treaty with Great Britain

Around the middle 1800's Myers and Hudspeth evidently started out to shorten a route to the gold mines in California, and actually succeeded in opening the new cutoff from Soda Springs to Raft River (2) This cutoff entered Marsh Valley by way of present day Fish Creek Divide above Lava, over the low hills near what is now Arimo and westward out of the valley by way of Hawkin's Basin. This early time trail has been erroneously called the Sublette Cutoff. Today a road across the valley from Arimo west is marked the Sublette road. The proper title should have been the Hudspeth or Myers Cutoff. (3)

In 1860 Idaho's oldest town, Franklin, is founded just north of the Utah border on April 14. Miss Hannah Cornish starts the school for white children in Idaho. Gold discovered on Orofino Creek in August leads to the establishment of Idaho's oldest mining town, Pierce. The Mullan military wagon road was built just north of Coeur d'Alene. In 1861 Lewiston was established as a service for Idaho mines on May 13. Salmon River mines were discovered, revealing the Florence diggings and causes a mining stampede October 11.

In 1862 the First newspaper published in Idaho is the Golden Age in Lewiston. George Grimes and a party of prospectors establish the Boise Basin mines, leading to the creation of Idaho City. Packer John's Cabin is built between New Meadows and McCall. Gold is discovered near present day Warren.

After the fur trapper's and trailblazers came the early pioneers. In 1865, two years after Colonel E.P. Conner defeated the Bannocks at Battle Creek; the first pioneer settlers entered Marsh Valley. Indians were still a menace. It was just three years before this in 1862 when almost an entire wagon train was massacred just below American Falls at what is now know as Massacre Rock. This Indian trouble continued until 1878 when the Bannock Indians were on the warpath and there was fear of a general Indian outbreak in the entire northwest. Marsh Valley and the Portneuf river area were the traditional home of the Bannocks. Their chief, Pocatello, was noted for stealthy raids and plundering expeditions. Those hearty settlers who came to the Valley first were William, Henry and Soll Woodland, George and Henry Wakley, and Lee Whitaker. They located on the southwest end of Marsh Valley here Birch Creek flows into the natural meadowlands bordering Marsh Creek. The natural meadows made an ideal place for stock raising.

Mrs. Lee Whitaker was the first woman to come to the new location. She was followed by Mrs. William Woodland. In 1870, Mr. John N. Wakley and his wife came and took up a strip of meadow along with the rest. The early Settlers, in order to divide the meadowland justly, took alternate strips of some upland meadow and some nearer the swampy areas. They fenced their strips regardless of direction. In 1869 Marsh Valley was included in the Fort Hall Indian Reservation......The Indians never occupied the valley, nor did they molest the settlers other than begging for food and hunting in the mountains. When Mr. Perkins surveyed the valley in 1892-1893, the original land claims were honored; thus the farms in that area run askew, survey wise.

Within the year that the first settlers came, William Coffin and Hyrum Hunt made a settlement near Red Rock on Marsh Creek where it leaves its mountainous canyon to meander down the broad meadows of the valley proper. Soon after them came Captain Jefferson Hunt. A historical monument stands in his commemoration on top of a hill near the original Hunt ranch where highway 91 over-passes the Union Pacific Railway. The following inscription appears there: Captain Jefferson Hunt, soldier, pioneer, and churchman. Born January 20, 1804 in Kentucky. Died May 11, 1879 in Idaho. Charles Jefferson Hunt served in the Mormon Battalion as captain of company A and as assistant executive officer in its historic march from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California 1846-1847. His service on the commendation of all whom served with him. Under appointment by President Brigham Young in 1851, Captain Hunt was guide for the pioneers to San Bernardino, California. His pioneering services also included Provo, Parawan, and Huntsville {which bears his name} in Utah and Oxford, Idaho. A convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he was loyal, obedient, and faithful to the end.' Jefferson Hunt was an well-educated man with exceptional leadership ability. Early in 1848, Captain Hunt of the Battalion, with Porter Rockwell and others, returned from southern California with a herd of cattle, horses, and mules, purchased there from ranchers. With them they brought one wagon - -the first of record ever to be drawn over the Salt Lake--Los Angeles Trail. (4) His son,  J. Franklin Hunt, served as speaker of the Idaho Legislature. His daughter, Sophronia, married W.A. Coffin and after a wedding tour from the Hunt home across the valley on the running gears of a wagon and ox team, a wedding dinner was served in their honor at the William Woodland home. Later they moved to Nine Mile, which is now known as Cambridge. Their son, W.H Coffin, was evidently the first child born in the valley. Mrs. William Bloxham, daughter of John N. Wakley and Elena Hemenway Wakley was born March 2, 1872 in the valley.
In the memoirs of Nathan Samuel Coffin on page 12 it says" . . . The following  families, at my first recollection were living on or adjacent to Marsh creek-starting at Redrock: Wm Thomton, Capt. Hunt, Alf Brown, Abe Barger, Geo. Pratt, Hyrum Byington, Rob Miller, James Burrup, John Kyle, Ralph Dougless and his son Sam, Jos. Bloxham, Henry and Geo. N. Wakley, and their father John N. Wakley, W. W. Woodland and Henry Woodland. At Marsh Center: David Reese Davis, Frank Potter who sold to Peter I. Waddell, Jos. Hawkins, Fred Baker, W. Carl Hawkins who bought out Francis (Frank) Potter, Melvin S. Gruell and John Evans. At Oneida were Tom Bollenbrook, Fletch Ireland who later sold to John Evans,"

On page 13 it continues, "John Watson who served as sheriff of Oneida county from 1878 to ‘82 when the county extended from Utah line to the Montana line and included part of  what is now Wyoming. Next was tho's Jenkins who lived at the time on the West side of Marsh creek, next was Simon Freedman & Myers  on a big ranch. On down the Marsh lived Mr. Rowe, John St. Stringer, Andrew Goodenough and Wm Francis. A little later Geo. Giltins bought the Stinger place. Prior to my time the following men lived in the vally: J. N. Ireland, Jed Shepard and Sam Branford . . . "

In the latter part of 1864, Ben Holiday established a route between Salt Lake and Umatilla, Oregon via Boise; also between Salt Lake and Helen Montana. At first the route passed through Bannock Valley by way of Malad, and on to Fort Hall. In 1865 the route was changed so that it passed through Marsh Valley. In 1866, Ben Holiday sold out to Wells and Fargo, who built a station on the George Wakley Ranch. W.M. Tillotson was station keeper. A small creek entering the valley from the foot of Wakley Peak is still known as Station Creek. Another station was built down Marsh Valley on the west of the present site of Arimo on the present Robert Henderson ranch. A Mr. Reddy was station keeper there. The first settlers, like those who settled near Red Rock, were outstanding characters. William Woodland was reported as brave and fearless. He served in an organization known as Minutemen, whose duty it was to protect the people, and defend them in their rights and liberties. At this duty he is reported to have had many thrilling experiences. They reared a large family, all of whom received a good education. He was a successful rancher and served business interests at Malad and Oneida. Henry Wakley was a successful rancher and served as a bishop of Woodland Ward for years. George Wakley was possibly the valley's largest cattle man. He owned much of the marshland and ran several hundred cattle there in the winter and even trailed many over near present day Chesterfield for summering. John N. Wakley was somewhat older than the others but developed an efficient small ranch. He had been a personal guard for Brigham Young when the Mormons were coming west. All in all, these hardy men and their wives, who knew everything from milking cows to delivering babies, along with the Hunts, Coffins, and Whitakers formed a seasoned nucleus for settlement on Indian land in a precarious age.

About 1865 William H. Murphy, a civil war veteran of New York, was given a franchise by the Federal Government to operate a toll bridge through Marsh Valley and as far as north as Beaver Canyon at the Idaho-Montana line. In agreement with the Franchise, Mr. Murphy and his wife Catherine Scott Murphy, came to Idaho and established their residence at what was know for a number of years as Portneuf Stations: and later as McCammon. Murphy built a bridge across the Portneuf and established a tollgate. He established a ferry across the Snake River a few miles above Eagle Rock, (Idaho Falls), and another toll bridge at Beaver Canyon. In 1868 he hired Henry O. Harness to look after his interest at Beaver Canyon. Mr. Murphy was reported to have been addicted to the use of alcohol, and had become cruel in his home. For that reason in 1869, he was taken into custody by the sheriff, Morg Morgan, and taken to Malad for trial. During the trial, he flourished his revolver, at the same time striking a lawyer on the head with a book. He then started to run from the courtroom and after failing to stop when ordered, was shot and killed by the sheriff.

On August 11,1871, H.O. Harkness married Mrs. Murphy, then of Portneuf Station (now McCammon). Mr. Harkness managed the toll bridge until 1881 when it was open for free travel. It was reported that he took in a high of $600.00 per day. At the Portneuf Station, he charged $1.50 per team and wagon owned by the same individual. Prior to his death, he had a fine cattle and sheep ranch well equipped with horses and machinery. He also had an up-to-date roller flour mill. He kept a large crew of hired men the year round, bedding them at his hotel.

Mr. Harkness served as captain during the Civil War under a general by the name of Joseph K. McCammon. About the time of the advent of the railroad into Idaho, Mr. McCammon as a government representative came to Idaho to secure a right of way through the Bannock-Shoshone Reservation. McCammon and the railroad officials met at Fort Hall with representatives of the Indians, and obtained the right of way. Mr. McCammon visited a week with Mr. Harkness. In honor of his friend, Mr. Harkness changed the name of Portneuf Station to McCammon.

Within a period of ten to fifteen years after the original settlement, many settlers had entered the valley. From Red Rock to Inkom, a listing would have included the following and possibly some few others:  Wm. Thornton, Captain Hunt, Alf Borum, Abe Barger, George Pratt, Hyrum Byington, Robert Miller, John Kyle, Joseph Bloxham, Ralph Douglas, Sam Henry Douglas, George N. Wakley, Henry Wakley, John N. Wakley, W.W Woodland, Henry Woodland, Resse Davis, Jeff Davis, Frank Potter, J. Hawkins, Frank Baker, Melvin Grewell, John Evans, Tom Bolenbrook, Fletcher Ireland, John Watson, Thomas Jenkins, Simon Freidman, Peter Waddell, Myers Cohn, Mr. Rowe, John Stinger, Andrew Goodenough, J.N Ireland, Jed Shepard, and Sam Bradford. On the East Side of the valley at Nine Mile were the Coffins, Al Dewey, Jack Bloxham, M.D Yeaman, Fred Aldous, and Charles Aldous.

The Portneuf Stake Y.M.M.I.A erected a monument in 1930 at the site of the original settlement below Wakley Peak. It listed most of the above mentioned names and the following quotation: "In Memory of those Noble Pioneers who Toiled and Sacrificed for the Upbuilding of this Valley"

W.C Hawkins came in soon and bought the Frank Potter place. He was an outstanding character. He had no schooling but was a self-educated man. Through his leadership March Center, Hawkin's Creek reservoir was built.

Another outstanding character who came about 1871 was Abigail Coffin. She spent her girlhood days in Indiana when that state was being settled. After her marriage to W.B Coffin, and after they had several children, they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, and from there to Council Bluffs, Iowa where she buried her husband who died of smallpox. After his death, she refused to renounce her religion to live in luxury with her parents and went west, crossing the plains with an ox team (a cow and ox) and her six children. Nathan, a lad of 12, was her oldest. They located in Ogden in 1852. There she worked as a doctor and midwife. When she moved to Marsh Valley and settled at Nine Mile, she kept a small store. Often she drove to Ogden to haul back supplies. Her home, a one room log cabin, doubled as a school with Mrs. Hannah Byington as teacher. The cabin now stands in the park at Downey, a monument to a rugged individual.

Some incidents of unusual account took place during the early years of settlement. A stage robbery in 1872 on the divide between Malad and Marsh Valley; three bandits, one a crack shot by the name of Ad Long. These outlaws, with the aid of several dummies, held up the stagecoach, and obtained several thousand dollars. Soon after the robbery, the US Marshal, Dan Robbins, organized a posse, which included W.W. Woodland, Henry Wakley, Henry Woodland, and George Wakley, At the time John N. Wakley was in Utah after supplies and didn't participate in the adventure. The posse trailed the bandits into Cherry Creek where they surrounded them. Marshal Robbins and George Wakley went into the brush after the bandits while the others stayed on high ground to prevent escape. There were many shots. Ad Long was killed, one bandit wounded and one escaped. Marshal Robbins was shot but recovered at the W.W Woodland home. George Wakley proved to be quick and alert in out maneuvering the bandits to come out unharmed. The members of the posse were given a reward with which they each built a large frame home--three of which still stand on the places they settled. Another incident was the robbery of the southbound stage at Robber's Roost, three and a half miles north of McCammon. In 1865, the stage was halted, $100,000 was taken after four passengers had been killed and the driver wounded. The robbers fled, but it has always been argued that the amount of gold was too heavy for quick flight by horse, and that in consequence a large part of it must have been buried. One of the robbers, a man named Hpdyke, was tracked down by Vigilantes the next year, and was hanged in Alturus County. 

Another incident was when the early settlers were warned to leave the valley reservation, which was part of Fort Hall Reservation. Many were grief stricken at the thoughts of losing all that they had put into home building. Some offered to sell for little of anything, some stated that they would burn their homes if they must leave. The reservation was decreased until it no longer took any portion of the valley.

Of the people who first settle Marsh Valley, Mormons predominated. In 1882, the people organized into a branch of the Malad, Box Elder Stake. In 1882 and 1883 they built a meetinghouse at Marsh Center. It was located a few roads north of where the Henry J. Nelson farm home now stands. It was about 35' by 55'; a frame house lined with adobe. Church and school were both held in it. Mrs. M. Killion was the first teacher. David Resse was presiding Elder. Melvin Grewell, who on November 16, 1879 was sustained as bishop of the Marsh Valley Ward, followed him in that position. This same year, the ward that comprised three branches--Woodland, Nine Mile, and Garden Creek as well as Marsh Center proper were transferred to the Cache Valley Stake.
When the Utah Northern Railroad was extend to Franklin, Idaho in 1874, the stage route was changed so that it ran from Franklin up the east side of the valley instead of from Corinne and up the west side. A new station was built on Yago Creek about one half-mile east of Virginia today. William A. Tillotson was station keeper. The freight road at this time was usually lined with freight teams, hauling goods to Montana. Each group usually consisted of two or three wagons, one trailing behind the other drawn by four or six span of horses or mules and were controlled by a jerk line which extended from the driver's saddle on the near wheel horse to the lead horse. When the driver wanted to turn to the right, he jerked on the line and called, "Gee" to the left, he'd pull the line and call "Haw". At camping time, the driver unhitched his teams, and turned them to grass which in the best part of the season was a foot or more high.

In 1878, the Utah Northern Railroad, a narrow gauge road, was built through the valley. Oneida which was one half mile from where Arimo now stands, was the terminus. Oneida soon grew to be a flourishing town with 1,000 to 1,200 inhabitants and many stores, restaurants and saloons. There was also a telegraph office with Buckley Fuller as agent. People came in from all parts of the country going to mines, and Oneida was reported as the liveliest stop on the road. The first post office, which served the people of the valley, was at Oneida. Thomas Warren was post master.

Later the railroad was extended to where it connected with the Oregon Short Line at Blackrock. The old bridge that the railroad used to Cross-Portneuf River is still evident.

About 1876, the settlers of Nine Mile built a log house 18' by 24' to be used for both school and church. The first teacher was James Mason; next, M.D Yeamen; later Nora Booth and still later Mr. Munger, a civil war veteran. The first blackboard, which was homemade, was installed during Mr. Munger's term.

An interesting incident occurred in connection with the school. About 1885, the country officials discharged the teacher, Miss Delia Merrill, because she was a Mormon, and put another teacher in the house, which the people had built by donation. The people were so angered by the injustice, that instead of sending their children to the new teacher, they built another house and hired Miss Merrill to continue the school. The country authorities took action under the Edmond's Tucker Act; a law passed by congress against polygamy. There were never any of the citizens of the district who were polygamists. There had been not more then two or three men in the whole valley that had taken more than one wife. Later Maggie Cooper taught school in the same place with an attendance of eighty pupils. She taught all eight grades, and received fifty dollars a month. All communities were education conscious in early-organized schools.

Up until 1878, the only stores in the valley were one kept by Abigail Coffin and one by W.C Hawkins--both in their respective homes.

The early settlers harvested what grain they with a cradle and threshed it with a frail or treated it out with horses. Then they waited for a favorable wind to separate the grain from the chaff. There were men at the time that claimed that they could harvest five acres of grain in a day with a cradle. This method of harvesting was followed by what they called a "dropper" which consisted of a mowing machine equipped to drop the grain in bunches. Men followed up in relays, binding the grain by hand with straw bands. The next method employed a side rake, which raked the grain in a row to be picked up with a fork, and staked. Next came the self-binder. Marsh Valley pioneers used a mowing machine called the rear-cut, its cutter bar behind the machine. They used walking type plows, sewed their grain by hand, and harrowed it in with homemade wooded harrows. The first threshing machine was a little hand feed horsepower outfit. It was necessary for men and boys to work in the chaff and dust to take the straws from the machine. This machine was owned and operated by the Marley Brothers of Garden Creek, a relatively late settled community northwest of the present Arimo.

The people lived in log houses with dirt floors. Their lights were tallow candles, or what they called a "bitch", a tin plate with tallow and a rag for a wick. They molded their own candles, some molds made as high as six candles at a time. Such things as mattresses were unknown. They used in their stead, straw ticks. They put straw under homemade carpets for flooring. They had no modern furniture or conveniences; nevertheless, the women were very good housekeepers and cooks.

The winters were long and sever. Horses could winter out on mountain ridges, but cattle often had to be fed. The early settlers knew nothing about alfalfa. Abigail Coffin was the first to grow alfalfa or "lucern" as they called it. The only hay the people who lived on the uplands had was what they obtained from the settlers on the meadows of Marsh Creek, purchasing or putting up on shares. In 1877, N.H. Coffin took his cattle to the Snake River bottoms, and back the next spring with only his team and wagon--after many of his cattle had starved to death due to the difficult winter. Large sheep men, who wintered their sheep in Utah and Nevada and summered them near Soda Springs, trailed back and forth through the valley until much of the valley grass was killed.

The Utah Northern railroad was changed from a narrow gauge to standard rails in 1890. The route was changed, Oneida became merely a memory, and on the new line Arimo sprang up, one-half mile west on the Oneida side.

Downey came into being midway between Woodland, Red Rock and Nine-Mile. W.A. Hyde and Co. established a general mercantile store at Downey in 1893. Downey at the present time is an up to date town, the second in size in Bannock County. The success of Downey is due primarily to the initiative and enterprise of the late George T. Hyde, who, up to his recent death, took an active part in the development and welfare of Downey and surrounding country.

On the other hand, when the Oregon Short Line Railroad was extend down the Portneuf in 1882, the railroad officials tried to buy land from Mr. Harkness on which to build railroad shops. Mr. Harkness wanted so much for the land that the shops were located in Pocatello and McCammon missed its bid to importance.

In 1889, an enterprise started which much improved conditions in Marsh Valley, especially of the people at McCammon and Oneida-Arimo. Mayers Cohn, A Cooper, W.N. Woodland, Charles Romriel, and Thomas Jenkins filed articles of incorporation forming an irrigation company for the purpose of diverting water from the Portneuf over the lands of the above mentioned places. This resulted in new homes for many people.

Mr. Cohn, being the largest stockholder, increased his already large ranch to 1500 acres. He served as president of the company for many years. Vince Demick Cooper constructed the ditch, and Henderson assisted in completing the contract.

Later, in 1908, George T. Hyde of Downey and Tome Edwards of McCammon organized the Portneuf Valley Irrigation Company for the purpose of building a reservoir at Chesterfield and constructing a canal from the Portneuf River to the Downey Flat, which was a sage covered area of little value without water. The Downey Improvement Company was organized with capital stock of $250,000 to endeavor to show eastern people why they should leave the east and come west--especially to Downey. The following is quoted from their printed booklet: "The natural and scenic advantages of Downey are unsurpassed. Encircled by the sheltering mountains, which are crowned by Oxford Peak, raising its stately head far into the clouds, the sheltering panorama of light and shadow is beautiful beyond description. Two miles south of Downey--a thriving town with the largest grain elevator in Idaho, are located warm springs, which are used very extensively for bathing. With the advantages of irrigation, Downey should grow to a city of 5,000 people within the next three years. It is already the second largest town in the county, and expects to be the county seat of a new county to be created by the next legislature. On a dry farm one family to 160 acres can easily be supported and on irrigated land, one family to every 20 acres, which will provide homes in the valley for about 15,000 people. Downey is the heart of this tract, where all the farmers will not only trade but will bring their products to be worked over and shipped. 

About 1890, farmers in the valley learned that wheat could be grown dry farm method. Also they had tried growing Club and Taos wheat varieties. They obtained some Odessa, a winter wheat variety, and later Blue Stem and Turkey Red were added to the winter varieties. As spring wheat, they planted Marquis, Senora, and Gold Coin. Thomas Wolverton and N.H. Coffin were reported to have been the first to grow dry land wheat in the valley. The advent of dry land wheat proved to be the turning point or the greatest discovery, which affected the valley. It took time to learn the best methods and practices in cultivating, planting, and harvesting. At first if they got ten-bushel per acre, they felt as if they had done well. Later the same practice yielded two to three times that much. Home seekers came in from other states, and it wasn't long before all available land was taken. Grain Elevators were built in every town on the railroad. In a short time there were seven elevators and three grist flourmills in the valley. New names came into the limelight--John Criddle, Marty Thomas, J.F. Hartvigsen, Jake Hartvigsen, Moses Christiansen, and Jerry Christiansen. These men came to Marsh Valley with little except an idea, and in a few years, built themselves up as among the most prosperous farmers.

Although progress has continually been made, the present day growth for the whole valley plus the areas comprising Inkom, Lava Hot Springs, and Swan Lake have not reached the estimates of 1912 that the enthusiastic Downey Improvement Company made. As before mentioned they predicted that Downey would have a population of 5,000 people within three years and that the valley would provide homes for 15,000 people.


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