Idaho History

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United States > Idaho > Idaho History

Although many explorers and fur trappers had visited the area that became the State of Idaho, trading posts and forts had been established there, and travelers on the Oregon Trail heading to Oregon, Washington, and California had passed through the area, no permanent settlements were established until about 1860 at Franklin in the Cache Valley.

In the early 1860s, gold and silver were discovered, which led to the establishment of Idaho Territory in 1863. After the Civil War, many settlers from the East came to Idaho to mine or to establish farms along the river valleys. The completion of the railroad in the 1880s brought another wave of settlers, as did the establishment of reclamation (irrigation) projects in early 1900s.

Idaho has continued to grow as its settlers turned their attention away from mining and more toward agricultural pursuits.

Timelines

A Few Important Events in Idaho's History

The following important events in the history of Idaho affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1803: The area that became State of Idaho was part of the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1805: Lewis and Clark Expedition passes through.
  • 1809: First fur trading post built by David Thompson
  • 1820: Fort Boise established.
  • 1834: Fort Hall trading post was founded on the Snake River near the site of present-day Pocatello. During the 1840's and 1850's it became a major way station for those who passed through Idaho over the Oregon Trail.
  • 1846: Oregon Treaty settled boundary.
  • 1848: Idaho became part of the Oregon Territory.
  • 16 July 1855: Through the Treaty of Hell Gate the Salish and Kutenai (Kootenai) Indians ceded their lands.
  • 1859: Idaho became part of the Washington Territory.
  • 1860: The Mormon community of Franklin in Cache Valley became the first permanent white settlement in Idaho.
  • 1860-1863: Gold discoveries in the river valleys of northern Idaho attracted temporary settlement.
  • 1860-1880s: A series of Indian conflicts continued until the Indians were assigned to reservations.
  • 1861: Lewiston became first incorporated town.
  • 1863: Nez Perce Indians ceded land.
  • 3 March 1863: The Idaho Territory was created out of the Washington and Dakota Territories. In 1864, the Montana Territory was cut away from the Idaho Territory. In 1868, a small part of Idaho Territory was transferred to the new Wyoming Territory.
  • January 1865: 224 Bannock Indians were killed when they were attacked by the U.S. army while they were camped at Battle Creek.
  • 1865-1868: Indian Campaigns
  • June-October 1877: Nez Perce Indians went to war with the United States. The war ended when federal troops captured Chief Joseph and evacuated the Indians to a reservation in Oklahoma.
  • 1880's: Mining booms in the north and the coming of the railroads to the south brought new settlers.
  • 1887: The Bannock Indians ceded land.
  • 3 July 1890: Idaho became a state.
  • 1895: The Bannock Indians left Fort Hall Reservation to hunt in Wyoming under the provisions of the 1868 treaty. The cavalry overtook them and escorted them back to the reservation.
  • 1898: Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
  • 1900-1910: Reclamation projects brought another wave of settlement to the former desert lands of southern Idaho.
  • 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
  • 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
  • 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
  • 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
  • 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
  • 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.

Historical Content

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies.

  • Idaho local history: A bibliography [1]
  • A Bibliography of American County Histories [2] [3]
  • United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress [4] [5]

State Histories Useful to Genealogists

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the lauditory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Idaho:

  • History of Idaho [7]
  • History of Idaho [8]
  • Idaho: the place and its people: a history of the gem state from prehistoric to present day [9]
  • History of Idaho: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests [10]
  • History of Idaho the gem of the mountains [12]
  • History of Idaho Territory: showing its resources and advantages, with illustrations ... from original drawings. [13]

United States History

The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:

  • The Almanac of American History, [14] [15] This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed [16] [17] This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations. A snippet view is available at Google books.
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium [18] [19] [20] This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

To find more books and articles about Idaho 's history use the Internet Google search for phases like "Idaho history." Family History Library Catalog Surname Search lists many more histories under topics like:

IDAHO - HISTORY
IDAHO. [COUNTY] - HISTORY
IDAHO, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - HISTORY
IDAHO, BIBLIOGRAPHY

Websites

Bibliography

  1. Nelson, Milo G., & Webbert, Charles A., eds., Idaho local history: A bibliography. Moscow, Idaho: The University Press of Idaho, 1976 -- a bibliography of local histories for Idaho. (Family History Library book 979.6 A3n). 
  2. Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985. (FHL book 973 H23bi)
  3. Worldcat
  4. Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76. (FHL book 973 A3ka.)
  5. Worldcat
  6. By William John McConnell, Idaho. Legislature Published by The Caxton Printers, 1913, Original from the University of Virginia
  7. Arrington, Leonard James. History of Idaho. Boise, Idaho: Idaho State Historical Society, c1994. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2a).
  8. Beal, Merrill D., & Wells, Merle W. History of Idaho, 3 vols. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1959. Volume 3 has family histories -- an especially helpful source for studying the history of Idaho. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2b). 3 vols. 
  9. Defenbach, Byron. Idaho: the place and its people: a history of the gem state from prehistoric to present day. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1933. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2d). 3 vols.
  10. French, Hiram Taylor. History of Idaho: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests. Chicago: Lewis Pub., 1914. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2f). 3 vols.
  11. Boise, Idaho: Syms-York Co., 1910 Hailey, John. The history of Idaho. Boise, Idaho: Syms-York Co., 1910. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2hj).
  12. Hawley, James H., ed. History of Idaho the gem of the mountains. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub., 1920. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2h). 4 vols.
  13. History of Idaho Territory: showing its resources and advantages, with illustrations ... from original drawings San Francisco: W.W. Elliott, 1884. (Family History Library book 979.6 H2hi; microfilm 924569 item 1).
  14. Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. (FHL book 973 H2alm)
  15. Worldcat
  16. Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. (FHL book 973 H2ad.)
  17. Worldcat
  18. Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G&C Merriam, 1971. (FHL book 973 H2v)
  19. Limited view at Google Books
  20. Worldcat
  21. Writings on American History By American Historical Association, Library of Congress, United States National Historical Publications Commission, Published by KTO Press, 1921 FHL book 973 H23w
  22. Worldcat