History Index


Emmettsville's merchants from Langley's 1876 Business Directory
Hawley's 1920 History of Gem County and Emmett, in detail.
What's in a Name?, (Emmettsville and Emmett Cahalan) by Director-Curator, Meg Davis
Nathaniel Martin House by Director-Curator, Meg Davis; includes history of Martin Ferry
Walking Tour of Downtown
photos of Main Street signs, Thanks Madonna Colburn for sharing!
photos of alley signs, Thanks Madonna Colburn for sharing!

Historic Newspaper Articles

The Emmett Index, January 21, 1898
The Emmett Index, February 6, 1913
Railroad Reaches Emmett, April 1902
Fifty-five Carloads, Mining Machinery for Thunder Mountain, June 19, 1902
The Fourth at Emmett, July 1902
Emmett Red Birds Cover Themselves with Glory, Other News, Dissolution Notice, July 10, 1902
W. C. Emke Mines at Pearl Sold for $25,000, January 13, 1903
Farmers' Co-Operative Irrigation Co. Plans, January 13, 1903
Great Pearl Mining Camp, April 30, 1903; lists mines and owners
Liberty Mine Sold, October 1929
Ekekiel Sweet's Experience as a Postmaster, February 1931
Martial Law Declared, August 1931
Plowman vs. LeVan Suit, A. Cox remembers 1897 Pearl Mining District suit
Idahoans Strike, Pearl, Idaho, 65 miners and muckers. .January 17, 1941
"Progressing with Gem County", "Scenic Idaho, Winter 1954

When Col. Dewey bought the Caswells' Thunder Mountain claims (east present-day Valley Co.) in late 1900, the rush was on - much of it through present-day Gem County. Ads from "Thunder Mountain News," April 22, 1905, courtesy of Steven Harshfield - Thank you, Steve, for sharing!

    Boise & Pearl Stage, T. B. Walker, Prop.
    Millers, Ola & Miller's Store at Thunder City
    Plowman's, Montour
    Sults' Ola, Thunder City, Vanwyck Stage
    Taylor House, Sweet, W. Taylor & Sons, Props.

Gem County Post Offices and Postmasters


Early Settlers profiled in "The Village That Grew" by Ruth B. Lyon, 1979
Gill Family Establishes Way Station by Meg Davis, Director/Curator
First Gem County Officials
"Sixteen Postmasters, Twelve Different Locations", November 17, 1938
Gem County Sheriffs 1915-1993

Governor Frank W. Hunt (1861 - 1906) on South Fork Companion blog
WWII German POW Camps, including Emmett. Thank you Gordon R. Peterson for digging out this information!
"Three generations of bullfighters" - Curley, Eddie and Matt Heath (Abstracted from the Messenger Index, July 31, 2013)
Ron Rekow, cutting hair on Main Street since 1941 (at KBOI2 news)
Jay Sisler (1926 - 1995), Dog Trainer for Disney (off-site)

Andy Little

" Andrew Little's sheep ranch in Idaho was so famous that a letter addressed simply 'Andy Little, USA' found its intended recipient." - Ferenc Morton Szasz, "Scots In the North American West, 1790 - 1917"

   "Andrew James Bell Little (1870-1941) Scottish-born Andrew Little came to Idaho in 1884 with two dogs and $25. By 1935, he was dubbed "The Idaho Sheep King," Little was considered the largest sheep operator in Idaho and one of the largest in the nation.
   "He married Scottish-born Agnes Sproat in New York City in 1903 and they had five children together; Agnes, Jessie, Andrew, Robert & David.
   "Twenty-four-year-old Andrew "Andy" Little arrived in the U.S. in 1884 and walked 22 miles to the sheep ranch of pioneer Robert "Scotch Bob" Aikman. Aikman and fellow Scot Charlie Doane helped several people from their homeland to find jobs in Idaho. At the time of Little's death, he owned the Aikman ranch and the Little family has owned and operated the century farm since that time. An Idaho century farm is a farm or ranch that has been officially recognized by a regional program documenting that the farm has been continuously owned by a single family for 100 years or more.
   "Little's first band of sheep totaled 1,200 ewes that he took in lieu of cash. He was permitted to herd his sheep with the owner's flock and it wasn't long before he had accumulated a small band as a nucleus of the flock that grew to vast proportions. The following year, he acquired 40 acres of land.
   "His ewe bands were largely Lincoln-Rambouillet sheep. After 1910, his ewes were mated to Hampshire and Suffolk rams.
   "In 1923, Little started building "The Little Mansion," which is located on Substation Road. It took over a year to build and originally his land extended from Payette up to McCall and through the Boise foothills.The three-level, 6,400-squarefeet house with five bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, kitchen and maid's quarters is called the "Forever House."
   "By 1929, Little was the owner of 100,000 head of sheep and marketed a million pounds of wool. Later he purchased the VanDeusen holdings, also located in Emmett. He also owned more than 6,000 acres of 27 irrigated ranches, scattered throughout Payette and Boise valleys and employed as many as 400 men, which he kept busy 12 months out of the year. His ranch hands liked his wise, careful and exact planning methods and served him from five to 20 years. He was known for his keen sense of the business and keeping a close eye on fine details."
- findagrave

Biographies from "History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountains," Vol. III. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago, 1920.

Burkhard, George J.
Holverson, Elmer L.
Kesgard, Mrs. Kate
Knox, Clayton Bane
Knox, Walter
Riggs, Boise G.
Riggs, Henry C.
Womack, Isaac

On-line at archive.org and google books - This is 900 pages of biographical sketches. Gem County entries include many familiar names: Alsagar, Cronk, Cruickshank, Davison, Hartley, Kesgard, Kessler, Morehouse, McCrossin, McKay, Pugh, Riggs, Werle, and Wilhelm, to name a few.


Historic topo maps
School Districts map
Gem County Post Offices and Postmasters
The Marsh-Ireton Ranch, by Nellie Ireton Mills, "The Emmett Index," April 22, 1948
Sweet Methodist Church (on historical register)
Gem County Buildings on the National Register and Century Farms
Pickett's Corral Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series, No. 253:

"Picket's Corral, located at the head of the valley east of Emmett, is a natural lava rock corral. Tradition identifies this as the base for a band of horse thieves who operated in the vicinity when settlement began in the valley below. At the time of the gold rush of 1862-1864, the corral provided an ideal base for such a gang. Well concealed, it receives a limited water supply from a small stream which flows through the corral from the center of a rock wall. W. J. McConnell, a member of the Payette vigilance committee and later a United States senator and governor, remembered Picket's Corral as a hideout not only for horse thieves, but for bogus dust peddlers as well. McConnell also explained how his vigilantes succeeded in breaking up the Picket Corral gang and the Washoe Ferry outlaws. The Payette vigilantes took credit for making the area safe for the law abiding citizens."

See Early History of Idaho, by William John McConnell for his account


Pearl, excerpt from Merle W. Wells -- Gold Camps & Silver Cities/Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho. Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines & Geology, Moscow, Idaho, 1983. (p. 73-74)
The Mining Districts of the Idaho Basin and the Boise Ridge, by Waldemar Lindgren, 1898
    Mining Districts of the Idaho Basin and the Boise Ridge, 1898 (map)
    Mining Districts, Willow Creek and Rock Creek (map)
1899 Mining Report
Pearl in the early 1900's
W. C. Emke Mines at Pearl Sold for $25,000, January 13, 1903
Great Pearl Mining Camp, April 30, 1903; lists mines and owners
Pearl Mining District, by Robert Bell, Former Idaho Inspector of Mines; includes story of discovery
1904 Mining Report, Pearl District
Idahoans Strike, Pearl, Idaho, 65 miners and muckers. .January 17, 1941
Pearl on westernmininghistory.com (off-site)
(see also various newspaper articles indexed above)


Known Gem County Civil War Veterans
Veterans buried in Emmett's Riverside Cemetery
Veterans buried in Bramwell Cemetery
Veterans buried in Sweet-Montour and Ola Cemeteries
WWII Memorial, at tank, in front of courthouse
Memorial, WWI, Korea and Viet Nam at tank, in front of courthouse
John McLean Tribute, First Gem County WWI casualty, June 27, 1918
George Hall, Spanish-American Vet's Body Moved to Sweet Cemetery, November 16, 1930

To contribute to Gem County Veterans Project, contact Gem County Veterans Project or Janie Schaut
Janie Schaut wins Idaho State Historical Society's 2013 Esto Perpetua Award Messenger-Index and histor-e.

Wake Island Civilian POW's

Marvin Gross (1902-1982)
Emmett Newell (1919-1987)
Glen Newell (1921-2014)

Other known Gem County men on the captured Morrison-Knudsen construction crew include and Gross' uncle Leroy Cramer. Leroy Cramer died on the hospital ship on the way home. He is buried at Ola. Bill Charters was also in that crew. For more information, see Wake Island on historynet.com.

Clippings shared by the extended Gross family
Prisoners released     Gross-Morris return; "The Bull" Sentenced

Off-Site Sources

"WPA Project Built a Home for Justice in Gem County" (courthouse history)
History news articles at the Messenger-Index
Arthur Hart at the Idaho Statesman

July 29 - Traveled nineteen miles today, reaching the Boise River. It was easily forded, and always muddy owing to the placer mines at its headwaters where gold is washed. . .

July 30 - This morning go into the City which is only a city in name, just a small mining town the people mostly transient keeping all manner of supplies for miners, and the emmigration to Oregon, at very exorbitant prices. Our roll of 'Greenbacks' which had been tucked away for three months because there was nothing to buy, was now brought forth. We however had more flour than we would use, sold it in exchange for gold dust receiving for it $16 hundred. One of our party sold a featherbed for $1.00 per lb. his wife refused for awhile to give up her feather bed but they must have something to eat and money to pay ferriage, so the feather bed went

July 30 - Camped on 'Dry Creek' last night and would be glad to remain here to day (Sunday) but for lack of grass and good water must move on. At night reached the Payette River. A beautiful stream and abundance of grass and wood. . .

Aug 2nd - Still going down Payette river. Met to day a circus from Oregon going to the mining towns." -- Harriet Loughary, 1864 -- "Covered Wagon Women, Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1862-1865", edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes; University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

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Serving Gem County since 1973.

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