Leaders of Bannock County

There are twenty-three counties in the state of Idaho, of which sixteen have a smaller and six a larger population than Bannock, while twelve counties have a smaller area and ten a larger. Therefore, Bannock is one of the larger counties of the state. This position she has creditably maintained in both the number and the quality of her public men, of whom several were mentioned in the last chapter.

Others who deserve mention here are former State Senators Ruel Rounds, George C. Parkinson, Louis S. Keller, John B. Thatcher, George H. Fisher and W. H. Mendenhall, our present senator, and former State Representatives William A. Walker, Robert V. Cozier, L. R. Thomas, William McGee Harris, Denmark Jensen, W. H. Lovesy, Edward L. Holzheimer, Thomas M. Edwards, John Schutt, C. W. Dempster, W. H. Mendenhall and C. W. Cray, D. J. Lau and D. J. Elrod, the county’s present representatives.

Many of these men have been returned to office several times, J. Frank Hunt, of Downey, having represented the county either as senator or representative continuously since 1900, with the exception of one term of office. In 1900, Thomas Terrell was elected lieutenant governor of the state, and in 1908, James H. Brady, of Pocatello present United States senator for Idaho, was returned as governor.

Senator Brady was born in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, June 12, 1862, but was taken to Kansas by his parents in early boyhood, where he was educated in the State Normal College. He taught school for three years, fitted himself for the profession of law, edited a semi-weekly newspaper for two years, and then became interested in the real estate business. In time he was operating successful offices in St. Louis, Chicago and Houston, Texas. The irrigation and power possibilities of Idaho attracted him to this state in 1895, when he became identified with the development of the Snake River valley, the Idaho. Marysville and Fort Hall canals being among the projects in which he was active. He has been a leading factor in the electrical development of southeastern Idaho, the Idaho Consolidated Power Company, at American Falls, being one of his useful and successful enterprises.

Although a man with large private interests that demanded much time and attention. Senator Brady has been an active and ruling figure in the Republican Party in Idaho for several years. In 1900 he was a delegate to the Republican national convention and in 1908 he was a member of the committee sent by the convention to notify William H. Taft of his nomination for the presidency of the United States. He was vice-president of the National Irrigation Congress in 1896 and 1898, and a member of its executive committee from 1900 until 1904. The senator has always represented his constituents efficiently and well and in return enjoys their personal goodwill and loyalty.

It was Senator Brady who made possible the “Western Governors Special,” a railway train which toured the east in 1911 in what proved to be a very successful attempt to forge closer the links that bind the east and west, and to demonstrate by exhibits carried on the train that the sums expended by the United States government for the reclamation of arid western lands were wisely invested. The governors of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota and Minnesota accompanied the train, each in his own car. The expedition, which has been justly termed “one of the most unique incidents in the annals of publicity,” was entertained at dinner in the White House at Washington by President Taft.

Among the men who played important parts in developing Bannock County, is the late Henry O. Harkness, who founded the town of McCammon, which formerly bore his name.

Mr. Harkness was born in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1838, and as a young man learned the trade of machinist. When the Civil war broke out, he enlisted in the Washburn Lead-Mine regiment and attained the rank of captain before he was honorably discharged from the service in 1865. The following year he left Atchison. Kansas, with an outfit of four wagons and ten oxen, and crossed the plains to the Madison valley in Montana. Here he engaged in stock raising but a sever, winter killed most of his cattle, and in the spring of 1867 he moved south into Idaho. He spent three years in the northern part of the state and in 1870 settled in the Portneuf valley, where he once more raised stock. He was a man of unusual business sagacity, combining shrewd foresight with an ingenuity that defied defeat, and he soon acquired both wealth and influence in the community. He was county commissioner of Oneida from 1874 until 1880. At the time of his death in 1911, his estate consisted in part of seventeen hundred acres of land near McCammon, sixteen hundred acres in the vicinity of Oxford, the large H. 0. Harkness hotel at McCammon, which was a landmark in the county for several years but was destroyed by fire in 1913, the flour mill in McCammon, and several mammoth feed barns in the same town. Mr. Harkness was the first postmaster of McCammon and the first man in southern Idaho to own an electric light plant.

Another citizen of McCammon who is a factor in both the political and business life of the county is the Hon. Thomas M. Edwards, who, with his brothers Walter and Charles own the McCammon Investment Company. Mr. Edwards was a member of the State House of Representatives from 1908 until 1910, and a member of the Republican state central committee for Bannock County in 1910 and 1911.

Thomas Edwards was born in Yankton, S. D., in 1864. His father, Colonel Thomas H. Edwards, was a veteran of the civil war and his grandfather, Col. Jonathan Edwards, was a veteran of the Mexican war. Thomas Edwards settled in McCammon in 1900 being attracted to the town by the opportunities it offered. Since that time he has helped to organize the McCammon State Bank, of which he was formerly president, the McCammon Telephone Company, the Portneuf Marsh Valley Irrigation Company, the Downey Townsite & Development Company, the Ferguson-Jenkins Drug Company, of which Thomas Jenkins and Samuel Ferguson are the present proprietors, and several other smaller enterprises.

The first permanent settlement in Bannock County was made in 1866, when a party of Latter Day Saints established themselves at what is now Malad City. Since that time most of the larger Christian denominations have carried their missionary work into the county, whose religious development unfortunately has been carried on principally by a succession of short ministries. In addition to the Rev. C. Van der Donckt, of whom some account has already been given, two men, however, have worked long and faithfully in building up the religious life of the county. One of these is the Venerable Howard Stoy, an archdeacon of the Episcopal Church, who, with headquarters in Pocatello, gives pastoral care to over twenty-five mission points, although not all of these are in Bannock County. His jurisdiction, indeed, covers a distance of more than two hundred miles westward from the Wyoming line, and in the course of his work he sometimes travels three thousand miles in a month. He has opened up many a town and hamlet to churchly influence and has conducted services at points that had never known a Christian service until his coming. Such men, above all others, are contributing to both the present and future upbuilding of the community, and to them is all honor due. Mr. George Peacock, a missionary of the American Sunday School association of Philadelphia, is another man who is sacrificing all worldly interests in order to carry Christian instruction to children who must be without it, except for him. Mr. Peacock organizes undenominational Sunday schools in places that have no church, these schools in time being taken over by the first church to establish itself in the town.

The principal occupations in the county at the present time are ranching, stock raising and railroading. It is quite possible that mining will be added to these in years to come, and that manufacturing will soon be added to the list is a very safe prediction. The exceptional railroad facilities, the abundant water power afforded by the rapid current of the Portneuf, and the conveniences of a city like Pocatello will offer strong inducements to manufacturers, as soon as the population of the surrounding country is sufficiently great to offer a lucrative, market.

The history of Bannock County is one of which her citizens may well be proud. It has been consistently progressive and healthy. The suffrage was granted to women in 1896, when the state of Idaho adopted woman’s suffrage, and in 1911 the county exercised its local option rights and voted for prohibition.

With the exception of the strike in the Oregon Short Line Railroad shops in Pocatello in 1911 when the shop men walked out, there has been no really serious labor trouble in the annals of the county, and in the case of the strike in 1911, which is still unsettled, there was no violence nor rioting.

The history of Bannock County is a history of honest men and clean citizens. Its pages are unstained by any public scandal, or official dishonesty, but, on the contrary, bear the records of an industrious and truehearted race of men. The future of the county is promising and bright. The foundation of her development has been truly laid, and her commanding commercial position, her abundant and fertile resources, her splendid climate and her excellent railroad facilities insure a prosperity that few other communities can expect.

History of Bannock County, Idaho

Source: The History of Bannock County Idaho, By Arthur C. Saunders, Pocatello, Idaho. U. S. A., The Tribune Company. Limited, 1915

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