Lost in a
After a great morning
of skiing down Bald Mountain’s slopes, sore muscles ache for a soft
chair and a good book, both of which can be found at Ketchum’s Community
Library. Ah, but the mind, still pulsing with the morning’s activities,
longs for something besides romance, mystery and sci-fi. This unique
library has just the place.
Regional History Department is bursting with books on the people and
historical events that shaped the local culture and lifestyle of the
state of Idaho. One of the most impressive is An Illustrated History
of the State of Idaho, which was published in 1899 by Lewis
Publishing Company of Chicago. At 726 pages, it’s a fascinating
compendium of historical sketches.
History contains portraits and biographies of leading citizens from
Idaho’s past, including Dr. Robert Nourse, Fred R. Reed, George Lewis,
T.E. Picotte and the Honorable John Hailey. Hailey, an Idaho pioneer and
statesman, first entered the state in 1862 and had a little town named
The book’s full
subtitle is An Illustrated History of the State of Idaho, containing
a History of the State of Idaho from the Earliest Period of Its
Discovery to the Present Time...and Biographical Mention of Many
Pioneers and Prominent Citizens of Today. Stamped in gilt on the
brown morocco leather front are the words Idaho: The Gem of the
Mountains. Truly a gem, it contains plates from photographs, numerous
portraits—many photoengraved—floral endpapers and gilt inner dentelle.
The volume is huge and not a book one takes away.
For those who are
looking for something more portable, regional historian Chris Millspaugh
offers these alternate selections.
Gladness: Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in the Wood River Valley,
written by Mary Brown McGonigal in 1976, is the story of her parents’
and her husband’s families who homesteaded south of Bellevue near the
base of Timmerman Hill. Many McGonigals still live in Bellevue.
For Wood River Or
Bust: Idaho’s Silver Boom of the 1880s, written by Clark C. Spence
as part of the Idaho Legacy Series, is full of local tidbits.
Another selection is
The History of Alturas and Blaine Counties, Idaho by George A.
McLeod, focusing on prominent people of the early days and told in a
quirky, readable way. For instance, many of the early statesmen in Idaho
came from Hailey, not Ketchum or Sun Valley, as one might surmise. On
that list are state superintendents of public instruction, Supreme Court
judges, congressional representatives, an attorney general or two and
even a few
In 1962, Pearl Eva
Barber wrote her family’s story in a sweet, nearly homemade book that
the library owns, called The Galloping Ghosts of Galena. It
sounds like a daring mystery, but isn’t.
“Whenever I have a
hard question, a stump question on Idaho, I go to Idaho and the Magic
Circle: And How They Came To Be, by Betty M. Bever,” said Millspaugh.
And, if strict history isn’t the food for that inquiring mind, Millspaugh points to rows of other Idaho books written by natives, celebrities and others who had the fortune to pause a while in the gem state, and then put pen to paper.