Ed Pulaski and Murray, Idaho – Part 3(c), Diversions, with Special Thanks to William T. Stoll

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Stoll, from his book, Silver Strike

Saloons were arguably the preferred venues for sociability, drinking, gambling, and other amusements for many – though not all – North Siders.  Yet, local entertainments took other forms as well.  As a single man, for example, young Ed may have taken himself on occasion to the “dance palace” at Littlefield (perhaps then still named Butte City), one-and-a-half or two miles east of Murray at the confluence of Butte and Prichard Creeks.  “Due to the scarcity of ladies at this early period,” recalled Ruth Aulbach Sellers,

it was necessary to rotate the dancers.  The ladies were grouped at one end of the hall.  The gentlemen were lined up, and each given the privilege of one whirl around the room with his or someone else’s inspiration.  (Sellers, recalling of her father’s, Adam Aulbach’s, description, in Brainard and Chapman, 1990, p. 12)

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Ed Pulaski and Murray, Idaho – Part 3(b), The Thirst for News

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Murray, Idaho, ca. 1900 (SOURCE:  Tom Harman’s collection)

The new and newly populated mining towns of the North Side evidenced an eager passion for news, whether from families and friends, via the mail, or regarding public events, both local and distant.  The thirst for personal mail was evidenced in the grumbling and impatience that the matter early on engendered.  Mail, before a proper post office and regular service were established, was a frustrating problem.  “The most aggravating evil which vexes this camp at present,” wrote the Nugget (quoted in IHNI, p. 989),

is not poorly cooked beans, bad whiskey, dead beats nor the dreadful condition of our trails. All these are bad in their way, but are glorious when compared to the difficulty and uncertainty of getting our mail.

A letter required two weeks’ time to or from Spokane Falls – Spokane’s name at the time – to the North Side.  One letter cost a miner fifty cents to post – recall, here, that young Ed Pulaski’s wage was about $1.30 per day.  Without a post office, a local merchant would serve as a pick-up and drop-off spot.  But “the constant vexations and interruptions” associated with offering this service to the public caused one establishment to quit the task and pass it on to another (see IHNI, Ibid.).  Privately conducted mail service could be woefully irregular and uncertain.     Continue reading

Ed Pulaski and Murray, Idaho – Part 3(a), Burying “Stumpy” Wicks

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Archie Smith in front of his Cabin at Eagle Creek (PHOTO SOURCE: PG 8, Barnard-Stockbridge Collection, University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives)

How to capture something of the flavor of the North Side mining encampments at which 18-year-old Ed Pulaski arrived in May, 1884?

We have perhaps been remiss in not mentioning that the original rush of ambitious arrivers to the new mining district, in 1883-1884, located themselves at Eagle City, some four or five miles west of “Murrayville.”  It was over the course of 1884 that the North Side’s population’s center of gravity shifted to Murray, which site was closer to the main diggings on Prichard Creek.  Eagle City and Murray formed the main axis of mining activity and settlement at the beginning of the North Side’s gold rush. Other smaller encampments nearby – Delta, Littlefield (originally Butte City), Thiard (Mrytle), and Beaver Station — also played parts in this early history.

In any case, at Eagle City in early May – the month of Pulaski’s arrival – there occurred a community event that spoke volumes about the character of the mining camp.  A miner known as “Stumpy” Wicks died.  His burial became a collective event and a symbolic tribute to the perseverance, solitude, and tragedy of the lone gold-seeker’s lot.  William S. Shiach’s majestic Illustrated History of North Idaho, published in 1903 (p. 1227), reproduced a newspaper account of “…the touching story of  the death and burial of ‘Stumpy’ Wicks” published in the Coeur d’Alene Eagle’s edition of May 3rd, 1884.  It may be noted that both (a) the events being reported and (b) the manner in which the Eagle reported them painted a vivid picture of the mining encampment’s culture, the same one young Ed became a part of when he arrived at Murray.  Below, we’ve reproduce the Eagle’s report, as offered in IHNI, in full.    Continue reading

Ed Pulaski and Murray, Idaho – Part 2, Packing

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Pack train  (Source unknown)

Without trains or even wagon roads in 1884, everything that could not be obtained locally at Murray and the other nearby mining encampments had to be packed in.  The area’s exploding population needed food, mining supplies, clothing, cooking implements, construction materials, whiskey and beer — and on and on the list went.  Shops and businesses readily arose to meet local demands for goods and services.  They too – including Saul Nathan’s store, which employed young Ed Pulaski – had to be supplied.  The Coeur d’Alene Nugget, the North Side’s first newspaper, reported in its March 22, 1884 issue that twenty new businesses had been launched in the preceding week alone (in IHNI, 1903, p. 989).  The newspaper itself, launched only the week before, on March 15, 1884, needed to ship its first four issues from Spokane, a necessary measure until the Nugget’s printing press arrived in the District (see Smith, 1932, p. 31).  In July of 1884, celebrated North Idaho newspaper man Adam Aulbach transported his own publishing equipment and wares from Belknap, Montana Territory to Murray on a pack train comprising forty-five mules (IHNI, 1903, p. 1134).    Continue reading

Ed Pulaski and Murray, Idaho – Part 1, Getting There

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Segment of a c. 1900 map showing the Northern Pacific Railroad’s routes crossing western Montana and North Idaho

The first phase of Edward C. Pulaski’s adventure in the American West took him to the new but then-burgeoning town of Murray, Idaho, arriving in May, 1884.  He would remain in the Murray area only until the end of 1884.  Still, the experience of coming to a new North Idaho mining town in the midst of its first flush of new wealth, new construction, and a flood of new gold-fevered and gold-seeking hopefuls must have left no little impression on him.

Only months before had word leaked out of A.J. Prichard’s gold finds on a creek that would come to bear his name.  Miners, would-be miners, and other mining-related enterprisers from all over rushed to make their fortunes.  The news of Prichard’s discoveries, wrote Jim Wardner (1900, p. 52) “set the whole country wild.”  On hearing, Wardner himself set out to join the throng for North Idaho from faraway New Orleans.  The Coeur d’Alene Mining District may have seen an influx of as many as ten thousand newcomers from early 1883 to the end of 1885, according to Livingston-Little’s estimate (1965, pp. 84-85).  The town of Murray, on its own – it was originally named “Murrayville” or “Murraysville,” founded on January 22, 1884 – swelled to a population of “not less than less than 2500 by the end of the summer of 1884” according to Smith (1932, p. 54, citing an estimate by Adam Aulbach).

The timing of Prichard’s find was propitious.  The final spike in the Northern Pacific Railroad’s route had been driven on September 8, 1883, at a site about 59 miles southeast of Missoula.  Moreover, the NP did little to muffle public excitement surrounding Prichard’s good fortune.  Indeed, the Railroad issued a glowing pamphlet titled The Gold Fields of the Coeur d’Alenes, the publication of which was said to have been largely responsible for a secondary rush of gold seekers in 1885.    Continue reading

Ed Pulaski’s Extended Family in North Idaho

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Sisters Mary (left) and Marion Crockett, Edwin and Jessie Crockett’s two daughters (PHOTO CREDIT:  Heather Heber Callahan archive)

As previously noted, Edward C. Pulaski’s westward adventure, begun in the spring of 1884, was partly inspired by letters his Uncle Edwin Crockett had written to Celia (Crockett) Pulaski — Edwin’s younger sister and Ed’s mother — during Edwin’s own western adventure in the 1850s.  Yet Edwin’s old letters did not constitute the full sum of Edward’s and Edwin’s communications and interactions.  Documents in Heather Heber Callahan’s dropbox archive now illuminate that Ed and Edwin had substantial opportunities for personal interaction, perhaps particularly in the periods from 1880-1884 and after 1890.  Their paths would cross and recross until Edwin’s death in 1907.  In due course, moreover, a growing number of Edwin and wife Jessie Crockett’s descendants would expand the dimensions Ed Pulaski’s extended family in North Idaho.

Edwin’s search for gold had taken him from the James Crockett family farm in Ohio across the Great Plains to California, then to British Columbia, and finally to North Idaho.  At Pierce, Idaho in the spring of 1861, with a partner named John Montgomery, Edwin successfully mined $23,000 of the precious metal product (in Vesser, 1987, p. 151).  Later in 1861, Edwin made his way back to Ohio; he married Jessie (Janet) Reid on May 26, 1862; and he enlisted in the Union army in the fall of 1863.

Edwin and Jessie’s first child, Thomas, was born February 26, 1863 in Henry County, Ohio, while the Civil War raged.  Their second child, Josiah, was born August 21, 1865, a mere four months after General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.  Five more children, two girls and three boys, would be born in Ohio.  Then, around 1880, Edwin Crockett and his family visited Marshall Township, Saline County, Missouri to see Celia and Rudolph Pulaski and their family, who  had only recently moved there themselves.  “We went for a visit,” Mary (Crockett) Casey, Edwin and Jessie’s fourth child recalled in 1953, “but stayed for ten years.”  A contemporary source locates the Crockett farm “nine miles east of Marshall, on the Arrow Rock road.”  The farm comprised, this source added, “…226 acres of very fine land” (Arrow Rock Township Biographies, p. 545).  Edwin and Jessie’s eighth, and last, child, a son named William, was born in Saline County, Missouri on May 30th, 1882.  Continue reading

Preface: A New Collection of Historical Sources and Ed Pulaski’s Life and Times

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James Reid (far left) and Emma, with Elsie, Pulaski (far right), posted at the North Idaho History Facebook page on Oct. 13, 2017 by Heather Heber Callahan.

Aside from the story of his heroism and skill in the Great 1910 Fire relatively little has been published about Edward C. Pulaski’s life and times.  Recently, however, some new biographical source material has become available.  Heather Heber Callahan lives in Dalton Gardens, Idaho and manages – with considerable commitment and perseverance, it might be noted – the “North Idaho History” Facebook page.  There, she publishes an ongoing stream of interesting historical images drawn from a variety of sources.  In October, 2017, as it happens, she published a group photo which included Emma Pulaski holding baby Elsie and a man named James Reid – they are at both ends of the row of the image’s subjects.  Heather explained:  “James Reid was Ed Pulaski’s uncle, he was married to Ed Pulaski’s mother Celia’s sister Amanda” (North Idaho History Facebook page comment, 11/25/2017).  Seeing this photo led Jim See and Ron Roizen — both involved with the Pulaski Project — to ask whether Heather had more images of the Pulaski family.

She said she did, and she kindly directed us to a dropbox collection of files holding what turned out to be a treasure trove of source material, almost all of it new to us.  Heather informed us that she is Edwin Crockett’s great, great granddaughter and that she received the dropbox materials from her great aunt.  Edwin Crockett was one of Edward Pulaski’s mother’s older brothers.  It bears noting that he played an important role in Ed Pulaski’s life story.  It has been said that Edwin’s letters to Celia Pulaski, Ed’s mother, planted the seeds of Ed’s initial wanderlust and thirst for adventure out in the newly accessible American West.  Ed kept with him a collection of Uncle Edwin’s letters and other writings in his own travels.  Their relationship, nephew and uncle, survived until Edwin’s death, on April 26, 1907, in Coeur d’Alene.  Edwin is buried at Coeur d’Alene’s Forrest Cemetery – the same cemetery where Ed was buried; Ed died February 2, 1931.      Continue reading