Friday, November 29, 2013

Newspapers Report More Results from the Election in Idaho Territory

On November 29, 1863, the Lewiston Golden Age published an “Extra” with the results of the Territorial elections. (The item was reprinted in The Oregonian a few days later.) The headline was “Union Ticket Triumphant.”

At that time, they already had most of the totals from west of the Divide. This report contained “election returns from the precincts east of the Bitter Root mountains.”

The article first gave the result for Delegate to Congress: “Cannady’s majority east of the Bitter Root mountains is 251, which reduces Wallace’s majority to 339, as near as we can come at it until the returns are opened and counted.”

The Age added a postscript to the extra: “Since the above was put into type a letter has been received by the express from Fort Laramie, stating that Wallace’s majority at that place is 474, swelling his majority throughout the Territory to 813. Bully for Laramie!”

In reality, the census had enumerated only 218 people in the Laramie District, and less than half of them were eligible to vote. This ballot-box stuffing was apparently perpetrated by Territorial Marshal Dolphus Payne, but fortunately it did not affect the election for Delegate. Still, as could be expected, Democrats would repeatedly use the notorious “Laramie Fraud” to beat up Republican candidates in future campaigns.

Concerning the other elections, the Age said, “The following persons are elected to the Legislature from the eastern portion of the Territory: “East Bannock, W. C. Rheam [sic, Rheem], (Union), Councilman … ”

When combined with the other Districts, the results gave the Republican (Union) Party a majority in both the Council and the House of Representatives. However, Democrats would win the next election decisively, and held the legislator for many years afterwards.

With that turnaround, plus the splitting away of Montana Territory six months later, only three of the men chosen in that first election played any later role in Idaho government. Council member Stanford Capp served a second term on the Council, in 1872. Lyman Stanford, also on that first Council, was later sheriff of Owyhee County.
Judge Kelly. [Illust-State]

Milton Kelly, Representative from Boise County, played a much more prominent role after his term. Born near Syracuse, New York in 1818, Kelly became a lawyer in Wisconsin and then moved to California in 1861. He next followed the gold camps into Oregon and Idaho, settling in Placerville, Boise County, in 1863 … just in time for the election.

In 1865, President Lincoln, shortly before he was assassinated, appointed Kelly to the Supreme Court of Idaho Territory as an Associate Justice. He spent six years on the Court, assigned to the District based in Lewiston. He then moved to Boise City, where he purchased the Idaho Statesman newspaper. After seventeen years, in 1889, failing health led him to sell the paper. He passed away three years later.

References: [Hawley], [Illust-State]
A Historical, Descriptive and Commercial Directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, Owyhee Avalanche Press, Silver City, Idaho (January 1898).
“Idaho Election Returns,” The Oregonian, Portland (December 4, 1863).
“Laramie Fraud,” Reference Series No. 154, Idaho State Historical Society (February 1966).

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