Gem County

Gem County is named from the phrase "Gem of the Mountains." Fur trappers were in the area in 1818 and Alex-ander Ross explored Squaw Creek in 1824. Prospectors and miners moved through the county in 1862 en route to the gold rush in Boise Basin, and by the next year irrigation began along Payette River. Pickett Corral Fort was established in 1863-64 along the bluffs of the Payette River just below Black Canyon Dam as protection for the settlers. Horse and cattle thieves gained control of the corral for several years until they were cleared out by vigilantes. Payette Ranch House near Emmett was one of the first houses in the valley. The Black Canyon Dam provides storage water for irrigation, and the natural protection from frost in the Emmett Valley makes it eminently suitable for fruit growing. The largest lumber mill in southern Idaho is at Emmett. Agriculture and lumbering are the main industries of the county." - -- "The Idaho Almanac," 1977 Edition, State of Idaho." ISU map modified   Neighboring Counties

It contains one incorporated town Emmett    and the communities of Sweet     Montour    Ola    Gross    Letha    Pearl & The Westview Mining District


Sweet Cemetery, On Sweet-Ola Hwy, about a mile north of the "Triangle" junction with Hwy. 52 (about 2 miles south of Sweet)
Ola Cemetery, on south side of Ola
Pearl Cemetery, on private property, west of old Pearl townsite
Riverside Cemetery, Emmett - the city has mapped Riverside Cemetery. The tutorial at the site with help you locate the grave for which you're searching.
Veterans buried in Emmett's Riverside Cemetery, (on museum's website)
Find A Grave for memorials


Hester Gross, Childhood on Upper Squaw Creek
Dan MacAskill
McConnel, Roy C. and Alma Carlson McConnel
Wake Island Construction Workers, includes Marvin Gross, Leroy Cramer, Emmett, Newell and Glen Newell; clippings also mention Richard Hudson, Warren McGill & Clee Morris
Woody, William

Family Group Sheets
William H. Cramer
Gustav A. Gross
Richard Gross

Bios from "History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountains," Vol. III. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago, 1920. On-line at and google books

Burkhard, George
Cruickshank, Alexander
Davies, John B.
Holverson, Elmer
Kesgard, Kate
Knox, Clayton Bane
Knox, Walter
Riggs, Boise G.
Riggs, Henry C.
Womack, Isaac

This volume is 900 pages of biographical sketches. Gem County entries include many familiar names: Alsagar, Cronk, Cruickshank, Davison, Hartley, Kessler, Morehouse, McCrossin, McKay, Pugh, Riggs, Werle, and Wilhelm, to name a few.


Goodale North Trail, Oregon Trail Alternate, 1862
History of Emmett
History of Montour
History of Ola
History of Gross
Women Homesteaders
1914 Polk's Business Directory
Gem County and Emmett, as described by James Hawley in The History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountain, Volume I, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1920.
Martial Law, 1931, "to prevent incenciarism;" in Idaho, Boise, Gem, Valley, Adams, Custer and Lemhi Counties
Historical Register

Maps and Plats

Basin Trail, 1863; reconstruction by Dorothy Welberg
Martinsville, 1864-1870; reconstruction by Dorothy Welberg
1897 Mail Routes  ~  1903 Mail Routes, Idaho maps at Digital Commonwealth/Massachusetts Collections Online, includes 1891, 1895, 1897 & 1903 mail routes

Emmettsville plat, 1900
Letha plat, 1910
School Districts
Sweet plat

Newspaper Articles

1872, A. H. Nesbett of Squaw Creek drowned while attempting to cross the Payette
1882, Squaw Creek mail route, ferry
1883, Matt Martin saw a man skipping out his back door, grub missing; believed to be Cottner
1884, Apr. - Carl Baird reports Smoke in dead of winter
1884, Apr. 25 - Abbott & Hornberger out for seeds; Carrol Baird lost cattle during winter; volcanic fire, bad whiskey
1889, Feb. Desert Land, Final Proof, James Ballntine, witnesses" C. Gillet, F. Gross, F. Sheppard, William Otto
1889, Ireton discovered coal near quartz find
1890, May: Woman on Upper Squaw Creek saw 210 rattlesnakes and one race in two days
1890, July: Tally dies; Scoot Smith's house destroyed by fire
1891, "County of Butte" proposed
1891, May: Sarah E. Wilson filing for homestead
1891, Disappearance of I. E. Mahan
1891, Macum Smith made a "clean-up" of 60 tons of hay on his Squaw Creek Ranch
1892, March, Squaw Creek Notes Washington's Birthday Dance, Craig Baird voted most graceful dancer, Prof. Perrin developing into a phrenologist
1892, March: Central Lumber Co. 3,500,000 feet of logs on Upper Payette
1892, March: Central Lumber Co. Ad
1892, Apr. - A. T. Drake died at J. C. Shepherd's house in Caldwell
1892, May: "Young Cyclone" on Squaw Creek, Ireton lost barn and granery; Brown, barn roof; Crowley, a hog
1892, May: Miss May Locke teaching subscription school on Upper Squaw Creek, in dwelling of A. S. Hall's; Padgett's house in High Valley burned
1892, George Perron's great bonanza, near summit between Squaw Creek and High Valley
1889, Apr. - Jas. Wardwell, lumberman says he will get logs down river in spite of low water
1897, July - Severe Hail Storm, William Cupp reporting, Senator Ballentine barn wrenched from foundation
Feb. 1898, About 25,000 sheep being fed in vicinity of Emmett
April 1902, Railroad Reaches Emmett
May 1902, New Stage Line
June 1902, 55 Carloads, Mining Machinery for Thunder Mountain
June 1902, Thunder Mountain Road will go by Long Valley
July 1902, 4th of July Celebration
July 1902, Base Ball at Boise
July 1902, News Briefs
July 1902, Surveyors Back from Mines (at Thunder Mountain)
January 1903, Farmers' Co-operative Irrigation Co. Plans
May 1903, Wagon Road to Roosevelt
1905, Thunder Mountain News ads,
1905, Ola to High Valley Road
1905, Emmett-Pearl Record to move to Nampa
1910, Quincy Callender and Marjorie Kennedy wed, to live in Ola, having interest in stage
1914, Emmett's First Women Jury, VonHarten v. Bramblee, herd law
1918, Jan.: Post Office will be enlarged, increase in receipts; Sam D. Riggs, postmaster; Bertha Canaday, Henry A. Stalker, Bessie Whittemore, Alfred G. Pollard, Ernest S. Blayden, force.
1941, Evening Capital News, Record is Made by Distribitors, Nearly Quarter of Million Dollars paid to Growers up to June 30
1916, Slayer of Wife Captured Near Payette, Nick St. Clair Flees Gem County and Caught in Canyon County
1919, Boise Payette Lumber Co. to close plant so 300 Employees can View War Flyers Stage Ozone Thrillers
1922, 27 cars of cherries shipped, million & half pounds of wool
October 1929-Old Liberty Mine at Sweet Sold
November 1930 - Spanish American Vet's Body Moved to Sweet Cemetery (George W. Hall)
November 1938, Sixteen Postmasters Served Emmett in Twelve Different Locations
April 1948, The Marsh-Ireton Ranch, by Nellie Ireton Mills

Off site - Boise County Sentinel at Salmon Public Library, 1912 & 1916, published at Sweet; plus other publications

News Items at Gem County Museum

Photo Album

Strawberries at Emmett, c. 1915; on flicker
1930 Black Canyon Canal Construction, via flicker: Black Canyon Canal. c. 1930 - On verso, "Watering the Idaho desert. Main canal of the Payette Division of the Boise Reclamation Project. Trainload of reinforcing steel arriving for reinforcing concrete of the flume."
Photos from Library of Congress
1940's Airplan View, Black Canyon Dam
"Boise Cascade Corporation Emmett Sawmill", Built in 1917. On May 10, 1918 the first logs went through the saws. This completely modern sawmill has an annual capacity of 110,000,000 board feet, the logs are received by Truck and by Rail from the great forests of the Gem State." (1961 postcard)
Emmett's Historical Main Street signs - courtesy of Madonna Colburn - thanks for sharing!
Emmett's Historic Alley signs - courtesy of Madonna Colburn - thanks for sharing!

Historic Post Offices & Post Masters
Pickett's Corral

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

Gem County, Co., IDGenWeb
Gem Co. USGenweb Archives
Gem County Historical Society and Museum

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