Owyhee County, an original county

"Owyhee County was named for the river, mountains and mining area explored in 1919-1920 by Hawaiian fur trappers from the then Sandwich Islands. Hawaii and Owyhee are different spellings of the same word. It was the first county to be established by the first territorial legislature in 1863. Gold was discovered on Jordan Creek in 1863, and a rush began to the area. The rich Poorman Mine was discovered in 1865 and and millions of dollars of gold and silver were taken from Silver City region until the industry declined in the early 1900s. Irrigation systems were built along the Owyhee and Snake Rivers and other streams in the county. Forage was excellent, and cattle and sheep raising which begain in the late 1860's was, after mining declined, the most important industry in the county. Mining in Delamar was revived in the mid-1970's, but agriculture remained the chief industry." - "The Idaho Almanac," 1977 Edition, State of Idaho."

1895 Rand McNally map  ::  almanac map  ::  ISU topo map  ::   location  ::  Neighbors

The county seat is Murphy; other towns are Homedale, Marsing; inhabited places are Bruneau, Grand View, Riddle and Silver City (seasonal). Duck Valley Indian Reservation is partially in this county.

The first county seat was at Ruby City. In 1867 it was moved to Silver City and in 1934 to Murphy.

"Owyhee County was born December 31, 1863. Its limits were set forth in these words: 'That all that part of of said territory lying south of the Snake River and west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains shall be and the same is hereby organized into a county to be called Owyhee.' By 1879 it was reduced to its present limits, making it the second largest county in Idaho." - Mildretta Adams, "Historic Silver City/The Story of the Owyhees," 1969, Schwartz Printing Company, Nampa, Idaho.

"the Elijah P. Utter wagon train was attacked by Indians on September 9 and 10, 1860. The two-day encounter resulted in the deaths of eleven emigrants and an estimated twenty-five to thirty Indians. The forty-four member train was composed of four families with twenty-one children, some single men, five recently discharged soldiers, and an army deserter. The first attack occurred on the high ground just west of Castle Creek when the Indians attempted to stampede the stock." continued. "When rescued by the Army 45 days later, only fifteen had survived the ordeal of hunger and deprivation. No other Oregon Trail wagon train suffered greater losses." - Highway Marker
Emeline L. Fuller's account - 30 pages.

Owyhee County Its History, Towns, Industries at accessgenealogy
"A historical, descriptive and commercial directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, January 1898," with Directories: Guffey :: Oreana  :: Reynolds Creek
Mining Gold and Silver in Idaho, 1865-1885, at accessgenealogy
J. Marion More (1830-1868)
Owyhee County, Langley's 1876 Gazetter & Business Directory of Idaho Territory; alpha index
Silver City, Owyhee County, Langley's 1876 Gazetter & Business Directory of Idaho Territory; alpha index
Silas Skinner's Owyhee Toll Road (off-site)
Owyhee County, by James Hawley, 1920
Historic Owyhee County Post offices
Col. Dewey Biography from "Illustrated History of the State of Idaho," Lewis Publishing Co., 1899
The Fabulous Col. Dewey, by Faith Turner, "Scenic Idaho," May-June 1953
Col. William H. Dewey (1823-1903), at findagrave, includes biography
"War Under the Mountain/Death and destruction in the gold mines at War Eagle Mountain", True West magazine (off-site)
Mail Robberies, by Arthur Hart
Walter's Ferry ~ map of ferries from Research Guide on Snake River Ferries

News Items

Library of Congress, Chronicling America, includes Silver City newspapers -
1868, Jan. 11: Snake River Froze Over, Owyhee Stage returned to Boise, Idaho Semi-weekly world
1869 ad for Owyhee and Boise Stage Line
1877, Feb. 27:Jack Lloyd Killed, Well known express messenger killed; Idaho semi-weekly world
The Production of Silver City's Quartz Mines for 1895
1900 Trade Dollar Mine, 1900 Owyhee Co. Miners. "Trade Dollar Mine at Dewey in Owyhee County, Idaho. Crews from both the day and night shifts are outside the Blaine Tunnel. Photo taken May 1900. "Big Bill Haywood"1 in front row, fourth from right. Elisha Lewis of Silver City and Boise identifies the men as follows: Front row: Barney Francisco, Herb Holloway, Owen Reel, Joe Hutchinson (sup't) and his bride, Helen Hutchinson, William Haywood, Jim Cox, Walter Thomas, Dave O'Neal. Back rows: Bill Pooley, Jacob Bachman, Alex Beason, Ed Vanson, Charley Rodgers, Bill Stephenson, Bart Russell, Dave Porter, Charley Miller, Alex McDonald, Fred Ulmer, Bill Lakey, Frank Hall, John Raagle, Eddie Phillips, Fred Johnson, Charley Camaish, Branch Smith, Jim Law, Lyle Eisenhart, Bob Haislip, Jack Lawor, Jay Ballinger, Dave Brumbaugh (shift boss), Joe Corda, William Bartow, Bill Williams, Oscar johnson, Lish Lewis, Billie Chrisman, Fred Davis, Ed Allen, Matt McLain (shift boss), John McGough, Jim Trythal, Harry Palmer. (Identification taken from Scenic Idaho, March-April, 1953.)" - https://idahohistory.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p265501coll1/id/440/rec/9

"These are miners of the Trade Dollar Mine, posing on Florida Mountain. The Trade Dollar had a main tunnel 3,854 feet in length. It connected with the Blackjack Mine at its northern tunnel, having over five miles of tunnel and drifts. Eastern financier Andrew Mellon was the secretary and treasurer of the Trade Dollar Mining and Milling Company. The Trade Dollar was named after trade dollars, US coins minted to compete with other large silver dollars that were already popular in East Asia. The idea first came about in the 1860s, when the price of silver began to decline due to increased mining efforts in the West. Eventually, bullion producers such as those in the Owyhee Mountains began converting large amounts of silver into trade dollars, but they were much maligned and traded for less than $1 each. They were discontinued in 1876." - Robert L. Deen in "Images of America/Owyhee County," 2015.

1901, Swan Falls Dam completed, provides power for Silver City mines
1901, Work Begun on Mahogony Flat, Granville boarding house moved from DeLamar
1901, William H. Thomas petition for change of venue on manslaughter charge
1902 Ad For Christmas Ball, committee, Robert Leonard, Jr., R. S, Hawes, W. R. Hamilton
1908, Jan. 03, Owyhee Nugget,: First Woman Jury at De Lamar


1 "In 1896, William Dudley Haywood, better know as "Big Bill" got his start as secretary of the miners union in Silver City. He was a central figure in the Haywood-Pettibone trial for the assassination by bombing of Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg in 1905. He was secretary of the Western Federation of Miners at that time, which was accused of masterminding the plot. The defense hired Clarence Darrow, the most renowned lawyer of the day, and Haywood was acquitted. He was a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a member of the executive committee of the Socialist Party of America. Haywood was one of 101 members of the IWW convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 during the first "Red Scare" (widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism spurred by the Russian Revolution). While out of prison during an appeal of his conviction, Haywood fled to Russia. He died in Moscow in 1928." Deen, ibid.

Owyhee County Historical Society and Museum
National Rgister of Historic Places  ::  National Register of Historic Places in Idaho
US GenWeb Archives, Owyhee County
Owyhee Co. Genweb

Pack Mules, Silver City

Eight Horse Team and Freight Wagons, Silver City

(click for larger image)

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