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Fremont County, Idaho

History

This article was written by Margaret Hawkes Lindsley and appeared in the Fremont County Chronicle-News Historical Edition Aug. 8,1963. It later appeared in the Fremont County Centennial Edition published March 4, 1993 by The Fremont County Herald-Chronicle.

    Pisces, the sign of the fish, is the appropriate and astrological sign that rules the birth date, March 4, 1893, of Fremont County, the sportsmen's delight.
   
Youthful St. Anthony was the successful angler that landed the catch of the fall general election of 1894, the county seat.
   
Through its growing pains, the vigor and zest associated with western boom towns speak in this doggerel featured in an old St. Anthony newspaper:
   
"To chuckle and giggle is funny, to cry and shed tears is sad. But to live in St. Anthony and be good, is to be solitary, lonesome and sad. "
    There were people here when the first white man, John Colter, moccasined softly into the Conant Trail in 1808, headed for the Yellowstone and immortality. The white man found these Americans, predominantly Shoshone-Bannock people, making a beginning, with the honor-in-raid, the little wars of the hunters, tribes and clan chieftains. There were white men who liked the Indians better than their own people, took up their beliefs, ornaments, language and love of children. The Indian scheme of life worked, but time had run out on them. They were broken for their good land. And who knows that cities, nations and fame might have been theirs?

First white men

    Andrew Henry and his handful of trappers were the first white men to winter in the country. They left rock markers on Conant Creek near Drummond during their stay in 1810-11 and chiseled their names and the date: A. Henry, J. Hoback, B. Jackson, P. McBride, L. Cather, Sept. 1810, and the initials L.C. on a nearby rock as well as A. Henry on another.
   
Wilson Price Hunt named the North Fork of the Snake and its lake headwaters for Henry when he arrived in the fall of 1811. The inscriptions, "For Henry, 1811, by Hunt,'' and ''Al the cook with nothing to cook" were found on rocks unearthed over a century later near Egin Bench.
    The same Egin Bench was the first settlement when Stephen Winegar and his four sons, George, Willis, Leonard and John, put up the first log shelter during the summer of 1879 when they cut and stacked the wild hay in the river bottoms. Winegar Hole and "Gideon Winegar June, 1882,'' carved on the cliff beside the Snake River, are reminders of these early settlers.
   
The towns that later dotted the Delaware-sized county were not even a gleam in the pioneer father's eyes when the first settlers in southern and northern parts of the counties arrived. Richard "Beaver Dick" Leigh - trapper and guide - for whom a lake, a creek and a canyon were named, was the first white man to settle in the southern part of the county.
    The frontiersman and Army scout, George Rea, who passed through the Island Park area in 1877, guiding Howard and his troops in pursuit of Chief Joseph and his people, and returned to settle on Shotgun Creek, has a pass, a peak and a post office named for him.

Hotel, stage stop

    Rea's post office was one of the stage line stations of the Bassett lines from Spencer to West Yellowstone, Mont., with the Arangee Co. Hotel as a stage stop. The Monida-Yellowstone-Western made the run through Red Rock Pass. The Gilmore-Salisbury stages from Spencer to Yellowstone used Salisbury ranch near Henry's Lake as a stage station. The Arangee Co. Hotel later became the summer home of one of the earliest visitors to appreciate and extol the beauties and potentials of the region, A.S. Trude, the eminent Chicago lawyer.
    The Raynolds expedition, Jim Bridger guiding, passed this way in 1860. An appropriation of $60,000 had been authorized by Congress for the Raynolds expedition to find the best way for a road and/or railroad to the plains of Montana and the Idaho mines. They explored Jackson Hole. Wyo., but were turned back, passed through the Island Park country and discovered Raynolds pass which he recommended as the route into Montana because it had a grade of less than 50 feet to the mile. It was 1,500 feet lower than South pass and so level it was difficult to locate the point where the waters divided.
    The Shoshone-Bannock treaty with the United States was executed in 1868. Sawtell, for whom the mountain with the chieftain profile was named, was reported to have erected a windowless house near the base of the mountain by 1870 as his trapping base.
    In 1872 the Moran brothers, Thomas, the artist, and John, the writer, along with the photographers, Jackson, and other specialists, surveyors and mapmakers sent by the government, were being guided by Richard Leigh to examine the scenic wonders that would be set aside as the country's first national park in 1875. Other trappers in the area were said to be William Beers, Robert Pugmire, Bill Robinson and Hains and Haig.

Indian wars

    The Sioux-Cheyenne uprising was in 1876. The Nez Perce fought a holding action on Targhee Creek the summer of 1877 against troops commanded by Howard in which a Bannock chieftain allied with Chief Joseph was killed. A distorted form of his name, Tyee, was given later to the creek and the Targhee Forest. The next summer, in the so-called Bannock War of 1878, a camp near Henry's Lake had some of their horses taken in a flurry of action and excitement.
    By 1879 the Oregon Short Line had completed the rail line headed from Ogden, Utah, to Butte, Mont., as far as Market Lake.
    The fall of 1879 a prairie fire denuded the country of forage for stock and game from Egin north through Island Park and east into Teton Basin. Complicated by the icing over of the river at Egin, the stock suffered for lack of food and shelter and died that winter.
    Egin dropped the name Greenville with the appointment of the first postmaster, July 1, 1880, A.F. Parker. Construction of the Egin Canal Co. was begun in 1881; water was taken for irrigation in June 1883, and the canal was completed in 1886.
    In entering the county many settlers had to use fords. For many years the roads took a course that was the straightest line to the best fords, not the straightest line of travel.

Community development

    Joseph Curr, first settler of Fall River, which was later named Chester, arrived in 1885. James Siddoway was Teton's first resident. Hp put in a water wheel and with Wm. Naylor built the Teton Flour Mill.
    The Birch brothers, Thomas, Edward, James, Dave, Robert, Jack and William, arrived from Utah in 1883 to settle in Wilford. The Parker townsite, named for Wyman W. Parker, was selected June 1883. John Donaldson was Teton's first LDS Church bishop about the time Lysander Dayton, George and Bill Davis were taking up home sites in Twin Groves.
    Joseph R. Meservy and Sons were erecting a grist mill in the Wilford area when St. Anthony's founding father, Carlos H. Moon, filed on 320 acres in 1887 and the St. Anthony bridge was built over Henry's Fork of the Snake. There was a ferry crossing the river at Roberts by 1889 but up river to Lorenzo and on until it reached the new town, the traveler had to take his chances at the fords.
   
Samuel Suver Sadoris established his family at Sarilda six months before Joseph and Mary Weaver Baker, who had brought a family of eight by wagon train from Nebraska, arrived to settle on Spring Creek west of Ashton in 1889.
    Sadoris had left the town in Illinois named for his family, and would live by the side of the road that crossed the Big Bend Ridge and see it named Sadoris Hill Road.

Cattle imported

    By 1888 the Arangee Co. had founded the Swiss Colony in the lsland Park country, reminiscent of the Swiss Alpine region. A sawmill, a handsome two-and-half-story hotel, topped by a cupola, and flagpole were built. Stocked with imported Holsteins and peopled by Swiss emigrants who started up a cheese factory, made this an impressive beginning for a settlement.
    Jack Kooch, later builder and operator of the Big Springs Resort, traveled to the land office at Blackfoot to file on land for the company, one of the first homesteads filed on in the region.
    A.S. Trude, after a tour of the park, visited Henry's Lake to check on the intriguing tales of the floating island there.
    By the year Idaho became a state, 1890, several families were making use of the first summer homes in Island Park.
    Charles Mackert of Egin Bench purchased the first threshing machine.
    The last year of the old century brought zero weather and the railroad line into St. Anthony. Half-fare passes were being issued to all LDS settlers interested in coming to Fremont County.

Ashton settled

    In 1901, 640 acres were bought for the Ashton townsite from George Harrigfeld, R.E. McGavin and Asa Hendricks. The first train arrived there in 1906. R.D. Jennings was the first depot agent. Stage lines took passengers on to the western Yellowstone Park entrance.
    Two unique systems of assuring moisture for crops in Fremont County had been worked out - sub irrigation and dry farming. The virgin soil was so rich that some farms paid for themselves the first year with bumper yields.
    In July 1911, C.W. Thompson was moving to his new store at Drummond.
    Headlines in the papers noted Nov. 13, 1913, that ''The County is Divided,'' and Fremont came into its own.

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