Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Afternoon in Kendrick

If you're looking for a great party, look no further than Kendrick, Idaho.  Saturday April 25th marked a festive celebration in Kendrick, Idaho.  The Juliaetta-Kendrick Heritage Foundation opened their permanent museum.  This museum is the culmination of years of hard work to obtain and preserve the Fraternal Temple building in Kendrick.  Entering the museum you go into a large open space that just screams for large events to be hosted there.  This space had wonderful exhibits along the walls which explained the history of downtown buildings in Kendrick and Juliaetta.  This exhibit traced ownership and in most cases showed images of the buildings and their various uses.

When you are at the museum, I encourage you to ask a lot of questions.  First and foremost, look at the floor beneath you on the first floor it is from Mr. Walt Disney!  Be sure to ask the host at the museum about how that came to pass.  While you are asking questions be sure to inquire about how much their rental fees are for your next great event.

Did I mention that this was a party?  Along the rest of the first floor was a fantastic spread of food and beverages for the grand opening patrons to consume as well as chairs setup to watch the historical documentaries about the Kendrick and Juliaetta region.  But now let's head upstairs to go to the museum (as if this wasn't exciting enough).

Up a flight of stairs is an excellent example of what is possible when local historians work hard to remember and honor their heritage.  Much of the grand room upstairs is filled with historic images and objects that help to tell the story of the history of the Juliaetta and Kendrick region.  The entry room is dedicated to Bob and Lois Iller for all of their support of the J-K Heritage Foundation through the years.  Another room in the museum is donated to Arlene Wallace, whose family donated many objects and generous funding to the museum.  Remember, this is a party.  To begin the afternoon the museum had a formal dedication from the pump organ and flute accompanied by a formal blessing for the space.

Walking through the museum you are surrounded by historical images, objects and information about the Juliaetta and Kendrick region.  Looking at these objects it is clearly an example of local history well done.  The residents of these communities the museum serves should be excited to have such a valuable historic resource located in Kendrick.  I took many photos of the museum while I was there, but I thought I'd share just a few with you and encourage you to visit the museum yourself to see the rest of the exhibits.

The museum, located at 614 E Main St. in Kendrick, will be open from 1pm-3pm on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, I strongly recommend visiting.

Here are some photos of the museum, research room and patrons.

A Communications exhibit at the museum.

A veterans exhibit at the museum.

Research materials available for research at the museum.

Happy and excited patrons at the museum.

  - Zachary Wnek
Museum Curator
Latah County Historical Society

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An evening with Vernon Law and James 'Mudcat' Grant

On Wednesday April 15th LCHS partnered with the University of Idaho for an evening listening to how race and religion collided with baseball in the middle of the 20th century.  A panel of presenters was brought to the 1912 Center for an evening of reflection by two all star major league pitchers.

Vernon Law and James 'Mudcat' Grant both played professional baseball around the middle of the 20th Century.  These two gentlemen stayed and spoke for about 90 minutes recalling some of the most interesting stories from their playing time.  The panel was moderated by Dan Durbin of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Sports, Media and Society who is creating an oral history database of African-American baseball players who played in the 25 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

James 'Mudcat' Grant is on the right with a baseball cap on while Vernon Law is on the left.
The focus of the event was to hear about how race and religion affected the players.  Vernon Law discussed how his religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) played a role with both the fans and fellow players as many fellow players tried to tempt him to test his religious beliefs.  James 'Mudcat' Grant talked about the role of racism in baseball.  Mudcat spoke about how other players and fans reacted to African-American baseball players in Major League Baseball.   Many of Mudcat's stories can be found in his book: The Black Aces: Baseball's only African-American Twenty game Winners.

A great turnout for this panel at the 1912 Center.
The two pitchers spoke for about an hour until they opened up the floor for questions.  The pitchers answered all questions asked and were available after the event closed for further questions, signing autographs and taking pictures with the captive audience. 

Latah County Historical Society would like to thank James 'Mudcat' Grant, Vernon Law and Dan Durbin for sharing their experiences with us.  LCHS would also like to thank the University of Idaho for hosting this event and partnering with us.

Zachary Wnek
Museum Curator
Latah county Historical Society

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Unintended Consequences of a Noble Experiment

The gang that kidnapped Lieutenant Governor William Kinne and two other men in 1929, along with some of the posse that apprehended the criminals outside of Kendrick is shown in this undated photo. Back row, fourth from left is Lt. Gov. Kinne, sixth from left is Harley Perryman who was deputized during the search. Criminals stand in first row, beginning second from left are George Norman, Robert Livingston, Edward Fliss, Engolf Snortland and Albert Reynolds. Young heroes Ward Alexander and Sam Bryant likely kneeling in front.  LCHS Photo 10-09-003

Squeezed onto the front page of the June 12th, 1929 edition of The New York Times was a brief article from Orofino under the headline “4 Men Kidnap Idaho’s Lieutenant-Governor; Finally Leave Him and 2 Others Tied to Trees.”  The column went on to note that Kinne “was abducted by four automobile bandits this morning and left tied to a tree in the mountains after his car had been wrecked in a wild dash about the country side.  He returned home uninjured tonight.”  In the following days additional details about this ill-conceived and poorly executed criminal endeavor would surface, documenting just one more example of the lawlessness that came to characterize Prohibition-era America.  

William Kinne, elected to Boise only a few months earlier, was returning to his home in Orofino following a trip to Portland when his car was stopped along U.S. Route 12 east of Lewiston by a group of four armed young men.  Kinne was forced into the back of his own car by gunpoint, at which time the criminals piled into their newly acquired vehicle and proceeded east at speeds that the lieutenant governor believed topped more than 60 miles per hour.  Before the kidnappers could reach their intended destination of Pierce where they meant to rob a bank, a blown out tire threw Kinne’s car into the ditch.  Two men making their way along the same route stopped on the scene to offer aid, but when they resisted being kidnapped themselves, the bandits turned to physical violence.  Warren Tribbey was shot in the leg twice and Paul Kilde was beaten unconscious before the gang piled all three of their prisoners into Tribbey’s vehicle and made for the cover of mountains and Greer, Idaho. 

By late afternoon the criminals began to see the error of their ways, knowing that the absence of a lieutenant governor would not go unnoticed for long, and so the three were taken into the woods outside of Greer and tied to a tree.  Although the bandits took their hostages cash and vehicle, they neglected to confiscate Tribbey’s pocketknife in their hurry to make an escape.  It took little time to free themselves, and soon Kinne and his compatriots were sharing their harrowing tale in the town of Greer.  By nightfall scouting parties were forming to augment the official searches being undertaken by Nez Perce, Clearwater, and Latah County law enforcement.  The assembled efforts were so remarkable that newspapers across the country reported on the manhunt.  One article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted on June 13th that “a state-wide search was under way today for the four bandits who kidnapped and robbed Liet. Gov. W.B. Kinne…four airplanes and 150 possemen who hunted the official yesterday continued their search today for the bandits.”  

It would take two farm boys from Juliaetta, however, to nab the gang of would-be robbers.  Exhausted after nearly two days of skulking through the woods and ravines of north central Idaho, the bandits were spotted by 14 year old Ward Alexander and 16 year old Sam Bryant sleeping along the banks of the Potlatch Creek, and Latah County Deputy Sheriff Miles Pierce arrived within minutes to arrest the men.  The photo of the kidnappers and their captors above was most likely taken in Juliaetta the following morning, after Lt. Governor Kinne arrived to positively identify the culprits.  One nationally syndicated column shared that the man who Kinne singled out as responsible for shooting Kilde “threatened the lieutenant governor’s life if he ‘identified’ him.  ‘You may be all right for a while, but wherever you are when I get out of this, I’ll kill you sure,’ officers reported him as saying.”  Within a week the criminals stood trial in Lewiston on kidnapping charges, with all receiving multi-year jail sentences.  All threats of retribution went unfulfilled, however, because in September of that same year Kinne died in office from complications associated with appendicitis. 

Although sensational and worthy of note in countless newspapers, this sort of incident became all too common during the years of the national prohibition of alcohol, 1920 to 1933.  Proponents touted temperance as the single most effective way to uplift the moral character of the country and improve the lives of its citizens.  Yet the Noble Experiment, as it came to be called, undoubtedly contributed to a rise in organized crime, petty criminal activity, and a host of unhealthy behaviors.  You may be familiar with flappers and Al Capone, but how much do you really know about Prohibition?  Join the Latah County Historical Society next Saturday, April 11th for its second annual Brews & BBQ, presenting “How to Catch a Moonshiner, and Other Tales from Prohibition Era Latah County.”  More details about this fundraising event can be found at  A companion photo exhibit will also be on display at the Moscow Brewing Company through April.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Time to Partay! Help Us Celebrate the Latah County Oral History Project

More than 40 years after being recorded, the Latah County Oral History Project is getting a second life! Hundreds of hours of interviews have been digitized by the University of Idaho and are now available online. Join us for the launch party on Wednesday, April 1 in the 1912 Center Great Room from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Help us to remember Latah County and Idaho life at the turn of the 20th century. Co-sponsored by the Latah County Historical Society and the University of Idaho Library, this event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

Click HERE for a link to a story from Pullman Radio News on the University of Idaho's involvement in the project.

We are also please to announce some additional exciting news for the oral history collection. Here's a note from the 2015 Spring Newsletter, from Executive Director Dulce Kersting:
The Idaho Humanities Council and the Idaho State Historical Society have generously made grant funds available to help jump-start our oral history program. As many of you will know, in the 1970s the Society conducted hundreds of interviews with Latah County pioneers, creating one of the richest oral history collections in the state of Idaho. In subsequent decades, however, far fewer oral histories have been added to our archives. New funding is allowing the Society to once again sit down with Latah County residents whose experiences are representative of life in the area or individuals whose recollections are evidence of unique events or perspectives. If you or someone you know might like to contribute to this program, I encourage you to get in touch with me at or 208.882.1004. Our project happens to coincide with the University of Idaho’s launch of a brand new online resource that is bringing fresh attention to the Latah County Oral History Project conducted by the Society in the 1970s. Please be sure to visit to find digital recordings of the interviews, you won’t be disappointed.