Sunday, January 11, 2009

Steunenberg & Ferdinand Idaho

A little tidbit of information from Ultimate that mentions the formation of Steunenberg and Ferdinand Idaho.
Pop. 145

"When the Nez Perce Reservation opened up for settlement in 1895, Frank M. Bieker and ten other settlers homesteaded claims at just $3.75 an acre. Bieker then petitioned for postal services in 1898, naming his new settlement Ferdinand after his mother’s hometown of Ferdinand, Indiana.

When the Camas Prairie Railroad built its line, Ferdinand was on the west side of the tracks. Bieker got word that John P. Vollmer, a ruthless millionaire-banker, planned on building another town just one-quarter mile away on the other side of the tracks. Bieker offered to sell Ferdinand’s forty town acres to Vollmer if Vollmer would promise to put his proposed community on the west side of the tracks as well. Vollmer never responded to the offer, but proceeded to build his town, called Steunenberg, and even managed to claim a few of Ferdinand’s businessmen. Most of Ferdinand’s residents stayed put, however, and Steunenberg’s newly established post office soon closed. Realizing his costly mistake, Vollmer eventually sold his land, and the small town was moved across the tracks to join Ferdinand."

I have a request in to Idaho County to see if they can pinpoint the exact location of Steunenberg, ID on a plat map. Other bits of information still flowing in too. Perhaps the Idaho State Historical Society and the Idaho Transportation Department would consider adding an historical marker to designate this interesting piece of Idaho history related to the Camas Prairie Railroad, John Vollmer and the towns of Ferdinand and Steunenberg. Something mentioning that the Nez Perce were essentially run off their reservation and the land given away to homesteaders by way of the Proclamation regarding Nez Perce reservation, 1895 might also be appropriate.

Nez Perce Chiefs in War Dress, Camas Prarie ca. 1899

Studio portrait of two chiefs (Edward Gould on right) wearing full war attire including feathered headdresses and breechcloth. One holds a sword.
Public Domain Image

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