Thursday, January 1, 2009


Quite some time ago, I ran across an old listing from the Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions for a postmarked card from the town of Steunenberg, Idaho. I had never heard of a town with the family name and from time to time have tried to locate additional information regarding its existence. Unfortunately, no picture was available of the postcard or postmark, no information regarding the buyer and seemingly no trace of any such town.

My search eventually led to a website established by Corbin Miller, who maintains a listing of Idaho Doane Postmarks. The same above referenced auction item was listed as a reported but not confirmed Doane postmark. Corbin correctly reported the Doane designation as unconfirmed since no one had actually seen a scan or picture of the item that had been purchased at auction in 2003. We do not know where that particular postcard is at today or who owns it. Corbin has removed it from the above referenced list, since it now appears the auction listing was incorrect in identifying it as a Doane. He directed me to Mark Metkin, a collector of Idaho covers and postmarks, as someone that might have more information on the Steunenberg postmark.

I found out from Mark, the Coordinator of the Idaho State Postal History Registry, that the designation of the above item as a Doane cancel was in fact inaccurate and that the auctioned item would have been a 4-bar postmark similar to one in his collection. You can find the town of Steunenberg, ID on Mark's list of Idaho County Post Offices.

For a primer on all this postmark business and what is what, go to: Postmarks

Of course, Mark and Corbin are both very knowledgeable regarding postal history and postmarks. My knowledge is rudimentary at best but has been sparked by these developments. All the discussion aside as to the type of postmark, my singular interest was to confirm the existence of a postmark from STEUNENBERG, IDAHO. Mark solved that problem with the STEUNENBERG, IDAHO 4-bar cancel postcard in his personal collection. Finally, I had found confirmation that a town, or at least a post office, had existed.
Here is Mark’s postcard along with a closer look below at the postmark. Click on any of the images for an even larger view. This card is apparently from the same sender (probably not a lot of folks in Steunenberg, ID in 1910) as in the Rumsey auction item and bears a March 22, 1910 4-bar postmark and post office name of “STEUNENBURG, IDAHO.” Mark says Post Office records have the name correctly spelled as “STEUNENBERG.” Misspelling of postmarks is apparently common and all of us in the family are well aware of the many incorrect variations on Steunenberg. It is not an easy name to spell and I even type it incorrectly now and then. We will forgive the maker of the postmark hand stamp for that one.


The Steunenberg post office was an early stop on the Camas Prairie Railroad between Lewiston and Grangeville. It was located in Idaho County just south of the Lewis County line near present-day Ferdinand. The Post Office was established October 9, 1909, with one Gust. A. Franz as postmaster. The Post Office was discontinued July 29, 1910 (above information and postcard scans provided courtesy of Mark Metkin).

Does anyone know that area near Ferdinand? I wonder if there is any documentation as to the exact location or what if any buildings ever existed except for what served as a post office. It could have been a shack or farmhouse along the railroad tracks. Today it may be barren land or a Wal-Mart as I have not been to that area during any of my recent Idaho trips. I guess it will be another place on the itinerary next time around. The map shown here comes from the Wikipedia page, Camas Prairie Railroad.

So henceforth, we can now say that STEUNENBERG, IDAHO did in fact exist, albeit for less then ten months, but it was there. The short duration would account for the rare nature of postmarks with the Steunenberg name.

Please let me know if you have any other information regarding the short-lived town of STEUNENBERG (or STEUNENBURG), IDAHO.

In a later post, I will show some additional postcards/postmarks shared by Mark that also have a Steunenberg connection.

Thank you Mark and Corbin for leading me down the right trail.



John said...

John--today I was doing some research at the Idaho Historical Library and ran into Penny Casey, who is from Idaho County and keeps the Idaho County site on Rootsweb - I asked her if she knew about Steunenburg and she had, but then we got off onto other subjects. Then she pulled a 1915 map of Idaho County and showed me where that map said it was. The map indicated that it was just one mile, give or take a bit, directly east of Ferdinand. So I went to Google maps, found Ferdinand, then switched to satellite view, and see the nice field that is there now. From the map, both Steunenburg and Ferdinand appear to be situated on the north side of the section line running east and west just on the south side of both metropoli. From the Google map, that line is now called 7 Mile Cutoff Rd. Depending on the accuracy of the map, that would put Steunenburg at about the intersection of Canyon Rd., or perhaps I'm off a bit and it is where 7 Mile Cutoff Rd. turns south. From the Google satellite view, there is some odd anomoly in the field at the northeast corner of that intersection. It is impossible to tell what that is, but it might have been where there was a building or perhaps more than one. I don't know the route of the railroad through the area, but I don't see anything that looks like a right-of-way.
John Mutch

aisxray said...


L. J. Esslinger, cashier of Bank of
I Steunenberg, made a pleasant call on
friends in Vollmer Sunday

The Bank of Steunenberg received
some new fixtures which were installed
( Friday, the same making quite an improvement
to the Bank.)

Steunenberg Merc. Co. and Sehueller
Bros, received a car-load of sugar

Idaho County free press., March 11, 1909,

John T. Richards said...

Thank you for your comment. I am always pleased to learn new bits of information about the short-lived town of Steunenberg. Never know where each new piece will lead.