Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rival Towns—Steunenberg & Ferdinand, Idaho

Earlier this year, I posted quite a bit of information about the short-lived town of Steunenberg, Idaho. I won't repeat information here that is already on previous blog posts, as some of the following comes from related sources and is very similar. I have listed links to the previous posts at the bottom of this page.

The following excerpt is from Ferdinand Idaho. The web page provides an interesting history, with photographs of Ferdinand and the surrounding area. For purposes here, I have pulled out the information specific to Steunenberg, Idaho but you will want to visit the site and give it a full read.

Now if only I can only find a remnant of the town for my own collection...a post mark, a token, a bottle, an old sign, a letter or piece of paper written on letterhead for the Bank of Steunenberg or the Steunenberg Mercantile Company...anything!

....The Railroad was to be built on John Bieker land, which was ¼ mile from his brother F. M’s Store in Ferdinand. Mr. J.P. Vollmer, a shrewd millionaire banker and a shareholder in the Northern Pacific railroad, came to Ferdinand to buy John’s land and any other land close to it. Mr. Vollmer intended to start a town on the east side of the railroad tracks. Vollmer offered John $50.00 an acre for his 240 acres and $40.00 acre for an adjoining 140 acre farm owned by Matt Lawen and 40.00 an acre for F.M.’s 80 acres east of John’s land. It was then surmised that the depot would be located on Johns 240 acres because he would offer only $40.00 an acre for the other land. And that meant that Vollmer meant to start a town at the depot.

Rival Town-Steunenberg

Vollmer had about 25 acres on the west side also, which joined Ferdinand. Vollmer had been in that business, years before when the railroad was built to Uniontown and Genesee. The surveyor told F.M. that Vollmer told him to crowd the town as much as possible to the east. He did not want anything to do with Ferdinand. When F. M. heard of Vollmers, plan to start a town on the east side of tracks, one-fourth mile east of Ferdinand, he wrote Vollmer a letter and offered to sell him the forty acres on which Ferdinand is located, providing he would put the town on the west side of the tracks. F.M. received no reply, and after that started to sell tracts to people who wanted to go in business there. Ben Gerding, a former Cottonwood Saloon man, was the first to build. He put up a two-story saloon and hall building, also a dwelling. Later on he erected a two-story hotel. Joe Bushue and Barney Herzog, partners, put up a two-story hall and store building, Tony Nau and Frank Staab, a general store building, and Ed. Nau a harness store and workshop. About 1904 Vollmer sent his surveyor, Mr. S.P. Judson to Steunenberg. July 1906 difficulties arose between Vollmer and surveyor Judson. Mr. Judson was fired, although to platting was not half finished. F.M. arranged with Mr. Judson to survey and plat forty acres as the Ferdinand town site.

The platting of Steunenberg was not taken up again until about eighteen months later when a family by the name of Noel came from Oklahoma, and, back by Mr. Vollmer, started a store there. A large, flat-roofed building was erected, containing, in addition to a storeroom, some dwelling rooms and a room in which a bank was to be located. The Vollmer Clearwater Company put the bank, a private one, in some time later, but business did not flourish, and after a year or two, Mr. Noel left. The bank was run in connection with the company’s grain warehouse.

Fire Loss At Steunenberg: May 26 1908. Fire in the town of Steunenberg started at 2:00 A M destroying the Steunenberg hotel and the Gerding soft drink establishment & lodging house. The total loss in buildings, furniture and personal effects was estimated at $7,000, while the insurance did not exceed $2,000. The fire started in the rear of other lower room of the building occupied by the soft drink establishment & poolroom of unknown origin, operated by Joe Gerding. No person slept in the building. The upper floor of the establishment was lodging rooms. The hotel also a two-structure was located about ten feet from the poolroom building, and the flames soon spread there. It was impossible to save the furniture; within a comparatively short time both buildings were in a ruin.

Located across the street from the hotel was a large general merchandise store operated by J. C. Noel that was threatened with destruction. The front of the building was severely scorched and the heat was such that some panes of glass were broken. Ben Gerding of Grangeville owned the buildings destroyed. Prior to the ruling of the Supreme Court holding that liquor could not be sold on the reservation, Mr. Gerding operated a saloon at Ferdinand. When the town of Steunenberg was established, Mr. Gerding moved the buildings to Steunenberg. When the conducting saloons on the reservation were forbidden, he moved his stock of liquors to Grangeville. The saloon building was devoted to the use of the soft drink establishment and poolroom, operated by Mr. Gerding’s brother Joe. John Schiller operated the hotel. Above article was from the Lewiston Morning Tribune, Wednesday May 27, 1908. Thanks to Byron Bovey for researching fires on the Camas Prairie.

1910 Steunenberg: Bank of Steunenberg (capital $10,000) J.P. Vollmer president. E. E. Heagle was Railroad agent. There was the Steunenberg Mercantile Co. & Scheuller Brothers General Store.

--From Ferdinand Idaho.

See blog posts:

1/1/2009 - Happy New Year from the Town of Steunenberg Idaho

1/3/2009 - More on the Town of Steunenberg Idaho

1/5/2009 - "Steunenberg will be one of the best of the new towns."

1/6/2009 - Fire at Steunenberg Idaho

1/24/2009 - Photo of Steunenberg Idaho

1/24/2009 - Rival Towns

1/31/2009 - Plat Maps of Steunenberg and Ferdinand

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