One very early settler missed at least two chances, then, to make his claim to land along the Portneuf River near present-day Pocatello official. He ignored both acts, possibly because he never heard about them or, as he claimed, because he was certain the land was his already, courtesy of the Queen of England.
In 1911, this letter appeared in the Pocatello Tribune.
"I wish to state that in the year 1852, I located in the Snake River valley and purchased two tracts of land from the Hudson Bay Fur Co. I have occupied and claimed this land since that time. My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were all born on this land, and I supposed I had a perfect title to the land by the papers given me from the Hudson Bay Fur Co. That company gave me the right to the land in the name of her majesty, Queen Victoria of England. And now comes an allotting agent from the Bureau of Indian Affairs who claims I have no rights to the above stated land, and has commenced to allot my lands to the Indians.
"At the time I located here it was wild, unsettled Indian country from the state of Missouri to the Pacific coast. The United States did not own this country at that time. When England ceded this territory to the United States, the treaty read that those who remained here should have all the rights of American citizens (which is not saying much for American citizens). What motive they now have for taking my land away from me, which I have owned for over 60 years, and give it to strangers, is for revenue only. I will leave in a few weeks for Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I will secure all necessary papers from the Hudson Bay Fur Co., which will show that I have perfect right to the lands which I have occupied for years.
"These lands have been playgrounds for picnic parties every year since I have lived here, and I wish to still hold it and everybody at any time is perfectly welcome to camp there and enjoy themselves, which has been the custom for many years."
The letter was signed “Doc Yandell.”
Issac M. “Doc” Yandell was well known to local people who knew him as one of the “old timers” who lived where Pocatello would be long before the town came along in 1889. He kept some of the land he claimed as something of a community park, inviting all who wished to picnic and recreate there.
His claim of ownership to the land was never proved before his death in 1916 at about age 87. Oregon Territory was created in 1848, four years before Doc Yandell said he purchased the land from the Hudson Bay Company. The law in that new country at the time was a little iffy and mechanisms for enforcement nearly nonexistent. Whether or not he had a legitimate claim to the land is a question that is probably unanswerable today. He may have had good reason to believe the land was his.
Yandell had another beef with the U.S. government. His letters show that he was making a claim for a herd of horses he said had been stolen by the Nez Perce during their 1877 flight across the West. He was claiming a loss of $16,400 for the horses. The government was paying for some claims that came about as a result of that running battle. Whether Doc Yandell was ever reimbursed is unknown, at least by me.
Thanks to Theresa Orison, a descendant, for providing clippings and letters about and from Doc Yandell.