Holbrook was born in Ohio. He went to school at Oberlin, earning a Bachelor of Law degree. He was admitted to the bar there in Ohio 1859, at age 23. He came to Idaho Territory shortly thereafter to practice law in Idaho City. In 1864, the Democrat was elected by his fellows to serve as a Territorial Delegate to Congress.
Territorial delegates didn’t wield a lot of power, but Holbrook kept his eyes on the needs of Idaho Territory. He was reelected in 1866.
It will not come as a surprise to readers that a politician wasn’t universally loved. In his case, E.D. Holbrook went from great admiration from one man to pure loathing.
Charles H. Douglas, Esq. had been a friend of Holbrook’s for years, but in 1870, during the Democratic Convention in Boise, the two parted ways. Holbrook was well-impressed with himself and often spouted his opinions loudly. Douglas advised the delegate to “pull in his horns” during an argument about how delegates should be selected, and the feud was on.
Douglas had some handbills printed that called Holbrook a thief and a rascal who was unfit to represent the territory. Delegate Holbrook had handbills printed that called Douglas a liar, a coward, and an assassin.
Why Holbrook used the word “assassin” to describe his former friend is unclear. What is clear is that there was an element of prescience in its use.
On June 18, 1870, at about 8 in the evening, the two men confronted each other on the corner of Main and Wall streets in Idaho City. They first exchanged words, then gunfire. Eleven shots flew between the men. Only one hit a mark. Holbrook suffered an abdominal wound.
Deputy Sheriff T.M. Britten promptly arrested both men. Seeing that Holbrook was wounded, the deputy assisted him to his law office, just 15 feet away, and sat him down in a chair.
Britten called for Doctor Healey, who arrived promptly. The doctor examined Holbrook and found that the bullet had entered the delegate's abdomen low and to the right. With internal bleeding evident, it was a hopeless case. Holbrook died at 7 o’clock the next morning.
Monday morning, the coroner called an inquest. The jurors’ verdict was that Holbrook had died at the hands of Douglas.
Meanwhile, Holbrook’s coffin lay in state at the Masonic Temple, but not for long. About 200 citizens participated in a funeral march led by a brass band to the cemetery that afternoon. The coroner, who happened to be the grand master of the Masonic fraternity in Idaho, took charge of the burial ritual.
Douglas pleaded self-defense. He was acquitted on the grounds that both parties entered into the altercation willingly.
Whether it was justice or not, it was swift, as was just about everything related to the shooting star life of E.D. Holbrook.