On August 15, we’ll be hosting an open house at the home Nels and Emma built in 1887. It made the National Register of Historic Places last year. More details on that are available here.
In honor of Sesquicentennial Plus One, I’m devoting the Speaking of Idaho blog to my family’s history during August.
After George mustered out of the army he, and Emma moved back to Morristown for a short time, then to Lincoln Creek at the foot of the Blackfoot Mountains. There they stayed with Emma’s aunt, Jane Higham and Jane’s husband, George. The Bennetts used their wagon beds as bedrooms while all used the little shanty the Highams had built for meals.
Emma milked cows and sold milk and butter to travelers headed to Montana and to nearby stage stations. That summer of 1866 they built a cabin, hauling cottonwood logs 15 miles from where the trees grew along the Snake River near present day Firth. As Emma wrote, “(the house was) eight logs high, one door, a window or hole with cloth for glass, a fireplace of rocks, the ground for a floor. Willows and grass with mud on top for the roof. The cracks between the logs filled with more mud.”
During the winter of 1866 and 1867, George and Emma took a job managing the stage station at Taylor Bridge. Where that bridge crossed the Snake River would soon be called Eagle Rock, then later Idaho Falls. They were paid $60 a month. In March they went to Ross Fork to manage a stage station for Wells Fargo for $75 a month.
At both stage stations Emma cooked, and George tended the livestock. Stagecoaches would arrive at all hours. Passengers came in for a bite to eat while fresh horses were harnessed up. Stage stops were located 10 or 15 miles from each other because that’s as far as a team could travel. Stages could make 100 miles in a day this way.
In the fall of 1867 Emma’s parents, who were still at Morristown, decided they’d had enough of this rugged land and would move back to England. They had lost a younger daughter that winter and Emma’s mother, Frances was despondent. She just wanted to go home. She also wanted Emma and her husband to go with them.
Emma wasn’t keen about moving back to England, a place she had no memories of, but she was a good daughter. So, Emma and George set out for Helena, Montana where they were to meet up with the Thompsons and take a steamer down the Missouri to the Mississippi and on to New Orleans where they would catch a ship back to England.
Tomorrow we’ll learn just what sort of scoundrel George Bennett was.