It was the headline of May 2nd I was looking for: “HERBERT LEMP INJURED DURING POLO MATCH.” Lemp was the captain of the Boise polo team. In the first practice game of the season, he was riding the ball toward the goal in the fourth chukker when his horse, Craven, stumbled. That sent the mayor-elect head-first into the dirt. The first report of his condition said that he was resting comfortably at St. Lukes and that friends were confident he would be able to attend his inauguration the next day.
Alas, no. The headline on May 7th read, “MAYOR H.F. LEMP DIES OF INJURIES SUFFERED IN FALL.” The story went on: “Herbert Frederick Lemp, mayor of Boise, died Friday morning at 7 o’clock, in St. Luke’s hospital.
“The fractious caprice of a half-tamed polo pony, which hurled the city’s mayor to the ground during a practice game last Sunday afternoon inflicted the injury which took his life.
“The death was announced to Boise citizens by the tolling of the Central fire state bell, which continued at 20-second intervals for an hour, and by flags flying at half-staff.”
Though he never got to serve Herbert, was not the first Lemp elected mayor of Boise. His father, John, turned a teacup full of Idaho City gold dust into a fortune through investments in brewing and real estate, making him the wealthiest man in Ada County. John Lemp served as mayor of Boise for a year, 1875-76.