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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

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Date: November 15, 1974 Interviewer: Sam Schrager

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1:00 - Joe Well's background, relationship with Wells brothers

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Segment Synopsis: Joe Wells' background from North Carolina: a slave until the Civil War, he was treated like one of Wells' sons. The Wells brothers got Bob West to accompany them to town with $10,000 in gold.

6:00 - Elmer traveled west from North Carolina, ended up in Moscow building and farming

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Segment Synopsis: He sold some cattle in North Carolina and decided to look over the West with some others. Too much rain in Seattle. Looking at the railroad map in Spokane, he found he knew quite a few people in the Latah County area. He quit job with Shields when he's asked to unload coal in the rain. Travelling around the West. Buying a place on Moscow Mountain; building and farming.

13:00 - Worked for pea company

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Segment Synopsis: Working for Wilson's pea company. In Hollywood Elmer runs into pea soup in a restaurant.

18:00 - Story of Elmer finding an African-American man to work a ranch, ends up homesteading next door, sells homestead later

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Segment Synopsis: A man in Brewster, Washington, wrote Elmer in North Carolina to find him a Negro to work at his ranch. Elmer persuaded a man to try it, and he liked it so well he took a homestead adjoining. Elmer met the ranch owner on a bus years later. The Negro eventually sold his homestead for $16,000 and went back to North Carolina, but finally returned to Brewster.

27:00 - Stories of Joe Wells coming west, drinking in Troy, fights

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Segment Synopsis: Joe Wells' adopted father gave him and his other sons money to come West. Joe was honest. He got drunk a lot in Troy, got in fights and would stay out of town for a while.

29:00 - Stories of working for farmers

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Segment Synopsis: Working for farmers.

30:00 - Stories of Joe Wells getting along with locals

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Segment Synopsis: Joe Wells got along pretty good.

31:00 - Jerome Day sells mining stock, prices shoot up, made them millionaires

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Segment Synopsis: Jerome Day sells mining stock in Moscow, which went from 9 cents to $58 a share, making Short and another man millionaires.

34:00 - Gets a contractor job in Kellogg, who later became a millionaire from Day mines stock

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Segment Synopsis: Elmer meets a contractor looking for work in the West; he gets him to take a look at Spokane, and the man gets a job building the high school in Kellogg. He became a millionaire from Day's stock too. Day took a wild chance to get rich.

39:00 - Latah County was extremely Republican

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Segment Synopsis: Latah County was "as strong Republican as horseradish ever growed in Missouri." As long as the man was honest, it was ok.

41:00 - Saloons and whorehouses, local stories

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Segment Synopsis: Saloons and whorehouses. Two businessmen find their wives in bed instead of the whores. A Moscow minister says you can smell them two blocks away because they use perfume.

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