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Special Collections & Archives

Manuscript Group 9


Papers, 1902-1931
1 c.f.

Inventory prepared by Judith Nielsen, December 1979. Since most of the correspondence of James Ailshie originated in late 1902, 1903 and early 1904, with only a few letters from the years 1906, 1907, and 1918, it was decided to arrange all correspondence alphabetically, then arrange the letters to and from a particular individual chronologically. Petitions or letters endorsing an individual for a patronage position are arranged with the application of that individual. When writing to officials of railway or communications companies Ailshie usually addressed his letters to a specific person rather than to the company, therefore these letters are arranged under the name of the individual.

The lists which Ailshie had of active republicans and county electors are arranged alphabetically by county, then by precinct. The pages of the remaining lists were either numbered or fastened together in some way. Legal documents are arranged alphabetically by plaintiff; income tax returns are in chronological order.


James Franklin Ailshie was born June 19, 1868 in Green County, Tennessee, the eldest of the nine children of George W. and Martha Knight Ailshie. While helping on the family farm he also attended the public schools of Green County. He studied at Mosheim (Tennessee) College and Carson College, Jefferson City, Tennessee, but left college in his junior year and, at the age of 19, moved to Missouri where he taught school at Hutton Valley.

In March of 1888 he arrived in the northwest and from 1888-89 he was principal of a school at Rockford, Washington. In February of 1889 he entered Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, where, having completed both literary and legal courses, he graduated in 1891 with the LL.B and Ph.B. degrees.

Ailshie was admitted to the Oregon and Idaho bars in 1891 and began his legal practice in August of that year in Grangeville, Idaho. In 1902, at the age of 34, he was elected to the Idaho supreme court, and was re-elected in 1908. He became the youngest chief justice in the United States when, in 1907, he served the first of his terms as head of the court. On January 6, 1913, he was again elected chief justice and held that position until he resigned from the court on July 20, 1914. After his resignation he entered private legal practice in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where he remained until he returned to the court. He was elected to the supreme court again in 1934 and successfully stood for re-election in 1940 and 1946; during this time he served as chief Justice from 1939-41 and from 1945-46. During his 24 years on the bench about two-thirds of the state constitution was tested before the court. He authored more than 700 opinions, including The State vs. Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone (April 14, 1906). When the defendants were returned to Idaho from Colorado to stand trial for complicity in the Steunenberg assassination they applied to the supreme court for a writ of habeas corpus based upon various grounds, one of which was that they had been kidnapped from Colorado by Idaho officials. Judge Ailshie's opinion on this case was later confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, as were all but one of his opinions.

In 1893 he was appointed by Governor W.J. McConnell to the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho; he remained in this position until 1896. During his tenure on the board the first class of the University was graduated. He also served as non-resident lecturer on mining law and irrigation law at the University of Idaho Law School from 1910-1916.

An active member of the Republican party, Judge Ailshie was nominated before the Idaho senate in 1913 to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Weldon B. Heyburn, but was defeated by James H. Brady by only four votes. He campaigned for the republicans in 1916, and in 1918 he considered running for the seat left vacant by Senator Brady's death, but F.R. Gooding was the Republican nominee for this seat. Gooding, however, was defeated in the November election.

Professionally he was a member of the American Bar Association and the Idaho State Bar Association, serving as president of this body from 1921-22 and again in 1934. Among his many civic activities, he served as president of the Grangeville Light & Power Company and was a director of the lst National Bank of Grangeville. He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. During World War I he served on the Idaho State Council of Defence, and also served on the National Economic League, the League to Enforce Peace, and from 1924-1935 was a commissioner to the National Conference on Uniform State Laws.

On June 19, 1894 James Ailshie married Lucie Bundren of Jefferson City, Tennessee; they had three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, James F., Jr. died in 1938, the others survived their father, as did Lucie Ailshie.

Active until shortly before his death, the 78 year old justice died at his Boise home on May 27, 1947 of complications incident to old age.


The papers in the James Ailshie collection are contained in a single file box and include correspondence, tax returns, legal papers and lists. The correspondence is personal, political and legal in nature.

There are lists of active Republicans, county electors, a list of school trustees and another of club women, all compiled about 1918. Also included are lists of I.O.O.F. officers and Rebekah officers.

The legal papers include a list of mining corporations qualified to do business in Idaho (ca. 1915), several documents concerned with Potlatch Lumber Company's application to buy 24,000 acres of state land (1910-1911), and legal briefs and memoranda for the following cases: R.C. Little vs. Myron H. Wells & L.A. Chapin; United States of America vs. William P. Kettenbach, George H. Kester, William Dwyer and Harvey J. Steffey; H.O. Brown and R.E. Brown vs. A.N. House.

The final series is a folder of income tax returns filed by James and Lucie Ailshie during their residence in Coeur d'Alene, 1915-1931.

The contents of each section are outlined in full in the following Description of Series. A complete name index is provided for the correspondence.

In addition to the Ailshie correspondence in this collection, the Weldon B. Heyburn collection, University of Idaho Manuscript Group 6, contains three letters from James Ailshie, two in 1897 and the other in 1903.


I. Correspondence

The majority of James Ailshie's correspondence is dated from late 1902, 1903, and early 1904. There are a few letters in 1906 and 1907, and then none until those in 1918 which deal with his plans to run for the short term Senate seat replacing the late Senator Brady.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1903, the Ailshie house in Grangeville burned to the ground. There are several letters in November and December sympathizing with Ailshie on his loss. Other letters inquire about his daughter's health.

When James Ailshie was elected to the Idaho supreme court in 1903 his legal work in Grangeville was given to A.S. Hardy and there are a number of letters between them dealing with legal matters. There are also many letters to Ailshie from clients concerning their cases, as well as some from friends which are of a personal nature. Other letters in 1903 include those to railway officials for transportation passes, and those to communications companies for franks.

When it was decided to build a supreme court building and library in Lewiston in 1903, Ailshie was asked to be on the commission, but, being on the court he declined the honor, citing Article 5, Section 7 of the state constitution. There are, however, many letters dealing with the library and building, notably those between Ailshie and James Babb, W.A. Hall, Hardy, and John Morrison.

When Judge Beaty resigned from the U.S. Court for the district of Idaho in March of 1907 Ailshie was a candidate to replace him. Some of the letters in 1906 and 1907 deal with this event.

Of particular interest to the University of Idaho Library is a letter to Judge Ailshie from Margaret Sweet of Grangeville dated January 27, 1904, in which she requests information on the new Lewiston Library. She states that her sister Belle is completing her studies at Illinois Library School and has accepted a position in Clinton, Iowa, but Margaret wishes her sister to be closer and therefore would like to send her information on the opportunity in Lewiston. In 1905, after spending a year in Clinton, Belle Sweet came to the University of Idaho, Moscow, as the only librarian, and remained until her retirement in 1948.

At the beginning of the first folder are several miscellaneous letters. The first, dated June 2, 1905, is a copy of a "chain letter" sent by Ailshie, the purpose of which was to raise money for a monument to President William McKinley in Ohio; the second is a carbon copy of the last two pages of an unsigned letter, probably written in 1918 or 1919, dealing with political matters; and the last is a letter from an unidentified writer which tells of the visit of Lucie Ailshie and the two Ailshie children to Tennessee, probably written in 1903.

The last folder, labeled "Strahorn-Steunenberg (1897)" contains letters between Robert E. Strahorn of Boston and Governor Frank Steunenberg of Idaho concerning the payment of a warrant issued by the Regents of the University of Idaho to an Isaac W. Sherrill of Poughkeepsie, New York, which was drawn on Moscow National Bank, at that time in the hands of the bank examiner. These letters, since they do not involve James Ailshie, are not listed in the following list of correspondents. The following list includes only names and years of correspondence.

An Alphabetical List of Correspondents

--------, Ted. 1903

Ailshie, Lucy. 1903

Alsop, D.H. 1903

American Law Book Company. 1903

Anderson, Elof. 1903

Atherton, S.P. 1918

Atkin, George S. 1903

Attorneys Mercantile Agency Co. 1904

Babb, James E. 1902, 1903, 1904

Bagley, John A. 1903

Bancroft-Whitney Co. 1903, 1906

Bargain Store Co., ltd. 1903, 1904

Bartlett, T.H. 1903, 1904

Bassett, Charles J. 1902

Bates, Philip S. 1903

Bayless, V.E. 1906

Beatty, James H. 1906

Boode , John E. 1904

Belden & Belden. 1903

Bennett, Mary. 1903, 1904

Bertsch, R. 1903

Bibby, S.E. 1903

Bolin, Lee. 1903

Brady, James H. 1906

Bruner, P.M. 1904

Bunn, John M. 1904

Burr, S.P. 1906

Cage, Milton G. 1902, 1903, 1904

Call, Carlos C. 1903

Camp, Ben C. 1907

Campbell,Jack P. 1902, 1903

Carey, James. 1903

Carpenter, Elmer A. 1906

Chase, E.S. 1904

Clark, J.R. 1903

Clark, William H. 1903

Conklin, Narmetta. 1903

Cook, Warren E. 1918

Cotton, W.W. 1902, 1903

Crane, A.A. 1907

Crea, James B. 1903

Crowley, Clarence E. 1918

Cuddy, W.L. 1902

Cutler, Thomas R. 1903

Davis, Rus H. 1902

DeHaven, James. 1903

Denning, Stewart S. 1906, 1907

Denny, H.G. 1903

Dewey, E.H. 1903, 1904

Dickinson, Albert S. 1918

Dietrich, F.S. 1904

Dore, Timothy. 1902

Dunham, C.W. 1903

Eagleson, Ernest G. 1903

Eastman, Frank H. 1907

Elsensohn, Lewis. 1903, 1904, 1906

Endres, Benjamin F. 1904

Farr, William. 1902, 1903

Fenn, F.A. 1903

Francis, George A. 1903

Frawley, E.J. 1903

French, Burton L. 1904, 1906, 1907

Fulton, C.W. 1907

Fulton, R.F. 1903

Gaylor, L.D. 1918

Gee, W. Everett. 1903

Gooding, F.R. 1906

Grave, L.W. 1903

Gray, John P. 1902

Green, A.D. 1904

Green, G.A. 1903

Green, J.E. (Ned) 1906

Griffith, Edward M. 1903, 1904

Guheen, J.J. 1918

Hall, Charles J. 1903

Hall, W.A. 1903, 1904

Hardy, A.S. 1902, 1903, 1904

Harper, Lottie. 1918

Harris,, Harold. 1918

Harris, L.M. 1903, 1904

Harris and Wright. 1903

Hart, John W. 1918

Heitman, Charles L. 1918

Henley, R.M. 1903

Herman, J.M.. 1903

Herzinger, H.L. 1903, 1904

Hill, John. 1903

Hobart, Mrs. M.J. 1903

Hodge, D.G. 1903

Hollingshead E.L. 1903

Hopkins, C.E. 1904

Horton, C.B. 1903

Hove, George C. 1902, 1903

Hunt, William. 1903

I.O.O.F. Lodge 7. 1902

I.O.O.F. Lodge 18. 1902

Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners. 1903

Idaho Sugar Co. 1903

Idan-ha Hotel. 1902, 1903

Jack, William M. 1902, 1903, 1904

Jacobs, M.H. 1903

Jaques, John E. 1903, 1904

Johnesse, Ola. 1903

Johnson, E.W. 1903

Johnson, Louise. 1902

Johnson, Miles S. 1903, 1918

Jones, R.O. 1918

Kimmery, G.F. 1903

Kinder, Myrtle K. 1903, 1904

Kingsbury, S.B. 1903

Krutz, Harry. 1903

Lawson, H.A. 1918

Lawyers' Co-operative Publishing Co. 1903

Lee, Farmer & Stanton. 1904

Lester, C.J. 1903

Lewiston Tribune. 1903

Lisle, C.J. 1903

Litchfield, J.T. 1903

Long, James A. 1903

McAdams, George M. 1903

McCracken, Robert M. 1918

McDonald, C.L. 1903

Macdonald, Ernest C. 1903

McDonald, Judge. 1903

McFarland, R.E. 1903, 1904

McFarland & McFarland. 1903

McGee, Levi. 1903

Mandel Brothers. 1903

Mason, M.S. 1906

Mathews, J.T. 1903

Meyer, Henry. 1918

Michie Company. 1903

Middleton, B. Clay. 1903

Miller, Allen. 1903, 1904, 1907

Moon, S.A. 1903

Morrison, John T. 1903

Munford, Carrie Royal. 1903

Murray, D.S. 1903

Murray, M. (Mike) L. 1902, 1903

Nave, J.H. 1903

New York Life Insurance Co. 1903

Newton, Fred J. 1903

Nielsen, John A. 1903

Nisbet, John. 1918

Nugent, C.H. 1904

O'Brien, Percy H. 1903

Oliver, E.W. 1903

Olson and Johnson. 1904

Oregonian Publishing Co. 1903

Osberne, D.M. & Co. 1903

Overman, J.I. 1903

Pacific States Telephone & Telegraph Company. 1903

Pecotte, Joseph. 1903

Pelikan, Joseph. 1902, 1903

Plaisted, F.H. 1903

Pomeroy, Margaret F. 1918

Price, E.C. 1903

Price, Mrs. Lyttleton. 1902

Pullman Company. 1903

Pulse, John J. 1903

Purcell, L.I. 1918

Pulitz, H.F. 1903

Redding, Fred G. 1904

Redwine, H.G. 1902, 1903

Reed, George M. 1903, 1904

Reed, L.A. 1903

Reynolds, Charles M. 1903

Reynolds, S.M.C. 1903

Rich, Ben C. 1904

Richards & Tolley. 1903

Riley, Jessie M. 1902

Riley, W.T. 1902

Scales, W.N. 1903, 1904

Schalkan, F. 1903

Schmidt, Edward. 1903

Schwieger, George B. 1918

Sheaffer, E.H. 1903

Sherwood, J.D. 1903

Shoe & Leather Mercantile Agency. 1903

Smith, Addison T. 1903, 1918

Smith, C.W. 1903

Smith, I.N. 1903

Snow, Church & Co. 1903

Sonnenkalb, Oscar. 1903

Spaulding, J.W. 1903

Steele, Edgar C.1902, 1903, 1904

Steinheiser, William. 1904

Stephens & Bunn. 1902, 1903

Stetson, Francis Lynde. 1903

Stookey, P.E. 1918

Sullivan, I.N. 1903

Sunderlind, Charles A. 1918

Sweet, E.S. 1903

Sweet, Margaret. 1904

Telcher, Henry. 1903

Thompson, G.W. 1903

Trew, Daniel. 1903

Truitt, Russell. 1903

Truitt, Warren. 1904

Turner, A.J. 1904

Van Buren, D.C. 1903

Van Riper, Lewis C. 1902, 1903

Varian, B.S. 1903

Vercler & Spooner. 1904

Vollmer & Scott. 1904

Volmer, H. John P. 1903

Wagner, Mrs. M. undated

Wagner, Martin. 1903, 1904

Walling, Mr. 1918

Walters, Edward A. 1918

Wanamaker,, John. 1903

West, J.B. 1903

West Publishing Co. 1903

Western Historical Publishing Co. 1903

Western Union Telegraph Co. 1903

Whitall, William H. 1902, 1903

Whitcomb, E.W. 1918

White, Fred. 1903

Wilkinson, J.A. 1903, 1904

Williams, P.L. 1903

Winters, H. 1902, 1903

Wolbert, J.M. 1903, 1906

Worth, D. (Dan) 1904

Yandell, W.P. 1903

Zeigler, P.W. & Co. 1903, 1904

II. Lists

In 1918, when James Ailshie was considering running for the U.S. Senate, he requested mailing lists from the office of the late Senator Brady and also from Representative Addison T. Smith. The lists he received, together with several others, are contained in this series. The first folder contains lists of active Republicans which were sent to Ailshie by Representative Smith on April 6, 1918. These are organized by county and precinct and include the counties of Ada, Adams, Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonneville, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Freemont, Latah, and Treffrey precinct in Kootenai county. The second folder contains lists of county electors for Ada, Adams, Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Bonneville, Canyon, Cassia, Custer, Elmore, Franklin, Freemont, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lincoln, Nez Perce, Oneida, Owyhee, Twin Falls, and Washington counties. Some of these list only names, others include information on occupation, party affiliation, religion, and memberships in such organizations as Elks, Masons, or I.O.O.F. It should be mentioned that pages are frequently missing from these lists, so they cannot be considered as complete lists.

Following Smith's advice, Ailshie had a list compiled of Idaho club women; the list includes the counties of Ada, Adams, Bannock, Bonneville, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Freemont, Gooding, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lincoln, Nez Perce, Shoshone, Twin Falls, and Washington. Another list is that of the I.O.O.F. officers and secretaries. The sister group of the Odd Fellows, the Rebekah's, supplied Ailshie with a list of officers for 1918, and a copy of the 1914 list of secretaries.

Among the miscellaneous lists is one headed "List to go to Gem State Rural" which is dated July 28, 1914 and contains a penciled note that it was used as a mailing list in August of 1914. There is also a four page list of names typed on Senator Brady's official stationery which is presumably the portion of his mailing list which was supplied to Judge Ailshie.

III. Clippings

The single folder of clippings contains articles from various Idaho newspapers giving the 1918 election results. There is also an article on Senator Borah's arrival in Idaho, and several miscellaneous short articles.

IV. Legal Documents

The first item in this series is a 23 page list headed "Mining Corporations Qualified to do Business in the State of Idaho. It contains the names and addresses of approximately 420 mining corporations, the mining district in which they operate, and the county in which the mine is located. More than half of the mining corporations listed operate in Shoshone County, others are in the counties of Ada, Adams, Bannock, Bear Lake, Benewah, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Cassia, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Owyhee and Washington.

The first legal case is that of H.O. Brown and R.E. Brown (Brown Brothers Sheep Company) vs. A.N. House. The "Memorandum Brief" prepared for District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho in and for the county of Twin Falls, states that the purpose of the case is to determine if House and Hertz were partners at the time of the purchase of sheep, and if House is liable for the payment. The remaining attached sheets are legal citations. There is a four page section entitled "Burden of Proof," which deals, in legal terms, with the existence or non-existence of a partnership, but does not give specifics in regard to the Brown & Brown vs. House case. The next section, headed "Existence of a Partnership Question for Jury," is concerned with the jury's role in deciding if a partnership existed and whether a particular transaction was conducted by an individual or a partner on behalf of the firm. The final sheet is a "Notice of Issue" dated June 6, 1927.

The next case is R.C. Little vs. Myron H. Wells and L.A. Chapin. This case involves the right of Little to collect delinquent property taxes from the trustee and receiver in bankruptcy of the apartment building of William G. Reed. The documents were prepared for hearings in the District Court of the United States for the District of Idaho, Southern Division.

The first item is the "Brief of R.C. Little, Mortgage Lien Claimant" (In the Matter of William G. Reed, Bankrupt). It gives the history of the case: Reed borrowed money from Little's father to build an apartment house and gave the real estate first mortgage note, secured by real estate mortgage as security. Reed was to pay taxes and insurance, but defaulted in the payment of taxes in 1926, and also failed to insure the property; therefore, Little was compelled to pay the insurance premium. In February 1927 an involuntary petition in bankruptcy was filed against William Reed and trustees were appointed for the estate. Little then instituted a suit to foreclose the real estate mortgage; this action was permitted by the court. The trustees challenged the validity of the mortgage, but it was found to be valid.

The "Brief of R.C. Little, Mortgage Lien Claimant (Rents and Profits in Payment of Taxes)" gives a brief chronological history of the case, stating also that at the sale of the property R.C. Little became the purchaser for the amount of his lien. The court was then asked to decide whether he was to have the net rents and profits after the sale, but prior to his possession of the property, applied to the taxes.

The "Brief of the Defendants" was filed in response to an order directing them to show cause why the trustees should not be directed to pay the petitioner $5029.36 in delinquent taxes. This brief also deals with the estate of a bankrupt under Idaho Statutes. There are many penciled notes and underlinings on this copy of the brief.

When the decision of the court went against R.C. Little he appealed the decision. The final item concerning this case is a 62 page printed volume entitled "Transcript of the Record" prepared for the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This contains the major District Court proceedings dealing with the case, including the petition for appeal. The clerks certificate of accuracy of the transcript is dated April 6, 1929.

In 1910 the Potlatch Lumber Company made application to purchase approximately 24,000 acres of state land in Latah and Clearwater counties, in the vicinity of Elk River, having already purchased the timber on the land. The "Argument of the Potlatch Lumber Company in Support of Application to Purchase the Fee Simple Title to Approximately 24,000 Acres of State Land, the Timber on Which it Already Owns" dated June 20, 1910, states that when the timber was purchased in 1902 the company was given 20 years in which to remove it. Now the timber they want is remote and difficult to log, and cannot be removed economically in a short time without using destructive logging methods. They give various mathematical calculations pointing out why it would be more profitable for the state to sell the land to them now than offer it for general sale after it was logged.

On June 30, 1911, C.A. Hagan, Chairman of Latah County Republican Central Committee, and Wm. E. Lee, Secretary of the same organization, sent a letter to the members of the Idaho State Land Board protesting the proposed sale of land to the Potlatch Lumber Company, suggesting the land should go instead to individuals who would use it for agriculture and stock raising. They also suggest postponing a decision on the sale of the land until after the next general election, thus giving the people a chance to express their opinion.

The third and final item is entitled "In the Matter of the Proposed Sale of 24,000 Acres of State Land to the Potlatch Lumber Company. Argument of the Potlatch Lumber Company Before the State Board of Land Commissioners, Boise, Idaho, August 2, 1911.11 This simply reiterates the contents of their previous argument dated June 20, 1910, and adds that for reasons of conservation much of the timber should be left standing for a number of years. It also discusses the reaction of individuals in the area who hold small timber plots to the proposed sale of such a large tract of land to the Potlatch Lumber Company.

The case of United States vs. William F. Kettenbach, George H. Kester, William Dwyer and Harvey J. Steffey was heard in the District Court of the United States for the District of Idaho, Northern Division. The four defendants were indicted by the grand jury on November 5, 1909 on three counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States out of large tracts of timber land, by inducing others to buy the land, then to convey it to one of the defendants. After the indictment was returned, demurrers and pleas in abatement were filed by Kettenbach, Kester, and Dwyer. The first legal document in this case is entitled "Brief of Defendants on Plea in Abatement"; it charges that the jury received "illegal and incompetent evidence" and that the "Court gave the Grand Jury erroneous instructions as to what evidence they should consider." This document contains many citations of legal suits dealing with illegal evidence. Later the attorneys for the same defendants filed "Additional Authorities in Support of Demurrer and Plea in Abatement."

"The Memorandum of Argument on Behalf of the United States" gives the background and chronological developments of the case, including the fact that demurrers and pleas in abatement had been filed for three of the defendants. It also deals at length with the statute of limitations as applied to conspiracy. In response to this the four defendants filed the "Reply Brief of Defendants" which again sets forth reasons why the charges should be dropped. The final item is "Authorities in Support of Application for Change of Venue."

James Ailshie's connection with the above cases is not known; he was neither lawyer for defense nor prosecution. The cases were not appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court.

V. Income Tax Returns

The final series in the Ailshie papers is a folder of income tax returns or the years 1915-1931, the years of Ailshie's residence in Coeur d'Alene. Joint returns were filed for 1915-1918, then, in 1919, taking advantage of the community property laws, Lucie Ailshie began filing returns, claiming one half husband's income, thus considerably reducing their tax. (For example, in preparing the joint return for 1919 their tax was $1,509.17, but by filing under the community property laws, the total tax was $993.54. A joint return in 1920 showed the tax due at $807.87, while the amended community property showed the tax at $454.14 ($227.07 x 2)). Included for some years are James Ailshie's penciled notes of income from various clients and also itemized business deductions.

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