Women in Idaho History: Notable 2 Notorious

Creating this series turned out to be a lot more fun than I ever expected. History was never one of my best subjects, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that researching the stories of these incredible ladies was completely fun and fascinating.

Lyda Trueblood (Flypaper Lyda)

Lalu Nathoy (Polly Beemis)

Annie McIntyre (Peg Leg Annie)

Kittie Wilkins (Horse Queen of Idaho)

Sacajawea (Guide)

Nell Shipman (Actress, author and screenwriter, producer, director, animal trainer)

Julia Davis (City Planner)

Diamond-Tooth Lil (Dance Hall Queen)

 

 

Lyda Trueblood,

aka Flypaper Lyda

 

was born in Pocatello, Idaho in 1896.

At the age of 19 she married Robert C. Dooley who died shortly thereafter of what was thought to be typhoid fever.

3 years later, her second husband, William G. McHaffie, died supposedly from of influenza and diphtheria. 

Next IT was Harlan C. Lewis, from complications of gastro-enteritis.

And after that it was Edward F. Meyer, a ranch foreman from Pocatello, who only survived the marriage for one month, dying From  typhoid.

Paul southard was number five and Harry Whitlock number six.

After taking out a life insurance policy on each of her six husbands, she seasoned their soup with arsenic which she obtained from boiling flypaper.

 

Polly Beemis

Lalu Nathoy  was Born in China in the mid-1800’s

and in her early teens was sold into slavery by her father.

She was smuggled into the US and was taken by her owner to Warren, Idaho by pack train.

There she came to be known as Polly and struck up a long term friendship with her neighbor, Charles Beemis.

Some accounts say that he won her in a poker game. That may or may not be true, but they did in fact marry shortly after she saved his life. He was shot in the face in a poker game, and after the doctor declared him a lost cause, Polly went to work, administering her Chinese cures and removing the bullet fragments with her

crochet hook.

 

Peg Leg Annie

Annie Mcintyre was just 4 years old 

when her father carried her into Rocky Bar in his back pack.

In 1864. At that time, Rocky Bar and Atlanta were two of the richest gold camps in the west. Annie grew up to become the proprieteress of a rooming house in Atlanta and was known for her pistol popping, convincing language.

In 1898 Annie and her Friend Dutch Em decided to walk To Rocky Bar, a 14 mile hike over the 9000 ft Bald Mt. Summit. A spring storm bringing 3 feet of fresh snow caused them to lose the trail. Despite Annie’s attempts to save her, Dutch Em froze and Annie was found 3 days later in very bad shape. She was taken to Atlanta and nursed back to health by the townspeople.

Her legs were severly frostbitten and had to be removed below the knee to save her life. She has been known ever after as Peg Leg Annie.

She lived out her life in Atlanta, as a laundress and bootlegger.

Kitty Wilkins

 

was born in 1857

and grew up in southern Idaho on her family’s ranch on the ranges in Owyhee and Elmore counties.

“My brothers taught me to ride and shoot, that being a necessary part of a woman’s education out there in those days and I soon rivaled them in expertness.”

Kitty Wilkins enjoyed the distinction of being the only female in the United States whose sole occupation was horse-dealing.

Wilkins owned thousands of horses, and sold them by the carload in livestock markets along the Union Pacific Railroad. She once arrived in St. Louis to sell 3,000 head, and shipped 30 carloads of horses at one time from Mountain Home, Idaho, to Kansas City. It was said to be the biggest horse sale ever made in the West.

Wilkins died in Glenns Ferry on October 8, 1936. She was buried in Mountain home, beneath a modest stone bearing a simple inscription “Horse Queen of Idaho."

Sacajawea

 

was born into a tribe of Lemhi Shoshone

near Salmon, Idaho in the late 1780’s.

When she was about 12, she and several other girls were kidnapped by a group of Hidatsa and was taken as a captive to a Hidatsa village in  North Dakota. At about 13 years of age, Sacajawea was taken as a wife by Toussaint Charbonneau, a Quebec trapper who supposedly won her while gambling. Sacagawea was pregnant with her first child when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark arrived in 1804 looking for a guide for their expedition. They agreed to hire Charbonneau as an interpreter when they discovered his wife spoke the Shoshone language.

She traveled with the group for 2 years, acting as guide, interpreter and peace ambassador, but perhaps her most important contribution was that she rescued items that had fallen out of a capsized boat, including Lewis and Clark’s journals and records.

Nell Shipman

was born in Vancouver, BC in 1892

to a poor family of somewhat genteel British roots. With her mother's permission, Nell left home at thirteen to become an actress with a small touring company.  In a show of support, Nell's mother joined her daughter on the road, making her costumes, feeding her, and generally looking after her. By sixteen Nell had played every sort of vaudeville role and circuit. She became an actress, author and screenwriter, producer, director, and animal trainer.

She is best known for portraying strong, adventurous women. In 1919, she and her producer husband, Ernest Shipman, made the most successful silent film in Canadian history, Back to God's Country. She was one of the first women to do a nude scene on screen.

She focused on the major themes she enjoyed: wild animals, nature, feminist heroes, and filming on location which she did during her time in Priest Lake, Idaho in the 1920’s. She lived in a log cabin twenty-one miles from the nearest road and fifty miles from a railway line. To get out in winter, it was dogsled and snowshoe across the frozen lake, a two-day walk in the best of weather, and nightmarish in the blizzards.

 

In 2008, a Nell Shipman film festival, "Maid in Idaho"  inaugurated a drive to endow a Nell Shipman Scholarship for Boise State University at the Egyptian Theater in Boise.

Julia Davis

 

Started out as Julia McCrum from Ontario, Canada

She came to Boise in 1869 at the age of 22, to visit family friends. It became her unhappy predicament to stay on as the family’s babysitter and maid but she soon met Tom Davis and they married in 1871. Tom was an enterprising young man and already the wealthiest farmer in boise. He provided his bride with a comfortable house in a 20 acre orchard, household help, social status and a secure future.

Julie had an independent perspective and remained free to assert her own convictions. She shared Tom’s progressive impulses in building the city and lent her energy and the Davis resources to community improvement. Julia was a member of the Columbian Club, whose goal it was to “promote the highest interests of the city” and gave special attention to the city’s trees, parks and public spaces.

Julia died in Septmeber of 1907; 2 months later, the city accepted land along the Boise River for payment of $1.00, with Tom’s condition that it “always and forever be known as Julia Davis Park”.

Diamond-Tooth Lil

 

Began life in Austria around 1880.

She came with her parents to the U.S. when she was 6 years old.

At 19, she eloped with Percy Hildegarde and used his name for the rest of her life, although

by her own account, she was married a total of nine times.

Lil sang and danced her way around the gold camps of the west, from Nevada to Alaska,

then to Silver City and Boise, Idaho. Here she ran a “boarding house” on highway 30

(now Federal Way) just east of the depot.

Her trademark gold tooth with a large diamond set in the middle was won in a horse racing bet with a dentist from Reno.

The love of Lil’s life was Diamondfield Jack Davis, although he’s the one she never married.

Jack was arrested for the murder of 2 sheepherders and sentenced to death 1897,

later reprieved and then pardoned in 1902.

Lil died alone at a nursing home in Yakima, Washington in 1975, but will always be remembered

for her million dollar smile.