Walter's Ferry: A Historical Perspective
This is an historical perspective from various individuals from the county and written account about this location.
It was, certainly, on the most direct route between Boise Basin and the Owyhee mining camps to the south, and on to Nevada and California. It was there early (1863) to serve when needed. ... This ferry crossing was shown on old military maps and known to early day surveyers simply as Snake Ferry. Two other ferries were soon put into operation close to the Walter's site. (Litell's and Monahan's). ... After the discovery of gold in the Owyhees, Maj. Pinckney Lugenbeel ordered a company of soldiers from Boise to put a small skiff on the river leading to the mining region. Near this site John Fruit established a ferry in 1863. The ferry was made of logs, lashed together with ropes, and was rowed across the river with oars. ... (Hanley,126f)
Cox was the brother-in-law of J. C. Bernard of Bernard's Ferry. (Huntley, 135).
Later 1800's ferry owners identified by Huntley include: George W. Blankenbecker, John Morgan, Leonard Fuqua, J. H. McCarty, George M. Jones, Samuel Neeley, Perry Munday, Robert C. Duncan, Reese C. Miles, L. W. Walter, James McQuat with Edward Meek being the final operator until the bridge was built in 1921.
Walter's Ferry Post Office had been established in April 1888 by Lewellyn R. Walter, (See Post Office of Canyon County, north bank).
Walter's Ferry Post Office, 1888
Walters Ferry from 1863 and for the next fifty years had been an important link to the Boise-San Francisco Stage Route.
- Oct. 25 1865 - James Harvey Cox ambushed and killed by Indians. Wife escapes by driving wagon to the ferry.
- July 1868 - Bigfoot, leader of a band of outlaw Indians, was killed by J. W. Wheeler in Reynolds Creek Canyon while waiting to rob Stage.
- July 31, 1878 - Wm. S. Hemingway, driving stage to Silver City, managed after being fatally shot by Indians to drive to the ferry where he expired.
- Erected 1941 - By Sons and Daughters of Idaho Pioneers.
I have heard many stories about Bigfoot, but the thing that always bothered me was that this same man, John Wheeler, who said he killed Chief Nampuh, never tried to collect the reward. I felt there must be some good reason, for one thousand dollars was a sizable chuck of cash in those days. Wheeler first came to Silver City from the Boise Basin in 1868 as a part of a special force of lawmen dispatched by Governor David M. Ballard to restore order between the fighting mining companies called the Golden Chariot and the Ida Elmore. . . . Wheeler was well chosen as one of the special band of lawmen for he was rted as an expert pistol and rifle shot. But he had his weaknesses. He haunted Silver City's gambling tables and always seemed to have money to blow. Suspicions were that Wheeler was involved in a rash of stagecoach robberie on the roads from Silver City to the Boise Basin and down on the Burnt River (in Oregon).
Wheeler had good reason, it seems, to go along Bigfoot's request (not to take his body or any part of it back to the fort, but to bury him in a secret location) and not try claiming the reward. He had come to Reynolds Creek to rob the stage. He was already under suspicion as a road agent. . . . As it turned out, Wheeler and several others attempted to rob a Blue Mountain State a short while later. A posse tracked him down and he drew a ten-year sentence in the Oregon Penitentiary. He was released short of the ten years on 'good behavior' and went to California, where he later commi tted suicide. (p. 158f)
These links are off-site
Mike Hanley and Ellis Lucia, Owyhee Trails: The West's Forgotten Corner, Caxtons Printers LTD, Caldwell, Idaho, 1973.
James E. Huntley, Ferry Boats in Idaho, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho, 1979.