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Idaho Genealogy

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Idaho Territory
Created: March 4, 1863
Statehood: July 3, 1890

In the early 1860s, when the United States Congress was considering organizing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name "Idaho", which he claimed was derived from a Shoshone language term meaning "the sun comes from the mountains"
or "gem of the mountains".

The creation of the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, at Lewiston, parts of the present-day state were included in the Oregon, Washington, and Dakota Territories. The new territory included present-day Idaho, Montana, and most of Wyoming. The Lewis and Clark expedition crossed Idaho in 1805
on the way to the Pacific and in 1806 on the return, largely following the Clearwater River both directions. The first non-indigenous settlement was Kullyspell House, established on the shore of
Lake Pend O'reille for fur trading in 1809 by David Thompson of the North West Company. In 1812 Donald Mackenzie, working for the Pacific Fur Company at the time, established a post on the lower Clearwater River near present-day Lewiston. This post, known as "MacKenzie's Post" or "Clearwater", operated until the Pacific Fur Company was bought out by the North West Company in 1813, after which it was abandoned. The first attempts at organized communities, within the present borders of Idaho, were established in 1860. The first permanent, substantial incorporated community
was Lewiston in 1861. 

After some tribulation as a territory, including the chaotic transfer of the territorial capital from Lewiston to Boise, disenfranchisement of Mormon polygamists upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1877, and
a federal attempt to split the territory between Washington Territory which gained statehood in 1889, a year before Idaho, and the state of Nevada which had been a state since 1864, Idaho achieved statehood in 1890. The economy of the state, which had been primarily supported by
metal mining, shifted towards agriculture, forest products and tourism.

Idaho Counties


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County Organization Dates


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Mining Native American History
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State Facts and Trivia State Government
State History Tall Tales

Defunct Counties

Alturas County formed in South-Central Idaho in 1864 and was abolished in 1895.

Lah-Toh County - formed in 1864 in Northern Idaho and abolished in 1867

Logan County - formed from Alturas County in 1889 and was abolished in 1895.


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Idaho Genealogy Trails, part of the Genealogy Trails History Group, is an Independent volunteer organization dedicated to providing free access to Historical and Genealogical Records

Idaho Genealogy Trails History Group
 Sandra Davis - State Coordinator


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