This article was published in two parts in the Shoshone News-Press in 2017. RR
There are weighty questions in history’s halls – Why did Rome fall? What launched the Renaissance? Why the American Civil War? The following doesn’t deal with one. It merely touches on one of history’s countless minor footnotes – in this case, here in Wallace.
Author Tony Bamonte offered a long quotation from Richard Magnuson’s Coeur d’Alene Diary at page 59 of his recently published book, Historic Wallace, Idaho and My Unforeseen Ties:
In 1887, the Colonel was called to Coeur d’Alene by the U.S. Land Receiver and informed that the scrip he used to buy the land was no good. Wallace claimed he then paid the land officer $50 “for advice” and was told the government’s letter informing the land office about the scrip would not become a part of the Land Office records. Wallace then went to Spokane Falls to buy other land scrip so he could cover his purchase, but he found it was too expensive. He claimed the land officer told him to sell the land and no one could injure him for it. The land officer said he would protect him as his attorney…. Wallace contended the entry or issuance of duplicate scrip was fraudulent, and that he would fight to establish his rights.
On March 7, the town council met to consider ways to raise money to get a patent on the town land. Colonel Wallace asked that nothing be done for 30 days, as a land officer was on the way to investigate his land problem. His request was not complied with.
Bamonte continued on page 60:
Wallace apparently believed the land officer and had faith that that the issue could be rectified. According to the previous quoted passage, he did not try to conceal this from the city council, and the Wallace Townsite Company continued selling lots.
Bamonte’s claim that Col. William R. Wallace “…did not try to conceal…” his GLO troubles, I suggest, sprang directly from his placement of Magnuson’s mention of “March 7” into year 1887. And, yes, if Col. Wallace had revealed his difficulties to the town council as early as March 7, 1887, then, as Bamonte suggested, Col. Wallace could not be said to have engaged in a protracted and deceptive silence about the matter. Continue reading