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Looking back: Man escapes being shot, family gets free car and Thatcher home burglarized

Looking Back

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IDAHO FALLS — is looking back at what life was like during the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 in east Idaho history.


BLACKFOOT — A shooting took place in Blackfoot where a man “seems to have saved his life only by a lucky dodge,” according to The Blackfoot Idaho Republican’s Feb. 3, 1911, newspaper.

Morris Shaw was hunting and while passing over a part of the farm belonging to Cassius Smith, he said he was “fired upon by a rife in the hands of Mr. Smith, who was at his corral.”

“The bullet whizzed by him, and he beat a retreat. Another and another bullet zipped by, and then the man with the gun took a rest across a post,” the article reads.

Shaw “stood still for an instant and then dropped quickly” at the same time a bullet passed over him about waist high. Shaw escaped and the next day, “laid a complaint” before the officers, who brought Smith to town on the charge of assault.

He waived the preliminary hearing and gave a bond for his appearance in the district court, the paper said.

“Some of those in close touch with the situation ascribe the strange actions of Mr. Smith to partial loss of his mind,” the paper wrote.


ASHTON — An explosion in a stove resulted in the Sioux City Seed Company Plant burning, The Rexburg Standard said.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours of Feb. 1, 1937. The total amount of loss was unknown at the time but manager R. D. Merrill said it would run several thousand dollars.

“After the explosion, the flames spread quickly and enveloped the frame structure,” the paper explained. “Ashton firemen were handicapped in getting a hose to the warehouse by the deep snow. The fire burned about an hour before water could be thrown on it.”

Firefighters fought the blaze in near zero-degree temperatures. Snow had fallen during the night, and about 4 feet of snow covered the ground at the time the fire happened.

The warehouse was built around 1929. Sixty-five women and 12 men were employed there.


POCATELLO — A Pocatello family received its car for free thanks to the Pocatello Lincoln-Mercury dealer, the Idaho State Journal announced on Feb. 1, 1952.

The dealership said in a classified advertisement in the paper they’d discount $10 off for each child in a family whose parents were buying a car from the used car lot.

“One car was listed for $100, and the dealer offered it free to any family with 10 children,” the paper mentioned. “Mrs. Marie Ellett turned up Friday morning at the agency with birth certificates.”

Ellett brought in 11 birth certificates but told the salesman she had 14 total children and 13 were living. They ranged in age from 4 to 24. The car they received was a 1939 Dodge coupe.


THATCHER — A Thatcher home was burglarized while the family was attending church, The Caribou County Sun reported on Feb. 3, 1977.

Days earlier, on Jan. 26, is when the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ken Burnham was broken into. The vandals cut the screen on the front window but weren’t able to get the window open. They went to the back door, broke it in and “backed up their truck to it and loaded up.”

“The Burnhams had a lot of beautiful antiques that were taken, valued (at) about $3,000, including wall clocks and graphanolas (phonographs),” the paper said. “Besides the antiques, they took a chain saw, stereo, tape recorder, walker talkies and toys the children received for Christmas.”

The loss was estimated to be around $4,000. The Burnham family lived in New Zealand for two and a half years before moving to Thatcher, where they resided for several years before the burglary.

They had bought the Cleveland church after the ward consolidated with the Thatcher ward, and “made a lovely family home of it.”