Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Hunting for Homesteads
Yesterday we decided it would be interesting to go hunting for some homesteads. We had the BLM descriptions for 2 homesteads taken from the BLM website. The first site we looked at we thought must be near Wilford, Idaho. If you look for Wilford on your GPS, you will not find it. I suppose that is because it is an unincorporated area.
It is approximately between Teton, Sugar City and St. Anthony, Idaho, so we headed out with a map which showed the section lines in the area. We had a bit of trouble finding a reference point, so we decided it would be easier to start from the Wilford Cemetery which is about 2 miles from the homestead location. The owner of the homestead, Coriantumr Stephens, was buried in the Wilford cemetery along with his wife, so we first looked for the headstone. We drove in on a little access road in the middle of the cemetery and then tried to decide where we should look. In looking just left of the car, at the first headstone he saw, the woodcarver immediately announced he had found it! Sadly, the headstone records a sad story as you can see that three of the children died within four days of each other in 1896 in a diphtheria epidemic. They have separate little headstones next to their parents.
A story recorded in the personal history of Grant Stephens, a son of Coriantumr, tells of a neighboring family, the Kershaws, who also lost multiple children to diphtheria. Their grave is nearby in the same section.
From the cemetery we were able to take the map showing the section lines to determine where the Coriantumr Stephens homestead was located. Only a couple of modern houses are on the property now along with flat fields. The road that goes from Rexburg to Yellowstone runs through the property.
I am sure they were all sorry to leave that place, but their own family needs and tragedies prevented them from staying.
From the pile of old wood in the corner of the top homestead picture, the woodworker found a likely branch that he brought home to see what could be done with it. Here is the result:
Next we headed for another homestead which was filed on by my grandfather, Grant Stephens. We knew when we started out that we would be unable to find the exact location of this homestead as the BLM map shows it right in the middle of the Palisades Reservoir..under water since completion of the Palisades Dam about 1957.
It must have been a lovely place for a homestead, near the Snake River for water and rich bottom land for the crops. In his older years he painted a picture of how he remembered that homestead.
On our way home we passed through various towns where family members lived or worked in days gone by....Alpine, Etna, Bedford and Freedom. We did not stop at Etna to find the homestead of Joseph J. Clark as we didn't have the location at the time, but we will leave that for another day.