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Truman Coe Catlin
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Birth: Dec. 21, 1839
Farmingdale
Sangamon County
Illinois, USA
Death: Jun. 10, 1922
Boise
Ada County
Idaho, USA

(Published in History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains by James H. Hawley
1920)

TRUMAN C. CATLIN, well known as a farmer and stock raiser of Ada county, his
home being on Eagle Island, was born at Farmingdale, Illinois, December 21,
1839. The experiences of his life have closely connected him with the pioneer
development as well as the later progress of the west. After mastering the
branches of learning taught in the public schools of his native town he pursued
a course in Knox College at Galesburg, Illinois. His father, Truman Merrill
Catlin, a native of Litchfield, Connecticut, had become a resident of Illinois
in 1838, settling eight miles west of Springfield, where he purchased one
hundred and sixty acres of land that is still in possession of the family, being
now owned by Daniel Kendall, a brother-in-law of Mr. Catlin of this review. The
father and his neighbors, who were also Connecticut people, had to haul their
grain by wagon to Chicago, a distance of two hundred miles. Mr. Catlin also
hauled specie from Alton, Illinois, to Springfield, Illinois, for Bunn's Bank, a
distance of one hundred miles, carrying in this way thousands of dollars, for
railroads had not yet been built at that time. Truman C. Catlin well remembers
when the Chicago & Alton Railroad was built, his father becoming one of the
owners of stock in the road. Truman Merrill Catlin reached the advanced age of
ninety-three years, passing away in 1893 at Leavenworth, Kansas, in the home of
one of his daughters. Mrs. D. C. Hawthorne, who had become a pioneer settler of
the west. Her first husband, O. F. Short, and her son, Truman Short, were killed
by the Indians when with a surveying party, all of whom met death at the hands
of the savages save her other son, Harold Short, who is now engaged in the
abstract business in Leavenworth, Kansas, and is serving his third term as
county commissioner there. Both Harold Short and his brother Frank, who now
resides at Eagle and owns one of the most beautiful homes in Idaho, were with
their uncle, Truman C. Catlin, for a number of years. The mother of Truman C.
Catlin bore the maiden name of Rhoda Pond and was a native of Camden, New York.
She died at the old home near Springfield, Illinois, in 1873, when seventy-two
years of age. The father when eighty-five years of age visited his son Truman in
Idaho, enjoying the trip immensely.

It was in 1862 that Truman C. Catlin made his way to the northwest. He traveled
by river boat, the Shreveport, from St. Louis to Fort Benton, where he and his
companions bought ponies and thence rode to Walla Walla, Washington. They met
Captain John A. Mullen at Fort Benton with his command and proceeded with him to
Walla Walla. The distance from St. Louis to Fort Benton was thirty-two hundred
miles. The other boat running between these points on the Missouri river at that
time was called the Emily and the two boats were commanded by brothers, John and
Charles LaBarge, who piloted the boats on the six weeks' trip between the two
points. They stopped when and where they liked and during Mr. Catlin's voyage on
the Shreveport they shot deer, antelope and buffalo. The first buffalo killed
was swimming the river in front of their boat and they fired over a hundred
shots before he was killed and during the time came very nearly breaking the
paddles of the boat. A small boat was then lowered, a rope attached to the
buffalo and he was hauled on board. Some Indians were on the ship at the time
and the captain told his passengers he would allow them to see the Indians eat
buffalo, so he accordingly gave the red men permission to partake of the meat.
One old buck advanced, cut off some pieces of meat and threw them to the squaws,
who devoured them raw. Their only encounter with the Indians on the river was
when the red men attempted to board the rowboats at Fort Pierre in the Dakotas
in an effort to get to the Shreveport. The crew, however, were successful in
beating them off. Mr. Catlin says there were no houses along the river between
Fort Benton and Sioux City, Iowa. In the fall of 1863, twenty-one people of the
same party that were on the boat with Mr. Catlin returned on the same boat and
all were killed by the Indians save one woman, Fannie Kelly, who was afterward
rescued from the Indians by the government.

Mr. Catlin spent the winter at Walla Walla and in the spring of 1863 came to
Idaho. He worked at mining in the Boise basin for six dollars a day or seven
dollars a night. In June of that year he went to Silver City but remained only a
short time and on returning to the Boise basin located on Eagle Island, which at
that time was called Illinois Island, and later the name was changed by the
government to Eagle Island. There he preempted one hundred and sixty acres
before it had been surveyed by the government. In 1863 Mr. Catlin and his
companions made the trip from Idaho City to Silver City, procuring a dugout at
the place where Boise now stands and, loading it upon their wagon, hauled it
across country through sagebrush to a point on the Snake river, afterward known
as Silver City ferry, where they launched their boat and crossed the river,
theirs being the first team that crossed bv that route. Mr. Catlin and his party
went to Eldorado, Oregon, just about the time the Indians killed Scott and his
wife at Burnt River, Oregon. This trip concluded Mr. Catlin's mining ventures.

In the fall of 1863, associated with J. C. Wilson of Texas and G. W. Paul of
Erie, Pennsylvania, Mr. Catlin took a contract to furnish one hundred thousand
shingles to the government for the fort at Boise. After this contract was filled
he moved to the ranch on Eagle Island, where he now resides and where he has
since acquired land until his property there now consists of five hundred acres.
He also owned one hundred and sixty acres one mile east of Middleton, which he
recently sold for thirty-five thousand dollars. For forty-five years he has been
engaged in the cattle business, which he began in a small way. He and his
partner, Frank C. Robertson, together with Ely Montgomery and Jake Stover, in
1876, drove the first herd of cattle eastward from the west. They drove one
thousand head to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they ranged them for two years and
then sold the stock. In 1879 they took eighteen hundred head to Cheyenne, where
they sold the beef cattle and drove the remainder to northern Nebraska to range
on the Niobrara river. This was an exceedingly hard winter and they lost many
cattle and also had serious trouble with the Indians, who killed not only their
cattle but several of their men. In 1879, Mr. Catlin, J. H. McCarty and Frank C.
Robertson purchased nearly all the cattle on Camas Prairie and drove them to
Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1880-1 they drove their cattle east and in 1882 cleaned up
everything they had there and drove their cattle to a range in Montana. Mr.
McCarty, who was president of the First National Bank of Boise, was one of the
partners in the firm, the others being Mr. Robertson, who had charge of the
drives, and Mr. Catlin, who had charge of the business in this section. They
ranged cattle in Montana until 1886-7, when on account of heavy snows they lost
nearly every head. In 1917 Mr. Catlin sold nearly all of his cattle interests,
then amounting to about thirty-five hundred head, because of the fact that
nearly all of his cowboys entered the army. He is not engaged in the live stock
business at the present time save that he owns a few horses. His attention is
now being given to diversified farming and dairying and he has about sixty head
of fine Jersey and Holstein milk cows. He brought into the valley the first
reaper and derrick fork and at all times he has been in the vanguard among those
whose progressive measures have led to the substantial development and
improvement of the district. In the spring of 1863 potatoes which he bought for
seed cost him twenty cents a pound and barley eleven cents. The first house
which he built was of logs, ten by twelve feet, and it accommodated three
people. Today he has one of the most beautiful places in the state. His fine
home is situated in a grove of trees surrounded by a clearing of pasture land,
while not far distant tower the mountains. Everything about his place is modern
and convenient. There are two fine artesian wells and water is conveyed to all
of the buildings. The Boise river divides and makes of his land, which is but a
portion of the area, an island. When Mr. Catlin first located on this island,
the Boise river was teeming with salmon trout. The implements which were used in
farming in those days were mostly crude and homemade. Mr. Catlin made a spear
out of an old iron and their forks were made of willow branches. The only real
tools that they had were an inch auger, an ax and a drawing knife. He purchased
a wagon, two yoke of cattle, a span of mules and his seed on time payments, the
contract being that he was to pay for them the following year. In the spring
when he was breaking the sod, the two men from whom he had bought the outfit
came out to where he was plowing and after following him around for a short time
inquired if he expected to raise anything on that soil. He replied that he would
raise a fine crop, which he did. His first crop of potatoes was the best that he
has ever raised and he sold them for from eight to twelve cents per pound, while
his two acres of corn averaged fifty-two bushels per acre and after being ground
were sold at from eighteen to nineteen dollars a sack. He not only paid every
cent of his indebtedness but had a balance left after disposing of his crop.
While seated in a chair made in 1867, the legs of which were all made from the
root of a tree and the seat of cotton-wood, Mr. Catlin related a little
experience which he had in pioneer times, saying: "We at one time made a dugout
from the trunk of a tree and put in it nineteen pigs with their legs tied and
attempted to cross the Boise river in high water. This was in 1869. A Frenchman,
Billy Dee, took the stern, of the boat while I took the bow, and when the boat
was cast loose and swung with the stream, the pigs all rolled to one side and
the boat turned over, spilling the pigs and the Frenchman. However, I clung to
the boat, which turned bottom up and landed me high and dry on top of it. Most
of the pigs were drowned. Dee swam for his life and finally made the boat and I
pulled him on top. The boat then caught on a snag and it took the neighbors to
rescue us!"

In 1873 Mr. Catlin was married to Miss Mary Smith, of Yreka, California, whose
parents were natives of Savanna, Illinois. She died April 3, 1898, leaving a
son, Trude F., who lives near his father. Mr. Catlin has an invalid niece living
with him at the present time and he also has a housekeeper whose husband has
charge of the out-of-door work of the ranch.

For more than half a century Mr. Catlin has now lived in the west. It was during
the Civil war or on the 11th of September, 1861, that he was a passenger on a
Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad train when the rebels destroyed the bridge across
the Little Platte river and the train plunged into the stream. Among the dead
was the man who had sat next to him in the train. This event so unnerved Mr.
Catlin that he decided to come west and regain his health. Thus it was that he
became identified with Idaho, where he has since made his home. Here he has
lived an exemplary life, has ridden the range constantly and today at the age of
eighty years is yet extremely active and still takes pleasure in riding the
range, which he says he can do with the best of them. His reminiscences of the
pioneer days are most interesting and his experiences have made him familiar
with every phase of Idaho's development.

-------------------------
 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Mary Smith Catlin (1855 - 1898)
 
 Children:
  Truman F Catlin (1874 - 1950)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Star Cemetery
Star
Ada County
Idaho, USA
 
Maintained by: Jacoby Lowney
Originally Created by: Kevin A. Maus
Record added: Apr 11, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35765296
Truman Coe Catlin
Added by: Amanda Fox
 
Truman Coe Catlin
Added by: Amanda Fox
 
Truman Coe Catlin
Added by: Kevin A. Maus
 
 
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- Amanda Fox
 Added: Dec. 2, 2014
 
 
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