Idaho is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. Idaho is the 14th largest, the 39th most populous, and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state.
Idaho is a mountainous state with an area larger than that of all of New England. It is surrounded by the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and the Canadian province of British Columbia. The network of dams and locks on the Columbia River and Snake River make the city of Lewiston the farthest inland seaport on the Pacific coast of the contiguous United States.
Idaho's nickname is the "Gem State", because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found there. In addition, Idaho is one of only two places in the world where star garnets can be found in any significant quantities, the other being India. Idaho is sometimes called the "Potato State" owing to its popular and widely distributed crop. The state motto is Esto Perpetua (Latin for "Let it be forever").
Humans may have been present in the Idaho area as long as 14,500 years ago. Excavations at Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls in 1959 revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank among the oldest dated artifacts in North America. American Indian peoples predominant in the area included the Nez Percé in the north and the Northern and Western Shoshone in the south.
An early presence of French-Canadian trappers is visible in names and toponyms that have survived to this day: Nez Percé, Cœur d'Alène, Boisé, Payette, some preexisting the Lewis and Clark and Astorian expeditions which themselves included significant numbers of French and Metis guides recruited for their familiarity with the terrain.
Idaho, as part of the Oregon Country, was claimed by both the United States and Great Britain until the United States gained undisputed jurisdiction in 1846. From 1843 to 1849 present-day Idaho was under the de facto jurisdiction of the Provisional Government of Oregon. When Oregon became a state, what is now Idaho was in what was left of the original Oregon Territory not part of the new state, and designated as the Washington Territory.
Between then and the creation of the Idaho Territory on July 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 Oreille 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 1863, 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 was one of the hardest hit of the Pacific Northwest states during the Great Depression. Prices plummeted for Idaho's major crops: in 1932 a bushel of potatoes brought only $.10 compared to $1.51 in 1919, while Idaho farmers saw their annual income of $686 in 1929 drop to $250 by 1932.
In recent years, Idaho has expanded its commercial base as a tourism and agricultural state to include science and technology industries. Science and technology have become the largest single economic center (over 25% of the state's total revenue) within the state and are greater than agriculture, forestry and mining combined.
Note: Idaho was part of Oregon Territory, definitively acquired in 1846, and was included in Washington Territory upon its establishment in 1853. Idaho became a separate territory in 1863, acquired essentially its present boundaries in 1868, and was admitted as a State on July 3, 1890. Census coverage of present-day Idaho virtually began in 1870, when nearly its whole area was included.. Total for 1930 includes population (1 person) of the portion of Yellowstone National Park in Idaho, which had no population in 1940-60 and was included in Fremont County in 1970-90. In 1890-1920, any population in the Idaho portion of the park was reported with the Wyoming portion.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
The following vital record databases for Idaho are searchable at Ancestry.com:
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Idaho family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.