Folks on the Ferry Pictured Above [Not Guaranteed to be Correct]: John Greer, Anna Tessendorf Stenzel, Bertha Stenzel Gamble & son Wallace, Lida Koontz, Mrs. Wanamaker, Mrs. Erb, May Connell, Bill Connell, Gib Dorothy, Roy Erb.

Image Left: View of Greer before the bridge was built.


In 1861 Jacob Schultz and Colonel William Craig built a ferry along the Clearwater River in what is now Clearwater county, in north central Idaho. The town is situated on a narrow strip of land along the narrow canyon. The ferry connected the town with Nesperce prairie on one side of the river and the Weippe prairie on the other. The ferry was built to take travelers to the Pierce gold fields.

James and Caleb Witts, father and son operated the ferry for a time and then Schultz took over and operated it until 1870.

Photo Below/Right: Greer 1908. Men on wagons left to right: Hugh Dillon, Charley Eby, Lou Reed, Charley Stenzel [ click here for more on the Stenzel family ], Charley Grimm, Sampson Snyder, and Albert Carr.

Photo Left:
John [or Jack] Greer.

John, or sometimes called Jack Greer came to the Pierce area in 1862 and mined until the early gold ran out, then bought the ferry and operated it for several years. He lived on the edge of the present town site and also owned 200 acres across the river.

Photo Right: Mr. & Mrs. Freeman [Dick] Reed and great-grandaughter Judy Reed taken in the 1940's after they moved from Frazer and went to Clarkston. The Reed couple homesteaded on the Frazer in 1882.

Mr Mrs Freeman Reed came west in 1882.They crossed the plains in a one horse wagon from Kerney, Nebraska to settle on the area now called Fraser, a few miles up on top of the prairie above Greer.


Photo Right: The two older children are Lester and Beulah Reed, children of Elsie and the late Freeman Reed, Jr. The boy in the center [their half brother] is my father Frank Stockard also the son of Elsie and her 2nd husband Charles Stockard.


Reaching Denver, Colorado they stayed over one week to obtain work then set out on the Oregon trail to Rock Springs, Wyoming. There a son Freeman was bom. The date was May 24,1882. After staying only one week they traveled on to Idaho. Roads were so rough that Mr Reed had to tie a small tree to the back of the wagon to steady it going down steep hills. When reaching Boise and fording the river, the men in the party waded the river holding on to ropes tied to the wagon while Mrs Reed drove the wagon. Mr Reed waded and carried the baby.

On September 23,1882 the couple arrived in Lewiston where the only street was hub deep in mud.

After resting up two days they traveled on to Fraser on the Weippe prairie where they homesteaded and lived for 38 years before moving to Clarkston.

When they reached the site of Greer only one man was living there and he operated the ferry. At that time only three white women lived between Lewiston and Pierce and the Reed baby (Freeman) was the only baby within the same territory. The Reeds later had 10 more children, seven boys and four girls.

Click Here for Additional Reed Family History


When the railroad came to the area in 1899, Mr Greer and John Dunn became partners and platted a townsite on the Greer homestead. The townsite was 57 acres in size. Right-a-way and a train yard was donated to the railroad company. An extensive track system and a depot was built.

William Varner and John Bush built a blacksmith shop in the spring of 1889. John Gamble soon built a livery stable. That fall a general store was built by E.T. Lensegraft and John and Albert Carlson and went by the name of Carlson Brothers and Co. Next came the Clearwater Mercantile Co., owned by Edward Crosseon and Duke Robbins who came to Greer in the spring of 1900. Later that business was bought by Means and Bell and later sold to Noble Brothers. About the same time William Davis built a store and then sold it to the Erb Brothers in 1902.

The first hotel was called the Montana House and was established in 1889 in a portion of Carlson Brothers & co store building and operated by RW Tanner. It was later owned by Carlson Brothers and then by W.P. Wilson. About 1902 Wilson built a new hotel across the street and sold it to J.I.Coontz (or Koontz ?) Another hotel was The Hotel Gamble, it advertized good meals and comfortable beds.

Photo Left: Greer Band taken abt. 1910 at the lumber yard west of town. Jess Koontz, [owned John bonner place], Tad Pennington, [brother to Mrs. B.Erb], Depot Agent Mason, Lou Pratt [brother to Mrs. Varner], Alfie Wilder, [lived on hillside across Lolo], Charley Grimm, [from Gilbert], nephew of Depot Agent Mason, Harry Brost [related to Erbs], Leonard Ramey [Mrs. Gambills brother].


When the Bolin family moved from Loon Lake, Washington to Greer in 1901 the town only had 3 stores.

In 1902 John Greer donated property for a small school and a building was built in the lower end of town near the river. The first teacher was Miss Cora Fabrique (she later became Mrs Albert Carlson) She and her sister Nanny Louise came from Lewiston. (Nanny would later become Mrs Hershal Stockard. You can find a poem written by her in the book "River of no Return. She wrote it while attending the teachers college at Lewiston. It was published after her death in 1915 at an early age. She left a husband and two small children.

By 1904 the school was taught by Miss Lulu Palmerton. She taught 15 pupils and school was held nine months out of the year.

A later teacher was Miss Peterson.

One family lived up Big Canyon about four miles and had seven children, six of who were daughters. The Pesh family lived in the Fraser county in the early 1900's. The children walked down the Big Canyon trail (always watching for rattlesnakes) to school or to sell produce to the Gamble Hotel at Greer.

Another family were the Kempers. They lived at the mouth of Big Canyon. In 1910 Alfie Wilder lived on the hillside across the Lolo.

Photo Left: The David and Deborah McKinley family at their home near the mouth of Lolo Creek in about 1911. Back row left to right: Daughter Elsie, sons; Howard, Jess and John. Sitting L to R [Mrs. McKinleys mother], Mrs. Cree, Deborah and David McKinley and wife of John, Ethna [Reed] and son.

David and Debbie (Cree) McKinley left Colesburg, Iowa and came to Cottonwood in 1884. Two sons, Howard and Jess came west with their parents. Three more children, Jess, Elsie and Ester were born after their arrival in Idaho. After carving a home and farmland and assisting in opening schools and churches on the Camas prairie they moved to the Lolo near Greer in 1906. By this time the mother of Mrs McKinley was living with the family. (Ester had died at the age of nine months in 1895.) In 1906 Howard married Elsie M Wartman, Jess married her sister, Bertha and John married Ethna, daughter of the Freeman Reeds of Fraser.

Elsie, the daughter of the McKinleys was 17 when they moved to Greer and attended school there a short time before wedding Freeman L, son of the Reeds from Fraser in 1908.The young couple moved to a ranch on the Greer grade. Freeman died in a haying accident about 1912 leaving his young wife Elsie and a young son, Lester and a daughter Beulah.

In 1914 Elsie married Charles R. Stockard (he came from Tennessee via Texas) and they had four children, Frank, Richard (Dick), Florence and Kenneth. Charles added to the ranch by homesteading property that bordered it. Charles was a carpenter by trade and built or helped build many buildings in the Weippe, Frazer and Greer areas. The family also farmed raising fields of garden produce and livestock until moving to Lewiston in 1958. ( more will be written about these families in another section)

By 1904 Greer had two large warehouses to handle the grain which was shipped fromthere. M.B.Erb, manager of the warehouses stated that the firm bought 5,554 sacks of wheat, 12,271 sacks of flax, 4,459 sacks of oats and 4,458 sacks of barley. Most came from the Nezperce priarie.

Photo Left: Charles [Charlie] Stenzil Stageline. It traveled between Greer and Weippe and Pierce carried passengers and mail. they changed horses at Weippe where Ed and Jessie Stenzel cared for the horses. [Jessie was the daughter of Pruits]. Bill Gambill on horseback, Geroge Williams driving 2nd wagon and Short McKinney driving 1st wagon.

The stage line operated six times a week between Greer and Pierce City. Patrick Keane was an early postmaster and one of the station agents was J.S. Hall.

Written Information for the article came from "History of North Idaho" published by Western Historical Pub. Co. in 1903, I'd also like to thank the late Martha Blevins, the Bolin Family, the late Hershal (Boyd) Stockard, all of who I interviewed in 1978. I'd also like to thank my Aunt Mary Reed for information on the Reed family, Ruth Bird and the Clearwater Historical Musium for information on Greer and many more that have helped along the way but most of all I'd like to thank my grandparents, Charles and Elsie Stockard for giving me my love of history and giving me and my brother a childhood on their farm along the Greer grade, the happiness I cannot compare to anything else. I will continue to write on this subject and can be contacted by e-mail at grandma1937@hotmail .com.

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