Photo Left: Students with their teacher Viola Martin in 1911-1912 were Ruby Goodwin, Howard Stowe and Guy, Richard and Ruth Tyson. Photo from collection of Lena Ebert.




Photo Above: Tyson looked like this in the 1900's. Glen Palmer took this picture when he visited his cousins at Tyson in the early years.

As you stand on the former location of Tyson, it's difficult to even imagine that this was once a thriving mining town, with stores, hotels, a school and post office.

Tyson was located up the St. Maries river, about 22 miles from St. Maries, near Tyson creek.

Photo Right: This once served as a storage space for gear and harnesses on the Tyson ranch. Photo by Louise Ells.

The Tyson brothers, John, Henry and George, sons of James B. and Mary Price Tyson, came to the area in 1891 from Farmington, Wash., after purchasing the land from a man who had taken it up as a homestead several years earlier. The big meadow with a creek flowing through it seemed the perfect place for raising cattle, and that's what the brothers did for several years.

THEN IN 1897 Burt Renfro found a piece of float that contained gold, and this sheltered cove in the mountains, about five miles square, became known as the Camas Cove mining district, deriving its name because of an abundance of camas plants in the area.

John and Henry Tyson began prospecting. Their first find was the War Eagle. John had interests in several valuable quartz and placer claims and was one of the incorporators of the Wasco Mining and Milling Company.

Photo Right: Almost forgotten, this ball mill south of Tyson was used by early-day miners to separate gold from rock. Photo by Louise Ells.

In 1900, placer discoveries were made, and a rush of prospectors came into the vicinity. A large camp was soon set up with people living in tents or make-shift huts. With the development of mining properties, many more people came, some by horseback, others by wagons and stagecoach. They came up the St. Joe river by steamboat to St. Maries and then on to Tyson by any means possible.

Photo Left: In the summer time this Tyson ranch house is used by the present owners. An addition on the old house is said to have been built with lumber that had been part of the Tyson school. Photo by Louise Ells. John Tyson married Mary J. East, daughter of Hughes and Susan East of Emida. They had three children, Richard and Guy, both deceased, and Ruth Rodner, now living in Fresno, Calif. [She is a frequent guest at Fernwood Old Timers picnics.]

THE TYSON TOWNSITE was patented by Tyson in January, 1901, and by 1903 the lots were nearly all sold at prices ranging from $40 to $100 each. In 1903 all indications pointed to Tyson growing in population and importance.

Within five years the area developed from a stock ranch into a well-populated town, complete with stores, hotels, a school, saw mill, stamp mill and post office. Regular stages ran between Tyson and St. Maries, and a telephone system was in working order before 1903.

AMONG THOSE who had claims in the area was Joseph T. Dugan. Dugan, the son of John W. and Sarah [Williams] Dugan was born in Bond County, Ill., in 1871. He taught in Illinois, and in June, 1894, he came west to Rathdrum. He immediately started teaching in Idaho, and in the fall of 1900 he began to teach in a school between Fernwood and Santa. During his vacations he prospected and had various claims in the vicinity.

The first year after the discovery of gold in the area, Fred Haviland and his nephew bought the mining rights on the Tyson diggings and began active work. They bought some small equipment and tried to work the claim with horse power and by hand. This was not effective so they surveyed up Tyson and Carpenter creeks and decided on a pipe line to furnish hydraulic power. The right of way was cleared. The pipe was brought to St. Maries by steamboat, and Oscar Brown of St. Maries hauled the pipe to the gold camp at Tyson.

Crews laid pipe and built sluice boxes. News spread fast and soon guards were hired and placed around the camp to keep out both men and women. Signs were put up warning visitors that trespassers would be prosecuted to the full extent.

The Tyson gold was coarse, with some nuggets worth more than $50 each.

The country for miles around was prospected.

By the end of the first year most of the gold-bearing gravel had been washed through the sluice boxes. They closed the mine for winter, and the next spring they reopened it, but after a short time they determined that the rich deposits were exhausted. Nothing important could be found in the creek beds either. The Tyson gold camp permanently closed except for a few hardy propectors who wouldn't give up.

It is believed that the Havilands took about $100,000 in gold from the Tyson placermine by 1903.

WHEN GOLD was discovered at Tyson, Peter Desgranges Jr. was one of the first to arrive there. He was born in New York in 1858. In 1870 he went to Iowa where he remained for 10 years, then came to Idaho by way of San Francisco, Portland and Walla Walla. He homesteaded at Rockford. At this time there were only two small houses there. Later he and his brother had a newspaper in Rockford. At one time they burned out and, securing a small outfit, they continued the paper without missing a single issue. In 1900, upoin hearing the news of the gold at Tyson, Desgranges locked up the buisness and rose horseback, leading a pack animal toward Tyson. He secure one of the most valuable claims and stayed. Desgranges, with his energy and interest was said to have done more for Tyson than any other person. He married Elizabeth Evans in March of 1903.

SAMUEL B. RITCHEY was born in Oregon in 1859. He came to Farmington, Wash., locating a homestead across the state line in Latah county. He farmed there until 1901 when he sold out and came to Tyson. He was a well known business man in Tyson, being one of the first merchants and having one of the first hotels and later a feed store. He was also Tyson postmaster at one time.

AMOS D. VAN ORSDALE was born in Iowa in 1867. The following year he came west to Baker City, Ore., then came to Grangeville in Idaho in 1894 and went into the freighting business. In 1899 he came to this area and homesteaded just south of Tyson. This was choice hay and timber land. He owned the "Goldbug Quartz" and the "Last Chance" placer claims. He was one of the first members of the Modern Woodman of America of Santa. Years later he returned to Oregon.

Photo Left: Close to the edge of the site of Tyson is this little building which was part of the Charles McLean homestead. The property was later owned by the McLeans' daughter, Lillian McLean Swofford. Photo by Louise Ells.

CHARLES A. MC LEAN was one of 13 children. he came to Spokane from the East and then to the Camas Cove Mining District. In 1901 he homesteaded near Santa. Later his wife and daughter Lillian [now Lillian Swofford] joined him at Santa. Lillian was seven years of age at the time, and she recalls they came on the new train that ran from Spokane to Santa and Bovill. The stage coach road from Santa to Tyson was near the McLean homestead. [This was between Santa and Fernwood near the present home of Dr. Lewis.] The McLeans lived in Santa for two years and then moved to Tyson. Mrs. McLean was the Tyson postmistress for several years.

Mrs. Swofford recalled that as a child she and her family visited often in Emida where they attended holiday parties and community baseball games. She said they sometimes stayed for three days at a time at the Laws hotel. She lived in Tyson until she was 18. Later she and her husband lived near Emida [at the site of the new apartment building there] before moving to St. Maries where she now resides.

HENRY H. GRIFFUS was born in Michigan in 1856. He married Anna R. Smeaton January 11, 1878. They came to Idaho in 1901, and he soon became interested in mining at Tyson. Griffus and his son, John W. Griffus had valuable mining property in the area.

RICHARD and MABLE SEAMAN came to the Santa area in 1913 from Pine City, Wash. They had 10 children [Marion, now deceased; Lester, in Post Falls; Mary Toland, Arizona; Howard, Fernwood; Edna Chessman, Tacoma; Wayne, Cove, Ore.; Angus, Seattle; Elaine Olson, Sandpoint; Etholda Addington, Kellogg; and Ned of Jewel, Iowa]. The Seaman home was where the present site of the Scott Paper Mill is now. The Seaman children could have attended Fernwood, Santa or Tyson school, and Tyson was chosen to help keep the school open.

The Johnson children [including John Johnson who now resides in Calder] of Santa walked four miles one year so that there would be enough children attending to keep the school open.

However, the school was closed in 1920, and in later years part of the school building was added to the Tyson ranch house.

Photo Right: Viola Martin, who came to teach in 1911 and one of her students, Ruth Tyson, in front of the cookhouse at the Tyson Mine. Photo from Lena Ebert.

ONLY A FEW of the teachers are remembered by oldtimers.

Viola Martin taught in Tyson in 1911. She and her husband, E.G. Martin had homesteaded near Emerald creek. Some of her students were Ruby Goodwin, Howard Stowe, and Guy, Richard and Ruth Tyson.

Photo Left: In 1918 George Ells with his teacher, Helen Gallagher and other students, Rose and Alfred Martin, Lottie Johnson, Marie Manley and Lillian McLean. Lillian is holding Billy Schecht, her sister's oldest son. Photo from Lena Ebert.

Helen Gallagher taught in 1918. Some of her students were George Ells, Rose and Alred Martin, Lottie Johnson, Johnnie Johnson, Marie Manley and Lillian McLean [Swofford].

Photo Left: In 1919 Marion Vaughn, Edna Seaman, Wayne Seaman, Howard Seaman, Milton Vaugh, and an unidentified little girl were among the students of Lena Hedrick Ebert. Photo loaned to me by Lena Ebert.

Lena Hedrick came from Spokane in 1919 to teach at Tyson. She and Howard Ebert were married in 1920, and they have lived in Fernwood most of the time since then. Among her students were Marion Vaughn, Edna Seaman, Wayne Seaman, Howard Seaman, Milton Vaughn and Mary Seaman. Mrs. Ebert attended the 50th wedding anniversary reception for Henry and Mary [Seaman] Toland in St. Maries last summer.

DELBERT and RUBY BROWN came to the tyson area in 1916 from Pomeroy, Wash. Ruby was the daughter of Herbert O. Ells of Emida. In 1917 they went to Tacoma where Mr. Brown was employed at the shipyards. They returned to Tyson about 1921, then moved into a new home just north of Emida. This home was built for the Browns by Lou Middleton who designed and built a number of homes in that area.

In the early 1920s Mrs. Brown was responsible for carrying the mail from Tyson to Santa and back. She used a buggy, and her horse was named Fanny [for a good reason. When the horse grew tired, it would sit on its fanny and refuse to move].

Later the family moved to Sanders, then to Emida. They had four children: Irving, Louie, Alma and Myrtle. Myrtle married Mark Derry whom she met when they were both 11 years of age in 1921 and attended the Emida school.

RICHARD TYSON married his wife Violet on March 7, 1928. She was from Clark Fork and taught school at Santa in 1923 and met Richard during that time. In 1935 they moved to the Tyson Ranch and resided there until 1962, then moved to Spokane and on to Coeur d'Alene in 1964.

Many other settlers lived or worked at Tyson during the boom, but they were unable to keep it from dying, despite the fact that logging became important in the area after the gold rush ended. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Tyson and Charlie McLean were two of the last families to reside at Tyson.

Some of the information for this history was taken from "An Illustrated History of North Idaho" published in 1903, and I was also helped a great deal by Shirley Dixon, Mrs. Richard Tyson, Mr. and Mrs. Chet Henning, Tom Ells; Lillian Swofford, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Derry, and Mr. and Mrs. Howard Ebert. Mrs. Ebert, Shirley Dixon and Mrs. Swofford loaned me pictures.


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