Cat’s Cafe, Ch. 14

What’s old is new again. Area newspapers of the late-1800s western frontier described every kind of remedy, printed as much news as they could find from near and far, and sold whatever anyone was willing to advertise. Read this issue at

Chapter 14 ~ All the news . . .

William E. Wheeler was the first newspaper man in the eastern Idaho Territory. He founded The Blackfoot Register in 1880 in Blackfoot, the anticipated territorial capitol. When it became clear Eagle Rock would be more likely to grow rapidly due to the presence of the Union Pacific headquarters, he moved to Eagle Rock in 1884 and changed the name of the paper to the Register.

Unlike my fictitious newspaper man Ellington Harper, Wheeler was quite outspoken and printed numerous attacks in his weekly paper. According to William Hathaway in his 2006 book Idaho Falls, Wheeler described what he called “a fizzled attempt” to establish a stage line to St. Anthony in 1894 this way. “Antone Edingher … brought a dilapidated old worn-out coach and a few skinny horses and made no attempt to run a stage line. He knows about as much about stage lines as a hog does about music.”

Later, according to Idaho Falls, “…the Register reviewed the Independence Day arrival of a traveling circus. ‘Idaho Falls was visited on Friday last by the most gigantic fake gang of surething gamblers, thieves and pick pockets [sic] that ever spread a tent in this city … the only redeeming virtue being their good horses.’”

Mr. Wheeler was apparently more inclined to tell things as they were than my younger, and better natured character, Ellington Harper, Jr. who was always on the lookout for any news of the day that served the public appetite — or his own purposes.

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