Newcomers in Latah County, Idaho: A Public History Approach on Cultural Adaption in the American West, 1871-1921


“In 1871 Mr. Taylor determined to seek a location in the new and undeveloped west. Her first made his way to California, later traveled through Oregon and then came to Idaho. Here he believed he had found the richest farming land in the United States, and the unsettled condition of the country made it possible for him to take his choice of a claim in the vast region….  He built a log house and then wrote for his wife to join him in the new home. With her children she traveled to Ogden, Utah, where Mr. Taylor met them with a team, thus conveying them to the new farm in the wilds of Idaho…. Mr. Taylor is a man of great industry, energy, diligence ad practical common sense, and in his undertakings he prospered…. His son, Thomas J., grew up to be a capable young business man and became associated with W.A. Lauder, a son-in-law of our subject, in the manufacture of brick. They met with splendid success in the business, did contracting and building and furnished all the brick used in Moscow. They erected many of the finest public buildings, including the State University.”[1]

The Taylors, Meyers, Scheyer-Hagedorns and Williamsons settled in Latah County and have ultimately left their imprint on the region. It was the aim and hope of this project to produce a historical account for the residents of Latah County who may be interested in learning more about European immigration to the area. While providing a historical contextualization and analysis, the overarching and driving goal of this thesis is to serve the public and emphasize the importance of making history accessible to the public. The digital site Scalar, which houses this project, will be available for an indefinite amount of time. It is my hope that this thesis be viewed on Scalar, which contains multiple photographs and acts as more of a digital exhibit rather than a traditional thesis.

This thesis, in part, was intended to strengthen my own knowledge of exhibit curation practices in hopes I may be more prepared and qualified to enter the museum field. Beginning with my internship at Latah County Historical Society, this thesis began first as a physical exhibit, and my fascination with the families I learned about evolved into this project. My desire to create an accessible thesis was due to my career ambitions. Public historians work to serve the public, so I believe a thesis produced to enrich Latah County’s regional history was the best possible route for me.

During the production of this thesis, the experience I gained through creating my physical exhibit, Inland Northwest Immigrants: Newcomers to Latah County, instilled practices and knowledge I need to enter the museum world. The research I conducted in this thesis—and before its production while creating the physical exhibit—provided me with the tools necessary to land a dream job of mine. In late May of this year (2023), I will be relocating to Dubois, Wyoming to work as Assistant Curator at the National Museum of Military Vehicles (NMMV). The skills I have acquired through writing this thesis were extremely influencing factors leading me to receive a job offer from NMMV. For this, I am eternally grateful.
[1] History of William Taylor, Taylor Family Personal Collection.

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