Laurence Moore Bettis
Photo 022, Moore-Cunningham-Bettis collection
Named after his aunt, Laura Belle Moore (later Cunningham), Laurence was born on his grandmother Catherine Minear Moore’s birthday, July 9, 1895. He was the first grandchild of C.W. Moore, founder of the Idaho First National Bank, and the only child of Alice Moore Bettis and Dr. Harry S. Bettis.
Laurence’s first memories were of two events in 1898: the marriage of his aunt Laura with William Cunningham in the southeast corner of the drawing room at the family home at 1109 Warm Springs Avenue on October 26th; and the night parade of the Spanish American War troops which he viewed from his father’s upstairs office on Main Street in Boise City. Since everyone called his father “Doc,” Laurence was dubbed “Docky” at an early age.
Docky’s parents had a home on Warm Springs Avenue where he grew up knowing the Northrop, Clinton, and Davidson families among others. Frank Davidson was his best school chum. He attended Boise public schools and graduated from Boise High School in 1913. Then Docky went for a year to the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, before attending the University of Virginia for two and a half years. He returned home in December 1916 after his grandfather’s death.
Laurence served a stint in the U.S. Army. When he was discharged from the service December 26, 1918, he found his mother in bed beyond recovery. She died February 15, 1919.
His first job at the Idaho First National Bank was as a messenger in about 1910. For a short time after he came back from the Army, Docky worked under his uncle Crawford Moore’s leadership at the bank as a bookkeeper with three kinds of ink. “I had ink all over me,” he quipped. They had great big books with sixteen days on each side. Red ink indicated money one took out, blue showed what was put in, and green was used to indicate the balance. Docky stuck a pen over each ear and the other one in his mouth. He handled about 700 accounts with that method, but soon quit to pursue the livestock business in southern Idaho.
In 1928 Docky and his father took a trip around the world. They were photographed with a saronged woman and wild monkeys in Bali, on camels in Egypt, and with his Aunt Laura and Uncle Will in Rome and Florence where they toured Italy together.
On September 20, 1930, he married Agnes McMillan Little, the oldest child of Andrew Little, the sheep baron of Emmett, Idaho. The couple operated a cattle ranch on the Wood River nearest to the post office at Gannett, Idaho, for nearly thirty years. The winter of 1932-33 when the bank was in crisis and family holdings were at stake, Laurence left Agnes with the Chaneys at the ranch and went to Boise to work in the bank until the crisis was over.
In October of 1934, their first child, Harry Little Bettis, was born. (He was named Harry Sylvester Bettis after his grandfather who died nine days before his birth; his name was changed during his college years.) Another son born April 18, 1937, died in childbirth.
Starting in the 1940s, when their son Harry went to boarding school at California Preparatory School in the Ojai Valley, the Bettises spent time during the winters in Santa Barbara. Beginning about 1954 they began going to Mazatlan, Mexico, for two or three months in winter. In 1958 they moved from the ranch at Wood River to Boise when their son Harry took it over after graduating from Stanford.
Laurence Bettis was made a director of the Idaho First National Bank in 1949 and became the voice for family interests, which at that time represented about 32% of its shares. In 1960 he headed a contingent dissatisfied with the leadership of John Schoonover, which resulted in the eventual resignation of the bank’s chairman and one of his top employees, the reorganization of its board, and its policy on bond purchases and reporting. On his retirement from the board in 1975, Laurence Moore Bettis was appointed Director Emeritus by President Tom Frye.
When his wife Agnes died in 1968, Docky moved into the Moore-Cunningham mansion with the family who had been taking care of the house and the gardens since Mrs. Cunningham’s death in 1963 (Joe and Mercedes Urrutia, their children, and his uncle). In May 1974 Laurence Bettis married Shirley Springer at the home. The couple lived at 3100 Crescent Rim Drive and were married nineteen months when Laurence died on February 2, 1976.
Docky Bettis was known as a champion of political conservatism. He cherished a “hard money” philosophy and was an avid gold bug. He was very gregarious, making frequent calls on a round of close friends, and was a good letter writer.
Besides his leadership as president of the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Laurence Bettis was known for his personal charity for various causes in Boise. He donated the pear trees down the center of Harrison Boulevard, gave money to develop the Laura Moore Cunningham Arboretum on land donated to the City of Boise by Mrs. Cunningham’s will, and gave generous contributions to St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Alphonsus Hospital, the Booth Memorial Home, and the Mountain States Tumor Institute. He helped to send children of friends to college. However, he did not enjoy the celebration of his birthday or Christmas. His favorite color was blue. He was more interested in politics and business than the arts or sciences. He proclaimed strong opinions about subjects of his interest.
--by Carol L. MacGregor (1990)
Anderson, Eloise. Frontier Bankers: A History of the Idaho First National Bank. Boise: The Idaho First National Bank, 1981.
Bettis, Laurence Moore. Tape-recorded interviews and conversations with the author.
First Talk, Magazine of the Idaho First National Bank. Vol VI, No. 2 (February 1976) (Copy in the collection, Box 10, Folder 1).
The largest portion of the Laurence Moore Bettis papers relate to his cattle and sheep ranching business near Gannett, Idaho, in the 1930s and 40s. Included are many accounts of sales of his livestock by agents at stockyards in Denver and Omaha and other financial and ranching records. There are approximately sixty-five letters in the files (Box 10, Folders 3-5) from J. J. Drinkard, a proprietor of Drinkard & Emmert Livestock at Denver. Those letters (typewritten, single spaced, and usually at least two pages long) present in great detail commentary on Bettis’ cattle, the prices they would bring, market and livestock industry conditions in general, and politics over the period 1931-1949.
Two series of the Laurence Moore Bettis papers are closed to research until the year 2014. These series include his federal income tax returns (Series XI) and his papers, as a bank director, relating to the disagreements within the board of directors of the Idaho First National Bank that led to the dismissal of board chairman John A. Schoonover in 1961 (Series X).
Series I: Biographical Material
Box 10: Biographical material
Folder 1 Biographical Material
Folder 2 (This folder not used)
Series II: Correspondence
Box 10: Correspondence
Folder 3 Drinkard, J. J.: 1935-1940
4 Drinkard, J. J.: 1941-1944
5 Drinkard, J. J.: 1945-1949
6 Odiaga, Domingo: 193?
7 US Immigration and Naturalization Service (re: Pedro Onarte Echevarria): 1941-1944
8 Foreign correspondents: 1930-1968
9 From Mexico: 1967-1970
10 Miscellaneous: 1934-1973
Series III: Personal Papers
Box 10: Personal papers
Folder 11 Arid Club rules: 1944, 1948
12 Charitable contributions: 1970-1973
13 Clippings and collected commentary: 1935-1948
14 : 1962-1976
15 : Miscellaneous
Series IV: Livestock sale records: Accounts of sale
Box 10 : Livestock sale records
Folder 16 Cattle: Drinkard & Emmert: 1935-1937
17 Cattle: Roberts Bros. & Rose: 1939
18 Cattle: Tagg Bros. & Rosenbaum: 1934
19 Cattle: Valley Stock Yards & Grain Company: 1934-1939
20 Cattle: Miscellaneous: 1936-1948
21 Sheep: Wm. R. Smith & Son: 1931-1935
22 : 1936
23 : 1938-1939
24 : 1940-1944
25 Wool: Eisemann, Inc.: 1939
Series V: Ranching records (Miscellaneous)
Box 11 : Ranching records (Miscellaneous)
Folder 1 Brand certificates: 1931-1949
2 Water papers: 1935-1948
3 Miscellaneous papers: 1933-1944
Series VI: Financial records (Ranching)
Box 11: Financial records (Ranching)
Folder 4 Banking papers: Crystal Farms Co.: 1933-1936
5 Federal Land Bank loan: Correspondence: 1934-1941
6 Federal Land Bank loan: Statements and receipts: 1935-1940
7 Statements of condition: Agnes Bettis: 1943-1946
8 LMB sheep account: 1940-1944
9 Bettis & Co.: 1935-1944
10 Crystal Farms Co.: 1936-1942
11 : 1943-1955
12 Crystal Livestock Co.: 1936-1937
13 Laing & Company: 1939-1940
14 Weiser Sheep Co.: 1935
Series VII: Financial records (Personal)
Box 11: Financial records (Personal)
Folder 15 Bank statements: 1930-1946
16 Stock market investments: 1944-1973
17 Swiss bank account: 1972-1973
Series VIII: Tax records
Box 11: Tax records
Folder 18 Tax notices (Blaine County): 1930-1943
19 Tax receipts (Blaine County): 1931-1948
20 Tax receipts for Archie Dunn: 1939
Series IX: Miscellaneous
Box 11: Miscellaneous
Folder 21 Blaine County Taxpayers League bank statements: 1932
22 Engineering study, Dewey and Sunshine mines (Valley County): 1956
23 Western Loan & Investment Co.: Financial statements: 1947-1948
Series X: Idaho First National Bank
(Closed until 2014)
Box 12: Idaho First National Bank
Folder 1 Board of Directors minutes: 1960-1961
2 Notices to stockholders and directors: 1960-1961
3 Bank financial statements: 1960-1962
4 Government securities accounts: 1960-1963
5 Salaries and bonuses: 1956-1967
6 Financial and salary statements: 1967
7 Correspondence, Harry W. Morrison: 1960
8 Correspondence, S.E. Hutton: 1960-1961
9 Correspondence, Family: 1960-1962
10 Correspondence, Broadbent estate: 1952
11 Notes by LMB
12 Shareholder lists
13 Shareholder lists
Series XI: Income tax returns
(Closed until 2014)
Box 12: Income tax returns
Folder 15 Returns: 1961-1963 (closed)
16 Returns: 1964-1966, 1969 (closed)
17 Returns: 1970-1973 (closed)