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Laurence Moore Bettis


Papers, 1930-1976

MSS 100h




Photo 022, Moore-Cunningham-Bettis collection

Laurence Moore Bettis

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 Papers

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).

Container List


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
            14    Miscellaneous

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)


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