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The Irvin E. Rockwell Papers at

Boise State University:

A guide to the collection

MSS 60

Copyright Boise State University, 2009

Few men have come to Idaho and made such a sudden impact as Irvin E. Rockwell, a Chicago businessman who took control of the Minnie Moore silver mine in Bellevue in 1901 and quickly restored it to profitable production.  The mine’s glory days were short-lived, but over the course of the next fifty years, Rockwell’s faith in its potential and his unrelenting efforts to bring it back to life became legendary, and Rockwell’s name and the Minnie Moore's became inextricably linked in the public imagination.  In the meantime, he compiled a distinguished record of public service for the people of Idaho in the state senate, on the state board of education, and, in particular, as an advocate for reclamation and irrigation of  the potentially rich but arid regions of the southern and eastern parts of the state.  Irvin E. Rockwell’s papers, preserved in the Special Collections Department of Boise State University’s Albertsons Library, are a rich source of documentation for the mining, agricultural, and business history of Idaho in the first half of the 20th century and offer intimate insights into the life of one of the state’s most colorful political and business leaders.

Table of Contents

Irvin E. Rockwell and the Minnie Moore Mine (Biographical Sketch)

Scope and Content Note

Series I: Biographical and Personal Papers

Series II: General Correspondence

Series III: Writings

Series IV: Minnie Moore Mine and Other Mining Interests

Series V: Check registers, Ledgers, and Minute book

Series VI: Photographs

Oversize Items

Irvin E. Rockwell and the Minnie Moore Mine

One of the fabled mines of Idaho’s Wood River Valley was the Minnie Moore lead and silver mine near Bellevue.  Discovered in 1880, when galena was found in dirt dug out of a badger hole, the Minnie Moore quickly became one of the most productive silver mines in Idaho.   By 1889, however, it was closed, for the rich vein ended abruptly at a fault and could not be located on the other side.  The Minnie Moore lay idle for many years.  Enter Irvin E. Rockwell onto the scene.  A Chicago businessman with a training in science and engineering, he was one of several investors who organized the Minnie Moore Mining Company and purchased the mine in 1900.  He came to Idaho in 1901, and, working on site as the company’s general manager, he reopened the mine, discovered the continuation of the vein on the other side of the fault, and ushered in another brilliantly productive chapter in the mine’s history.  The powerful and forceful personality known to all as “Rock” became established in Idaho.[1]

Irvin E. Rockwell was born on December 25, 1862, on the family farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  He attended Marshall Academy in Marshall, Wisconsin, and studied engineering and science.  He worked as a teacher, journalist, court reporter, and professional stenographer in the upper Midwest (Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Racine) before establishing the Rockwell & Rupel Company (later Rockwell-Wabash Company), an office supply firm, in Chicago.  With Rockwell as president, the company attained a world-wide reach, with offices overseas, but at a high cost.  “Broken in health from the fast pace, he sold out in 1900,” wrote one biographer many years later. “Reverting to the study of applied geology and engineering, a hangover from student days, he came to Idaho and the Minnie Moore.”[2]

By 1902, under Rockwell’s direction, the Minnie Moore was restored to life.  The town of Bellevue, which had languished for years, was revived.  Such was the interest in the mine that industrialist Charles M. Schwab acquired a sixty percent share in it. Within a few years, however, the main orebody was lost again at another fault, Schwab quit, and production all but came to a halt.  Rockwell did not give up on it, however.  Even while pursuing other mining and business interests in the Wood River Valley, he kept a hand in the Minnie Moore.  Over the next three decades he was a prime mover behind several corporate reorganizations and refinancings that periodically initiated exploratory work, and he successfully wooed others (notably Federal Mining and Smelting Company) to take a stab at the Minnie Moore as well.  But all was for naught; the ore could not be found.  The lost orebody of the Minnie Moore became as legendary as Rockwell’s quest to find it.  In a 1938 profile of the man they called “one of the Gem State’s most colorful personalities,” the Salt Lake Tribune cited his “persistent faith in the final resurrection of that one-time notoriously rich…Minnie Moore mine…Its third-time restoration to all its pristine glory has continued for 30 years as [his] consuming passion.”[3]

Rockwell’s determination to restore the Minnie Moore did not preclude other activities.  Within a few years of arriving in Idaho Rockwell became thoroughly ingrained into the business, political, civic, and social life of the state.  He became a leader in the state’s good roads movement, serving as president of the Blaine County Good Roads Association, and he worked actively to secure a state highway from Boise to Yellowstone that would pass through Blaine County (now U.S. Route 20). [4]  He owned and operated electric power companies in the Wood River Valley and helped organize banks.  The Wood River Times boosted him for the legislature, and he was elected as a Republican to represent Blaine County in the state Senate in 1914 and 1916.  He gained a reputation as a member of the party’s reform-oriented wing and counted authorship of the state’s workmen’s compensation law and his defense of the state’s public utilities commission among his most important accomplishments in the legislature. He also earned the reputation as a fighter.  Recalling Rockwell’s tangles with Democratic Governor Moses Alexander during the 1917 session, the political commentator Cato the Censor (H.H. Miller) reminisced, “His associates still bear the memories of that battle green in their hearts.  They recall the powerful voice…which then thundered around the seats of the little senate chamber in the old capitol, bearing its message of defiance to the chief executive and his cohorts.”  He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1916 and chairman of the Blaine County Council of Defense during World War I.  A strong supporter of Senator William E. Borah, Rockwell had an ambiguous relationship with the Republican party organization.  “He could have been described as of the machine but not in it,” wrote the independent newspaper Statewide, “or again, as in the machine but not of it.  He was too good a friend of Borah’s ever to tie up completely with the ‘old guard,’ too much a Republican to condone wholly his idol’s attacks on the machine.”[5]

Rockwell left the Senate after two terms and was appointed to the State Board of Education in 1920.   His plan for financing a much-needed dormitory at the University of Idaho through bonds rather than direct legislative appropriation became a model for dormitory financing in universities across the nation.[6]  He was returned to the Senate for one more term in 1928, and his name was mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate on several occasions during the 1930s.  A great admirer of Lincoln, he was also a booster of Borah for president.  As keynote speaker at the state Republican convention in 1936, he used that as a platform to promote Borah’s Presidential aspirations and attack the New Deal, particularly, in his view, its oppressive bureaucracy.[7]  As a businessman engaged in mining, he became well versed in monetary policy and an ardent advocate of the silver interest on the national stage.  In the run up to the London Economic Conference of 1933 he sought a position with the American delegation but was not chosen.  He served as president of the Idaho Mining Association from 1937 to 1940.  Commenting on silver’s victory in Congress with a new silver law in 1939, the Hailey Times praised both “our own Borah, master of them all,” who “framed the strategy that turned the tide,” and Rockwell, “whose vigorous leadership of silver forces in past years has won him national and international recognition as one of the foremost and best informed silver exponents.”[8]

Rockwell’s “singular achievement for the state,” in the evaluation of the Idaho Statesman, however, “was in gaining reconsideration of the American Falls reservoir and power project.”[9]  Indeed, the entire project, which now provides electric power and irrigation water for a vast area of the state, seemed slated for extinction until Rockwell forcefully intervened.  The story has been told in numerous historical accounts, including Rockwell’s own book, The Saga of American Falls Dam (1947).  Despite an initial appropriation from Congress, Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall, after an ill-fated visit to the site in 1921, came to oppose the project.  He objected to the costs of relocating the town of American Falls, moving the Union Pacific railroad track, raising the Snake River bridge, and to all the work necessary to obtain cession of Indian lands that would be inundated. When he learned that the future of the project was uncertain, Rockwell went to Washington to lobby Senator Borah to intervene.  “Suffice to note that while the Secretary had a stubborn defense, he loosened a bit under Borah’s persuasive influence,” wrote Merrill D. Beal and Merle W. Wells in History of Idaho (1959).  Gaining Secretary Fall’s assent was just one part of the struggle; convincing thirty-two separate irrigation districts in southeastern Idaho to consolidate into one “big district” to finance their share of the dam was another.  Rockwell played a lead role in that campaign as well.  The dam was built, and a million acres of land were eventually watered.  “The American Falls Reservoir was saved by the intelligence, energy, and devotion of its powerful friends,” wrote Beal and Wells, who listed Rockwell first among its friends and saviors.[10]

Rockwell was married twice, first to Mary Luella Searing in 1884, and secondly to Lallah Rookh White in 1914.  When he came to Idaho in 1901 he and Mary Rockwell were still married, but she remained in Chicago.  Early on, he returned frequently for extended visits, and during this time they both became members of the Spirit Fruit Society, a tiny religious community based first at Lisbon, Ohio, and later at Ingleside, Illinois.  They visited the commune at Lisbon and Ingleside, and though never a permanent resident, Rockwell became a generous financial benefactor.  In 1904, he traveled extensively throughout the country with Jacob Beilhart, its charismatic leader.  Beilhart’s teachings combined elements of Christian Science and Theosophy, but his unconventional views toward marriage and personal liberty, and the presence of unwed couples at the commune, attracted sensational press coverage in both Ohio and Illinois. Commune members were characterized as “free-lovers,” and Rockwell himself was attacked by William Randolph Hearst’s Chicago Evening American for his support of the society.  Rockwell’s own personal situation may indeed have made the non-judgmental sect attractive to him in the first place.  Even before he had left Chicago he had fallen in love with his secretary, Lallah Rookh White.  She joined him in Idaho, where they lived together and had their first child before he divorced Mary Rockwell.  Rockwell and White were eventually married in 1914 in Ogden, Utah.[11] 

Rockwell’s association with the Spirit Fruit Society lessened over time, and eventually he became a Christian Scientist, formally joining the church along with his wife.[12]  And as Irvin Rockwell’s prominence in political and social circles in Idaho grew, so did “Rock and Rookh’s” reputation for hospitality.  Their home at Broadford, outside of Bellevue, with a view of the Minnie Moore mountain, became a celebrated gathering place.  It was built in 1907 to her design.  “Nestled among the giant cottonwood trees along the banks of the Big Wood river, its setting is like a gem.  Over this attractive home, Mrs. Rockwell presides with a charm that makes visitors feel at home,” reported one writer in an unidentified newspaper account in the collection.  “Intimate friends of the Rockwells, often disguised as plain fishermen, hunters out for deer, elk, bear, goats, or jaguar in the nearby encircling Sawtooths; politicians and near-politicians out ‘fixin’ things’; governors, judges of the supreme court, educators, ripened statesmen, even Senator Borah—all frequently find refuge from the storm.”[13]   Lallah Roohk Rockwell actively participated in her husband’s business affairs as stenographer and office manager, especially during his periodic campaigns to raise money for the Minnie Moore Mine.  When she died suddenly in 1940, he expressed his grief and devotion in a memorial booklet he distributed to friends.  “For more than forty years every day’s problems have been solved and tempered by her wise counsel and companionship….She was a continuing revelation to me—my wise counselor, my inspiration, my sure friend, my companion and sweetheart.”[14]

 After his wife’s death, Rockwell busied himself in many activities.  He became a benefactor of Boise Junior College, presenting his personal library of more than one thousand books to the school as a memorial to his wife.  He was secretary of the Borah Memorial Statue Commission of Idaho, responsible for placing a statue of Borah in the U.S. Capitol.  He played many games of chess simultaneously via correspondence, including one with the King of Saudi Arabia.[15] And he wrote histories, of the American Falls Dam, of important Idaho business leaders, and of the mines and electric power companies of the Wood River Valley.  But mainly he found solace in the Minnie Moore Mine.  He finally sold it in 1943, but maintained an active correspondence with the new owner (Robert T. Walker, of Leadville, Colorado), recounting its history and offering his advice on means to find the lost ore that had remained so elusive for so many years.   “I would almost give my hopes to eternal life to know that you had brought the Minnie back,” he wrote at age 82.   Walker’s last letter to Rockwell kept his hope in the mine alive.  “Bud and I have every confidence that we know very closely the position of the faulted continuation of the Minnie Moore orebody,” he wrote to Rockwell in February 1952.  Rockwell died a few months later at his home in Bellevue on September 22, 1952, at age 89.  In a memorial tribute, his friend Ben W. Oppenheim wrote: “Rockwell was seldom casual.  Any subject in which he became interested was immediately transformed into a matter of importance.  He approached his every project as a novelty of creation, highlighted it with enthusiasm as drama, and worked with incredible endurance for its accomplishment.  Nothing in his life was commonplace.  Everything involved people.  He loved people…A visit with him was a mountain-peak experience.  One came away with a broader vision of life as an experience of splendid grandeur….Rockwell was a great man.  The best of his long life reminds us we too can make our lives sublime.”[16]

--Alan Virta, June 2009


Rockwell’s family

Irvin Rockwell was the father of five sons, three of whom died in childhood.  They were Calvin Albert (“Bert”) Rockwell (1884-1968), Ralph (1887-1888), and Loren (1888-1947) with his first wife Mary Rockwell; and John (1912-1915) and Paul (1915-1920) with his second wife Lallah Rookh Rockwell.   Bert and his wife lived in Boise and were with him in Bellevue at his death. Rockwell supported his first wife all his life.  In his will, written in 1949, he made provision for her continuing support after his death.  She then was a resident of the Idaho state mental hospital at Orofino, and apparently had been so for many years.  When his second wife Lallah Rookh Rockwell died in 1940, her remains were inurned in a vault in Portland, Oregon.   Rockwell directed that his and Mary’s remains be placed there also, his intermixed with those of Lallah Rookh Rockwell.  Rockwell could trace his paternal ancestry back to colonial Massachusetts.  During the 1920s he served as president of the Idaho chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.


[1] For a history of the Minnie Moore Mine, see History of the Minnie Moore Mine, Blaine County, Idaho, by Victoria E. Mitchell (Idaho Geological Survey, Staff Report 00-12, June 2000)

 [2] Burroughs, Frank G., “The Sage of Bellevue,” published in Idaho Pioneer (Boise),  January 28, 1938,  present in the collection in broadside form in Box 1, Folder 2.  The outlines of Rockwell’s life and career are also traced in Men of Illinois (1902), The Idaho Digest and Blue Book (1935), and Capitol’s Who’s Who for Idaho (1950). He wrote a brief autobiographical sketch for his own book, Sketch Portraits of Men Who Made Idaho (1949).  Obituaries appeared in the Idaho Statesman (September 23, 1952) and Hailey Times (September 25, 1952).     

[3] The Salt Lake Tribune profile was published on January 2, 1938, and was reprinted in a brochure entitled “Are We a Stone’s Throw from Millions?” found in the collection in the Minnie Moore Mine Historical file (Box 4, Folder 1).  It was a major source for Burroughs’ sketch (above, note 2).

[4] Wood River Times, August 7, 1914.  Photocopy of article in Box 1, Folder 3.

[5] Cato the Censor quotation in Idaho Statesman, February 21, 1929, p. 8; Statewide quotation from undated clipping.  Photocopies of both articles are in the collection in Box 1, Folder 3.

[6] “Idaho Idea Builds a National Dormitory Financing System,” The University of Idaho Reports, v. 4, 2nd qtr (1950), p. 7.  In Box 1, Folder 3.

[7] Keynote address in Box 3, Folder 10. 

[8] Rockwell’s activity prior to the London Economic Conference is documented in his correspondence with Key Pittman in Box 2, Folder 10.   The Hailey Times assessment of his role and Borah’s in the 1939 silver law was published on July 6, 1939.  It is present in the collection in broadside form in Box 3, Folder 6. 

[9] Contained in his Idaho Statesman obituary, September 23, 1952. 

[10] Beal, Merrill D. and Merle Wells, History of Idaho (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1959), v 2, p. 165. 

[11] Rockwell’s connections to the Spirit Fruit Society are traced in two works:  H. Roger. Grant, “An Idahoan Experiences Utopia: Irvin E. Rockwell and the Spirit Fruit Society,” in  Idaho Yesterdays , v. 29 (1985), pp. 24-32, and James L. Murphy, The Reluctant Radicals: Jacob L. Beilhart and the Spirit Fruit Society (University Press of America, 1989).  Both sources explore the relationships between Rockwell, his first wife, and Lallah Rookh White.  Lallah Rookh White’s name derives from the oriental tale, Lalla Rookh, made popular in the 19th century by Thomas Moore. 

[12] Rockwell identified himself as a Christian Scientist in his 1950 biographical entry in Capitol’s Who’s Who for Idaho.  Clarence Darrow’s letter to Rockwell of May 15, 1933 (Box 2, Folder 4), references Rockwell’s Christian Science beliefs.  

[13] Unidentified clipping in Box 1, Folder 3. 

[14] Rockwell, Irvin E.  A Tribute, Lallah Rookh White Rockwell, 1873-1940 (1940), p. 10.

[15] Rockwell’s chess playing is mentioned in the article about dormitory finance, “Idaho Idea Builds a National Dormitory Financing System,” The University of Idaho Reports, v. 4, 2nd qtr (1950), p. 7.  In Box 1, Folder 3. 

[16] Carbon copy of letter from Rockwell to Walker, January 10, 1944 in Box 4, Folder 9; letter from Walker to Rockwell, February 1, 1952, in Box 4, Folder 12; Oppenheim tribute in Box 1, Folder 2.

Scope and Content Note

The Irvin E. Rockwell collection focuses primarily on his involvement with the Minnie Moore Mine, 1933-1952, but also touches upon some of his other business, personal, political, and religious interests.  It incorporates a much smaller collection of just a few letters once known as the “Rockwell-Darrow collection,” an exchange of correspondence between Rockwell and Clarence and Ruby Darrow on religion.  Those few letters were donated to Boise Junior College by Rockwell himself in 1944; the rest of the present collection, comprising approximately 4 linear feet of material, was donated by the Rockwell family in 2001. 

The collection is divided into six series: Biographical and personal papers; General correspondence; Writings; Minnie Moore Mine; Check registers, ledgers, and minute book; and Photographs. The series on the Minnie Moore Mine is by far the largest series in the collection.  It documents Rockwell’s last great campaign to reopen the mine and his continuing interest in the mine even after it was sold.  The series also contains some papers relating to his other mining interests.  The papers in this series date mainly from the 1930s to the 1950s. All the series are described in fuller detail below.

Rockwell was a strong political ally of U.S. Senator William E. Borah.  There are a few letters between Rockwell and Borah in the collection, but a much larger file of transcripts of their correspondence is located at Washington State University, in the Claudius O. Johnson papers.  Johnson wrote a biography of Borah and in the course of his research collected or transcribed correspondence of Borah with several individuals, including Irvin E. Rockwell.

Another small but important collection of Rockwell papers is located at the Idaho State Historical Society’s Public Archives and Research Library in Boise.  Designated as the Historical Society’s manuscript collection MS 420, it includes a copy of Rockwell’s will, pages from the family Bible with genealogical information, a detailed inventory of the estate of Lallah Rookh Rockwell (furniture, household items—down to the teaspoons), and other family-related papers, as well as several files of correspondence from Rockwell’s work as secretary of the Borah Memorial Statue Commission of Idaho in the 1940s.

The Irvin E. Rockwell collection was presented to Boise State University by Kenneth W. Rockwell of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2001.                                                       

                                                                                Collection number: MSS 60
                                                                                Inclusive dates: 1903-1952
                                                                                Collection size: ca. 4 ft.
                                                                                Processed by: Olivia Umphrey and Alan Virta, 2008-2009

Series I:  Biographical and Personal Papers

This series contains materials documenting Rockwell’s personal life and interests apart from the Minnie Moore Mine.  The papers include biographical sketches, tributes, and his obituary; a few clippings documenting his political activities; papers he wrote and compiled (including many typed transcripts) on Masonic, religious, and spiritual topics; documentation for his home water system; financial papers, and a few topical files.

In 1946, Rockwell wrote to the Remington Rand typewriter company reminiscing about his work in the late 1870s as an assistant court reporter in Milwaukee, where he made the acquaintance of Christopher L. Sholes, an inventor experimenting with early typewriter designs. Rockwell jocularly claimed that he was the “first operator in the world to transcribe his shorthand notes” by means of typewriter.  His letter brought a response from John A. Zellers, vice president of Remington Rand, describing himself as “one of the seniors around here,” who joined Rockwell in reminiscing on Sholes’ early typewriter work (Folder 6).

This series also contains a booklet listing the books Rockwell gave to Boise Junior College in memory of his wife in 1944 (Folder 9) and a folder of briefs and reports (1948-1949) directed toward the U.S. Congress from Northwest electric utility companies opposing the Bonneville Power Administration’s proposed McNary-LaGrande  transmission line into eastern Oregon (Folder 29).   A photocopy of the memorial tribute book Rockwell wrote about his wife is located in Series III, Writings (Box 3, Folder 11). Personal check registers are located in Box 5 (along with corporate check registers for the Minnie Moore Mine).

Box 1: Biographical and Personal Papers

Folder 0           Archivist’s biographical research
Folder 1           Obituaries, 1952
Folder 2           Biographical sketches and tributes, 1938-1952
Folder 3           Clippings, 1914-1947 
Folder 4           Genealogical
Folder 5           Biographical: Miscellaneous
Folder 6           Biographical: Typewriter history: Correspondence, 1946
Folder 7           Biographical: Letters of recommendation, 1931
Folder 8           Address book
Folder 9           Lallah Rookh Rockwell Memorial Library: Catalog, 1944
Folder 10         Lallah Rookh Rockwell Memorial Library: Memorial plate design, 1944
Folder 11         Correspondence Chess League of America, 1952
Folder 12         Masonic papers, 1936-1952
Folder 13         Religious papers, 1899-1952
Folder 14         H.P. Taylor and Razor patent, 1933-1935
Folder 15         Home Security Company assets, 1942
Folder 16         Farm lease, James Johnson, 1950-1952
Folder 17         Water rights lease, John S. Feldhusen, 1951-1952
Folder 18         Home drainage pump, 1949-1952
Folder 19         Home electric lawnmower, 1948
Folder 20         Home oil burner (Ryan Automatic Heating), 1949
Folder 21         Home water system: Pump (The Deming Company), 1929-1951
Folder 22         Home water system: Tank (Kewanee Private Utilities Co.), 1945-1949
Folder 23         Miscellaneous bills and receipts, 1933-1946
Folder 24         Tax records, 1938-1951
Folder 25         Boston & Albany Railroad Company stock, 1952
Folder 26         West Coast Power Company: Bills and contract, 1937-1944
Folder 27         Idaho Power Company: Bills, 1945-1952

Topical files

Folder 28         C. J. Strike Dam dedication program, 1952
Folder 29         Proposed BPA McNary-LaGrande transmission line, 1948-1949
Folder 30         Redfield, Ethel E.: Autobiography, 1951
Folder 31         Republican Party, 1934-1951
Folder 32         The Meaning of Selfhood and Faith in Immortality, by Eugene William Lyman (1928),
                          hand-annotated by Irvin E. Rockwell (Book)


Series II:   General Correspondence

The General Correspondence series contains letters between Irvin E. Rockwell and a number of individuals on a variety of issues. Business correspondence relating to the Minnie Moore Mine is not included here, but instead is in the series relating to the mine.  Rockwell’s small file of correspondence with Clarence and Ruby Darrow (discussing religion), donated by Rockwell to Boise Junior College long  before his family donated the rest of the collection, is now located in this series (Box 2, Folder 4).  The series also contains correspondence about U.S. monetary policy in the 1930s, particularly in regard to silver (Folders 12, 15, and 19 in particular); a file of correspondence with Senator Key Pittman of Nevada about London Economic Conference of 1933 (Folder 10); and a good deal of correspondence regarding the Silver Creek reservoir project (1933-1934) in both the Silver Creek reservoir file (Folder 18) and in Senator William E. Borah file (Folder 3).  Quite a few of the letters in the Miscellaneous correspondence file (Folder 2), particularly in the later years, are to and from old friends and former associates and often take on the tone of reminiscences.

Box 2:  Correspondence

Folder  1          With family members, 1944-1952
Folder  2          Miscellaneous, 1923-1952
Folder  3          Borah, William E., 1931-1938
Folder  4          Darrow, Clarence, 1933, 1936
Folder  5          Davis, D.W. (Hope Mine, Blaine County), 1916-1934
Folder  6          Easton, Stanly A., 1943-1950
Folder  7          Jordan, Len B., 1951-1952
Folder  8          Kilpatrick, William H., Jr., 1933, 1952
Folder  9          Mitchell, Sidney Z., 1933-1934
Folder 10         Pittman, Key, 1933-1934
Folder 11         Smith, Addison T., 1946-1952
Folder 12         Snyder, George W., 1931-193455
Folder 13         Thornburg, Frank B. (Amalgamator design), 1934
Folder 14         Thorsted, Ed, 1934
Folder 15         Trent, Walter E., 1934-1938
Folder 16         Re: F.H. Brownell’s Gold and the Monetary Problem in 1949, 1950
Folder 17         Re: Frank Eichelberger case, 1925
Folder 18         Re: Silver Creek reservoir project, 1933-1934
Folder 19         Re: Silver policy, Bimetallism, 1935-1948

Series III:  Writings

Collected together in Series III are articles, speeches, and other writings by Rockwell, as well as research material and correspondence about them.  Shorter writings (articles, published speeches, booklets) come first in the series (Folders 1-13), followed by files relating to two books, The Saga of American Falls Dam (1947) and Sketch Portraits of Men Who Made Idaho (1949).  Rockwell corresponded extensively while researching and writing The Saga of American Falls Dam, and the series contains a thick file of research letters (Folder 15), as well as congratulatory letters after it was published (Folder 18).  While writing Sketch Portraits of Men Who Made Idaho (1949), he corresponded with his subjects, or their families if they were deceased, seeking biographical information.  That correspondence is organized in files under the biographee’s name (Folders  22-32).   Rockwell’s position on the silver question is summarized in a published speech, “A Comprehensive Picture of the Silver Problem,” delivered in 1935 (Folder 6). His support of the Presidential boomlet for William E. Borah and his intense opposition to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal is revealed in the typescript of his keynote speech to the 1936 Idaho state Republican convention (Folder 10).  This series also contains a photocopy of the tribute booklet he published in memory of his wife, Lallah Rookh Rockwell, in 1940 (Folder 11).

Box 3:  Writings

Folder  1          After Fifty Years: Correspondence only (one item), 1931
Folder  2          The Birth and Development of the Idaho Mining Association, 1946
Folder  3          Buried Mines of the Wood River District (photocopy), 1950
Folder  4          Buried Mines of the Wood River District: Correspondence, 1950
Folder  5          Commemoration Address, Hailey, Idaho (Masonic), 1936
Folder  6          A Comprehensive Picture of the Silver Problem, 1935, with documents
Folder  7          Foreword to James R. Stotts’ biography of Borah, n.d.
Folder  8          Hailey, Idaho, electrical history, 1949
Folder  9          Hailey Times articles: Correspondence, 1931, 1949
Folder 10         Keynote Speech at the 1936 Republican State Convention (typescript)
Folder 11         Lallah Rookh White Rockwell (photocopy), 1940
Folder 12         Lincoln’s Life and Works, 1916
Folder 13         A Pathway to Success, 1923

The Saga of American Falls Dam

Folder 14         Background documents, 1919-1934
Folder 15         Research/editing correspondence, 1919-1946
Folder 16         Research correspondence: Milner-Gooding Canal, 1946
Folder 17         Research: Clippings, 1919-1920
Folder 18         General correspondence: 1946-1951

Sketch Portraits of Men Who Made Idaho

Folder 19         Photocopy
Folder 20         Miscellaneous, 1945-1949
Folder 21         Correspondence, 1948-1940
Folder 22         Bradley, Frederick
Folder 23         Brownell, Francis
Folder 24         Bryan, Albert Enoch
Folder 25         Burbidge, Frederick
Folder 26         Day, Harry L. (not published)
Folder 27         Easton, Stanly
Folder 28         Hawley, James H.
Folder 29         Jeffers, William M.
Folder 30         McCarthy, James F.
Folder 31         Mitchell, Sidney Z.
Folder 32         Washburn, Howard G.

Series IV:  Minnie Moore Mine and Other Mining Interests

The largest single series within the Rockwell collection pertains to the Minnie Moore Mine near Bellevue, Idaho.  While there are a few documents as early as 1903 (notably a detailed payroll report), the great bulk of records in this series are from the period from 1933 until Rockwell’s death in 1952.  They chronicle the campaign to raise money to reopen the mine in the mid-1930s, the work at the mine site during the 1930s, the sale of the mine in 1943, and Rockwell’s continuing interest in the mine even after the sale.  The records address financial, personnel, and technical/engineering aspects of operating the mine. 

Two corporate entities are represented in the records: Minnie Moore Mines Company (incorporated 1912) and the Minnie Moore Mine Development Company (organized 1935).   The Minnie Moore Mines Company owned the mining claims and property known collectively as the Minnie Moore Mines Group, or, simply, the Minnie Moore Mine (singular).  In 1935 it leased its mining claims and property to the Minnie Moore Mine Development Company.  There was a flurry of activity at the mine for a few years, as attested to the payroll records of the company present in the collection.  The Minnie Moore Mine Development Company had no more luck than anyone else in finding the lost vein and money to operate ran out.  In 1943 Rockwell and the Minnie Moore Mines Company sold the mining claims and real property to Robert T. Walker of Leadville, Colorado.  Despite these corporate changes, Irvin E. Rockwell was intimately involved with the mine throughout.  He was president and majority owner of the Minnie Moore Mines Company and worked as general manager for the Minnie Moore Mine Development Company.  After he sold the mine to Robert T. Walker, he corresponded extensively with him, relating the history of the mine and offering technical advice.  And although Walker mounted no major effort at the mine during Rockwell’s lifetime, he occasionally engaged Rockwell to undertake or supervise some sort of minor work.  Rockwell also went to considerable effort to rectify conflicting or erroneous property surveys, particularly concerning some townsites in Broadford that impacted on the Minnie Moore property.  He also spent a great deal of time correcting an omission of one of the Minnie Moore claims (Kate No. 1) from early legal documents.  Mixed in the folders of correspondence with Robert T. Walker are also letters back and forth with Allen Merritt, with whom Rockwell was working on the Kate vein and Broadford townsite issues on Walker’s behalf.

The series contains much payroll information about the employees who worked for the mine during the mid-1930s and corporate and tax information about the firm in the form of state and federal tax returns, filings with the State Insurance Fund, and Unemployment Compensation Division of the state of Idaho.  The Historical file (Box 4, Folder 1) includes, among other items, a narrative and timeline, apparently prepared by Rockwell, tracing the history of the mine, its owners, and corporate reorganizations.  A minute book of the board of directors (1940-1942) and two company check registers are located in Box 5; and oversize payroll lists, with names of employees, the positions they held, and wages they earned, are in an Oversize drawer.

The series also contains a file of correspondence and other records, mainly from the 1920s, regarding the Triumph Mine, north of Hailey, another Wood River mining venture in which Rockwell had an interest.  And scattered throughout Rockwell’s correspondence are references another of Rockwell’s mining interests, the Queen of the Hills Mine, adjacent to the Minnie Moore.  There are no formal records regarding Queen of the Hills in this series however, just references to it in other papers.

The most comprehensive published history of the Minnie Moore mine to date is a 37-page staff report issued by the Idaho Geological Survey, History of the Minnie Moore Mine, Blaine County, Idaho, by Victoria E. Mitchell (Staff report 00-12, June 2000).  It includes a bibliography of other references. A copy is held by the Special Collections Department.  There are numerous other shorter accounts within the collection, some of them composed by Irvin E. Rockwell, mainly in the Historical file (Box 4, Folder 1).  The folder of Archivist’s research in this series (Box 4, Folder 0) includes copies of several contemporary newspaper stories about crucial events in the mine’s development, including a history published in the Idaho Statesman in 1917.

Box 4: Minnie Moore Mine and Other Mining Interests
Folder  0          Archivist’s research on Minnie Moore Mine
Folder  1          Historical file
Folder  2          Payroll report for Minnie Moore Mine, 1903
Folder  3          Correspondence: Dole, J.D., 1936-1938
Folder  4          Correspondence: Dworshak, Henry, and James Munro, 1936-1941
Folder  5          Correspondence: Fitzgerald, O.A., 1947
Folder  6          Correspondence: Lindsay, A.N., 1937-1943
Folder  7          Correspondence: Snyder, George W., 1933
Folder  8          Correspondence: Stratton, William J., 1931-1935
Folder  9          Correspondence: Walker, Robert T. and sons, 1944-1947
Folder 10         Correspondence: Walker, Robert T. and sons, 1948-1949
Folder 11         Correspondence: Walker, Robert T. and sons, 1950 Jan.-Aug
Folder 12         Correspondence: Walker, Robert T. and sons, 1950 Sept.-1952
Folder 13         Correspondence: Walker, Robert T., undated
Folder 14         Correspondence: Miscellaneous, 1927-1949
Folder 15         Broadford townsite lots, 1950
Folder 16         Lease to Minnie Moore Mine Development Company, 1938
Folder 17         Lease to Minnie Moore Mine Development Company, 1940
Folder 18         Deeds of sale to Robert T. Walker, 1944 and 1946
Folder 19         Tailings lease with T.U. Williams, 1941-1942
Folder 20         Miscellaneous documents, 1934, 1951
Folder 21         Minnie Moore Mines Company: Corporate and tax records, 1934-1941

Minnie Moore Mine Development Company

Folder 22         Annual statement of domestic corporations, 1939-1942
Folder 23         Prospectus, 1937, 1938
Folder 24         Secretary’s letters to shareholders, 1939-1942
Folder 25         Reorganization records, 1938-1939
Folder 26         Reorganization records: Equipment inventory, 1938
Folder 27         Shareholder assessments and S.E.C., 1938-1939
Folder 28         Shareholder assessments: List of shareholders, 1939
Folder 29         Shareholder assessments: Mary Robinson, 1940-1941
Folder 30         Shareholder assessments: Miscellaneous
Folder 31         Employee History record cards, 1937
Folder 32         Labor cost figures, 1936-1939
Folder 33         Miscellaneous financial records, 1936-1941
Folder 34         Payrolls, 1938
Folder 35         Federal and state tax returns, 1936, with associated paperwork
Folder 36         Federal and state tax returns, 1937, with associated paperwork
Folder 37         Federal and state tax returns, 1938, with associated paperwork
Folder 38         Federal and state tax returns, 1939, with associated paperwork
Folder 39         Federal and state tax returns, 1940, with associated paperwork
Folder 40         Federal and state tax returns, 1941, with associated paperwork
Folder 41         Federal and state tax returns, 1942, with associated paperwork
Folder 42         State Insurance Fund, 1938
Folder 43         State Insurance Fund, 1939
Folder 44         State Insurance Fund, 1940
Folder 45         State Insurance Fund, 1941
Folder 46         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1936
Folder 47         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1937
Folder 48         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1938
Folder 49         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1939
Folder 50         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1940
Folder 51         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1941
Folder 52         Unemployment Compensation Division (Idaho), 1942
Folder 53         Stock certificates, 1936-1942

Other Mining Interests

Folder 54         Triumph and North Star Mines: Correspondence, Agreements, 1916-1927
Folder 55         Triumph Mine: Miscellaneous documents, 1929-1940
Folder 56         Triumph Mine: Report by J.C. Ingersoll,  1929
Folder 57         Triumph Mine: Contracts with Rockwell, 1944
Folder 58         Triumph Mine: Maps, 1923 and undated
Folder 59         Homestake Mine, 1937-1940     
Folder 60         Thomas Fisher, Jr., quartz mining property: Report by Raymond J. Briggs, 1948       
Folder 61         Alaska-Juneau Gold Mining Company: Correspondence, 1935-1938
Folder 62         Alaska-Juneau Gold Mining Company: Annual reports, 1931-1945
Folder 63         New Park Mining Company (Utah): Annual reports, 1946-1947
Folder 64         Superior Gold Mines, Inc. (Utah), 1934
Folder 65         Silver mines: Miscellaneous notes

Series V:  Check registers, ledgers, and minute book

This series contains financial records in ledger book form of the Minnie Moore Mines Company, Minnie Moore Mine Development Company, and of Rockwell personally.  It also includes a minute book of the board of directors of the Minnie Moore Mine Development Company for 1940-1942 and an account book (1921-1923) of the Idaho Reclamation Association, the organized formed to promote the American Falls dam project with which Rockwell was associated.

Box 5: Check registers, ledgers, and minute book
Personal checking account register, January 1937-March 1941
Personal checking account register, April 19141-December 1945
Personal checking account register, January 1946-April 1949

General manager’s account register, Minnie Moore Mine Development Co. 1940-1942
General manager’s account register, Minnie Moore Mine Development Co. mainly empty

A.D. Venable Agency check register, 1947-1948 mainly empty

Board of directors minute book, Minnie Moore Mine Development Co., 1940-1942

Box 6 (Oversize): Check registers, ledgers, and minute book

Account book, Idaho Reclamation Association, 1921-1923

Register of certificates (numerical), Minnie Moore Mine Development Co., 1936-1939
Register of shareholder assessments (alpha), Minnie Moore Mine Development Co.

Check register, Minnie Moore Mines Company, 1934-1943
            With accounts relating to publishing of Saga of American Falls Dam, 1948

Unidentified ledger, 1939

Series VI:  Photographs

The collection contains a few photos or Irvin Rockwell and the grounds of his home, plus some photos of relatives and associates.  Also a CD of other photos of relatives and associates donated by Ken Rockwell.  The photos are kept at the back of Box 2, after the Correspondence series.

Box 2: Photographs

Folder 20         Irvin E. Rockwell (2 portrait photos); grounds of his home at Broadford
Folder 21         Relatives
Folder 22         Associates (portrait photos)
Folder 23         Unknown persons
Folder 24         Compact disc from Ken Rockwell, more photos of relatives and associates

Oversize Items

The following items are located in an oversize folder for the Rockwell collection (MSS 60) in the oversize map drawers.

Oversize drawer
Map showing Triumph group of claims, Hailey, Ida.    No date  (photocopy in Box 4, Folder 56)

Payrolls of Minnie Moore Mine Development Company, 1938-1940, with names of employees, their positions, and wages

Full page newspaper advertisement from American Falls Press, September 20, 1923, advertising sale of lots in new town

Hailey Times newspaper or June 15, 1939, listing stockholders of Minnie Moore Mine Development Company  (photocopy of list is in Box 4, Folder 28)

“Sage of Bellevue,” by Frank G. Burroughs, offprint from Idaho Pioneer (Boise), January 28, 1938  (photocopy in Box 1, Folder 2)

“An Idaho Generation,” by H.H. Miller, in Statewide (undated) (photocopy in Box 1, Folder 3)

Full page 8 from Idaho Statesman of February 21, 1929, with two articles mentioning Rockwell (photocopy in Box 1, Folder 3)

Special Collections • 1910 University Drive • Boise, ID 83725-1430 • Phone: 208-426-1204 • Email: Archives