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Volume 3650


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Edgar Rice Burroughs's older brothers, George and Harry, graduated from Yale in 1889 [LETTERS] and went to work in their father's [GEORGE BURROUGHS, SR.] ABC battery company. When they developed lung damage from the battery fumes, father George invested in a cattle ranch in Cassia County along the lower Raft River near its confluence with Snake river in SE Idaho where they went to recover. They were joined by Yale classmate Lew Sweetser. [ERBZINE LINKS AND PHOTOS].

Their ranch, which they named the Bar-Y (Yale), [PHOTOS] was in Raft River Valley, 30 miles from the rail station at American Falls [PHOTOS]. The boys persuaded the federal government to establish a post office near their ranch which they named Yale.

When a grippe (flu) epidemic swept Chicago, young Ed's very protective parents sent him to his brothers' ranch in the spring of 1891. He took the Northern Pacific to Pocatello and transferred to the Oregon Short Line for American Falls where he was met by his brothers. Life in Idaho range country was a rather rude awakening for a 15-year-old teenage city greenhorn, who was soon introduced to the "Wild West": saloons, cowboys, outlaws, wild horses, and wilder desperados .

I did chores, grubbed sage brush and drove a team of bronchos to a sulky plow. I recall that once, after I unhooked them, they ran away and evidently, not being endowed with any too much intelligence, I hung onto the lines after tripping over a sage brush and was dragged around the country three times on my face....
Ed's main task was to make a daily mail/supplies round-trip run to American Falls via horseback or wagon. The experiences from this summer would prove invaluble in later years -- especially his skill in horsemanship and the local colour which influenced much of his writing twenty years later. Indeed, the names of many of the colourful characters he met found their way into his Western novels: Texas Pete, Blanco, Hank (Monk), Sam (Lands), Sheriff Gum Brown (Smith), Idaho, etc. A friend of the Burroughs family, after visiting the ranch, took back some of the wild tales that Ed had told him about the rogues he had met. This resulted in his father ordering him back to Chicago immediately.

Young Ed was obviously quite disappointed when his father enrolled him in Phillips Academy at Andover that fall of '91. Although he did not adjust well to the academic demands of the school, his tales of the West made him a favourite among his classmates and he was voted class president. He did well in athletics and contributed stories, poetry, art and cartoons to the school publications.  His poor grades brought about his dismissal in the second semester. His father then enrolled him in the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake where his fascination with military life, writing and artistic skills, and his skill in athletics and horsemanship served him well.  [ERBzine sites and photos] He made close friendships and was inspired by Academy Commandant, Charles King, who was a famous writer of military and western fiction.

Upon graduation he persuaded his brothers to enlist the aid of the Idaho congressman to obtain permission to write the West Point examinations. When he failed to gain entry to West Point he enlisted in the US Cavalry and served in Arizona Territory 1894-95. He later received an honourary discharge for a heart condition. On his way home to Chicago to work for his father, he accompanied a rail shipment of Mexican longhorns north for his brothers' Idaho ranch.

ERB returned to Idaho in spring of 1898 to help his brothers in spring roundup. That fall he used  a loan from brother Harry to purchase a stationery/photo business from a Mr. Roeder at 233 West Center Street in Pocatello. The store was not a success and by spring of 1899 he had sold it and had returned to Bar-Y to help with the roundup.  It was during this time that a blow on the head from a billy club in a bar fight left him with life-long hallucinations and nightmares which many attribute to the boundless imagination displayed in his novels.


View from the West Center Street railway overpass a few years before and after 
Ed Burroughs operated his stationery store.
The store was in the building in the left foreground in both photos.

Interior of Ed's Pocatello Stationery Store
The dictionary stand at centre is now proudly displayed in the ERB, Inc Tarzana Offices
His uncle Harry's daughter, Evelyn, recalled those times:
At the time he was making his home with us in Pocatello, while he tried out an unsuccessful business venture, financed by my father. Uncle Ed had just been discharged from the Army, Seventh Cavalry, and was a romantic figure to my brother, Studley [Studley Burroughs would later do illustrations for some of his uncle's novels] and myself. My outstanding memory of him then and in the following years of my childhood in Idaho, when he visited us, was of his irrepressible sense of humour. He kept us in gales of laughter with his pranks and nonsense. He delighted in writing foolish verse for us and illustrating his quips with clever cartoons. I think of him as always laughing, his dark mischievous eyes crinkled at the corners.

His training in the Cavalry resulted in expert horsemanship; he rode magnificently, as much one with the horse as an Indian. He was slim and dark and carried himself with military erectness.

Sometime later in 1899 ERB returned to Chicago to resume his job at ABC, and to woo childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert, whom he married on January 31, 1900. In September of that year he sent niece Evelyn a 12-page one-of-a-kind illustrated poem which he collated in home-made hardcovers bound by a shoe lace. He entitled this first "published" work, Snake River Cotton-Tail Tales -- named after the river where his brothers' mining enterprise was located. 
This was the first "published" work by ERB. On the inside front cover was printed:
Ed. R. Burroughs
Limited To One Copy
Of Which This Is No. 1
The title page, dated 1900, read: 
The following text was fully illustrated by the author:
A Bull Rush in the Meadow
"As the Blue-Jay on the Wing
"Informs me," said the Rabbit
"That we'll see an early spring

"When I see the little co-slip,"
Said the Rabbit to his chum,
"I can read teh storoy plainlyl
"That another Fall has come."

"That great big ugly egg-plant, ma
"Just bit me on the leg."
"That is a hen you foolish child,"
Well I saw her lay an egg."

"Good morning Mrs. Bunnie, could you loan
        a friend some money?
"I have not tasted food for several days.
"I who used to be the real thing could eat a
        cast iron cinch ring
"Who's bucked the giddy tender-foot
"Who's gi'en 'em all the shakes."
"Good morning Pinto Cayuse, you used to pass
        right by us,
"Your appetite's improving of your ways.
"If you starve a little longer your manners 
        may grow strong.
"Since you're such a wondrous bucker
"Why don't you Buckwheat Cakes?"

"Is this what they call a cabbage, ma,
"I've been eating for an hour?"
"No, you silly little child
"It's what they cauliflower."

For Christmas, 1901, he authored and illustrated a cookbook for youngsters that he named, Grandma Burroughs' Cook Book. It included recipes for cookies, fried chicken, chicken gravy, angel's food cake, nut candy, cream sponge cake and assorted ice creams.

In 1903, Ed and Emma moved to Idaho via train and stage coach [photo], taking with them their custom-made furniture and collie dog, Rajah. They settled in Stanley Basin on Salmon River ("The River of No Return"), a tributary of the Snake, to help George with one of the gold dredges. By this time the Burroughs-Sweetser main dredging operation on Snake River was in full swing and Ed's three brothers and their families spent much of their time on the huge company houseboat, the El Nino. Harry also had a house in Pocatello and Coleman ran a general store in Minidoka.

The Internet article: SNAKE RIVER GOLD provides some historical information on the Burroughs gold dredging operation in the area:
Gold Dredges On the Snake
Several large dredges were built and operated on the Snake in attempts to economically recover the fine gold. The first, the Burroughs Dredge, was reportedly built about 1892 and operated from the mouth of the Raft River down to the Starrhs Ferry Ganyon. The dredge consisted of a boiler, engine, and six-inch sand pump. The richest gravel it found was at the mouth of the Raft River which ran 37 cents a cubic yard (gold at $20/ounce). The Burroughs dredge was very modern for its time and was capable of washing about 200 cubic yards of gravel per day. However, it suffered greatly from downtime because of the large boulders that were caught up in its suction pipe.

The second dredge was built by the Sweetser-Burroughs Mining Company and operated in the river in the area from where the Raft River joins the Snake to near Burley. This suction-type dredge operated for about ten years and, because of its low operating costs, did return profits. The mining company also built large water wheels in the river just below the present site of Minidoka Dam, and raised water for sluicing the sand on 216 acres of mining claims. This did not prove very successful and the wheels were later used for irrigation. . . . The era of Snake River gold mining remains an exciting part of Idaho's history. The Snake River deposits are certainly one of the most interesting and unique gold deposits in North America.

The Historic Preservation Commision in Rupert, the largest city in Minidoka County, displays a large commemorative sign which mentions the Burroughs gold dredges and includes a photograph:
The Burroughs Gold Dredge
Four miles east of Rupert, still visible up and down the Snake River, are long narrow islands. They are all that remain of the work done by the Burroughs gold dredge. Several mining operations were attempted in the Snake River. They were abandoned due to the fact that the gold in the river sediments was extremely fine "flour gold." Edgar Rice Burroughs, who later gained national fame with his novel Tarzan of the Apes, worked for a time with his brother on the dredge.
Stanley Basin was a wild and scenic area surrounded by the snow-capped Sawtooth Range and teeming with wild game but was lacking in gold deposits. When the Salmon River venture didn't work out Ed and Emma moved downstream to Parma close to where Harry had one of the dredging barges. Ed spent much of his time making up stories, poems, drawing and sketching cartoons. These creations brought little interest and a long manuscript he wrote was stored away and forgotten until it was unearthed almost 100 years later and published as Minidoka [Website]. It was also during this time that he ran successfully for the position of alderman in Parma.

In early 1904 the Sweetser-Burroughs mining company failed after 15 years due to high overhead costs.

Through brother Harry's connections Ed got a job as RR policeman for the Oregon Short Line Railroad Company in Salt Lake City. They moved to 111 North Fifth West Street and Ed worked the rail yards as a Depot Policeman from May 8 - October 14, 1904. Although his employers reported his conduct, services and capabilities satisfactory, it was low-paying, unsatisfying work so the Burroughses sold their furniture to fund their train fare back to Chicago. Ed's parents had changed residences so the they moved in with Emma's parents. Soon after this, George, Harry and Coleman also moved back to Chicago.

The only connection that Ed would have with Idaho from then would be through Harry who returned to Idaho to run a hardware business in Burley.

The many adventures ERB experienced in Idaho, first as a teenager, and then as a young married man, had a profound effect upon his pursuits as a student, cavalry man, adventurer, business man, gentleman farmer, and world famous author.

Ed and Emma's House in Salt Lake City

Major George Tyler Burroughs, Sr. (1833-1913) Part I
Major George Tyler Burroughs, Sr. In Memoriam Part II

Pt. I: ERBzine 1094 and Pt. II: ERBzine 1095
Collated excerpts from the Yale Letters (ERBzines 1097-1099)

Harry Burroughs  Letters:  Hartland Camp 1884-87 ~Yale ~ Chicago
George Burroughs Letters from Camp: 1886-87
Burroughs Brothers in Yale I  Hilites
Burroughs Brothers in Yale II: Hilites
George Burroughs Letters from Yale I: 1886-87
George Burroughs Letters from Yale II: 1887
George Burroughs Letters from Yale III: 1888
Lost Words of ERB: Shorts and Letters

Burroughs Sweetser Connection Part I
Burroughs Sweetser Connection Part II
ERB: Cassia County, Idaho Years
ERB Country by John Martin: Part I | Part II | Part III
Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile Series M. An Historical Fairy Tale: ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. BIBLIO
Jeddak of the North visits Megadoka  (A Ratnaz Parody)

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