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Guide to the Weldon Brinton Heyburn Papers ; Heyburn (Weldon Brinton) Papers

Weldon Brinton Heyburn Papers, 1889-1911

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Guide to the Weldon Brinton Heyburn Papers 1889-1911

Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Weldon Brinton Heyburn Papers, 1889-1911
Creator: Weldon Brinton Heyburn, 1852-1912
Dates: 1889-1911
Quantity: 2 cubic feet2 boxes
Abstract:Bills and receipts, 1889-1896; correspondence, 1896-1897, relating to Leroi Mining and Smelting Co.; correspondence, 1896-1911; and other papers.
Identification: MG 6
Language: English
Repository: University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives
850 Rayburn St.
P.O. Box 442351
Moscow, ID 83844-2351
(208) 885-7951

Arrangement and Description

The papers in this record group were left in their received order. All letters are in strict chronological order, followed by the letterpress books, scrapbook, and remaining material. This chronological order explains why the LeRoi Mining and Smelting Co. letters are placed with Heyburn's correspondence.The early folders of this collection contain bills and receipted bills for personal and professional purchases, including food, clothing, laundry, telephone, stenography, rent of office space. and the purchase of books. Concerning his book collection, Senator Turner wrote on February 6, 1903, "He has collected around him probably the handsomest miscellaneous library in Spokane."The LeRoi Mine, located in Rossland, British Columbia, was part of the Trail Creek mining district. Heyburn was a respected lawyer for the mining companies and handled the legal affairs for LeRoi. The company letters in this Manuscript Group were apparently left in Heyburn's office at the conclusion of a legal inquiry.The remaining correspondence is both incoming and outgoing. Some letters are from friends and family and give an insight into his concern for those close to him. Other letters deal with mining concerns, requests for payment of bills and acknowledgments for same, and requests for endorsements for appointed political positions. Several letters in 1897 concern his possible nomination for Circuit Court Judge, a position which eventually went to a Mr. Morrow. In 1903 many of the early letters are ones of congratulation on his election to the U.S. Senate. Beginning in 1903 there are also copies of letters written by Senator Heyburn when he was away from his Wallace office. Most of these are dated either from San Francisco where he was attending court, or from Washington, D.C.From 1904 to 1908 there are many letters and telegrams from William H. Batting, Heyburn's law partner, keeping him abreast of the legal matters in the Wallace office. An interesting feature of this collection is the telegrams, many of which were sent in coded form. Fortunately for the researcher (or the curious) Heyburn has provided a translation.The letterpress books contain copies of letters written in Wallace. Two of these books have been water damaged and consequently portions of the letters are difficult to read.The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings which deal not only with Senator Heyburn's own career, but also include clippings of the political situation in Idaho, the Mormon question, and appointments which were made upon the recommendation of Senator Heyburn.The next item in record group is a 34 page booklet entitled Hon. Weldon B. Heyburn, Senior United States Senator from Idaho; his record in the Senate, compiled by Addison T. Smith (Twin Falls, Idaho, 1908).The final items are eleven legal briefs, 1891-1904, for cases in which Heyburn was attorney for one of the parties.In the process of refoldering the correspondence in this record group the material was changed from legal size to letter size folders. This reduced the bulk of the collection by one cubic foot.

Scope and Content

The papers of Weldon B. Heyburn span the years 1889 to 1911, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1892 to 1903. They consist primarily of Heyburn's correspondence in his capacity of lawyer for mining companies, respected Republican politician, and as U.S. Senator from Idaho. Included are both incoming and outgoing correspondence, letterpress books containing copies of outgoing letters, a scrapbook, a book containing his Senate accomplishments, and legal briefs for cases in which he represented one of the parties. Also included is one year of correspondence belonging to LeRoi Mining and Smelting Co. of Rossland, British Columbia.

In addition to this manuscript group the Special Collections division of the University of Idaho Library also has a printed book of memorial addresses presented in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate upon the occasion of the death of Senator Heyburn, and a Master's thesis which deals with the political career of the Senator through his first term in the Senate, 1909.

Administrative/Biographical History

A native of Pennsylvania, Weldon Brinton Heyburn was born near Chadds Ford, Delaware County, on May 23, 1852, the son of Sarah Gilpin and John Briton Heyburn. Both parents were of English Quaker stock. He was educated in the public schools and Maplewood Institute, Concordville, Pennsylvania. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania where he studied civil and mining engineering, metallurgy, and geology in addition to his pursuit of law. In 1876 he was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar and began his practice in Media, Pennsylvania.

From 1878 to 1882 he lived in Leadville, Colorado; then in the winter of 1883, lured by the newly developed mining interests in the Idaho Territory, he moved to Shoshone County, where, in addition to his legal practice in Wallace, he also engaged in mining ventures. In 1884, in partnership with H.E. Dennis and L. Matheson, he recorded the Polaris, Southern Cross, and Omega lode claims, these being among the first lode discoveries on the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. In 1886 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sierra-Nevada Consolidated Mining Company.

The year 1903 saw both Heyburn's marriage to Gheretien Yeatman of Chester County, Pennsylvania and his election to the U.S. Senate. Heyburn's political career spanned over 20 years. When the committee that framed the constitution of the State of Idaho met in 1889, Weldon Heyburn was among the delegates, and was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions at Chicago in 1888, Minneapolis in 1892, Philadelphia in 1900, and Chicago in 1904. He served as National Committeeman for Idaho from 1904 to 1908.

Letters written to Heyburn reveal his high standing in the Republican Party. Many people wrote asking him to use his influence in getting them patronage positions. Upon forwarding these requests, with his recommendations, to Senator Shoup in Washington, the Senator, in a letter dated December 26, 1896, replied, "You can rest assured that those persons recommended by you will have first consideration...."

Heyburn was an unsuccessful candidate for a seat in the 56th Congress in 1898. In 1902 four men were being considered for the Republican Senate nomination, W.E. Borah, W.B. Heyburn, G.L. Shoup, and D.W. Standrod, but the real contest appeared to be between the progressive Borah and the conservative Heyburn. When the Republican legislative caucus met on January 7, 1903, to nominate its candidate a stalemate was reached by the fourth ballot. By shifting their support to Heyburn, Shoup and Standrod assured his nomination. On January 14, 1903, the Republican controlled legislature of the State of Idaho elected Heyburn to his first U.S. Senate term. In reporting the election of several new Western Senators, the Oregonian, in its March 6, 1903, issue commented, "Judge Heyburn comes nearest the Senatorial ideal, for he is a statesman in thought, habit, method, and training."

Following his re-election in 1908, Fred Dubois, in a February 16, 1909 letter to Harry Day (Hercules Mining Company Records, MG 236) said, "I do not know whether Heyburn appreciates the fact that you were more largely instrumental in his re-election than any one else. I know the word you sent and I also know the thin ice on which Heyburn was standing. You were extremely wise in foregoing your personal feelings against Heyburn. You and I both know his faults, but at the same time he has virtues. One of the se is that he will be outspoken and fearless in protecting all the industries of Idaho, and you can talk to him very freely on matters of that kind."

The legislation Heyburn is most remembered for is the Pure Food and Drug Bill which passed the Senate in February 1906.

On two occasions Heyburn's vote defeated the Joint Statehood Bill for Arizona and New Mexico. Although favoring the admission of all territories of the United States to statehood, he opposed the consolidation of any territories for admission on the ground s that such a consolidation would eliminate geographical divisions in a way that would reduce the representation of the West in the U.S. Senate.

Opposition to the forest reserve system was centered in the Western states where most of the reserves were located. Heyburn thoroughly disliked the reserves and, after his election to the Senate, became the spokesman for the opponents of the system, a position which was directly opposed to that of the Republican President.

While in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee on Manufactures and of the Joint Committee of Senate and House on the Revision and Codification of the Laws of the United States. He was a member of the Committees on Immigration, Public Lands, Mines and Mining, Public Buildings and Grounds, Coast Defences, Geological Survey, Privileges and Elections, Conservation, and the Committee on the Philippines.

In March 1912, he collapsed in the Senate after delivering a speech on the arbitration treaties. He ignored repeated warnings to rest, and literally worked himself to death. At 8 p.m., October 17, 1912, he died at his Washington home of complications of diseases of the heart and kidneys. His last words were, "I have lived my life as best I could within the power of human limitation...I am worn out in the service of a great cause."

Funeral services were held in his Washington apartment on October 19; burial was near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania on October 20. Memorial addresses were delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 23, 1913, and in the Senate on the first day of March.


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Government and Politics

Heyburn, Weldon Brinton, 1852-1912--Archives.

Le Roi Mining & Smelting Company

Idaho -- Politics and government
United States -- Politics and government

Legislators -- United States -- Correspondence

United States senator for Idaho, 1903-1912

Administrative Information


The papers of Senator and lawyer Weldon Brinton Heyburn were purchased for $200 from Samuel Moyerman, Philadelphia Autograph Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in September 1947. Correspondence regarding the purchase may be found in the papers of the University of Idaho President's Office (UG 12, Box 50, folder 1538).

Processing Information

The Heyburn papers were processed in April 1979, then in March 1993 they were reprocessed and placed in acid free folders.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I. General Correspondence and Related Records 1891-1911
1/11/1Inventory 1979 1 item
1/21/2Bills and receipts 1889 3 items
1/31/3Bills and receipts 1891 1 item
1/41/4Bills and receipts 1892 124 items
1/51/5Bills and receipts 1893 229 items
1/61/6Bills and receipts 1894 76 items
1/71/7Bills and receipts 1895 3 items
1/8-101/8-10LeRoi Mining and Smelting Company correspondence 1895-1896 395 items
1/111/11Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1896 106 items
1/12-161/12-16Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1897 603 items
1/17-191/17-19Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1898 313 items
1/18-191/18-19Weldon Heyburn correspondence June-September 1898 178 items
1/20-211/20-21Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1899 343 items
1/221/22Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1900 44 items
1/231/23Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1902 6 items
1/24-271/24-27Weldon Heyburn correspondence January-July 1903 420 items
2/282/28Weldon Heyburn correspondence August-September 1903 68 items
2/292/29Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1904 19 items
2/302/30Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1905 75 items
2/312/31Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1906 4 items
2/322/32Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1907 12 items
2/332/33Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1908 22 items
2/342/34Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1909 54 items
2/352/35Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1910 33 items
2/362/36Weldon Heyburn correspondence 1911 1 item
2/372/37Weldon Heyburn correspondence undated 4 items
2/38-392/38-39Letterpress books June 8 - November 28, 1904 2 items
2/40-412/40-41Letterpress books and index July 25, 1906 - November 8, 1908 2 items
2/422/42Scrapbook 1906-1908 1 item
2/432/43Hon. Weldon B. Heyburn, Senior United States Senator from Idaho; His Record in the Senate, compiled by Addison T. Smith 1908 1
2/442/44Legal briefs 1891-1904 11 items

Profile Description

Creation: Encoded by ArchProteus2003
Language: Finding aid is in English

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