Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Pauline and West Fork

Pauline school bus
Meadow Ward (West Fork)

Pauline / West Fork / Big Meadows

The area known as Pauline is located at the northern end of Arbon Valley, with the border being the Indian reservation.  It was named “Pauline” in honor of the one of the homesteader’s mother. (Wilhelm Kowallis was a German immigrant who had immigrated to Utah with his mother when he was seven years old.) Some of the prominent first residents were the Bolingbrokes, Lusks, Kowallises, Daniels, Davises, Evans, and Nobles.

But before the homesteaders arrived, this part of Arbon Valley was used as a popular route to the Lemhi (Salmon) Indian Mission. Brigham Young rode through the area at least three times, and possibly more. In March of 1858, several men were on their way from the Lemhi Mission to Salt Lake City to report to Brigham Young when they were ambushed by the Rocky Springs just north Pauline. A man named Bailey Lake was killed, several other men were injured, and eleven horses were stolen. Bailey left behind three wives and four young children, his oldest being only six years old.

People started settling in the Pauline area in 1895.  It quickly became a gathering place with a store and post office, and a “passing through” place because of its location on the road to both American Falls or Pocatello. The road north was very pleasant to travel in the summer months because Bannock Creek ran through it the whole way. Pauline soon also had an LDS church, a Congregational church, and a school which is still used today.

It also had the valley’s only “warehouse” where wheat was bought, stored in sacks, and sold. This warehouse was originally just a raised platform across from the school. Ed England was in charge of purchasing the wheat, and then men other than the busy farmers hauled it to the railroad docks which were in Schilling (today, about a mile west of the Bannock Peak Truck Stop on I-86). The warehouse soon was a covered building for storage.  It operated between 1918 and 1928. No doubt if the valley had continued to grow, Pauline would have grown to a thriving commercial village with a tall grain elevator for a landmark.

The Pauline Cemetery at one time rivaled the Arbon Cemetery for population (however, this was not an enviable distinction). This is located straight west of the school, and can easily be overlooked unless one knows it is there – look for the metal gate and wire enclosure. Several headstones are still there, along with many unmarked graves. One notable family in the cemetery was the Nobles. Mr. Noble ran the Pauline store for a while. During their residence in Pauline, they buried six of their children, Isabella (12), Bertram (9), Donald (at birth), Fanny (2), Marian Jean (seven days old), and a stillborn baby boy.

West Fork, northwest of Pauline, was also considered part of this area.  The West Fork spring bubbles up cold water from underground that feeds into Bannock Creek, about a mile west of the Arbon Highway over tribal lands. As early as 1887, David Daniels acquired a water right in the West Fork subsidiary.  At least five Daniels siblings settled in this area – Dave, Henry (“Hen”), Jennette Daniels Price with her husband Thomas Price, John M. (“Donham”), and George.

Part of the West Fork area was the Big Meadows (at that time the names were often used interchangeably), known for its good grazing and ample stock water. The Big Meadows were also somewhat milder in the wintertime than the rest of Bannock Valley, so better for wintering cattle. 

The surnames of the earliest homesteaders in the West Fork/Big Meadows areas were Bolingbroke, Lusk, Price, and Daniels. The northern boundary was the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation. In the 1930s the government moved the reservation boundary about five miles south, forcing the non-native homesteaders to relocate. They were paid for their land, but no one felt any price could be put on the blood, sweat, and toil that homesteading entailed.

The Meadow LDS Ward was created in West Fork about 1911.  The first bishop was Wilhelm Kowallis (whose mother was named Pauline – hence the name of the area). The first Relief Society president was Anna E. Lusk. At first this ward was part of the Oneida (Malad) Stake, but later in 1913 was made part of the Pocatello Stake, which was the first stake created in Pocatello.  (The current Arbon Branch is still today part of the Pocatello Stake).  The meeting house was a T-shaped log building. About 1917, people started moving away from this area – in 1928 church records showed that the whole bishopric had moved away!  By the next year, the remaining sixty-three members were transferred to the Arbon Ward, and the Meadow Ward was dissolved.

Modern people often associate the “old West” with the 1880s or 90s, but Arbon Valley had its share of Wild West up into the 1920s and beyond. One incident involved a Kentuckian named Charlie Ball who brought with him to Arbon some of his back-woods Southern ways. People liked him, but they also thought him a bit touchy.

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1921, Charlie Ball was about to have a very bad day. At the Pauline Store he got in an argument with another man. When he left the store, he was pretty heated and then had the misfortune to run up against Ed Brandt, with whom he’d had a previous disagreement. Again, words were exchanged. Ed lost his temper and shot at Mr. Ball, who promptly shot back in self defense. Mr. Ball might have been a better shot, as his bullet hit Ed in the upper arm, while Ed’s bullet was later found in the frame of Charlie’s buggy. Ed hunkered down in his wagon and high-tailed himself out of fire range. He headed for the store, sounding the alarm that Charlie Ball had gone crazy with no provocation.

The Pauline store had a telephone, so the sheriff was called. The sheriff and his main deputy were elsewhere, so the next best man was the probation officer, Charlie Torrance.

By the time Torrance got to Pauline, a group of men were pretty hot, with itchy trigger fingers just ready to defend their friend Ed. They surrounded Charlie’s cabin and tried to talk him outside. When he finally emerged, armed with a rifle, revolver, and a shotgun, a trigger happy fool shot him in the arm. Of course Ball returned fire. All the men broke and ran while Ball ducked back into his cabin. The siege had begun, with Charlie returning fire with great skill. Mr. Kowallis’ hand was shot and Herb Swim’s leg was broken.

After Deputy Torrance arrived, he tried to talk Mr. Ball out of the cabin again. Ball asked him if he were “the law” and when Torrance didn’t answer, Ball let fly with both barrels of his shotgun. The three wounded men were loaded into a wagon and rushed to the Pauline Store where they were put into automobiles and taken to the tiny hospital in American Falls to join Ed Brandt, who was missing all the fun. In the meantime, Charlie slipped out of his cabin and headed for the hills.

Just like in the movies, the newly arrived sheriff organized a posse. There were nine men officially, but about fifteen extra volunteers. They scoured the hills all night looking for Charlie. When they couldn’t find him, mob mentality took over and the posse turned their anger over their injured friends on Charlie’s possessions. They burned down his cabin, filled his well with dirt, sliced his harnesses, and cut open his sacked wheat, scattering the seeds on the ground.

In the meantime, Charlie had ridden up into the Crystal area and went to the Whiting ranch. He was weak from loss of blood. Mr. Whiting took him down Mink Creek to the Pocatello hospital, where his arm was amputated just above the elbow. He was not expected to live.

Charles Torrance was expected to survive, but he died a few days later. Before he died, he said that he was sure Mr. Ball wouldn’t have shot him if he (Torrance) hadn’t been carrying a gun at the time.

Charlie Ball was tried by the courts but found not guilty. The court found that he acted in self-defence from the start, and it was Ed Brandt’s elaborated story alone that resulted in the death of one good man and injury to several others.

Things have settled down a lot in the last hundred years. Pauline today retains its original name on several maps. It is still the crossroads to Pocatello and American Falls. Only a few families live in Pauline, where one can find the post office, the county road sheds, and Arbon Elementary, grades K-6, which is also a place for community activities. Because of asbestos, the teacher’s cottage was town down in the early 2000’s. Where many families once thrived in West Fork, no one but cattle, elk, deer, and coyotes live.


Ward, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

Pauline and West Fork Timeline

1858 – Death of William Bailey Lake by Indian ambush, by Rocky Springs just north of Pauline.

1887 – David Daniels was the first homesteader.

1895 – Other homesteaders. including names such as Bolingbroke, Daniels, Davis, Evans, and Lusk.

1911 – Meadow Ward started in log T-shaped building, with Wilhelm Kowallis as first bishop. It was originally part of the Malad Stake, but was made part of Pocatello Stake in 1913.

1917 – Depopulation started as families moved out of the area. Imagine Arbon Valley with four families on every square mile, as it was in the beginning. But a farmer can’t feed his family on 160 acres.

1918 – Wheat Warehouse. At first only a wooden platform, it was soon a covered building. This operated for about ten years.

1928 – Meadow Ward‘s whole bishopric had moved away. In 1929 the sixty-three remaining members were transferred to the Arbon branch, and the Meadow Ward was dissolved.