Saturday, Dec 03, 2022

John Henry Bolingbroke

John Henry Bolingbroke

John Henry was the oldest son of Henry Mitchel Bolingbroke, one of the earliest men to take up a “possessory claim” (or squatter’s rights) in the Bannock Valley. Henry Mitchel died unexpected in 1905 at age fifty-five after a short illness, and John Henry took over the homestead. John was born on 24 March 1875 in Malad, Idaho, to his parents, Henry and Mary Elizabeth Lusk Bolingbroke.

John spent his early years riding for various cattle ranches in the area. Through his life, he retained the sense of humor forged in the cattle camps and now celebrated in western movies.

John married Beatrice Thomas 15 September 1904. She had been born 15 October 1882 in Malad, Idaho to Welsh immigrants. They eventually became the parents of four children: Ephraim Thomas (1904); Evelyn (1906); Beatrice (1908); and John Henry, Jr. (1915).

After their marriage, John and Beatrice moved to Arbon where John took up more ground in addition to his father’s homestead.  He put his knowledge of cattle to good use raising stock. He also had a dairy herd and sold the milk and cream to a creamery in Pocatello. They also raised wheat and hay.

John raised both beef and dairy cows. He sold the cream from the milk to a creamery in Pocatello. Of course, when one has cattle, one has to also raise hay and grain to sustain the cattle, and that leads to having hired hands to help with the heavy farm work.  In addition, “their water right on Rattlesnake [Creek] required a lot of maintenance in the early days as heavy snowfall and the subsequent springs floods caused a lot of repair work.”

John first built a two-room cabin on his claim, and later added frame rooms to the original cabin. His brother David Lusk Bolingbroke, with his wife Mary Ellen Thomas and two children, shared the home, and the ranch and farm work, in the summer months. The children from both families grew up closer than cousins; they were biologically double cousins, as their mothers were sisters and their fathers were brothers, but they grew up closer that any siblings could be. In the winter months the two families had an interesting arrangement. Each year, either one family or the other, with all the children from both families, took turns moving to Malad so the children could attend school, while the other parents “wintered through” in Arbon to keep the livestock fed.

John retired to Pocatello in 1945. At that time, they sold the ranch to their youngest son, John Jr.   John Sr. died ten years later on 29 January 1955 in Pocatello after an illness of one week. The hard work of cowboying and homesteading must have agreed with him, as he lived to age eighty. Beatrice lived another five years, dying on 8 January 1960 at the age of seventy-eight. They are buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Pocatello, Idaho.


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

These links will lead to links on other family members.