Saturday, Dec 03, 2022

Ephraim Thomas Bolingbroke

Ephraim Thomas Bolingbroke

Eph (pronounced “Eeef”) Bolingbroke was the son of John Henry Bolingbroke and Beatrice Thomas. He was born on 5 September 1904 in Malad, Oneida, Idaho.  His parents were first generation Arbon homesteaders.

Eph’s parents and his aunt and uncle had an interesting family living arrangement. Eph’s father John Henry and Eph’s uncle David had married sisters, Beatrice Thomas (Eph’s mother), and Mary Thomas.  (The surname of Thomas became Eph’s middle name.)  Not only were the children of these two families double cousins by blood, but they were also drawn together by their shared lives. The two families shared the same house in Arbon during the summers. This meant the children shared the chores, the men farmed together, and the mothers shared the housekeeping and cooking chores. Eph’s family eventually included himself and three siblings, while his Uncle John and Aunt Mary had two living children, so the Bolingbroke family had a small tribe when combined.  Then in the winter the parents took turns year by year moving to Malad so the children from both families could attend school, while the other set of parents stayed in Arbon, tending the livestock. The two families’ separate homes in Malad even contained similar furniture so the children would feel at home in whatever home they were residing for the winter.  These double cousins grew up together extremely close, to the point where people outside the family often didn’t know which children belonged to which parents.

Eph attended Utah State University for one year before returning to the farm. At age twenty-nine, Eph married studious and academic-minded nineteen-year-old Zella Daniels 3 February 1934 in Idaho Falls. Zella was born 12 September 1914 in Malad, the daughter of Eli Moroni Daniels, another Idaho homesteader for whose family the Daniels area north-west of Malad was named. Being the daughter of homesteading families, Zella knew very well what would be required of her in marrying an Arbon farmer.  Her Daniels family had homesteaded up what is known as West Fork on the north-west end of the valley (this area is now part of the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation).

Bischoff is not a name found in Arbon Valley now, but Zella’s Bischoff grandparents, John and Rosa Bischoff, had also homesteaded up in West Fork in the Arbon Valley.  The Bischoffs, Daniels, and Bolingbrokes were close neighbors “and spent many times visiting together and enjoying Sunday dinners. [The two sisters] Beatrice and Mary Bolingbroke loved to put on big Sunday dinners for family and friends” (Bannock Valley, page 177).

Eph’s father retired from the farm in 1945 and sold it to Eph. Eph added to the holdings by purchasing his Uncle David Lusk Bolingbroke’s place, the Joe Thomas place, and the Hatch place. He started in raising cattle and hay. In time they built a four room “lumber” house, and added on a kitchen and indoor bathroom about the same time that electricity came to Arbon Valley, in 1945, through President Roosevelt’s Rural Electrical Act (REA). The highway was paved about that same time, making travel easier.

Other modern advances came in time. The Eph Bolingbroke family had the distinction of being the first family in the valley to acquire a television, in 1952. “For the next few weeks, we as well as many of our neighbors spent late night glued to the snowy picture on the tube” (Bannock Valley, page 178).  In 1958 they were the first family to have a color television, back when actors on the screen usually appeared an unnatural green. Another welcome change came to the valley in 1965 when the old crank phones and party lines were replaced with dial-up phone systems. 

Eph and Zella had four boys: Glen Ephraim, 1935; John Ronald, 1940; Gerald Lynn, 1941; and Dale Alan, 1944. Glen and Dale never married. Education was always very important to Zella and Eph, and it showed in their boys.  Between the four of them, they completed four bachelor degrees, three Master’s, and one Ph.D. The oldest, Glen was the son who carried on the family farm.

Eph died 1 March 1984 in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho, at age seventy-nine and was buried there in the Mountain View Cemetery.  Zella lasted just over two more years, passing away on 23 February 1986.  She was laid to rest next to her husband.

Today on the Mink Creek Road winding through the north end of Arbon Valley, a few miles northeast of the confluence of the Mink Creek Road and the Arbon Highway is a road named “Eph Lane.” The charming “lumber” home he built is at the end of the lane over a steep, short hill, a sweet cottage under a huge cottonwood tree where four intelligent and ambitious boys were raised. Bolingbrokes resided in the Arbon Valley until Glen’s death in 2012 and Dale’s death in 2017.


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

The links provided here will lead to information on other family members.