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LaValle, Victor


Posted By: Bruce Kuennen (email)
Date: 12/19/2018 at 13:39:12

Rancher, Banker, and Idaho Legislator Victor LaValle [otd 07/31]

Victor LaValle. J. H. Hawley photo.
Rancher and legislator Victor LaValle was born July 31, 1874 in Chickasaw County, Iowa, 30-50 miles north of Waterloo. His father died when he was just 14, so he had to take a man's role in the family. Still, he devised a program of self-education and went on to receive a degree from the Iowa State Normal School, now University of Northern Iowa.

He spent four years as Head of the Mathematics Department at a Normal college located in the county seat of Chickasaw County. Victor's health failed, however, and his doctor recommended he move to a better climate. Thus, in 1904 he relocated to Idaho's southern Camas Prairie. There, he found a teaching job at one of the little schools scattered around the Prairie.

A few years later, when he recovered his health, Victor partnered with one Albert B. Brinegar to form the Brinegar & LaValle Cattle Company. During this period, the Oregon Short Line Railroad ran a spur line west across the Prairie, terminating fourteen miles west of Fairfield at Hill City. The Cattle Company was very successful. In 1917, they purchased a two thousand acre ranch located seven miles from Fairfield. As shippers and jobbers, they handled significant consignments from Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and even Texas.

Seeing the future in improved stock, they actively engaged in raising and expanding their herd of purebred Hereford cattle. However, having built their holding to a peak, they sold the ranch in 1920. According to Hawley, the sale "constituted the largest real estate deal in Camas county up to that date."

Hereford bulls, ca 1910. Denver Public Library Collection.

About that time, Victor took an interest in Idaho politics, being elected to the state House of Representative in 1919. LaValle sponsored a bill to re-allocate a narrow strip of land in western Blaine County over to Camas County. Residents there had complained because two high ridges blocked their access to the county seat in Hailey. Victor’s bill did not make it out of committee.

In the House, LaValle became a members of the Education and Private Corporations committees, and chaired the Committee on Forests and Forestry.

LaValle also served on the Livestock Committee. He sponsored an Act “relating to the driving of live stock from their usual range.” That presumably referred to the rustlers’ trick of hazing a band into a seldom-frequented spot on a rancher’s range. If the animals are discovered: Well, they haven’t really been rustled, have they? If not, the crooks pick an opportune time to drive the cattle out of the area.

Victor sponsored another bill that dealt with the tracking of stray animals. He also conferred with legislators in the Senate on a revision of the State Brand Book. LaValle would himself serve a term in the Senate after 1925.

Along with his political activities, Victor had banking and other business interests in Camas County. Periodically, he traveled back to Iowa, where he still owned the family homestead (his mother died in 1910). He also had bank holdings there and in Nebraska.

LaValle moved to Hagerman, Idaho, before 1942 and was reportedly still living there in 1955.

References: [Hawley]
“Idaho Purebreed Livestock Directory: Hereford Cattle,” Extension Bulletin No. 38, University of Idaho Extension Division, Boise (February 1920).
“The Name Pocatello,” Reference Series No. 37, Idaho State Historical Society (May 1966).
“John L. Robinson Came to Camas Prairie in 1905,” Camas County Courier, Fairfield, Idaho (September 1955).
Ben Ysursa, Idaho Blue Book, 2003-2004, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

SOURCE: South Fork Companion, Idaho History - History, and Other Musings and Rants

South Fork Companion

Chickasaw Biographies maintained by Bruce Kuennen.
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