George Laird Shoup Papers, 1861-1958

Overview of the Collection

Shoup, George Laird, 1836-1904
George Laird Shoup Papers
1861-1958 (inclusive)
2.5 cubic feet
Collection Number
MG008 (collection)
Correspondence and business records of the Shoup Store in Salmon, Id.; also photographs of early Salmon. Included is an army permit of May 30, 1878 authorizing Chief Tendoy to purchase ammunition.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
Telephone: 2088850845
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Born June 15, 1836, in Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and educated in the public schools of Freeport and Slate Lick, George Laird Shoup moved to Galesburg, Illinois with his father in 1852. In 1859 he joined the gold rush to Pike's Peak, Colorado, becoming a prospector, miner, and merchant.

When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in an independent company of scouts and was engaged in scouting and detached service against Indians in Colorado, Indian Territory and New Mexico. In December of 1861 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Colorado Cavalry and was promoted to first lieutenant in February of 1862. In the spring of that year he was in command of artillery at Fort Union, New Mexico and was involved in numerous skirmishes with Indians. In September of 1864 he was commissioned a Colonel in the Third Colorado Cavalry and commanded the regiment at the battle of Sand Creek, Colorado. He was honorably discharged from the military in December of 1864.

Shoup took a short leave of absence from the military in the spring of 1863 when he was elected as a delegate to the Colorado constitutional convention. Colorado was not admitted to the union at that time and the work of the convention was abandoned.

In 1866 he moved to Virginia City, Montana, where he started a store, but then gold was discovered in Leesburg, Idaho, and he moved across the Continental Divide, opening another store in the city of Salmon, where, in addition to merchandising, he also engaged in cattle raising. Soon he became one of the most successful businessmen in the Intermountain West.

On June 15, 1868 he married Lena Darnuster of Iowa. They were the parents of three sons and three daughters.

Continuing his political career, he served as one of the original Lemhi County Commissioners in 1869, and was chosen county superintendent of schools in 1872. He was elected to the lower house of the territorial legislature in 1874 and in 1878 he was elected to the upper house. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention in 1880, and served on the Republican National Committee from 1880 to 1884, and again in 1888.

In 1884 Shoup was appointed commissioner to the World's Cotton Centennial at New Orleans. He contributed $35,000 out of his own pocket to make possible the first display of Idaho Territory's products in the East.

President Benjamin Harrison, because of his previous service on the Senate Committee on Territories, was aware of the defects in territorial administration. For this reason he decided not to appoint outsiders as territorial officials, instead, choices were recommended by party leaders of the territories concerned. As a result of this policy, George L. Shoup was appointed governor of Idaho in 1889. As governor he arranged to have a constitutional convention assembled so that the territory would be ready for admission as a state the following year. After signing the new constitution on August 6, 1889, he went to Washington, D.C. where he took a prominent part in getting the Idaho admissions bill through Congress.

After Idaho became a state on July 1, 1890, Shoup agreed to run for governor, although it was understood that his real interest was to represent the new state in the U.S. Senate. He was elected governor in 1890 and remained in that position until the legislature elected him Senator in December of that year. He remained in the Senate until March of 1901, when he was succeeded by Democrat Fred Dubois. After leaving the Senate he retired from public life.

Pioneer settler, soldier, miner, businessman, and public servant, George Laird Shoup died in Boise, Idaho, December 21, 1904. When the time came to nominate someone to represent Idaho in statuary hall in Congress, Shoup was chosen. His statue was installed in 1910. Senator William Borah's tribute to Shoup sums up his character and explains the respect the people of Idaho had for him: "He stood forth a leader. He had only such education as he could secure in a few months in the common schools, but united with rare judgment, a perception almost intuitive, a keen, quick, unerring knowledge of men, a practical wisdom gathered during his long, active career in the school of life, he was a safe, trusted and able counselor in all matters of private and public concern."

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The papers of George Laird Shoup span the years 1861 to 1958, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1866 to 1904.

The majority of the material is concerned with Shoup's merchandising business. Included are business records and correspondence, financial records, printed material such as newspaper clippings, speeches and reports, and photocopies of journals and a letter, and early photographs of Salmon, Challis, and the Shoup family and friends.

Although there is little in the way of political correspondence in this collection, a number of letters from Senator Shoup to Judge Weldon B. Heyburn on the subject of Idaho politics can be found in the Heyburn papers (MG 6) in the University of Idaho Library, Special Collections Department.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Upon receipt in 1958, the business records and correspondence were put in chronological order and placed in folders by a library staff member. Since all trace of the original order was lost, a series order was imposed during processing. During the reprocessing in 1994 the series remained the same, but the physical order was changed slightly, with financial records becoming the second series rather than the last.

Series one consists of chronologically arranged business records and correspondence. Most items concern the George L. Shoup and Co. store in Salmon, Idaho. The items include invoices from wholesale firms where Shoup purchased his merchandise and orders from ranchers and miners in the Salmon area, orders which were often written on small scraps of paper. Accounts from the Challis and Bonanza branches of Shoup & Co. are also included.

An interesting feature of the early merchandising was the payment of accounts in gold dust. Shoup would send a bag of gold dust via Wells Fargo to the wholesaler in the East who would have it assayed and minted into gold coin; he would then write to Shoup, sending him the assayer's report. Any amount realized over the amount of the invoice would be credited to Shoup's account, or forwarded to another merchant with whom Shoup had an account.

In addition to the business records, the folders also contain some correspondence. In 1896 there are several letters from the East mentioning Indian problems, but a majority of the "Indian letters" were written in 1877 and 1878. The three most interesting items in this group were donated to the library by Salmon Lawyer Charles Herndon; they deal with the movements of Chief Joseph, the murder of three white men by Indians near Birch Creek, and, perhaps the most interesting item in this series, a permit signed by Capt. Ed. Ball of the 2nd Cavalry allowing Chief Tendoy of the Lemhi Bannock Indians to purchase powder and lead--a permit dated May 30, 1878, the day the Bannock war began.

Also included are legal documents, letters concerning the World's Industrial Fair in New Orleans in 1885 at which Shoup was commissioner for Idaho, and letters concerning the American Exhibition in London to be held in 1886. Other letters concern Shoup's possible congressional nomination (1886), and letters congratulating him on his appointment as governor of the Territory of Idaho (1899). There are also copies of two letters from W.J. McConnell to Congressman Fred Dubois and Senator J.H. Mitchell dealing with the upcoming statehood for Idaho. In 1892 there is an interesting letter from W.C. Shoup (son of G.L) describing Yale's football games.

Another folder contains undated invoices, receipts and orders, undated letters, some with missing pages, newspaper clippings, advertisements, a biography of William Henry Shoup, and Shoup family genealogy material. The final folder contains material by or about other Shoup family members. Included is an article by George E. Shoup on a Nez Perce Indian pictograph found near Salmon.

The second series, Financial Records, contains day books, ledgers and journals for George L. Shoup and Co. The first three day books (nos.1-3) are inscribed "Virginia City, M.T." The remaining books and journals concern the store in Salmon City.

Included with the Printed Material in the third series are newspaper clippings, most concerning the death of Shoup, speeches and reports of Shoup, and photocopies of typescripts of two journals kept by George L. Shoup dated 1862-1863, and 1866, and a photocopy of a typescript of a 1939 letter from Laura Shoup of Boise to her brother Walter Shoup in Washington, D.C., telling of her trip to Colorado to trace their father's Civil War movements there.

The final series consists of photographs which include studio portraits of Shoup family and friends, pictures of local Indians, and early pictures of Salmon, Challis, and Leesburg, Idaho. Copy negatives are available for most of the photographs.

Acquisition Information

The majority of the George Laird Shoup papers were donated to the University of Idaho Library by his grandson George Elmo Shoup in 1958. Several letters dated 1877 and 1878 were donated by Salmon lawyer Charles Herndon in 1956.

Processing Note

These papers were originally processed by Judith Nielsen in April 1979. In April 1983 photocopies of typescripts of a diary, journal, and letter were added to the collection. In August 1994 the papers were reprocessed by Ms. Nielsen.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Descriptive Inventory of the papers of George Laird Shoup , 1979Return to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 1/1

1 item

Series I. Business Records and Correspondence , 1861-1858Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1277 items
Miscellaneous items
93 items
Miscellaneous correspondence
12 items

Series II. Financial Record Books , 1866-1892Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Day book 1-3
3 items
September 15, 1866-January 21, 1967
Day book and journal
1 item
March 15-May 18, 1867
Day book B-L
7 items
August 20, 1867-July 30, 1873
Journal A-B
2 items
September 16-December 12, 1866
Adventure A
1 item
Salmon ledger A
1 item
Inventory and bill book
1 item
April 14, 1867-June 20, 1869
1 item
1 item
May 21-July 9, 1887
1 item
April 14-July 4, 1892

Series III. Printed Material , 1862-1955Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Newspaper clippings
40 items
Speeches and other printed documents
5 items
Photocopied journals and letter
3 items

Series IV. Photographs , 1866-1911Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
21 items
Boise, Governor Shoup's home on 25th street
1 item
Challis, Idaho. George Shoup's store
2 items
Leesburg, Idaho
2 items
Salmon, Idaho
13 items
Mining near Salmon, Idaho
4 items
People: Groups of men
2 items
ca. 1880
People: Shoup family and friends
7 items
People: Indians
4 items

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Personal Names

  • Shoup, George L. (George Laird), 1836-1904--Archives
  • Tendoy, ca. 1834-1907

Corporate Names

  • Idaho. Governor (1889-1890 : Shoup)
  • George L. Shoup & Co.

Geographical Names

  • Salmon (Idaho)--Commerce


  • Governor of Idaho Territory, 1889-1890; Governor of Idaho, 1890; U.S. Senator, 1890-1901