That just five women were included in Idaho 100: The people Who Most Influenced the Gem State didnt go over well with some readers.
Poppycock, said writer Elaine Ambrose of the book by Randy Stapilus and Marty Peterson, which I reviewed in Tuesdays Statesman. Im surprised that Stapilus and Peterson so blatantly omitted women from their list.
Ambroses Idaho 100 nominees include Congresswoman Gracie Pfost, missionaries Eliza Spalding and Narcissa Whitman, and Marie Dorian, a Native American who led white men to Oregon six years after Sacagawea accompanied Lewis and Clark.
Seriously? asked Kitty Fleischman, publisher of Idaho Magazine, who nominated 23 women, among them: arts philanthropists Velma Morrison and Esther Simplot, aviation pioneer Gene Nora Jessen, author Grace Jordan, Kittie The Horse Queen of Idaho Wilkens, and suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway, who helped make Idaho the fourth state to grant women the right to vote in 1896.
Peterson welcomes the discussion. Its great to get people talking, he said, while acknowledging some women touted since the release of the book simply never crossed the authors minds, including Olympic medalist Picabo Street.
In their introduction, Peterson and Stapilus anticipate criticism of a 100-name list with five women and three non-whites.
For much of Idaho history, public offices were filled almost exclusively by white men, and white men ran the businesses and led the pioneer parties, they write. Until relatively recently, theyve had a near-monopoly on those kinds of jobs. Thats history.
Have women, Native Americans and other segments of society played a big role in shaping Idaho? they add. Of course they have. But relatively few have had the kind of sweeping impact that add them to the list here.
On Tuesday, I asked readers what they thought of the authors picks and who they thought had been left out. I quickly learned that Idahoans care about their history.
At the back of their book, Stapilus and Peterson list more than 50 honorable mentions, including a number of the candidates suggested by more than 30 readers who contacted me. Among those are former Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa; Philo Farnsworth, who played the leading role in inventing television; author Vardis Fisher; Boise Cascade CEO Bob Hansberger; Nez Perce Chief Joseph; falconer Morley Nelson; Micron co-founders Joe and Ward Parkinson; and celebrated political aide Louise Shadduck.
In compiling their list, the authors required lengthy residence, though they made a few exceptions. That rule knocked out Sacagawea and Chief Joseph, who only passed through Idaho.
The explanation doesnt satisfy Norm Rudolph. Chief Joseph is one of the top three Indian statesman in the United States, he said. In the perception of most people, Chief Joseph is an Idahoan.
John March agrees with Rudolph: Horsefeathers! A bunch of those pioneers were from somewhere else.
March argues that had Joseph not been barred from reuniting with the Nez Perce, he would have lived out his post-war life in Lapwai, the tribal headquarters in Idaho. Joseph, who considered Oregons Wallowa Valley home, was held in Kansas, Oklahoma and Washington state.
Two names that were included in the 100 stuck in readers craws: Neo-Nazi Richard Butler and eccentric former Democratic state Sen. Ron Twilegar.
Butler was recognized for his role in portraying Idaho as a haven for racists, but also for stimulating pushback from human rights advocates.
Twilegar broke a GOP stronghold in Ada County and was a major figure in Boises redevelopment.
Dan Hormaechea said hes appalled that Twilegar has a spot and that Cenarrusa, who spent 50 years in state office, was left out.
Some folks suggested ancestors warranted inclusion, including Theresa McLeod, who offered up great-great- grandfather James Pinney, who served 10 years as Boise mayor. Pinney came for gold in 1862, was the first territorial postmaster and built the Columbia and Pinney theaters and an Idaho City store that still stands.
Curt Hardy recommended his granddad, George Blondie McGill, a Boise rancher and bootlegger turned tavern owner belonged.
Perhaps my favorite suggestion came from Corey Heaps of Kuna, who touted his granddad, Thomas Levi Heaps Jr.
Heaps came from Utah in 1898 at age 12, helping drive 1,000 cattle into Teton Valley. He ranched in Malta; ran a cafe in Oakley; was city marshal in New Meadows; killed bears, cougars and coyotes for the government; and was a father of eight, including Coreys dad, Willard, a former Garden City police chief.
Heaps, or someone like him, would have made a nice addition as an Everyman who, like thousands of others, helped make Idaho.
He wasnt a Joe Albertson, said his grandson. Its not like he did something that nobody else did. But he was important because he was one of those nose-to-the-grindstone guys who helped develop communities and establish commerce.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics