Walling Acres Were Mecca For the Trail-Weary

Immigrant trains, after the hot, dusty trek across the desert, pitched camp there. Indians liked the spot, too, and there dried the apples the pioneers would give them.

It was the home of the late Jerome B. Walling, pioneer nurseryman, and was built in 1867 from stone cut by Robert B. Wilson, Boise’s first stone-cutter and prune drier whose old home was reviewed in The Statesman Sept. 22.

Situated about one-half mile southeast of the penitentiary, the Walling residence and property, about 80 acres, were bought by the state about 1912 and converted to use as the prison farm. The family of Paris O’Neil, deputy warden, resides there now.

The stone north-south section of the home looks much as it did 74 years ago; it consisted of a large living room, two bedrooms and the kitchen. At right angles to this part a frame addition was made, but even that some 40 years ago.

Orchards Gone

Virtually all the expansive apple and pear orchards and the big Lombardy poplars Mr. Walling grew are gone. Chief clue to pioneer vintage is the “J.B. Walling, 1867,” etched in stone above the front door.

Mr. Walling died at the family home July 29, 1897, and the funeral was held there. The Statesman eulogized:

“Mr. Walling will ever be remembered with gratefulness by the people of Boise for construction of the Walling ditch. He first took out water from the river some two miles above the present Walling place for the purpose of irrigating his own land. A company was soon formed by which the ditch was brought into town. Water for the shade trees of the city was furnished free of charge for 20 years.”

The ditch, watering considerable north side land, is now operated by the Consumers Water corporation.

75 Grandchildren

The obituary also noted that Mr. Walling was survived by eight of 16 children, “75 grandchildren and a goodly number of great grandchildren.” Several of the great grandchildren still live in Boise Valley.

“Mr. Walling was a member of the Masonic order, the only fraternal order he ever joined,” extolled The Statesman. “He was a Mason for 60 years. He showed good judgement and economy in his business transactions and always held the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens.”

The pioneer’s history was that of frontiersman. Born in New York state Aug. 24, 1809, he moved successively to Ohio, Illinois and Iowa. He was in Fulton county, Ill., when the Black Hawk war broke out and served through that.

He was married to Sarah Leaverton, an Illinois girl, in 1829. From Iowa they rolled west by covered wagon in 1848 along the Old Oregon Trail and settled in Yamhill county, Ore. Mr. Walling served in the Oregon territorial legislature in 1850 and was Yamhill county commissioner from 1851 to 1855. The Wallings moved to Boise in 1864.

None of their 16 children was born here. Mrs. Walling died April 2, 1890. The father sold the home to the youngest son, Enos, about 1892; Enos occupied it about a dozen years and sold it to the late D.H. Moseley, who, in turn, disposed of it to the state.

Settlers Welcome

The Wallings were revered pioneers.

“Settlers new to the valley were always welcome to camp at the Walling homestead,” remarked P.V. Durant, Boise, a Walling great grandson, “and the Indians liked Mr. Walling because he generously gave them fruit. ‘Captain’ Jim, the friendly Indiana, whose warnings were credited with saving the settlers from massacre, often stayed there.”

Mrs. J.E. Johnson of Boise, a great granddaughter, recalls that Mr. Walling was an early Boise justice of the peace and remembers vividly a couple who eloped—on horseback—and rode up to the Walling manor to be married.

The Wallings helped to organize the First Christian church, and he donated the lot at Fourth and Jefferson where the church formerly stood.

Source: Idaho Daily Statesman, October 20, 1941.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s