This week in eastern Idaho history

100 years ago

More trouble at the G Street railroad crossing this week in 1917. Behind the wheel of a Buick Six, Model 17, Bert Sedall ran into the boxcar of a train backing up, badly damaging the automobile and injuring his passenger, Miss Itha Newman. “Dr. Cline was called and sewed up a bad cut in the young woman’s head,” the Idaho Register reported. Sedall was taking Miss Newman home around 2 the morning of April 15 after an evening with friends at the Sedall home, at H Street and Lake Avenue. He was crossing the tracks when he noticed a train backing up south on the tracks, then turned the car sharply, running into the boxcar. It was snowing at the time, and the watchman was on the east side of the tracks, the story in the Register said.

75 years ago

Questionnaires to determine the availability of doctors for army service were being sent to medical men in Bonneville County this week in 1942, just as they were being sent to doctors across the nation. The plan, as outlined by the American Medical Association, was to leave one doctor for every 1,000 to 1,500 people in rural areas and one for every 1,500 to 2,000 in cities, the remainder going into the Army Medical Corps. Dr. H.E. Guyett, who held a commission in the Army Reserve, was the only Idaho Falls doctor called so far, the secretary of the Idaho Falls Medical Association said. The questionnaires asked the doctors whether they would be willing to go into the Army. Those who declined would remain until their draft number was called by the local board, at which time, regardless of dependents, they would be drafted and receive commissions in the Medical Corps.

50 years ago

John Birch Society founder and president Robert Welch of Belmont, Mass., spoke to about 700 people at the Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium this week in 1967, his talk entitled “More Truth About Vietnam.” Welch’s general argument, outlined in 25 points, was that while the United States was ostensibly fighting Communism in Vietnam, the real war was with world Communism. “(For) all practical purposes, we are at war in Southeast Asia with Soviet Russia and its satellites all over the world,” he said. “The administration has no slightest intention or desire to win this war, but only to make it larger and longer, and a more overwhelming obsession in the minds of the American people.” The Post-Register reported that Welch was delighted with the warm welcome he received in eastern Idaho. “There is little question the Civic Auditorium would have been filled, just as such other meetings have attracted capacity audiences, except for the ticket charge of $2 per person,” the newspaper said.

25 years ago

Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 25-year-old Jeffrey Smith in connection with the slayings of Leo and Mary Downard in their Ammon home. Prosecutor Kimball Mason would not comment on why Smith was a suspect, but said Smith was doing yard work for the couple the last day they were seen alive, and that he was also being charged with robbery. Mary Y. Downard, 71, and Leo W. Downard, 69, were found shot to death in their home on March 25, 1992, around 8 p.m. after neighbors on Sabin Drive noticed newspapers had been piling up in front of the house.


Paul Menser is the author of “Legendary Locals of Idaho Falls.”