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70 YEARS AGO • JULY 21, 1948

LOCAL PIONEER PASSES

Seymour Asa Hurlburt was born at Lafayette, Oregon August 1868. Mr. Hurlburt’s parents were married in 1866. When Seymour was a young child, his father was killed by Indians at White Bird Canyon, Idaho, during the Nez Perce Indian War. His mother lived to be 94 years old.

Seymour had to leave school at an early age to go to work to help support his younger half brothers and sisters. He worked at Boise, Dillon and Butte before going to Plains, Montana in 1881. For many years he worked in and around Plains at “cow-punching,” ranching and carpentry. Around 1885 he ran a pack train into Libby from Plains and other towns. He had many exciting experiences with wild animals, desperadoes, and American Indians. In later life he told stories of these adventures as interesting as any Wild West thrillers. The American Indians, mostly friendly, called him “White Man Seymour.” How unfortunate that no one documented his stories.

At one time he worked at Weeksville which was a large town at the time the Northern Pacific R.R. was being built. Years later he recalled many exciting incidents in connection with the Vigilantes who went into action there when the “Bad Men” became too bold in murdering and robbing men of their pay which was always in gold.

In 1892 Seymour was married to Johanna Nelson who had come from Sweden to Plains several years before. Later they left Plains to go to the Copper King Mine, about nine miles east of Thompson Falls. After working there for five years, Seymour moved his family to Thompson Falls.

In 1913 he went to work for the Montana Power Company as foreman on the temporary dam across Prospect Creek and on the wood-stave penstock and temporary powerhouse at the mouth of Prospect Creek. A penstock is a sluice or floodgate for regulating the flow of water, a channel for conveying water to a waterwheel or turbine. Later he was carpenter foreman in charge of all the carpenter work on the dams, powerhouse, and buildings. After construction was completed, he was outside foreman in charge of the river work and line maintenance. In 1937 ill health forced him to retire after 60 years of labor, and he was given a pension by the Montana Power Company. He spent the next seven years living leisurely, still able to do a little hunting and fishing until he suffered a stroke in 1944. He was an invalid thereafter until his death on July 15, 1948.

Mr. Hurlburt took great interest in political, social and economic problems and read widely. He was mayor of Thompson Falls at one time for about six years and was a member of the city council and a school board member for a number of years. He belonged to the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Masons Lodge of Thompson Falls. Mr. Hurlburt had some inventive ability, too, and the Power Company now uses some of the devices he worked out to simplify some operations such as pole-setting.

Of the eight children born to him and his first wife, four are living. They are as follows: Blanche Hurlburt who taught in the local schools for many years and took care of her father during his invalidism; Harvey Seymour Hurlburt, a construction engineer recently returned from Brazil; Charles M. Hurlburt, a government civil engineer at Omaha, Nebraska and Mrs. Frances Kilgas of Portland, Oregon.

Blanche Hurlburt taught for 26 years in the Thompson Falls School system. During which time she was high school principal and teacher of mathematics and sociology. As a tribute to her endeavors, The Blanche Hurlburt Scholarship Fund was founded for the purpose of aiding worthy students in the local school. Because of her dedication to the education of teenagers, at her death her relatives set aside any money contributed to her, and from her friends who held a card marathon put on by the Thompson Falls Woman’s Club, so that any high school senior or former Thompson Falls graduate now in advanced training, could apply for this $100 grant. The Thompson Falls Woman’s Club still administers this scholarship, but it is no longer called the Blanche Hurlburt Scholarship. The club still holds a card marathon during the winter to raise funds for this scholarship.

 

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