New book Wicked Boise explores injustice in Idaho history

Wicked Boise by local author Janelle Scheffelmaier details what she says is the most part

Wicked Boise by local author Janelle Scheffelmaier details what she says are the most “evil” parts of Boise’s history.

arcadia publishing

In tales of murders, vigilantes, oppressive laws, and moral questions, the forthcoming book “Wicked Boise” reveals many of the city’s darkest moments.

The book, which was written by local writer Janelle M. Scheffelmayer and called a “true historical crime”, is part of his “Wicked” series. arcadia publishing. The series includes more than 110 single books that illustrate the dark pasts of cities across the United States.

“Most of us don’t take much time to think about what our city was like 100, 150 years ago,” Scheffelmayer told the Idaho Statesman in an interview. “The stories were heartbreaking at times, what happened to people.”

The latest addition to the series, “Wicked Boise” looks at Idaho’s history from the early 19th century to the 2000s, and reveals that Boise includes “a few skeletons in her wardrobe.”

By highlighting said skeletons, Scheffelmayr finds that the same question often appears at the front of every conflict.

“What someone thinks is absolutely the right thing to do, there are people who don’t 100% agree with that,” Scheffelmayer said. The big question is how do we decide what is right and what is wrong? But more importantly, how do we strike an agreement in the middle? “

The book contains 14 stories divided into four themes: vigils in southern Idaho, prostitution in early Boise, and prohibition and morality laws, all set to monitor what lawmakers deemed unethical behavior.

“This is one of those areas where right and wrong are very gray,” Schefflemeyer said. “These laws were passed, you know, to help make sure the right thing happened, people do the right thing, but in some cases, that wasn’t what happened in the end. At all.”

Historic “Boise’s Real Crime”

Although the title suggests that the results of these historical tales are less than exhilarating, the period before the end proves that the lines between the unfortunate and the malicious are often blurred.

Scheffelmayer ends the book with the story of a widow “with a heart of stone” believed to have shot her husband, whose portrayal as a disoriented young woman during a trial for her husband’s murder succeeds in persuading the jury to sympathize with her and give her a light sentence despite all the conflicting evidence. As soon as the woman learned that her lover, whom she blamed for the murder, had been hanged, she showed no emotion and was simply grateful that she would “remain young” once she was released.

From being accused as a potential murder suspect to being seen as a victim herself, the question of whether widow Jenny Daly was innocent or chose to deceptively use the sympathy of the court to her advantage remains unanswered.

“I thought that was probably the most truly sinister thing I wrote about in that book,” Scheffelmayer said.

Other stories in the book go back to before Boise was named as the state capital. The book’s first story, given in the preface, “The Stolen Capital,” shows that the city’s path to becoming the most powerful city in Idaho was not without deception.

Lewiston, the state’s most populous settlement amid the gold rush, was confident in its future status as the state capital. When the acting governor of Lewiston entered with military escort and took the provincial seal, in violation of court orders proposed by the northern attorneys, rivalry was born between northern and southern Idaho. Boise was ruled as the capital of Idaho a year later.

“It’s runner-up that this author—a native of northern Idaho who lives and works in southern Idaho—can attest that it still exists to this day,” Scheffelmayer wrote in the book.

The word “history” is not limited to events outside of our lives. The book refers to a 1994 case in which a gay man from Idaho was Convicted of sexual offenses Based on the state law “crime against nature”, although the same “crime” is legal for the upright man.

“These points are still very relevant,” Schefflemeyer said. “I think we can look at a lot of things that have been going on in the news lately about someone wanting to pass a law, or doing it because they follow their moral beliefs but not everyone’s beliefs.”

The history of Idaho will not be found in the history books

In doing research for the book, Scheffelmayr spent most of her time in the state archives at the old Idaho prison, as well as researching the Archives of old newspapers At the Boise Public Library or at her home.

One of the archive sources cited frequently throughout the book is the Idaho Statesman, which Scheffelmayer said has helped her find documented accounts of people and events in Boise over the years.

“A lot of those aren’t really in the history book, anywhere,” Scheffelmayer said. “This is where I spent a lot of time, I was looking through old newspapers.”

Another important source was a 1991 master’s thesis written on early prostitution in Boise by a Boise State student, Jo Ann Russell.

“This was an invaluable resource, and I would buy her a drink or Something for all the work she’s done and been able to benefit from.”

The conclusion of the book returns again to the question of what is justice and equity. With the passage of time and the growth of the city and the introduction of new problems and ideas, what can history teach us?

“Is it best for everyone? That question never goes away,” Scheffelmayer said. “I think these questions will come to the fore more and more as more people live here and more diversity and we connect with more people who think differently than we do.”

Two books focusing on Idaho cities, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston, is already in the “Wicked” series. Boise will be the third.

This will be Scheffelmayr’s second book, which Arcadia requested to author after they searched for a local author to take on the project.

“Wicked Boys” is scheduled to It will be released on Monday, June 13, on Arcadia Publishing and in bookstores. Scheffelmayer will speak and sign books at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 9, at the Old Idaho Jail.