Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Early Tannahills & Jones in Idaho - Sam Tannahill

Brothers - John Lyons Tannahill sitting and
Samuel Oliver Tannahill standing behind.
Taken about 1930
I have always been interested in local history.  I knew that my mother's family came to the Lewiston, ID area in the 1920's and my Dad's family was in the Princeton, ID area in 1935.  However, if I look a little deeper, I find that I actually have family on my mother's family that was here much earlier.  If you work on the premise that one of the reasons an individual or family moves to an area because they relatives already there, I suspect that it is a significant connection.

My grandfather, Oliver Richard Tannahill moved to Idaho with his father in the mid 1920's.  I suspect it was around 1926 or so.  Why did John Lyons Tannahill (my great grandfather) decide on Idaho instead of another location.  It turns out that he had two full brothers and two half brothers who lived in the area, one of those is Samuel Oliver Tannahill.  

Almira Jones m. John Tannahill & Sam Pennell
Sam's mother

Samuel Oliver Tannahill was the second child of Almira Jones and John Tannahill. His older brother died at birth, so in essence he was the oldest.  Sam was born 10 Aug 1868 in Elden Wapello Co., IA.  He had two younger brothers, George William Tannahill (1871-1917) and John Lyons Tannahill (1873-1945).  Sam's father died in 1873 just before John Lyons Tannahill was born. Almira remarried a few years later on 8 Jun 1875 in Montgomery, KS to Samuel Wesley Pennell.  By all accounts, Sam Pennell treated his step sons well, but they all left home fairly early to make their own way in the world. Almira and Sam Pennell also had four more sons (Robert, Charles, Grover "Pat", Thomas Franklin) and three daughters (Maude, Mollie & Celia).   

The first record that I find on Samuel Oliver Tannahill in the general was in 1889 in Garfield Co., WA (likely close to present day, Pomeroy, WA).  Sam married his first wife, Alice R Cox on 6 Oct 1897 in Nez Perce Co., ID.  According to his obituary he was "a leading citizen of Lewiston and prominent as an attorney in central Idaho since 1905, practicing most of the time since in Lewiston, democratic national committeeman from Idaho and well known all over the northwest." (Obit published Lewiston Morning Tribune 31 Dec 1935)  All I really knew about Sam Tannahill was that he had been an attorney and had been fairly prominent in the Democratic party in Idaho until his death.  His obituary explains that he was elected as assessor in Nez Perce Co., ID in 1894 as well as serving on the city council.  He also worked in a store in Ilo (present day Craigmont, ID) and also worked as an abstractor.  He saved enough money to go to Valparaiso, IN for Law School.  This is yet another example of going somewhere where family is or was located.  I know from my own research that Sam Tannahill likely had Harrington relatives who lived near Valparaiso.  His grandmother's family (Hulda Harrington) grandparents had died in Valparaiso, IN.  It may be an interesting coincidence, but then it may not be either.  Both Sam and his brother, George William Tannahill went to Valparaiso and returned to Idaho to practice law.  Sam ended up being the prosecuting attorney for Lewis Co., ID (Nezperce) for several terms.  He actually had been in partnership with his brother in Lewiston, ID as well.  After George died in a car accident in 1915, Sam returned to Lewiston permanently.  

Sam was involved in virtually every capacity within the Democratic party in early Idaho including be a representative to the national committee.  While I think Sam Tannahill's business life was very good and impressive...I am not sure the same can be said of his private life.  Sam was first married to Alice R Cox on 6 Oct 1897 in Nez Perce Co., ID.  He was still married to her in the 1910 census, but they must have divorced between 1910 and 1917, because Sam marries again on 11 Sept 1917 to Ella Patterson in Spokane, WA.  Alice has not died and in fact remarries to Harry Lydon, the county treasurer sometime before the 1920 census when they are recorded together.

Ella died on 15 Oct 1923.  According to her death record, Ella died at age 46 of an embolism.  Sam marries again on 6 May 1925 to Josephine Krier.  Sam died himself of a cerebral hemorrhage on 30 Dec 1935 in Lewiston, ID.

I don't know as much about Sam from family stories other than a few tidbits I picked up from my mother.  I think that my great grandfather (John Lyons Tannahill) brought his two youngest children when he moved to Idaho, probably sometime around 1926-1928. (Oliver Richard Tannahill & Olive Rachel Tannahill) I can only guess that the reason John Lyons Tannahill came to Idaho was because his only surviving full brother lived in Idaho.  My grandfather, O. Richard Tannahill finished high school in Lewiston, ID.  I have often wondered if Sam had some influence on my grandfather finishing high school and spending a short time in college.  In 1930, life had to be pretty difficult because of the depression.  For Grandpa Richard to have completed his education makes me believe that Sam possibly helped his brother's family financially.  I also know from what my mother said that Grandpa Richard was very fond of Sam and that both my grandparents were quite upset when he passed away.  

Most of my information about Samuel Oliver Tannahill comes from an obituary and a write-up on early Idaho history.  He was a significant enough figure, that there was quite a bit written in an early Idaho history that was published.  I know that he was an important attorney in the area having been the first prosecuting attorney for Lewis Co., ID and was appointed by the governor of Idaho at the time.   In addition, Sam was quite active in the Idaho politics until his death in 1935.  Beyond his personal acclaim as a lawyer and local citizen, I suspect that he must have had an important personal connection with my grandfather and perhaps gave him the type of guidance and support needed to become a good businessman.

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