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James Henry Hawley papers (1887-1945)

Identifier: MS 0048
Correspondence relating to Hawley's law practice, including letters pertaining to the conspiracy trials of officers of the Western Federation of Miners for crimes associated with the dynamiting of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan concentrator at Wardner, Idaho, in 1899 and for the assassination of Frank Steunenberg in 1905; correspondence and reports relating to mining operations in which the Hawley family held an interest.


  • 1887 - 1945



55.5 Cubic Feet (73 document boxes, 4 small document boxes, 12 record boxes, 6 oversize.)

Biographical Note

James Henry Hawley was born in Dubuque, Iowa on January 17, 1847, to Thomas and Ann Carr Hawley. His mother died a few years later. Grief stricken, his father left James with his maternal uncle, James Carr, and migrated to California. He eventually reached Texas, where he resided until his death.

In 1860, James Henry Hawley went West and joined his uncle in San Francisco. In 1862, the two took part in the rush to the Idaho gold fields. They first mined in Florence, later joining the gold rush to the Boise Basin. Hawley sold his claims, earned a college degree in San Francisco, and returned to settle in Idaho in 1868.

For nearly 50 years, this energetic pioneer contributed to the public and political development of Idaho. Hawley was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1871, also serving in the Senate from 1874-1875. Hawley became a prominent attorney, and in 1886 was appointed United States district attorney for Idaho by President Cleveland. He served as mayor of Boise for two years and in 1910, Hawley was elected Governor of Idaho.

James Henry Hawley enjoyed a long, successful legal career. Two of his more famous cases were the defense of Diamondfield Jack Davis, accused of killing two Cassia County sheepherders in 1896, which ended with Davis' pardon in 1902, and his role as chief prosecutor in the Boise murder trials of miners' union leaders Big Bill Haywood and George Pettibone, which he lost in 1907.

On July 4, 1875, James Henry Hawley married Mary Elizabeth Bullock. The Hawleys raised six children: Edgar, Jess, James, Elizabeth, Emma, and Harry. Mary Hawley died in 1915 at age 60. On August 3, 1929, James Hawley died at 82.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository

2205 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise ID 83712
(208) 334-2620