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Rupert O. Leonard Falconberry


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Rupert O. Leonard Falconberry 1

  • Born: 22 Nov 1867, Indiana 1
  • Died: 16 Oct 1939, Challis, Custer County, Idaho at age 71 2 3


Rupert was born in Indiana and moved with his family to Ellis, Kansas around 1878. However, he lived most of his life in Idaho. The following book excerpt explains how he made his way to Custer County, Idaho:

  With mining and military activity, Loon Creek became the major canyon trail used by the communities of Custer, Bonanza, Oro Grande, and later, Challis and Stanley. (Renewed mining interest in Loon Creek accompanied the Thunder Mountain boom in 1902, which was located thirty miles northwest.)
  In 1902 Jack Ferguson settled on Loon Creek, ten miles up-creek from the mouth, and in 1908 filed for seventy-three acres, most of it on the west side of the creek. He sold his squatter's rights, along with the sizeable log cabin that he built in 1904 - complete with porch and stone chimney - to Lynn Falconbery who visited in 1907.
  Rupert Lynn "Beargrease" Falconbery was born in 1867 in Indiana. In the summer, 1889, while working as a cowman in Nebraska, he stopped at an ice cream parlor and became entranced by an Oregon Short Line railroad map that boasted the Middle Fork Country.
  Falconbery traveled by horseback to Blackfoot, Idaho, then across the desert to Mackay, then to Challis, doubled back to Clayton, Custer, Yankee Fork, Mayfield and finally Loon Creek - all with pack stock. Before he acquired Ferguson's spot, he worked as a trapper in the area for several years, establishing a line with a dozen cabins, and taking bear, fox, lynx, bobcats, marten, and coyotes. Billy Wilson recalled that Falconbery averaged about twenty cougars a season, collecting a $50 bounty on each.
  He made a homestead entry on the site in 1911, but left temporarily the next summer to work for the Forest Reserve. By 1930 he had thirty acres under cultivation, half of it in hay. He added a root cellar, bunkhouse, storeroom, blacksmith shop, stable, chicken house, and corrals. Willis Jones brought him produce from Grouse Creek a half-dozen times a year.

(The Middle Fork, A Guide, by Johnny Carey and Cort Conley; Third Edition, Backeddy Books, 1992; pages 181-182.)

(Reprinted by permission of Cort Conley. Also, my deepest thanks to Irene M. Lawson for finding and contributing the information from this book)

Rupert received 81.82 acres of land from the federal government on June 19, 1917 under land grant patent number 588629. He also received an additional 78.77 acres of land on March 20, 1922 through land grant patent number 855373.
(Source: http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/Detail.asp?Accession=588629&Index=2&QryID=83865.89&DetailTab=1)

Rupert was never married and had no children and it is not likely he saw his family very often. The 1923 Plainville Times (Kansas) obituary of his brother Wilbert states that Wilbert traveled from Kansas to visit Rupert in Idaho in the fall of 1922 and adds that Wilbert had not seen Rupert for over 30 years which seems to agree with the time frame in the book excerpt above. For the most part, Rupert lived on his ranch and occasionally traveled to Challis to purchase supplies. Around 1936 or 1937, he sold his property but reserved a cabin on the ranch where he continued to live.

Denis Vine, who is a descendent of Rupert's sister, Mary Lucinda, writes that, as Mary recounted, Rupert had excellent handwriting and, although he never married, he wrote letters to a lot of girls in waiting. When Rupert died, Mary inherited some of his personal items. In particular was a very nice shirt which she eventually cut into sections for use as scarves, giving at least one of them to her son.

This newspaper article by The Challis Messenger, gives the details of Ruperts death on Monday, October 16, 1939.
(Source: The Challis Messenger, Challis, Idaho, (Wednesday, October 18, 1939), Volume 59, Page 1. Reprinted by permission by Peggy Parks of Custer Publishing, Inc.)

At some point, a 9,465 foot high mountain was named Falconberry Peak in his honor and a nearby
lake is still known as Falconberry Lake. The United States Forest Service operates a guard station near his ranch which still bears his name as Falconberry Ranch (pictures from 1955 & 1979 and 2003). On August 10, 2003, a fire broke out on or near the ranch which totally destroyed the ranch buildings and 24,500 acres of the Salmon-Challis National Forest (pictures).



1 Information provided by Denis Vine, Falconbury Family Bible, Births.

2 Ancestry.com. Idaho Death Index, 1911-45 [online database], Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 2003. Original data: Bureau of Health Policy and Vital Statistics. Idaho Death Index, 1911-45., Boise, ID: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 19--, Certificate Number 116345.

3 The Challis Messenger, Challis, Idaho (Wednesday, October 18, 1939), Volume 59, Page 1.

4 Denis Vine, E-mail received from Denis Vine, February 7, 2006.

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