Rustic road trip
The Ilo-Vollmer Historical Society in Craigmont recently went on a tour of the old town site of Rustic, located between Westlake and Cottonwood. As is the case with many of these old places, there isn’t much left to see, but owner Mark Nuttman treated the group to a guided tour, pointing out the places that he recalled being pointed out to him by his father and grandfather.
The following except is from Pioneer Days in Idaho County by Sister Alfreda: “Frank McGrane, Sr., has this to say of the sawmill established in 1873, three and one-half miles southeast of Grangeville, by Shissler and Bloomer. When Bloomer sold his interest, the mill operated under the firm name of Shissler and Mathison until 1881. In 1881 they moved their steam sawmill to Craig mountain southeast of the old Lawyer’s Canyon stage road crossing. They reconstructed their mill and increased the capacity to 18,000 feet per day. Later on, they added a planning mill and a shingle mill to their holdings, and built a good residence in which the Shissler family lived for many years. There was also a post office established there under the name of Rustic. A.N. Ingram then bought an interest in the mill, and the business was conducted under the firm name of “The Camas Prairie Saw, Planing, and Shingle Mill, Shissler, Ingram & Company, Proprietors.” The firm employed 18 men, and oxen were used for logging. On October 6, 1896, their entire holdings, including a large stock of lumber and shingles, were destroyed by fire. It was a severe loss to the owners and they did not rebuild.”
Another story in the same book says: “August Kopczynski, who came to this country in 1887 as a boy of thirteen, recalled an interesting exploratory tour he made once near the old mill site. There he found a single grave enclosed by a fence. Pioneers said that this was the grave of a girl, thirteen years of age, whose parents had been among the travelers bound for Florence during the days of the gold rush.”
Margaret Nell Longeteig, senior historian on the road trip, recalled an article she read that stated the young girl died, and the parents, not wanting to bury her in an isolated spot in the timber, carried her body with them for two days until they came to a place where there were people. This is how she came to be buried at Rustic.
Mark pointed out the spot he thought was the burial place of the young girl, stating that he could remember seeing a wooden fence there when he was a boy. He said that when his family would come to the Rustic place in June to start their summer work, there would be flowers on the grave, indicating that someone remembered the girl at Memorial Day. Nobody present knew the name of the girl, or of the other people rumored to be buried there too.
Before the historians left, they visited the gravesite, the location of the old sawmill, and the place where the stage stop and post office had been. It was an interesting day, and the group was pleased to finally know exactly where Rustic was. Those who enjoyed the outing were Margaret Nell Longeteig, Sherry Trail, Byron Bovey, Jerry and Martha Branson, Don Travis, Janene Alley, Shelley Kuther, Bob Tatko, Mark Nuttman and Fred Wirrer.
If anyone knows the identity of the girl buried at Rustic, please contact the Ilo-Vollmer Historical Society at Box 61, Craigmont, Idaho 83523, or call 924-5474 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.