by Loeda Meyer Reil and Sharon Harris
Juliaetta-Kendrick Historical Foundation
455 pages, $33
In 400-plus pages, “Leland: A Pioneer History of a Town in Rural Idaho,” follows the characters, families, decisions and events that established a once-bustling community and left it nearly a ghost town.
Leland is six miles above Kendrick, atop Potlatch Ridge. Today, it is six homes, one church and one business.
Homestead records indicate 1879 conditions drew people to put down roots in the rich, fertile area. A post office opened in 1888 and the town, named for Alonzo Leland, was born. Saloons, barbershops, doctors, schools and dances followed, along with Nez Perce County’s first homicide.
During its heyday from 1890-1930, the town contributed a significant population base to the county. The post office closed in 1942 and the school followed in 1952. The sole business left today survives by providing chemicals to the surrounding farmers whose numbers have dwindled as farms have grown larger.
The book was written by Loeda Meyer Reil of Leland and Sharon Harris, president of the Juliaetta-Kendrick Historical Foundation, which published the book.
Reil collected oral histories and other information for the book for more than 30 years.
“Many of the old people gave me their stories and their genealogies and said, ‘Put it in a book, Loeda,’ ” says Reil, 70. Families also donated numerous photos, which expanded the book’s size, she adds.
Reil was born on the family farm in Leland and has lived in the area her whole life. Her father, Herman Meyer, has a road named for him there.
While writing the book has answered many questions, Reil says there are still things she wonders about. However, now that the old-timers are gone, there is no one left to answer them, she says.
“If you want to keep history, it takes a lot of doing,” Reil says.
Proceeds from the book will benefit Juliaetta-Kendrick Historical Foundation projects. These include putting up signs in Kendrick and Juliaetta, a walking tour of Kendrick and photo preservation. The group would also like to eventually establish a history museum in Kendrick, Reil says.
The book is $33 ($36 with shipping and handling) and can be ordered by mailing JKHF, P.O. Box 37, Kendrick, ID 83537. It is also available at Kendrick Hardware and Red Cross Pharmacy in Kendrick.