By JENNIFER K. BAUER
The vignettes in “Lost Lewiston,” “resurrect the lives and contributions of these people that have completely faded far beyond the historical horizon,” Branting says. “Nobody alive remembers these people.”
Among the many places and people Branting investigates in his book are:
— John and Anna McConkey. John McConkey served as Lewiston’s first Episcopalian minister and first managing superintendent of schools. The couple are buried in unmarked graves in Lewiston’s Normal Hill Cemetery, a fact Branting finds strange. He was able to tell their story, however, after receiving a metal box of family memorabilia found in Vancouver, Wash. It included a piece of Anna’s wedding dress and letters written on tiny stationary from John to his daughter.
–While millions of bricks were laid under his supervision, no photos are known to exist of Harry Thurston Madgwick. A prominent contractor, Madgwick oversaw the construction of major Lewiston landmark buildings and Normal Hill homes, including the Raymond House, the Dent and Butler Building, the Thiessen Building, the Masonic temple and theater, the Wildenthaler building and many others. “His legacy is so profound in Lewiston but nobody knows who he was,” Branting says. “I’d love to find a photograph of him, to look into the eyes of this guy who left so much in Lewiston.”
–Medora Clindining, a popular Lewiston teenager and heiress, drowned herself in the Clearwater River in January 1899, resisting the efforts of passers-by who tried to save her. Public news reports assigned her death to temporary insanity, providing a loophole for Christian burial that might be denied in the case of suicide.
–Mary Edna Goddard was arrested for the murder of John (Buena) Siers on May 19, 1895, at 21 Ranch south of Lewiston. Evidence showed that Siers was ambushed and defending himself when Goddard came from behind and fired the fatal shots into his back. After 40 days of testimony and 15 hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty.” The San Francisco Call ran the headline: “Great Surprise to All.” Edna’s daughter, named Edna Ward, later ran the Bollinger Hotel and Raymond House in Lewiston and served in the leadership of the Daughters of the American Revolution before dying in 1954.
While Branting originally planned “Lost Lewiston” to be the final book in a trilogy, he is now at work on a fourth book focusing on crimes in Lewiston, or relating to Lewiston, that took place in the century before 1961.
if you go:
What: Author Steven Branting signing “Lost Lewiston, Idaho: Elegies and Bygone Places”
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31
Where: Hastings, 139 Thain Road, Lewiston