Sketches of History of Raft River Valley

As Told by Fred Kossman in 1950

There was more water in Cassia Creek and Raft River in 1870 there is now. They both overflowed their banks, at times being 18” deep and a mile wide. There were meadows on both sides of the river as a result. There were no bridges or fences on either the river or the creek. Cattle ranching was tarted by sorters from California and Tinan and Taylor from Texas. The Cattle, Texas longhorn came from Texas. Jim Pierce came from Texas in 1871 bringing cattle. Sorter an Shelley bought them and Pierce stayed on becoming a partner to Sorter. Fred Kossman worked for Surtzer-Piece for nine years at $35 a month. He started as a boy and they often worked twenty hours a day. They took the cattle to Montana from May to July averaging seven or eight miles a day on the trail. There would be eight men besides the wrangler and cook for the drives. They took the cattle to Rosebud, Montana. Later they loaded them out of American Falls.

Fred Kossman was burnin Corrine, Utah, between Tremonton and Brigham City in 1871. He came to Raft River in 1880 when he was nine years old, living in Albion first. There weren’t many trees here nor many houses. Old man Howell put up a dance hall. School was held in it in the daytime.

Progressive Men in South Idaho” published in 1900 was a book of early history. Some people came around contacting the people. If one would pay some money, a history of the person was put in the book. The history of some of the Kossman family is in it. It has a lot of stories of the old settlers in it.

The first store in wha tis now Malta was run by W.A. Bull, about three the cemetery now is. Mr. Bull had a store in Sublett in 1882 and in 1883 moved to Malta. On the way he had cross Raft River. There wasn’t any bridge and as he was fording the river the wagon box turned over int eh river spilling everything out. One of the men helping him saw a keg of whisky floating down the river. He rode it down on his horse, roped it out and returned it to the ford. They built a little store out of willows and mud and had a party that night with the whiskey. They let the rest of the stuff float on down the river. He had the store in different locations until 1892. The first year he used the willow and mud store and the next year he built a store about where Baxters house now stands.

Abercornlice stared the next store where Malta Service now is. There was a dance hall on the corner where the Post Office is now. Dr. Sater had a drug store adjoining it. Ed Officer ran a hardware store across the street east from where the Post office now is. It burned down. Officer was found dead in bed one morning.

The first school was started in 1883 on H. Wight’s property next to the highway straight north from Melvin Ward’s house. School was held three months out of the year. There were ten to fifteen enrolled. Mrs. Sarah Seacove was the teacher. She was the Postmistress’ sister. The school house was in the middle of the sagebrush. The children grubbed sagebrush at noon until they had a play space. Before that they played anti-over the corner of the school house.

The first Post Office is 1883 was a little log shack on the corner where the Valley Cafe now is. Ida Condant ran the post office. Bob McCormick brought the mail in on horseback on Mondays and Fridays.

In 1883 there was a stage robbery above Strevell a the Dives. The stage ran from Kelton to Boise. Two robbers were caught and waited in jail all summer in Albion for Trial.

In 1877 they had the Rock Creek Indians scare. At the black rocks by the Sublett reservoir some Indians massacred six or seven settlers. Before they were killed they wrote their names in axle grease on the rocks there. The names were there to see for some time but are gone now.

Cassia County was formed in 1879 from part of Owyhee County. The first commissioners were J.Q. Shirley, Beecher and Jim Basco. They held their first meeting on an old log. By 1880 there were six families in Malta.

The first white person buried in the Malta cemetery was a little boy of W.A. Bull, who operated a store.