My Public Lands

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    Don’s grandfather, Joe, was known for his musical talent and played the vaudeville circuit in Boise.  He is seen here with his wife, Zella, and handmade guitar. Don’s great-grandparents, John and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Campton, and their son, Joseph, at home near Poison Creek, ca. 1913. Grandview High School students experience a day in the field, at the Campton Homestead, with Bruneau Field Office staff. BLM Wilderness staff, Evan Worthington and Bruneau Field Office Botanist Holly Beck view photographs and discuss the history of the Campton homestead with Don Campton (left).

    BLM Bruneau Field Office Staff Meet with Descendant of Early Homesteaders from the Owyhee Country in Idaho

    A hike in the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness south of Grand View, Idaho, can reveal natural wonders and solitude. But, for Don Campton of Longview, Washington, the destination was more personal. He was walking in the steps of his ancestors who settled there around 1908.   

    Don’s “Grandpa Joe” told him on many occasions that he had grown up on a sheep ranch in Idaho. It wasn’t until 2008, when his daughter, Ellie brought home a school project to research the family’s history that Don began to investigate his roots. Since then, he has conducted research at the Owyhee County Courthouse and in Idaho newspapers, US census records, General Land Office documents, and Ancestry.com. Members of his extended family and a subsequent landowner of Don’s family’s homestead John Anchustegui, have brought the past to life with anecdotal stories and photos.  

    Serendipitously, Don’s journey led him to the 2012 BLM Idaho cultural resources webpage, commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the Homestead Act, 1862-2012. There he saw a photo of what remained of his family’s homestead. BLM had recently acquired the property from rancher, John Anchustegui, making it part of the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness. From there, he contacted then Bruneau Field Office Manager, Arnie Pike. He learned that BLM had just completed an archaeological site record of the property and was actively engaged in public outreach and preservation for the area. 

    The BLM Bruneau Field Office management and staff would like to thank Don for sharing historical family documents, stories, and photos. BLM and Don Campton share the vision to preserve the legacy of the Campton homestead for future generations. An interpretive kiosk is currently being discussed near the entry portal to the Little Jacks Wilderness.

    Written by Lois Palmgren, Bruneau Field Office Archaeologist, BLM Idaho

    Photos by Don Campton and Lois Palmgren

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