WILLIAM AND ETHEL SHANAFELT
With the tools of the carpenter tradeÂ—hammer, saw, chisel, and planeÂ—Will Shanafelt built cupboards, tables and chairs, what-not shelves, even barns and houses. Will wasn't afraid of any building project; he was always constructing something new or improving something old.
Ethel Shanafelt was a builder, too, yet she generally constructed things from materials other than wood. She often took old, worn clothing apart, washed the material, turned the unworn fabric to the front and created new garments in different styles. She crocheted, embroidered, quilted, gardened, canned, and was always able to put a delicious meal on the table from almost nothing in just minutes.
William Herbert Shanafelt was born in Nesbitt, Dawson County, Nebraska, February 7, 1880. He came with his family to Idaho late in the 1800's in a horse-drawn wagon. Ethel Emily Wells was born in Woodruff, Oneida County, Idaho, May 17, 1887. Her family, too, came to Lemhi County, Idaho around the turn of the century.
Ethel, a beautiful, strong-willed, young woman, married handsome Will Shanafelt November 24, 1904. Their early married years were spent at Cow Creek (up the Salmon River from Salmon, Idaho). Will and Ethel raised some cattle, and Ethel even cared for and sold chickens and turkeys. The Shanafelts always had a large, flourishing garden.
The stage from Challis to Salmon regularly passed the Shanafelt place. Industrious Ethel soon arranged for the stage to stop at their place where she fed the passengers before they went on their journey. When road crews worked on the road along the Salmon River they soon found out they could arrange for good meals at the Shanafelts'.
Three children were born to Will and Ethel at Cow Creek: Pansy Vera (Patricia), Arthur, and Leona. The children attended a country school and during the school season their teacher lived with them. Pat, Arthur, and Leona, along with their teacher, rode 4 miles on horseback to school each day.
Eventually, because of the lack of school children in the area, the school was closed. Will and Ethel Shanafelt wanted their children to be educated, so it became necessary for Ethel and the children to move into Salmon during the winter for the kids to attend school. Will stayed behind on the place to care for the stock. Ethel was an excellent seamstress and kept busy sewing for others while the children were in school. Each spring Ethel and the kids returned to Cow Creek where the children were delighted to be united again with their dad, their horses, and pet calves. This continued until each of the children finished high school and went his or her separate way.
In 1932 the Shanafelts sold the ranch at Cow Creek and moved to Salmon. Here they purchased a good-sized piece of land and built a big 4-bedroom, 2-bath home on what later was named Shanafelt Street.
Will and Ethel took in boarders. Some long-time Lemhi County residents such as Gilmore Denny and Rose Demick Becker once boarded with them.
Using her good business expertise, their good names, and Will's carpentry skills, Ethel embarked on another business enterprise. She began to borrow money and purchase lumber and supplies. Will then commenced to build small homes. One by one, Will built six small houses, which were called Shanafelt Cottages. These small homes were rented out. Soon they were paid for and the income from the cottages provided for Will and Ethel all the rest of their lives.
Will and Ethel were loved by all who knew them. Their posterity, friends, and extended family members enjoyed being with the Shanafelts. Will was a very kind, considerate man. His honesty is well-remembered by those who knew him. His competence in carpentry was remarkable. If Will had owned the kinds of tools we have today, he could have been a professional cabinet maker. Ethel's homemaking and management capabilities were a great asset to the Shanafelts all their lives. Ethel wasn't afraid to try anything. She could paint and hang wallpaper; she loved to visit and play cards.
Will Shanafelt died in Salmon, April 17, 1954. Ethel Shanafelt passed away in Salmon, February 17, 1970. They are both buried in the Salmon Cemetery. Their oldest daughter Pat Miller is deceased, their son Arthur Shanafelt is deceased, and their youngest child, Leona Lee, still resides in Salmon. The original home and the six rental houses still stand in Salmon, a monument to the builders who erected them. Their children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren are proud of the Shanafelt name and heritage, a monument they are privileged to honor in their lives.
Teri W. Dinnell
Great-Granddaughter of William and Ethel Shanafelt