Deary, Idaho is the product of the Potlatch Lumber Company, just like Elk River, Bovill and Potlatch. But unlike other company towns along the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railway Company, Deary was carved out of the timber by homesteaders and farmers. The town lies at the head of the Big Bear and Texas Ridges at the edge of the great white pine forest. It was to these areas that homesteaders came in the 1880’s and ’90’s. They were mostly Scandinavians who had tried the upper Midwest first. To these people a good farm had timber on it, and by the late nineteenth century in the Midwest, land parcels were small and the forests were dwindling.
The town of Deary was born on September 24, 1907. That was the first sale day of town lots by the Deary Townsite Company, managed by F. C. McGowan and H. P. Henry. Unlike the town of Potlatch where every interest and life itself was run by the lumber company, the announced policy of Potlatch Lumber Company was to log around Deary and then sell the cleared lands. McGowan and Henry were former employees of Potlatch until 1907, who had been educated in the East, risen through the company ranks, and installed as managers of the Townsite Company to oversee Potlatch interests. Two homes which still stand were built for their occupation by Potlatch
Deary continued to grow as Potlatch Lumber Company expanded its operations. The Deary Lumber Company was established in 1909 to independently mill lumber, the Deary Clay Products Company turned out bricks first used in building the First State Bank at Bovill, and the Farmer’s Union built warehouses to make Deary a grain shipping point. Through it all, Anton Lee, who opened his studio July 16, 1909, photographed people, places, and events for postcards and portraits–making a valuable historical record of the region.
Deary is located at the junction of Highways 8 and 3. Agriculture and timber have been the mainstays for the community since its inception. The mountain north of town that rises a thousand feet above its surroundings, is known at Potato Hill (elev. 4,017). It is a volcanic vent of undetermined age. Early residents called it Spud Hill, but the Enterprise always referred to it as Mount Deary. Two forested reservoirs are nearby and offer camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking.
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