Thursday, June 15, 2017

Famous Idaho Masons: George L. Shoup

I learned many things while I worked as an Intern for the US Senate. One is that every State in the Union has two statues in the US Capitol Building as a part of the National Statuary Hall Collection. For the State of Idaho, the two statues are of William Edgar Borah and George Laird Shoup. As an Intern, one of my duties was to give tours of the US Capitol to constituents visiting Washington DC. For those from Idaho, I would always make sure to point out the two Idaho statues. Nearly everyone recognized William Borah who is a very famous Senator from Idaho and nicknamed "The Lion of Idaho." I was shocked how few knew who George Laird Shoup was.

George L. Shoup was the last territorial Governor of the Territory of Idaho, the first Governor of the State of Idaho, and one of Idaho's first US Senators. George L. Shoup was born on June 15, 1836, in Kittanning (NE of Pittsburgh), PA. He moved with his parents in 1852 to Galesburg, IL, where his parents established a farm.

Due to being financially devasted by the Panic of 1857 and the gold rush taking place there, George L. Shoup moved to the Colorado Territory in 1859. During the Civil War, he worked as an independent scout in the New Mexico Territory, Colorado Territory, and Texas. He was honorable discharged as a Colonel in December of 1864. After the war ended, Shoup moved to Virginia City in the Montana Territory before moving to Salmon in the Idaho Territory (a city he helped found). In Salmon, he became a very successful businessman running a general store and raising cattle. He married Magdelena Darnutzer on June 15, 1868, and they had 3-sons and 3-daughters.

He was appointed commissioner to organize Lemhi County in 1869. Three years later he was chosen to serve as Superintendent of Schools for Lemhi County. In 1874, he was elected to the lower house of the territorial legislature. In 1878, he was elected to the upper house for the territorial legislature. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1880 and served on the RNC from 1880 to 1884. In April of 1889, President Harrison appointed him as territorial governor. He held this position until July of 1890 when Idaho became a state. He was elected and served as the first Governor of the State of Idaho until November when he was elected by the Idaho Legislature to serve in the US Senate. He served until 1901 when he was defeated by Fred Dubois. After that, he retired from public life until his death on December 21, 1904, in Boise, ID, where he is buried.

It was while in Colorado that he became a Mason. Records show that he was raised on July 13, 1864, in Denver Lodge #5. In addition to helping settle the city of Salmon, he also helped charter Lemhi Lodge #11 in Salmon, ID, in 1874 and which still exists today. He served as Worshipful Master of this Lodge in 1878. If being a territorial governor wasn’t enough, he also served as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho in 1889. He was also a member of Almas Shrine in Washington DC.

As a memorial, the State of Idaho chose Shoup as one of their two statues which were donated in 1910 and still stand today in Statuary Hall (near the House Chambers). He is remembered as a miner, soldier, settler, businessman, public official, and for his service to the territory of Idaho and leading it into statehood. Even those on the other side of the political aisle praised him. William Borah stated the following of him:
"He stood forth a leader. He had only such education as he could secure in a few months in the common schools, but united with rare judgment, a perception almost intuitive, a keen, quick, unerring knowledge of men, a practical wisdom gathered during his long, active career in the school of life, he was a safe, trusted and able counselor in all matters of private and public concern." 

1. National Statuary Hall Collection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Architect of the Capitol:

2. Bollar, M. (2017). Proceedings of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho. Boise.

3. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol (Vol. 4). Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Inc. Retrieved from,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_4_Q_to_Z.htm

4. George Laird Shoup. (n.d.). Retrieved from Architect of the Capitol:

5. George Laird Shoup, 1836-1904. (1995, October). Retrieved from University of Idaho:

6. George Shoup (1836-1904)- Biographical Sketch. (n.d.). Retrieved from Idaho State University:

7. Governor George Laird Shoup. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Governors Association:

8. Statues. (n.d.). Retrieved from Architect of the Capitol:

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