Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2010

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in History

Department

History

Major Advisor

Errol Jones, Ph.D.

Abstract

The life of Mexican mule packer Jesús Urquides is the subject of this work. Urquides was a Mexican-born mule packer who brought the skills of his profession to the American West, where he eventually settled in Boise, Idaho in the 1860s.

The focus of the work is to shed light on the activities of mule packers and their work in the American West as it related to the mining activities of the region and to also examine Urquides’ role in the establishment of Boise’s Spanish Village. Jesús Urquides: Idaho’s Premier Muleteer is a case study of the profession and its contributions to the mining industry of the late 19th century.

The life of Urquides’ personal life is examined. Other topics include: (1) the history of mule packing as a profession that was developed and refined over centuries of practice in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, (2) mule packing in Idaho, (3) the Sheep Mountain mining district of central Idaho, (4) the decline of mule packing, and (5) the establishment of Boise’s Spanish Village.

Conclusions established during this study include: (1) that mule packing was ideally suited to provide logistical support for Idaho’s early mining industry despite unpredictable weather and rugged terrain, (2) that the use of the mule packing system contributed to the United States Army’s military success in its campaigns against Idaho’s Native American tribes, (3) that mule packing declined at the end of the 19th century due to economic factors and intense competition from freight wagons, (4) that Spanish Village was an ethnic neighborhood that encouraged multinational bonds among Boise’s Spanish-speaking population, and (5) that Jesús Urquides emerged as a singular figure for his role in the early development of Idaho and was widely respected by its pioneer community.

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