First Mayor of Boise – Ephraim Smith


Ephraim Smith was born April 13, 1819 in Meadville, Pennsylvania to Nelson & Polly Smith.  He grew up to be a physician and at age 35, he married Carrie Atherton in California on July 31, 1854.  The couple started a family in Oakland, California where their oldest children were born: Hellen (1855), Lottie (1859), and Heber (1861).  Shortly after Heber’s birth, the family became pioneers and moved to Boise City in the Idaho Territory.  Ephraim opened a drug store and pursued a career in politics.  


At that time, Boise mayors were originally elected to only one-year terms.  (The terms were extended to two years in 1881 and to four years in 1965.)  He ran for mayor in 1865 and was elected to serve as the first mayor of Boise from 1866 to 1867.  For years it was believed Smith's successor, Henry E. Prickett, was the city's first elected mayor until recent research proved otherwise. Smith is also believed to have been the first treasurer of Idaho Territory.


After leaving office, he continued to practice medicine and eventually he opened the Ada County Hospital.  He had a philanthropic bent and in 1880, he was running the hospital and supporting his family along with 3 “paupers” that lived with them - Joseph LaBeau, a 34 yr old illiterate miner suffering from mental health issues, Louis Johnson, a 20 yr old miner with lung disease & George Dykeman, a 19 yr old laborer.


Sadly, on November 4, 1891 Ephraim Smith was run over by a streetcar and killed while visiting family in Toledo, Ohio.  He was laid to rest in Boise at the Pioneer Cemetery.