With an interest in the West and a desire to start a newspaper, James Reynolds moved to Boise, Idaho, from New York and became the editor of the Tri-Weekly Statesman which began publication on July 26, 1864. The newsroom was operated from a log cabin on the spot where the Boise City Hall now stands. Reynolds ran the paper until 1872, when it was sold to Judge Milton Kelly. Kelly was quite a pillar of Idaho society. He served in the Idaho Territorial House of Representatives and then as a Justice on the Idaho Territorial Supreme Court. Kelly ran the paper for seventeen years and was responsible for the expansion to daily publication as well as for changing the name to Idaho Daily Statesman.
In 1888, Kelly sold the paper to the Cobb family. Calvin Cobb published the paper for 40 years, and then, upon his death in 1928, his daughter Margaret took over for the next 30 years. When Margaret passed in 1959, the general manager, James Brown, carried on. In 1963, the Idaho Statesman was sold to Federated Publications which merged with Gannett in 1971, and the following year the paper moved to Curtis Road in Boise.
In March of 2004, tragedy struck when the press building was destroyed by fire. Newspapers from Nampa, Homedale, Twin Falls, as well as Ontario, Oregon, and Reno, Nevada, stepped in to help retain continuity of service. In 2005, Gannett sold the Idaho Statesman to Knight Ridder which was attained by the McClatchy Co. in 2006. By 2008, increased internet usage was leading to a decline in paper sales, so the Idaho Statesman made an effort to reduce expenses by partnering with Idaho Press-Tribune to print their paper in Nampa. Over the years, the Idaho Statesman has campaigned for the voting rights of women, funding and development of state parks, automatic airbag safety, early childhood education and immunization, the growth of Boise State University, and workman's compensation for farm workers. It’s Idaho’s most successful newspaper with a readership of 204,000 in print and 66,000 digitally.