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Idaho Humanities Council speaker, ISU associate professor Homan do give ‘Horse Queen of Idaho’ presentation in Hagerman on Nov. 9

Posted November 4, 2011


Philip A. Homan, an Idaho Humanities Council Speakers Bureau scholar and associate professor Idaho State University, will present the program "Queen of Diamonds: Kittie Wilkins, Horse Queen of Idaho, and the Wilkins Horse Company" for the Hagerman Historical Society on Wednesday, Nov.  9. The slide presentation will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Park Service Visitor Center at 221 N. State St., Highway 30, in Hagerman. The free program is made possible by the Idaho Humanities Council, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The boss of the Wilkins Horse Company in the Bruneau Valley of Owyhee County and owner of 10,000 range-bred horses, all branded with the famous Diamond brand, the Queen of Diamonds was the only woman at the turn of the twentieth century whose sole occupation was as a horse dealer. The Wilkins herd was the largest owned by one family in the West.

Wilkins made the largest horse sale ever in the West. In 1900, she sold 8,000 horses to a buyer in Kansas City, one of America's largest horse markets. In August of that year, 540 horses in 21 cars were shipped from Mountain Home to Kansas City—the first of a regular twenty-car train of around 520 horses to be sent every two weeks. The following June, a shipment of 30 carloads was made from Mountain Home to Kansas City to complete the transaction. Great Britain was shipping the Diamond-brand horses from New Orleans to South Africa for its soldiers in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902.

The San Francisco Examiner first introduced Wilkins in 1887 as the "Idaho Horse Queen," and her interviews in the Denver, Sioux City, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago newspapers were re-run in papers across the country, such as the Boston Advertiser, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore American, Washington Post, and Atlanta Constitution. Most of the over 500 newspaper articles Homan has identified about Wilkins, her family, and her friends and associates so far are news reports, feature stories, and interviews from newspapers in most of the lower 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia, plus Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.

Homan believes that Wilkins—who made Idaho a household word in America—was the most famous Western woman of her generation, becoming for Americans the very model of the West.

Note: The information above is from an Idaho Humanities Council press release.