Finding Mr. Frawley

A Journey through Homes, Marriages, and Time

By Nicole Sharp

I feel a bit the way archeologists must as they brush away the dust of the past to reveal something treasured. You see, I stumbled upon a wonderful tale set in the early days of Boise, a gently mannered story with no blood and dust of the early West, but there is tragedy and scandal. I pieced together the bones of this tale, the dates and places. But the retelling, assembling emotions around the circumstances, represents an exercise in historical fortune telling, a difficult thing to do while keeping my 21st Century sensibilities at bay.

This story starts with a house.

During an interview a while back, I found out that an antique store in Boise claimed to have the oldest outdoor “recreational living area” with a fireplace. As a longtime admirer of the tired-old-house-turned-successful-antique-shop, I was intrigued. The story was that the house had been written up once in Better Homes and Gardens. The outgoing proprietors didn’t have that piece, but they gave me a few articles that had been passed down to them, oral histories, and a name: Frawley.

Armed with this information, I made my way to the Boise Public Library’s website to search through the Daily Idaho Statesman. One search and there he was: Mr. Edward J. Frawley. A thrill ran through me. I’ve done enough scouring of archives and databases to know that those who came before us didn’t always leave a very good paper trail and those that came after them didn’t always care about such trails.

The earliest mention in the paper was January 16, 1896: “City attorney Frawley has received the sad news of the death of his father in Wisconsin.” Two clues loomed: Mr. Frawley was an attorney and he was from Wisconsin.

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Nicole Sharp

About Nicole Sharp

Nicole Sharp writes fiction, swigs coffee, and champions world travel. She lives in Boise and spends her free time hiking the foothills and attempting to learn Italian.