Why They Call It -  STITES


(Ed. Note:  This is the first of a series of sketches which will appear in the Sunday Tribune on the origin of names of towns of the Lewiston region.  Much significance often attaches to the names of cities and towns, and in many instances much greater interest would be enlisted if it were known why the towns were given their name.)


Jacob Stites, in 1897, entered a homestead on the Clearwater river in Idaho county, some 70 miles east of Lewiston and 15 miles northeast of Grangeville.  When the Northern Pacific built its Clearwater line in 1898 Mr. Stites sold 40 acres of his land to the Stites Townsite company, organized by N.B. Pettibone, J.G. Rowton and J.M. Shannon, who platted a town there in May 1899.


It was natural that the town was given the name of the original homestead owner.  Olcott & Strecker opened the first store in Stites early in the summer of 1899 and the town was credited with a population of 278 in the 1930 census.  Terminus of the Clearwater “short line”, Stites was for many years the gateway for distribution of mail, express and freight into the Elk City mining country, a commercial position which has been challenged in recent years by Grangeville.


With the completion of the highway up the South fork into Elk City,  Stites again will be an important distribution center for the mining country.




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