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Frontier Photos From an Early Moscow Resident

By Elaina Pierson, LCHS Office Coordinator

If you follow the Latah County Historical Society on social media, you might have seen this week's highlight of LCHS Object ID 30-10-017, Ralph Lauder's glass negative collection. This particular collection contains 26 glass plate negatives of a variety of nature scenes, and is likely only a small glimpse into the photographs taken by Lauder in his short lifetime. Scroll down to view all 26 of these recently digitized photographs!

The Lauder family, Ralph standing, Wylie, Alma, Minnie. December 1908. LCHS Photo: Lauder.01

Ralph Lauder was the grandson of William and Priscilla Taylor, who were among the first white settlers in the Moscow, Idaho area, starting a homestead south of town in 1872. Their daughter Minnie married Wylie Lauder, and raised Ralph and his sister Alma. Wylie was the cofounder of the Taylor-Lauder Brick Plant which furnished the bricks for the original Administration Building at the University of Idaho, the first Latah County Courthouse, and many of the buildings in Moscow's downtown. In addition to these prestigious family achievements, Ralph's mother, Minnie, was also a talented photographer, no small feat during a time when the technology involved glass plates and chemical emulsions. We can imagine that this talent was passed along from mother to son. Ralph Lauder attended the University of Idaho studying civil engineering until his junior year, when he left to claim a homestead near Clem, Oregon. Sadly, Ralph would meet his death here in 1916 at the age of 24, having drowned in a river near his cabin. Through his photos, we get a view into the life of this "steady, reliable, hard-working young man."

None of these images include any identifying information, though we can make informed guesses on a few. If you have any insight as to potential locations or subjects, we would love to hear it! Just send us an email at

LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-001
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-002
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-003
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-004
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-005
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-006
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-007
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-008
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-009 - This could be the homestead near Clem, Oregon.
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-010
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-011
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-012 - This is possibly Wylie Lauder's homestead on Moscow Mountain.
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-013
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-014
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-015 - a view from Moscow Mountain?
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-016
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-017
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-018 - another view from Moscow Mountain?
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-019
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-020
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-021
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-022
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-023
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-024
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-025
LCHS Photo: 30-10-017-026

Our thanks to Moscow Glass & Awning, one our 2023 Gold Business Sponsors, for making it possible for us to continue collecting, preserving, and sharing Latah County's history!

Sources: The Star-Mirror, Moscow ID, August 17, 1916 The Uncovered Wagon: A Glimpse of Pioneer Days in Moscow, Alma Taylor-Lauder Keeling

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