Perhaps you didn’t know that the Burley Public Library Foundation (BPLF) is a participating Smith’s Community Rewards Organization. This means that every time you shop at Smith’s using your points/rewards card or alternate ID (typically phone number) that Smith’s will make a donation to the BPLF. This does not effect the savings or rewards YOU earn on your purchases!
Years ago Smith’s asked customers to fill out a paper form in their store, indicating which organization you would like to contribute to in your local community. They have now moved the process exclusively online. It still involves filling out a form, but this time it is on their website, rather than on paper.
In order to have Smith’s start giving on your behalf to the Burley Public Library Foundation, you will need to create a digital account with them at their website. Here is the link explains how to quickly and easily create a digital account, and then how to choose the organization you wish to have Smith’s donate to on your behalf: https://www.smithsfoodanddrug.com/topic/community-rewards-5
Our Non-Profit Organization or NPO number with Smith’s is: 25869
You will need to load that number in at the end of the process to indicate which organization you are choosing to support.
Thanks for supporting the Burley Public Library Foundation!
Alfred and Bee Thaxton’s hearts were always invested in both the community and the people of the Mini-Cassia area. Al and Bee were the classic story of the “boy meets and marries the girl next door.” Alfred Thaxton was the eighth child born to Stephen W. Thaxton and Signora Hansen Thaxton of Heyburn Idaho. Bertha Belle “Bee” Thaxton was the fourth child of seven born to Lee Ellis Higley and Raymonde Marie Wiart Higley, also of Heyburn. Alfred was raised on the farm across the street from Bee’s family’s cattle operation. They both learned early the importance of hard work, responsibility, authenticity and integrity– characteristics they both displayed throughout their lives.
Alfred and Bee were married on July 22, 1942, just after Alfred had enlisted and was about to leave for the war. Alfred served his country as a co-pilot of a B17 better known as, “The Flying Fortress” in World War II. He was in the 569th squadron, division of the 390th Bomb Group. Al flew 25 bombing missions over Germany and was stationed in England. At the end of the war he also flew several missions dropping food and supplies to the starving Dutch in Holland and brought POW’s from Germany to their homes in France.
Of his experience in World War II Al said: “We weren’t there for glory but to do a job. We were proud of the unit we were in. The main goal was to get the job done, to fill the specific assignment and get out of there. We were not children fired with a vision; we were merely young men accepting our times. Some of us fancied the role we played. Others did not. In any case we did not go off into the sky shouting “hosannas.” Alfred remained in the USAF reserves and retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1972.
While Alfred was away at war their first child was born and named after Al, even though she was a girl: Patricia Al Thaxton! When Al returned from the war, Bee and Al moved the small, two room house Bee had been living in on her parent’s farm, to a lot in Heyburn and added on a couple rooms. In 1946 Bee and Al purchased an existing home on Yale Avenue and moved to Burley. There they had two more children, both boys, Gerald Burt and Stephen Craig. Al and Bee remained residents of 1619 Yale Avenue the rest of their lives.
Alfred bought out his brother in law’s painting contracting business in 1949. His “Thaxton Painting Company” employed a crew of twelve or so men and could be seen painting or sand- blasting, the Union Feed Store, the Burley Theater, Cassia National Bank and many, many, homes and buildings in the area.
In 1961 Al and Bee opened “Thaxton’s Painting and Interiors” in the then new Overland Shopping Center. There they continued the contracting business, but also offered a full line of carpets, draperies, wallpaper and other accessories for home decorating , as well as expert advice in decorating. Although neither had formal training as interior decorators, both possessed great talent, skill, and taste in home décor. They were forced to sell the business in 1971, when Al had to undergo open heart surgery. After his recovery, Al worked in sales for a couple other businesses in Burley, and eventually spent his semi-retired years wallpapering homes. Some jobs were contracted through “Inspirations,” a local decorating store, and some independently. Eventually, health issued forced him to retire from this line of work. However, he found less demanding work and service. Al always said he would rather die working than remain idle!
Alfred and Bee were both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and donated numerous hours of service in the church. Bee’s time was spent mostly with the youth, and Al’s time was spent in the church music programs and with church welfare assignments.
Alfred will be best remembered for his musical contributions to the community. He possessed a rich tenor voice and sang at hundreds of funerals and weddings in the area. He also played the drums in several different bands over the years, including the Burley Elks “Little German Band,” who performed at several conventions around the country including Sun Valley and Dallas, Texas. He was accomplished on the violin, his favorite instrument, although he did not perform publicly in this capacity. Al began his singing career when young. He received a small scholarship to both Idaho State University and the University of Idaho. While attending these universities he performed in many choirs and operas. Over the years, Al could also be heard in the Elijah Concert, the Messiah Concert, the Singing K’s, and the Valley Singers.
Both Al and Bee loved the arts. Al had his music and Bee did a little painting and sculpturing. They both recognized outstanding talent and attended symphonies, ballets, operas, plays, and other performances of various kinds. As a result, they gave a great deal of time and service to establishing and supporting the Community Concert Association. Al was the vice president for several years and Bee the secretary. Both served in the organization up until their declining years and loved doing so. They also both served with the Mini Cassia Council of the Arts, of which Al was the executive director at one time. Al and Bee were always a classy, cultured couple who wanted to bring a touch of culture and the talents they loved to all people in the community.
Al was a member of the Burley Lions Club, and Bee the Lady Lions. Both spent untold hours of community service in these organizations and had a lot of fun doing so. Al was President, Zone Chairman of District 39W and Deputy District Governor. He was rewarded for his many years of service when he was honored by the Lions in receiving the distinguished and coveted “Melvin Jones Fellow Award, For Dedicated Humanitarian Services.” The Lions also established an “Al Thaxton Music Scholarship Fund,” in his honor. This fund has helped several aspiring musicians in recent years.
Both Bee and Al were avid readers. Al enjoyed historical novels, both fiction and non-fiction. He also read and studied deep religious writings. Bee enjoyed current bestselling books and biographies. She was a long time member of the Cameo Literary Club, as well as being a member of Friends of the Library. She enjoyed giving book reviews when it was her turn, especially books about famous and important persons. At one time Al and Bee combined their interests and talents by making a presentation of the life and music of George Gershwin. Bee gave a review of Robert Rushmore’s book, George Gershwin: The Champion Who Brought Jazz to the Concert Hall and Great Music to Broadway. Her review was interspersed with Alfred singing many of Gershwin’s most memorable songs. Their performance was so well received that they presented it at several clubs and organizations in the area.
For many years, Bee was an avid and accomplished golfer. She belonged to Burley Ladies Amateur Golf Association and won several awards including one in 1957 for “2nd Flight Best Ball Tournament.” Bee also planned and implemented many, Class of ’39 reunions for Heyburn High School, up to and including the 5oth Year Reunion. Bee loved decorating her home, keeping her yard beautiful and full of flowers, entertaining with the “dinner club” and “bridge club”– as well as with family and friends. She was an excellent cook and presented an elegant table. Bee’s years of service to family and community all speak highly of her– but her greatest accolades should come from the support and love with which she stood behind Alfred’s many and varied contributions to the community.
Alfred Thaxton continued to serve the community of Burley up until his last year of good health. He was elected to the City Council in 1995, receiving the most votes. He served as city councilman for almost two full terms. He was instrumental in Burley’s achievement of Tree City USA status. In 2002, the city of Burley planted a grove of trees in his honor on Arbor Day in the Kiwanis Park. Mayor Doug Manning said of Alfred: “He was a progressive empathetic advocate for the business people of the community. He was always mindful of the local business owners and wanted the city departments to divide their business among the local merchants.” Manning also said: “Al, coming from a generation of people who were conservative and not inclined to move forward aggressively, was an advocate for the city and wanted to provide for the future generations.”
In keeping with his love of country and respect for those who served it, Al spent his last four years as the Mini-Cassia Veterans Service Officer, a job he loved doing. He said of his position there: “My main function is just to serve the veterans.” But, his administrator commented in one interview with the local paper, saying: “In the past five months (under Al’s supervision) we’ve seen more work from Mini-Cassia than we’ve seen in the past five years. We’re seeing more claims for widows and veterans who need assistance.” Al’s compassion and respect for all people served him well in this capacity.
Because of their love of Burley and the surrounding area, and because of their “hearts”, Alfred and Bee Thaxton have been exemplary contributors to life in the community. In being so, they sought no fame, fortune, nor glory. Indeed, they would be the first to say that what they did do was live lives of true fulfillment and love.
Christian Frederick Blauer and Rosetta Gerber Blauer in View
My Blauer Grandparents were Christian Frederick Blauer and Rosetta Gerber. On April 7, 1900, they moved their family to Lund, Idaho, from Ogden, Utah. It was here that Grandfather took up a quarter section of dry farm land. They increased their holding and did very well especially during and shortly after the World War I years. Grandfather filled a mission in his native land of Switzerland in 1926-28.
Read the entire story here and consider donating money and your own story to the Legacy Project!
Recently I learned that Governor Otter’s proposal to eliminate the tax on business equipment (the personal property tax), would reduce our Burley Public Library’s property tax revenue by 9.52%. The bulk of our library’s revenue comes from property taxes.
I then went to Idaho State Tax Commission’s Report and found that this proposed cut would damage much more than our library. The property tax revenue to these local units would be cut by the following percentages:
Cassia County 14.61%
Minidoka County 18.39%
City of Burley 9.52%
City of Rupert 23.03%
Cassia County School District 16.23%
Minidoka County School District 18.39%
College of Southern Idaho 10.79%
Other Mini-Cassia cities and property tax-supported entities such as highway and cemetery districts would also receive cuts. (To see the full report go to
http://tax.idaho.gov/n-feed.cfm?idd=358 and click on the link near the bottom of the page that says 2012 Personal Property Tax Analysis.)
Such cuts would either decimate essential services in our area or would force local tax payers to make up the shortfall through the proposed local option tax. The bulk of the money that would be taken from our local area would go to large corporations, which, though they may provide jobs in Idaho, send their profits out of the state. (Small business will no longer have to pay this tax when Idaho’s growth reaches 4% and the law passed in 2008 becomes effective.)
If you are as concerned as I am about what these proposed cuts would do to our local area, please contact our legislators. They are being bombarded by the lobbyists from the large corporations. They need to hear from us.
President, Friends of the Burley Public Library
“Milton Hermon (M.H.) King lost his father to typhoid pneumonia when he was eight. Until he was in the sixth grade, his schooling consisted of a few months of classes in a country school. When his family rented their farm and moved to Fort Scott, Kansas, he was enrolled in school full-time for two years. These were nine-month sessions. After he completed eighth grade, as was the tradition, he started working. His mother found him a good proprietor and he began an apprenticeship at a dry goods store eleven miles away. This was in 1889.”
Thus begins the family account of Lizabeth King’s grandfather, M.H., who in 1915 founded of King’s Variety Store in Burley, Idaho. M. H. King’s son, Hermon E. King, would expand the business to over thirty stores in six western states, primarily Idaho and Utah, and with his wife, Jean, make possible the construction of the King Fine Arts Center in Burley.
How was M.H. able to gain the knowledge that enabled him to start such a successful business? He tried to get as much information as possible from reading, mostly books and magazines from the public library. His reading always had a check mark where he laid it down to go to work, taking it up again when he had some spare moments. Lizabeth continued, “his struggle with and his persistence in educating himself by using libraries explained his keen interest in public libraries, where knowledge, in its many forms, was available to anyone who wanted it.” He, his wife Edith, all his children and his grandchildren were and are life-long learners, due in part to the example he set.
The King family has continued to support libraries, knowing how critical the public library was to their grandfather’s success. Jean King, wife of Hermon, served on the Burley Public Library board for many years. She was a member of the “greatest generation” – people who made possible the construction of the current Burley Public Library building in 1959. Hermon and Jean’s children still continue to support our local library, even though several have moved out of state.
Today some of us in the Mini-Cassia area are aware of how much we owe the King family for helping to build our community. All of us who attend the performances and other activites in the King Fine Arts Center know of its value. But we also need to recognize that we owe a debt to a public library somewhere in the Midwest that enabled M.H. King to advance his early education, and to the Burley Public Library where he continued his studies for the 36 years he lived in our community. With the education that came from public libraries, he established the business that started it all.
(Written by Kathleen Hedberg)
Forgive me! I did not intend to wander away. I meant to keep to my
subject–but the moment I began to talk of politics in the country I was
beset by a compelling vision of Charles Baxter coming out of his shop in
the dusk of the evening, carrying his curious old reflector lamp and
leading the way down the road to the schoolhouse. And thinking of the
lamp brought a vision of the joys of Baxter’s shop, and thinking of the
shop brought me naturally around to politics and presidents; and here I
am again where I started!
Baxter’s lamp is, somehow, inextricably associated in my mind with
politics. Being busy farmers, we hold our caucuses and other meetings in
the evening and usually in the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is
conveniently near to Baxter’s shop, so we gather at Baxter’s shop.
Baxter takes his lamp down from the bracket above his bench, reflector
and all, and you will see us, a row of dusky figures, Baxter in the
lead, proceeding down the roadway to the schoolhouse. Having arrived,
some one scratches a match, shields it with his hand (I see yet the
sudden fitful illumination of the brown-bearded, watchful faces of my
neighbours!) and Baxter guides us into the schoolhouse–with its shut-in
dusty odours of chalk and varnished desks and–yes, leftover lunches!
Baxter’s lamp stands on the table, casting a vast shadow of the chairman
on the wall.
“Come to order,” says the chairman, and we have here at this moment in
operation the greatest institution in this round world: the institution
of free self-government. Great in its simplicity, great in its
unselfishness! And Baxter’s old lamp with its smoky tin reflector, is
not that the veritable torch of our liberties?
This, I forgot to say, though it makes no special difference–a caucus
would be the same–is a school meeting.
You see, ours is a prolific community. When a young man and a young
woman are married they think about babies; they want babies, and what
is more, they have them! and love them afterward! It is a part of the
complete life. And having babies, there must be a place to teach them to
Without more explanation you will understand that we needed an addition
to our schoolhouse. A committee reported that the amount required would
be $800. We talked it over. The Scotch Preacher was there with a plan
which he tacked up on the blackboard and explained to us. He told us of
seeing the stone-mason and the carpenter, he told us what the seats
would cost, and the door knobs and the hooks in the closet. We are a
careful people; we want to know where every penny goes!
“If we put it all in the budget this year what will that make the rate?”
inquires a voice from the end of the room.
We don’t look around; we know the voice. And when the secretary has
computed the rate, if you listen closely you can almost hear the buzz of
multiplications and additions which is going on in each man’s head as he
calculates exactly how much the addition will mean to him in taxes on
his farm, his daughter’s piano his wife’s top-buggy.
And many a man is saying to himself:
“If we build this addition to the schoolhouse, I shall have to give up
the new overcoat I have counted upon, or Amanda won’t be able to get the
That’s _real_ politics: the voluntary surrender of some private good for
the upbuilding of some community good. It is in such exercises that the
fibre of democracy grows sound and strong. There is, after all, in this
world no real good for which we do not have to surrender something. In
the city the average voter is never conscious of any surrender. He never
realises that he is giving anything himself for good schools or good
streets. Under such conditions how can you expect self-government? No
service, no reward!
The first meeting that I sat through watching those bronzed farmers at
work gave me such a conception of the true meaning of self-government as
I never hoped to have.
“This is the place where I belong,” I said to myself.
It was wonderful in that school meeting to see how every essential
element of our government was brought into play. Finance? We discussed
whether we should put the entire $800 into the next year’s budget or
divide it paying part in cash and bonding the district for the
remainder. The question of credit, of interest, of the obligations of
this generation and the next, were all discussed. At one time long ago I
was amazed when I heard my neighbours arguing in Baxter’s shop about the
issuance of certain bonds by the United States government: how
completely they understood it! I know now where they got that
understanding. Right in the school meetings and town caucuses where they
raise money yearly for the expenses of our small government! There is
nothing like it in the city.
The progress of a people can best be judged by those things which they
accept as matters-of-fact. It was amazing to me, coming from the city,
and before I understood, to see how ingrained had become some of the
principles which only a few years ago were fiercely-mooted problems. It
gave me a new pride in my country, a new appreciation of the steps in
civilisation which we have already permanently gained. Not a question
have I ever heard in any school meeting of the necessity of educating
every American child–at any cost. Think of it! Think how far we have
come in that respect, in seventy–yes, fifty–years. Universal education
has become a settled axiom of our life.
And there was another point–so common now that we do not appreciate the
significance of it. I refer to majority rule. In our school meeting we
were voting money out of men’s pockets–money that we all needed for
private expenses–and yet the moment the minority, after full and honest
discussion, failed to maintain its contention in opposition to the new
building, it yielded with perfect good humour and went on with the
discussion of other questions. When you come to think of it, in the
light of history, is not that a wonderful thing?
One of the chief property owners in our neighbourhood is a rather
crabbed old bachelor. Having no children and heavy taxes to pay, he
looks with jaundiced eye on additions to schoolhouses. He will object
and growl and growl and object, and yet pin him down as I have seen the
Scotch Preacher pin him more than once, he will admit that children (“of
course,” he will say, “certainly, of course”) must be educated.
“For the good of bachelors as well as other people?” the Scotch
Preacher will press it home.
“Certainly, of course.”
And when the final issue comes, after full discussion, after he has
tried to lop off a few yards of blackboard or order cheaper desks or
dispense with the clothes-closet, he votes for the addition with the
rest of us.
It is simply amazing to see how much grows out of these discussions–how
much of that social sympathy and understanding which is the very
tap-root of democracy. It’s cheaper to put up a miserable shack of an
addition. Why not do it? So we discuss architecture–blindly, it is
true; we don’t know the books on the subject–but we grope for the big
true things, and by our own discussion we educate ourselves to know why
a good building is better than a bad one. Heating and ventilation in
their relation to health, the use of “fad studies”–how I have heard
those things discussed!
How Dr. North, who has now left us forever, shone in those meetings, and
Charles Baxter and the Scotch Preacher–broad men, every one–how they
have explained and argued, with what patience have they brought into
that small schoolhouse, lighted by Charles Baxter’s lamp, the grandest
conceptions of human society–not in the big words of the books, but in
the simple, concrete language of our common life.
“Why teach physiology?”
What a talk Dr. North once gave us on that!
“Why pay a teacher $40 a month when one can be had for $30?”
You should have heard the Scotch Preacher answer that question! Many a
one of us went away with some of the education which we had come,
somewhat grudgingly, to buy for our children.
These are our political bosses: these unknown patriots, who preach the
invisible patriotism which expresses itself not in flags and oratory,
but in the quiet daily surrender of private advantage to the public
There is, after all, no such thing as perfect equality; there must be
leaders, flag-bearers, bosses–whatever you call them. Some men have a
genius for leading; others for following; each is necessary and
dependent upon the other. In cities, that leadership is often perverted
and used to evil ends. Neither leaders nor followers seem to
understand. In its essence politics is merely a mode of expressing human
sympathy. In the country many and many a leader like Baxter works
faithfully year in and year out, posting notices of caucuses, school
meetings and elections, opening cold schoolhouses, talking to
candidates, prodding selfish voters–and mostly without reward.
Occasionally they are elected to petty offices where they do far more
work than they are paid for (we have our eyes on ’em); often they are
rewarded by the power and place which leadership gives them among their
neighbours, and sometimes–and that is Charles Baxter’s case–they
simply like it! Baxter is of the social temperament: it is the natural
expression of his personality. As for thinking of himself as a patriot,
he would never dream of it. Work with the hands, close touch with the
common life of the soil, has given him much of the true wisdom of
experience. He knows us and we know him; he carries the banner, holds it
as high as he knows how, and we follow.
Whether there can be a real democracy (as in a city) where there is not
that elbow knowledge, that close neighbourhood sympathy, that conscious
surrender of little personal goods for bigger public ones, I don’t know.
Be it far from me to pretend that we are always right or that we have
arrived in our country at the perfection of self-government. I do not
wish to imply that all of our people are interested, that all attend the
caucuses and school-meetings (some of the most prominent never come
near–they stay away, and if things don’t go right they blame Charles
Baxter!) Nor must I over-emphasise the seriousness of our public
interest. But we certainly have here, if anywhere in this nation, real
self-government. Growth is a slow process. We often fail in our election
of delegates to State conventions; we sometimes vote wrong in national
affairs. It is an easy thing to think school district; difficult,
indeed, to think State or nation. But we grow. When we make mistakes,
it is not because we are evil, but because we don’t know. Once we get a
clear understanding of the right or wrong of any question you can depend
upon us–absolutely–to vote for what is right. With more education we
shall be able to think in larger and larger circles–until we become,
finally, really national in our interests and sympathies. Whenever a man
comes along who knows how simple we are, and how much we really want to
do right, if we can be convinced that a thing _is_ right–who explains
how the railroad question, for example, affects us in our intimate daily
lives, what the rights and wrongs of it are, why, we can understand and
do understand–and we are ready to act.
It is easy to rally to a flag in times of excitement. The patriotism of
drums and marching regiments is cheap; blood is material and cheap;
physical weariness and hunger are cheap. But the struggle I speak of is
not cheap. It is dramatised by few symbols. It deals with hidden
spiritual qualities within the conscience of men. Its heroes are yet
unsung and unhonoured. No combats in all the world’s history were ever
fought so high upward in the spiritual air as these; and, surely, not
And so, out of my experience both in city and country, I feel–yes, I
_know_–that the real motive power of this democracy lies back in the
little country neighbourhoods like ours where men gather in dim
schoolhouses and practice the invisible patriotism of surrender and
David Grayson (Adventures in Contentment)
Part of chapter XIII “The Politician”