NORMAN BUSHNELL WILLEY was born in Guilford, New York, on March 25, 1838. He was educated at the Delaware Literary Institute in Franklin, New York. After settling in Warren, Idaho in 1864, Willey continued to pursue a career in mining. He entered politics in 1872, as a member of the Idaho Territorial House of Representatives, a position he held until 1873. He was reelected to the house in 1878, serving until 1889, was council president in 1879, and was elected Idaho’s lieutenant governor in 1890. On December 18, 1890, Governor George L. Shoup left office to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, and Willey, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, he oversaw the transition of a territorial government into a state institution, election practices were amended, governmental agencies were created, and steps were taken to petition for designs for a state seal. Willey also contended with riotous labor disputes between miners and mine owners in the Coeur D’Alene region. In an effort to suppress the violence and restore order, he declared martial law, calling in the state militia and federal troops. After losing his 1893 election bid, Willey left office, and returned to his mining interests. After Willey suffered a bout of financial setbacks and poor health, the Idaho legislature appropriated $1200 to him as an unofficial pension. Governor Norman B. Willey died on October 20, 1921, and was buried in the Auburn Cemetery in Auburn, Kansas.
Idaho State Historical Society Gubernatorial Manuscript and Archive Collections:
- Archive Collection of Governor Norman B. Willey, AR0002.0002.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.