Wilhelm Martin Anthony August von Tubbe ran away to the United States at age 17. He changed his name to Anthony August Tubbs (Tony Tubbs), a name that will live forever in Coeur d’Alene history.
Courtesy photo
Coeur d’Alene Press

By Richard Sheldon
| April 9, 2020 1:12 AM

Born in Germany in the late 1850s, Wilhelm Martin Anthony August von Tubbe ran away to the United States at age 17. He changed his name to Anthony August Tubbs (Tony Tubbs), a name that will live forever in Coeur d’Alene history.

After arriving in the United States he joined the Navy. He served several years and on leaving the Navy he worked on boats on the Snake and Columbia rivers. He then moved to Coeur d’Alene.

His name is first seen in a dependable historical listing when he ran for but lost his bid for a commissioner’s post in Kootenai County. In 1884, Tony purchased 138 acres of land bounded by the lake, north to Mullan Avenue and east to 11th Street, an area that included the north and west sides of what is now Tubbs Hill and west to Third Street.

He opened a hotel in Coeur d’Alene in the late 1880s — the Hotel d’Landing, which was so named because it was close to where the lake steamers docked. He followed up two years later with a second, two-story hotel east of Fort Sherman. This hotel was eventually named The Lakeside Hotel.

He moved to Wardner, Idaho, where he met and married Versa Virginia Camp, his second wife. They were married for 28 years. Tony lived only briefly in Coeur d’Alene and Versa never claimed Coeur d’Alene as her residence. Tony died in a construction accident in 1925.

The hill that would eventually be given Tony’s name was a prominent landmark for the early town of Coeur d’Alene. Father DeSmet reported paddling his canoe down from Cataldo Mission during a flood; he found that the hill had become an island due to the flooding. The highest recorded water level of the lake was in 1894, at 2,141 feet above sea level.*

Tony sold the hill and attached land. Ownership was held by many who wanted to sell plots for building homes. The hill was eventually purchased in 1969 for $125,000 by the city of Coeur d’Alene from the Idaho Water Co.

“In purchasing this hill property, the city acquired for the public forever, 38 acres of land, including about 2,650 feet of shoreline of Lake Coeur d’Alene,” said then Mayor Gardner.

The cost to the city was approximately $13 per foot of lakeshore. Such a deal!

*Currently, the lake’s level ranges between a high of 2,128 feet in summer and a low 2,121 feet in winter. These levels are managed by the dam downstream on the Spokane River in order to avoid further flooding.

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The Museum of North Idaho continues to search for community support for the rebuilding of a state-of-the-art Museum as befitting our matchless North Idaho. We are writing grants, engaging businesses throughout North Idaho and asking for donations from private citizens. Please donate to this important project. Show your support for the Museum and the preservation of history by becoming a member of the Museum. Go to www.museumni.org or call 208-664-3448 or send your $25 yearly membership dues to P.O. Box 812, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-0812 to join today.