Paris Idaho Tabernacle

Photographic Essay by Ray G. Law
Text by Dorothy C. Law

I am daily in touch with the past without living there. I suspect that the only present we can really live in -- the only enduring present, is one that makes connnections -- horizontally to other people now living elsewhere under other circumstances, vertically down to the dead and up to the unborn. Down to our history and up with endeavor. We must keep the connections. Past, present and future."

The Paris Idaho Stake Centennial Commemoration Committee: James Parker, Stake Activities Chairman; Tara S. Parker, Cultural Arts Specialist; Owen Rich, Committee Advisor; President Richard Small; Counselors Eric Mattson and Steven Rex.

CREDITS: Pen and Ink Drawing, Lois Barkdull; Photos pg. 12 courtesy Dean and Edith Ward; Photo pg. 5 courtesy Paris Idaho Stake; Photo pg. 13 courtesy Nadine Nelson; Photo pgs. 3, 24 courtesy Dorothy C. Law; Proofreaders, Cheryl Johnson and Julie Rowland.

The text is based on: Land of the Sky-Blue Water by Dr. Russell R. Rich, Brigham Young University Press, 1963; History of Bear Lake Pioneers, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Bear Lake County, 1968; Charles C. Rich by Leonard]. Arrington, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah, 1974.


In 1871 the pioneer settlers in the Bear Lake Stake which at that time extended to Star Valley on the east, Soda Springs on the north and Randolph on the south began hauling rock to build a Tabernacle in Paris.

They recognized the necessity of such a building because there was no building to hold the large crowd that gathered for Stake Conference.

Their plans were premature and too ambitious. The church was calling for funds for the Perpetual Emigration Fund and for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. Outlying settlements were expected to contribute to these funds. Even though ready money was scarce, the Bear Lake Eider's Q.iorum donated one hundred and sixty head of cattle to the building of the Salt Lake Temple in December 1876.

The Church began construction of the Logan Temple in 1877 and appointed Charles C. Rich with Moses Thatcher and Charles 0. Card as a committee to head construction.

This meant sizeable donations would be expected from the Bear Lake Saints. As the temple neared completion the people in Bear Lake began to think again about a Tabernacle.

On February 5, 1882, a commitee was appointed in Stake Priesthood Meeting to draw up plans for a Tabernacle. The dimensions of the building were decided upon. The cost was to be about $12,000. It was decided to build the Tabernacle on the public square.

President Taylor met with the building committee and advised them to suspend their plans until the Temple was completed. By the time the Logan Temple was completed the settlers of the Bear Lake area had donated about $60,000 toward the building.

Logan Temple. The Bear Lake Saints contributed labor, resources and money toward completion.

President George Osmond announced in conference in May 1884 that the Temple was completed and that the Stake Tabernacle would be the next work.

The First Presidency of the Church had given their approval and church architect Joseph Don Carlos Young, Brigham Young's son, was sent to Paris to re-design the building. His plan was expansive, a Roman revival style church, one-hundred twenty-seven feet long and seventy-three feet wide with an eighty foot tower and a seating capacity of about 1500.

In May 1884 steps to begin the construction of the Tabernacle were taken. President William Budge, who was appointed superintendent of the work, announced on July 5 that 1200 loads of rock had been hauled from Indian Creek.

The work started on the Tabernacle just twenty-one years after the first settlers arrived in the valley under the direction of Thomas G. Lowe, a contractor from Logan, Utah.

Concrete footings were dug eight feet deep and six feet wide. Floor joists were set on one foot centers.

The Tabernacle is under construction.

Logs were hauled from nearby canyons and sawed at the Robert Price shingle mills in Paris Canyon.

The lime and mortar were made in Paris Canyon.

Each person in the stake was assessed equally $1.50 so that the work could begin $6,200 had to be raised to help pay for labor.

The Bear Lake Democrat stated in the August 8th issue:

"The walls of our new tabernacle begin to loom up above the surface of the ground so that they can be seen at a distance. The stone cutters are busy dressing stones obtained in Indian Creek Canyon and hauled about fifteen miles out with wagons. Everything around the building has an appearance of beauty."

Edward Johnston was called by letter on a mission to quarry rock from Indian Creek and Paris Canyon by the First Presidency of the Church. The letter read:

"Dear Brother:

Elder M. F. Cowley of the Council of the Apostles will attend the quarterly stake conference next Sunday (20th). He desires to meet and talk with you regarding taking a mission. Please make yourself known to him.

Your Brother,
George Reynolds, Sec."

Other settlers may have received the same type of call from Church Officials.

James Hymas was called to send a man with a team and wagon to work on the Tabernacle hauling rock from Indian Creek.

The call was for a month. Caleb Parker was the man he sent.

Anders Beck hauled brick, timber, lime and rock for the building. His team hauled the stone which bears the inscription on the front of the building.

Otto Rohner was a young boy at the time the Stake Tabernacle was built. He was unable to lift or work with heavy stones; however, he was one of the crew boys who drove the empty wagons to the quarry east of Bear Lake where older men loaded the wagons. Otto and other boys would drive the full wagons back to Paris to be unloaded.

The steps for the building which had been cut the proper size at Indian Creek were hauled to the site by Walter Lewis.

Tabernacle steps were cut to size and hauled from Indian Creek.

During the winter the stone was hauled across the frozen lake and piled at the Tabernacle grounds. A sleigh could make a trip in one day under ideal conditions.

Thomas Gambling and his family arrived in Paris in 1883 after many hardships. He obtained work helping build the Stake Tabernacle. For this work he received "scrip" on the different co-operative stores in Paris which he used as money.

About 1861, Jacob Tueller lost everything he had in an investment in a cotton factory in Bern, Switzerland. This meant the loss of his farm where he had made a comfortable living. He was unprepared to do anything but common labor. Masons were needed to work on the Thuner Hotel. Tueller knew nothing of the mason trade but applied for a job anyway. He was accepted and because of his willingness to learn and take orders he worked there for three years until the hotel was finished. He found other stone mason jobs and as his sons became old enough they worked with their father and learned the trade.

The Tuellers heard the Mormon religion and accepted it and were baptized in the river Aar by John U. Stucki in 1875.

One by one as finances permitted they emigrated to America and Utah. When Jacob Tueller arrived the family came to Logan, Utah and when they inquired where they could find work, President Budge told them that stone cutters were wanted to work on the Stake Tabernacle being built at Paris, Idaho. This was the kind of work they had learned in Switzerland, so they moved to Paris. Jacob Jr. cut the stone for the Tabernacle while his father and brothers, Christian andJohn, laid the rock.

At the age of twelve, James Collings, Sr. was apprenticed to a friend of his father at the shipyards near Sunderland, England. By the age of twenty-one, he was considered a master carpenter assistant in building ships for Queen Victoria's Navy. He heard the gospel in 1840 and was baptized. He came to America and worked the shipyards in order to bring his family. After crossing the plains in 1860, Collings worked in Salt Lake on the Tabernacle, Theatre and Social Hall. He was called to help settle Bear Lake Valley and arrived in 1866. He designed the ceiling in the Tabernacle after a style used in ships. He, with the help of others, constructed the ceiling. Collings donated and placed the colored glass at the west end of the gallery. He brought it with him from New England.

When James Nye was eleven years old his family sailed for Australia from Kent, England. There they farmed, mined and herded sheep. The family owned a valuable horse that was gored by a bull. The veterinarian was called. He was a Mormon who preached the gospel to the family. They were baptized and left for Utah in 1859 by way of Sacramento. James bought a freight wagon and some mules and hauled freight from Sacramento to Salt Lake City. From there he went to Brigham City and then Logan, Utah.

In Logan, James obtained work as a carpenter on the Logan Temple and Tabernacle. Then he was called by the church authorities to go to Bear Lake. His skills as a carpenter were needed.

Nye moved to Bear' Lake in 18 7 7 and worked as a carpenter on the Bear Lake Tabernacle. He did the carving in the ceiling of the choir and built the windows. With a hand lathe, he burnished all the bannisters around the pulpit.

William Shepherd stenciled the letters on the inscription on the front of the building. Shepherd emigrated directly to Paris, Idaho from Fawley, England in 1877 with the aid of President William Budge.

The doors of the Tabernacle were handmade by John H. Grimmett. The Victorian graining technique used on the doors gives them an expensive appearance. Graining involves painting the wood white, varnishing over the paint and using special tools to change the appearance to walnut, oak, birch or mahogany.

Skilled craftsmen of all kinds had been called to Bear Lake to aid in building the Tabernacle. Almost all of the men in the stake assisted in building the Tabernacle during those years. The Relief Society prepared meals for the workers at the Tabernacle grounds.

The Tabernacle was not built with surplus that the pioneer settlers had to spare. It was built by sacrifice.

On July 20, 1889, the Deseret News published a description of the building giving this interesting observation:

"All who have seen the Bear Lake Stake House unite in pronouncing it one of the handsomest and most substantial structures in this region. It is built of rock, that of the walls proper being of a dark hue, while that of the butments and facings is red sandstone. The latter had to be conveyed from the quarry, a distance of eighteen miles.

The building faces west and is of liberal dimensions, its length being, inclusive of a semi-circular projection at one end, in which is located the vestry, 127 feet six inches, while the width is seventy-three feet four inches. The front elevation is strikingly handsome, being embellished by a tower which rises to a height of eighty feet, exclusive of the vane. Another smaller tower is located near one corner of the front. There are seven entrances, three in front and two on each side, while the entire structure is amply lighted with a suitable number of appropriate windows. The choir is unique and attractive. It is semi-circular in form. It is in the-..... part of the building of that shape that abuts from the rear. It has an organ stand and has a capacity for seating fifty singers. In front of it is the stand, which has two elevations besides the Bishops compartment of it which is on the level with the floor.

A special feature of the building is that, notwithstanding its unusual length, all the people seated on the lower part of the auditorium can command a full view of the stand, including the lowest portion of it. This advantage is gained by inclining the floor at an appropriate angle from the stand to the extreme end of the hall. The gallery surrounds the whole of the interior with the exception of the east end, where the stand and choir are located. It is supported by pillars, which by running clear through from floor to roof also sustains the latter.

The ceiling is admirable. The middle portion of it is a species of nave, being almost semi-circular in form, with an isle paralleling it on each side. The whole is thrown into panels by timbering, the wood being appropriately stained. This gives it a somewhat heavy and subdued appearance, in keeping with the character of the exercises conducted within it. ... the worship of God.


By the time it receives the finishing touches it will have cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. It is a substantial monument of the enterprise of President Budge and Council and the people of Bear Lake Stake, who are noted for being possessed of a generous disposition and much public spirit."

During rehearsal for the dedication services for the Tabernacle, one of the Rochester coal oil lamps used for lighting was left with the wick turned too high. It was suspended from the ceiling on a rope and somehow fell, splattering burning coal oil over a large area within the building. The fire had a good start, but was put out by the quick actions of a bucket brigade formed by those present. Their hard work saved the building. Before the dedication could be held some of the interior of the building had to be repaired.

On September 15, 1889, the dedication services for the Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle were held. President Wilford Woodruff and President George Q. Cannon were in attendance. The dedicatory prayer was offered by President Cannon. Talks were given by Wilford Woodruff, President George Parkinson of the Oneida Stake and Thomas Rich who recounted exploring the valley for settlement. President Cannon read from the Bible. This was followed by a dedicatory anthem. Elder George Reynolds gave the benediction. Almost one-half of the stake members were present for the dedication.

The modern satellite dish in rear of Tabernacle receives broadcasts from Salt Lake City.

The building was complete and dedicated but a few of the bills remained to be paid. The final bills were paid in 1893. This included the first organ which was a two-manual reed organ powered by hand-pumped bellows. The final $475.00 owed on the Tabernacle was paid by the First Presidency of the Church because the Bear Lake Saints "had paid so much more on special Temple donations than had been asked for.''

The Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle at the time of construction was the largest Church building in the state of Idaho. The History of Idaho published by the Lewis Publishing Company, 1899, paid a glowing tribute to the Tabernacle stating: "It is by far the finest church edifice in the state."

The Tabernacle was equipped in 1928 with an Austin two-manual pipe organ with four pedals that was built in Hartford, Connecticut. It was installed by James J. Toronto and his son.

The building has been modernized with the installation of carpeting, heating, electricity and entrances for the handicapped. It is equipped with a satellite dish for broadcasts from Salt Lake City.

The Tabernacle is used primarily for worship services during semi-annual Stake Conferences. It is a house of instruction and contemplation.

Other activities held in the building are firesides, leadership meetings, plays and musicals.

Display cases in the foyer contain early pioneer artifacts and memorabilia.

During summer months guided tours are given from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily under the direction of the Paris Idaho Stake Missionaries where visitors learn of the history and purpose of the Tabernacle.

The name of the stake was changed from Bear Lake Stake to Paris Idaho Stake in 1974.

The Tabernacle was completed just twenty-five years after the settlers entered Bear Lake Valley. It stands as a fitting monument to the early pioneers and a legacy handed down to each new generation.


Jim Bridger described Bear Lake Valley to Brigham Young as early as 1847 stating that cottonwood, maples, oak and beautiful pines were abundant there. Bridger described "Peg Leg" Thomas L. Smith who lost a leg in the winter of 1827-28 and operated a farm and trading post on an island on the Bear River where Dingle is located today. Smith left the area in 1863.

The first white man to see Bear Lake Valley was a trapper named Joseph Miller. He was with a group of trappers who separated from the rest of the Wilson Price Hunt Expedition in the winter of 1811-12. They traveled up the Portneuf, east, where they discovered Bear River. The river they followed was given the name of "Miller".

The next white party to visit this area was Donald McKenzie and his men from the Northwest Fur Company. He came as a result of stories concerning the large number of available pelts in the region. While collecting his furs he wrote a note to his friend Ross at Fort Nez Perce. He headed it "Black Bears Lake, September 10, 1919". This is the first record of the name of the lake which was shortened to Bear Lake because of the presence of the many black bears in the region. Miller River was renamed Bear River for the same reason.

The Oregon Trail entered Bear Lake Valley from two different directions, the older of which went along the southern and western shores of Bear Lake. A few years later a cutoff to the north was made and the Oregon Trail then came into present Bear Lake County near the point where Bear River crosses the state line from Wyoming. It then proceeded down into Bear Lake Valley, passed through the present sites of Montpelier and Bennington and went on to Soda Springs.

The early fur men played very little part in the permanent history of Bear Lake Valley. They extracted the furs but gave nothing in return except a little knowledge to the Oregon Trail immigrants. The Oregon Trail immigrants were no better as far as the building of Bear Lake Valley was concerned. Their greatest desire was to move on as fast as possible.

The homestead law passed by Congress on May 20, 1862, opening up new land for settlement was probably one of the reasons Brigham Young was anxious that the Latter Day Saints settle Bear Lake Valley.

At that time Bear Lake Valley was a gathering place and favorite hunting ground for several Indian tribes, the Bannock, Shoshone and Utes.

On August 23, 1863, Brigham Young called a meeting in Logan for the purpose to discuss settling Bear Lake Valley. Charles C. Rich was chosen to lead an exploring party into the valley and select a site for settlement. The small party of men led by Rich made their way from Franklin to Mink Creek over the mountains and entered the valley by what became known as Emigration Canyon. They settled on North Twin Creek, later known as Paris Creek.

Immediately afterward a group with eleven wagons left Cache Valley. Ten men and three women made the trip: John Poole, Charles and Ann Atkins, Cass Whittle, William Harris, Louis Ricks, Thomas Sleight, John Bright, Thomas Mantle, Ebenezer Lauder, J. Bowman, Alex Allen and Matthew Fifield.

Others followed and built crude cabins of logs with sod roofs on the banks of North Twin Creek. Over 110 people lived there the first winter. During the year of 1864 a total of 700 people arrived in the valley and the following towns were colonized: Ovid, Liberty, Montpelier, Bloomington, St. Charles, Fish Haven and Bennington.

The valley was a forbidding looking place to the pioneers; no trees, roads or houses, just dry grass and sagebrush, but there was no turning back, their leaders had called. They found the first years pioneering in Bear Lake Valley a trying experience.

The first crude log homes had a dirt roof that leaked, one room and one tiny window. The door was of rough planks crossed and the lock, a rawhide skin which pulled in at night as protection against Indians. The dirt floor was covered with straw or hay. The walls were chinked with mud and sometimes whitewashed. The bed, small poles bored into the wall, fastened with wooden pegs to the rough board sides, then pegs driven into the 3 x 4 timber, to this was laced rawhide which held a straw-filled mattress. Beneath the bed was a baby bed. Bedding was buffalo robes traded from the Indians and a few handmade quilts. The furniture, a homemade pine table, chairs of sawed logs, some from cottonwood hollowed out with rawhide seats. Dishes were tin, the pots and kettles were iron. Food was cooked on open fireplaces or in bake ovens covered with hot coals.

The Thomas Sleight Cabin was one of the first cabins built by pioneers in 1863.

There were no matches. If the fire went out during the night they waited in the morning until they saw smoke coming from a neighbor's house and then borrowed a few red coals to fan into a blaze to start their fire.

Some of the log houses had only a hole in the center of the roof for the fire. Some settlers pitched a tent made from their wagon cover that first winter in the valley. Others lived in dugouts and some lived in brush shanties.

The first settlers didn't suffer much for food because of the abundance of game: elk, deer, buffalo, wild geese, ducks, rabbits, grouse and fish from the lakes and streams.

Bread was made from wheat ground in coffee mills, the wheat brought with them for foocl and seed. Mush was home ground from the same wheat. "Mormon" gravy was made from flour, milk and grease. Lumpy Dick was a pudding made of milk and lumps of thickening.

In October 1863, while the women and children plastered mud between the logs of their cabins, a few of the men made a trip back to Cache Valley for the winter supply of food. The supply consisted of fifty pounds of beans, molasses they had boiled on shares, salt they gathered from the shores of Salt Lake and a small amount of wheat.

Soap was made from scraps of fat and wood ashes. Starch was made from potatoes and candles were made from any fat that could be found. A day was set aside for candle making which involved dipping and cooling until they became the necessary size. Instead of candles, some burned animal fat in a pan using any sort of rag for a wick. There was usually no other light except for the fireplace.

The winter of 1864 was very cold and severe and proved to be one of many hardships for the Bear Lake pioneers. Seven milk cows and a horse froze to death. A steer that fell through the ice and drowned was skinned and divided among the families. Although the meat was black it tasted better than boiled wheat. Sometimes the snow completely covered the cabins and they had to keep a shovel inside the house in order to dig out in the morning. Their grain, potatoes and beets froze. Bread made from the frozen wheat was dark and soggy.

The Tabernacle in early 1900's with wrought iron fence around the grounds.

The interior of the Tabernacle with white benches.

July 4, 1909 in the Tabernacle.

Water jug and cup brought across the plains by the pioneers. On display in the foyer of the Tabernacle.

Coffee mill used by earry pioneers to grind wheat. On display in foyer of Tabernacle.

Despite hardships the settlers did their best to provide a happy Christmas. Little individual puddings were made and cookies decorated with caraway seed. The women knitted mittens and wool stockings and made and dressed rag dolls for the girls. The men whittled and carved wooden spinning tops for the boys. It was a time to get out the fiddle or guitar and sing and dance or tell stories by the firelight.

The settlers were industrious and began early to clear rock and sagebrush from the land so grain could be grown. The soil was cultivated by driving a team of oxen and following the plow and harrow on foot, sowing seed by hand. The hay was cut with a sickle or scythe, the grain with a cradle and bound by hand.

The women and children followed the men as they finished their harvesting and gleaned the wheat which was left on the ground. This was placed on a canvas and the heads beaten off. The heads of the wheat were threashed out with a flail (two willows joined together). Some people roasted kernels of wheat and made a hot drink of it. The wheat contained many black dirty bits called "smut". The wheat had to be used as it was.

Grasshoppers were a menace that came in large brown clouds and feasted upon every blade of grain and grass. To keep the grasshoppers from eating the wheat that was two to three inches high the settlers cut armloads of willows and trimmed the branches off except for a few leaves at the top. Early in the morning folks lined up at the top of the fields with gloves and sunbonnets on and the willows. They walked along slowly and beat the crickets to the bottom of the field where a trench had been dug and the men hurried to bury the pests with soil. Some put straw along the fences '' so the hoppers would get on and spend the night''. The straw was set on fire in an attempt to destroy the grasshoppers.

Everyone was out of bread stuff long before another harvest due to the killing frosts and hoards of grasshoppers. The children took sacks and found sego bulbs, wild onions and any other edible plants. Those things took the place of bread.

All the cloth used had to be spun at home and everyone had to skein and make their own clothes or go without. The women sheared the wool from the sheep, washed, corded, spun and wove it into yard goods.

Women milked the cows, raised chickens and traded surplus butter and eggs for things needed in the home.

The Church was the center of community life. Church services were first held in homes in Paris. Later a log meeting house was erected that also served as a community center.

Religion played an important part in the pioneer communities. Everything was under the direction of Church officials. Their fairness and judgement gave their followers confidence in their advice. They were respected among the people. Almost everyone attended church meetings. The speaker was as likely to talk about how to fence land or irrigation as the Gospel.

Tithing was paid in kind. As the butter was churned, the tenth pound was set aside. Each day the eggs were counted and set aside and when grain was threshed the tenth sack was set back and every tenth load of hay was hauled to the tithing yard. "Sunday eggs" were handed in to the Bishop or the Relief Society president.

One of the biggest problems for anyone in Bear Lake was to get money. There was no cash in people's pockets. Every cent that could be scraped together was saved to pay taxes. Social affairs were paid without money. Dance tickets were paid with wheat. Dancing was the most popular amusement and dances were held often. Round dancing (waltzing) was frowned upon by Church Officials so the settlers enjoyed square dancing, the Virginia Reel and other dances of that kind. Crowds were so large that it was necessary to take turns dancing. The dances started early in the afternoon and continued nearly all night. The orchestra consisted of a violin, a guitar, banjo and a piano.

Home dramatics and producing plays provided enjoyable pastimes for the settlers. They had spelling bees and suppers and the women had rag bees and quiltings.

Education was of prime importance to the settlers. They considered it a religious duty. The first school in Paris in 1863-64 was a oneroom log house made of green quaking aspens, chinked with mud. There was a dirt roof and rough-hewn logs were used for benches. It was built on the square where the Tabernacle now stands. Thomas Sleight and Louis Ricks were the first teachers in the new settlement.

The first school in Bloomington in 1864 was a log building with a dirt floor, divided into two rooms by a wagon cover stretched across the middle. It was heated by a large fireplace and the seats were made of rough slabs. George Osmond and James H. Hart were the teachers.

The settlers in Bear Lake Valley were expected to keep peace with the Indians that came through the area by the hundreds. They gave them flour, a beef or sometimes they went together and purchased livestock for them such as an oxen team. Quite a number of Indians camped by the creek bank. They were friendly and walked from house to house asking for food. The Indian would say, "Biscuit, me hungry". They were given a loaf of bread and a pan of milk which they passed around the group until each had a drink. A few of Indians kept an account of what they had received by making a notch on a post and returned in the spring with buffalo robes and pelts for the settlers.

Beaded cape and bonnet worn by wife of Charles C. Rich. On display in foyer of Tabernacle.

Emeline Rich, the fifth wife of Apostle Charles C. Rich, was one of the first midwives in Paris. She took a course in obstetrics from Dr. William Kohler, a professionally trained physician, to increase her knowledge of medicine and to gain professional training as a midwife. He did his own compounding of drugs and taught her his skill also. There were no drugstores in Paris and her training made her services much sought after. Other pioneer women in the valley provided long and faithful service as midwives and brought hundreds of babies into the world. The midwives traveled by sleigh or buggy wherever they were needed. Their fees ranged from nothing to $5.00 to take care of mother and baby for ten days. They were usually paid in produce.

Ramps have been installed for use by the handicapped.

Epidemics of malaria, scarlet fever, diptheria and typhoid took their toll on the Bear Lake Saints. There were few doctors. Some possessed a talent of the healing arts and assisted in caring for the sick, setting broken bones and pulling teeth. One young boy had a finger taken off in an accident with an axe. There was no doctor around. His father chewed up a piece of tobacco and put it on the finger. The wound healed.

Detail of wood carving above doorways.

The first official United States mail carrier for Bear Lake, James Collings, Jr. , packed mail from Paris to Franklin on snowshoes once a week for four winters. A log cabin on the summit of Emigration Canyon was used for camping and resting. When the snows were too deep for him to go through the door, he climbed through a trap door on the roof. On one trip, he wandered three days in a blizzard not daring to stop for fear of freezing to death. He took Charles C. Rich over the mountains when he was called to Salt Lake City.

Detail of rock work around windows and on towers.

Commercial fishing was carried on by the early settlers of Bear Lake Valley during the 1880s. The pioneers made their own boats and seines and caught trout and suckers. The trout were salted down and hauled by oxen team to Evanston, Wyoming, the nearest railroad station and town. The fish were bartered for household goods and farm implements at first. Later money was received for this product. This was one of the few sources of cash in the Bear Lake area. The women took part in this work by making the nets.

Other occupations included freighting, blacksmith, carpentry, mill work, and cattle raising, but the principal occupation surrounding Paris was farming.

Soon after the settlers arrived in the area, Frederick T. Perris, a civil engineer, was brought into the settlement by Rich to survey the townsite. The town was surveyed into city blocks consisting of ten one-acre lots each. The city was named after him, although the spelling of his name was changed to Paris.

Early business in the city included the Paris Co-operative Institution. The purpose of the cooperative plan was to enable the people to establish a complete economic life among themselves. Included in the cooperative were a dairy, a harness shop, tannery, lath and shingle mill, tin shop and tailoring business.

In 1867 Paris received the services of U.S. Post Office and in 1871 the telegraph reached the valley.

When it was determined by an official survey in 18 72 that the Bear Lake area was in Idaho, it was included in Oneida County. It was such a distance from the county seat that in 18 7 5 Bear Lake County was created. Paris was named as county seat and the new county courthouse was contracted for completion by July 1885. It is the oldest continuously used courthouse in the state. A jail was constructed, the Paris Post and the first telephone system was installed in Paris in 1882.

A back view of the Tabernacle showing choir and vestry cubicle and chimneys.

Paris was incorporated as a city in 1897. A mayor and board of trustees were established with John U. Stucki as the first mayor of Pans. Improvements were made in Paris after that time. In 1902 Paris received electrical power from a plant built three miles up Paris Canyon. A bond election to build a city water system was held in 1912. The bond carried and the system was installed.

The Fielding Academy was completed in 1901. Students from the entire region boarded in Paris and attended the school. The building was destroyed by fire in 1928 and a new high school was constructed on the east side of town. It was torn down to make room for a modern elementary school.

For a time Paris flourished and the population rose to its highest peak of 1333 when the town became involved with mining. In 1917, the Western Phosphate and Manufacturing Company purchased property along with mineral rights in Paris Canyon. A right-of-way was secured from property owners in 1920 for the construction of a railroad through their properties to retrieve ore from the mining area. The Grandy Mine filed for bankruptcy in 1922 and ceased operation. Mining operations continued off and on in the area until after World War II.

Paris is the second oldest city in the state of Idaho. It is nestled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains which border the community on the west.

Because of the abundance of water and timber, Rich believed the settlements should center there.

The Paris Courthouse and the LOS Tabernacle are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the public buildings that were built around the turn of the century are still in use today. Many early homes have been restored and have significant historical value in the community.

When President Brigham Young was speaking in the valley to the pioneer settlers he promised the people that "if you will live your religion, the Lord will temper the elements and bless the soil that you will raise good crops".

Tabernacle after winter snowstorm.

Most pioneers considered their part in the settlement of Bear Lake Valley a mission call and though urged to leave the severe winters and return to Cache Valley or Salt Lake, their response was "that they must remain until released".


The story of the life of Charles Coulson Rich is inseparably connected with the early history of the Mormon Church. Rich was a dauntless colonizer, intelligent, practical and understanding. His actions produced results.

He was often called on to abandon personal and family concerns in his long life of leadership and service. He was unquestioning in his obedience to his many calls and assignments. He was an unmistakable leader.

Rich was born August 21, 1809, in northern Kentucky, the son of Joseph Rich and Nancy O'Neal.

Shortly after his birth his father purchased a small farm in Switzerland County, Indiana. Pioneer life was centered around the home. Charles helped with the plowing on the farm at the early age of eight. He said that he usually attended school "three months in the year, working on the farm the balance of my time".

The frontier west beyond the Wabash Mountains beckoned. "In 1829," Rich wrote, '' father sold his farm and moved west to Illinois arriving October 7. ''

The Riches stayed on the fringe of the settled area of Illinois in the central part of the state.

Grown now, Charles considered leaving his family and starting out on his own, but his parents were reluctant to see their only son leave home.

In those days it was common for anyone who wanted to teach to start his own school and gather his own pupils to attend. Rich, who was as well qualified as most, stayed and taught school during the winter. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the subjects taught and the pay was in produce.

A crusade against the evils of liquor, gambling, horse racing and fighting began in the summer of 1830. Central Illinois became an area of contending religious sects and considerable interest in religion.

Apostle Charles C. Rich.

The Riches neighbors were the first to become interested in the religious questions.

About that time a letter from a neighbor's relative concerning '' a new book called the Book of Mormon,'' arrived. The neighbor was Morris Phelps. He shared the letter with his close friends, the Riches.

Two Mormon preachers visited the area in July and were invited to preach at the Phelp's home.

Charles Rich heard and believed the gospel and was presented a Book of Mormon by the two missionaries, Lyman Wight and John Carroll. He read it and was baptized April 1, 1832, by George M. Hinde along with his father, mother and sister, Minerva.

On May 7, 1832, Rich left home to visit Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio.

Charles Rich, new convert became Charles Rich, new preacher, preaching and visiting branches of the church on the way to Kirtland in the company of two Mormon elders, Zebedee Coltrin and Solomon Wixom.

After Rich had been in Kirtland for some time with the Prophet and other leaders, he returned home and found the fledgling church suffering from lack of leadership. Rich, twenty-three years old, was empowered as an elder to preside over meetings. He attempted to hold church meetings every Sunday. If no one came, he held another one on Monday evening to give them another chance.

Church work occupied much of Rich's time. He served m1ss10ns, organized branches of the church and preached at every opportunity.

Rich was responsible for much of the growth of the church in what was called "Rich Territory". Now the Lord wanted the Saints to gather to Zion and Charles was eager to obey.

Winter snow blankets the Tabernacle.

Charles Rich married Sarah De Armon Pea, February 11, 1838, after a courtship of correspondence. The newlywed couple moved into a log house that Charles had built near Far West, Missouri.

Mob persecution forced them to move from their home in Far West and to start again helping build a new city.

Rich became involved in the colonization of Nauvoo and bought a lot and built a log cabin for his family.

He grew in capacity for leadership and was appointed to the high council of the Nauvoo Stake on the date of its formation, October 6, 1839.

After approval of the city charter, December 4, 1840, the citizens of Nauvoo established their city government. Rich was elected to the city council February 1, 1841, and then days later upon the organization of the Nauvoo Legion, he was appointed a Captain in the first regiment of that body.

The Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred June 27, 1844, and by September the leadership of the church had resolved to go to the Rocky Mountains.

The Saints hoped to stay in Nauvoo long enough to use their temple for endowment ceremonies. Late in 1845 the temple was completed and Rich was called to officiate beginning December 18. Charles and Sarah participated in endowment ceremonies until the temple closed January 2.

When Rich arrived in the Salt Lake Valley he found that colonization had begun. He was allotted three and three-fourths acres of land in what was the 17th Ward. He purchased a farm in Centerville.

Rich took part in the many councils that framed the constitution of the new state of Desert. He served as a commander of the colony, an extension of his role in Nauvoo.

His final integration into central leadership came with his calling on February 12, 1849, as a member of the Council of Twelve. At age 39, he was the oldest of the new apostles.

Chief Washakie. A pact of friendship was made between himself and Charles C. Rich making it possible for the Bear Lake Valley to be colonized.

In the October general conference, 1849, Rich was called to journey to California to help Amasa Lyman preside over the church there. His travels took him from San Francisco to Sacramento to Salmon Falls. He held meetings, preached, visited the sick, arranged business, gathered tithing and counseled members.

He was instrumental in helping purchase the Rancho Del San Bernadino, a 100,000-acre ranch that later became San Bernadino. Rich and Lyman helped colonize San Bernadino.

Charles Rich and Amasa Lyman were called as missionary companion apostles to preside over the European Mission in 1860.

Though it meant another separation from home and family, Rich was ready to do the Lord's work. He left six wives and twenty-eight children with no means of support other than the small farms he owned. He was steadfast to his religion in spite of. difficult challenges.

In 1863, following his return from Europe, Rich traveled to Cache Valley with Brigham Young to speak at conferences and in the process discussed the need to settle Bear Lake Valley.

On August 23, 1863, the First Presidency met with members of the Twelve and other church authorities to consider sending a company of men to Bear Lake Valley that fall. Rich was asked to lead the company. He said that he did not feel like volunteering but would do whatever the President said.

Once again Charles C. Rich gathered followers for a new exploration and settlement.

The Bannock and Shoshone still claimed Bear Lake Valley as their own hunting grounds. The tribes dressed the hides obtained in buffalo hunts at the south end of the valley. The Utes rendezvoused with northern tribes at Bear Lake. The valley was a trading center for the Indians.

Mormon encroachment onto virgin lands in Bear Lake could have meant serious trouble. In 1863 a massacre had occurred on Bear River in Cache Valley where nearly 400 Indians had been killed. These were considered militants, not the main tribes. It is no wonder Rich was concerned about Indian relationships. He carefully befriended Washakie and obtained his permission for white settlers to enter the valley. The fact that Bear Lake was free of major Indian conflicts attests to the leadership ability of Charles Rich.

The Rich party of thrity-two men, a cart, two wagons left Franklin on September 15.

Rich made the decision to settle in the present site of Paris, Idaho.

As soon as land was chosen, timber was cut for crude dwellings.

In June 1864, the Rich families arrived in the Bear Lake Valley. Rich was now fifty-four years old.

The winter of 1864 was unusually severe. Food was scarce because of severe frosts. The food consisted of frozen wheat and potatoes and not much of that.

Discontent spread throughout the valley. Some of the leading members of the community decided to discuss the future of this venture with Charles C. Rich.

Rich did not hasten to reply to his followers. He admitted the region seemed to have ten months of winter and two months of summer. He tried to grasp a deeper meaning to their efforts in the valley. He remembered the trials and persecutions of Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and California. His loyalty, faith and personal commitment were still there. He rose and spoke slowly to the room full of people.

"Brethren, in the fall of 1863 President Young called me into his office and said, 'Brother Rich, I want you to go up to Bear Lake Valley and see if it can be opened for settlement; and if it can, I want that you should take a company there and settle it."

That was all I needed. It was a call. I came up here with a few brethren; we looked over the valley; and, although the altitude was high, the snows heavy, and the frosts severe, there was plenty of water for irrigation purposes and plenty of fish in the lake and streams. So, with a company, I came here and settled with my family.

There have been many hardships. That I admit. .. and these we have shared together. But if you want to go somewhere else, that is your right, and I do not deprive you of it. If you are of a mind to leave here, my blessing will go with you. But I must stay here, even if I stay alone. President Young called me here and I will remain till he releases me and gives me leave to go."

A few of the families moved back to warmer climates, but Rich always had plenty of company in Bear Lake.

Brigham Young knew that Rich was equal to the most difficult tasks and settling the Bear Lake Valley was one of the toughest. Young had chosen his leader wisely and he knew it.

Rich held a position of ecclesiastical power and responsibility in Bear Lake. Then in June 1869 Brigham Young called David B. Kimball to preside over the new stake in Bear Lake. Rich remained in the valley as presiding officer.

Rich presided over the Bear Lake settlement for twenty years. As a leader in a young, dynamic church, he practiced the tenents of his faith. He was given the opportunity to move back to Utah in 1877 but chose to stay in Bear Lake.

Bust of Charks C. Rich that stands on the south lawn of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle is a prominent building seen from the west and south of Paris.

Front stairway to balcony.

Choir loft and organ.

Windows in balcony.

Balcony doors with intricate detail.

Choir ceiling.

Tabernacle ceiling built by James Collings.

Tabernacle organ.

Colored glass in west gallery.

Bannister around balcony built by James Nye.

Tabernacle vestry.

Inside view of Tabernacle podium and pipe organ.

Inside view stained glass window and balcony area.

Detail of bannisters around podium.

Beams and light fixtures in Tabernacle ceiling.