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Paris History


Information comes from Treasured Tidbits of Time Volume I by Jens Patrick Wilde and is a condensed version


Paris became the premier settlement of the Bear Lake Valley when the first of the Mormon settlers arrived in the fall of 1863.  Apostle Charles C Rich had been commissioned to explore the valley and determine its suitability for settlement.  After his report, the first group was soon underway for the are.  They came over the hill from Franklin on September 22, 1863, arriving seven days later at the site that became Paris.

In the first group were: John Poole, Charles and Ann Adkins, Cass Whittle, William Harris, Lewis Ricks, Thomas Sleight, Thomas Mantle, John Bright, Ebenezer Landers, J Bowman, Allan Allen and Manson Fiefield.  There were nine wagons in the first contingent.

By winter there were 118 persons in the new community.  Twenty cabins were built.  During the spring of 1864 an additional 700 people arrived and scattered from Paris to other areas. In the fall of 1864 Charles C Rich brought Frederick T Perris, a civil engineer to do the first official surveying in the valley.  Prior to that time an official name had not been selected for the settlement.  In honor of the surveyor, the name was Perris but was corrupted to be spelled as Paris.

Paris became the headquarters for all other communities and it was from there that all church decrees and regulations came.  The control of the community reached as far south as Woodruff, Randolph and Laketown, Utah and spread as far east as Star Valley in Wyoming.  In 1869 the first LDS stake was organized at Paris.  This was the first stake to be organized outside Utah although at the time it was thought to be inside Utah.

At first, the community held church services in the largest homes.  By April 1864 a log meeting house was established where the present Pavilion now stands.  Francis Pomeroy built a flour mill using native stones for grinders in 1865.  Schools started early and George Osmond was the first official teacher in Paris although Joseph C Rich did much of the actual class work.  By 1870 a variety of businesses were operating.  A tannery provided hides and shoes, a shingle mill, a sawmill and a lath factory offered building materials and a harness factory and a smithy.

In 1871 a telegraph line linked the valley with the outside world.  Then in September of that year came a shocking surprise.  The Geological Survey established Paris was in Idaho and not a part of Utah.  Paris became the seat of government in 1875 and until then court records were sent first to Soda Springs and later to Oneida County courthouse in Malad.

A cooperative system of living was functioning with the Paris Cooperative Mercantile Institution as the center of business.  A system of script exchange was developed and most of the needs of the community were handled by the Cooperative and dominated business for ten years.  A community dairy cooperative developed at Nounan with headquarters at Paris.  Other enterprises were the tannery, the tin shop and a shoe factory.

In 1877 William Budge replaced David Kimball as the Stake President.  Budge became a dominate figure in the entire valley keeping close control over the Mormons and making every effort to see that they lived by the standards of the church.  Paris continued to grow reaching a population of over 1200.  It became necessary to establish a second ward with Henry Horne in one and Robert Price in the other.

By 1881 a church dominated newspaper the Bear Lake Democrat was in operation with George Osmond the first editor.  It later changed to the Paris Post.  The court house was completed in 1885.  In 1887 the Bear Lake Stake Academy was organized.  In 1901 its name was changed to the Fielding Academy.

Construction of the beautiful Bear Lake Stake Tabernacle became a reality in 1884 and was completed in 1888 at a cost of $50,000.  Telephones came to the valley in 1901, electric power in 1902, the Paris Pavilion in 1913 and the Paris Hotel in 1918.  Paris was incorporated in 1897 and the first village election in April 1878.  The first village board was John U Stucki, president of council, Joseph R Shepherd, Arthur Budge, Christian Fuller, Charles Innes, A F Segmiller, Walter Hoge, Wilford Rich and Thomas Monson.

This information comes from the 1899 Illustrated History of Idaho, page 672

Paris is an incorporated city, containing about fifteen hundred inhabitants and was founded in the fall of 1863 by Apostle C C Rich, who brought with him a company of Latter Day Saints to possess the land and make a settlement. Among the first residents were Robert H Williams, Hezekiah Duffie, John Mann, Thomas Sleight, John and George Humphreys and Joseph Rich, the last named now Judge of the district court.

In 1897 the place was incorporated as a village with a board of trustees and in April 1898, the first city board was elected, consisting of John U Stucki, mayor; Arthur Budge, Walter Hoge, Thomas Menson, Wilford Rich, A F Seegmiller, Christian Fuller and Charles Inness, all representative men.  The city is out of debt.  It has a large brick district school building and the stake academy now being completed and occupies a site which was donated for the purpose by Mayor Stucki.

The Latter Day Saints have also erected a large stake tabernacle of red and white stone, with a seating capacity of twenty-five hundred.  It was built at a cost of fifty thousand dollars and is by far the finest church edifice in the state. There are also two ward frame meeting houses, owned by the same church.  The Presbyterian people also have a nice little church edifice and a resident minister.

The business of the town is done in two large general mercantile stores, a drug store, two meat markets, two blacksmith shops, a harness shop and a creamery.  The last is a new industry owned by a stock company of the citizens, and the factory has a capacity for utilizing six hundred cans of milk per day.  In the county there are also a number of cheese factories.


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