The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Idaho.

Abstracted from "History of the State of Idaho," by Cornelis J. Brosnan, published by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918; p. 80f.

The next religious organization which exerted a marked influence on Idaho, was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter—Day Saints. On June 15, 1855, while Idaho was still part of the Oregon Territory, a little colony of 28 "Mormon" missionaries settled in the Lemhi Valley in eastern Idaho and established a mission on a site about two miles north of the present little town of Tendoy. The long 379-mile journey from Utah was accomplished in a month of dangerous travel over jagged rocks, parched sagebrush wastes, and wide, turbulent rivers.

Fort Lemhi: Southern Idaho's First Temporary Settlement.—The Fort Lemhi Mission, named in honor of a Nephite King mentioned in the Book of Mormon, was the first temporary settlement in southern Idaho.

Soon after their arrival, the industrious missionaries completed the erection of a stockade, and began the transformation of the little mountain valley into an agricultural settlement. In the spring of 1856, the mission was strengthened by the arrival of another small company of settlers from Utah.

The Grasshoppers Destroy Crops (1856).—There was every indication that the unremitting labors of the settlers would be rewarded by an abundant harvest. Swarms of grasshoppers, however, visited the valley during the summer and devoured the crops. So complete had been the ravages of these insects that in the following autumn the mission found it necessary to send to Salt Lake City for fresh supplies of seed, grain, and other provisions.

A Visit from Brigham Young (1857).—In May, 1857, President Brigham Young paid a five-day visit to the little Idaho colony. He was impressed with the fertility of the picturesque valley. A spirit of peace, industry, and happiness was everywhere manifest. On Sunday, May to, 1857, religious services were held at the mission, and the colonists listened to an address by President. In the afternoon of the same Sunday, Snagg, the head chief of the Bannacks, made a formal call upon the at the mission. An old record describing this visit informs us that this Indian chief "came into the Fort, and had a smoke and a long and very friendly talk."

A Prosperous Year at the Mission (1857).—Fine crops of wheat, oats, hay, potatoes, and vegetables were grown during the summer of 1857. A "home-made" plow fashioned by the skilled hands of these pioneer "Mormons" was performing a useful service. A blacksmith's shop, and a grist-mill were in operation. The settlement was in a flourishing condition, and its ultimate success seemed assured, when an event occurred which brought the Lemhi missionary enterprise to an abrupt ending.

Fort Lemhi Abandoned (1858).—On February 25, 1858, a band of Bannack and Shoshoni Indians swooped down upon a herd of cattle which were grazing on some low hills near the fort, and attempted to steal them.

An alarm was soon sounded and a small party of men set out to rescue the stock. They soon found, however, that they were being surrounded by a force of about 150 red men. A hurried retreat within the walls of the fort, doubtless prevented the massacre of the entire settlement. As it was, the Indians succeeded in killing two of the settlers, and in wounding five others. A few weeks later the missionaries were officially recalled, and the fort was abandoned on March 28, 1858.

The Mud Walls of Fort Lemhi.—Fort Lemhi was 16 rods square and was enclosed by mud, or adobe, walls. The walls were 9 feet high, 4 feet thick at the base, and about 2 feet thick at the top. The method of construction followed by the resourceful men who built these walls is most interesting. A frame-work of planks which cones-ponded with the shape of the walls was first erected. Into these plank frames was put the native clay mixed with water. This wet clay, when allowed to dry, formed a kind of mud cement, which proved to be most durable. Portions of these walls, now worn down to a height of 5 or 6 feet, still guard the enclosure within the old fort. Today these venerable landmarks, which are slowly yielding to the assaults of time and weather, mutely remind the sightseer of a brave expedition made into the solitudes of Idaho over a half-century ago.

Idaho's First Permanent Settlement.—On April 14, 1860, a little party of Mormon home-seekers, founded the town of Franklin, which enjoys the prestige of being Idaho's first permanent settlement. This little frontier village, almost a thousand miles removed from railroad and steamboat facilities, was named in honor of Franklin D. Richards, a distinguished Utah pioneer. These path-finders believed that their new home lay within the boundaries of Utah. The Utah-Idaho boundary-line survey of 1872, however, revealed the fact that Franklin was situated in southern Idaho instead of northern Utah.

Franklin Pioneers Establish Idaho's First Irrigation System.—As early as the third decade of the last century, Reverend H. H. Spalding had dug small irrigating-ditches at the Lapwai Mission. In the summer of 1836 a small garden was under cultivation at Old Fort Hall. Twenty years later some simple irrigating was practised on a small scale by the Mormon missionaries in the Lemhi Valley. It remained, however, for the little Franklin colony to lay the foundation for Idaho's first irrigation system. During the year 1860, an irrigation canal 3 1/2 miles in length admitted the waters of Maple Creek to their little ten-acre farm tracts.

Idaho's First School for White Children—The first school conducted for white children within the present boundaries of Idaho, was opened at Franklin during the fall S of 1860. The unique honor of having taught this first school belongs to Miss Hannah Cornish, a daughter of one of the original founders of the settlement. The little schoolhouse in which these pioneer pupils received instruction, was made of logs and was erected in the centre of the town site, which was in the form of a rectangle, go rods long and 60 rods wide.

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