Saint Charles City
A Brief Town History

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   The following is a brief history of Saint Charles taken from the June 1978 comprehensive plan:

HISTORY OF ST. CHARLES

                In the year 1863 President Brigham Young called General Charles C. Rich to lead a company to settle Bear Lake Valley. The company was selected from Cache Valley, in September 1863, traveling up Mink Creek and down Emigration canyon near a place now called Sharon. They cut the timber out of the way, built dugways, and constructed bridges over streams they could not ford. This made the first road to Bear Lake Valley.

                The valley was explored as afar south as Fish Haven is now. It was agreed that the county had hayland enough to furnish hay for the stock, plenty of fish and game for food and a soil and climate that would produce the hardier grains and vegetables.

                General Rich returned to Salt Lake and reported the result of the expedition.

                President Young decided that Bear Lake Valley should be opened to settlement under the direction of General Rich. The General made arrangements to have his family come the next year.

                At hat time this valley was claimed by the Shoshone and Bannock  Indians for a summer hunting and camping place. The Utes would come each year to meet these bands to trade for furs and robes. Some of the Indians were friendly and others were very hostile. At times trains of emigrants were entirely wiped out, women and children stolen and men and boys murdered by the Indians. But Washakie, the chief of the Shoshone tribe, and Tighe, the chief of the Bannocks were very friendly with Brigham Young and the Mormon people.

                General Rich consulted with these two chiefs, explaining to them that Brigham Young desired him to open up the Bear Lake alley to settlers. The chiefs quickly gave their consent with a reservation that all the county at the south end of the lake, known as Laketown and Round Valley, should not be settled but remain as a camping ground for the Indians and that when the whites succeeded in raising crops they would contribute what they could to the visiting bands of Indians.

                In the spring of 1864, seven hundred people seeking for homes arrived in the valley, settled in Paris, Bloomington, St. Charles, Fish Haven, Montpelier, and Bennington.

                In a town meeting held in Paris, President Brigham Young stood on the tongue of his wagon and delivered a sermon in which he told General Charles Rich to come eight miles south of Paris and make a settlement which he should name St. Charles after himself. He also said that St Charles would be the county seat and the county would be called Rich County. It was thought then that St Charles was in Utah but later the governor surveyed the land and found it was Idaho.

                A company then came up to St. Charles, among them were Sam Arnell and wife, Robert Pope, Charles Keetch, Wm. M. Allred and family, J. A. Hunt, George and Jonathan Pugmire, John Windley and wife, Frank Robbins and wife, Lafe Pierce, Ariah Cahphin, Ann Sanderson and son Swan, and Wm. G. Young, some of whom came on May 1, and others on May 15, 1864. They camped on little creek near the mill hill where they broke ground and planted a small truck garden.

                They wanted to divide the land but having no surveying instruments, Mr. Young and Mr. Windley surveyed the land by the use of a rope, two poles and the North Star. They did so by driving one of the poles in the ground and at midnight sighted it to the North Star. They then drove the other pole the distance they wanted it and this way measured off the land in twenty-acre lots. Mr. Windley planted three acres of his land in wheat. This was the first grain raised in St. Charles. The grain later froze because of a late snow.

                During the first few years most of the grain raised in the valley was so frost bitten that it could hardly be eaten, but since this was all they had it was necessary to eat it or go hungry. For along time the cricket and the grasshoppers were numerous and took many of the crops. They had to harvest the grain with a cradle and the hay with a scythe.

                There being no gristmills, the first wheat was ground in coffee mills fasted to benches. They usually ground each night enough wheat to make their bread for the next day.

                In the summer the men made roads to the canyon to get logs for the building of houses.

                Each man was given only a half lot on main street so that the masses could be close together in time of danger.

                A corral was built where the tithing office now stands. Each night the cattle were driven into the corral and men took turns standing guard.

                The first mill was built in Paris in 1865. It wasn’t until 1866 that a gristmill was erected in St Charles under the management of David Taylor. Hand saws were used to cut the first lumber but it was not long until the first saw mill was built. Water power ran the mil that was owned by B. S. Hunt. The first turning mill owned by Fredrick Phister, was built a little northeast of the area where Nancy Pugmire and Wm. Keetch now live. The mill was turned by a donkey ridden in a circle.

                Most of the pioneers lived  in log houses, tents or dugouts during the first year.

                Court was held in the home of Mr. Wm. A. Allfred located where the home of Rich S. Pugmire is now. John C. Stewart was the first constable. Wm. M. Allred the first court clerk, and Neils Wilhelmson the first justice of the peace. Wilhemson was also the first missionary to be called from St. Charles.

                The first store was owned by Jonathan Pugmire. At that time tea was sold at five dollars a pound. The first bushel of potatoes was purchased in Paris for five dollars. Adelia Young had the first coal oil lamp coal oil was sold at five dollars a gallon.

view of our town from the lake