Early Payette Idaho Churches
By Ron Marlow
The first sermon preached in the Payette River Valley was in 1871. Rev. Newton, a Southern Methodist, traveling through the country, stopped at the Payette Store which was near the mouth of the Big Willow Creek. Store owner, A. J. McFarland, invited him to preach to an assembled few in the back room at the store.
In 1873, when the Applegate School was built on Birding Island, McFarland was it's first teacher. He organized a Sunday school which met on Sundays. Church services were conducted by the Baptists and also by the Methodists. Some were conducted jointly with each denomination sitting on one side or the other. Rev. Gwinn organized the Methodist church with 15 Charter members that included Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Johnson, and Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McFarland. Membership soon increased to 50 members.
Living at the McFarland home was Rev. Allander, who became, in 1874, the first local preacher. When he left after four years, Presiding Elders Rev. Jimmerson and Rev. G. W. Grannia presided.
In 1885, Peter Pence donated lots in Payette on South 9th Street for a frame church. It was dedicated December 13th by Pastor E. Hayes, assisted by three pastors of the Boise church. A wedding ceremony afterwards united Miss Mary Applegate and Albert Wilson in marriage.
In 1904, the cornerstone of the brick building was laid. A full basement was excavated and finished in 1921 for extra Sunday School rooms and a social activity room.
After the church moved to its new building at 502 North 11th Street it was sold in the late 1950's to the Church of God. In 1972, the Payette Historical Society purchased the building for a museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The First Baptist Church of Payette was organized June 4, 1887 with eight charter members. The first resident Pastor was T. H. Lydston. He was hired in 1899 at a salary of $125 a year and was required to preach two sermons a month.
In 1900, Rev. T. S. Dulin was hired as pastor of the small wooden church on South Main Street. The building had been Payette's first school. A bell tower was added as a new front entrance. Classes were held during the week until an over zealous student stoked the stove with too much sagebrush and burned the building down in 1903. The church organ, the pulpit and some books were saved. A new brick building was planned and on November 16th the cornerstone was a Main and 3rd Avenue South.
New pastors assumed the pastorate and in 1951membership reached 341.
In 1970, an existing Latter Day Saints church building was purchased and in 1982 some adjacent property. A major remodeling job was completed in 1985.
St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1881 at 110 North 10th Street. It was dedicated in 1982 with Rev. Alfred Worthing as first resident priest.
Payette's Christian Church was founded April 16, 1899 with 22 charter members. It's located at 2nd Avenue North and 9th Street.
The First Presbyterian Church of Payette was organized in the 1890s. The building was located at 920 Second Avenue South. The pastor in 1900 was Rev. Davis, who resided in the house next door. The church was disbanded in the 1920's even though membership was over 100.
St. John's United Church of Christ started out in 1983 with the Rev. E. Knappe, of Iowa. Services were first held in the First Presbyterian Church. The German language was spoken for most services and English was used for special occasions. Social activities were held at Lamme's Hall. Reb. H. H. Hansen served as resident pastor from 1900 until 1905. Services were held in the Swedish-Lutheran Church at 7th Avenue North and 5th Street.
On May 13 1908 the present church was organized with 34 members. Services were held once a month. On September 27, 1908, the church was officially named Lutherische St. Johannis Germeinde zu Payette, Idaho. First trustees were: president John Cosberg, vice president H. Hansen, treasurer Heinrich Carstens and secretary H. Asmussen, later replaced by Herman Ficke.
After purchasing several lots, money was collected and plans for a new building were made on August 7, 1910. The cornerstone was laid July 9, 1911 at 346 North 4th Street. O. Heggmeier was installed as pastor.
Church building fund contributors included: Mrs. H. Asmussen, Carl Asmussen, F. Baer, H. F. Henningsen, Solterback family, W. K. Platt, John Bosch and Max Gerlach.
In 1934, the church merged with the Reformed Synod and became known as the Evangelical and Reformed church.
In 1937, church membership voted to discontinue regular services in the German language.
The church was renamed St. James United Church of Christ in 1957.
The Holy Family Catholic Church in Payette started out as a mission in 1883 with Father Hartleib. In 1900, a church as built at 1212 1st Avenue South to seat 108 people. At that time its membership consisted of eight families. Father VonNistleroy was in charge.
In 1902, the parish was served by Father L. C. Godschalx of Weiser and later by Father Vandenberg. The first priest was Father Van den Berghin. A permanent pastor served the parish starting in 1913.