The Story of Payette's First Flag

This is the story of Payette's first flag taken by Dora McKinney in notes from an address given by Mrs. D.C. Chase before the Portia Club, January 22, 1935. Forty-five years after the event had taken place, Mrs. Chase described her experiences in making the first flag ever flown in Payette, on the occasion of Idaho beging admitted into the Union of States, July 3, 1890.

After the Oregon Short Line Railroad was built thru Idaho, it was a custom of officials of road to make frequent trips over the line, carefully noting settlers trails near their right-of-way, and where conditions in such places were promising, they ordered side-tracks built. Such a wide-track was ordered built on the south side of the Payette River, near the site of the present alfalfa mill. David Gorris had taken up a desert claim of 160 acres where the town of Payette now stands, and with an eye to the future, he offered the railroad a free building site if they would come across to the north side of the river, which they eventually did.

As the story continues, Mr. Chase, who with his family resided in Pocatello, had accompanied the officials on several inspection trips thru Western Idaho and was so favorably impressed with the future possibilities of this section that he asked to be sent to Payette as an agent when the station should be completed. This was done and the Chases came to Payette in 1886.

On July 3, 1890, the news came over the telegraph wires to the lonely railroad stations scattered thru the territory that Idaho had been admitted into the Great Union of States. It seemed to the family living in the tiny station at Payette that this event called for a patriotic observance of some kind. Mrs. Chase tell how her husband came in saying, "Do you suppose we can find a flag in town? We must celebrate!"

She then went to A.B. Moss and Bro's store and also to the store of D.S. Lamme which stood in the old part of town called Boomerang (so named because of a boom in the river for holding railroad ties) looking for a flag, but she was unsuccessful. There was no flag in Payette. Deciding they would have to make a flag if they had one they searched high and low for a picture to be used as a guide and finally Mr. Chase found one in a small pocket dictionary.

Mrs. Chase then returned to Moss Brothers store and purchased one and a half yards of bleached muslin, one and a half yards of turkey red calico, and three fourths of a yard of heavy blue flannel, as she was unable to get any plain blue calico. She was then ready to go to work. Mrs.Chase spoke of the difficulty of making five pointed stars, which she made after a pattern out of paper.

She then placed the blue flannel field of the flag on the floor, and fitted the forty-three bleached muslin stars - the forty-third being Idaho - onto it, basted them down, and then stitched them on the sewing machine on both sides. After adding the red and white stipes to the blue field, Mrs. Chase took the scissors and snipped away the blue flannel from behind each star so that they showed white on both sides. Mr. Chase found a timber in the station freight room which he dressed down into a flag pole about ten feet in length and mounted the flag, which when completed, measured thirty-six by fifty-four inches with a blue field twenty-two by twenty-four inches.

The Chases had worked until three o'clock in the morning before the flag was finished, and Mrs. Chase states that tho worn and weary, she has never made anything which she surveyed with such pride and satisfactin as she did that flag on July 4, 1890. It might be imagined that the heavy flannel combined with calico and muslin, would have looked rough and bulky, but Mrs. Chase stated that when the flag was mounted on the station and fluttering in the breeze, the difference in the materials could never have been detected.

Later the Chases purchased a flag, and they then loaned their old flag to the school for entertainments, celebrations, etc., and it was following an entertainment in Lamme's Hall, that the old flag must have been thrown out by mistake and burned with the trash as it was never returned to them and all trace of it was lost.

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