JULY 16, 1970

Rella Church Has 102nd Birthday Friday, July 17

One of Idaho's oldest citizens, Rella Church, will celebrate her 102nd birthday anniversary Friday (tomorrow) July 17.  She was born at Jamestown, Ind. July 17, 1868, and came to Camas Prairie when she was 11 with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gill.  They homesteaded seven miles southwest of Cottonwood and also established Gill's Point near Tolo Lake.  Several families in Indiana had chartered a freight car for their wagons and household possessions.  they rode in a railroad  coach to Kelton, Utah.  There they waited for an uncle, George gill, and Jake McKinney of Potlatch to meet them.  

From Kelton they traveled over the Wells-Fargo state route to Boise-Pendleton-Lewiston.  It took 43 days.  At Boise that town was in a state of excitement.  Word was around that chief Joseph had been captured in the Lemhi country, and they would bring him in on his way to Indian territory.  Chief Joseph was brought in wrapped in a bear skin overcoat, handcuffed and shackled, she remembers.  He was sitting beside the driver.  Two men were mounted on the stage behind him with guns and more armed guards were inside.

They crossed to Snake River three times to get to Lewiston, Clarkston was just a sheepherder's camp. At Lewiston her father went to work for Joe Alexander, a partner in Alexander-Freidenrich who established Idaho's oldest store.

There Mrs. Church learned to braid straw for hat making.  It took 25 yards of braided straw for each hat.  later in the Grangeville are Mrs. church became noted for sun bonnet making. 

She was married to H.Floyd Church in 1888, while Idaho was still a territory.  They homesteaded on the umbered edge of Camas Prairie.  He was active in civic affairs and was a county commissioner among other responsible positions.

After spending several years in California, Mrs. church, a widow, returned to Grangeville about 14 years ago.  She became a Grange member 87 years ago and ten years ago was presented a 60 year jewel from the Grangeville Mispah Rebakah Lodge.  She is also a member of the Eastern Star.

Mrs. Church and her son Ray, live together.  she is spry enjoys visiting and is noted for her keen memory.





If you have any questions, suggestions or to report  a broken link contact the Idaho County Coordinator