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Although it is often assumed that Paris draws its name from the famous French city, the town is actually named after Frederick Perrs who platted the townsite. Recognized as Bear Lake Valley’s first Mormon settlement, the community was organized at the command of Brigham Young. Charles Coulson Rich led thirty Mormon families from Utah to the area in 1863. Upon arriving in present day Idaho (although the travelers actually believed they were still in Utah), Shoshone Chief Washakie permitted the emigrants to settle peacefully in the valley’s northern end with the understanding that the pioneers would give the Native Americans a portion of the crops grown in the area. The settlers agreed but later violated the terms.

The town was platted with forty-yard wide streets, suitable city lots, and buildings situated for convenience and permanence. One cabin that housed a couple through the first winter still stands on Main Street’s west side! Several hundred more families arrived from England and the East coast in 1864, and within no time, a flour mill and a planing and shingling mill was humming with activity. A post office was established in 1873, and in 1882, a small church-operated telephone company was formed. It provided service to St. Charles and Bloomington. Interestingly, the system was predominantly used not as a standard means of communication, but as a warning system to area polygamists who received frequent harrassment from federal officials. Electricity arrived in 1902 thanks to the Electric Light Company.

Today, Paris maintains its stance as a predominantly Mormon community. Several notable historic buildings are scattered throughout town.

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