Where Roots Grow Deep
By Jolyn Knutti
Photos by Gregg Knutti
In the southwest corner of Paris stands a very tall cottonwood tree. It’s fondly known in my family as the fairy tree. My ancestors played many fun games here as young children. For example, they wrote wishes on paper that were deposited in a hidden crevice for the fairies to find and grant. Sometimes the fairies replied, usually in the handwriting of a mischievous older brother, and they requested a treat in return for a wish being granted. My great-aunts used to tell me they were sure the fairies loved the candy they left. I’m sure the older, wiser great-uncles did. The early settlers of Paris planted many cottonwood trees, because they grew relatively quickly. Our fairy tree grew so big that the magic crevice closed—but if this tree could talk, imagine the stories it could tell, for it grew up in the very area of Paris that was first settled. It has been there since the beginning.
Paris is a beautiful little town in southeastern Idaho. For the most part, it is quite tidy and clean. The people of Paris take pride in their town. If you visit in the springtime, you will see lilacs everywhere, the scent reawakening your senses after a long, snowy winter. Winter is beautiful too, with the snow-covered mountains standing guard. During the summer, the gardens are prolific with flowers and yummy vegetables. In the fall, Paris is covered by hollyhocks of every imaginable color. During any season, Paris is a beautiful village. And it has quite a few trees, although much of the valley timber was used to construct the early structures of this pioneer town.
Edward R. Rich wrote in a biography that Charles Coulson Rich was born August 21, 1809 in Campbell County, Kentucky. In the fall of 1863, he was called by Brigham Young to colonize Bear Lake Valley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Rich had just returned to Utah after colonizing San Bernardino, California. Early hunters and trappers, such as Peg Leg Smith, knew it would be a daunting task to create a permanent settlement in the high elevation and frigid climate of the Bear Lake Valley. Beyond that, little was known of the region.