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Strange & Wonderful

Hallowe'en Trunk 'n Treat - held in Bancroft Park at the corner of Main Street and Center Avenue the Trunk 'n Treat is sponsored by businesses in Payette on the afternoon of October 31st.  Museum volunteers had such a good time last year that they plan to participate again in 2014.

Santa's Visit - come to the museum to tell Santa what you want for Christmas! Santa's visit to the museum is usually the first Friday of December. Check back here for the exact date in November.

PARADING Our History:

          The Payette County Historical Society/ Museum, we are sad to say, in financial peril, not because of something is wrong with the financial records—but time.

          Yes, 15 years ago the Society had quite a large stash of money, but time, everyday expenses, repairs to a 110 year old building, events, and preserving artifacts has eaten much of that away.

          It is costly to preserve our county history and maintaining this wonderful building.

          Last year we replaced the 30 year old roof. That roof was completely paid for by grants and donations. None of the money was taken from the museum budget.

          Over the last 14 years there have been a number of things which had to be maintained.

·         The basement was opened to the public. Exhibit spaces were built, painted, enclosed, etc.

·         Wiring and plumbing were upgraded.

·         Office , research room and storage space were added to house much of the paper items..

·         A new bathroom has been installed upstairs. The one in the basement was no longer useable.

·         Covers were put over the outside stairwells. (Rain flooded the basement 5 times the first year.)

·         The floor upstairs had dropped nearly 1 1/2 inches in the center of the room. The struts had been cut years ago to install the furnace vents. Bracing was needed and splicing of the struts were installed.

·         Bracing was also added under the 1861 Confederate Cannon.

·         A outdoor sprinkling system has been added and the lawn replaced.

·         New signage letting visitors know where and what we are..

·         Security system and cameras have been added to protect our artifacts.

·         Insullation has been added to the  attic to cut down heating and cooling.

These are just a few of the things that have been done to the building. Almost all of the items have had the assistance of grant monies.

          Last fall the 10 + year old air conditioner died. To replace it will cost approximately $2,000.

          Our lighting, in the entire building, needs to be replaced. At this time we have no estimated on what the cost will be. One estimate on just the main viewing room upstairs was $1,200.


          A number of things have been added to the area of maintaining and insuring that our county  artifacts and history is being preserved.


          Annually it costs approximately $30,000 to maintain the museum each year. 

           We always use Payette County contractors and venders first. They have always served us well.  

          Artifact storage is not cheap either, although again, we have received grants to help with at least half the costs. We have also used other money saving measures such as purchasing storage cabinets through Idaho Federal Surplus, garage sales, donation, etc.

          For example we purchased a 15 drawer map file cabinet for $250. In the catalogue the cost approximately $3,000. We  use doors for display systems ($2 each) and those, if purchased at a museum vender are in the $1,500 range.

          We are attempting to bring our storage and archival systems up to date by museum standards. It is a huge process. We purchased a computer and specific program to help us with this, again with grant assistance. But, this is a process which takes time—our artifacts and accessions have a 25 year head start. We have gotten most of the accession sheets into the program, but now photos, measurements, where the item is stored or displayed, condition, etc needs to be logged in.

          Yes, the museum is in Payette, but we collect and highlight stories and items throughout the county. Not only present towns, but those which are no longer there. Also collected are newspaper stories, photos, etc. about county people, businesses, happenings.

          It has estimated, by a photo expert, the museum houses nearly 17,000 photos. Also housed are scrapbooks from individuals, organizations, etc.

          In addition to the museum our members are also involved with the Lower Payette River Heritage Byway Committee attempting to bring tourist dollars into the county. We are also members of the  City of Payette Historic Preservation Commission. This group recently published the downtown tour brochure and the Idaho Hall of Fame group who honors Idahoans throughout the state. We were also involved with the re-dedication of the 1958 crash site of the C-123 plane at Fort Wilson Park on Hwy 52.

          Each year, before Christmas, we host Santa for the valley children. It is always great fun and has wonderful attendance. We  attend the Payette County Fair each year and bring photos for attendees to enjoy.

          We use every way we can to save  the monies we have and still provide our local, school tours and out of area visitors with a good experience.

          For the last 14 years we have been open to visitors 4 days a week, year round. We have hosted conferences, weddings, annual group meetings and a variety of other events. We have always been open for special appointment events. 

BYLAWS notice:

Payette County Historical Society By-Laws

Article:8 Disposition of Collections: In consideration of the assistance proferred by the Idaho State Historical Society in the establishment and work of this Society, it is hereby provided that in case the society fails in three consecutive years to have a quorum at its annual meeting, which shall be interpreted as the cessation of an effective working organization, then all of the articles and things belonging to it may become the property of the State Society to be held in trust for the State of Idaho.

This is Dale Williamson's second time replacing the roof at the museum, having replaced it 30 years ago.A new roof was put on the Payette County Museum in April.  Dale Williamson of Williamson Roofing in New Plymouth had his crew busy on the south-facing portion of the roof during the early part of spring, just as soon as the weather gave any indication it would be safe. In just over one week the project was complete and beyond the expectations of the PCHS members.  The warmer than expected spring weather had Williamson out and on the roof a month ahead of his earlier estimate to the Payette County Historical Society.  This was good news for the museum because late April to early May had been the projected schedule for re-roofing which would be in serious conflict with the spring school tours at the museum and all the bustle of the Apple Blossom Festival in the park across the street.
Nearly a year ago museum coordinator Ann Curtis started noticing roof tiles coming off with every storm.  “Then, towards the end of summer I was out picking up more fallen tiles every day.  I took a big bunch of them in to the county commissioners and asked for help replacing our roof.”  About half of the funds for the roofing project are the result of a grant, other money has come in from private donations from members of the community and friends of the museum.  At the last tally prior to putting the roof on the museum the roof fund was still about $6,000 short of having enough to pay the bill.  However, the grant decreed that the roof must have been replaced by May 1st, so a vote from PCHS decided that the roof must be replaced.  “Without a roof we can’t have a museum,” Curtis reported as the general feeling of the group. Within two weeks of completing the roof the money came in, some through donations and some from insurance.  Everyone associate with the museum is grateful to the greater community for making the new roof possible.

Williamson Roofing from New Plymouth, Idaho hard at work on the museum.

Jewell Dudley, Ann Curtis, Jean & Bill Stephan, Merna DelandBill and Jean Stephan of Payette were at the Payette County Museum on Thursday, March 21, 2013 to present a check for $1,000 from the Payette #22 Odd Fellows to the Payette County Historical Society to help with the replacement of the museum’s roof.  The Stephans have held many high-ranking offices with Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, they have been members of the historical society for several years and are dedicated to community service and preserving the history and traditions of our community and state.  Helping to preserve the roof on the museum is a very tangible expression of the kind of service Odd Fellows is known for.  Anyone interested in becoming a member of Odd Fellows or Rebekahs could contact the Stephans or send a letter to IOOF c/o Merna Deland, 434 S 12th ST, Payette, Idaho 83661. 

Payette Fire Fighters Fix Bell Tower

On Tuesday, October 5, 2010 the Payette Fire Department arrived at the corner of S 9th Street and 1st Ave S, placed their ladders, and made their way into the bell tower of the local museum. This was not an emergency and it was not a drill. The fire-fighters were donating their time to help the museum with work on the bell tower.  Shown above, L to R: L to R: Dave Henderson, Greg Speulda, Steve Castenada, Bobbie Black, Chad Atnip, and Ron Jacobs.

Last May a group of students touring the museum tried to ring the bell, a much-coveted honor reserved for school tours, and the rope simply got longer without the bell making a sound. Ann Curtis, museum coordinator, figured out that the rope attached to the bell had finally aged to the point where it was no longer doing its job. This meant that the more than 200 area students who normally take museum tours each spring were disappointed to learn that they would not get to ring the bell this year. It also left the museum board of directors in a quandary as to how to fix the rope. 

Late in September, when the Payette Fire Department did a tour of the museum and installed a lock box for fire security, Curtis mentioned the bell dilemma to the visitors. The Fire Department soon found they had volunteered their skills and equipment and set a date to make the repairs. Somehow the repairs came to include painting many parts of the bell tower, fixing the rocker arm, and greasing the working mechanism – as long as they were there anyway. The Payette Volunteers paid for the supplies for this project. 

A small, but concerned crowd gathered when the fire trucks pulled up outside the museum for the second time in only a couple of weeks (the first time for the inspection tour). Curtis calmed worries of a fire, but some stayed to watch the proceedings. Curtis took several photos of the work progressing, as did some of the workers in the tower, and the resulting photo collection can be viewed at the museum.   Pictured at the right is Greg Speulda holding the ladder as  Bobbie Black climbs into the tower.

The three fire fighters who made the climb into the bell tower included Chad Atnip, Bobbie Black, and Steve Castenada. The ground crew included Dave Henderson, Ron Jacobs, and Greg Speulda. To make life more exciting for the ground crew those in the tower chose to clear it of debris from birds, spiders, and other of nature’s visitors – sending part of the mess over the side and raining down on the workers below. Some of the fire-fighters took to the job with more gusto than others and at least one of the volunteers sported a splash of paint on his head while another wore paint-striped britches when the work was over.  

Shown in the photo at left are L to R: Chad Atnip, Steve Castenada, and Bobbie Black.           The Payette County Historical Society, entrusted with the keeping of the museum, heartily thanks the Payette Fire Department for their work and the Payette Volunteers for providing the supplies. 

The Payette County Museum is open to everyone thanks to help like this and donations from the people of this area. The museum is also able to bring some of our collection and knowledge to your group meeting or classroom with a PowerPoint presentation. Visit to see what your museum has to offer.

Bell tower repair photos courtesy of museum co-ordinator Ann Curtis.

C-123 Crash Remembrance Ceremony - AUG. 5, 2010

Once in a while a gathering of people will share the same mood and make a simple ceremony a beautiful memory.  This happened Thursday, August 5th, when people gathered around the plane crash memorial on Hwy 52 to remember those killed and the impact the crash had on the entire community.  Nearly 150 people attended the Crash Remembrance ceremony, including 22 members of the victims’ families. 

Jeff Williams, mayor of Payette, welcomed the crowd then Pastor Rod Tegethoff of New Plymouth gave the invocation. 

The crowd stood respectfully as the New Plymouth VFW Post 9036 presented the colors and raised the flag while Lucinda Sutherland sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” accompanied by John Hoff of Weiser.  A group of pilots from Ontario honored the victims with a fly-over.  SMSgt Bruce Kimball, first sergeant of the Thunderbirds, told how every new Thunderbird has to learn the history of this crash, and that a plaque honoring the people of Payette County is in their headquarters.  Retired Brigadier General Ed Parsons read the names of those who died in the crash then the family members were introduced by Larry Good. 

Shown here is SMSgt. Bruce Kimball of the Thunderbirds with Larry Good, brother of one of the crash victims and organizer of the gathering of victims' family members.       

Jim Gissel, who had been the president of the Key Club, shared the history of the monument and the park then amused listeners with tales of how much soap the club members had to sell to pay for the monument.  Witnesses to the crash, and those who had rushed to the site to help, were asked to stand and be recognized. “In God We Still Trust” was sung by Dorothy Cisneros, Anna Fitch, and Lucinda Sutherland with John Hoff accompanying.  Then the New Plymouth VFW closed the ceremony with a 21-gun salute and the playing of  “Taps.”  A barbeque meal was prepared by the Payette Boosters and, thanks to donations from many sponsors, there was no charge for the food.                                                Pictured here is New Plymouth VFW Post 9036 Commander Herb Endicott with Jim Gissel.

The Payette County Historical Society & Museum, who organized the event, want to thank everyone who helped make this day of remembrance such a success.  Roady’s, the City of Payette, the New Plymouth VFW, and Don Daniels Farms made large monetary contributions, and there were many anonymous donations.  Albertson’s, Blue Heron Distributors, D & B Supply, Hanigan’s Chevrolet, Hardin Sanitation, Idaho Power, Kurt Key, Payette County, Red Apple, and Tour Ice made very helpful “in-kind” donations.  Many volunteers donated time, talent, supplies, and muscle including Boy Scout Troop #361 members Daniel Reed, Josh Reed, Zack Reed, and leader Curt Oxnam, Carol & Claude Bruce, Kirk Cochran and Simplot Farms, Ann Curtis, Jewell Dudley, Herb Endicott, Jim Gissel, Larry Good, John Hoff, Bob Jensen, Caroll Parsons, Ed Parsons, many members of the Payette Boosters,  Jim & Lucinda Sutherland, Kelly & Patty Theurer, Maxine Walker, and Jeff Williams.  Thanks also to pilots Dave Cruson, Dave Keppin, Marin Newman, Roger Smith, Gary Taylor who gave of their time and fuel to do the fly-by. Thanks are also due to the VFW posts of Payette, Weiser, New Plymouth, and Fruitland, the Payette Lion’s Club and Syringa Club, the Idaho Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, as well as Tim Woodward of the Idaho Statesman, the New Plymouth News, the Weiser Signal American, the Argus Observer, the Independent Enterprise, and FMTC, for getting the word out about this event.

For more information about the crash in 1958 please see our Special Exhibition page. 

JULY 2010 Idaho Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at Payette County Museum

In the middle of a hot July afternoon a crowd of people gathered of their own free will in the Payette County Museum to honor eight Idaho Hall of Fame inductees. The 2010 inductees honored in Payette were Professor Louie Attebery – honored as an educator and author whose latest book was about J.R. Simplot, William Burnham – posthumously honored as the founder of the Peregrine Fund, Walter “the Big Train” Johnson – posthumously honored as a professional baseball player, Kenny Keene – honored as a professional boxer, Leroy “Abe” Maule – posthumously honored as a musician and composer, Clarence “Bud” May and May Trucking – honored as a businessman and employer, Brigadier General Edward Parsons – honored for his military service in the US Air Force and Idaho Air National Guard, and Tim Woodward – honored as a journalist and author of six books.

 With all of the seats filled many people stood around the room to watch their heroes, friends, and loved ones accept the IHF plaque and listen to the accolades for “Idahoans on Loan to the World” – the motto of the IHF.  Mayor Jeff Williams from Payette, who is also VP of the IHF board, served as MC and presented awards to Kenny Keene and Bud May.  Ann Curtis, Payette County Museum Coordinator, and a former IHF director, listed Louie Attebery’s accomplishments and then asked him to say a few words.  Attebery’s words were that Curtis had promised he wouldn’t have to talk.

Dallas Cox, President of the IHF board of directors worked tirelessly to bring about the induction ceremony.                               Members of the IHF board of directors were called upon to present the awards along with giving a short history of the inductee’s accomplishments.  Thanks to the diligent research of these directors and comments of those receiving the awards the audience was able to learn a lot about these busy heroes amongst us.  They learned that Kenny Keene the “Emmett Eliminator” retired with a boxing record of 51-4 which included 28 knock-outs, then went on to become a phlebotomist working in a Boise hospital.  Keene has made a new name for himself for his community involvement and work with the D.A.R.E. program.  Much was made of the life and music of Leroy Maule; then his grandson stepped to the microphone and told of a loving grandfather who had entertained him with stories of knowing Bing Crosby and getting a $1,000 tip from Al Capone. Jeri Kleppin, representing Weiser’s Snake River Heritage Center, brought Walter Johnson memorabilia, and explained that yes, Walter Johnson was a famous professional baseball player and yes, Weiser had named their high school football field for Walter Johnson instead of naming the baseball field for Johnson.

 Donna Jones traveled home to Payette to tell some of the history of William Burnham and present his award.  Mary Hartung, an IHF board member, did triple duty and presented awards to Tim Woodward, Ed Parsons, and awarded Leroy Maule’s plaque to his family.  Just when she thought she was done Ed Parsons called her forward to help him expound on the career of Walter Johnson.   

Musician J.Wilson of Payette did an excellent job of filling in silences by playing background music on a keyboard, and then played a piece by Leroy Maule when Maule’s plaque was presented to his family. Dallas Cox, President of the IHF board, worked overtime to organize the ceremony.  Cox was helped by faithful museum volunteers Jewell Dudley, Caroll Parsons, Maxine Walker, Kay Stauff, Lucinda Sutherland, Winona Scott, Claude Bruce, and Matea Gabiola.  Patty Theurer, a member of the museum board, served as photographer for the event.  

May brings warmer weather, school tours, and Payette's Apple Blossom Festival.  Once the teachers let her know their schedule Ann Curtis dons one of her self-made historic costumes and opens the doors of Payette County history to local students.  This May the museum was toured by over 100 students with their teachers, and many more who visited the museum during the festival.

For Apple Blossom Festival Ann wore an apron over her dress because she went to work washing clothes the old fashioned way - by hand.  In a demonstration on the museum lawn Ann showed passers-by the techniques used by early pioneers for cleaning their clothes.  Also part of the demonstration were Jennifer Green of Weiser who, along with her two children, spun wool using a spinning wheel and a drop spindle, did crochet, and used an inkle-loom to weave a belt.  Museum volunteer Lucinda Sutherland also demonstrated sorting, washing, and carding wool before using a drop spindle to spin it and helped visitors learn the ancient craft of spinning fibers into usable yarn.  Sutherland also used her own spinning wheel to allow visitors to learn spinning techniques and brought out the pair of socks she was knitting whenever it was time for a change of pace.  The museum had over 300 visitors during Apple Blossom Festival.

A beautiful  stone bench was added to the museum grounds by the Gatchel  family in late May as a wonderful place to rest and reflect on the many contributions Jay Gatchel made to the museum through her dedication and loving spirit. 

Jay spent many hours working in the gardens of the museum and the bench is an ideal place for those who knew her best to remember her life.

April 2010  Ann Curtis Workshop Speaker at IAM Conference

Last year about this time the Payette County Museum hosted a conference – the IAM (Idaho Association of Museums) Conference.  This year Ann Curtis, coordinator of the Payette County Museum was asked to be a workshop speaker at the annual IAM Conference.  So, Friday, April 16, 2010 Curtis, with helpers Jewell Dudley and Lucinda Sutherland headed to Nampa to the Women’s Century Club to give her presentation on the topic of “Interpretive Displays.”  The workshop included a PowerPoint show which had many photos of the museum and focused on a new exhibit designed around the musical career of long-time Payette County resident Jay Stoner and a pair of band uniforms which had been donated to the museum.  

Recent museum events were also featured in Curtis’ workshop presentation.  The Payette County Museum has made great strides in the last year including: the installation of a new stone sign at the front of the museum, winning the Halloween scarecrow decorating contest, winning a grant from the Idaho State Historical Society to conduct oral history interviews, hosting a popular class on capturing oral histories, interviewing two Payette County residents to complete two oral history projects with full transcripts and topical indices, and gaining an active new web site that has attracted online visitors from as far away as Nova Scotia.  Curtis was able to deliver the two completed oral history packets, with photos of the speakers, to the ISHS director at the conference.   

Other speakers at the conference included Keith Petersen, Idaho State Historian, Mary Reed, former director of the Latah County Museum, and Michael Vogt, the new curator of the Basque Museum in Nampa who has recently installed a 6-room display of Basque history at Ellis Island.  Barbara Coyner traveled down from Latah County to share the experience of restoring the train depot in Potlatch.  A lesson on virtual exhibits and using a touch screen was so captivating that Curtis was quickly able to demonstrate it to latecomers to the event.  Conference participants were from all over Idaho, with museum workers coming from Boundary County in the north, and Franklin County to the south.  Even Tom Dale, mayor of Nampa, was able to make a short appearance Friday afternoon.  

The IAM Conference lasted two days and included a walking tour of the historic downtown Nampa which gave Payette participants a chance to learn about the process of restoring the facades of buildings to make them look more as their original designers imagined.  Another tempting part of the conference was a wine and cake reception at the old Nampa Train Depot which is now a museum featuring model trains, telegraph equipment, and early Edison voice-recorders.   

Conference attendees had a chance to rub shoulders and share ideas as they gathered in groups to discuss the topics of “interactive displays” that don’t make a huge mess and leave your workers frazzled; “writing provocative descriptive labels” to make visitors want to read more about the items in an exhibit; and “researching donated items and attracting good artifacts.” Konnie Baines and Kathy Hibberd were there representing Fruitland and reminding folks that the touring Smithsonian exhibit will be shown at the historical old Fruitland High School this autumn.  The Gem County Historical Society was represented by their museum administrator Meg Davis of Emmett, and assistant Marianne Oxley of Letha.  Another familiar face in attendance at the conference was Pat Harberd from the Snake River Heritage Center in the “Old Institute” northwest of the Weiser High School.

A group of local agri-businesses were hosting a Sustainable Agriculture Symposium at the Old Fruitland High School and invited the museum to display the Fruit Grower's Cup which was awarded to Idaho Fruit Growers in 1904.  Because the majority of the fruit which won the competition was grown right here in the Payette Valley the Idaho Historical Society has graciously lent the cup for display at the Payette County Museum.  Museum Coordinator Ann Curtis is shown in this photo with the Fruit Grower's Cup.  Jewell  Dudley, Lucinda Sutherland, and Claude Bruce were also at the symposium helping with display set-up and greeting visitors to our table.

Thanks to a grant from the Idaho State Historical Society, the Payette County Historical Society was able to host a workshop to teach interested researchers how to conduct and record oral history interviews.  An unexpectedly large turnout at the Jan. 16th workshop caused unexpected problems. After enlarging the classroom space twice the museum was able to seat 30 students for this all day lesson on researching, interviewing, recording, and documenting oral history.
ISHS worker Kathy Hodges taught the workshop, held in January of 2010, and shared vital tips on how to bring out the stories our older residents have to tell.

When you carve something in stone folks expect it to stick around for the long haul. That is perhaps what motivated the Sign Committee of the Payette County Historical Society (PCHS) when they commissioned a stone sign to be placed in the east lawn of the museum. The committee, comprised of Claude Bruce, Vallery Klitch, and Cleo Thompson, worked closely with sculptor Rick Strawn of Fruitland. For the sign Strawn chose a stone with subtle coloration and a peak that echoes the roofline of the museum. The end result is a classic carved stone sign that is so well chosen and designed it looks as if it had been put in place by nature. 

Nature had some help, however, in the persons of John and Jeff Debban of Debban
Brothers Home Improvement & Custom Cabinet Shop of Payette, Jake Jacobs and Save-On Discount Building Materials of Payette, and Claude Bruce president of the PCHS.  Debban Brothers provided labor, machine hours, and materials to install the sign. Jacobs and Save-On donated concrete and additional materials. Bruce donated labor and was instrumental in organizing and overseeing the installation. Klitch was also involved in the 2008 project to place three signs high up on NE and SW corners of the museum.  At the time Klitch was paid for the sign installation but she donated back her wages toward the cost of the new stone sign. 

A base that is both practical and decorative was poured September 18th and later beautified with rock facing.  The facing rock was donated by local mason Robert Padgett.  Money to cover wages for the workers who poured and finished the sign base was donated by Debban Brothers and several members of PCHS.

All text and photos not otherwise attributed are provided by museum volunteer and web designer Lucinda Sutherland.  E-mail your comments to Sutherland at lucisept61@yahoo.com .

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