Glimpse into Keuterville’s Past
It’s nearly time once again for the St. Mary’s/Holy Cross Annual Dinner and Raffle. The Camas Prairie is littered with small towns, each boasting its own unique history—histories that allow us see what a rich heritage we are all a part of just by living in this stunning part of Idaho County. Keuterville is one such town, and with the Dinner and Raffle just around the corner, perhaps the readers would enjoy a glimpse into the past of this remarkable town located at the base of Cottonwood Butte.
*Keuterville was so named for its first mail carrier, Henry Kuther, who was reported to have said he wanted the town named Kutherville, because he feared his name would disappear since he had no sons. Unfortunately for Mr. Kuther, in 1888 the Post Office Department declared the town be known as Keuterville. (Mr. Kuther later fathered two sons.)
*The early Catholic settlers first gathered for church services in the old Gobel cabin. They began building a church in 1885 and finished it in 1886 with Fr. Diomedi, S.J overseeing the project. The structure measured 26 x 36 feet and 16 feet in height. The simple fact that the people of Keuterville built themselves a church enticed many more Catholic German farmers to immigrate to the area from the midwest states.
*At that time, the Keuterville settlement was sometimes referred to as “St. Peter’s” because the Jesuits called the mission church by that name. However, when the bishop came to bless the church, he decided to call it “Sacred Heart Church.”
*A second church was built in 1897 and burned down May 5, 1911. This church ran east/west as opposed to the next Church, its orientation being north/south.
*The third and present church was built and dedicated in 1911. This time the bishop remarked that his diocese was already full of Sacred Heart churches. He then bestowed upon the building the name “Holy Cross Church.”
*The necessary church services were apparently held in the church of 1886 during the time between the burning of the second church and the building of the third.
*Much of Keuterville’s business consisted of the sawmill trade. Some of the sawmill family names through the decades were: Forsmann/Kuther, Helm/Uhlenkott, Hussman, Hattrup, Krieger, Uhlenkott, Terhaar, Palmer, Schmidt, Hoene, Cooper, Mader, and Poxleitner.
*Besides the church and sawmills, the town was proud to have these other businesses at their disposal at different times throughout the past 100+ years: post office, blacksmith shop, general store, Maugg hotel and other boarding houses, livery barn, millinery store, schools, and many other stores that came and went through the decades. Keuterville even had its very own dance hall.
*The earliest school in Keuterville was held in the summer of 1888 for three months. As early as 1918, there were actually two schools—one public, one Catholic. The country schools in the area (Pine View School aka Moughmer School, Timber School aka Schroeder School, and Deep Creek School) sometimes only offered school for eight months, so many of the Catholic school children would board somewhere nearer Keuterville at the close of their regular school year so that they could attend the parochial school for one final month before the busy summer season.
*The ground for the Keuterville cemetery was originally donated by Barney Luchtefeld (Lightfield). Recently the cemetery has been expanded with ground from the George Schmidt place. Its current size is two acres.
*The Holy Cross Parish changed in status in 1992 when all its records were moved to the rectory at St. Mary’s, Cottonwood. The parish continued to celebrate Masses until it was officially dissembled June 30, 1997. Holy Cross Church now serves the area as a chapel for special occasion Masses.
Fortunately, the community as a whole still gathers once a year to celebrate its storied history and to contemplate its future. This occasion, the St. Mary’s/Holy Cross Annual Dinner and Raffle, will be held Sunday, February 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Keuterville Hall. The traditional dinner of ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, homemade rolls, applesauce, tossed salad, sauces, and homemade pies will be served. Meal prices are Adult--$7.00, Grades 1-6--$3.00, and Kindergarten and under—Free. The raffle drawing for 32 prizes is set for 4 p.m. and we’ll be playing bingo all day.
We invite you to come join in the fun and festivities!
(Information taken from Keuterville Centennial Book, Pioneer Days in Idaho County, Volume One by Sister M. Alfreda Elsensohn, records at St. Mary’s Rectory, and personal oral accounts.)