Eagle Branch Memories
Here is a story my Dad, Galan Merrill, wrote about growing up in Eagle Idaho with my two Grandfathers, Reid Merrill and Joe Cheney, and their families. Both of my grandparents lived very close to me all of my life I am truly blessed to have a close family. I have known most of Eagle’s founding families and still associate with many of them. As I drive around Eagle I am reminded daily of the rich history that lives here. Especially my family’s history.
MY MEMORIES OF THE EAGLE IDAHO BRANCH
“Much of my youth was involved in church. This is a history of the “Eagle Branch” which our family moved into when we settled on our farm is 1952. Neighbor Primary had organized in the Home of Ted and Thelma Fuller as a branch of the Boise 4th Ward in 1947. In 1948 the Eagle Branch was organized. The Branch met in the Linder School until 1949 when the Pleasant Valley School was purchased.
The first Branch President was Heber Winn. The Branch consisted of 100 members. The boundaries were from Can-Ada Lane to Colister Road and from Gem County Line to Ustick Road. Approx. 170 Square Miles. This School and then Church still resides on the North Side of Beacon Light Road between Linder and Park Lane as a remodeled home. The Branch grew to about 150 members. In 1959 the Eagle Branch was made The Eagle Ward with 200 members. Bishop Harold Marshal with counselors Reid Merrill and Vernon Walker presided.
The new Ward had outgrown the small school with inadequate hearting and no air conditioning. Most of the Saints were dairy farmers and Sacrament Meeting time was 7:30PM so they could finish milking the cows before the Sacrament Meeting. I remember in the summer months the Sacrament Meeting aroma was very much like a dairy barn with hard working farmers settled deeply into the wooden chairs. Mothers would try to keep the children quiet for 2 hours while many fathers listened from behind their eyelids. They were there and they were faithful, and everyone was good friends.
The Eagle Ward needed a chapel, so in 1960 Bishop Harold Marshal and his counselors Reid Merrill and Vernon Walker drove to Salt Lake City and asked the building department for a new building. After several trips and much conversation, they were given the approval to build a chapel if they could raise $100,000. In today’s dollars that would be over $1,000,000—all from a little farming community with 200 members.
THE DEDICATION OF THE BUILDING
For seven years our small ward worked to raise the money for our new building. Since our ward began with less than 200 members, this was an arduous task. We began with a calf raising project and round robin $5.00 dinners. The dinners were delightful and enabled us to become better acquainted with one another. We held box socials, farm auctions, parcel post auctions, special programs, plays, and together with the Boise North Stake held a rodeo to raise funds.
During this time our membership grew to 407. Finally, the money was raised for the new building and Bishop Joe Cheney was called as Bishop. To the new Bishopric fell the task of constructing the new building by working with the General Contractor and volunteer ward members. Working on our lovely new building was an inspiration to all of us as well as fun. The women had the experiences in putting the glass in the windows and doing much of the painting and staining. The men prepared the ground and foundations, painted, and did many more tasks to constuct the beautiful edifice and bring to close a 20-year dream.
Fifty Years later, as of this writing, there are 7 stakes and approximately 43 wards that are included in the boundaries of the original Eagle Branch (beginning with its 100 members). All from the Eagle Branch on Beacon Road consisting of 150 Members. I saw the hardship and sacrifice these Saints went through. Through their dedicated efforts, much the same as the pioneers, the Church of Jesus Christ Building residing on State Street (West of downtown Eagle now stands.) When I pass by this building I am reminded of the dedication and faith of those Eagle Saints which have become a building block of my life.”
Thanks Dad for this incredible memory. –Alei