Additional Resource

History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Twin Falls, Idaho

The 1800s were a time of expansion in many areas of the western United States. So it was with the Goose Creek area of southern Idaho.

In April of 1879, William C. Martindale and others came to the region from the Tooele, Utah area to look at the country for the purpose of establishing a settlement. On 1 April of the following year, Martindale was assigned by Church leaders as a presiding elder to go to Goose Creek country and organize a congregation of the Church — known as a branch. On Sunday, 9 May 1880, the first meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Goose Creek was held at Little Basin in a log cabin. The total number present was 14.

After the meeting was called to order, President Martindale read the following statement:

“Tooele City, April 18, 1880. To Whom It May Concern: These present certify that William C. Martindale has been duly appointed and set apart with the consent and advice of the Council of the Apostles to preside over all the Latter-day Saints who have moved or may move to Goose Creek valley.”

In 1881 the settlements of the Latter-day Saints in Oakley and Little Basin increased to approximately 80 families. Most were new arrivals from different parts of the country but principally from Grantsville, Utah.

As settlers continued to arrive, the decision was made to organize the Cassia Ward (a larger congregation than a branch) of Box Elder Stake (a stake is similar to a diocese). Elder Horton D. Haight was called to be the first bishop and moved from Farmington, Utah, to the Oakley area with his wife, Louisa Leavitt Haight.

As the Church expanded, additional wards were established, branches organized and buildings constructed. This growth made it necessary to create a new stake in the Goose Creek Valley on 19 November 1887. Elder John Taylor — a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a senior governing body of the Church — presided at this meeting, held at the Oakley ward meetinghouse. He was assisted by Seymour B. Young, another general authority of the Church. Horton Haight was appointed as the first president of the Cassia Stake with Moroni Pickett and William F. Brim as counselors.

The first Oakley ward and the county in which it was located were named Cassia after the creek that flows through Elba, Idaho. Cassia Creek was named after the cassia plants found growing along the stream banks.

The geographical area covered by the Cassia Stake was very large. In 1887, a visit by stake leaders to Carey, Idaho, required five days — two days going, one day and one evening to hold meetings, and two days returning. Leaders traveled distances from one-half mile to more than 200 miles to visit wards and branches in the stake.

As settlements increased in size and in number throughout the area, additional branches and stakes were organized. The Cassia Stake has been referred to as the mother of all other stakes in south-central Idaho.

Twin Falls and several other communities were bustling with activity at the beginning of the 20th century. Settlers, many of them members of the Church, were arriving by wagon and train loads. Civilization overpowered the desert landscape with a permanence of homes, courthouses, schools and churches.

On 18 January 1903 some leaders of the Church met in a boarding house on the main street in Boise, Idaho. It was decided to send a communication to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, requesting missionaries. Soon Elders Joshua Paul and Melvin J. Ballard arrived in Boise. On 8 February 1903 the Boise Branch was organized as part of the Cassia Stake. On 28 May 1905 the Kimberly Branch (located about five miles east of Twin Falls) was organized with Magnus Swann as the presiding elder. Meetings were held in the Woodrow School.

In 1907 a Sunday school was organized in the Twin Falls area. On 23 August 1908 the Twin Falls Sunday School became a branch, separate from the Kimberly Branch. In February 1909 the Twin Falls Branch purchased a building on the corner of what is now 3rd Avenue East and Idaho Street in downtown Twin Falls.

Church membership has now grown to nearly 15,000 in the Twin Falls area.

On Saturday morning, 1 October 2005, President Gordon B. Hinckley — former world leader of the Church — announced a temple would be built in Twin Falls. On 15 April 2006 approximately 1,000 local Saints joined together as ground was broken on the site chosen by President Hinckley for the Twin Falls temple. Also present at the groundbreaking ceremony were many local and public officials. Elder Neil L. Andersen — a general authority of the Church — presided and pronounced the dedicatory prayer. Elder Paul E. Koelliker was also in attendance.

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple, following its dedication on 24 August 2008, will be the 128th operating temple of the Church worldwide and the fourth temple in Idaho.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.