Thomas Sleight cabin

Thomas sleight began as a lowland swamp farmer from Lincolnshire, England, who converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sailed to the states in 1854. He settled Genoa on the old Mormon Trail in Nebraska in 1857 until it was burned out by the Sioux Indians. He then traveled by wagon train to Utah in 1860 and helped colonize Cache Valley. In 1863, after the Indian threat was lessened, Brigham Young asked him to uproot again to help settle the Bear Lake Valley.

Now, more than a hundred years have passed since those courageous souls, obeying a call from President Brigham Young, came across the rugged Wasatch range of mountains to settle and build their homes in the howling wilderness of Bear Lake Valley. The first group of pioneers came in 11 covered wagons and arrived at Paris Creek September 26, 1863, where they made the first permanent settlement. Other pioneers came during the next several weeks and joined with the first group of settlers. We are told that 48 men, 40 women, and about 30 children stayed in Bear Lake Valley that first winter. They built log cabins, with dirt roofs and floors, to shelter them. Fortunately, that first winter was a mild one for the Bear Lake area and it proved to be a blessing to those early pioneers.

Thomas Sleight and Charles Atkins built their first cabin in the fall of 1863. They occupied it together with their wives, Marianne and Ann, during the first winter of the settlement of Paris.

The cabin was first finished with a dirt floor and a sod roof. The logs were stripped of bark and notched but not cut or otherwise shaped and were chinked with mud to keep out the wind. The windows and door frames were set in with wooden pegs. An imaginary line was drawn from the middle of the front door to the back wall, separating their living quarters. They had it built and ready to live in before the snow fell.

Believed to be one of the first cabins ever built in Paris, the Sleight cabin still stands after more than 100 years, although it has been moved from its original place and now sits in the Paris Park on South Main Street in Paris, Idaho. It has been recognized as a Historic Place and was put on the National Registry of Historic Places — Listings in Bear Lake County in 1982. Work was done to preserve the cabin by the Sleight family and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP). A dedication of the Thomas Sleight Cabin monument in Paris was held at the Paris Stake Center chapel on June 15, 1988. The Camp Elizabeth Passey DUP was responsible for some restoration of the cabin and construction of a monument with funds left to them by Viola Sleight, a member of the Sleight family. Her $2,000 donation made it possible to re-shingle and restore the cabin. This work was done under the direction of DUP Captain Opal Shepherds. Later, another $500 from Viola Sleight made it possible to have a monument placed and trees planted under the direction of DUP Captain Leona Bird.

At this time, the Sleight Cabin belongs to the City of Paris. The Sleight Family and Friends of Bear Lake are very interested in the preservation of the cabin and have applied for grants to make more improvements to it, since time has taken its toll on it since 1988, and to continue to preserve it since it is such a historic place and part of the city of Paris’s history.

Quoting Peter Westbrook, “So much of our future lies in preserving our past.” Preserving the Sleight cabin tells a story of courage and strength; a man and a time in history that began this valley. We’re preserving the past that began the future of Bear Lake.

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