Rustic Lens
historic sign of Slickpoo

Slickpoo Idaho – St. Joseph Mission

I wouldn’t call it a town, or even a village at this point. Slickpoo Idaho is more of a group of a few houses along Mission Creek just out of Culdesac Idaho.  With that being said, it was at one time a much larger village.  In 1874  the chief of the Nez Perce Indians who were living in the area invited Father Joseph M. Cataldo to start a Catholic Mission there.   In my research, I have found different names for who gave the land. In a paper it states the following :

“This was the first Roman Catholic mission among the Nez Perce Tribe. Built by Father Joseph M. Cataldo, S. J., it was dedicated on September 8, 1874. Father Cataldo was invited by Chief Weeptes Sumpq`in (Eagle Shirt) to locate the Mission on his land at present day Slickpoo, Idaho. By 1910, St. Joseph’s Mission grounds included a convent, children’s home, and a church building. Fires destroyed the children’s dorms in 1916 and again in 1925. Father Cataldo died in 1928.”

In an article on it states this:
“Josiah Slickpoo provided a Mission Creek site somewhat isolated from Presbyterian missionary activities, and construction was completed by September 8, 1874. ”

[neko_row][neko_column type=”col-md-6″]historic sign of Slickpoo [/neko_column] [neko_column type=”col-md-6″]_DSC7632 [/neko_column] [/neko_row] It would make sense that the name of this place was derived from the Family name of Slickpoo, obviously.

As I turned up Mission Creek road I was pleased to discover a beautiful drive with green pastures and a curvy country road lined with trees in many spots and along the creek.  It’s worth the visit just to drive to the historic mission.  The mission is now private though and not open to the public. The mission looks to be holding together pretty well for a wooden building that is 142 years old.

St. Joseph Mission in Slickpoo Idaho

Here is a closer shot of the statue in front of the mission.

Statue at St. Joseph Mission

Across the street there’s an old building with a couple of outhouses in front of it. The sign on the building says it’s a museum, but I’m not sure if it’s ever open anymore. I was not able to find much info about it on the internet besides that John and Joetta Pfeifer started the museum in 1989.  I plan on trying to find out more about the museum because I would love to see whats still there. In back of the museum are some old agricultural implements that are being covered with the overgrowth. Also back there is this cool old caboose.

I love old rustic buildings and this caboose fit the part pretty well. I also wonder whats inside of it.  I processed this next picture to show all of the awesome textures in the metal with moss on it and the wood grain.

old red wood door

If anyone reading this has any further info on the mission or the museum, please leave me a comment below.


Evan Jones

I am a landscape and travel photographer who is drawn to old and rusty stuff as well as beautiful landscapes. I like to explore the backroads of the Northwest United States and anywhere else I can get to. My blog is at


Your Thoughts?

  • Joetta Pfeifer has taken care of this church for many years. On the first Sunday in June, there is a mass held in the church and Joetta has always attended for as long as i’ve know about it. I was raised in the Mission in the mid 1940’s and attend the mission mass every year. Joetta’s health is not very good but has lived next to the church for many years. I think of this place, the mission, as the place my life started, and try to be there the first Sunday of June every year.

  • My Mother, formerly Teresa Feucht lived there as a child. She stated that there were not enough seats for native and non native people to be seated in school. Therefore they took turns, Part of the day native children sat and part of the day non native children sat. Her Father had homesteaded there however the depression ended that and they moved to Cottonwood. Also if you remeber the Pueblo incident where the US spy ship was captured and taken to North Korea, was commanded by Capt Lloyd Bucher, he also grew up there. The Native people could not pronounce the Name Feucht, so they called my Mom’s family Fife.

    • My husband’s mother was a Feucht and I asked her why it was pronounced fife. I like your answer better than hers. We visited the graves and took pictures there about the same time it seems this post was made.

  • This place was a nightmare for my Grandmothers and other Natives who were taken here and made to become Catholic. It was not a happy place for Native children to be in the Mission school taken from their parents , cut their hair and not able to speak their Native tongue without being beat for doing so. It may look like a nice quaint church but holds a lot of secrets nobody wants to talk about. Today when we try to go over to see this building we are looked at and told to leave the area. Our Land has been taken from us and we still are alienated from areas and are always harassed by the name of Religion. I recommend you watch a movie called Indian Horse.

    • My mother too was raised here, due to the fact that her Mother (Nez Perce) Elizabeth Bybee had contracted a bad disease and some of her children were sent here. I

  • My mother-in-law and her sister lived here for a few years. They were Helen and Rose Borky, 5 and 4 years old. Their father was from South Dakota and going through a divorce and had no place to put them. The children there, told Helen and Rose their parents were dead and you’re and Orphan, and that’s why you are here. They were so surprise when one day their father came to pick them up. Helen and Rose had a long and happy life after that. Helen remembers this until the day she died at age 101. It’s a sad thing for kids to go through. I don’t think they called it an Orphanage but it was a Children’s home.

  • There was an orphanage fire in 1925 that killed 6 native children. One of my relatives was among the dead. Is this the same place? I will add articles below.

    Lewiston, Idaho-Fire visited the little Catholic mission settlement lying in the Nez Perce Indian reservation 25 miles east of here at midnight Saturday and took a toll of six orphan dead. Located five miles from a railroad in a sparsely settled section, the boys’ dormitory at the mission where 31 youngsters lay asleep was wiped out by the flames while volunteer fighters fought valiantly to rescue the entrapped youth.

    Nuns of the mission heroically worked to arouse the sleeping youths half dragging them from their beds to safety. The sisters were believed to have escorted all the boys from the building when five of the lads-one only 5 years old-dashed back into the blazing building to rescue some companion they thought was facing death.

    The bodies of six were found closely huddled together by the rescue workers who raked through the ruins. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 14 years.
    Source: Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton, WI – October 5, 1925
    Submitted by Shauna Williams

    Lewiston, Idaho-
    Six children lost their lives in a fire that swept the boys’ dormitory at the Catholic mission on the Nez Perce Indian reservation, twenty-five miles east of here last Saturday night. The fire was believed caused by explosion of a lamp. There were thirty-one boys asleep in the dormitory and the heroic efforts of the Sisters of St. Joseph and others at the institution saved many of the boys’ lives. The building, an isolated one-story temporary structure, was of flimsy construction and burned rapidly. All the occupants were believed to have escaped after the fire broke out, but five boys re-entered in an attempt to rescue others they thought were still in the dormitory or to recover personal effects.
    Their bodies were found huddled near one of the entrances. The identified dead: Anthony Soyda, 7; Simon Broncheau, 6; Andrew Fogarty, 10; Edward Switzler, 5 Indian; Max Ostenberg, 14. The sixth victim was found in the ruins by searchers Saturday night. He was identified as Lawrence Henry, 9. His body was found in the south end of the building near the spot where his five companions met their death.
    Had it not been that Sister Angela, in charge of the mission, remained up later than usual Saturday night to mend clothing, the loss of life would have been far greater. The sister discovered the flames raging in the center of the building, with sleeping apartments on both sides. She at once entered the place and forced the boys from their beds, in several instances being compelled to drag them outside. Edward Jackson, severely burned, is in a critical condition in a hospital.

  • My Grandmother and her siblings were sent here by their Step-Father after their mother died. I believe she was about 6 years old at the time. Her older sister became a Nun and taught at the school for 4 years from 1934-1938. According to my Mother, my Grandmother never talked about her childhood.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 26 other subscribers


ON1 Effects 2019