A Mission to Coeur d’Alene – Circa 1910

Miss Stella Dunlap lived in Coatesville, the steel-making city along the Brandywine River in Chester County of southeast Pennsylvania.


Miss Dunlap was an avid collector of postcards; we will see other postcards from her collection.

Sometime around 1910, Stella was given a postcard by Walter Holt.

Because the postcard was not mailed, we might assume that Walter lived nearby; he may have been a classmate in school or Sunday School.

The face of the postcard is a photograph of the “Old Mission on the Coeur d’Alene River”.

In 1843, Fr. Pierre Jean De Smet and two other Jesuit missionaries followed the Coeur d’Alene River into northern Idaho.

They established a Mission on a hill overlooking the river. 

The Mission had immediate success; a tribal prophecy had foretold the appearance of the priests who were called, the “Blackrobes”.

With native converts, the priests erected a church between 1850 and 1853 -the mission is the oldest building in Idaho.


An Italian priest, Fr. Ravalli was the chief architect of the structure which was completed with simple tools and without the use of nails.

An article of the Spokane Historical Society relates how the priests understanding of native customs led to wider embrace of Roman Catholicism among the indigenous people in the  area than later Protestant missions were able to effect.


In later years, steamboats reached the Mission which had already become a hub of local industry and trading.

The postcard photograph was published by the Spokane Post Card Company; it was printed in Germany.

It seems clear that Stella took good care to preserve her postcard collection – this postcard remains in very good condition.

Below, is a common-use Wiki photograph of the interior taken in 1956.


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