The presence of the Presbyterian faith in Malad began in 1876 when Reverend Duncan James McMillan, a Sunday School Missionary from the Synod of Utah, came to Malad and organized a Sunday School. The founding of the First United Presbyterian Church in Malad was part of the effort started by Reverend Sheldon Jackson, who, when standing on the banks of the Missouri River and looking westward, realized that there was no Presbyterian Church for 2000 miles.
In 1877 the people of Malad invited the pastor of the Corinne Presbyterian Church to hold services for them. The invitation was accepted, and Reverend S.L. Gillespie came from Corrine several times. (The First Presbyterian Church of Corinne was the first Presbyterian Church in Utah. It was started on June 1, 1869, about three weeks after the driving of the Golden Spike at nearby Promontory Point. Dr. Sheldon Jackson assisted Reverend Edward E. Bayless to organize the Presbyterian Church in Corinne in 1870.)
Reverend Edward Welch was appointed to the Malad field in 1878. With the help of his sister, Miss Emma Welch, and his wife, Lizzie Welch, he opened a mission school in a dirt-covered log cabin located at 147 South Main Street. The property was owned by Emrys J. Davis, who sold it to the Presbyterian Church for $300.
Owing to the large enrollment at the Mission School (the only school in Malad), school classes were also held in the A.W. Vanderwood Store and, at times, in the homes of Mrs. Mattie Nibert and Mrs. Winnifred Lloyd Evans, mother of D.L., L.L., and Charles Evans.
In 1882, Reverend Edward M. Knox arrived in Malad and started the building of the present church building. The Mission School moved into the new building that fall. Enrollment in the school increased to 155 in three grades: primary, intermediate, and grammar. Monthly tuition was charged at 30 cents for primary, 40 cents for intermediate, and 50 cents for grammar. The Mission School continued in the church building until the first District No. 1 Public Schoolhouse was built in 1900 on Malad’s public square. In 1908 the Mission School closed with all the teachers immediately employed by the Public School District for that fall.
The present site of the Presbyterian Church building was deeded to the Church by Henry and Julia E. Peck for $100, and the chapel was erected as a two-room schoolhouse. The Malad church was organized on April 13, 1884, by the Wood River Presbytery with John M. Morgan elected and ordained as a Ruling Elder. The first session meeting of the Presbyterian Church in Malad was held in this chapel on December 3, 1884.
The church building was partially destroyed by a fire in the rear of the building in May 1918. The rear portion of the church was originally used as a home for the pastor and his family with the front portion used as the church. The pastor, W. S. Williams, and his family lost all of their belongings, although the Church furniture was saved. The Church was badly damaged with only the brick walls remaining. The new addition was remodeled and dedicated as a church in late 1918. The Presbyterian Church was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The original manse was called “The Cottage” and was built to accommodate teachers. The first teacher moved into The Cottage in the fall of 1884. The pastor and his family moved into the manse after the fire of 1918. In 1959 the new manse was dedicated in connection with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the church.
Since the 1990s, the Presbyterian Church has been led by lay leaders, and the manse has been rented.
“History of the First Presbyterian Church, Malad City, Idaho,” 1982.
G.L. Jenkins, “History of the First Presbyterian Church, Malad City, Idaho,” December 1959.