Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, SJ
Friend of Sitting Bull



Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, SJ on Belgium cancel
BELGIUM, 1984, special cancel from Dendermonde, De Smet's birthplace, used from August 1 to December 31, 1984
to mark the dedication of a new monument to De Smet, replacing one that had collapsed.

As the Mormons were hounded from state to state, seeking a place where they could live in peace, they sought advice from Jean Pierre De Smet SJ. His description of the magnificent Great Salt Lake valley pleased them greatly. So Salt Lake City became to Mormons what Rome is to Catholics, and Jesuit de Smet stands there among the founders' statues. At the invitation of the Coeur d'Alene tribe, Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, SJ sent Jesuits who set up a mission first about 35 miles miles south of its present location, and in 1846 moved it to its present location. The church at this site, the Old Mission Church, was designed by Fr. Ravalli, an Italian born Jesuit, and was built between 1848 and 1853 — the oldest standing building in the state of Idaho, and "the cradle of the Catholic Church" in that region of North America. The Old Mission still stands in what is now Cataldo, Idaho, named for a Jesuit superior Fr. Joseph Cataldo, SJ, but the parish moved to what is now Desmet, Idaho within the Coeur d'Alene Reservation.

Postmark for Desmet, Idaho Postmark for De Smet, South Dakota Postmark for De Smet, South Dakota
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 2005, postmark from Desmet, Idaho
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,1934 and 2005, postmarks from De Smet, South Dakota

De Smet, South Dakota is the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of The Little House on the Prairie series, whose father came to the area in 1879 to work for a railroad camp. The town, formed the next spring, was named for Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, SJ,who spent his life among the Sioux Indians. A statue in his honor stands in the city's Washington Park.