Story of Pioneer Days – Part I By Mrs. David Eccles
Note: A pioneer of 1867, who crossed the plains by ox team, Mrs. David Eccles, widow of one of the great industrial leaders of the west, today (1934) tells of her journey to Utah and subsequent events in the development of Ogden.
I was born in Aarhus[e], Denmark, January 30, 1857. My father was Christian Jensen and I was named Bertha Marie. My own mother died when I was only two years old and I was reared by my step-mother, Karen Jensen, who lived to be 94 years old. She died about 1918. My father died in 1875 at the age of 57. Early in June 1867 my parents, my little sister Mary, then about two years old, and myself left Denmark for America. From Liverpool we sailed on the steamship Manhattan. This was the first time that a large party of Mormon emigrants had used a steamer to cross the Atlantic. My father was a well-to-do landowner in Denmark and he aided twenty-one other persons to get to Utah. Some he helped for the entire distance and some for at least a part of the journey. On the journey across the ocean we travelled in the steerage . . . about 400 (blurred type on the transcript makes it difficult to read if the number is 400 or 4000) English emigrant converts joined us at Liverpool. Unlike most the early day emigrants who required many weeks on the ocean, we had a rapid trip requiring only 13 days. There were only about two days of rough sea, the rest of the time being pleasant. I recall that one stormy morning I awoke unable to find my clothing and shoes. The pitching of the ship had tossed my apparel out of the bunks and down the aisles and I had to recover my belonging from a heap of clothing piled at one end of our quarters. I saw a funeral at sea when a child died and was lowered over the ship’s side. We arrived in New York Harbor on July 4, 1867. The cannons were booming and the usual celebration was in progress. The following day, after we had been examined and released from quarantine, we went ashore at old Castle Garden. There I tasted my first American pie. It was cherry and full of seeds. Like Edward Bok who has written of his early American experiences, my first impression was that there were more stones than fruit. Next we embarked on a river steamer and journeyed up the Hudson to Albany. Our first ride in this new country was very enjoyable. All day and as long as light lasted, my father and I stood out on deck watching the beautiful scenery and marveling at the fine homes and gardens in the pleasant green valleys along the river. From Albany we traveled to Buffalo, N.Y. and there we ‘camped’ in a large warehouse. The immensity of the building impressed me and I thought it was a queer way to camp; all the families in one big room. There I suffered a great disappointment. Most of the older persons went to Niagara, a short distance away, to see the falls, and being only 10 I had to go to bed early. I cried bitterly. It was many, many years later, in 1893, when I was on a trip back to Europe with Mr. Eccles, at the time of the Chicago World’s Fair, that I had a chance to see Niagara Falls. Next we took a train to St. Joseph, Missouri, and from there we went by river steamer up the Missouri to Council Bluffs. There father bought his, and helped other purchase theirs. There were several returning missionaries in our party. The Union Pacific railway at that time had built as far west as North Platte, Nebraska, and father learned that for $10 fare each we could ride from Omaha to the end of the line and wait there for the wagons to arrive. The railroad equipment was very poor at that time and I recall we sat on benches without backs. The cars, having no springs, rattled and jolted us over the newly-built roadway. I got tired and wished to sleep so I stretched out on the floor under the seats. I remember the conductor kicking my feet that had sprawled out into the aisle. We had to wait three or four weeks at North Platte before our outfits arrived. There were about 600 or 700 persons in the emigrant train, in [charged] of Captain Leonard G. Rice. Our company was the first large independent company of converts to come to Utah. Up to this time the church had always sent wagons and teams and other assistance to companies crossing the plains, but this year no aid was forthcoming. Father had a fine outfit of three wagons with four oxen yoked to each wagon. Father had never driven oxen in Denmark and he didn’t know anything about them, but soon learned. He had purchased a big Texas long-horned steer that frightened us at first. Being new to the country father had been sold a brindle ox with no teeth. He did not know that the buyer should inspect the teeth. The ox was healthy but had a hard time to get sufficient food because he couldn’t graze the tough grass. It fell to my lot to care for the ox. Father bought a quantity of damaged flour from an army post and mother baked this into bread for the ox. Whenever we passed green herbs or weeds, I gathered as much as I could and a few times we passed little patches of volunteer corn that had sprung up from a few kernels spilled when freighters had fed their teams the preceding year. I gathered these young corn stalks and thus got a little tender forage for the toothless ox. Every time the wagon train stopped it was part of my duty to feed the animal a piece of bread. Each evening we fed him at the wagon before turning him out with the others. In this way we got that ox to the Salt Lake valley in as good condition as any of the stock and he worked in the yoke every day but two when father hitched up a mil[ch] cow in his place. Another job I had was the collecting of dried buffalo chips for fuel. We always had a sack of them hanging on the side of the wagon on the plains. No buffalo were killed by our party but we did see a big herd coming toward us one day. We were fearful lest they stampede into our train and frighten the cattle, but just as the herd got within a few hundred yards of us, the leaders veered off to the east and pushed around our party. The weather was good most of the time, and, as we had plenty of food, we did not suffer any particular hardships as many of the pioneers did. No Indians disturbed us. I recall that one woman died during the journey. Another time one of the men was shot by accident by a rabbit hunter. We halted a day or two to attend to his wounds; but, after suffering for some time, he died and was buried along the trail. After that, the men were forbidden to do any hunting in the vicinity of the camp. Whenever possible our camps were in grassy flats along streams or near springs. I always detested camping in those sticky, yellow weeds that infest much of the west. At that time I had not learned the English language and consequently do not recall the names of all the places along the route. I remember one time, when the wagon train was near a large mountain that looked as if it had been split, something broke on one of the wagons and the men halted to fix it. The women and girls walked on ahead expecting the wagons to come up soon. We walked for a long time; and, as they day was hot, we got very thirsty. Soon we were out of sight of the wagon train and we could find no water. Then off in the distance we saw a group of tents and a man near a little ditch. We went over and made signs that we were thirty and he gave us some milk to drink. One of the men there took a fancy to me, the only little girl in the group, and tried to get me to go with him over to a group of buildings nearby. Finally, my father and some other men came riding up on horses searching for us. I was glad to see my father. The man still wanted me to go with him, so father nodded that it was all right and the stranger took me by the hand. Just as we got near the buildings, I could see soldiers drilling in a courtyard of the garrison and I was frightened. I remembered the war between Germany and Denmark and the coming of the soldiers in 1866. When we were almost to the fort I pulled my hand away quickly and ran back to my father. The man went on to the fort and came back in a moment laughing and presented me with a big bag of stick candy which he made me understand I was to divide with the others. There were several cows with our livestock so we always had milk and butter along the way. We used to average about ten miles a day and I believe that I ran an extra five miles trying to gather feed for the toothless ox and buffalo chips for our evening fire. Once I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. A teamster yelled “Jump” and I jumped. In the evenings the older people played games and danced to music, but I usually was busy helping my mother in camp and then I had to go to bed early. We traveled up the Platte river, then up the Sweetwater and over South Pass, down to Fort Bridger and then through Echo canyon, and over the mountain to Emigration canyon and down to Salt Lake City, arriving there October 5, 1867, just at conference time.
Note: This history was copied from the Eccles family historical collection on file at the J. Willard Marriott Library in their Special Collections on the University of Utah Campus in Salt Lake City and at the Ogden Genealogical Library in Ogden.
Stringtown school bus circa 1924
This photo of “Eden’s Stringtown school bus” was taken from the book “From Swineville to Stringtown: Life in Eden, Utah for the family of Hyrum Stallings and Nancy Ritter” compiled by Ray Wilmot. Eden’s first school house, a one-room log building, was built in 1866. In 1884 it was replaced, at a cost of $1,004.50, by a larger frame school building crowned by a bell. Money for the school was raised by taxation. The dimensions of the building were 26 x 40 with 12-foot ceilings. It was built across the street from the north side of the Public Square, or Eden Park, as we call it today. The new school had seating capacity of 78, and was dedicated January 27, 1884. This served the community until a new yellow brick schoolhouse was built and dedicated September 14, 1919. In 1926, the 10th grade was bussed to the new Weber High School located on the corner of 12th St. and Washington Blvd. in Ogden. Another change came in 1937 when the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades were taken to Huntsville for school, followed in 1944 by the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Finally, the last year school was held in Eden, attended by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, was during the 1945-1946 academic year—until the new Valley Elementary School was built, dedicated, and readied for the 2009-2010 school year.
Working Our Way through Childhood By Ann Stallings Draper
I had been tending my three grandsons for the day, and they had been little “hellers.” My cats were on the roof, toys were scattered all over the house, clothes dropped in every room, and I was ready to blow my top by the time my son came to pick them up. I put on a pot of coffee, and while it brewed, I got the cats off the roof, put the toys away, gathered the clothes and put them into the washer. Then, as I sipped my coffee, I thought about what Mother had put up with, and I polished her celestial crown until it out shown the brightest star in the heavens. It was then that I noticed the magic slate that the kids had been playing with lying on the table. I picked it up to put it away, and saw what had been written on it. “We love you, Grandma.” It was signed Steve, Chris and Michael. Tears came to my eyes, and I stopped to thin, “Had I ever told Mother that I loved her?” I don’t think I ever had, and I couldn’t remember any of us showing Mother or each other any affection. I wondered how she had raised seven kids, cooked for the family—plus six or eight hired men—kept us and the house clean, and still retained her sanity. Mother was a morning person. She was always up before the sun, winter and summer. Dad liked the fresh morning air, but he liked it in bed. Mother was up, had the fires started and breakfast ready before anyone got out of bed. Breakfast at our house was not a bowl of cereal and a slice of toast. We had cooked mush, biscuits, honey, jelly, and jam on the table. If anyone wanted ham, bacon, or eggs, Mother would prepare them in a matter of minutes. One of my favorite breakfasts was cooked whole wheat. Mother cleaned and washed the wheat the night before, poured boiling water on it, and put it on back of the stove to let it soak, steam, and partially cook over night. Boy was it good, whether with milk and sugar, or butter, salt and pepper. I often thought that one reason Mother got up so early was so that she could spend some time with herself and do her own thinking. She didn’t have much time to do it during the day. Mom’s Schedule - Mother had a schedule worked out, not by the hour, but by the day. Monday was wash day, come hell or high water. Nowadays, I gather my dirty clothes, chuck them in the washer, set the timer, and go about cleaning the rest of my house. When the bell rings, I put them in the dryer until the bell rings again. I take them out, fold them, and put them away. In Mother’s day, it was all done by hand power. We didn’t have hot water, so on Monday mornings she filled the boiler. This vessel had about 10 or 15 gallons of water. She put it on the hottest part of the stove as soon as she got the fire going. While it was heating, she gathered up the dirty clothes and sorted them. Sheets and pillow cases made up the first batches. Towels and dish towels were next, followed by underwear, colored dresses and shirts. Last came overalls, colored work shirts, and socks. By the time we got up, had our breakfast, and did the dishes, the washing was ready to go. Mother made her own soap—a combination of fat drippings and wood ashes or lye. For washday, she kept a can of soap and put hot water in it, then set it on the back of the stove to wash with. The hot water was carried to the machine, soap added, clothes put in, and motor turned on. The motor consisted of “kid power.” Each child took a turn, cranking the wheel that turned the washer, swishing the clothes back and forth in the soapy water to get them clean. They were clean when Mother said they were clean. Next, we turned the crank on the wringer that took most of the soapy water out of the clothes. They were dropped into a tub of cold rinse water. Then, they went through the wringer again, and into the bluing water to brighten them. Some of the clothes had to be starched, and all of them had to be hung on the clothes line. On windy days, they dried quickly, and in winter, they froze dried. About 10 o’clock, Mother had to take a break. Not a coffee break. She had to start getting dinner ready for the hired men. This was the biggest meal of the day, and consisted of meat, potatoes, gravy, one or two vegetables, bread, butter, jam, and dessert or fruit. While the meal was cooking, she continued the washing. Sometimes she ran out of lines, and the overalls, shirts, and socks had to be hung on the bushes or fences. This became a game with us to see who could make the funniest-looking bush. When the clothes were dry, they were brought in and folded or dampened down for ironing. The wash was not finished until supper was over and the dishes washed. If there was any time left, we could play, and Mother could rest. Tuesday was ironing day. No electric irons then! Mother would get up as usual and clean the back of the stove and put the flat irons out to heat before she started breakfast. If any soot got on an iron, and then on the clothes, they would have to be re-washed. She then set up the ironing board, and brought in the large basket of dampened clothes. The iron had to be tested to make sure it was not so hot it would scorch the clothes. If a drop of water sizzled when you dropped it on the iron, it was just right to use. If you were a good spitter, that would work the same. Once again, Mother did most of the work; the good shirts, best dresses, and fine linens. Gertie and Beulah were allowed to iron some of the colored things, while Mother got dinner. Maude could be trusted with the pillow cases. But my speed was the handkerchiefs. Sometimes Mother sent us out to play, just to get rid of us. Wednesday wasn’t show and tell; it was patch and mend. I think every week Howard had to have new patches on his knees and behind, and Maude and I had to have hems and seams replaced on our dresses. Buttons were sewn back and stockings darned. Of course, there were other small jobs to be done: churn the butter, bake bread, cakes and cookies, prepare meals. Mother made eight loaves of bread every other day. It must have been one of those days when Grandmother Ritter brought her friend Mrs. Gallon over to visit. Gertie answered the door, and asked them to come in. “Mother is in the front room resting,” she told them. Mother was lying on her stomach, and Maude, Howard, and I were playing horse on her back. “Nannie, is this the way you always rest?” asked Grandma. “No, Mom, but at least I know where they are,” was Mother’s reply. Sometimes she would go out and hoe the garden just to relax. Thursday was cleaning day. Floors were scrubbed with strong soap. There were no rubber gloves, so you can guess what our hands looked like. Rugs were swept (no vacuum), windows washed, and other minor repairs done. Friday was cooking day so we would have plenty of food on hand for Sunday. Bread, cakes, pies and all other goodies were prepared. The house smelled like a child’s dream of heaven. Mother made the best cookies I have ever tasted. Dunked in milk, they were ambrosia. When asked how she made them, it was a cup of this, a pinch of that, and a smidgen of something else. There was no temperature gauge on the oven, so, if the stove was hot, they browned in a hurry. If not, they cooked longer to get the necessary golden brown color. Saturday morning, we changed the sheets and pillow cases on all the beds to get ready for Monday’s wash. Saturday afternoon and evening was bath day. The boiler was again put on the stove, but this time after the noon meal. Mother washed our hair, starting with the oldest and working her way d own to me. I sometimes thought she used a scrubbing brush on my head. It hurt for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, the kitchen was always off limits to everyone except Mother and the kid she was bathing. About half of the hot water in the boiler was poured in the round tub on the kitchen floor. When it had cooled down, she started washing. After each kid was bathed, a little more hot water was added and the next kid was run though. It was something like dipping sheep in the spring of the year, or the modern-day car wash. I was always last. I swear that’s why I’m the darkest one of the bunch; I never got really clean. When we were all through, the water was carried out and dumped on the lawn. I always thought it was for fertilizer. After supper the boiler was again put on the stove. Mother and Dad bathed after we went to bed. Sunday was a fun day for everyone except Mom. We didn’t go to church, so we had a long day to play. Dad was what was called a “Jack Mormon.” He had been baptized, but didn’t go to church. Mother’s family had never belonged; therefore, we were misfits in a town where almost everyone went to church. There was no definite work for us to do, except help get the meals; milk the cows; and feed the pigs, chickens, cats, and other stray animals that were around. Then, we would play. We often dramatized the funny papers. Jim always got to be the hero. One comic strip showed he bad guys hanging the hero until he “whistled.” So we got one of Dad’s lariat ropes, put it around Jim’s neck, and hoisted him to a beam in the shop. It’s a good thing one of the hired men came along at that moment or we would be still waiting for him to whistle.
Note: Information for this historical account came from the book “From Swineville to Stringtown: Life in Eden, Utah for the family of Hyrum Stallings and Nancy Ritter” compiled by Ray Wilmot. The setting is from the early 1900s in Ogden Valley. For more information about the book, contact Mr. Wilmot at Rpwilmot@hotmail.com> This story was written by Ann Stallings Draper from a section of the book titled “Working Our Way through Childhood.”
Farming & Livestock in the Valley: Part 2
Note: This article was taken from Chapter 29 of “Remember My Valley: A history of Ogden Canyon, Huntsville, Liberty, and Eden, Utah from 1825 to 1976” by LaVerna Burnett Newey.
The late Orson Newey told this author that once in the early days as a young man, he and Joe Bingham were herding cattle in the South Fork area. They were sleeping in a little shack. It was cold in the morning, and as Joe got up and threw back the covers, he noticed a big rattlesnake lying almost under Orson’s armpit. Quickly going around to the other side of the bed, he yanked Orson to the floor.
“Don’t get your dander up,” said Joe. “See who your bed companion was? A 14-button rattler!”
David Berlin, born in 1882, told his grandson Bill Wangsgard that as a young man, he herded cattle with his brothers on the homestead land near Cobble Creek. They would pitch a tent by putting poles to the square and covering them with willows and then old quilts. Once one of the little boys gave a frightened cry. Searching for the cause, they discovered a rattlesnake crawling out from the willow beneath the bed. Toward late summer, when the spring dried up, they often had to scout around for clear water. Young David remembered seeing balls of snakes during the mating season. Because there was no way to go around them, he jumped from one rock to another over them.
The following anecdote is told by the famous tall-tale-teller of Huntsville, Roy Stoker.
At one time a family homesteaded near the present Snowbasin road. It seems the area was alive with rattlesnakes. Especially in August, the snakes made their way from the upper dry elevations to the lower streams for water. This particular pioneer family was at a loss on how to combat them, so they bought a large herd of pigs and turned them loose on the hillside. The pigs with thick hides and thick skulls blissfully rooted for feed, but invariably disturbed the rattlesnakes who attempted in vain with their poisonous fangs to discourage this new tough enemy. The unflinching pigs merely grabbed the reptiles by their tails, gave them a firm flip, and the snake was defunct.
It was impossible for “old Man Backman” and the boys to separate the unbroken horses, beef stock and yearling calves from the cows at milking time. Bishop Hammond devised a solution for that problem. A short stretch of fence with bars for the passage of wagons was built between two ledges in the South Fork Canyon near the mouth of Magpie. All animals were individually branded by their owners then driven in the spring by townsmen and placed behind the bars to be sure that none came back down and destroyed the growing crops. They were left there until feed was gone in the fall. For weeks during the early part of each summer, a bunch of cattle could be seen above the bars looking for a careless traveler who might give them an opportunity to return home.
Irrigation Water In 1861 an irrigation company was organized in Huntsville under the supervision of Jefferson Hunt and a water ditch tapping the South Fork about two and a half miles above the present center of Huntsville was made, bringing the water onto the top of the bench where the town now stands. This same pioneer irrigation ditch still meanders from east to west through Huntsville, 115 years later. It was surveyed by Charles Grow with the improvised square, a plumb, and two sticks. It was dug by hand labor and extended piece by piece as the town developed. Later, all of the first irrigation ditches in the Valley were plowed in the most convenient places.
Walter and William Lindsey, as young men, according to Mrs. Jennie Neil, were the first to take water from the North Fork. Mr. Riddle irrigated from Spring Creek in Liberty.
Richard Ballantyne’s farm, previously owned by a Mr. Mitchell, was the first in Eden to take water out of Wolf Creek. Later, the Lindsey ditch on the east of Eden was brought into the center of town. Still later, a ditch was provided from the North Fork of the Ogden River. In 1871 the Eden Irrigation Company was organized. The first trustees were John Farrell, Richard Ballantyne, John Riddle, James Burt, and Josiah M. Ferrin. Armstead Moffat was chosen treasurer and Edmund Burke Fuller, secretary.
There were more contentions and bitterness over water and fencing rights in the early days than anything else. Before the days of civil courts, water troubles were often taken to the ward bishop to solve. This put the bishop in a serious predicament. Whichever ruling he made, he was bound to lose face with a member of this congregation. Sometimes it involved members of his own bishopric, and then it was doubly hard to make a decision.
In one case, a watermaster told a farmer he wasn’t getting his share of water and he should put some rocks in the ditch to equal it out. The farmer was then hauled by another farmer into bishop’s court for doing this. When confronted, the watermaster denied his involvement in it. Who was to believe whom? “To be or not to be” was a dilemma church courts were confronted with. Gradually, civil courts took over.
“The year 1889 was a season of universal drought in the territory of Utah. In June of that year, the Plain City Irrigation Company obtained through the District Court an injunction restraining the settlers of Ogden Valley from using the waters of Ogden River for irrigation purposes. They had filed on rights to it. In consequence of this injunction, one-half of the grain in Ogden Valley failed to mature and the potato crop and vegetables were practically burned up” (From a 1917 Huntsville booklet).
The Standard Examiner, 1974, covering three articles by D.D. McKay, stated, “In 1904 the Plain City Irrigation Company filed a second suit—this time against the Eden Irrigation Company. It was an injunction against Eden users on the ground that their right was junior to that of Plain City’s. The case was tried in District Court and went to the State-Supreme Court.
“The ruling was that when the Eden people used the water on the land and then allowed it to seep gradually underground and then follow its natural channel below, the lower valley residents received more water from the North Fork than they would get if the water were permitted to flow down the natural channel of the creek and be subject to evaporation and leakage. This happened especially during time of scarcity or drought. Studies subsequently were made and data collected that proved this theory.”
Alec Hogge of Eden once wrote:
“The pioneers who surveyed our irrigation system upon this bench can be congratulated, as every acre can be irrigated from different ditches and so divided that it takes care of all land under cultivation. When a farmer has a large amount of acreage, he is entitled to a larger headgate, and his water is measured out by the hours he is permitted to use the water each week.
We take our turns with no watermaster, trusting every man to take his turn, and when through, his neighbors take over. We have a board of directors, three men chosen from a company and a secretary to oversee the needs of the canal such as cleaning, repairing as necessary, and making assessments to cover the necessary expense for the year’s operation. No better system can be found in irrigation now.”
This was after the early days when they had so much trouble over water right in bishops’ courts and early civil courts.
Pictured left: Huntsville’s mercantile store built by Soren L. Petersen. The store, which is still standing, is located kitty–corner from the Huntsville Park-minus the top floor.
Pictured right: This photo of Leon’s Market in Huntsville was taken by Doug Clawson in 1988 when he was 18 years old. He is the son of Jack and Eileen Clawson of Huntsville. Leon’s Market used to have a second story where many dances were held and many memories made. It was removed in the mid-1960s due to structural concerns. While working for the Soil Conservation Service in Huntsville, Leon Sorensen purchased the building—the town’s general store—which, together with his wife Bonnie and their family, they operated for over 37 years. The phrase “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” was never more apt than at “Leon’s Market.” It was leased and operated as a store until 2001. More recently, it was the home of the Ogden Valley Community Church. Photo courtesy of Jill Clawson Smith.
Huntsville Stores Note: This article is from the book “Remember My Valley” by LaVerna Burnett Newey, which was printed in 1977.
In the spring of 1869 a cooperative store was organized in Huntsville with about $700 worth of stock subscribed. William Halls was appointed business manager. In 1878 the stockholders of the cooperative store were bought out by Christian Petersen who paid them 64.5% for their original stock investments. This institution had had a prosperous existence for several years, during which at different times dividends had been paid amounting to 350% to stockholders. But changes of directors, placing inexperienced men to manage, jealousy, lack of confidence, etc., resulted in its dissolution. D.D. McKay in his “memories of Huntsville” wrote of going to Christian Petersen’s store for 5 cents worth of sugar. “The matches were of the 8 day variety. There was also in plain view a little container with gold dust in it and a little scale to weight this precious form of exchange.” Christian also owned a sawmill where he was later killed. Soren L. Petersen, who owned a small store in the west end of town, bought Christian’s property and built a two-story with dance hall on the upper level. After Soren’s death, the store was operated by his sons Adam, Alma, and Joseph L. Petersen. Adam later bought a store in Eden and Joseph L. Petersen owned and operated the store in Huntsville. Joseph L., as he was called, was notary public, legal counselor, public speaker, and leader in town and church affairs. About the 1930’s, Joseph L. moved to Ogden and sold his store to Edward Jesperson. When Mr. Jesperson died, his son-in-law Elton Knapp managed it for a few years until his early death. Leons Mercantile, now occupying the historic store*, sells everything from anything in the food line to thread, bolts, real-estate, and gas. When Leon Sorens[o]n removed the saggy second story of the building, he found many interesting items stored from days gone by. His daughter Lou Ann brought to the third grade Valley School’s annual museum several pairs of high-button shoes as well as the later high laced ones. In the earliest days, many small stores sprouted in the Valley. People with an extra room stocked shelves with goods they had bought on infrequent visits to Ogden to sell to the local residents. Isabell Grow Jensen remembers of going to such a store as a child for a penny’s worth of candy. It was situated near Louis Wansgaard’s present home and was managed by a childless couple named Johnson. This couple owned the first “graphanola” (record player) in Huntsville and in the evening the young people congregated on the front veranda to listen to it. Lars Hanson had a store near 6775 E. 100 S. Lars later left Huntsville and started what was known as the stockyards and meat-packing plant in Ogden. Children of the early days loved the candy stores. Tom Slater had one on Second West. Later, George and Mary Madson, still living, operated a candy store on Main Street close to the Huntsville central business district. There was a small hotel, pool hall, and later a restaurant and post office on the site of the present south (LDS) church parking lot. Chris Thurston, Carl Peterson, and Carol Renstrom Gesford were among the early remembered proprietors. Among the more prominent stores recalled by oldsters was the building which formerly stood south of the present Wood’s Market. It was another two-story large building that also accommodated dances on the upper floor. Fred and Wilhart Schade managed the store until about 1910 when they sold to C. C. Wangsgard. It was thereafter known as the Wangsgard Hall. Louis Wangsgard, his son, now in his late 80’s, remembered of opening the store at 5:00 a.m. to accommodate the sheepherders going through town. They stayed open at night until all the lights in town were out. This building was later purchased by the LDS Church and used as a recreational hall for picture shows and dances. It was torn down in 1954 to make room for a new church building. The well-known Ben Wood’s Meat Market was a never-to-be-forgotten gathering place. Ben’s jovial spirit and accommodating ways drew Mormons and “Gentiles” to his establishment. It was told by some that during the depression years of the 1930’s, his stack of patrons’ unpaid bills bulged in his drawer and many a poor family might have starved had it not been for his generosity during those trying times. Other merchants in the Valley probably did the same. About the turn of the century Ben had a slaughter house in the west end of town which furnished fresh meat daily for his flourishing meat market. His son Kay Woods is carrying on it the tradition of his father. According to Kay’s typical wry humor, he sells everything from sirloins and sandwiches to saddles. The now empty building in the center of town labeled Allen Grocery was last operated by Mark and Loris Allen for a few short years. It was once a thriving confectionary in the 1930’s and 1950’s and owned and built by Clarence and Ruth Olsen. The Olsens loved having people around them so it was a pleasant and wholesome gathering place for the young people of the three towns. A date to a school or church dance or any town event was never quite complete without a visit to Olsen’s Confectionery. Excellent large hamburgers, sundaes, sodas, and floats were 10 to 20 cents each. When the Olsens retired, Gunn McKay leased it for a while. But when the LDS Church urged the closing of unnecessary establishments on Sunday, Gunn, true to his faith and convictions, gave up his most thriving day of the week and also the business. His sacrifice turned into a blessing, for more lucrative opportunities opened up for him.
*The Sorensens operated the store for over 37 years. Later it was leased, still operating as a store until 2001. More recently it was used as the Ogden Valley Community Church, but now stands vacant.
Huntsville team from the annual “Valley Tournament” (1950). From left to right, front row: Gordon Madsen, Bryant McKay, Don McEntire, Monroe McKay, Quinn McKay. Back row: George Larkin, Norman Montgomery, Leon McKay, Grant Crezee, Moyer Grow, Bryan Renstrom, and Coach Floyd Barnett. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Wangsgard Waite of Huntsville.
Valley Elementary class 1950. Photo submitted by Nancy Marty of Huntsville.
Shown below: Noah Jensen, Eldon Jensen, Marcus Orton, Calvin Chandler, Halver Bailey, Lloyd Shaw, Jennabie Ballif, Beth Ellis, and Doris Lowder. People are standing on an avalanche that came down in the winter of 1929 in North Ogden. The snow slid down to 3100 N. in the vicinity of Bates Elementary (about 900 E.) Alice Wyatt remembers sledding for seven consecutive weeks on snow-packed North Ogden roads during that winter. Photo courtesy of the North Ogden Historical Museum <www.wp.nohmuseum.org> Visit The Ogden Valley News Facebook page for a view of the original photo.
The J.M Wilbur Company Blacksmith Shop
The J.M. Wilbur Company Blacksmith Shop was built in 1895, and is a brick, onepart block commercial building with a stepped gable parapet and Late Victorian Commercial details. The period of significance dates from 1895, when it was built by Jesse Wilbur, to1951, when Jesse passed away. Jesse partnered with his son Glenn in 1924, and they used this building as a commercial outlet providing primarily blacksmithing and other related services to local farmers and the surrounding communities. Following Jesse’s death, Glenn carried on the business for two more decades. It was significant in the areas of industry and commerce because it provided essential services in a developing community and played a vital role in the development and success of the community of Eden and surrounding Ogden Valley. The building was originally designed and constructed to facilitate the needs of the blacksmithing industry—a once very common and necessary business in frontier life—and is the only known continuously functioning blacksmith shop remaining in the region. Following a recent careful rehabilitation, the building continues to operate as a blacksmith shop today.
Industry In the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Utah, when horses were the primary mode of travel, blacksmithing was a busy and prosperous enterprise. Travelers did not commonly bring tools with them and, therefore, blacksmiths were strongly relied upon. Emigrants would gather scrap iron as they crossed the plains and would often trade the iron or grain or food. Blacksmiths in Ogden, specifically, not only shod horses and set wagon tires, but also made necessary items for household and farm use. In 1850, the Weber County census listed 22 blacksmiths. The town of Liberty (four miles from Eden) had two blacksmiths, which did not last very long. The J.M. Wilbur Company Blacksmith Shop proved to be the more successful and provided blacksmithing business for these communities.
The Wilbur Blacksmith Shop began operation in Eden, Utah, in 1895. Located about 12 miles east of Ogden, Eden lies between the north and middle forks of the Ogden River in Ogden Valley, originally called “Little Valley”2 by Shoshone Indian Chief Little Soldier. In 1825 British trapper Peter Skeen Ogden and others employed by the Hudson Bay Fur Co. were the first white men to explore and trap wildlife in the valley, which then became known as “Ogden’s Hole” or “New Hole.”3 Later, President Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent two exploration parties in 1848 and 1852 to the valley. This led to the establishment of three Mormon communities of year-round residents: Eden, Huntsville, and Liberty. The first cattlemen came in 1856, and by 1860 small farms were beginning to form.
James Burt (b. 1822), an experienced blacksmith, immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1862. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he crossed the plains with other Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley, Utah where he was invited to do blacksmithing work for Church president Brigham Young. He had acquired sufficient funds by 1870-71 to purchase a piece of land in Eden and became one of the first permanent settlers in the area. He built Eden’s first blacksmith shop, which served the other nearby settlements of Huntsville and Liberty as well. In 1895, James Burt sold the blacksmith shop to his assistant, Jesse Wilbur (b. 1874), who replaced the building with a new one (the subject building) in 1895 and changed the name to his own.4 The J.M. Wilbur Company Blacksmith Shop provided essential services and support for this growing agricultural community. Blacksmithing was a vital industry in any settlement of this era and this building retains significance as the industry’s only vestige in the Ogden Valley. Common blacksmithing services needed by these farmers included replacing parts for farm equipment, shoeing horses, constructing tools, providing tilling equipment, and building steel wagon wheels.5 The Wilbur blacksmithing trade was a practical service and a boon to the farming industry, which contributed significantly to the growth and success of the community.
Commerce After many years working in James Burt’s Blacksmith Shop in Eden, Jesse Wilbur purchased the shop in 1895, built a new shop on the property, and established the J.M. Wilbur Company. Because the community was agricultural, his skills were indispensable to the farmers there. Interchangeable parts were not mass-produced in those days, and so much of Jesse’s time was spent in building new parts to replace homemade ones for equipment needing repair. He fitted horses with shoes using steel purchased from Ogden, then heated it and shaped them with his homemade hammer. His custom design of the “Wilbur Bale Hook” became known as the best tool in the Mountain West for hooking bales of hay and was sold in several states outside of Utah as well (“Eden Blacksmith”).6 He built snow plows, bob sleds, tilling equipment, and steel wagon wheel tires, which was an especially laborious and painstaking process. Tire setting was one of the most significant and difficult repairs offered at the Wilbur shop.
On February 1, 1924, Jesse’s son Glenn became a partner in the business and the business name was changed to J.M. Wilbur and Son, which remained until Jesse’s death on June 19, 1951.7 As technology caused an evolution in transportation and automobiles became the dominant mode, the Blacksmith Shop adapted to the times and offered automobile and gasoline service in addition to blacksmithing.8 Expansion of amenities to include automobile service appears to coincide with the additions that were added to the south side of the original blacksmith shop (and more recently removed). This is supported through photographic evidence of the service station component; however, no other documentation exists to confirm the dates or extent of the service station activities.
James Burt, Sr. In the early nineteenth century, child labor was common in many countries. Nine-year-old James Burt (b. 8 January 1822) began his life of manual labor in his birthplace of Blontyre Lanark Scotland. During the next few years, he found himself working with machinery, water wheels, and blacksmith equipment. After refusing to fulfill the role of striking workers at the Blontyre Works, he found himself unemployed and homeless at the age of fifteen. It was at this time that he began learning the trade of blacksmith, often working eighteen-hour days. Economic downturns often forced him to change jobs working for the railway, sugar factory, and ironworks. In spite of these challenges, he consistently found enough work to marry and support his childhood sweetheart, Mary McBride, when he was only seventeen. Of all his jobs, he loved blacksmithing the most and took every opportunity to learn the trade well.
In 1850 James and Mary were introduced to and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which greatly impacted the future of this family. They left Scotland in 1862 and sailed across the Atlantic to begin the arduous journey across the plains to Utah in hopes of joining others of their faith. James resumed his blacksmith trade at the invitation to work for Brigham Young in Salt Lake City. Hearing about the beautiful valley east of Ogden, he purchased a small piece of land in Eden between 1870-1871, eventually building a shop and becoming the blacksmith for the three main settlements in the valley.
After Mary’s death (1897), James sold his shop to his assistant, Jesse Wilbur, in 1895. Jesse then built the new shop three years later on this same property. James died on 17 July 1904 and was buried in Eden.
Jesse M. Wilbur Jesse M. Wilbur (b. February 1874) was the eldest of seven children born to Elisha Wilbur, one of the first settlers of Eden, Utah, and Rose Ellen Worden Wilbur. Upon the death of his mother in 1897, he became the legal guardian for his four youngest siblings.
Jesse began learning the skills of a blacksmith from his father at the age of eighteen, which became his life’s work. Not only did he receive on-the-job training, but he also attended classes in blacksmithing at Utah Agricultural College (now Utah State University) in Logan.
On July 5, 1899, Jesse (age 25) married Minnie Farrell (age 23). It is believed their courtship took place in their earlier years as they attended the same school together in Eden and only lived one block apart from each other. Their first home was the Wilbur home in the “Stringtown” section of Eden, where Jesse also operated the farm.9 They later moved to the Farrell home, one block away from the Blacksmith Shop. Jesse and Minnie had seven children. Minnie always did the bookkeeping for Jesse’s Blacksmith Shop.
On February 1, 1924, Jesse’s son Glenn became a partner in the business and the business name was changed to J.M. Wilbur and Son, which remained until Jesse’s death on June 19, 1951.
According to LaMar Petersen, “Everybody liked Jesse Wilbur. He was friendly and obliging. When he shod the horses, his shop became a haven for idlers and bug-eyed kids. His smelly leather apron, the red-hot embers in the forge, the sweat of the horses all made a pleasant atmosphere worth standing around for an hour at a time enjoying. I loved to watch him at work, smoking his stogie, intent on gentling the horse as he applied the shoe, his swarthy, perspiring face showing both concentration and kindness. He was also a fixer. He mended plows and harvesters, an occasional wheel from a wagon, or a flivver that refused to start.”10
Jesse is also remembered as a good friend of David O. McKay, a later president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was a native of nearby Huntsville, and would often pay visits to Jesse’s shop. They enjoyed discussing local events and politics but avoided topics of a religious nature.
Glenn M. Wilbur The son of Jesse M. and Minnie Farrell Wilbur was Glenn Wilbur (b. 1 December 1903). He married Clara Hunt on March 28, 1936. In 1924, he became his father’s partner in the Blacksmith Shop. After his father’s death in 1951, Glenn changed the name of the company to Glenn M. Wilbur and continued to operate the shop. Gradually, new ideas were formed and gas pumps and auto mechanics became a part of the blacksmith trade. Glenn operated the Blacksmith Shop until his retirement on May 29, 1971. For 42 years, he was one of the last blacksmiths in the Ogden area. Like his father, he continued producing necessary articles for home and agricultural use as well as horseshoes. He also provided service to the community as vice president and former director of the Eden Waterworks Co. Glenn died at the age of 69 on November 19, 1973. Today, the building still functions as a Blacksmith Shop.
Historical Context for Eden/Ogden Valley The small agricultural community of Eden, Weber County, Utah has always been known for its picturesque beauty, fertile grasslands, and numerous waterways all surrounded by the Wasatch and Cache Valley mountain ranges. Located about 12 miles east of Ogden, Eden lies between the north and middle forks of the Ogden River in Ogden Valley, originally called “Little Valley”11 by Shoshone Indian Chief Little Soldier. The valley once served as temporary summer hunting grounds for the tribe where beaver, muskrats, game, and even bear were plentiful. In 1825 British trapper Peter Skeen Ogden and others employed by the Hudson Bay Fur Co. were the first white men to explore and trap wildlife in the valley, which then became known as “Ogden’s Hole” or “New Hole.”12 Geographers later named it Ogden Valley. The severe winters and difficult passage through the Ogden canyons discouraged permanent settlements. It wasn’t until President Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent two exploration parties in 1848 and 1852 that led to the establishment of three Mormon communities of year-round residents: Eden, Huntsville, and Liberty.13 The first cattlemen came in 1856 and by 1860 small farms were beginning to form. Stephen K. Wilbur is thought to be the first settler in Eden, which was surveyed in 1866 by Washington Jenkins. It was Jenkins who suggested the Biblical name of Eden because of its beauty. Because the elevation is 4,941 feet (1,506 m), the new settlers were faced with long harsh winters causing many challenges. In March of 1876, James Burt, Jr. left his wife Annie and three children at home to retrieve fresh water when a sudden snow slide rushed down the mountainside tearing the home from its foundation and carrying it and his family downhill. Everyone was saved but his toddler-aged daughter Catherine, who was buried the next day in Eden Cemetery. The displaced family lived in the home of James Burt, Sr., in Eden for a while. One month after this tragic incident, Annie gave birth to a son giving him the name of George Survival Burt.
Other challenges also beset the community. Although relations between the settlers and Indians were mostly peaceful, tensions were still high. Shortages of food were not uncommon as the townspeople often offered provisions to the Indians to maintain peaceful conditions. Some even paid an annual “tax” for several years to avoid problems. Men often carried rifles when working in the fields. Relations further deteriorated at the break of the Black Hawk War in 1865, causing many of the settlers to move closer together in the Eden area for protection. During the winter of 1877 an epidemic of scarlet fever and diphtheria broke out in the community lasting until the next year. Very little medical help was available in the valley and the epidemic was especially hard on the children claiming 64 lives. Hordes of grasshoppers led to successive years of crop failure. In spite of these trials, progress moved forward.
Mail came to Eden from Ogden twice a week and was delivered to Richard Ballantynes. In 1893 the first post office was established which served as the post office for the town of Liberty as well. In 1861 Thomas Bingham built the first hand-driven shingle mill on the North Fork between Eden and Liberty; the first power-driven mills came a few years later. The Blacksmithing business run by James Burt and then Jesse Wilbur served the towns of Eden and Liberty for many years, as did the grocery store in Eden. Religion greatly united the people of these communities. James Burt, Sr. served as the first Sunday School Superintendent for Eden and Liberty, and his son, James Burt, Jr. helped the church acquire property for the first tithing house, ward house, and cemetery in Liberty. The Eden Ward’s population in 1900 was 294 members. Several prominent church leaders such as Matthias Cowley, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon, Franklin D. Richards, and Daniel H. Wells visited the Latter-Day Saints in the valley. A one-room school house built in 1866 in Eden also welcomed students from Liberty. In 1884 a larger school house was built with a bell placed on the roof to call the children to school or warn residents of an emergency. The bell now sits upon the Daughters of Utah Pioneers historical monument dedicated in 2005 to honor the historical significance of Eden.14 _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. “Early History of Liberty, Weber, Utah”. 3. Ibid. 4. “Biography of Elisha Wilbur,” p. 6. 5. “No Town Could Make it without a Blacksmith” 6. Ibid. 7. “Biography of Elisha Wilbur,” p. 6. 8. “No Town Could Make it without a Blacksmith” 9. Gardiner, Don (Grandson). “Biography of Minnie Lavina Farrell Wilbur,” February, 1982. 10. Petersen, LaMar. “My Garden of Eden,” Utah Historical Quarterly 56 (Summer 1988): 236-49. 11. “Early History of Liberty, Weber, Utah”. 12. Ibid. 13. “Settlement of Eden,” Utah Historical Markers on www.waymarking.com, posted March 23, 2011, http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMB1F9_Settlement_of_Eden 14. “Settlement of Eden,” Utah Historical Markers on www,waymarking.com, posted March 23, 2011, http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMB1F9_Settlement_of_Eden