An Early History of Cache County…

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Compiled by M. R. Hovey, Secretary, Logan Chamber of Commerce. January 1, 1923 to January 1, 1925. Also as printed in the Logan Journal, beginning August 4, 1923.

Mendon Utah Logo

Maughan's Fort (Wellsville) April 1959 to 1869

Resettlement of Cache Valley

This period was quite favorable to the quick peopling of this section of the state. It was just after the close of the Utah War and the return of the people from their exodus south so that it was natural for the people to look to the northern counties for settlement. Many of the people desired lots and farming land at cheaper prices that could be had around Salt Lake City, and at this juncture Cache Valley with its many possibilities perhaps offered the greater inducements, especially to the emigrants who at this time began to come to Utah rapidly. The European Missions of the Latter-day Saints Church had been suspended since 1856, due to the Utah War and other conditions, but in 1859 emigration was reopened and when the emigrants arrived, many were attracted to Cache Valley.

In the early spring of 1859, and from then on the permanent settlement of Cache Valley began in earnest. During the years of 1859-1860 many of the companies came almost simultaneously so that a number of the settlements were settled practically at the same time. Peter Maughan and most of those who had settled at the Maughan Fort (Wellsville) prior to the exodus south in 1858, and some other families returned in April 1859 by way of the low summit west of where Petersboro is, to Maughan’s Fort and began to build where they left off. In her diary, Mrs. Peter Maughan states that on her return to her cabin she found her chairs visiting all over the fort and scattered among the Indian camps. However, no serious damage had been done with the exception of the wheat that had been stolen. In May of that year they started to plow and put in their crops.

The first session of the county court since the 'Move South' in 1858 and since the last meeting of the court December 7th, 1857, was held at Maughan’s Fort May 23rd, with Probate Judge Peter Maughan, presiding. The following were appointed to fill the offices until the next general election: Selectmen: William Gardner, Charles Shumway, George W. Pitkin; Sheriff: Sam Park; Recorder: Francis Gunnell; Treasure: John Maughan.

Levies of one-fourth of one percent on the taxable property of the county were made for the territory and one-half of one percent was levied for the territory and one-half of one percent was levied for the county. Ten percent was levied for the county. Ten percent was allowed for assessing and collecting and John Owens was appointed assessor.

There was $12.00 as delinquent territorial taxes for the year 1857 and this was ordered paid out of the county revenue for the current year. The reason these taxes were delinquent was that the taxpayers in 1857 went south on the general move ordered by President Brigham Young and did not return to the county.

The Haw Bush Spring which was one of the watering places and landmarks of the herders and settlers coming over the Sardine route is located between Wellsville and Mt. Sterling on the present farm of Mr. Harry Parker. Maughan’s Fort was built just west of the small creek in the east part of Wellsville and the west side of this fort was the present street extending north and south in the east part of Wellsville. The first house in the fort was built where the present residence of William H. Maughan is located. The first log school and meeting house was a log building fifteen feet by fifteen feet, with dirt floor and dirt roof and stood in the middle of the present street between the homes of Daniel H. Maughan and Guy Maughan. Frank Gunnell was the first school teacher.

Other who arrived in 1859 and settled at Wellsville, and not previously mentioned, were James Cooper, Cooper Cummings, John Turkel, William Darley, John Owens, John Kay and Samuel McMurdie.

In 1860, a large log school and meeting house was built where the present home of Daniel H. Maughan is located and James A. Leishman was the schoolteacher.

When the first settlers arrived and built the Maughan’s Fort, they farmed the present site of Wellsville and had a squatter’s right to the land. 1864, the town of Wellsville took over the land held under the squatter’s right and the owners were paid from $5.00 to $85.00 for each lot. The site was surveyed and those who were living in the fort moved onto the lots and the real settlement of Wellsville began. Each lot contained one and one-quarter acres of land.

Near the present Oregon Short Line Depot, Ira Ames built a sawmill with an up-right saw. He also started a small tannery near by. Mr. Robert Baxter, William Haslam and John Stoddard built a carding mill near the sawmill. Daniel Hill built a small gristmill about one mile east of Wellsville and James Stewart ran a small molasses mill.

Wellsville had one of the first brass bands in the county. It was organized in 1860 with James H. Haslam as leader. John Stoddard, David Stoddard, William Haslam, Edward Mitton, Samuel Mitton, William Leishman and John Humphreys were some of the members of the band. For those days it was a good band and furnished much enjoyment and entertainment for the settlers as well as for other settlements.

In 1862 Chief Washakie and 1,400 Indians came to Wellsville and camped on the farm of Bishop Maughan. They demanded two beeves and ten hundred pounds of flour. Following the advice of President Brigham Young that it was better to feed the Indians than to fight them, these supplies were given to the Indians and there was no trouble and a friendly spirit was created.

Peter Maughan was the first Bishop of Wellsville and his son, William H. Maughan, was the first mayor. Wellsville was incorporated in 1866. In the beginning before any other settlements were started, Maughan’s Fort or Wellsville was substantially the entire county. The Fort has become one of the principles in landmarks in the early history of the Valley. It was headquarters for all the early settlers.