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

Early Settlement of Logan, 1859 to 1869

Immediately following the company which settled at Spring Creek, Providence, David Reese, Griffith Charles, Sidney Dibble, Abraham Caldwell and families arrived in the Valley. They were attracted to the camp already established at Spring Creek (Providence) and went there. Due to some dispute over the land, the Reese Company moved north just below where River Heights is and forded the Logan River and camped about where the present site of the old Deseret Mill is. This was the latter part of April 1859.

Heads of Families

Within a few days, another company arrived in the Valley and made temporary headquarters at Maugan’s Fort. They were: John P. Wright, John Nelson, Israel J. Clack, Morgan S. Evans, James Deming, and families. John F. Wright and Ed. Nelson, sons of John P. Wright and John Nelson, were also in the company. Owing to the high water in the Little Bear River, it was not possible to ford, so it became necessary to build a bridge. The men went into Cold Water Canyon, west of Maughan’s Fort, to get stringers for the bridge. On their return they met the following company which was just arriving at the Fort: Ralph Smith, John R. Blanchard, Thomas Ebenezer Landers, John E. Jones, Edward W. Smith, William Dees, Jesse Pearson, George Peacock, Benjamin Williams, Joel Ricks and families. The two companies united and constructed the first bridge in Cache Valley. Peter Maughan appointed John P. Wright to preside over and take charge of the colony.

As the river was high, it was difficult to place the stringers across the stream. John F. Wright and an Indian swam the river with the oxen and then the stringers were puled into position. The utmost care was necessary to get the wagons across the rickety bridge. The company continued its journey towards where Logan is now situated. In fact, the course of travel was nearly along the present State Highway from Wellsville. When the company arrived at Logan Island, they had to cut their way through the thick brush and ford the river. A camp was made about where the present Thatcher Mill lawn is.

The settlers were impressed with the plateau on which most of Logan is now situated, but they were also attracted by the Summit Creek where Smithfield is situated. They went to this place and decided to take up farm land as it would be easy to get irrigation water from the creek. They named the place Summit, after the Summit Creek. The creek had previously been named by the early trappers and explorers. They returned to their camps and decided that where Logan now stands was the proper place to make the settlement. In order to get better protection against the Indians, it was decided that the Reese Company, which had previously arrived and camped where the old Deseret Mill site is, should unite with the Wright and Smith Companies which had camped where the Thacher Mill lawn is.

In May of this year, John P. Wright, John Nelson and Israel J. Clark were appointed as the presidency of the colony to give out the land and receive the tithing. The settlers drew lots for their land and they began at once to plow and prepare the land and put it their crops. John F. Wright held the plow that plowed the first furrow to take the water out of the Summit Creek for irrigation.

Occasionally the settlers were called to Maughan’s Fort, especially when the Indians became too dangerous. In all there were about thirty-five families. June 15th, 1859, the first child was born in the settlement. It was Margaret Charles, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Griffith Charles. At present, Margaret Charles is Mrs. Charles Ricks and lives at Rexburg Idaho.

A meeting was held July 10th,1859 and it was decided that the boundaries of the settlement be set and also to name the place. The stakes which set off the boundary lines were driven by means of a pocket compass and the North Star. John P. Wright laid off Main and Center Streets, as they are today. Later when Jesse W. Fox a government engineer, and Bishop William B. Preston laid off the city, they found that John P. Wright had made a correct survey for Main and Center Streets.

It became necessary to give the place a name in order to receive the mail. John P. Wright suggested that the settlement be named Logan. The name was suggested as the river had already been named the Logan River by the early trappers and explores. The name was adopted and the settlement became known as Logan. Tradition tells up that the early trappers and explorers named the River Logan after an old Indian Chief who had been a great friend to the whites.

John F. Wright and Ed. Nelson were messenger boys and carried the mail on horse back. They almost lived in the saddle doing scout work and carrying messages.

Just as soon as the colonists decided where to locate the settlement, they began the construction of their log houses along with the planting of their crops. As the timber was nearby and more accessible in the Hyde Park Canyon, they went to this place for their house logs. The first house in the settlement was constructed by John Blanchard on the vacant corner near the present Journal Building. David Reese and others completed their houses shortly afterwards. The first bowery was built near the present home of Christian Garff and just west of the present Capitol Theatre. Here all the public meeting would be necessary. This was constructed of logs on the site west of Center Street about where the Parkinson Hospital was located. It was completed early in December 1859, when the first meeting was held in it. In January 1860, the first public school was started with Edward W. Smith as teacher.

Later, one of the first frame buildings in the settlement was erected on the corner of the present First North and Main Street. It was known as the Old Hall and became the real community center. Here all the religious and public meeting and entertainment’s were held for years. It was also here where the early drama flourished in Logan. To the rear of the building, a bowery was constructed, under which the public meetings were held during the summer months. The “Old Hall” was torn down in 1893 and the present Howell Block took its place.

In accordance with the advice of President Brigham Young and Peter Maughan, the settlers built their first houses in the line of a fort. These extended on both sides of the present Center Street from where the Thatcher bank corner now is to about Third West Street.

In August 1859, an event happened in the settlement that later not only influenced the destiny of Logan, but also contributed largely to the material prosperity of the entire county. It was the arrival of William B. Preston, his wife and his two brother-in-law, John B. Thatcher and Aaron Thatcher and the later arrival of Hezekiah Thatcher, Moses Thatcher, Sr. and George W. Thatcher, George L. Farrell, Amanda Farrell, Thomas E. Ricks, John Edwards, Robert D. Roberts, James Ellis, James Myler, David W. Davis, Wiliam Steel and sons, Lemuel and David Steel, Nephi and Elisha Rogers, Thomas Smith and wife and their children, Orson Smith and Lucy S. Smith, now Mrs. Lucy S. Smith Cardon, and families, arrived a little later.

It was during the period of the Utah War that William B. Preston and the Thatcher family arrived in Utah from California. The exodus drew the family south and they settled at first at Payson. Hezekiah Thatcher was esteemed a rich man from the gold fields of California. He was probably at that time, next to Brigham Young, the wealthiest man in Utah.

In consequence of the War, the people of the Territory were very destitute of clothing and the stocks of the merchants were quite exhausted. To obtain supplies a train of wagons was fitted out to send to California. Father Thatcher sent his wagons with his sons John B. and Aaron Thatcher, under the command of his son-in-law, William B. Preston, to California in the winter of 1858-1859 and they returned loaded with merchandise.

At Payson the Thatcher family and William B. Preston did not find sufficient land for cultivation and they were not satisfied so they turned their attention to Cache Valley with its resources of virgin country and fine water privileges. Here they at once take the rank as chief among the pioneers and founders of a new country. Thus the wealth of Father Thatcher and his merchant supplies just brought from California, were directed to the building up of the North instead of the South.

November 14th, 1859, the Logan Ward was organized by Apostles Ezra T. Benson and Orson Hide, with Peter Maughan assisting. William B. Preston was chosen as the bishop with George L. Farrell as clerk. Peter Maughan was sustained as the Presiding Bishop of the Valley. Thomas E. Ricks, Ebenezer Landers, John E. Jones and John Nelson were elected as the members of the High Council. After the meeting General Chauncey West of Ogden organized the Logan Militia with J. Clark as Major.

Early in the spring of 1860, while there were still two feet of snow, Bishop William B. Preston with surveyor Jesse W. Fox, laid off the city of Logan. During the spring and summer of this year there was considerable immigration from the surrounding country to Logan, which had become the natural center. Bishop Preston apportioned the lots and farming and hay land to the settlers.

In March of 1860, Apostle Ezra T. Benson moved to Logan as he had been appointed to preside over the Cache Valley Stake. Bishop Preston issued a call and the settlers contributed their labor and fenced off a lot and dug a well for Apostle Benson. In April 1860, Mr. Peter Maughan, the first real pioneer to the Valley and considered one of the prominent men and builders of the county, moved to Logan and the people turned out and built a log house for him. During the month of April the first company of minute-men was organized with Thomas E. Ricks as captain and George L. Farrell adjutant.

As the Indians were becoming quite troublesome, the leaders of the little colony planned to have a high rock wall built around the present tabernacle square where the settlers could flee for safety when necessary. Many tons of rock were hauled but as the idea was a rather big undertaking and conditions began to change somewhat, the plan was abandoned and the rock was used to build a high rock wall around the tithing bock to the north instead. The remnants of this old rock wall were recently removed from in front of the present Preston Block, east of First North, and another old landmark of those early days passed away.

The first death in the little settlement occurred in the spring of 1860, when the wife of John R. Blanchard died. She was buried just below the Agricultural College Hill between 5th and 7th East which later was known as the Old Cemetery. The grave was dug by James Ellis, the first sexton.