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
  • Richmond, Utah
  • Map of Richmond Fort

Richmond, Fall of 1859Richmod, Utah Sign

As early as 1852, John Bair operated a ferry boat on Bear River in Box Elder County, about where the Hampton Bridge is, north of Collinston. In 1855 Mr. Bair and Nels Empy with others decided to make a journey into Cache Valley and look it over. Isaac Shepard may have been a member of the party. When they arrived in the Valley they were impressed because of the many streams of water and springs and heavy growth of grasses and other features which would make this section a good place in which to live. They concluded then to take up some land claims when the proper time arrived.

In July 1859, Mr. Bair with several others came to Cache Valley and as the settlers at Logan had already taken land near the Summit Creek upon which later Smithfield was located, and had growing crops, Mr. Bair and his party went farther north and decided to locate near the stream now known as City Creek in Richmond. They commenced to build some log cabins near a large spring later called the Brower Spring. They went back for their families in the Salt Lake Valley and in the fall of 1859, the settlement of Richmond was founded by the following settlers: Agrippa Cooper, Vincent Cooper, Josheph Biddlecomb, John Bair and families among whom were his son Hyrum Bair; Moroni Cole, William Allerm Isaac Shepard, Justin Shepard, William H. Lewis, widow Petty and children, Margaret Petty, Thomas Petty, Lewis Petty, Sally Petty, Enock Daly, Alvin F. Stewart, Henry Gibson, Gilbert Bright, Mr. Whittaker and families. Widow Gool and family and Crandall family also arrived. “Hell Fired Jack” whose true name was never known by the settlers, was among this group.

The first log houses were built by Moroni Cole and John Bair on the bank of the creek on the west side of the present state highway. Other log houses were built south and east of the present Robinson residence near the Bower Spring. Being the farthest settlement north and quite a distance from Maughan’s Fort and Logan, the settlers at Richmond had to take extra precautions against Indian attacks so a temporary fort was constructed near the Bower Spring.

As the settlers did not arrive early enough in the season to plant crops, of course there was no harvest for this year. Some arrived in October and there was not much time to prepare for winter. Cottonwood logs along High Creek and Cherry Creek and pine logs near the foot of Mount Nebo, were obtained to build the log houses and furnish fuel. Some of the families lived in dugouts until the next year when they had more time to build log houses. The winter was a rather severe one with much snow and there had to be the best of cooperation among the little colony in order for all to survive until the next season.

In the spring of and during the year 1860, there was a considerable influx of settlers at Richmond among which were the following: Beason Lewis, Uriah Lewis, William L. Skidmore, Diedrick Funk, Marquis Funk, Christopher Funk, Goudy Hogan, Anna Hogan, Thomas Whittle, Casper Whittle, Jorgen Anderson, Zear Whittle, Emmaline Whittle, W. D. Hendricks, William Thompson, Christian Hyer, Marriner W. Merrill, William Harris, Alexander Harris, Eli Harris, Thomas Griffin, W. K. Burnham, Hyrum Newell Bullen, Robert Lewis, Joseph Hendricks, W. T. Van Noy, Stillman Pond and Samuel Whitney. Rebecca Lewis (later Mrs. Rawlins) was the first child born in the settlement.

With the arrival of spring and the new settlers, the land was at once broken up and prepared for planting. Irrigation water of course was the important factor for the success of the settlement and preparatory to securing water, a small ditch was made as early as the fall of 1859 to take the water out of Cherry Creek that they might have water in ample time for the crops the next season. A dam was also placed across the City Creek where a number of small pieces of land could be irrigated. The settlers had mostly ox teams with a few horse and mule teams and with these they broke up the land, put in their crops and went on the Nebo Mountain for logs for their houses. There was no road in the High Creek Canyon at the time; this had to be constructed later. Some of the settlers did not remain long at Richmond, but moved to help settle other places where they thought the opportunities were better.

Richmond Fort DUP MarkerWhen president Brigham Young of the L.D.S. Church and his associates visited Richmond, he said the people were too much scattered and advised them to construct a fort where they could live closer together and protect themselves better against the attacks of the Indians. “As you now are,” he said, “a few Indians could make a raid some night and kill half of you off before the other half would know about it.” The temporary fort at the Brower Spring was therefore moved to where Center Street now is and extended on both sides of this street. This was the main street in the fort. A public corral was also built where all the horses and cattle belonging to the settlers were guarded every night so they could not be taken so easily by the Indians. The fence for the corral was a strong high one, made of poles placed close together between sets of strong posts. Being one of the frontier settlements, the settlers had to exercise the utmost vigilance to protect their livestock and their lives as well, from the Indians.

In making the move from the Brower Spring, as advised by President Young, one strong headed settler refused to do so and said he would risk an attack from the Indians. One evening the crack of a rifle was heard and then followed several shots and war whoops. The alarm was given that the Indians were coming so a number of the men got their guns and rushed forth to resist the attack. Shots were exchanged rapidly for a few minutes, and then all was quite. A strong guard was placed around the fort, and especially around the house of the lone settler who had refused to move from the old fort. The next morning it was reported that Indian footprints could be seen near this man’s cabin. He was soon convinced that he should move and was glad to get help to move his house at once into the new fort. Later, it was learned that some of the settlers had planned and executed the attack as Indians, in order to make the obstinate settler move in with the others. Their plan worked admirably.

The Richmond Ward was organized in the spring of 1860 with Thomas Tidwell as bishop. Just how Richmond received its name is not definitely known but some believe that it was named in honor of Apostle Charles C. Rich, while other think that the rich deep soil in this particular section might have suggested the name. Very shortly Mr. Tidwell was succeeded as bishop by Mr. Marriner W. Merrill who served very faithfully in this position for a number of years and finally became an apostle and one of the leading men of the L.D.S. Church. He took much interest in all civic maters and public improvements and did a great deal towards the up building of the settlement.

It was not long until the settlement was incorporated with W. D. Hendricks as the first mayor. He held this position for several years and was one of the leading citizens to promote home industries and public improvements so the little colony would be as self-supporting as possible and make the town a good place in which to live. A militia was organized with Thomas Whittle as major, W. C. Lewis, as captain of the minute men and Richard Prater as bugler. Mr. R. N. Lewis was appointed as the first marshal.

The first public building in the little settlement was of course a combination meeting and schoolhouse. This was built of logs hauled from Mount Nebo in the spring of 1860 and located a short distance east of the present opera house building. Here the first day school was held with Henry Standage and D. P. Rainey as teachers. Mr. Jonh Robinson was in charge of the first Sunday school. Prior to the construction of the log meeting house, all the meetings were held in the homes of the settlers. In 1864 a larger house about forty feet by sixty feet was built of adobes and this took the place of the log house. For a number of years it became the community center for al the public meetings, schools and entertainments.

A dramatic company was organized and for those days very creditable performances were given under the direction of a Mr. Mortimer. Some of the performers were Mr. Thorn, Mr. and Mra. William Fisher, Herschel Bullen, Sr., W. L. Skidmore, Mrs. Jane Christiansen, Martha A. Lewis, Mary Allsop, John Caldwell, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Tittensor. Mr. Cornelius was the property man and scenery painter and Mrs. Henry Standage the prompter. The ward dances and the performances by this company were the chief amusements and they were well patronized and enjoyed by the people.

With the other settlements of the Valley, Richmond did its share by sending men and ox teams to the Missouri River and other points to help poor emigrants to come to Utah. It was a round trip of two thousand miles and took from five to six months to make the journey. Some of the teamsters who made these journeys were Robert Lewis, William Thompson, Joseph Bright, Lewis Petty, Judson Shepard, L. P. Swenson, Joseph Albiston, C. H. Allen, Thomas Petty, John Buxton, Eli Harris, William L. Skidmore, S. Rodgers, Joseph Stewart, Henry Hobson, Isaac Bright and Marquis Funk.

Until a road was constructed in High Creek Canyon, most of the logs for the building of the houses, especially in 1860, were secured from a dry pine grove north of the summit of Mount Nebo, just east of Richmond. At the foot of the mountain is a cold spring and here a supply was taken by the men for the steep and arduous climb to the summit and return. The dry pine logs were dragged to the summit where the descent had to be made. At his point the mountain was so steep that several drags of trees and brush had to be made and hitched together and fastened to the logs so they would not slide over the oxen. This was a dangerous operation and several oxen were killed. The place became known as the “Ox Killer.” It was always a great relief when the tired mountaineers and oxen reached the spring at the foot of the mountain and could have a cold drink and a rest. Very shortly the construction of the road in the High Creek Canyon was commenced but with the crude implements it was a difficult task, so much so that it had to be made a community project.

Very early in the settlement the spirit of the enterprise and building up home industries took hold of some of the leading citizens and they began at once to locate water power sites, High Creek was much more suitable for such purposes as it had more water that City or Cherry Creeks. Among the first industries was a shingle mill built by Mr. W. D. Hendricks northeast of the settlement. Mr. Hendricks also built a gristmill on the same creek just above the present settlement of Cove and subsequently installed a carding machine in connection with the gristmill. These were two important industries for the settlers and a great convenience for them. Previously they had to go to Logan for their grists or to have their wool carded and sometimes to the Salt Lake Valley. As early as 1860 Mr. W. D. Hendricks and W. T. Van Noy operated a sawmill by horsepower and sawed a few thousand feet of lumber. Mr. Hendreics, through his leadership and enterprise, did much to furnish employment for the local people. In 1863 Henry Gibson, W. C. Lewis and others built a sawmill in the High Creek Canyon and at this mill, for years, much of the lumber used in the settlement and neighboring towns was sawed.

Daney Walton and Andrew Walton, two good mechanics, built one of the first threshing machines in the valley. They made a cylinder with strong wooden cogs made from maple and this threshed the grain from the sheaves and the straw was carried away by a carrier. The grain and chaff was left in a pile together for the fanning mill crew. Thomas Tittensor and Thomas Griffin were also expert mechanics, in fact Mr. Griffin built the first miniature steam engine in the state and he received a medal at the State Fair for his model.

Sugar was a very scarce article of food and considered a luxury so most every family planted some sugar cane. Mr. Hyrum Bowman built a molasses mill just east of the settlement and here all the cane was brought from which the molasses was made. For a few years, until sugar became more plentiful and cheaper, this was an important industry.

The accompanying is a miniature sketch of a plat for the fort in Richmond, drawn by Mr. Henry Standage in 1860. The sketch shows a court several rods wide in the center of the front with a row of log houses built close together on both sides indicated by numbers. The signature of each owner of a lot at that time is signed on the plat in his own hand writing, and indicates were his particular lot was. The court extended east and west with a street two rods wide entering the east and west ends. The State Highway also passed through the lower section of the fort and court and extended north and south as at present. First was the court, then the water ditch, a small walk in front of the log houses, then just back of the houses was s street four rods wide for convenience. Beyond this extended the corrals for five rods and the hay ricks or stack yards five rods and the gardens ten rods. A street extended around the fort as well.

Richmond Settlers
South Side Beason Lewis Archie Keer A. H. Standley
  Jesse Hobson Mirian Keer Marriner W. Merrill
  Henry Standage John Bair Edwin Pace
  Robert Lewis J. Anderson John McDonnell
  Neriah Lewis W. Thompson William Aller
  William C. Lewis Gorge Thompson Job Barlow
  Casper Whittle C. M. Funk John Winn
  G. Whittle G. Hogan Joseph Bright
  Thomas Whittle C. Christiansen Gilbrt Bright
  William Harris A. Romerell John Wiser
  Alex Harris Ephraim Nash John Telford
  Pool Family Albert Marsh Jesse Warton
  A. Walton Charles Lilly William McCarey
  Joseph Buddlecomb Meniar Family Isaac Smith
  Peter Tidwell Enoch Daniels Warner Hoops
  Thomas Tidwell Richard Prater Charles E. Lincoln
  D. P. Rainey C. Hyer  
East End Charles R. Lewis Joseph Dobson Thomas Griffin
  John Groshal Richard B. Dobsen John Hibbert
North Sided W. H. Lewis Marion Winn Hyrum Pew
  Thomas Betty Burnaham Family Isaac Shepard
  Stillmand Pond M. P. Fifefield John Richardson
  W. T. Van Noy John McCarthy Frank Owens
  Samuel Roskelley Henry Gibson Hyrum Bowman
  Joseph Hendricks Enoch Daly A. F. Stewart
  W. D. Hendricks James Daly M. F. Bell
  James Hendricks John W. Brown William M. Darling
  James Davenport John Cole W. H. Wright
  W. Henderson Moroni Cole John Albiston
  A. Cooper John Ash Thomas M. Jeffs
  V. J. Cooper Henry Tuttle Charles Parkinson
  S. D. Allen Walter E. Gardner Stephen H. Goddard
  Alma Will Justin Shepard Lars R. Jensen

This sketch was in the possession of Apostle Marriner W. Merrill until his death at which time it was presented to the Daughters of the Pioneers of Richmond. It is considered as one of their most valuable relics. The sketch is about eighteen by thirty-six inches, has been placed in a frame and is well preserved.

As more settlers arrived it became necessary to provide additional irrigation water so a ditch was taken out of High Creek in 1860. Mr. John Bair was appointed as supervisor. The workers had no scrapers and their only tools were a few old shovels, picks, spades and plows. The ground where the ditch was located was plowed and then the dirt pushed to the sides by several yokes of oxen pulling a “Go Devil” loaded with men. This instrument consisted of logs fastened together in the form of the letter V or an angle. The finishing work was done by pick and shovel but it was several years before the canal was finally completed. Mr. Thomas Whittle was the first water master.

Richmond was surveyed and laid out by Mr. Jesse W. Fox, a government surveyor, in 1859 and 1860. The city lots were given out by a committee of the people and each family received a claim on the lot on which they desired to build. The fields were also surveyed and the land apportioned to the settlers. To protect the growing crops, the livestock of the community was herded on the foothills; especially was this necessary after some of the severe winters when the feed was scarce.

One evening in the fall of 1862, there was much excitement in the little settlement when William Bevins, a stranger, reported that he with three other miners from Montana, were camped on Bear River west of Richmond and were attacked by Indians and one of the miners had been killed, (John Henry Smith). Beason Lewis, Robert Lewis, Lewis Petty and William L. Skidmore were sent out at once as a searching party. They went to the camp on Bear River and found the body of the dead miner. The corpse was frozen stiff with a willow grasped in one hand and a wagon bur in the other. Apparently when the miner was killed he was in the act of greasing his wagon. The body was taken to Richmond and was thawed out and prepared for burial in the blacksmith shop of Isaac Shepard. The body was buried in a plot of ground which later became the Richmond cemetery and was the first burial in Richmond.

A few years later an Indian whom they called Dixie came to Richmond and lived near the Bair home in a teepee. He was very friendly and got along well with the settlers and did some work for them. One evening he called at the Bair home and asked for a loaf of bread and some milk as he had two Indians as visitors. During the night shots were heard near the Indian camp and the next morning Hyrum Bair went to the teepee and found that Dixie had been murdered by the visiting Indians. It was believed the Indian was killed because he had apparently left his tribe to live with the whites and the report was that he had taken the squaw of another Indian. Hyrum Bair, Dennis Winn and William Bateman dug a grave near City Creek and buried the body. About ten years ago, the creek washed part of the grave away and the skeleton of the Indian was left exposed. It was taken and given to Dr. H. A. Adamson of Richmond.

Other prominent settlers to arrive in 1860 and not previously mentioned, were: Anna Hogan, wife of Goudy Hogan; George Thompson, Mathew F. Bell, John Barnett, W. H. Wright, Joseph Wright, Richard Prator, James Cavenport, Sr., James Davenport, Jr., Christian Nelson, Thomas Tidwell, Peter Tidwell, Martin Henderson, H. Henderson, John Richardson, William Reese, John Crowshaw. John Wiser, Archie Kerr, R. M. Kerr, Joseph Lee, Arthur Walton, Danny Walton, William Darling, William Pool, John Pool, Henry Standly, Jesse Hobson, Sr., Alma Hobson, D. P. Rainey, Henry Standage, Norman Day, Jack Hibbard, Samuel Hendricks, Sr., Samuel Rodgers, John Buxton and John Robinson, Sr.

Richmond, Utah Fort Layout

Of note, for any of you wishing to visit the site of the pioneer fort at Richmond, Utah, State Street is not US 91 as many would think. State Street may be found a block east of the main highway. I would suppose that during one of the early road realignments in the 1930's the main road was shifted. As you travel north to Franklin, Idaho, State Street and Highway 91 become one and the same again.

Richmond, Utah Fort