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.

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Hyrum, Spring of 1860

Commencing early in the spring of 1860 and from then on, there was a rapid settlement of towns in Cache Valley and a considerable increase of new settlers in the settlements already established. Hyrum was one of the first towns in the Valley to be settled in the year 1860. A group of about twenty families arrived in the Valley the first part of April 1860, by way of Colinston over the low summit. The roads through Wellsville Canyon, or the Sardine Canyon, could not be traveled that early in the season.

With the Wellsville settlement in the southwest of the Valley, Logan and Providence on the east side, Mendon on the west and Smithfield and Richmond to the north, already established, this group naturally turned its attention to the southeast part of the valley where there was no settlement, and decided to take its chance near a spring located about one mile from the present townsite of Hyrum on the State Highway. The spring rises in what is now known as Camp Hollow, near which Mr. George Stanton’s home is situated.

Just west of the present State Highway on both sides of Camp Hollow a number of dugouts were made in the hillside and a few log cabins were built. Depressions where these dugouts were may still be seen on the hillside at this particular place. A number of the families lived in tents and covered wagons during the first summer. David Osborn, who was one of the leading men in the group, laid out a plan for the settlement to the north of Camp Hollow in a rather long swell. This was a good location in a number of ways but during the first summer it was evident that the lack of water was a serious hindrance and later the present site of Hyrum was therefore located.

The persons in the group who settled at Camp Hollow were Alva Benson, Ira Allen, David Osporn, Andrew A. Allen, Moroni Benson, Hans E. Nielson, Niels B. Nielsen, Andrew B. Nielsen, George Nielsen, Hans Monson, Jens Monson, Oliver McBride, Noah Brimhall, Adam Smith, Jens Jenson, Hugh Parkes, David Parkes, Calvin Bingham, Alonzo Bingham, David Osborn, Jr., William Williams, Thomas Williams, John M. Hansen, Christopher Olson, Andrew Anderson, Jonas Halverson, Soren Nielson and families.

The settlers began at once to plow the ground and plant some wheat. Approximately one hundred acres of land in all were broken up and planted. The little spring at Camp Hollow provided but little water for irrigation; in fact, there was not more than enough for culinary purposes, so the question of obtaining irrigation water was a serious one and the establishment of the settlement depended on it.

Ira Allen, with others, located a site for an irrigation canal about nine miles south on the Little Bear River where the first Paradise settlement was just beginning to form. Mr. Allen, by means of a spirit level, laid out a course for the canal but, to make sure it would be a success, Mr. Jesse W. Fox, a government engineer, was employed to make a survey. After the survey, the stakes placed by Engineer Fox were so far apart and the proposed canal bed so large, that it was impossible to dig the ditch in time to save the crops. The settlers were much discouraged with the outlook but Ira Allen and others encouraged them and made another survey with the spirit level, and all went to work with much energy and determination as the crops were growing and would need the water badly in a few days.

The canal was dug, five feet at the bottom and eight feet at the top, and was completed in twenty-one days. As the crops were burning, the men worked almost night and day to get the water in time. Supplies were scarce and the workmen lived mostly on bread and milk and water. They camped on the ditch and Alva Benson went from family to family at Camp Hollow and gathered what provisions he could such as bread, butter and buttermilk, and delivered them daily to the men.

Their ditch-making implements were a few home-made plows, eight shovels and a few old spades. When the level ground was reached a “go-devil,” which consisted of two split logs with the ends placed together in the form of an angle, was used to push the dirt to the sides of the ditch. The device was loaded with men and several yoke of oxen were hitched to it and pulled it along the bottom of the ditch. One of the workers, who later became a road builder, stated that in all his experience he had never seen a group of men work harder and with more determination and do more per man, than the group which constructed this canal.

The sad thing was, the ditch was not completed in time to do much good that year. The crops were so far gone by the time the water was put onto the land, that the crickets and grasshoppers soon made way with the remainder of the crop. This was a terrible disappointment to the settlers and most of the men had to leave for Ogden and other places south and work to get bread and stuff for the remainder of the year and the next winter. Jens Jenson, who came from Mt. Pleasant, was compelled to drive a yoke of oxen to that place, a distance of over two hundred miles, to get twenty bushels of wheat that was due him. This was his breadstuff until another harvest, and he was fortunate to be able to get it.

It was soon apparent that Camp Hollow was not the proper place to establish a settlement. After looking over the plateau, or bench land to the south, with Apostle Ezra T. Benson and Peter Maughan, Apostle Benson advised the settlers to move from Camp Hollow, as the plateau was a much better place for a townsite. The settlers prepared to move at once to the new townsite and by the early fall this had been accomplished.

The log cabins were built close together in the usual fort formation, and extended east and west on both sides of the present Main Street. Niels Nielsen, who had a log cabin at Camp Hollow, moved it to the new location and placed it just east of the present post office building, while Alva Benson built a log cabin near the present Allen Store building and the Allens built a log house just opposite, across the street. These were the first houses in the settlement. Some of the settlers had to live in dugouts temporarily, and these built on the north end of the present public square. Alanson David Allen, David Craft, and another family had built cabins in the south hollow on the Little Bear River, where Mr. Robert Baxter’s saw mills were, but they moved into the fort for better protection.

In the fall of 1860, after the move to the new location, Apostle Ezra T. Benson and Peter Maughan organized a ward. Calvin Bingham was chosen as bishop and Ira Allen as the ward clerk. The name “Hyrum” was suggested by David Osborn. Previously, it was the intention of the chief colonizers of the Valley to build a city where the Church Farm was, about one-half mile south of the present Logan Sugar Factory, and name it “Joseph” in honor of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The location for the settlement of Hyrum was in direct line with the proposed city of Joseph, so Mr. Osborn suggested that the settlement be named “Hyrum” in honor of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, a brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The name as suggested was readily accepted and the settlement was named Hyrum. The settlement of the city of Joseph at the Church Farm did not materialize.

The public meetings were held in the homes of the settlers until a combination meeting and schoolhouse was built. This consisted of logs and was placed in line with the log houses in the fort about where the present shoe repair shop is. A little later a larger house was built near the present tithing office building and here all the meetings, day school and public activities centered. In the beginning, Mrs. Adam Smith taught a private school but when the school building was provided, Mrs. McBride taught the first public school. Mrs. Barnum and a Mr. Welchman were also two of the first school teachers.

Phenette Williams Allen was the first girl baby and Ira T. Williams was the first boy baby born in the little settlement. The first marriage was that of Moroni Benson and Martha Phillips.

Those families who owned lots in the fort and who may be considered as early settlers of Hyrum are as follows commencing at the east end of the North Side of the street of the court:

Hyrum Settlers
North Side Andrew Anderson James Benson Yorgen Jensen
  Peter Jensen Alva Benson, Jr. Chris Christofferson
  Christopher Olsen Alva Benson, Sr. Father Wilbur Earl
  Rasmus Jensen Blacksmith Anderson Niels Nielsen
  Jens Jensen John Wilson Alanson David Allen
      David Craft
West End Jonas Halverson    
South Side At West End Canute Halverson Ira Allen Ola N. Liljenquist
  Niels Christensen Noah Brimhall Log Meeting House
  George Nielsen Andrew Allen, Jr. Calvin Bingham
  Hans Johnson Hans Monson Alonzo Bingham
      David Benson
East End David Osborn David Parkes Levi Curtis
  John Cousins Adam Smith Alva Davis

The fort was built similar to those in other settlements of the Valley and as previously stated, extended on both sides of the present Main Street from the blacksmith shop to the center of the public square. Hyrum was fortunate in not having many Indian troubles; however, precautions were taken and a militia was organized with George Nielsen as the Captain. A public corral was built where the cattle and horses were guarded in times of danger.

The settlers remained in the fort until the spring of 1864, when the town was laid out by James H. Martineau, surveyor, and they moved onto the city lots. Eight lots of one and one –quarter acres each constituted a block. The streets were six rods wide and extended north and south and east and west, with the center block being reserved for public buildings. The settlers drew lots for city lots and their land, and each head of a family was given twenty acres of land to farm, and a city lot.

In 1863, Bingham was called to the Bear Lake section and Mr. Ola N. Liljenquist was appointed as the bishop. Mr. Liljenquist occupied this, as well as other public positions, for years, and did much with the other settlers for the building up of Hyrum.

Although there was not much natural waterpower available, still a small shingle mill was built up the hollow in the southeast part of the settlement by Mr. Sam Bradshaw. Andrew Anderson built a small molasses mill near the present home of Willard Anderson. The mill was operated by waterpower and it was the first one in the Valley to make molasses by the evaporation method. Mr. Andrew Anderson was also the first shoemaker in Hyrum.

A sawmill was built in the Paradise Hollow where the Baxter Mill now stands. Here William Nielsen and Ola Rose put in an upright saw and sawed most of the rough lumber used in building the first log houses. Most of the logs were hauled from the Blacksmith Fork Canyon and Dry Canyon. Later the sawmill was converted into a gristmill by Samuel McMurdie. Finally, more machinery was added and it served as a grist and sawmill and was a great convenience for the settlers.

In the early days of the settlement the women gleaned wheat in the fields. They also gathered straw, which they braided and made hats for the men and boys. They also split the straw and made hats for the women and girls. Most of the families owned a few sheep and the wool was taken to a small carding mill at Wellsville where the wool was carded. The women and girls spun and wove it into blankets, also linsey and jeans which were made into clothing. They also spun and made sewing thread from flax and cotton yarn. Sewing thread cost from twenty-five to forty cents per spool. The first sewing machine in the settlement, owned by Mrs. John Monsen was in great demand. It was a hand power machine and did the work much faster than sewing by hand. Mrs. Philinda Stanley was an expert at making cheese and those who desired it gave one-fourth of the supply of milk furnished. Mr. Hans E. Nielsen had the first kerosene lamp and it was considered quite a novelty and a great improvement over the candle or “bitch” light. Water for culinary purposes was obtained from wells.

Hyrum was incorporated February 10th, 1870 and Bishop Ola N. Liljenquist was elected as the first mayor. The other officers were:

At the time of the appointment of the city officers, a form had to be filled out so the name of H. F. Liljenquist was entered as treasurer although he was only a lad of thirteen years of age. This was only temporary and later an older person was appointed as treasurer.

As there was not sufficient irrigation water from the canal south of the settlement, work was commenced on a large canal to carry water from the Blacksmith Fork River. The ditch cost approximately $7,000.00. It’s course ran rather high on the river basin and there were so many slides that after two years of experimenting, the ditch was abandoned and a canal was started on a lower level and was constructed in connection with some land owners of Wellsville. This ditch proved a success and brought under irrigation many more acres of land. Years later, the upper canal was reconstructed and proved a success.

At this time a very substantial and commodious rock building was erected on the public square at a cost of $60,000.00. It was one of the best public buildings in the county and for years became the center of all the important community activities. Mr. James Unsworth opened up the first store, and later it was the beginning of the old co-operative store that did a big business in Hyrum and the surrounding territory for many years.

Hyrum, like the other settlements of the Valley, took much interest in al forms of amusements, music and dramatics. The old opera house which stood where the present Elite Hall is, was a social center for all of the south and of the Valley for years. Good dramatic companies were organized at different times and staged some very creditable plays. Most of the traveling troupes played at Hyrum.

Hyrum was always noted for its martial band and at present has the distinction of having the oldest organization of this kid in the Valley and perhaps in the state.

A number of the early settlements of the Valley experienced some rather thrilling adventures with wild animals, especially with grizzly bears. Hyrum was no exception it this respect and on one occasion in particular the settlers became much excited. David Craft went into the fields west of Hyurm to hunt for his cattle and while there he met a large grizzly bear very suddenly. The bear apparently was somewhat startled especially with the loud yell that Craft gave and his quick get-away. Craft returned to Hyrum in great haste and excitement, with his hair pushing up through a hole in his hat, and gave the alarm. A posse of men was at once organized and went well armed to hunt the bear. A dog located the bear in the clump of brush and while one group of men stood guard on one side of the clump, John G. Wilson, Ira Allen, Louis Miller and Joseph Askell approached on the other side. As they neared the brush it appeared to them as though the bear sprang over the top and was on to them instantly. The bear struck John G. Wilson on the side of the head with its paw and threw him several yards and then it struck Miller on the top of the head and flattened him to the ground. Just as it was getting prepared to rush Allen and Askell, Allen shot the bear with a heavy load of buckshot and this held him temporarily. Wilson had recovered his senses by this time and with a large bullet from his old Yager, he finished killing the bear. The bear was placed on a load of willows and hauled to Hyrum by James Unsworth. It was dressed and juicy steaks distributed among the people. The bullet from Wilson’s gun passed nearly lengthwise through the bear and was found in one of its hind legs.

An account of more of the social and domestic conditions and Indian troubles will be given later in the general write-up. In conclusion, Hyrum is one of the most beautifully located settlements in the Valley and its plateau commands an impressive view of the surrounding country. It is more free of frosts than the other communities and is therefore an ideal place for the growing of many kinds of fruits and vegetables. Generally, there is no better soil and with more irrigation water for the bench lands to the east, there are wonderful possibilities for growing more intensive crops and the establishment of more industries.