An Early History of Cache County…

<<Back Index Next>>

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

Millville, Spring of 1860

The “Garr Boys” who were John T. Garr, Able Garr, William Garr and Ben Garr, took a prominent and active part in the ranching period of Cache Valley in 1855 in establishing the Elkhorn Ranch, or Church Farm, and later in helping to found the settlement of Millville.

From July 1855, when the Elkhorn Ranch was established and before any settlement in the valley was commenced and from then on, one or more of the Garr Boy’s were in the Valley herding cattle and later locating land claims for themselves and helping to build up the communities. They, with other early ranchers and settlers, are therefore closely connected with the early history of Cache Valley. It is doubtful if there is any part of, or family group that came that early, and remained so continuously in the Valley as the Garr boys. They seemed to have come in contact with practically every group that came to the Valley from the Ranching Period (1855) and from then on for several years. They therefore stand out as the real early ranchers and herders of the Valley.

The Elkhorn Ranch, or Church Farm, which was located about one-half mile south of the present Logan Sugar Factory, being the headquarters for the Garr boys they naturally had certain land claims in mind in this vicinity on which to locate when the proper time came. One of these locations was in the southeast part of the present Millville townsite, near a large spring of water which flows directly from the face of the mountain. The opportunity for locating on these claims presented itself in the spring of 1860 and after five years of herding cattle in the Valley, the Garr boys were prepared to locate for themselves and help to found settlement at Millville.

Flour and lumber always being two of the first and prime necessities of the settlers of Cache Valley, water-power sites for saw and gristmills wherever available, were always sought after and developed in the beginning of every settlement and in some cases preceded it. With Millville, the sawmill site was the principal reason for the settlement being established when it was.

In the summer of 1859, Esias Edwards and Leroy Kent built a sawmill at the point where the present wreck of the rock gristmill in Millville is located. Edwards and Kent installed the usual upright saw and did some sawing that season. A ditch was taken out of the south from the Blacksmith Fork River and brought the water to the mill. At present the stream is known as the Mill Race. The Campbells and other early settlers at Spring Creek or Providence helped to dig the canal as they intended to use some of the water on the land where a portion of Millville and Providence are situated.

Franklin Weaver and George W. Pitkin and his son, George O. Pitkin, and families, arrived at the Elkhorn Ranch in the fall of 1859, and made it their headquarters. Franklin Weaver was well acquainted with the Garr boys as he had previously herded church cattle with them on Antelope Island and the Promontory and he naturally came to the ranch where they were. In the early spring of 1860. Joseph G. Hovey and his sons, James A. and Joseph Hovey, Gilbert Weaver and his son Gilbert Weaver, Jr., and families, came with the great influx of new settlers to Cache County and stopped at the Elkhorn Ranch.

In May of 1860, Apostle Ezra T. Benson and Peter Maughan advised the settlers with the Garr boys at the Elkhorn Ranch, to locate near the sawmill which had been built by Edwards and Kent, to give it better protection. The advice was readily accepted and the settlers decided to locate their settlement near the mill. The families of Martin Wood and Joseph C. Henrie also joined the group. Apostle Ezra T. Benson organized the ward and installed Joseph G. Hovey as the first bishop. The name Millville was adopted for the settlement.

There were about sixty people who made up the little colony and they commenced at once to build their log houses and prepare the land for their crops. Previously, a log house had been built by Mr. Edwards near his sawmill but the first house had been built by George W. Pitkin on the Mill Street near the present Pitkin home. It was built of cottonwood logs about fourteen by fourteen feet, and was the place where the first church services were held. Until a public meeting place was provided, the meetings were held in the different homes of the settlers. In 1861, a log house was built from sawed, split logs and was located west of the present meeting house above the canal. Here the public school and church services were conducted for several years. Later, a substantial rock building took the place and same location at the log building. It was similar in appearance to the old rock building that still stands in Mendon. Charles Wright taught the first school in 1860, in the home of Franklin Weaver.

Other families who arrived and were considered with those previously mentioned as the early settlers and founders of the settlement were:

Millville Settlers
George Yeates Charles W. Hulse Samuel Whitney Anna Olson
Frederick Yeates Hyrum Hulse Thomas Jessop John Titcomb
Thomas Yeates Henry Hulse Richard Jessop Mary Ann Hulse
John P. Olson George W. Cummings Robert Graham Lorenzo Hulse
Canute Olson Charles Cummings Joseph Humphreys Joseph Hunt
Ola Olson George T. Cummings Henry Chandler Jay Pitkin
Andrew Olson James O. Biglow William Neaves Sarah Ann Pitkin
Niels Olson Absolom Woolf William Wiggins Marilda Henrie
John King Ola Neilson Hans Olson John Riggs & Wife

Millville was somewhat unlike a number of the settlements in that there was an industry already started before the town was settled. This was the sawmill built by Edwards and Kent in 1859, as previously mentioned. They used an upright saw which was operated by man-power. A canal was dug which brought the water from the Blacksmith Fork River to the mill site and a large penstock with a big undershot wooden wheel was made by Edwards and installed and furnished the power for the mill. This was a great improvement over the upright saw and much more lumber was sawed and logs split for the houses and other buildings. This was one of the earliest and best sawmills of the Valley. The demand for the lumber and sawed logs became so great at this mill that it was operated day and night for a while and a number of the neighboring settlements were supplied with lumber.

Edwards added a small gristmill next to the sawmill and it was operated by the same power. He used a small chop stone and flour stone and made a good quality of whole wheat flour, but the smut could not be taken out so with smutty wheat the flour was dark and the bread made from it was called black bread. Mr. Harmon, of Providence, was the first miller.

Mr. Edwards was an old Virginian and for his day was an expert mechanic. He made chairs with rawhide bottoms, stools, beds and other articles of furniture, not only for the local trade but for many in the other settlements. Later, Sam Campbell and Darius Bishop installed a turning lathe and made rawhide bottom chairs and other articles of furniture. Some of these chairs and pieces of furniture are still in use and are held as valuable relics by the owners.

Near his saw and gristmill, Edwards also operated a small molasses mill and in connection with it he had a distillery and made a fairly good whiskey called “Valley Tan.” This was quite a popular place and many from the surrounding settlements came for their grists and lumber and incidentally to sample the “Valley Tan.” As later improvements came and more saw and gristmills were established in the valley, Edwards did not have so much work so he sold his mills and the site to the settlement and moved to St. George, Utah.

Subsequently the town sold the mill site and water right to Mr. M. D. Hammond and he, with his two sons, Melvin Hammond and James T. Hammond, started the construction of a rock building for a gristmill, the wreck of which is still standing. This was a substantial building for those days. The rock was quarried in the Millville Canyon and James. J. Jensen of Hyrum was the chief mason. When completed, the mill was one of the largest and most up-to-date in the Valley and served many of the settlements with a good brand of flour and other feeds. During its existence, the mill had a stormy career, changing hands and management’s many times, until finally it was burned to the ground.

Shortly after the construction of the Edwards Mills, Mr. Thomas Jessop built a shingle and lath mill and used part of the water power that operated the Edwards Mills. Mr. Jessop also made brooms. He grew his own cane and made a very good broom and sold many in Cache Valley, Ogden and other places for thirty-five cents each.

Millville received the usual call to equip outfits and send to eastern points to help poor emigrants to get to Utah. George O. Pitkin, Abel Garr and Frederick Yeates made several trips for emigrants. Mr. Thomas Yeates was also one who volunteered his services to make the journey, but did not return. He met with an accident while attempting to ferry across the Green River when his cattle stampeded and he was drowned. This was quite a shock to the little settlement.

For scout work perhaps no one in the settlement and but few in the valley had more hardships and thrilling experiences than Mr. Abel Garr. Before he came to Cache Valley he acted as a scout for the L.D.S. Church to take supplies to the emigrant trains and handcart companies that were on their way to Utah.

In the fall of 1856, a large emigrant train in charge of Captain James G. Willie, and several smaller companies, started across the plains for Utah. The T. D. Richards Company, which was few in number and traveling light, arrived at Salt Lake City, October 4th, 1856 and reported that all the companies back of them were in great distress and needed supplies and help. President Brigham Young organized at once a relief train of scouts consisting of twenty-seven men and sixteen, four-mule teams loaded with supplies. Mr. Abel Garr was one of the scouts. They drove steadily eastward scarcely stopping for their noonday meals. They encountered many storms and heavy snowfall and finally reached Fort Bridger October 12th, and the Green River, October 15th. They still found no trace of the companies. The relief train moved on but was caught in a terrific blizzard and heavy snow fell for three days and nights. Scouting parties were sent out to locate the suffering emigrants, but no trace of them could be found. As the scouts were making camp in the sheltered place on the Sweetwater River, Captain Willie and Joseph B. Elder of the emigrant trains came riding in on two worn-out horses. They reported their company was east of the Rocky Ridge in a terrible condition. The next morning the relied train started early and soon reached the emigrant train and the poor people were relieved of their distress and they all moved on to Salt Lake City. At Devil’s Gate, Joseph A. Young and Abel Garr were sent out as scouts to find the remaining companies while the others remained to repair wagons and prepare for the remainder of the journey.

The first night out, Young’s and Garrs’s animals wandered away with a herd of buffalo and it was some time before they could get them. After several hours of hard ridding, they found tracks in the snow and finally located the Martin Company about two miles from where the road leaves the North Platte for Sweetwater. The people were in a terrible condition, but the scouts fed and cared for them and then pushed on to locate the other companies and found them about twelve miles behind. They were brought to the Martin Company and were cared for and then all moved to join the large company at Devils’ Gate. They arrived there November.

Captain Grant then sent Joseph Young and Abel Garr with a message to President Brigham Young that a relief train should be sent as quickly as possible. After ten days of hard riding through almost impassable roads, Young and Garr reached Salt Lake City and delivered their message. A relief train was fitted up and sent to help the poor emigrants at Devil’s Gate, and after much suffering the entire group arrived in Salt Lake City November 25th, 1856. In addition to being one of the early herders of Cache Valley and a pioneer settler at Millville Mr. Abel Garr was a real scout for the territory.

The settlers at Millville encountered very little Indian troubles, although one of the camping places of the Indians was near the settlement on the Blacksmith Fork River and many visited the town to get something to eat. The houses of the settlers were built close together but not in the usual fort formation. However, it was necessary to build a large public corral where the cattle and horses were guarded at different times. People at Providence and Logan had herd grounds west of Millville, so they cooperated in building the corral and all the cattle and horses were placed in it at night.

Aside from the attempt of the Campbell’s and other early settlers at Providence to get irrigation water in connection with the ditch made to bring the water to the Edward’s Sawmill, the first irrigation water was taken from the large spring east of the settlement, later known as the Garr Spring. There was not sufficient water so the settlers were glad to cooperate with the people of Providence and built the present canals that extend through the settlement from the Blacksmith Fork River. These canals made it possible to bring under irrigation many more acres of land in both settlements.

The first mercantile institution in the settlement was a small Co-op Store in charge of William Garr and was located on one of the Garr lots just east of the Whitney residence near the old log house in which John Garr lived the last years of his life. The store was sold to John Titcomb and he moved it near the present home of Mrs. Elsa Olsen. George Yeates and his son, Frederick Yeates also opened up a small store where the present store building of John Johnson is located. George Yeates, called “Grandpa Yeates,” also operated a cider mill west of the store building and had made cider and vinegar that was advertised all over the Valley. He had a particular way of aging his cider that made it a delicious drink and at the same time had all the necessary “authority” in it. On holidays, especially, the cider mill cellar was quite a gathering place and the cause of many lively times in the settlement.

Mr. Frederick Yeates conducted the store in connection with the post office for many years. Two blocks south, Mrs. Annie P. Anderson Jessop also conducted a small store for a number of years.

The United Order, as established in a number of the settlements, by the L.D.S. Church, was started in Millville, but it was not a success as the people were not prepared for such a radical change in their social and economic life. However, Thomas Jessop, Richard Jessop, Alfred Humphreys, William Neaves and several others joined the Order for a short time.

Millville organized its militia in compliance with the request from Apostle Ezra T. Benson and Peter Maughan. Mr. John King was captain and helped to train the men and take them for the encampment of the Valley military on the Church Farm and other drill grounds. Mr. Franklin Weaver had charge of the minutemen.

Dramatics were an important feature in the social life of the people. The Calico Troupe was organized with Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Humphreys as leaders and among the principal performers. Mr. Humphreys, who was short in stature and often called “Daddy Humpherys,” possessed considerable musical ability and had charge of the choir and all the musical productions which added so much to the social life of the people.

Joseph Hovey remained as bishop but a short time when he moved to Salt Lake City and was succeeded by George O. Pitkin. Mr. Pitkin acted as bishop for more than thirty years and for a brief period was acting President of the Cache Valley Stake. Through his frank, outspoken manner, humorous expressions, practical jokes and contact with the people, he became well known in the Valley. He always stood for progress and worked energetically for public improvements. He was a type of those sturdy pioneers whos word was as good as their bond. As a young man he was strong and athletic, as well as fearless, and was always a champion for the weak. In crossing the plains as a teamster to help the poor emigrants to get to Utah, he had many occasions to come to the defense of weaker men and boys who were being imposed upon and abused by others, or some bully.