Mendon Cooperative Letter

Bishop Henry Hughes penned this letter to the Deseret News late in 1870. Mendon, like several of the other towns in Cache Valley started a Co-operative Improvement store.

Z.C.M.I. being the parent organization, the thought was to organize the people to trade among themselves and keep the profits in local hands.

This move on the part of the church was in part a responce to the just completed railroad which allowed goods to be brought to Utah in days, not months.

The Mendon coop lasted perhaps some twenty years, before private interestest and the free market system pushed the smaller local businesses out.

The Cooperative was located in Mendon on lot 6 of block 2. It began in Bakers cabin and then later a small frame building. The Richards Opera House was built south of it in 1895.

Mendon Utah Logo

Mendon Cooperative Letter


Henry Hughes
Mendon, Cache County
December 5th, 1870

Mr. Editor: Among the many interesting subjects inaugurated for the benefit of the people, within the last few years none appears to serve, when carried out in the spirit as well as the letter, so much to unite the saints as the system of co-operation. We are aware it has not been applied, as it yet will be, to all the avocations of life; but what has been introduced for us to practice is calculated to unite us as a people, in temporal affairs and lay the foundation of a union, which will increase with our expansion. There has been but little diversity existing amongst us, on “Spirituality’s,” which affect us but little in our every day callings in life; but no sooner were the Saints advised to consolidate their mutual interests and be one in all things pertaining to temporalities, than quite a commotion was visible in the “temporal element,” and men exhibited themselves to the light in accordance to their natural predisposition’s, whether actuated by sordid and corrupt inclinations, or the more noble desire of assisting to accomplish the unity of the Saints.

Mendon Co-opertive Mercantile and Manfucturing Institution CertificateAmong the many divisions, in its application, into which co-operation can be divided we are not aware of any that has been so fully tested as the Mercantile Department. It has been extensively introduced into nearly every settlement in this Territory. Thus, instead of fostering a “moneyed aristocracy” in our midst by our toil and labor, the profits are diffused amongst the masses, and assisting, if but in a small degree, to consolidate our temporal interests, and diffuse its blessings, as the dews of heaven, upon all.

Mendon, desirous of not being behind her sister settlements in the great work, introduced for the benefit of all Saints, organized a store, April 1st, 1869, with a board consisting of a president, three directors, treasurer and secretary and an average capital of $900.00. The result and experience gained is our apology for troubling you with this communication. We were advised by our late respected President, Ezra T. Benson, also by President Peter Maughan, to sell out at as low a percentage as a fair profit to the shareholders would admit of.

We agreed to commence the institution by selling at twenty percent, advance on cost and freight, which continued for nine months, when we took stock and ascertained we had cleared one hundred and forty-three percent after deducting all expenses; having turned our capital nine time, purchasing and paying for nearly $10,000 worth of goods. Finding it a paying business, we concluded to reduce our percentage to sixteen and two-thirds and have continued at that ratio to the present, with a constant increase of business, caused by the Saints from other settlements, visiting and trading with us.

When our new store is built, next spring, it is the intention to reduce the percentage to twelve and one-half on all staple goods. This fall we purchased and paid for a first class “threshing machine,” enabling us to retain the toll grain amongst ourselves, that had previously been given to other, not particularly interested in our local prosperity as a settlement, and we intend to continue, and by the blessings of Israel’s God, never to rest in the good work commenced, until factory after factory be reared, strengthened and consolidated in the great co-operative work, begun here with a capitol of $900. Small profits and quick returns is our trading motto, and with the facilities within our reach of replenishing stock at the parent co-operative institution in Salt Lake City, and at Ogden, results similar to our experience can be attained by any store in Utah. We have received excellent counsel and advice from President Maughan and we have endeavored to practice upon them.

Who can say that co-operation is not a blessing to the people? We have narrated facts, truthful statements, the results of our experience and to conclude, we will say, we have entered in at the “small end of the horn,” and desire, with all the faithful, by and by, to obtain the prize which is at the end of the race.1

Yours respectfully,
— Bishop Henry Hughes
— James G. Willie

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1. The Deseret News, Volume 19, Number 46. Wednesday December 21, 1870. Page 540.