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Founding of Huntsville

The date of the founding of Huntsville is the fall of 1860. Captain Jefferson Hunt, his sons, Joseph and Hyrum, Nathan Coffin, and Joseph Wood arrived with their machinery to cut hay and make a permanent settlement in Ogden Valley. Soon there after they were joined by Charles Wood, Edward Rushton, James Earl, and others. Before winter came they had put up a sufficient amount of hay to last their stock until the following spring.

Under the leadership of Captain Hunt, these pioneers with their families located in what is locally known as Hawkins' Grove, named after James Hawkins who subsequently owned the place, on the north side of the south fork of the Ogden River. Their site was about half a mile south of the present Huntsville public square. They built their log houses in fort style, all the doors facing inward. The little fort-settlement was situated south of the bench near the stream where it was sheltered from the north wind. The added protection was appreciated, since the winter was extremely cold with snow more than three feet deep on the level.

Early in the spring of 1861 additional settlers arrived, among whom were (George Langlois, Robert Aldous, Charles Grow, Carl Hawkins, Clinton D. Bronson, Joseph Boyington, Hyrum Boyington, Moroni Williams, Byron Fifield, David Black, Wllmer W. Bronson, Garrett Wolverton, David Jenkins, and a few others. A townsite was surveyed by David Jenkins on the bench and all the settlers located there, including Hunt and his group who had wintered in their small fort. This early survey of the townsite consisted of nine blocks of six acres each, and the blocks were divided into eight lots each. The infant settlement was named Huntsville in honor of its leading personality, who was a captain of Mormon Battalion fame.

In the same year David Jenkins and a party consisting of Isaac McKay, Thomas Bingham, Carl Hawkins, Charles Grow, George Langlois, Robert Aldous and Edward Rushton, established a base line running east and west from Moffet's Spring to the southeast corner of Alanson Allen's homestead and laid out what is now the state road running through town. All the ground adjoining the road to the north was fenced in one big field, as was the ground on the south side, and thus originated the term "North fields" and "South fields," used to the present time. The land in these fields was divided among the settlers, and as soon as the snow disappeared portions of it were cleared of brush and planted to crops. That fall the citizens of Huntsville reaped a fair harvest.

Also, early in the spring of 1861 an irrigation company was organized and a canal, tapping the south fork about two and one-half miles above the present center of Huntsville to bring the water onto the top of the bench, was constructed. It was surveyed by Charles Grow with a square, a plumb and two sticks. This canal met the needs of the settlers for several years until homeseekers arrived in sufficient numbers to make it necessary for the irrigation company to enlarge this canal and build others.

The spring of 1862 opened very late, as there had been heavy deposits of snow during the winter. High waters followed, which washed away great portions of the canyon road which was being made at that time. This prevented the people of the infant settlement from going to Ogden City by the way of the canyon, forcing them to take the longer route across the mountain and down North Ogden Canyon. Nevertheless, progress continued at Huntsville. A municipal government was established with Joseph Grover acting as justice of peace and Wilmer W. Bronson, constable. A debating society and a dramatic club were formed which gave opportunities for the pioneers to express their talents. The year closed with very early fall frosts and poor crops.

From time to time additional settlers arrived at Huntsville. For example, in 1864 a large group of Scandinavians moved in. Among them were Soren L. Peterson, Andreas P. Mortensen, Christian F. Schade, Peter C. Geertsen, Niels L. Peterson. Thomas Lund and several other families. After this year annual migrations of Scandinavians to Huntsville took place, principally through the influence of Soren L. Peterson. Some of the home builders came directly from the old country, while others came from different parts of Utah Territory where they had formerly resided.

During the pioneer period at Huntsville, the citizens secured the necessities of life through barter&emdash;wheat, flour, and stock being the chief articles of exchange. The community, however, was a poor wheat-growing district, owing to its high elevation which made it subject to late and early frosts, and so the settlers traded oats, potatoes, and stock to the settlers in the other valleys for wheat and flour. In 1882 Edward W. Tullidge estimated that the people of Huntsville produced annually no more than one tenth of the amount of wheat needed for bread. Occasionally the people would exchange hay or fire-wood for a few articles of merchandise from stores, and in various ways they traded and exchanged their goods. Sometimes it took three or four trades before the person obtained possession of the object he desired, and in many instances that object was one of actual necessity.

Early in the spring of 1868 the citizens of Huntsville learned that they were going to have an opportunity to earn "money." Francis A. Hammond and Thomas Bingham took separate contracts to assist in grading on the transcontinental railroad. They employed about 35 men with teams, and commenced work near Promontory, Utah. This new enterprise of aiding in the construction of a highway across the continent was entered into with vim and enthusiasm by many, as the return for labor was to be money. The very sound of "cash" had a peculiar ring of enchantment to many minds, as this commodity was so scarce. After the work was completed, many c itizens regarded the venture&emdash;railroad labor&emdash;as detrimental to the settlement, since farms and home improvements had been neglected and many of the people had spent their money unwisely. However, the greatest immediate benefit that all the citizens received came through supplying workmen with farm products. A good crop was raised, and 300 tons of hay were shipped east to railroad construction crews. Potatoes sold for $7 per bushel and oats for $14 per hundred pounds.

So many colonists had arrived at Huntsville by 1871 that it became necessary to enlarge the townsite. Joseph A. West of Ogden was hired to re-survey the old townsite and survey the additional sections. His lines so conflicted with the original ones and the order and arrangement of the houses that the people decided to reject his city plot. The following year, however, a United States surveying engineer and David Jenkins surveyed the townsite of Huntsville and their work was approved by the people. A number of new buildings were erected that season and general improvements took place. The Mountain Canal, which taps the south fork of the Ogden River about a mile above the other irrigating ditch, was constructed at a cost of approximately $3,500. This canal, six miles in length, met the needs of the growing community. The town was now thriving and well-established. By 1870 its population had passed the thousand mark, containing over 200 families who earned their livelihood on approximately 1,700 acres of tillable land in addition to hundreds of acres of pasturage.

Source: Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Weber County Chapter, Pg. 242-245

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