History of Scipio

History of Scipio


History of Scipio, Millard County.

Location is forty miles south of Nephi, Juab County and twenty five miles northeast of Fillmore, Millard County. The valley is four miles wide and seven miles long. It is a lovely valley surrounded by hills and mountains. In 1857 to 1860 the original families settled on the south west part of the valley because there was a small stream of water coming from the mountains at that location.

There were thirteen families, Benjamin Johnson, Elias Pearson, John Brown, Thomas Robins, William Robins, James Matthews, Samuel Kershaw, John Yeardley, John Memmott, William Shelton, George Monroe, Levi Savage and Petter Boise.

Benjamin Johnson established a mail station about two and one half miles nearby at a place they called the Southwest Pass.

In 1858 – 1859 Richard Johnson and Thomas Robins had the land surveyed and each man was allotted a farm. They called the name of the town Graball. Here they built homes of logs, all on the upper side of the creek. On the east side a school house was built. There was twenty five pupils. Thomas Memmott was the teacher. He received grain and vegetables for his service. Elder George Smith and Joseph Young met with the people and organized a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ. It was called the Robinsville Branch. It was a part of the Fillmore Ward. Elias Pearson was appointed Presiding Elder.

In March of 1861 ten miles south of the town a permanent reservoir was made and a dam built of sod and brush. It was not until Indians became bothersome President Brigham Young suggested that the people move farther from the mountains into the center of the valley. 

At the request of the people and in their presence President Young and his son Joseph located the present town site of Scipio. 

At first it was called Round Valley, but during an annual visit of President Young and company a new name was suggested and President turned to one member of the party, a young lawyer and telegraph operator whose name was Scipio Kenner and said “yes, Scipio we will give it your name.” A post office was established and Warrin Foot was the first post master.

In 1863 Brigham Young advised that the facilities of the Valley would accommodate more families and he had asked Elder Jessie Bigler Martin (my Grandfather) who lived in Lehi to move his family to Scipio. He is as appointed by President Young to be the first presiding Elder of Scipio and he and his family lived in one room, the school house until another house could be built for him. 

A new school house was built by donation of labor and produce. Mrs. Peter Boise, was the first school teacher. James Memmott, James Mathews and Sam Kershaw were appointed as school trustees.

February 14th, at a business meeting, it was resolved that Elder Jessie B. Martin should have the piece of public land in the field northeast of the main public square that President Young had designated as the center of town.

Since the United Order was one of the principles of the church, the people of Scipio all joined together their hay and grain and other produce was hauled and stacked on a lot a cross the street from the public square. The milk cows were taken to this lot and the boys and girls had to do the milking. My mother was one of the young girls who had to help milk the cows. In the spring a dairy was established in the hills south of the town and near the reservoir. To this day they are called the Dairy Knolls. The cattle were branded with the Order brand and taken to these hills. There they also made cheese and butter.

But the United Order failed for two reasons. Everyone was to go to the head of the Order for their produce. Some of those who slaved the hardest went without, while some who didn’t do much or produce anything prospered.

About this time serious trouble with the Indians began during one raid 100 horses and 300 cattle were stolen by the Indians and in June 1866 the Indians shot and killed James Ivie and Henry Wright. 

Then Mr. Ivies’ son shot and killed Panaci, and old and friendly Indian which set off a bad war. A fort was built consisting of one room log house for each family, the rooms were joined together by mud walls. The men took turns guarding the fort and stock in Corrals adjoining the fort.

In time the trouble with Indians subsided and each family used their log rooms to move onto their own lots and make their homes.

About this time some new families from Gunnison, Sandpete, County, moved into the Scipio Valley where they thought the feed was more abundant for their cattle.

These families were the Fredrick Wasden family, Peter Sorenson and his family, Martin Brown and family, and the Esklund family (my own).  The Esklund family consisted of the father, Lars Petter, his wife Brita Kaja Betelson and their two sons Hans (my father) and Harmon. Their daughters Emma, Annie and Elizabeth. They built a nice log and dobie house and soon had a lovely garden and many beautiful flowers both inside and outside their home.  

This love of flowers has been passed down from mother to daughter and now on to grand daughters. We all love to grow flowers and gardens.

This is the story of Lars Petter and Brita Kajsa and their children, who in the middle of the 1800 century, they lived in the beautiful village of Vamlingbo on the Island of Gotland on the Est Coast of Sweden, in the Baltic sea.  There the Esklund family were farmers, considered well to do and happy and contented because they made a good living.  Grass and flowers grew in abundance, Lily of the Valley violets and tulips grew in the fields and lanes.  Wild berries grew everywhere. It happened that some Mormon Missionaries from America came to the village and told of a new religion and to the Esklund family it sounded like a true religion. A Mr. Flygare of Ogden, Utah converted them. They were urged to go to Utah and in 1862 they sold all their land and possessions and headed for Utah.

They brought an elderly Grandmother and Aunt with them. They lived in Stockholm Sweden for six months preparing for the sea voyage. They traveled in a small boat to Hamburg  in Germany. There they boarded a large boat called the Electria. There were 336 Scandinavians under the direction of Soren Christopherson. After two or three days on the sea a baby boy was born to Brita and Lars. They named him Lewis Catagut, after the sea on which he was born. Later on the boat, their son Harmon was stricken with an illness which left one leg shorter than the other and he was cripple the rest of his life.

They were on the sea several weeks. The weather was bad and the water on the boat so bad they could hardly drink it. The Grandmother became ill. They reached New York on June 5, 1863. By train they went to Florence, Nebraska. The Grandmother died and was buried in Florence. The father purchased a wagon and four oxen and a cow and joined an independent company under the leadership of Captain J.R. Young. They left Florence on the 7th of July. Once en route the cattle stampeded and some of the immigrants were killed. The children ages were from 15 years on down to the baby. The older children walked most of the way, but the mother and baby rode in the wagon. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley and after resting were urged on to Gunnison, Utah where quite a number of Scandinavian families lived

Life was hard for them. They had helped less fortunate families along the way, so they were short of money. They had a nice new stove, but sold it to get a cow and feed for it. But they soon made new friends. The Brown family was especially nice to them and many a slice of homemade bread and butter and wild berry jam were given to them by Grandma Brown. In time they had a house and farm, but the Indians were troublesome and my father, Hans, although just a young boy had to do guard duty at night. One night he heard a russelling in the bushes which frightened him, but the old squaw who was in the bushes was also frightened and she ran away. But for this guard duty, my father got an Indian War pension for his life time and half of the pension was given to my mother when she became a widow.

In 1866, Henry McArthur sold merchandise in his home. Maria Sorenson clerked in his store. Later on a co-op store was organized. Henry McArthur was manager. Jacob Croft moved a grist mill from Fillmore and placed it in the south east part of town. Much sugar cane was raised and Peter Sorenson ran the molasses mill and boiled gallons of molasses every fall, which was about the only sweetener the Saints had at that time.

Crops such as wheat and other grains, poultry eggs, butter, cheese and molasses was sent to Pioche, Nevada and other mining towns where they brought a good price. A nice creamery was built and a man from Fillmore was the man who managed it. It later became known as the Scipio Creamery Company and was noted not only in Utah, but other states for the fine cheese. I remember my father kept a five pound cheese in our pantry always.

Scipio became an incorporated town in January 1900. The first town board consisted of Wm. R. Thompson, Wm. Hatch and Adolph Hanseen. My father Hans Esklund was the town Marshall for years. He used to have to go to the school house every evening to ring the curfew bell at nine p.m. I used to walk with him the five blocks while he did his duty. I can’t ever remember on any bad things that happened in Scipio to warrant arrests. There was a jail there, but about the only occupants were bums that wanted a place to stay over night. Once in awhile gypsies passed thru and stole everything that wasn’t locked up and bands of Indians came along begging for flour or other food. One night a squaw gave birth to a baby in our barn. It was cold weather and I can remember my mother having her (the squaw) and the baby sit in front of the kitchen range and she fed them and gave them warm things to wear. The squaw mounted her horse the next morning and went on her way.

The town board and all that have followed have served their constituents honestly and faithful and unselfishly. So that the town tax be not materially increased this town board voted themselves a salary of ten dollars a year.

The following ordinances were passed and approved by the board members:

Defining certain words phrases & terms.2. Defining namery and numbering the streets in town (I lived on Drover Road).3. Adopting a common seal for the use of the town of Scipio.4. Creating appointive officers.5. Providing for the construction of water conservation.6. Defining an abating nuisance.7. Relating to crime and offences.8. Preventing the running of large of dogs.9. Prescribing the mode of making equalization and collection of taxesfor general corporation purposes.10. Establishing an annual pole tax.11. Prohibiting the running of large animals inside the city limits.12. Charging of licences to business concerns.13. Dealing with intoxicating liquors.14. Creating of a board of health adoption of a common seal for the useof the town of Scipio Ordinance #3 Section I. Be it ordained by the Board of Trustees of the town of Scipio as follows:The seal shall be circular in form, one and three fourths inches in diameter, the impression on which is a scroll seal town of Scipio, Millard County, Utah, around the outer edge and a beehive in the center and the same as hereby established and declared to be and shallhereafter be, the seal of the town of Scipio passed and approved January 23, 1900.President W.R. ThompsonThomas Memmott, Town Clerk

From the time that the Black Hawk Indians made their last raid until the advent of the railroad, Scipio was flourishing settlement and being on the overland Stage Route from Salt Lake City to Nevada freighting, stage and travel of all kinds enlivened the town.

Because of the steep grades on all sides, no railroad could be induced to come thru the valley. The nearest railroad station was Juab, 24 miles north of Scipio. A stage line to carry mail and passengers from Juab to Scipio was established.

All farm produce shipped out and all goods brought in was hauled in by team. Thru the deep snows of winter, the mud of spring and fall and dust in the summer. This was all changed when the U.S. Highway 91 was designated to pass thru Scipio. Car travel increased, freight trucks and large (overland) passenger bus’s pass this way.