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History of Fort Ephraim

Written by Peter Franklin Madsen

HISTORY: The Settling of Ephraim; Ephraim, Sanpete co., Utah

submitted by W. D. Samuelsen
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The Settling of Ephraim - 1854

by Peter Franklin Madsen
born April 13, 1877 in Ephraim, Utah
Written in 1960
No copyright notice

Ephraim's first recorded settler was ISAAC BEHUNIN, who came with his family
in the year 1852. He built a dug-out on a creek running through Ephraim froma
southeasterly to a northwesterly course. This creek was Cottonwood Creek, the
Ephraim Creek. BEHUNIN's dug-out was a short distacne west of Main Street,
about two or three rods north of Center Street.

In 1854, a Fort called "Little fort" was built on one and one-half acres of
ground located approximately three-fourths of a block north of Center Street,
and about on ehundred feet east of Main Street, just about straight across the
street from BEHUNIN's dug-out.

In 1855, close to the arrival of many immigrants into Ephraim, the larger fort
covering seventeen and one-half acres was built at a cost of $12,000 (twelve
thousand dollars). This Fort included all of the block east of Main Street and
north of First North. This Fort was named "Fort Ephraim" by one of the
builders, who was PETER MADSEN (grandfather of the writer of this history.)
Later "Fort" was dropped from the name and it was called Ephraim, and the name
Ephraim has prevailed.

BRIGHAM YOUNG paid his first visit to Ephraim in 1855. In his entourage were
thirty teams and an escort. He preached to the people a great sermon which was
long remembered by those who heard him. This same year, Sanpete was plagued by
a mighty army of grasshoppers - another problem for those modern Israelites to
conquer.

The boundary lines of Ephraim originally extended from Canal Creek in the
north to Willow Creek on the south-east of town. The new city was founded in
1854, and was incoprorated 1858. GEORGE TAYLOR was Ephraim's first mayor and
HENRY BEAL her first magistrate.

REUBEN W. ALLRED, who had acted as a Bishop in Spring City, became Ephraim's
first Bishop. (Bishop is appointed head of L.D.S. Wards. Stake President
refers to L.D.S. or Mormon Church official.) His Counselors were WILEY P.
ALLRED and JAMES T. S. ALLRED. CANUTE PETERSON became the first Stake
President, with HENRY BEAL as his first and JOHN B. MAIBEN as second
counselors.

AGNES ARMSTRONG was the first reported school teacher of Ephraim. MARY THORPE
MORRIS BEAL (wife of Henry) was another early teacher. Mrs. Armstrong held
school in her own home. Any books available served as texts. Pencils were
shaped from soft yellow rock. At that time, there were no slates.

There was a rock wall around where Snow College stands at present. It was
known as the Town Square, where people gathered their milk cows. Someone would
herd them in the meadows, taking them in the morning and bringing them home at
night. We also had a sheep herd known as the "Town Herd."

Among the first carpenters who came to Ephraim and helped to build the
community were PETER MADSEN, my Grandfather, who came here in 1854, and
ANDREAS OVERSON, one of the first settlers. Grandfather and OVERSON stood a
log on end, and each taking hold of a saw, made lumber which they pllaned by
hand for doors, windows and flooring.

For the first water system which was begun in the early seventies, these same
two men took poles and sawed them from end to end, hollowed them out, then put
them back together, making wooden pipe. They wrapped rawhide around the poles
to hold them together. They dug a trench a distance of some 800 feet, and
placed the head of the pipeline in the creek just north of ETTA JOHNSON's
house (193 South 4th East), where JOHN AHLSTROM lived. They came down as far
as CHRISTIAN FRANDSEN's house, thence north to JORGEN JENSEN's (he was MATILDA
SCHULTZ's grandfather.) He was one of the first blacksmiths in Ephraim. Thence
north ot PETER MADSEN's home. Those assisting with this project were PETER
MADSEN, JORGEN JENSEN, ANDREAS OVERSON, LARS POULSON and YESKIE LARS ANDERSON.
Later on, in about 1877 or 1878, there were about ten or twelve more Ephraim
pioneers who joined in and expanded the project. Other carpenters in those
early days were G. W. SODERBERG, OLE LARSEN, who was a millwright, CHARLEY
FREDRICKSON, ANDREAS OLSEN who they called "Shipp Olsen," NIELS CHRISTENSEN,
OTTO G. OLSEN, who made caskets (he was one of the first undertakers in
Ephraim,) GERMAN RASMUSSEN, ANDREAS P. OVERLADE.

Masons were ERICK CHRISTENSEN, JOS. E. ANDERSON, NIELS JENSEN, A. C. NIELSON,
Sr., NIELS SPENDRUP, N. L. CHRISTENSEN, CHRISTIAN NIELS JENSEN, NIELS PEDER
NIELSEN, and a man whose name I do not remember but whose nickanem was Screw.

Blacksmiths I remember were CARL OTTERSTROM, JORGEN JENSEN, GEORGE JENSEN,
JENS C. JENSEN, BERZELL, FRED CHRISTIANSEN, ALF DAHL, LEWIS LARSEN, and OLE
NISSON (better known as OTTERSTRUM Blacksmith).

Stonecutters were ALFRED BAILEY, Sr., PETER L. BREINHOLT, JOHN C. JOHNSON,
PARLEY McFARLAND. McFARLAND and BAILEY made headstones for graves.

Ephraim's first grist mill was owned by TOM THORPE. The mill was run by a
water wheel. NIELS THOMSON had a burr mill east of TOM LUND's (475 S. 5 East)
where RALPH LUND now lives. TOM LUND had one of the first saw mills in Ephraim
canyon. GEORGE TAYLOR, Ephraim's first mayor, was the sawyer at the TOM LUND
mill.

Wheelwrights were PETER MADSEN (my grandfather) and JOHN C. JENSEN, better
know as "Wheelmaker." We also had a tanning yard in the west part of town,
located where HARRY ANDERSON's place (195 North 2nd West) stands.

Harness makers wee CHARLES WHITLOCK, GEORE QUINN, JIM STEVENSON, DOREN OVIATT,
and WILLIAM QUINN. Shoemakers were Mr. OLSEN, JOHN NIELSON and "LAME" HANSEN.

Shinglemaker was H. P. HANSEN, known as "Shingle Pete".  The butcher was CHRIS
JENSEN, called "Chris Seller."

The grain brokers were PETER GREAVES, Sr., JOHN H. OTTERSTROM, JOHN S. BEAL,
and CHRIS WILLARDSON.

Our first Drug Store, "Palvernardie." Our first photographers: M. JENSEN and
later J. P. CHRISTENSEN. C. C. A. CHRISTENSEN was our arist.

The Ephraim Creamery Company were C. WILLARDSON, D. W. ANDERSON, GEORGE
LARSEN, CHARLES NIELSON, EPHRAIM PETERSON and others.

CARL UCKERMAN had a planing mill, and in the shop at this mill, he employed
several carpenters who made furniture, tables, chairs, cupboards, bedsteads,
chests of drawers, sofas, wardrobes, rocking chairs, doors, windows; in fact,
everything used in furnishing the home. Carpenters who worked for UCKERMAN
were all first class carpenters. They used no nails in the furniture, bit
"dovetailed" the things they made. I have a sofa that was made in this shop
that has no nails to hold it together. Carpenters who worked here were G. W.
SODERBERG, MR. HAVERSON, CHARLEY FREDRICKSON, ANDREAS OLSEN, OTTO G. NIELSEN,
NIELS CHRISTENSEN and ENGABRET PAULSON.

In June 1898 the population of Ephraim reached 3,000 people. There were 719
pupils of school age in Ephraim, 74% of whom were enrolled in school. The
average wage for male teachers at the turn of the century was $55.00 per
month, and the average pay for lady teachers was $35.00 per month.

RECREATON IN THE EARLY DAYS

There was a theatre on the second floor of the "Old Co-Op Store" building,
where there was a stage and the local "talent" put on home dramatics.

There were four Ward Houses (Ward House is another name for L.D.S. Meeting
House or Chapel) in Ephraim. The "First" was where the Library now stands. The
"second" was where LA VAR TAYLOR'S home stands at Second North and Main. The
"Third" was where BUD SANDERS home stands at 121 North 2nd East, and the
"Fourth" was where NEWELL CHERRY now lives (190 East 1st South). These
builings were all used as school houses, and also as dance halls.

In the early 1890's there was a dance floor built by JIM LARSEN in his garden
under the apple trees. There were also some large shade trees where poles were
placed from tree to tree and swings hung. The music was furnished by JIM
LARSEN playing the violin and one of his daughters playing the piano. They
sold home-made ice cream for refreshments.

Also in the early nineties there was a man known as PETERSON who converted an
old horse barn into a dance hall. It was soon converted into a theatre, that
served for amusements until 1897.

In the year 1897, EZRA MADSEN and ANDREW L. THORPE erected the "Opera House"
where theatre companies came and put on shows. This was also used as a dance
hall. Then someone built a dance pavillion just east of MATILDA SCHULTZ's home
and the Christiansen Furniture Store (41-53 South Main). It was entered via
the driveway between these two buildings. We danced there for many years, and
this building was used for a season to show silent pictures on the screen.

In 1911 there was a group of prominent men that erected the "Social Hall" at
Main and First South. When this hall was finished, it was said to be one of
the nicest dance halls in the State of Utah. We now have two gymnasiums and
three L.D.S. Church recreation halls in the community.

In the year 1914 the first paved road in Sanpete County was laid from Pigeon
Hollow north of Ephraim south to Manti City. PETER MORTENSON was County
Commissioner for Sanpete County at this time. The pavement was laid by OLAF
NELSON of Logan, who was the contractor. The labor was done by hand, the
concrete being mixed by hand on a board platform. Niels Peter NIELSEN log-
chained the road to find the best route. The labor on the road was done by
hand, the concrete being mixed by hand on a board platform.

SOME OF THE THINGS WE HAD FOR PEOPLE TO MAKE A LITTLE MONEY IN THE EPHRAIM
CITY, UTAH, IN THE EARLY DAYS.

There was a creamery, some stone quarries, some saw mills, a shingle mill. A
little later on we got a canning factory that employed quite a few people.
There were about four stone quarries: The Meething House Quarries, Parry's, P.
C. PETERSON's and one in Lime Kiln Hollow. All in all, they employed several
men in the summer time. Nearly all able-bodied men learned the art of sheep-
shearing so they earned some money to help toward their living.

In the early days nearly all of the town folks had a few acres of land to
raise some grain and feed for their cows, most people having one or more cows.
They also kept a few sheep, some chickens and two or three hogs, so they
mostly raised their own living along with their gardens. They also had some
small berry bushes, some fruit trees, and raised nearly all of the fruit they
needed. They put up jam in large containers for winter use. Nearly everybody
had a potato pit in which to store their vegetables for winter. Folk would
kill and cure pork, beef and mutton for winter use. Nearly every family had a
few chickens to supply eggs.

There were some grist mills - TOM THORPE having the first one. Later on NIELS
THOMSON erected a mill known as "The Grist Mill." These mills were powered by
water power. In due time, some farmers erected what was known as the Ephraim
Roller Mill. The financed the mill, and it was built by OLE LARSEN, mechanic
and also mill-wright. Here the farmers then took their wheat to be ground into
flour.

In the early 1900's there were several horse-powered threshing machine to
trash the grain raised in the Ephraim Precinct. Later on a company of farmers
and businessmen purchased a steam thresher - in fact it was in the summer of
1907. I, along with the rest of the crew, commenced to thresh the first of
October and finished on Thanksgiving Day that same year. We threshed 119,000
bushels of wheat, oats, barley and small grain that season. At one time, I
remember that Sanpete County was called the "Granary of Utah." Ephraim farmers
shipped many thousands of bushels of grain.

Before the advent of the railroad into the county, farmers hauled grain to
Thistle and to Salt Lake City by teams. JOHN OTTERSTROM, JOHN S. BEAL, PETER
GREAVES S., and CHRIS WILLARDSON all bought and sold grain. In the early
1890's they only received 35 cents per bushel, or three bushels for one
dollar. In those days, flour could be bought for $1.00 per hundredweight.
Alfalfa hay sold for $4.00 to $5.00 per ton. PETER GREAVES Jr. raised a lot of
meadow hay that he cut and baled and shipped to the mining camps for the mine
horses.

When the railroad was extended past Sanpete as far south as Marysvale to haul
ore from the mines there to the smelters at Murray, where the metal was
extracted from the rock, it gave employment to some of our menfolk. Several of
the farmers went into the mountains and cut and hewed ties for the railroad.
That enterprise brought some needed cash to these farming communities. Several
of our young men left and went over east to Colorado and worked on the
railroad that eventually came to Thistle and on to Salt Lake City, known as
the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.

The largest percent of houses built in the early days were built of stone, as
there was lots of "Flot Stone" which could be gathered and hauled into town
for houses, barns, fences and all necessary building such as granaries,
chicken coops and other out-buildings. Nearl all of the settlers could
exchange work and so they were able to get homes to live in. Men who quarrie
drock for meeting houses and other such buildings as were required did so, and
got some carpenter work in exchange from carpenters.

Finally, someone made adobes. They were made out north of town, out of some
blue clay. The settlers thought the soil around town was too hard to handle.
This was the reason for the adobes being made out there.

PETER MADSEN was the first wagon maker in Ephraim. ANDREAS OVERSON was a
first-class carpenter, and he and PETER MADSEN worked together a lot. They
sawed lumber by hand to make doors and windows, also furnitures: chairs,
bedsteads, cupboards, wardrobes, tables. There was a man called "Mass Weaver"
who made willow baskets, which were used for carrying chaff, also hackles to
feed the stock.

CHRIS LARSEN, Mayor Calvert Larsen's father, commenced the Larsen Water
Project in the summer of 1914 that took almost four years to complete at a
cost of $250,000.00. Canals were dug and a tunnel bored through the mountain.
There are several miles of canals to carry water out to the farms in "Pigeon
Hollow." This was the largest undertaking for one man which was ever started
here, and completed by hard work and planning. He almost went broke. He left a
big job finished for someone else to get the benefit from. CHRIS LARSEN was a
farmer, stock and sheep raiser. He also bought and sold lambs and sheep and
wool. He bought, fed and raised sheep and lambs for several years. He also
bought and sold cattle. His son, Mayor CALVERT LARSEN followed in his father's
business for some time, and at present raises (along with his sons THERALD and
KIM) black-faced sheep for shows. Therald took many prizes with fat lambs at
different stock shows in the state. KIM, the youngest, is still showing his
stock and getting top prizes for "champions", "Best rams" and also "Top Ewe
Lambs." Both boys are professional sheep fitters.

THIS I REMEMBER

This I remember while I was a small boy living in Ephraim: On Main Street
there was a foot bridge across the creek (from the corner where the Bank of
Ephraim stands to the Post Office) that was used for civilians to cross the
deep ravine. In the middle of the street teams whould go down then up the
incline to cross from one side to the other. The creek bed was quite deep all
the way through town. Pine trees grew all along the creek from the mouth of
the canyon down to the city limits.

Later on, they built a rock wall along the two sides of the creek just east of
the Post Office crossing main street north-west over where the Anderson Drug
now stands, thence north past the Opera House and the building which stood
there where Monte Lyon Amusement Center now stands (25 North Main St.) Then
the creek was covered as far as the Drug Store across Main Street, also north
to where it now runs through the block. The latter part was covered with
planks, making a board walk, which stood until they commenced building the
business houses, and then the creek was covered with cement which is used at
present.

Our electric light system commenced in the year 1905. I (Frank Madsen)( helped
dig the pole in, and also helped string the wire. J. H. JENSEN, CLAUDE KELSON,
NATE KOOLBY were the hikers or "linemen." NED BENSON and I were the ground
men. A man called "Bixie" - a Mr. BIXEL, was our boss on the light lines. At
first the light poles were in the center of the street, later they were moved
to between curbs and sidewalk.

The water works was commenced in the summer of 1912. I also worked "putting
in" services for folks as fast as we could from the main line to the curb or
sidewalk. A plumber by the name of HOFFMAN was our boss on the water system.

"LEST WE FORGET"

"Lest we forget" the hardships of our pioneer forefathers had to endure: they
had to build their homes, clear and till the soil as to get some grain planted
for bread.

First they grubbed the brush,then plowed the ground. Then they sowed the grain
by broadcasting the seed by hand. They harrowed with a home-made harrow, laid
off the ground, then made ditches from the creek to get water on the land.
Then when the grain was ready to harvest, they cut it by hand with what was
called a "Cradle." They bound the grain into bundles by hand,a nd hauled it to
their homes. Here they made a "threshing floor", and flayed the grain,
removing the straw, and gathering the grain together. They "sifted" it by hand
to blow away the chaff. They repeated this method until the harvest was over.
The wheat as ground by hand for their bread and cereals.

It wasn't long until there wa a machine known as the reaper, which replaced
the hand cutting; but still they had to bind the grain by hand. In time,
someone invented a self-binder to cut the grain, which took place of the
reaper and hand binding. Then someone bought a threshing machine which was
operated by horsepower. This solved the threshing problem for some time, then
came a steam thresher which was more efficient; now a combine harvester is
being used.

In the early days TOMMIE THORPE erected a flour millwhich was powered by
water. Later on the roller mills came into our midst. Now we have combines to
cut thresh and sack our grain, whcih are powered by gas and diesel pils. We
have came a long way from the ox team to mechanical power since Ephraim was
settled one hundred and five years ago.

PIONEER UTENSILS AND USAGES

The way our Pioneer parents had of getting their culinary water for domestic
use at first, as you have no doubt been told, was by carrying water from the
creek to their homes for cooking, washing and othe rnecessities in the home.
These Pioneers were all mechanics - some in one phase and some in another.

The first necessary genius was "Cooper" HANSEN, who made wooden barrels and
buckets for the purpose of transporting the water from the creek to the homes.
The hoops to hold the barrels together were made of birch and willows. In
winter they made small sleds to haul the water; in summer they made a yoke
that fit on their shoulders, and attached a rope that hung from each end, tied
a bucket on the ends and carried as much as ten gallons at a trip. For
watering the liverstock they drove them to the creek enarest their homes. One
place was up where Christian Hall lived (111 S. 3rd E.), another was where
Hillary Larsen now lives (119 E. 1st South).

In due time they commenced to branch out from the Fort. They laid out the
streets and dug ditches to carry water to their lots for gardens and a little
grain, wheat, barley and oats, also what was known as cow peas. Everybody
helped one antoher; they were all as one big family If we would be more
considerate of one another, this would be a better wold in which to live.

Wooden barrels and tubs wer ealso made by brother Hansen. Churns, buckets, and
larg etubs for the women to do their washing in, which was done ona washboard,
also made of wood; barrels to cure their meat in brine; large barrels to put
water in to haul there on sleds in the winter and were hauled from the creek
nearest where the people lived.

These carpenters and mechanics brought their toools with them from the old
countries they came from. Blacksmiths made bits from steel after they were
somewhat settled. Blacksmiths GEORGE JENSEN, CARLOS OTTERSTROM and RASMUS C.
LARSEN made plow shares. RASMUS C. LARSEN lived where Mrs. William Estep lives
(140 South 4th East) and was her grandfather. They were all real smiths, as
they were all apprentices in their native land. These apprenticeships lasted
seven years, taken under a genius in his profession.

These boys would live right in the home with their teachers, and worked for
him for their room and board. After graduation they got their diplomas and
were out for themselves. It made no difference what kind of profession they
should choose, the system was the same.

Caskets were manufactured by ANDREAS OLSEN, who was AGNES ANDERSON's father.
One of his workmen was NEILS CHRISTENSEN who was a brother to ERICK
CHRISTENSEN, mason. Then OTTO G. OLSEN along with his brother EDWARD OLSEN,
made caskets which were made from our native lumber, sawed in our community.
OTTO G. OLSEN draped these caskets. Then he obtained a hearse which was drawn
by two white horses. His home was where the undertakers parlor is at present
(213 East 3rd South.)

Stone cutters were ALFRED BAILEY Sr., and PARLEY McFARLANE. These two men made
tombstones out of the white oolite stone we have here in our present quarrie
located in Pigeon Hollow, also in Lime Kiln Hollow.

Then came the weaver, then basket-maker who was "Mass Weaver." He lived and
built the house that ARCH DRAPER now occupies (275 E. 1st North.) They cut
small willows and made them into baskets for carrying chaff and hackles for
the livestock to eat. There were also baskets made for clothes baskets, cribs
used to put babies in, and tuck them down while their mother had to do her
hosuework. God bless the memories of our Pioneer parents. The Lord surely
blessed them, as when anyone took sic the Elders were called in to bless the
sick. God was the only Doctor they had in those dyas, and he did bless them
and prosper them. I sincerely hope that we will never forget to thank God for
our heritage which is a rich one. Where there is unity there is strength.

In the early days one man whom I knew as Potmaker HANSEN made earthen jars and
flowers and churns of what was known as Potter's clay. He also made large
mixing bowls. He had a kiln he cured this crockery in, then it was polished
and glazed. He lived down just north of the railroad depot, and west across
the tracks.

PETER FRANKLIN MADSEN - 1960

Owner/SourcePeter Franklin Madsen
Date1860
Linked toMargaret Christina Caroline Selena Miller (Census); James Peter Olson (Census)

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