Memories from Woods Cross

This article originally appeared in Vol.65, No.2 (2018) of Pioneer Magazine.

by Leonore Ellis Peterson

In the spring of 1846, Woods Cross was a quiet valley with a lazy river fed by babbling mountain streams. There were thick clumps of willows, clusters of sagebrush and wild rosebushes, and tall wild grasses waving in a gentle breeze. Only chirping birds and buzzing bees broke the silence. Within two years, however, the beautiful, open wilderness was marked by the creak of heavy wagons, the clanking of cow bells, the laughter of happy children, and the sighs of parents as they wiped weary brows and surveyed the empty land they would inhabit.

Originally the area that included Woods Cross was called Sessions’ Settlement; the corresponding LDS religious unit was North Kanyon Ward. By 1853 “Sessions Settlement” had become “Bountiful.” But after the Utah Central rail line connected Ogden and Salt Lake in 1870, a separate stop— Woods Crossing—was created for the area, and, by 1873, the community serviced by the stop had adopted a version of the stop name—Woods Cross—as its own.

Woods Cross today covers 3.9 square miles and takes one minute, fifteen seconds to pass by on 1-15. The city holds nearly 11,000 people and numerous houses, churches, schools, and businesses. The following collected histories are of the people who settled Woods Cross in the beginning—surviving in an unfamiliar desert with only the knowledge and few material things they brought with them.


(1800-1892), pioneer of 1848

Daniel Wood entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 23,1848, and soon thereafter moved north with his wives and children to Sessions Settlement. In the spring of 1849 Daniel claimed 120 acres along the banks of North Mill Creek that consisted of rich, dark silt deposits that supported the raising of bounteous crops. He built a large adobe house and later added a room for a school. When Brigham Young advised holding frequent family gatherings to provide spiritual growth and recreation, Daniel built a family meetinghouse that served as a meeting place as well as a dance hall.

Early on, it was apparent that the Utah Central Railroad line connecting Ogden with Salt Lake City would pass through Woods property. Wood welcomed the coming of the train, but requested that the proposed line not interfere with the lane along the east side of his property. An agreement was reached and Wood donated the necessary land—for the line and a depot—to the railroad commission.

While Daniel Wood was not the first settler in Woods Cross, and while Daniel Woods property is in West Bountiful, not in Woods Cross, his train stop gave the community its name.

Arlene H. Eakle, Adelia Baird, and Georgia Weber, Woods Cross: Patterns and Profiles of a City (Woods Cross, UT: Woods Cross City Council, 1976), 6.


MELTIAR HATCH (1825-1895) and ORIN HATCH (1830-1906), pioneers of 1848 Veterans of the Mormon Battalion,

Orin Hatch, 18, and Meltiar Hatch, 23, heard that excellent land was available at Sessions Settlement, explored the area, and discovered a good spring and promising land. They camped there for five weeks, and in the fall of 1848 journeyed east to Winter Quarters to assist their siblings and parents, and Meltiar’s young wife and son, to come west.

Leaving Iowa just after Independence Day, 1849, they arrived in Salt Lake in early October. Days later the entire family were at the spring the brothers had discovered, where they began building cabins and creating a new settlement. Eventually, the family acquired about 160 acres of land.

Swampy in places with willows and bulrushes growing everywhere, their land provided ideal forage for cattle and sheep. But that winter, food was scarce. They obviously had no time to plant crops, and they survived by killing and eating an aging cow or two. The meat was tough but edible, and they saved the younger animals that later multiplied into a healthy, sizeable herd.

Edith Folsom Hatch, “Life Sketch of Orin Hatch,”typescript, FamilySearch, online; [No author listed],”A Biography of Meltiah [s/’c] Hatch,”typescript, FamilySearch, online; Meltiar Hatch, Wandering Home: Stories and Memories of the Hatch Family, privately printed (Np: Hatch Historical Committee, 1988), posted, FamilySearch, online.


(1799-1855) and PERRY (1801-1872), pioneers of 1847

John and Grace Ann Perry reached Salt Lake City on October 3,1847, and settled in Stone Creek in the spring of 1848. John broke ground and planted a patch of wheat and a garden, built a cabin, and fenced and ditched the property.

In early 1849 John received word he had been called to help settle Parowan. He left as instructed, but on reaching Salt Lake City was told by President Brigham Young that he had been misinformed. He turned his ox team about and started the return trip to Stone Creek. After traveling about eight miles he discovered a beautiful spring near the wagon road and decided to locate near it [about 1935 South 850 West in today’s Woods Cross].

In August 1852, John was called on a mission in Herefordshire, England. After a successful mission of two and a half years, he sailed back to America. When he reached Mormon Grove, Kansas, he was stricken with cholera and died a few days later on July 18, 1855. John had a packet of apple seeds in his pocket which were taken to his wife in Woods Cross. She planted the seeds, and, a few years later, the family had apples to sell and share.

Edith F. Hatch,”Life Sketch of John Perry,””History of John Perry and Grace Ann Williams”webpage, FamilySearch, online.


ELIZA BALDWIN PACE (1806-1863) and (1831-1917), pioneers of 1848

Eliza Pace, a widow, along with her children and sister, Sarah Baldwin Smith, joined the Brigham Young Company of 1848 bound for Utah. They arrived in Salt Lake on August 24, 1848, and determined to help colonize Sessions Settlement.

Together with Sarah, Eliza and her children— Edwin, George, and Amanda—spent the winter of 1848-49 in a cave dug into a hillside (located near 2300 South 1200 West in today’s Woods Cross). They created a barrier of willows—covered with rushes and grass- sod—over the mouth of the cave, always taking a shovel inside at night so that they could shovel themselves out in the morning. To cook meals or get heat for warmth, they would build a small fire in the center of the hut, and most of the smoke passed out through a hole they made in the ceiling of the cave. They dosely rationed what food they were able to trade for or forage, but they were blessed with milk from their two cows. The milk was not very rich, however, as the cows scavenged feed through the winter.

The next year, in 1849, their crops failed because of alkaline soil. To replace the failed crops they eventually cut “wild hay” and stacked it for winter feed for their cows and sheep.

The Paces made butter and cheese for trade and spun wool from their sheep. They occasionally killed an older sheep or cow and divided the meat among themselves and their neighbors. About 1850, they built a one-room cabin some distance east of their original hillside hut.

A promising grain crop was threatened with destruction by the grasshopper plague of 1855. Edwin and George resolved this challenge by plowing three deep furrows around the grain field. The insects were shooed into these trenches and then forced into bags at the ends of the rows. The insects were then buried in pits. A good grain crop materialized which was not typical in the Sessions Settlement that year. Their first grain was cut with the family butcher knife, Eliza doing a big share of the reaping.

Annie Call Carr, ed. East of Antelope Island, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Davis County (Bountiful:Carr 1999), 153,154,226; Edith H.Terry,’History of Eliza Baldwin Race,”Our Book of Remembrance, online.


ERIC G. M. BOGAN (1801-1876) and HELGA KNUTSDATTER NESTEBE BOGAN (1809-1884), pioneers of 1848

Eric G. M. Hogan, from Norway, heard about the wonderful opportunities in America. He wanted to emigrate, but his wife, Helga, did not At last Eric said, “Well, I am going; we will separate. I will take two of the children, you may take two, and we will cast lots in the fifth one.” This proposal was too much for Helga, and she replied, “Where you go, I will go, too.”

They suffered severe hardships on the way to America. Their four-year-old daughter died and was buried at sea. While crossing a river they lost some of their possessions from a tipping boat, induding bedding holding a box of gold coins worth $500. Some of the money was recovered, but about $200 was lost A short time after that, their three-year-old daughter died of a sudden illness and was buried in Chicago.

The Hogan family finally settled in Iowa about ten miles west of Nauvoo. It was here in January 1843 that they heard about and were converted to the restored gospel and were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 1848, they began their journey to Utah. Helga became desperately ill, and the company doctor declared she could not live until daybreak. She overheard the doctor and it made her very sorrowful to think of leaving her eight children. During the night, she had a vivid dream. She saw an expansive valley, and then a small spring near a country road winding through a tract of land unfamiliar to her. The next morning, she was much improved and said, “Last night one of you insisted that I should not live to see this day, but I shall go to the Valley in the mountains.” Her family arrived at the mouth of Emigration Canyon in September, 1848. On beholding the Salt Lake Valley, Helga said, “This is the valley I saw in my dream.”

Eric rode north on horseback to what is now Woods Cross where he located a spring of fresh water.

When he returned with Helga, she immediately recognized the road and springs and exclaimed, “This is the spot of ground I saw in my dream.” That was where they built their cabin [at about 934 West 1500 South in todays Woods Cross].

In the summer of 1849, one-and-a-half- year-old Charles Peter Hogan, son of Eric and Helga, ate what were presumed to be whittled wood shavings. They turned out to be wild parsnips, and he soon became ill and died. A quiet spot was chosen, and his body laid to rest, the first to be buried in the Sessions Settlement Cemetery.

Ora Haven Barlow,”Life Sketch of Eric Goudy Midtboen Hogan,””Eric Gautesson Midtboen Haugen”webpage under “Histories—Life Sketch in PDF format,” Our Family History: Genealogy of Richard Young and Laurel Hogan Family, Carr, ed. 466-7; Camp Eutaw, Daughters of Utah Pioneers,”Sessions Settlement Cemetery,”FindAGrave, online.


MOSS (1826-1882) and (1820-1884), pioneers of 1848

Rebecca and John Moss built a dugout near 1000 South 800 West in present-day Woods Cross.

“It and our wagon served as our home for nearly two years. Here Joseph was born, August 10,1850…. Our next home was built nearer the street and was made of logs and adobes with a huge fireplace in the north end. Here all our cooking was done over the open fire….

“One day [in about 1855] when we had all gone to Salt Lake, except Mary, who was about eleven years of age, and Joseph, who was about five, a big Indian came into the house and asked her to give him the little boy. She refused and so the Indian tried to catch Joseph with the lasso rope. Mary screamed and ran for help to a man who was working outside. When he came, the Indian left, much to the relief of the children.”

Carr, ed. 151-2; Leila Moss Grant Lee,”History of Rebecca Wood Moss,”typescript, FamilySearch, online.


JASPER PERKINS (1845-1931), pioneer of 1848

In late summer of 1849, tragedy struck the Wilson Gardner Perkins family of Salt Lake, when Wilson, his wife and two oldest sons died of mountain fever. Five orphaned children survived: Marion, 14; Elizabeth, 12; Mary Ann, 10; Harvey, 9; and Jasper, 4. Reuben and Elizabeth Patillo Perkins took their five orphaned grandchildren to live in South Bountiful, now part of Woods Cross. Jasper later recorded,

“When Grandfather Perkins arrived … he gathered us children together and took us to Bountiful, Utah, to live…. I herded sheep for him when I was old enough….

“Grandfather was very strict He would never sanction a swear word. I remember once when accidentally at the table I lost my temper and let a swear word go and the tanning I got I never could forget, although he meant it in fondness. It was some time before I sat down in comfort, and I was cured for some time of swearing….

“Food was very scarce and stewed squash was considered a real treat We would trim off the rind and hang it up to dry. When the famine came on Willow Creek, we had only four bushels of barley. [We ate] one biscuit of this a day…; with cottage cheese and milk, this was our diet until the barley ran out”

Carr, ed. 154,156; Jasper Newton Perkins,’Life Story of Jasper Newton Perkins,” typescript, FamilySearch, and Elizabeth Jane Perkins Belcher, “The Wilson Gardner Perkins Family typescript, FamilySearch, both online.


(1814-1871) and HARRIET HALES (1824-1910), pioneers of 1851

Molasses was often the only sweetener available. John Ellis made molasses for most of the residents of the area. He used com stalks at first or squash, and later he used cane. He would also grind the cane grown by his neighbors and charge them a toll of every fourth gallon.

The three-roller mill was turned by a horse hitched to the end of a long sweep. (Ellis’ mill was located about at 685 West 1500 South in present-day Woods Cross.) As the horse circled, the sugar cane was fed into the rollers, and the bright green juice dropped into a burlap-covered barrel. The juice was poured into a boiler trough through several layers of cheesecloth. The syrup boiled for three to four hours until it became a thick, caramel-colored liquid.

It took about eighty gallons of syrup to produce ten gallons of molasses. As the syrup boiled, a dark foam appeared on the top which was skimmed off. The second and third skimmings were saved for a candy pull later.

Sagebrush was used as fuel. When the syrup had turned into molasses, the trough was removed to logs where it could be tilted, and the molasses poured through additional cheesecloth layers into storage barrels—also made by John Ellis, who was a cooper by trade.

Eakle, Baird, and Weber 15 (Amelia Ellis Riley, description of a molasses mill).


(1842-1880), pioneer of 1853; KAREN MARIE (MART) LARSEN (1843-1939), pioneer of 1860 and (1855-1881), pioneer of 1868

“It was evening when they arrived. [Mary] opened the back door in response to a knock, and there stood [her husband] Nels and a strange woman. She knew what Nels was about to say. After a moment he said, ‘Mary, this is Annie Jensen. Id like to marry her if it is all right with you.’

“I have often tried to imagine Mary’s feelings. She adored Grandfather…. But she was completely converted to the Gospel and its teachings. She answered, Tf that’s what you want, Nels, I must accept her?

“ .. After… Nels married Annie, she lived in the home with Mary. [Mary would bear a total of four children—three boys and a girl—and Annie would bear two beautiful daughters.]… When diphtheria struck the community, neither of Annie’s children took the disease, but all four of Mary’s children died.

“Sometimes I try to imagine those awful days. No one dared come near the house. A neighbor made wooden caskets; three of the children were buried in one grave.

“Grandfather had great difficulty accepting the tragedy. His health began to foil, and two years later he died in his home at the age of thirty-eight Grandmother Annie was a frail young woman.,.. One year later she passed away; she was only twenty-six years old. Mary was now left with Annie’s two little girls. She was a great mother to them and so grateful for them.

The three of them lived together… until the girls married?

The neighbors who helped care for the Nelson family were John Parkin, Jr., and his wife .

Ardelle Hogan Mills,’The Nels Nelson Pioneer Home,’ FamilySearch, Nels Christen Nelson webpage, online; Eakle, Baird, and Weber 26.


JOHN PARKIN, JR. (1847-1936), pioneer of 1863; and MARY ANN LEWIS (1853-1925), pioneer of 1856

“In the year 1878 Bountiful and the surrounding area had an epidemic of “Black Canker” or diphtheria. Many children and adults lost their lives. Many were afraid to go to the homes of their sick neighbors for fear of contracting the dread disease. This wasn’t true of John Parkin and his wife Mary Ann. They went into many homes to aid the sick and the dying. In the Nds and Mary Larsen Nelson home, all their children were ill with the disease. Three of the Nelson children died in one day. Grandmother Parkin helped to prepare them for burial, and Grandfather Parkin dug the grave in the Bountiful Cemetery. All three were buried in one grave. Five days later, the oldest of the Nelson children died and was buried also. These four were all of Mary Nelson’s children. Before coming home to their own children, John and Mary Ann would bathe in a wooden washtub in the washhouse in water prepared by their son Heber so they could change their clothes before coming into their own home. Even with these precautions Mary Ann got diphtheria, but it was a light case and she fully recovered.”

John Parkin, Jr., stood barely five feet tall—but was known all his life for his courage.

Nell Betts Parkin Bair, ‘History of John Parkin Jr.,”typescript, FamilySearch, John Parkin Jr. webpage, online.

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