“Pond Town” Changed to Salem “City of Peace” in 1865
By Joyce H. Henderson
I’ve taken material from Lee R. Taylor’s “Salem, The City of Peace” written in 1954. This history was revised in 1961 by Margrette Taylor, Mabel Koyle and Golda A. Adams, for and in behalf of Salem Camp and Mt. Loafer Camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. I’ve also taken information from “The Dream Mine Story” and a book of Schools and Schooling by Ted Hanks, Louise Measom and Beverly Davis.
A monument was constructed on July 16, 1938, by Daughters of the Utah Pioneers located on the east side of the Salem Dam near the state highway which reads:
In 1851 David Fairbanks and David Crocket located land adjacent to a small stream at the head of Salem Lake and built a dam in 1856. Royal Durfey, Silas Hilman, Acquilla Hopper, Jacob Killian, Truman Tryon and their families settled Pond Town and began building a fort for protection against the Indians. The fort was 160 feet north and south and 150 feet east and west.
The pond was found to be clear, sparkling water springing up from under earth banks in a hollow and wasting in a north-westerly direction into Utah Lake. These springs are probably fed by the drainage from beautiful Mt. Loafer of the Wasatch Range four or five miles to the southeast. This stream quenched the thirst in 1776 of Escalante and Dominique’s two Catholic Priests, large parties of helpers and Indian guides and Jedediah S. Smith and his party in the twenties (1826-27) on their way to California.
Filings on the land adjacent to the stream and immediate area were made by Crocket and Fairbanks and preparation for building cabins and locating their families was underway. Damming up the stream to a level where it would flow into ditches to irrigate a sizeable amount of land where crops could grow and homes could be built. In 1852 only four families were by the pond on the east and west sides. As more work on the dam and new crops were planted the Indians were always there envying them and giving them a real scare. In the winter these families moved to Payson for protection.
The Walker Indian War broke out in Springville in 1853. Two Salem men were killed, settlers were driven into the fort and then a Treaty of Peace was signed in the spring of 1853 and people began to venture out of the fort even in the daytime. New settlers were welcome and Brigham Young suggested to settlers in Palmyra to come to Pond Town to live. As more people moved in the Indians were crowded out and they watched their feed, their fish and game gradually being taken over. They resented the injustice and encroachment in south Utah County. The construction of the fort in 1856 was completely enclosed in the fall of 1858. A dozen or more families used it with their homes all facing toward the center.
If you have been to Cove Fort in Southern Utah, you have seen how the fort was designed. Later the Salem Fort had a store, tithing office and storage buildings, plus new homes. After the Indians left, Governor Brigham Young secured the Federal Government to provide new quarters on the new Indian farm for the Indians. Some of them would not accept and others did which caused another war to break out in 1865.
The war did not end until 1867 when the Federal Government designed an area for the Indians in Uintah County.
A saw mill was a must for sawing timbers and lumber to build houses.
The period of 1847-1867 was the real pioneer period in Utah. They experienced frost, grasshoppers, limited land areas and short crops were common.
The winter of 1855-1856 was considered the Hard Winter in Utah history. Livestock perished and many people cam near to starving. When the snow receded in the early spring, some people resorted to digging the roots of the Sego Lillies and other roots for food. Have you ever tasted red root (weed), greens or sage brush tea? Sugar, salt and seasoning were in very short supply. In 1858 many people went to an area north of Provo and camped three days for the purpose of picking manna – a sweet substance found on the bushes.
Seasoning for food was a real problem. Substitutes were tried. Some ground grain in flour mills, meat was scarce, soap short so homemade soap became a must.
Have you ever had a bath with homemade soap? I have! It takes the hide right off of you and your have a bright reddish glow, but I must say that you are clean. That soap was made with a lot of lye.
For a light, a cloth was dipped in grease, kept in a pan with one end protruding and lighted. This was called an, excuse me, a “Bitch Light.” We’ve come a long way in 150 years. Everyone was in the same boat. No one had anymore than their neighbors. In 1900 nearly one-half of the LDS people were either European immigrants or descendants.
As I read through the families that settled here, I found these countries and United States listed as well as many born here in Salem:
- Northern Canada,
- South Wales,
- Southern States,
- Eastern States,
- Iowa and
- North Carolina.
In the meantime things had happened in Pond Town, the first child, J. Frank Hopper, was bom July 27, 1857. He lived his entire life in Salem.
The first murder occurred on Saturday, April 24, 1858, at the Salem Dam.
A Pre-Emption Act passed by Congress in 1840 allowing settlers to purchase land from the government for $1.25 per acre. Most saints were too poor to purchase land until April 1, 1869, when the Homestead Law became operative. The farms purchased were generally small and our people went to Provo to report and buy land. These land owners were referred to a “Squatters.”
Another event recorded in the history of Salem was the coming of Johnson’s Army in 1857-1861. Camp Floyd was on the west side of Utah Lake. Pond Town, like many other settlements, had to care for displaced families from Salt Lake City until peace and confidence could be restored. President Van Buren believed false reports about the Utah people in reference to their loyalty, killings and government records. This mistake cost the Federal Government some $20 million and others things, but it ended up in Statehood for Utah in 1896.
Timber from Payson Canyon was taken to camp floyd by way of Elberta and north for building barracks. Much of this was wasted. When the army left Utah, many settlements around profited in a material way by acquiring mules, horses, wagons, plows, farm implements and many scarce materials such as sugar, spices, etc.were plentiful and very low prices. Goods worth $4 million were sold for $100,000 – a drop of $40 to a $1.
The pond has always made Salem a beautiful, restful and distinctive place for many residents. It has solved many recreational problems for the young people as they were able to boat, fish, ice skate on the frozen pond in the cold winters. I even skated on the pond during recess at school and on Saturdays it became a family affair with bonfires on the shore to keep us warm.
The pond also supplied culinary water for the early settlers. Later artesian wells replaced the pond water. But let’s look back at the great Salem Pond. Baptisms were held in May for children born from November to May. I was a January baby and had to wait until May to be baptized. What an eventful day for all of us. We were baptized down by the road by the pioneer monument and Loma Davis’ home.
I’m going back to my days as a youth now. We swam every day in Salem Pond after doing farm work. We went boat riding with our boyfriends, if we had one.
We picnicked on the Salem Park as it is now called. We also had a necker’s knoll just south and east of the large bridge that has been chained off now for you to enjoy lunch by the pond. We had great Salem Day Programs which the whole town came and participated in. These were held where the children now swim. Now we have wonderful times on Salem Day in August.
The Lions Club started breakfast. Weren’t they great! That has also grown to the barbeque in the evening. The pond brings many people here for fishing and our pageants, picnics, playgrounds and swimming. We have had a couple of tragedies that I know of drownings in the pond. They were both out-of-towners. It was quoted by someone years ago, that “No one who lives in Salem would lose their life in the pond.”
Now at Christmas time what a wonderful sight to see the trees on the pond, the floodlights in the trees, the bridge lit up and Christmas music playing. It is a beautiful place to be. I’ve been told that this display is better than Spanish Fork’s Festival of Trees, but don’t tell them that.
Now back to our parades. When I was a child and in Primary, we were dressed up as honey bees, put on a wagon and labeled “Salem’s Best Crop.” This parade was on July 4th every year. Now our parades are motorized. Back then we just had horses and wagons. Now I am really dating myself.
I would now like to introduce two of our Salem Centurions – Merle Christensen and Dean Hughes. They have both been life-long residents. As they come up, I want to tell you about Merel. I remember as a child seeing Merel standing in a rowboat coming down the pond in a beautiful white dress and on her head a crown holding either a torch or flowers. She was either called Miss Liberty or Miss Salem, but I think it was Miss Liberty. People lined the pond to see the festivities.
Now back to my history. Land and water became the most important problem in Salem, besides the large families. Salem Pond irrigated 600 acres or more. Now we have Strawberry Reservoir bringing irrigation water to our diminishing farm ground.
In 1865, Samuel T. Curtis was authorized to secure a surveyor to lay out a town site with city blocks and a permanent building plan. The one street passing through town from Spanish Fork to Payson was well established and they used this as a base line and worked out from there. Ten blocks should contain five acres of land.
Streets should be six rods in width. Lyman Curtis a native of Salem, Massachusetts, thought the town should have a dignified name and the townspeople agreed. The town was surveyed and adopted a new name in the year 1865. We are now Salem, City of Peace.
The time is right now to follow the plan of Spanish Fork organizing themselves into a company and taking water out of the Spanish Fork River to increase irrigation. In the fall of 1865, Lyman Curtis and two of his brothers made a survey to for a canal like that of the Spanish Fork River to the Pay son hill. They used a long straight two-by-four timber and a cup of water to establish the desirable grade. The canal was made. Water was turned into the ditch in the summer of 1869. Weak places were found and repaired.
The canal was designated to water 1600 acres when it was first planned. Later this was raised and extended. This was a costly project of about $50,000 with changes and repairs costing another $5,000. Transportation was a real problem in Utah before 1900. Pony Express came and riders were furnished from Utah. Then mail stage came from Missouri to California, but they were losing money on the ponies and the mail stage stopped running. It cost 5 cents to mail a letter across the United States.
A telegraph company put poles as far south as Payson in 1866. Larger towns had telephones. On March 18, 1875, schools were dismissed in our area to view the appearance of the first train in Payson that came from Salt Lake City. Salem was not on the railroad line, however, in 1916, the Orem Railroad was extended to Payson through the heart of Salem. Several trains a day went from Salt Lake City to Payson.
We as kids stood on the tracks on the bridge that ran over the pond in front of Lew Christensen’s home. The engineer would laugh at us and pull the whistle on the train as we jumped in the pond. The station was where Joy Walstead used to live.
My Aunt Flora sold tickets at this station. This later became a beer hall and finally a home. If we had a quarter we could ride round trip from Salem to Payson for a dime, go to a movie for a dime and buy a nickel treat.
Now we did this on Sundays. No one told us we could not see a move on Sunday. Of course, they were wonderful movies which we dreamed and lived in. We attended Sunday School in the morning, a movie in the afternoon and Sacrament meeting at 7:30 in the evening. These train tracks ran right down Spanish Fork Main Street. The whistle was a distraction during high school. I’m sure the planners wish it were still in operation with all of the traffic today. There was a beet dump west of Lew’s home for the train to pick up beets to take to the cannery up north.
Automobiles and trucks were making transportation better and faster. Along with transportation comes communication which makes life much faster and easier. In 1900 there were two telephones in Salem. One was on the north porch that Beverly Davis lives in and the other one was in Chris Nelson’s home on the East Side of Salem.
I remembered these as a way of calling Dr. A.L. Curtis in Payson. He would come in his horse and buggy to the homes and delivered the majority of children born in Salem at that time. I was one of them. In 1860 after the hardships that the early pioneers faced, they began to think of schooling for the children and also a place to hold public meetings. A one room log cabin school was constructed with one teacher.
In 1868 this was replaced by a bigger log cabin located near the present downtown school. Children before that time were taught in a teacher’s home and this was referred to as a “Subscription School.” Payment was made with money, if available, but more often with whatever could be bartered, such as meat or produce, for the teacher’s services. The boys were responsible for bringing in the wood and coal, lighting the fire and keeping it going during school.
The girls were responsible for washing and cleaning the wooden benches and desks and keeping the school room clean. Additions to the school came along later. A Relief Society Hall was built. These were the only two public buildings in Salem. The Relief Society Hall stood where the fire station stands now. It was used for church socials, parties, other various entertainments and for civic gatherings. The subjects taught in school included Mormon doctrinal material. Then it was later changed due to contention between the Saints and the Gentiles.
Another school was built on what is now 8800 South and 1 mile east of the highway. It was called Oliverville School. This was built in 1892. It had board benches and a potbellied stove. All grades were taught together with one teacher. This housed the students on the east side of Salem. About 20 families lived on that side of Salem.
From before 1879 to 1972 there were 21 teachers plus principals over these schools. Now we are many school and many teachers and many principals. In 1906 to 1907 the modern school building with two stories and several classrooms was built.
Later on a gymnasium where sports, spring festivals, plays, graduations, etc. were held and above it were classrooms, a shop and a place for home economics to be taught were built. Students in this school went from 1st grade through 8th grade. The 8th grade graduation was a day time activity. The whole town came and brought their lunches and participated the same way as they would for a celebration.
In 1908 an annual commencement exercise for all of the Utah County schools was held. It went from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in American Fork. There were a total of 390 graduates – 20 from Salem. This graduation moved from town to town until schools could hold their own graduation ceremonies. This old school was town down to make room for the beautiful elementary school that stands today.
Discipline in school was quite severe. If you were a disruptive student you had to stand in the corner, facing the wall or hold out your hand and the teacher whacked it with a ruler. However, a case came before a court about a teacher charged with battery against a person.
An arrest was made and the defendant was brought into court and pleaded not guilty. The trial was set and the jury consisting of 6 men stated that they have examined Melvin Snow’s back. The principal John I. Hayes and Martha Christensen, a teacher, testified on behalf of the defendant. Principal Hayes was recalled and stated that he had instructed A. S. Curtis, the defendant, to whip if necessary. Counsel for the prosecution opened the argument followed by counsel for the defense. The jury went out and in 18 minutes came back with a verdict of not guilty.
David A. Sabin came to Salem from Payson. He was a good mechanic. He made nails and was awarded a Silver Medal at a fair for his nails. He purchased the lower swamp land below the Salem Dam and built a second dam which backed up the water and formed a pond to float logs for sawing. A water wheel was built and then a new sawmill.
Salem also had a post office, store, saloon, dance hall, mill for grinding flour and chopping feed and several other buildings before 1900. All of these building were near the second dam.
James P. Christensen came home from a Scandinavian mission in December of 1907 and contemplated marriage to Effie Stone considered making a livelihood. Effie’s brother had leased a store and later he and Jimmie purchased the store and named it The Salem Mercantile Company or the Salem Merc, as we all knew it.
Along by the Salem Merc in my day was the post office. Martha Tiffany was the Post Mistress. There was a show house where Beatrice Davis and Royce Stone played the piano for the silent movies. These were great. A barber shop owned by Reed Davis was next to the show house. The one and only church was across the street from the Salem Merc. This was Main Street.
Jimmy had the best penny candy ever. He would hold the small children up to help them make a selection from the boxes of penny candy. Emma Sabin and Jewel Peterson, clerks, would say he spent too much time with these little kids. When people paid a bill, they always got a quart of good, old-fashioned hard ice cream.
There was also a Reuben Hatch Store east of the Salem Merc. Later in 1940 the Mel Hanks and Sons Store where he sold groceries as well as furniture opened. This was a great store and is still operating to this day but is selling furniture and appliances. Shirl Hanks is the owner and operator of the original Mel Hanks and Sons store in Salem. His brother, Vaud Hanks, has a furniture store in Springville. Mel and Nelda Hanks would be proud of their sons.
Salem was a typical dance town. Ole Soren, my grandfather, with his first wife, a Hennings girl, with fiddle and organ furnished music for the groups to dance. Later Ole Soren, Charles Olsen and Jack Olsen another group of musicians played dance music for years.
There was also Home Dramatics. Plays were put on every so often. My mother and dad acted in these plays. A Salem quartet with Short Christensen, Walt Briggs, David Hanks, my dad, and Ray Sabin sang and went all over the valley to sing. They were famous!
The men who planned and managed our city from 1886 to 1961 numbered 22 men. From 1961 to the present, I am not sure.
The lower Salem foot bridge was a necessity before it became an actual bridge. This shortened the walk to school and grocery store for everyone who lived west of the Pond. It is located down near the elementary school.
It would be unfair not to mention the weather which the pioneers complained about most bitterly. The poor roads, the shacks, shortage of bedding and warm clothing, few if any rubber boots, short rations of food, and the lack of machinery to clear roads and walkways, poor stoves and little coal were the challenges of living in Salem in that era. Salem had then as today few days in the year when the temperature went above 90 degrees and below zero in the winter.
Salem or Pond Town also enjoys a mine far on the east of town. A historical fact is that the diggings were started in 1894. The location was seen in a dream by a man we know as Bishop John H. Koyle. That is why it is called the “Dream Mine.”
Extensive shafts and tunnels have been blasted. A $600,000 flotation mill of white concrete has been constructed. Several homes have been built. Some homes have been lived in almost continuously from the time they were built until today. But as yet no ore has been shipped. But if it should turn out as foreseen in the dream, it will be one of the richest mines in the world. It is now known as the relief mine.
Let me tell you a little about Bishop John H. Koyle. One Sunday coming home from Church he said to his wife, Em, “You know I could believe in the supernatural part of our religion and the scriptures like that man preached tonight if I could only have some experience or manifestation of my own for a testimony.”
Em told him, “The speaker said that anyone could get a testimony if he would only pray about it.” John repeated, “That’s fair. I’m going to give it a good test. Goodness knows I don’t have much of a testimony now.”
So John prayed again and again but nothing happened. Another sermon taught him that he should not only forgive everyone else, but he should always seek forgiveness for his own sins before ever expecting the Lord to heed a prayer.
In his first dream he saw his cow that had been lost for several days. She had wandered into a lower field and gotten into trouble and had a broken horn that was in her eye. He saw this and then a voice came to him and said, “If you find your cow at this place tomorrow, will you believe that the restored Gospel is true?”
John replied, “Yes, sir.”
The next morning he told his wife where he would be able to find the cow and he did. He later served a mission because the voice again asked if he would go on a mission and he said yes. On his mission he also dreamed of many things taking place here in the valley. He would write these things to his wife. She would then write back and tell him that what he had dreamed had happened.
His reputation as a gifted dreamer had become very well established while he was serving his mission because of the dream he had of saving the life of J. Golden Kimball who later became a general authority. The dream was that a mob of irate men were bent on capturing the lanky, red-haired missionary and putting him to death on the spot.
Because of the dream they escaped out the back of the place where the meeting was held. John and J. Golden Kimball were friends forever after that. J. Golden always defended John when he got into trouble with the church because of his dreams.
In late August in 1894, John claims that he was visited by an exalted personage from another world. He was attired in white and radiated intelligence. This angel conducted him in the spirit to the mountain. At a certain spot they entered without resistance into the stony formation of the mountain itself. The visitor talked freely and explained the different formations to John as they went through the mountain. He was told of the procedure where he was to enter and how many feet, etc.
He was led into a vast body of gold ore containing large caverns which had been mined out years ago by a banished people of an old and ancient civilization. They had left mute relics in the form of implements, ornaments, artifacts and one entire room was filled with gold coins and vases about three feet high which were sealed in underground rooms.
The angel also showed Bishop Koyle other treasures and a large number of sacred engraved brass and gold plates. These underground chambers were now revealed for the first time to this man of destiny.
John was to open this mine but now by way of the old tunnels. John was still just a farmer and as impressive as this wonderful with this angel was, he knew nothing about how to operate a mine. No peace came to him until he relented and made up his mind to accept this divine calling.
So the mine was started high up on the east and south side of the mountain. On September 17, 1894, John gathered five friends with a grub stake, tools and equipment. They organized into three shifts around the clock, two men to a shift. Long years of arduous toil as the mining shaft sank along the cream colored leader and the various and unusual formations were encountered as he had been told. Contrary to most mining camps, the men learned to pray together and cast off whatever bad habits they had and they led much better lives.
On March 4, 1909, the koyle mining company was organized with 114,000 shares of stock.
The Mine seemed to have a magnetic attraction for men to work for stock rather than money and three shares a day was given. My father was one of these miners that took stock instead of money for his day’s labor. He hated to come home at night for fear they would strike ore before he got back to work in the morning. They worked for 20 years and the shaft had been sunk 1,400 feet. This was a tremendous task to raise the muck up out of the shaft. The practical thing now was to go into the side of the mountain and make a new tunnel.
John dreamed of the exact place for the tunnel. He told his 25 perplexed miners that we are to go in straight as an arrow about 3,000 feet. We will strike water and we must make a small ditch to carry the water out and this water would also be used for drinking. And so this was done.
He then was visited by two men in a dream in gray clothing and they said they were two of the three Nephites and that he was doing the right thing with the mine and to be very patient. In the meantime, the mine had been closed by the Church, but these two men said that it would be permitted to be opened again.
The mine had been closed for six years and during this time Heber J. Grant became President of the Church. Due to some financial business he told the mind operators that the Church was no longer interested in keeping the mine closed. The mining company owed a debt to the Spanish Fork Co-op, a Church affiliated store, and so the debt was paid off soon after the mine was reopened.
John Koyle did eventually become Bishop of the Leland Ward. He had many dreams. Some were rapidly fulfilled and others need time to be fulfilled. The refining mill was built in 1932 as you see it on the mountain side now. Ore and dirt went through the mill but not enough ore to be worthwhile.
The Koyle Mine established a corporation on March 4, 1909, given a charter for 50 years. On March 4, 1959, this charter expired. A new corporation was formed on April 14, 1961, and registered as the Relief Mine as it is today.
Now a brief synopsis of families. Thirty families on the west side of the Pond all lived on Loafer Street. Some of these family names were Christensen, Beddoes, Sheen, Jackman and Killian. On the east side of the Pond 90 families lived. Some of these family names were Christensen, Davis, Taylor, Tohlman, Hanks, Tiffany, Cloward and Nelson. The names of these families and children can be found in the Salem, City of Peace, report.
Polygamy was even practiced in Salem. There were three families that we knew of. When I went to Salem school, I was related to almost all of the kids.
I’m a Hanks and my ancestors are from Norway, Denmark and England. My grandfather, Frances A. Hanks, came from England. He fulfilled two missions in the Great Eastern States. He also sent three of his sons on missions, one of them was my father, David. David served in New Jersey. Marion D. Hanks is the son of Alfred D. Hanks, my grandfather Hanks’ brother.
My grandmother was Matilda Sheen Hanks. Her parents were bom in England. My grandfather, Ole Soren, was born in Norway in 1842. He came to America at 12 years of age and he was a drummer boy in the Civil War. His parents settled first in Minnesota where he grew up and married. Two of Ole’s children, Theodore and Ida, were born in Minnesota. His first wife was a Hennings. They probably joined the church in the East and came to Salem with the Hennings family in 1870. Theodore was killed in an accident in Wyoming. Ida married Uriah Taylor and moved to Blackfoot, Idaho. Olivia, the third child, married a Reece and moved to California.
My grandfather, Ole, was a carpenter by trade and helped build the Salem Church. After burying his first wife, Ole married Soren Christensen’s daughter, Mary Annie, and they had seven children. They are Clara married Raul McQuivey, Alvin married Lillian Barney from Lake Shore, Effie married Clarence Boshard from Provo, Maud married Humbert Prince of Salt Lake City, Donna married David Hanks of Salem (my parents), Floyd married Emily Payne from Provo, and Flora married Leonard McKell of Spanish Fork.
Ole Soren passed away in 1902 in Salem and Mary Annie died in 1936.
David R. Taylor moved here in 1875. His first Church position was President of the Mutual in 1877. Later he was the second counselor to the president of the teacher’s quorum. He taught school in Salem for one year and then four years in Wayne County and then went on a two-year mission for the Church. He was called to be Bishop of the Salem Ward in 1888 and served 22 years. Our Bishops don’t serve that long these days. Then he was president of the Town Board.
Ray Davis was born in Salem on December 5, 1886. He was counselor of the YMMIA and also counselor in the Palmyra Stake Presidency. He was the bishop of the Salem Ward for 12 years from 1929 to 1941. He was the mayor of Salem for 8 years and he also started the Salem Park.
The Primary was organized November 20, 1879. The Young Women’s Retrenchment Society was organized in 1875. The name was changed to Young Ladies Improvement Association. Relief Society Presidents served for as many as 10 years at a time. By 1960 there had been 16 Relief Society Presidents in Salem. There have been many more since then.
There are 14 wards and 2 stakes currently exist in Salem.
Salem has changed so much. Look at us now. We have Church building, gas stations, restaurant, small businesses, recreational leagues, house developments,equipment to remove snow, paved roads and even sidewalks. We are a big city. But we still don’t have a grocery store. Should I get on the mayor for this.
I’ve loved living here all of my days. I’m thankful for my grandparents, my parents, my husband, Ralph, my daughters, Becky, Cathy, Mitzie, Terry and Kally.
I’m also thankful for my 24 grandchildren and 12 spouses. I have 10 great grand children. My girls grew up here and I know they will always have Salem in their hearts. There is an old saying, “You can take the girls out of Salem, but you can’t take Salem out of the girls.” They all have that good, small town attitude. It’s a wonderful city now. There’s a wonderful feeling of love for everyone.
Let’s all get to know our neighbors and let’s be one happy family as we once were in Pond Town. Let’s continue to make Salem the City of Peace.