Submitted by Keith Lawrence

Santaquin, first settled in 1851, was originally called Summit City because it was laid out near the crest of the mountain divide between Utah and Juab valleys. Its name was changed to Summit Creek in 1853. With its plentiful water, fertile land for farming, and abundant groves of trees for firewood, fence posts and cabin logs, it was an attractive site for a settlement.

Benjamin Franklin Johnson

Leading the first pioneer settlers was Benjamin Franklin Johnson, who later led out in establishing Spring Lake. Benjamin Johnson became friends with Guffich, leader of the local band of Timpanogos , and the two developed a lasting trust. Nevertheless, when the Walker War broke out in mid-summer 1853, the Saints of Summit Creek were required—at the direction of Church leadership—to move to Payson Fort for safety. Many of the men returned to their farms at Summit Creek in 1855 and began constructing a fort. When it was completed in the spring of 1856, women and children rejoined the men. About this time, as Myron Olsen relates, a dramatic event occurred:

“One night, Guffich came secretly to warn Johnson of an impending raid by young warriors, including his son, Santaquin. The settlers quickly left, and when the raiders found the fort deserted, Guffich explained to them that the white men were good people and that the Great Spirit had warned them of the attack. It is alleged that, from that day, peace was made between the local Indians and the “Mormon” pioneers.’”

Johnson had only been home from his Hawaiian Mission a matter of months, and he always considered it fortuitous that he was available when Guffich sought him out. The event clearly entailed a lasting heritage for the community beyond the important peace it brought. The people of Summit Creek determined to rename their town Guffich in respect for his friendship, but when he was told of the decision, he politely refused the honor, requesting instead that the settlers name their town for his son.

A short time later Benjamin Johnson began his efforts to establish the new community of Spring Lake. Meanwhile, the citizens of Santaquin began in the late spring of 1856 to build a schoolhouse of rock, which served as both school and church for many years. It was not until 1896 that the first Church meetinghouse was completed at Santaquin.

By the late 1870’s Santaquin had a number of businesses including two sawmills, a molasses mill, and a flour mill. There was also a small silk industry nurtured by mulberry trees and a furniture shop. Following the Tintic mining boom, ores—including copper, zinc, lead, and silver—were discovered on the Santaquin Ridge.

Now a city of 13,000 residents Santaquin is home to a diverse mix of commerce, horticulture and agriculture.

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