[ Auto history Part 1 ] [ History ] [ Cache ] [ Towns ]
THE EARLY YEARS OF THE AUTOMOBILE IN CACHE COUNTY
By Larry D. Christiansen
One of the best documented sightings of a new horseless carriage in Cache County can be found in Oliver L. Peterson’s diaries in which he recorded under the date of May 12, 1901, that he “Saw the first automobile pass through this place.” The view was from the Petersboro area of western Cache Valley, and very likely the new vehicle was from outside the county. Other observations were made and it is known by a newspaper article that Mr. and Mrs. LeRoi Snow drove their automobile from Salt Lake to Logan in early July of 1904. By August of 1908 Peterson’s diary recorded: “The number of automobiles through here increasing.” There remains some doubt as to when the first county resident owned one of the new modes of transport. It may have been in 1902 when Robert Murdock, the controversial postmaster with entrepreneurial ambitions, had an automobile with a one cylinder gasoline engine. The newspapers noted several visitors to the Cache County with automobiles, and among them were Bishop C. W. Nibley with O. C. Boebe, cashier of Zion’s Saving Bank and Trust Company, who left Salt Lake City heading for Logan in October of 1909. It was reported that the men took their shot guns along hoping to bag a few geese along the way. About the same time Mr. Samuel Newhouse, a Utah entrepreneur and mining magnate, brought a party of friends from Salt Lake to Logan in his automobile to attend a party given at the University club. One way or the other the automobile attracted attention and soon some local residents came to own the new machine. One of the early owners or operators was James Hobbs, who headed a music company in Logan. However, the vehicle was supposedly owned by the music company and the shareholders in the business were suspicious that the vehicle was not a necessity and initiated a law suit to check the economic stability of the music company in 1907. There exists an old photograph of Roy Cardon of Logan taken in Logan Canyon and estimated to have been taken in 1910 showing Cardon with his Simplex Touring car. It has been guessed the model was a 1908 Pathfinder of the powerful and well-built luxury car, therefore Cardon could have had possession of the car between 1908 and 1910. However his name does not appear on the first automobile register. It is known that Emamuel E. Colpin, the Smithfield druggist, bought an automobile at Salt Lake City from the Sharman Automobile Company, mistakenly reported in a newspaper as a two-cylinder Maxwell runabout on April 28, 1909. Four days later the same company delivered a Reo model 1909 automobile to Smithfield for an unidentified owner, who proved to be Mr. Colpin, in spite of falling snow and muddy roads. 1
Possibly the closest thing to an extravaganza in Logan took place on Monday, September 7, 1908, when a combination of Logan business men, the Cache Valley Commercial club and a political party planned a large “Boosters” excursion to the “City of North” (Logan). With extensive publicity and fanfare an excursion train was to bring hundreds of visitors from the southern area to Cache, and to ensure all went according to plans, three representatives of the hosting contingent were to travel aboard the excursion train which left Salt Lake a few minutes before 8 a.m. The train with seven passenger cars left Salt Lake with 450 passengers, a stop at Farmington added another forty, at Ogden a hundred more and an addition of two more cars to the excursion train and at Brigham City thirty-five more boosters. Still thinking more could be done, one of the Cache groups dispatched a committee of ten to travel to Brigham City to meet the excursionists with printed programs of the day’s events and to ride into Logan with the large body of visitors. All went well with the scheduled plans until the group sent to the Peach City arrived (presumable by train) a little late and found the excursion train pulling out destined for Logan. A wild scramble ensued as the belated committee telegraphed Logan of their dilemma of arriving late, making them stranded until the next northbound train, forcing them to miss the formal greeting, luncheon and planned activities of the grand day. Those stranded at Brigham City quickly sought automobiles to take them by road to Logan and secured a couple of cars to do this. In Logan the planners sent Horace Nebeker, a local lawyer and political activist, “to rescue the committee in time for” the luncheon and later activities. The two automobile parties making haste in different directions met half way in Wellsville canyon where those east bound piled into Mr. Nebeker’s vehicle and probably at least one more car speeding towards Logan. When the visiting “boosters” on the excursion train arrived at the Logan depot, they found vehicles (primarily horse drawn with a few autos) waiting to take them to the Utah Agricultural College where lunch was served and they were shown around the college. The late committee “reached Logan by autos while dinner was being served.” The big meeting took place in the Logan Tabernacle where greetings, music and talks were given. After which, according to the newspaper, “Then driving and automobiling (sic) parties were formed, and several hours were spent in seeing Logan and its surroundings.” Again both horse drawn vehicles and automobiles were involved as there were not enough automobiles in Cache County to handle all of the transporting. 2 But surely nearly all the automobiles of the county that could be gathered were in Logan on September 7, 1908, and the name of Horace Nebeker included with the other automobile owners listed above.
In 1909 the State of Utah passed legislation requiring all owners of automobile to register their vehicles with the secretary of state’s office with the registration beginning on May 11, 1909. Before the end of the year six Cache County owners registered their vehicles with an assigned number which they were to display upon the rear of their vehicles which did not have to be renewed. Those owners with their assigned number, name, residence, make of car and filing date were:
248 - Geo. F. Thatcher – Logan, Utah – Oldsmobile – May 26, 1909
587 - Seth A. Langton – Logan, Utah – early June 1909 *
601 - Emanuel C. Coplin (sic - Colpin) – Smithfield, Utah – Reo 1909 Model – June 18, 1909
615 - E. P. Bacon – Logan, Utah – between June 18 and June 21, 1909 *
626 - Horace G. Nebeker – Logan, Utah – E.M.F. – June 21, 1909
671 - Roy E. Rudolph – Logan, Utah – Buick – July 5, 1909
* NOTE: It can be verified that Langton and Bacon initially registered in 1909 according to a listing of auto owners published in February of 1910, but in the only dated records available today (on microfilm for 1909 through 1915) it shows each man using his original number recording a second car — Langton a Buick on June 15, 1914, and Bacon a Haynes on June 21, 1914.
Some of the early owners became dissatisfied with their first machine and soon improved their vehicle or possibly gave up on the automobile for a period of time. As a case in point, George F. Thatcher’s first Oldsmobile was light in weight and power. By mid-June of 1910 he had a new Oldsmobile with high wheels, a toy tonneau and much more powerful. A Salt Lake newspaper reported it as “one of the classiest cars ever shipped into Utah.” Within six weeks, Thatcher set a new record for hill climbing and “mountain autoing” by driving it from Bear Lake to Logan via the right hand fork of Logan Canyon over “the roughest canyon roads known in this country, due to so many steep and difficult dugways.” In addition Thatcher in June of 1910 wrote to the Utah Automobile club, that was most active in the Salt Lake and Ogden areas, that Cache County was taking measures to put its roads in good shape and before the summer ended would have “several courses which any community in the west might be proud.” Then in behalf of “the motorists of Cache county,” Thatcher invited the automobile club to schedule a run to Logan to see what the roads were like, and if they did “they will be shown a royal time.” George Langton, the twenty-year-old son of Seth A. Langton, was operating a 1909 Cadillac by April of 1909. Another automobile (an EMF or Everitt, Metzger and Flanders) operated by Leonard Krogie of the Schaub Machine Company by 1910. The same year, Mr. A. M. Fleming, a cashier at the First National Bank of Logan, and his wife used their automobile to transport their Omaha guest to Salt Lake so he could return home. Then the Flemings drove back to Logan. Surely there were a number of others that could be added to this listing and ownership extended into the rest of Cache County as well. After the first six Cache County automobile owners cited above, the state register of owners shows the next registered owners in Cache County as follows(with their assigned number, name, residence and filing dates): #941 to Dr. I. S. Smith of Logan for his Velie filed April 7, 1910; #1101 to Joseph J. Jensen of Logan for his Studebaker EMF filed May 31, 1910; #1192 to Peterson Brothers of Petersboro for their Cadillac filed July 9, 1910; #1199 to Joseph Quinney, Jr., of Logan for his Cadillac filed July 8, 1910; #1208 to Henry Davidson of Hyrum for his Studebaker EMF filed June 20, 1910; #1215 to Norman G. Allen of Wellsville for his Ford filed July 27, 1910; #1220 to E. L. Larson of Logan for his Studebaker EMF filed August 2, 1910; #1221 to Eugene Johnson of Logan for his Studebaker EMF filed August 2, 1910; #1242 to George W. Thatcher of Logan for his Studebaker filed August 24, 1910; and #1245 to George F. Thatcher of Logan for his Oldsmobile filed August 24, 1910. 3
On June 4, 1910, the Deseret Evening News under the title of “Epidemic in Cache” included a short quote for the Logan newspaper of a day or two earlier with this assessment of a local problem: “The poverty-stricken farmers of Cache Valley are acquiring automobile habit at a rate that can but be gratifying to the dealers.” Whether the judgment behind the negative evaluation of the situation in Cache Valley was right, wrong or in-between, the newspaper was correct on seeing that the new mode of transportation was now becoming more readily accepted by the valley’s residents. 4 In this contagion in northern Utah were a group of brothers helping operate a large dry farm and cattle ranch in Petersboro—half way between Mendon and Cache Junction. The proof of their involvement was cited above and recorded in the Utah State register of car owners as holding certificate #1192 issued to the Peterson Brothers for their Cadillac after they registered on July 9, 1910, for the right to operate their machine on the streets and road of Utah. In most cases we know too little of the early days of automobiles, however in this rare instance we have one of the most documented and detailed accounts of this family getting an automobile, caring for it, progressing through various stages in adapting to the new age of mechanized individual transportation.
Some necessary background information on the family and their various operations might be helpful. Peter Peterson and his wife had a large family of seven sons, and they operated a large dry farm and cattle ranch. After living in Logan a short time, Peter set up his farm at Petersboro in the late 1870s and established his home and expanded his operations. In time his sons—by name Oliver and Edward (twins born in 1879), Lee (born 1880), Fred (born 1883), Willard (born 1886), Miles (born 1887) and Jesse (born 1887)—became involved in their agricultural enterprise. All of the brothers except Willard and Jesse were almost totally engaged, the latter two were either in school or primarily working at other professions. A few years later their family farm/ranch was incorporated as a family business at Petersboro under the name Peterson Farm & Livestock Company. One of the sons, Oliver Larsen Petersons would keep a daily diary for several decades and his multi-volumes were filled with daily activities of family members, farming operation, chores, seasonal occurrences such as livestock care, plowing, planting and harvesting. Equipment maintenance and repairs were not forgotten or the putting up of ice during the cold winter for the following summer. The comprehensive coverage includedthe many facets of the Petersons’ way of life, beliefs, various activities, recreation and other ventures. For good measure the diaries incorporated weather reports to specials events such as viewing the return of Halley’s Comet. This source provided the information even on their automobile, how it was used, cared for and maintained.
The family engaged in raising and selling livestock, sold lucerne, wild hay, grains, coal and possibly ice. Through their influence and providing land for the project, the railroad put in a spur at Petersboro primarily to collect the grain grown in the area, but at this spur the Petersons brought in railroad car loads of coal and sold it. Their numerous activities and interests necessitated much movement between the home base at Petersboro and the Logan (where they also owned a home) business district, along with Mendon (mail, groceries, church and relatives) and the main railroad center at Cache Junction by several members of the family. The boys bought bicycles and used them to get around in their multiple activities and pleasures, and one of the sons purchased a motorcycle in 1909 and eventually the family had three. Their location was four miles north of Mendon and four miles south of Cache Junction and five miles west of Logan. At the time when the automobile came into their lives, four of the five sons most actively engaged in the farm/ranch operation were still single and living with their parents at the family home on the farm with married son Fred with his wife and child living in Logan at the family home. Fred had to travel to and from Logan to the farm almost every day and return, and someone in the family made daily trips to Mendon for the mail. With all of this, the family had a wide range of interest beyond their farming that included political activities, service for the local school district, community interests, some efforts in behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Mendon and sports at the Agricultural College at Logan. They took time to attend the theater or events such as the circus, races, football and baseball games. Their interest in the new mode of transport came naturally and they readily accepted it.
Now, in brief form, is the story of their automobiles from Oliver’s diary. He dutifully recorded the first automobile he saw in his area of Cache Valley on May 12, 1901 with just eight words: “Saw the first automobile pass through this place.” Seven years later in August of 1907 he recorded: “The number of automobiles through here increasing.” His observation focused more on the vehicles on April 24, 1909, when he wrote that one of his brothers had a ride in a 1909 Cadillac as a courtesy of George Langton. He observed three weeks later that he saw two automobiles driving by way of Benson towards Logan, and on March 21, 1910, two of the Peterson brothers had a ride in an E.M.F. in Logan by Leonard Krogie of the Schaub Machine Company. At the same time, some of the boys were avid readers with wide interests ranging from improved farm equipment to the automobile. By Tuesday April 5, 1910, the family made the decision that it was time to buy an automobile and they undertook to do it in a planned manner and division of labor much as they cared for their farm and ranch. Fred, married living in Logan, would go to Petersboro to help his father with the chores, two of the youngest brothers were still in school, leaving the examination and actual purchase of the vehicle to the four other brothers—Miles, Lee, Edward and Oliver. On the day cited they went by train to Salt Lake City to buy the family’s first automobile. They arrived in the city about noon and secured a room in the Wilson Hotel.
Then the four brothers went to State Street to the Sharman Auto Company and checked out the “famous Reo 30” and rather quickly concluded this vehicle made a “better appearance on paper than in the garage or upon the road.” They had lunch and resumed their search of the car best for them. They went to West Temple Street to the Utah Auto Company and looked at the Cadillac 30 and took a demonstration ride up to Fort Douglas and around the city. While checking out the vehicles, only the Reo 30 and Cadillac 30 were mentioned, but they could have looked at others. Whatever, they were the most impressed with the Cadillac, and this was long before this make of car had achieved any special status. The brothers attended a concert in the Tabernacle that night and on Wednesday morning the 6th were back at dealer’s place. They took another test run in the Cadillac up to Federal Heights and then went down to the Oregon Short Line Railway deport where they saw a railroad car of autos being unloaded that included three Cadillacs. Returning to the dealer’s establishment, they went into serious discussion on the details of purchasing an automobile. Before 4 p.m., according to Oliver’s diary, they “bought a 'Cadillac 30' Model 1910 touring car $1900, equipped with 5 lamps (2 gas, 3 oil); horn, speedometer, storm curtains, etc. etc. (We also bought 2 extra inner tubes, one casing, tire chains, carbide, oil, tire case, amounting to $76.05 extra, total $1976.05.” But contrary to many new owners, it would not be an immediate start for home; besides being late afternoon, the brothers were treated to an evening at the Mission Theater courtesy of Mr. E. N. Sadler, apparently connected to the Utah Auto Company (Utah Motor Company). Tomorrow would be the day to return home to Cache County with a significant addition of a new automobile.
On Thursday, April 7, 1910, the four brothers and their new Cadillac left Salt Lake City from the dealer’s place at “10:34 sharp” with a Mr. Joy at the wheel. It remains unknown if Mr. Joy was a chauffer-instructor courtesy of the motor company or if the Petersons paid for this service. The five men arrived in Ogden at 1:17 p.m. where Edward and Oliver remained while Mr. Joy accompanied by Miles and Lee continued the journey northward. The occupants of the car stopped at Brigham City for gasoline and dinner, experienced a flat tire and then resumed the drive and arrived home (at Logan) between 5:45 and 6 p.m. It was never explained if the brothers took a turn at driving during the trip or if they rode and learned how to manage the operation of an automobile by instruction and observation. Upon their arrival home they gave “the folks” a ride and put up the auto for the night at Logan. The two brothers who stopped at Ogden later came home by train to Petersboro.
The brothers in Logan on Friday, without Mr. Joy, drove around Logan and took their younger college student brother for a ride up to school in the new car, which the diarist thought “a rare occurrence.” In the afternoon Miles and Lee drove over to the Petersboro farm and gave several persons rides in the new vehicle. While there were chores and other work requiring their attention, much interest remained with the Cadillac with a close physical examination including taking the car down to the scale at the railroad spur and weighing it at 2,925 pounds. A few more rides for friends and family were squeezed in on Saturday. The next day, Sunday, the family took a team and wagon into Mendon to pick up a big order from the Continental Oil Company of Ogden that included a fifty-five gallon tank of gasoline. This Ogden company would be their supplier of gas for some time to come until it could be obtained at Logan, and besides the Cadillac, the Peterson’s possessed a boat with an engine and other stationary engines that required gasoline. While their new automobile had only been out of the dealer’s hands for three days with perhaps a little over one hundred miles on it, they decided to clean it up on Sunday afternoon after their chores. Two friends came by and were given a ride and gave their “ok” of the vehicle. Then four of the brothers drove into Mendon and gave “all the relations a ride”. A week after taking possession of their new automobile, the four brothers who did the buying worked on their Cadillac. Miles and Edward installed the speedometer while Lee and Oliver repaired an inner tube which had punctured a week earlier near Brigham City on the trip home.
The Peterson’s Cadillac with right hand drive was not the only automobile in the area, as Oliver’s diary of late May recorded other autos passing through the area daily. They were becoming familiar with and getting used to their machine, and learning of associated happenings that came all too often—flat or punctured tires and traversing bad roads. On July 30th it was recorded that they cleaned the vehicle and inflated the tires to 82 pounds of pressure (the first pneumatic tires were pressurized to between 50 and 85 pounds per square inch). The following day four of the brothers “overhauled” the car, tightening up bolts on the gear housing of the rear axle. During the first six months of service the Cadillac made numerous short trips to Mendon, Logan, Cache Junction and Trenton along with travel to various locations on the farm, specific fields, the boat house on the river, etc. Then on October 9th three of the brothers and two ladies (close friends or relatives) started on what they called “the longest trip the auto” had made to that point on a trip to Pocatello, Idaho; the 98.2 mile journey started at 8:35 a.m. and took until 7 p.m. Neither the trip up nor the return trip was denoted with vehicular troubles, and the diarist was not present on the trip. On December 6, 1910, the brothers put their vehicle into winter storage in the east end of their barn. They drained the water coolant and jacked the car up and took the weight off the tires just like all the other automobiles they knew about, thinking their open touring car was not made for winter weather. Two and half weeks later they had some thoughts of a different nature as the ground was getting dry on the surface with the roads becoming smooth where they thought they “may be able to use auto if weather holds good for a few days longer.” On December 29, 1910, Oliver’s diary entry stated: “Ground getting dry (freezing dry) can run the auto to town quite easily if we want to, but we don't.” Thus their automobile remained in storage for the rest of the winter.
Each spring the Petersons with their teams dragged the county roads in their area so they could be better traveled, and in March and April of 1911 they again performed this community service. In addition another spring ritual came into their lives—preparing their automobile for resumption of family use. For 1911 it began in early April with one of the brothers removing the “auto lamp and took out lens to replace with new ones.” A few days later they moved the Cadillac from the east end of the barn to their machine shop and worked on repairing the tires and fixing the top. On April 29th they “cleaned engine on auto” and the following day Sunday they cleaned the vehicle. May 1st three of the brothers drove their car to Logan to see the horse show and returned to Petersboro. The following Sunday four of the brothers worked on the vehicle making it in “good shape for a trip to Logan.” By May 18th two of the boys began preparations “for grinding the valves on the automobile engine.” By May 21st the “greasy tiresome job” of grinding and cleaning the valves was finished. On May 25th the car was driven to Logan and the four brothers worked on repairing the Cadillac, and on May 28th they cleaned the brass on the automobile and painted the cylinders of the engine with aluminum paint. The spring preparation along with the many other needs of the farm caused the brothers to decide to create a new lean-to structure for the storage of the vehicle and work commence immediately on it. Their automobile was thereafter used for longer trips to Lagoon Resort and Ogden Canyon plus an excursion into Box Elder County through Garland and Fielding that encompassed 128 miles, along with the small trips to Mendon, Trenton, Logan and quick trips to various places on the farm such as to the river for swims and bathing. In mid-July they had to replace the front right tire with a new one and then vulcanized the old tire in some places where it had been deeply cut. The tires and inner tubes were in need of frequent attention. The process of vulcanization was done with an apparatus wherein they placed a rubber compound into the cracks in the tire and then applied the apparatus which used heat (earliest models used a fuel such as gasoline and a match) to vulcanize the tires and some repairs of inner tubes.
Their automobile was used in the annual trips to Box Elder County for fruit. Apparently they had no further problems with the automobile until mid-October when three of the brothers removed the rear axle and wheels and the housing around the rear pinion gear. Here examination revealed the rear pinion gear had four teeth “about half broken out.” They ordered a new pinion gear which came via the railroad which arrived and was replaced within five days of the discovery. Once again the auto was back in “running shape.” While being thus repaired, they also greased the springs of the automobile. The local Democratic Party of Cache County asked Miles to haul voters to the polls on November 7, 1911, but a snow storm prevented the use of the automobile. The Cadillac was in winter storage and on December 9, 1911, they probably repositioned the vehicle and put it up on blocks, taking all weight off the tires and drained the water from the radiator. The diarist recorded “the auto has been in this place for about 2 months.” But only the last month being intended storage as if the snow hadn’t come, it would have been used to transport voters.
The 1912 season would be the third year for the 1910 Cadillac used by the Petersons. The pre-use work on the vehicle started earlier this year, possibly, because it was in a facility where it was easy to access. In mid-February they began working on it, cleaning, grinding the valves and cleaning and polishing the cylinders. Their work extended to the carburetor, magneto and “inlet and exhaust pipes, etc.,” and by February 23rd their inspection “found it in fine condition.” The next day they commenced reassembling the automobile engine with some work on the vehicle in between the regular chores and work on the farm. They sewed a mica window in the back of their automobile top while Edward continued his work or invention of a tire protector which would be mentioned often and was written up in a magazine but nothing more found on this invention except it was installed on the Peterson’s Cadillac. By March they were also engaged in dragging the county road with a level or drag pulled by their horses to improve the roads. On March 13 Oliver’s diary stated: “Mud slick! Slick Mud! Hell! Damn!” Off and on through March there was attention spent on the car, when on April 8, 1912, it came time to start the engine which “went off on the first crank.” Four days later the brothers were vulcanizing the auto tires noted with the observation “the vulcanized works fine and is a big money saver,” and this continued for several days. On April 19th four inches of snow fell and the next day another six inches came but the final work of preparing the vehicle (a “big job”) was finally through. On April 24th the diarist observed that Edward’s “new tire protector on the auto wheel looks fine.” They took the car out of the shop and ran it around their place on Sunday morning April 28th, and in the afternoon took their first trip of the year into Mendon.
Just over two weeks later on May 14, 1912, the brothers drove their auto into Logan to attend a meeting of “Cache automobilists for the purpose of organizing an auto association.” The diarist termed the meeting a “fizzle,” but three of the brothers were given a ride in Mr. George F. Thatcher’s Oldsmobile Limited car in the evening. By this third year the Petersons were noted for their knowledge and work on automobiles and many came or called them for information and assistance. Erastus Yonk came for a run down on the Cadillac and a test drive, and the Ricks brothers called for their help in starting a balky E.M.F. car. Oliver’s diary is no longer as specific in the way of travel to and from the various locations whether by animal, walking, motorcycles or automobile as he was initially. He mentioned they drove to Logan to take in the Wild West Show, and later went to Logan via Benson Ward because the grade on the lower road was wet, therefore slick. The trip to Logan was so the brother attending college could haul visitors from the railroad depot up the Agricultural College. The Petersons bought a “Big Four” gasoline tractor and began doing much contract plowing with it. In the late fall the diary tells of putting the big tractor into winter storage but not the automobile. The tractor was fixed up for winter on December 2nd and two days later the diarist wrote: “Ground dry, dust flying behind autos, team, etc., 51 degrees above zero at 2 p.m. today in shade.” It remains unknown if the Petersons’ vehicle was kicking up any of the dust mentioned in the diary entry. However, the Petersons and others were becoming more comfortable with their automobiles, and over time they chose to have their vehicles ready for use whenever the weather and roads permitted their use. Therefore the earlier winterization was modified to the point that when wanted the vehicle could with a minimum of work be made available for driving.
For the 1913 season of using the Cadillac, the preparatory work again began in February with the first effort in vulcanizing auto tires for other people and then their own tires. While the diary doesn’t detail work on the Cadillac, some probably took place as before. Two of the brothers were engaged in dragging the county roads. On April 29, 1913, Miles drove up to Cache Junction in the automobile to get a few hundred pounds of flour. The following day he drove the automobile to a friend’s or relative’s to get a few bushels of barley. Only for Sunday May 11th were any specifics related in the diary such as on this day three of the brothers cleaned and oiled the automobile, and then Edward drove into Mendon to pick up a number of relatives and drove over to Garland for a visit. On May 22nd four of the brothers drove over to Logan to attend the circus (“or see the crowds”). On June 18th another trip to Brigham City to get cherries and returned via Mantua and Wellsville canyon. There were numerous short trips to Mendon, Logan, Cache Junction some without mentioning the mode of travel. In mid-August they started purchasing their gasoline in Logan instead of Ogden. In late September they installed an improved Preso-Lite lamp on the Cadillac. In October diarist Oliver married and lived in Logan where another married brother resided. These two needed to go the farm and back almost every day to help their three unmarried brother with the farm and ranch work. The 1910 Cadillac was the family-business car and was seldom used to transport the two Logan-residing brothers to and from the farm, instead they relied on rail transport, motorcycle and occasionally walking.
In October of 1913 there was work and repairs on the automobile during the first part of the month, and then on October 31st they “examined the rear axle on auto and found it in bad condition owing to a few broken parts, and unfit for further use until repaired.” Three days later three of the brothers removed the rear axle and examined the damaged gear and confirmed that the Cadillac could not be used until repaired. They ordered a new part and after its arrival they reassembled the rear axle on December 15, 1913, and then tested it by an evening trip to Logan. Oliver’s diary records the putting away of their farm machinery and going to the river and bringing their “launch to put away for the winter,” but nothing was recorded about putting the automobile away for the winter.
On January 3, 1914, the folk at the Peterson farm received a telephone call from the Ogden hospital that their father, who had been operated on recently, was in critical condition. The folk at the farm telephoned those in Logan and they hired an auto to carry them to the farm. One brother remained on the farm to do the chores and four traveled by train to Ogden, arriving after their father's death. Later on February 3rd they began using wagons instead of sleds in their work about the farm. By mid-March they were using their car, and Oliver recorded in his diary for March 20th: “Many autos passed through this locality this p.m. roads getting quite good.” By early May Miles, the brother who had the first motorcycle and was almost always in on any work on the family auto, decided to get his own automobile. On May 6th he went with a man named Kimball in an automobile to Salt Lake City to buy a vehicle. By May 10 he had a 1914 Buick Roadster 24, and this vehicle in the diary is almost always referred to as Miles’ car. On May 30, 1914, diarist Oliver left the farm and went to Logan on a motorcycle around noon. He and his wife went to the Cache County Fairgrounds along with his brother Fred, wife and son. They saw the auto races “a big crowd, hundreds of autos, thousands of people” at the “Decoration Day” celebration. With two automobiles being used by the Petersons, the diarist kept track of them by calling the Cadillac either by name or “big” or “large car” or “our” car or automobile, while Miles’ vehicle was the Buick, a Roadster or Miles’ auto. Initially Oliver was fairly precise in detailing which vehicle was used, and there were times when both were in service at the same time. Most of the travel dealt with short trips. On October 9, 1914, brothers Edward and Miles, in the latter’s car, traveled down to Salt Lake City to the State Fair and took in some airplane and auto races with “Barney Oldsfield & Lincoln Backey” at Lagoon. The automobiles were noted as being used through November but not mentioned during December. Apparently the weather guided the autos use, and diarist Oliver paid attention to the weather; in late December he noted that the 27th was cold down to two degrees above zero but by the 29th the weather was quite mild and for the 31st it was “a quiet pleasant day a little cold.”
In 1915 the Petersons were in their sixth year with automobiles; and like the more venturesome fellow automobilists they continued to expand the time period during which they used the vehicles. January’s snowfall was light with an inch and a half to two inches early in the month, causing the family to use sleds in feeding their animals but the auto for several trips. January 26, 1915, three of the brothers were in their shop attempting to repair the radiator on the family auto. No details were given on the trouble with the radiator, leaving the possibility that without anti-freeze and winter use the radiator may not have been drained quick enough to prevent some freezing damage to the small thin tubes of the radiator. Apparently the problem was not severe as the following day Ed drove the Cadillac to Logan on a pleasant day with mostly sunshine with the snow melting. For some automobilists the days of jacking their vehicles up for the winter were over and road conditions governed the usage of their vehicles. On March 17th Miles went to Logan in his automobile and got stuck in the mud at the west side of Logan and had to be pulled out. He stayed in Logan overnight and the next day returned to the farm via another route through College, Wellsville and Mendon to avoid the “mire in the road” west of Logan. A couple of days later, Fred went to Logan in a cart pulled by horses, perhaps due to the road conditions. Oliver in his diary mentions repairs to the Cadillac and getting it “in running condition” several times as well as work done on the motorcycles for the same purpose. Through all seasons the farm and ranch operations kept the family occupied with the daily work and chores, however Sunday, although much work was accomplished on this day, was the biggest change wherein there seemed to be some spare time. Taking a Sunday drive with the family took place fairly frequent. A recorded example of this came on Sunday, April 25th when one of the unmarried brothers in the Cadillac picked up the two married brothers and their families in Logan in the afternoon and drove out to the family farm at Petersboro for a few hours of visiting, and then returned to Logan where they rode about town for about three-quarters of a hour.
In May the brothers did some work on the family automobile such, as “varnish, enameled, etc. auto,” and put a nickel finish on the brass parts and filled the vehicles oil lamps. The mechanical skills of the brothers were usually sufficient to take care of their machines, but in the summer of 1915 Oliver’s motorcycle proved a severe test and was out of operation for an extended period and finally taken to another repair facility. During this summer Oliver mentions traveling to Logan most often with his brother Miles in the Buick Roadster, which again became struck in the road mud going to Logan. For several weeks the local newspaper had heralded a coming event of the Liberty Bell passing through Cache Junction en route to San Francisco where it would be featured in the Great Trans-Pacific Expedition honoring the 400th anniversary of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific Ocean. The huge bell would be transported on an extraordinary car on a special train with strict security and timetable. On July 10, 1915, the train with the bell made short stops in Ogden and Brigham City before making its only stop in Cache Junction at 6:25 p.m. for its fifteen minute stop. Diarist Oliver didn’t go to see it, but Lee, Miles and Fred with his wife and son went to see the sight. Besides the bell they saw “hundreds of automobiles filling the valley with dust.” The Cache County sheriff anticipated a crowd of 3,000 but afterwards it was guessed it was closer to 8,000. A newspaper reporter counted the automobiles at the event and came up with 356, which a later commenter observed was “probably the majority of the automobiles in the entire valley.”
Whenever possible they continued to operate their automobiles, perhaps stopped more by muddy slick roads than anything else. The diarist recorded for Sunday, Nov. 7, 1915, “roads very muddy, we were compelled to put the tire chains on the auto wheels and then we were unable to move faster than about 6 or 8 miles per hour.” Throughout his diary Oliver mentioned the use of tire chains many times in connection with muddy roads which he often described as “greasy.” December 4th, he related the “Roads very greasy, not many autos on public roads by here.” He inserted a note at the top of his diary page “Both autos are in Logan,” an unusual situation perhaps caused by road conditions. On the last day of 1915, Oliver and Lee got the family auto ready to carry Fred’s wife Emma and baby to Ballard Junction (the Benson cutoff about half way from the ranch and Cache Junction) where they could catch the train to their home in Logan. Oliver's wife Neveva and their baby had gone to the Haws ranch east of Newton on December 24, 1915, to spend the holidays with her family. On Sunday, January 2nd, Oliver rode the train from Petersboro to Cache Junction and then walked via the railroad track to the Haws place east of Newton some three to five miles. The following day the Haws’ family carried Oliver, Neveva and the baby to Cache Junction in their automobile. At the junction the Petersons boarded a 5 p.m. train for Logan via the Benson cutoff, arriving home in Logan about 6:15 p.m.
A couple of days later the Peterson brothers began harvesting ice from the Roundy slough and placing it in their ice house at the farm. While engaged in this work, Dr. K. Campbell mired his automobile in a wet low place on the county road near the Peterson’s gates on the railroad crossing. Fred went and pulled the doctor out, but the diarist’s didn’t reveal this was done with a team. But the weather soon shut down all automobile traffic in the county with a heavy snow with much drifting to the point that the interurban cars were stopped for a time due to the snow drifts on January 18th. Two weeks later the heavy snow came with fifteen inches in one day with up to twenty on the ground at Petersboro which stopped the trains and the interurban in early February. The Petersons used a sleigh, riding the train or walking to get their mail at Mendon or travel to other points. By mid-March the Peterson family used the auto for short trips in their area due to the muddy road after the snow melted. By April 5th they had a caller, Mose Dahle, with trouble with his vehicle having a pinched tire and the brothers helped him. Most often the calls for assistance came from persons whose vehicles because stuck. The prospects brightened as the “Road getting dry lots of auto passing everyday,” according to a diary entry. The Petersons called a veterinarian in Logan to come out to Petersboro to doctor a very sick cow, and he came in his automobile. More often and important were calls for Logan doctors, who in their cars came out to perform their services.
With the coming of spring, one of the Ecklund brothers from Newton came to the Peterson place on April 4th selling some “carbon remover auto polish.” The salesman made his sell and a week and a half later he delivered the carbon remover to the Petersons. Nothing more was found in the diary as to whether it worked or not. In May of 1916, Miles worked on his Roadster, changing tires and making sure it was in good running shape. The Cadillac had an axle problem and after getting an axle from Logan two of the brothers repaired the family auto axle, and by early June they were again working on the Cadillac, apparently the water pump. The highlight of the year 1916 came in July when Oliver moved his family to the old Maughan house at Petersboro, ending his dreaded exile in the city, returning to a country life he loved. Another high point came on August 24, 1916, when a party of Utah County farmers "numbering nearly two hundred came to the farm in forty-three autos.” The diarist thought it was "a red letter day for the farm." Two of the brothers showed the visitors about the place, who were interested in its varied enterprises and how it was operated. These visits by farmer groups came quite often with some returning annually to see the Petersons’ setup and operations. The family Cadillac found frequent use carrying gas, oil and other supplies to the big tractor and for the threshing crew, but on September 4th the big car stopped on the road. Three of the brothers took the Buick out and towed in the big car. Two days later after a brother had worked on the Cadillac, it was still out of commission and then the Buick "went on the blink,” and they did not know what was wrong with either car. However, a week later both were back in use again. By this time Fred had built a home near his mother's home, and Oliver was living a mile away; there was seemingly constant need of someone going to Mendon, Cache Junction and Logan for the mail, groceries, something for the farm, personal items, school district business, charities and etc.
Finally, Oliver bought a car for his family, a new 1917 Model T Ford. Brother Ed brought the car from Logan on October 26, 1916; its first use came the next day when brother Lee took the school teacher and Fred’s son Conrad to the school house. On October 29th, Oliver and his family took their first ride in their new Model T, traveling to the Haws farm east of Newton with brother Lee as chauffeur. For Thanksgiving many of the extended family was invited to the Farrells’ place but perhaps due a cold snap Oliver couldn’t get his Model T started, so they resorted to the old ways and went by team and wagon. By December 7 there was four inches of snow on the level ground with temperatures down to zero, resulting in using horse drawn power on sled boxes and sleighs for a short period of time. Then the weather eased a bit and on December 17 Miles with his Buick made a couple of trips to Logan and went to Mendon for the mail. A few days later the snow returned in full force that by Christmas buried the area in two feet of snow which Oliver noted was the “heaviest for many years.” The snow and drifts put all the Oregon Short Line trains late and those that moved had two locomotives on each train. Taking advantage of the deep snow
two of the Peterson brothers decided to hunt coyotes which were troublesome and found the depth of snow advantageous since it greatly hindered attempts at escape. On the last day of 1916 Miles walked to Mendon to get the mail and returned on the seven o’clock train to the Petersboro spur and traveled to Logan and back via the trains. Winter continued and in February it became worse with cattle and horses starving and freezing to death, according to the diarist, by the hundreds in northern Utah and southern Idaho. By February 20 the blizzard of snow with severe wind blocked the tracks for the O.S.L. and the Ogden, Logan and Idaho interurban trains for two days. Oliver wrote in his diary noted he had shovel out 600 feet of pathways four times due to the snow and drifting. It definitely was not favorable weather for the automobiles.
But spring did come along with the usual period of muddy roads and driving with chains. An important change came when Oliver began teaching wife Neveva to drive their car. While the diarist didn’t give details the learning involves handling the braking, the interplanetary transmission with the three pedals, the hand throttle and spark advance levers, steering and starting the vehicle. By 1917 many of the cars came with electric motor starters but not the Model T. So the instruction process had to include this element which was generally thought to prevent women from operating hand-cranked machines. Neveva had grown up on the Haws’ farm and after she and Oliver moved to Petersboro, she raised chickens, took care of the garden and normally did the milking of their cow or two kept at their place. She learned that the low compression Ford engine during periods when it wasn’t cold could be cranked without brute physical force with proper adjustment and a coordinated short turn of the crank. On July 6, 1917, Neveva made perhaps her initial run accompanied by her two children going to Mendon in the Ford and did some shopping; Oliver’s twin brother Ed accompanied them. This run was followed five days later when Neveva drove the Model T to Logan and returned about four o’clock and upon reaching the lower main farm where she remained for an hour or so to allow the engine to cool off. The engine had overheated due to the drain plug in the gear case coming out through being loose. She had experienced no other problems and had the wisdom to let the engine cool down before traveling another mile to her home. On July 24th, Neveva with her two children and two sisters-in-law were out shopping and had a blowout on one of the car tires. A telephone call to the farm brought a quick response and the four brothers converged at the scene of the trouble; the ladies and children were taken home while three of the brothers replaced the tire. Thereafter, Neveva was an important part in the transportation of the Petersons. She cared for her children, home and her chickens and cows, and much more. She frequently took her sister-in-law Emma (Fred’s wife) to get the mail, groceries and other shopping or running errands. Oliver’s diaries note many of the times Neveva picked him up from one farm location and drove to another, or brought him home saving at least a walk of a mile after his day’s work. Judging from the diary entries it would appear that Neveva made many more trips in their automobile and covered more miles than her husband.
In the latter part of the summer of 1917 Miles Peterson was taken into the U.S. Army due to the world war. At Fort Douglas he had a physical and vaccinations, then to New York State for training and finally shipped to France in November. While Miles was in the service, the family hired another person to assist in the farm work and chores on a regular basis. Initially Miles’ Buick was used by others in the family, but either this stopped or the diarist did not record anything on this vehicle. Instead there was mention of several acquaintances or neighbors trading in their first cars for larger or “DeLuxe” models with visits from salesman trying to interest the Petersons in the same upgrading. However, the Model T continued in service and seemed to be used for or by others in the family quite frequently. Perhaps in part due to his infrequent driving of the Ford, Oliver related a November 22, 1917, problem he encountered with it. The previous Sunday the 18th he had taken his wife and children to the Haws’ farm and after dinner he left Neveva and the children for a few days. On the 22nd Oliver drove over to the Haws’ place and had a good breakfast and started home with the family. On the return trip the Ford engine gave trouble in overheating which the diarist acknowledged was due to his forgetting to close the pea cock valve where the oil level was checked. This allowed some oil to splash out and with the trip to the farm and back enough had escaped to the point that the engine overheated. This was a frequent problem for Model T operators, perhaps second only to trying to start the Model T when it was cold.
Oliver complained in his diary on January 21, 1918, that he spent most of the morning attempting to start that “celebrated ‘Ford’ engine” and concludes it was one “hell of a job” before getting it to run. Sunday, February 10th, Oliver walked the mile to the lower farm to do chores and returned to his house for dinner and again went through the trial of trying to start the Ford engine which required two hours. With the Ford running, he and family drove down to the lower farm and visited with the folks. Two days later he experienced the same trouble, and after some unsuccessful cranking he decided to try something else. He brought in a team hitched to a sled and tried to start his car in gear by compression via pulling it around the yard only to observe in his diary that the “engine was too cold for gasoline to vaporize.” However, he found that the pulling facilitated it so the engine could be more easily cranked and started by hand. With the Ford running, he drove his wife and others to the Petersboro siding where they boarded the train for Logan. While Oliver’s family remained at the Haws home in Logan, he took another approach to starting his Ford in cold weather. He was frustrated with the difficulties of starting his Ford in cold weather to the point of trying another technique, and it remains unknown if he came by this on his own, or heard or read about this method. On February 15th, being home alone, he arose at 5 a.m. and made a fire and put a boiler of water on the stove “to be used in warming up the ‘Ford.’” Prior to this time, the engine coolant water was drained out when the car was not to be operated for a period of time. When wanting to use the car, cold water was put into the radiator before attempting to start the vehicle. They were not using any anti-freeze prior to this time. At 6:30 a.m. he began warming up the Ford by pouring in the heated water into the drained radiator. Now after the hot water was poured in warming up the engine and by 8 a.m. he had in his words, “the engine actually running” in a short time. Allowing the Ford engine to continue running, he shoveled a road from the storage garage to the road and milked their cow, and then at 9 a.m. he started his trip to Logan with the car engine thoroughly warmed. He had dinner at the Haws home with Neveva and the kiddies, and then he spent an hour in the business part of Logan, and returned home alone in mid afternoon. He made fires in his kitchen and parlor and then drove down to the Petersboro Spur and picked up his wife and children, returning home in the warmth of a closed train car. Thereafter Oliver frequently used the heated water technique to start his Ford in cold weather.
In between a host of activities such as Red Cross drives, Liberty bond drives, German measles breakout, “hellish weather,” and influenza the automobile was used often. It also received care, as there were things such as springs that broke and Oliver found it wise to regularly clean the spark plugs on his car. There also continued the parade of tire problems and getting the car stuck in the mud. However, the next important learning experience came in December of 1919. On the 5th of the month Oliver took his family to the Haws’ farm east of Newton and after lunch and a short visit, he returned home by himself. Three days later on the 8th he set out to bring his family back home. On that morning he did the usual chores, and then “warmed up a tea kettle of water, gave it to the Ford as an inducement to start without much cranking.” Starting for the Haws’ place he had no difficulties with the road and was soon traveling east of Newton crossing the creek and ascend the “long hill” when the engine stopped. He cranked it up again and it ran a few seconds and stopped, and he repeated this until the car wouldn’t start. By now he decided the difficulty was a combination of low level of gas in the tank and in ascending the hill which prevented the gravity feed from supplying fuel to the carburetor. He walked back into Newton and was able to procure three gallons of gasoline and returned to his Ford and poured it into the tank. But on the cold day with the temperature not much above zero, he found the engine was too cold to start. So he walked back to the nearest house (home of John Jenkins) and was able to obtain a tea kettle of hot water and returned to his vehicle. According to his diary, he “was compelled to drain [the radiator] as the bitter cold N.W. wind was freezing things up.” He poured in the small amount of hot water and started the engine, realizing he had an insufficient amount of coolant water for his car. Most likely he turned around and drove back to the creek and “carried a bucket full of water and refilled the radiator” and returned the tea kettle to its owner. Oliver was by this time now suffering from the cold, his fingers and hands were numb, and his right ear was frozen and swollen to twice its natural size. In his diary he wrote that he could not remember ever suffering “so intensely from the cold nor for so long a period during life.” The morning trip had turned into an ordeal, and it was 3:40 p.m. before he had everything ready to continue in the Ford, but he decided it was risky to continue so he “turned around and sailed for home.” Within three miles at Cache Junction he was forced to replenish the water supply in the radiator. Instead of going directly to his home at the upper farm, he stopped at the main farm pulling the car in a shelter and drained the radiator as the temperature dropped below zero. At his mother’s home where two of his brothers lived, he or they tended to his hurts, gave him something to eat and a ready warm place to sleep. He was disappointed in not being able to get his wife and family back home, and he knew his automobile had some problems.
The next day after breakfast he walked to his home on the upper farm and did the chores and returned to the main farm afoot. He poured hot water in the radiator and started the Ford intending to take it to the upper farm but found the snow crusted to make it better to leave the car where it had been parked overnight. With the temperature at six below he drained the radiator. The cold wind continued to blow and the temperature dropped to eleven below zero. Due to the cold weather and possibly the feared condition of the Ford’s radiator, Oliver waited several days before taking a team pulling a sled with a wagon box with an enclosure for people and picked up his family and returned home. On Sunday, December 21st, he went through the process of putting hot water in the radiator, starting car, driving to his home on the upper farm and draining the radiator. The next day he went through the ritual of starting the Ford and left early for Logan, finding that with a “very leaky radiator” had to refilled twice on the short five to six mile drive. He took the Ford to a repair garage to have them work on his radiator. About seven hours later he picked up his car to drive home, wondering if he could reach home without trouble, which he did. Over the next few days he used the car around the farm and mail trips to Mendon. On Sunday, December 28th, Oliver and the whole family planned to drive the one mile down to the main farm, and while he did not detail the process he recorded it took “about two hours preparation” before they drove that mile. Some of that time involved pouring a small amount of hot water into the radiator and starting the car, then finish filling the radiator with cold water and allowing the car to warm up sufficiently to run smoothly. On the last day of the year 1919, Oliver drove his car to Logan and took it to the Cache Auto Company garage “to have the radiator filled with a non freezable solution good for 20 deg. below zero--water 1/3 and alcohol two thirds, it doesn't freeze, but evaporates rapidly, and is therefore quite expensive.” Now the car was winterized more than ever before but anti-freeze did not solve the difficulty of starting in cold weather. However, it gave greater flexibility and put an end to draining the radiator when the car was not to be used in cold weather for a period of time. At such times, the operator could turn the crank a few times to see if the car would start before applying a modified assisted starting procedure, which involved putting a bucket under the radiator and draining some of the coolant allowing room for adding hot water to warm the engine and then starting the engine. After the engine was running the radiator was refilled with the coolant caught in the drain bucket. Unless previous drained coolant was used in the acquiring the hot water, there would have been a surplus of the drained coolant and some alcohol added to maintain the required anti-freeze level.
After a decade of automobile experience, the Petersons were using their automobiles to a high degree, finding many advantages over animal powered transportation. The later model automobiles improved and many wanted the new features along with individual transport. On January 9, 1920, Ed and Lee Peterson bought a new Dodge automobile, perhaps signaling the end of their family car arrangement with their decade old Cadillac. Five days later the brothers took the Cadillac touring car from its normal storage place and moved it into their shop to make “a truck out of the chassis, by adding a Graham truck attachment to it thereby making a first class 1 ½ ton truck.” So the Cadillac-Graham truck, as it was sometimes called, became the farm’s truck with Ed and Lee’s Dodge kept where the first car had been sheltered. Miles had returned from the armed service in April of 1919 and used his Buick Roadster until May of 1920 when he traded it in for a new Nash Roadster with six cylinders. Oliver and Neveva retained their Model T and spruced it up a bit a couple of times. Then in early 1924 they bought a new Buick which had an electric starter and Oliver noted in his diary it was a “real car.” However, they retained their old Model T Ford, the flivver or jitney that Oliver had sometimes wrote harsh words about in his diary, for service at the farm. Henry Ford’s wonderful Model T would continue its long factory production for another three years, and individuals continued using their Model T's seemingly forever.
Source: Oliver Larsen Peterson diaries – 1901-1909 as background and 1910 through 1924 for the information on their automobiles. The holograph diaries of Oliver Larsen Peterson are in the Manuscript Collection in the Special Collections & Archives at Utah State University at Logan, Utah, contained in 37 volumes plus some loose papers covering the years from 1895 through 1951. Digital copies are in the Bear River Watershed Historical Collection by the Utah State University under the title of "Oliver Larsen Peterson Diaries.”
For details on the Liberty Bell at Cache Junction see Brooks & Leona Roundy & Esther R. Heaps, Cache Junction; Cache Valley's Only Railroad Town (2004), 109-110.
THE AUTOMOBILE AT NEWTON
Six miles north of the Peterson farm and cattle operation and on the west side of Cache Valley another automobile came on the scene a little over six weeks after the Peterson’s Cadillac. The public announcement of the event came in the local news of the Logan newspaper on May 31, 1910, as follows: “The first automobile to go into Newton is a Studebaker E.M.F. 30 sold to E. L. Larson.”5 The name was spelled with the wrong ending as it should have been “Larsen,” and he might have been better known by as many people in Logan as in Newton where he was residing on his farm east of town. It might be well to give a brief background on the family. Erastus’s parents were born in Denmark, joined the Church and emigrated to Utah. His father was Rasmus Hansen Christensen using the Danish patronymics instead of surnames and after Rasmus arrived in America he changed his last name to Larsen. He married Maren Kirstine Peterson (known as Mary) in December of 1865 at Logan where the family continued to reside. The father was a cooper (maker of wooden cask and barrels), and the new family was found on the 1870 census at Logan with a three-year-old son Erastus and a year old daughter Amanda. Apparently Rasmus never owned farm land, just city lots. A decade later for the 1880 census the family remained at Logan, with father Ramus at age 40, wife Mary at age 38 with son Erastus at age thirteen attending school along with two younger sisters, Amanda (age 11) and Emma (age 9) also at school and youngest sister Ida at five at home. Two children had died young before the census was taken. Rasmus was active in his Mormon Church and in October of 1887, he left Logan and his family to serve a mission to Scandinavia for his faith. He traveled by train to New York City, by ship to Liverpool, England, and by streamer finally to Copenhagen, Denmark; by November, shortly before his forty-eighth birthday, he was assigned to work in the Randers branch. While on this mission he became acquainted with several leaders from Logan that he mentioned in a small book he kept. Whatever else happened on his mission remains unknown, but by the time he returned to Utah he was determined to enter into “the principal” (plural marriage) at the height of the federal government prosecution of polygamists and within months before plural marriages formally ended. In 1890 the Mormons issued the “Manifesto” finally conceding to the government’s demand to abandon polygamy, but what appeared in print and on the surface had some strange and puzzling side events. While some highly secretive plural marriages continued even in Cache the most common practice was to continue “the principal” outside the United State with Mexico perhaps the choice place. Therefore, Rasmus left for the Mormon colonies in Mexico where he married a second wife on August 13, 1892, and he probably had limited contact with his first family in Logan. The Mormon colonies in Mexico were targets in the long Mexican revolution which caused their exodus in 1912. Rasmus brought his second family to Logan in August of 1912 where his first wife lived, and both wives died in 1918 with Rasmus living another ten years. 6
At the time his father left on his mission, Erastus L. Larsen, born at Logan in 1866 and at age twenty-one, was responsible for the care of his mother and her younger children. On January 12, 1889, perhaps near the time his father returned from his mission, son Erastus filed to purchase the eastern half of the northwest quarter section of section 21 of Township 13 North, Range 1 West of the Salt Lake Base and Meridian survey. These eighty acres were located just east of Newton and outside the town limits just over a mile according to the survey map. Erastus received the patent for this land on October 2, 1891. Just over a year later Erastus married Valeria Andrews at Logan on October 25, 1892. While a shack or cabin possibly was erected early on the farm, the Erastus L. Larsen family’s orientation was primarily on Logan, where both had lived and had family. Until a more substantial house (yellow brick house) was built at the farm, Erastus and his family probably resided in Logan much of the time with perhaps summer stays at the farm location. But with time the ranch became their home place and nearby Newton their community. They were in the Newton precinct outside the town’s limits and for church, groceries, mail and social functions it was where they came, and therefore their automobile was also Newton’s first. 7
Just over half a century later as Newton was soon to celebrate the centennial of its founding for a planned history marking that anniversary, a series of interviews were made of the older Newton residents regarding the old days. Among those interviewed was Mrs. Eva Petersen Benson and to the queries as to who had the first automobile in Newton, she responded that it was either Erastus L. Larsen or Fred Fredricksen. Furthermore, she related that when the early automobile came the people wanted to see them, especially the kids, and they could hear the vehicles coming from some distance and they would run to the nearest road or street to catch a close glimpse of the passing car. Eva had her first ride in the Erastus Larsen car when she was around ten, as she and her family rode home from church a few times in it. She described her first experience riding in the car as “like gliding on air.”8
Erastus Larsen was a farmer at the age of forty-four when he brought the first automobile to his Newton precinct residence in late May of 1910. The best proof and confirmation of this claim to being the first automobile in the Newton area comes from a law the state passed and put into effected in May of 1909, which required every owner of an automobile to register his ownership and the vehicle with the state’s secretary of state for a small fee that allowed the vehicle’s use within the state. Two months after acquiring his automobile, E. L. Larsen so registered as the owner of a Studebaker E.M.F. on August 2, 1910, giving his address as Logan. It was not surprising for Erastus to give Logan instead of his farm address due to his presence and connection with the larger community. The 1910 census clearly shows he resided in the Newton precinct outside the town’s limits, and the next state automobile registration took place in 1915 and Mr. E. L. Larsen registered the same E.M.F. automobile with his address cited as Newton, Utah. Under the state law Erastus was assigned the number 1220 which he was required to display at the rear of his vehicle in block letters four inches high and one-half inch in width whether painted directly on the car body or on something such a piece of metal or leather and fastened to the rear of the vehicle. Larsen was a bit tardy in registering as an owner with his vehicle as the law allowed a grace period of ten days, but given the distance from the registration site at Salt Lake City the two month delay was not unusual. 9
The curious thing about this first car was the fact that it came two years and four vehicles before what became a common folklore claim of Newton’s first automobile. In the series of interviews with elderly residents of Newton during the 1960s to the question of who had the first automobile in town some fifty plus years earlier, most responded that Pearl Jenkins was the first. While there were some who couldn’t remember, among those most positive of whom was first, three named examples will be mentioned. Archie Jenkins, long time teacher and later principal at the Newton elementary school, both in classroom discussions and a much later interview in 1968 maintained that Pearl had the first car and cited examples of things Pearl did that attracted much attention with his car. Elizabeth Ecklund, who would have been in her early to mid twenties when the first car came to town, maintained that Pearl Jenkins had the first automobile in town. She related that he bought a second hand car from one of the Thatcher brothers in Logan. She recalled the vehicle had a top with canvas side curtains, and it made quite an impression as the citizens watched the machine in wonderment, but the horses were sacred by it, especially the large cars like Pearl Jenkins’. Miss Ecklund, when interviewed was in her eighties, and she added that Erastus Larsen had an early car and her brother Emil Ecklund bought a used Rio with a starting crank on the side and the small car had a tiny gas tank so small that her brother carried a gallon can of gasoline on every trip in the car. Emil took about 45 minutes to drive from Newton to Logan. Much later in a letter Maud Barker Jorgensen (born in 1899) wrote: “I remember Pearl Jenkins (my cousin) as having the first automobile in Newton but do not remember who had cars after that.” She reflected that a former resident of Newton, Nephi Nessen, used to return to Newton almost every Decoration Day from Blue Creek in Box Elder County with his family in their car. 10
Those cited above cannot be dismissed with the lift of the eyebrow or the shrug of the shoulder as some family histories claims for they were knowledgeable and solid on Newton early times. To help understand or explain the differences between those claiming Pearl Jenkins was the first with an auto and the documented records, the following scenario might be helpful. First, possibly they made the distinction between Newton proper and the Newton precinct as Erastus Larsen lived on this farm one mile east of the town limits. Moreover, Pearl Jenkins probably made many more trips into and around the town than did Erastus since for two years after he bought his car (1912 when his father returned from Mexico), his orientation was linked strongly with Logan with limited trips into Newton for church, the mail and stores. Lastly, Pearl made his trips whether short excursions within town or into or out of town with enough flamboyance and flair to make some of them unforgettable. His new house was built just north of the public square and within half a block of the two stores and post office, giving him a good central location to be seen by others. According to the interviews, whenever he started his car and went somewhere or returned he attracted attention. In his mannerism while behind the wheel, possibly circling the block instead of driving directly to his intended destination or whatever, he drew attention especially among the younger set and he didn’t disappoint whatever audience he attracted. Recalling from the mid-1960s back to 1910 (for Erastus Larsen or Will Jones in June 1912) or October of 1912 to Pearl Jenkins back over half a century, which memory would be the most vivid? Pearl’s trips were memorable jewels not easily forgotten while Erastus’ were few, short and mundane unless you had your first ride in his automobile.
Sometimes small tidbits can be found in the Logan newspapers, mostly as letters to the editor or article written by a resident giving the news of Newton. One such came from June 4, 1912, stating: “Newton is boasting another automobile, this time the owner being our genial well to do citizen, Will Jones. His car is a beauty, of the E.M.F. 30 horsepower latest model. It is needless to say that Will has now joined the ‘good road’ enthusiastists (sic), for an improvement in our streets would cut down expense contingent with running his auto. Those who are fortunate enough to be in Will’s circle of friends have enjoyed an auto ride the past few days.” The same issue told about Newton’s Dr. Alton meeting with an auto accident as he was going to visit an out-of-town patient the previous week. The Doctor’s car tipped over and pinned him underneath and when rescued, he had a broken shoulder. 11 Dr. Jacob F. Alton, from the Midwest, came to Newton sometime in 1909 and lodged at the small Benson Hotel in town. He was a large man in his forties and single. He came to Newton after serving as a physician in Malad, Idaho, for a time. Apparently he was quickly liked and found some business for his services in the small town, and in December of 1909 the Newton Town Board asked him to serve as health officer in the community and accepted his proposition to charge $2.00 per call in that capacity. When the 1910 census was taken, Dr. Alton was enrolled as single at age 43 residing at the Benson Hotel. In December of 1910 the Town Board accepted and paid his bill for $6 for his efforts at health officer. Then perhaps belatedly the Utah Medical Examiners granted a license to practice medicine in Utah to “J. F. Alton of Newton” in early April of 1911. As best as can be ascertained, the doctor resided in Newton from when he arrived in late 1909 through June of 1911 without any noticeable absence except he went to Nevada in the spring of 1911. It appears that any and all transportation to this point by Dr. Alton came by way of animal power. By mid-June of 1911 there were repeated mentioning that he was considering leaving for someplace else. The source for this information was a local correspondent to one of the Logan newspapers writing the news from Newton. The first episode came on June 11, 1911, as follows: "Dr. J. F. Alton, who has resided in Newton for some time has been thinking of leaving for the west. Since Dr. Alton came to Newton he has done considerable work here and also in the neighboring towns. He has proven himself to be a man of experience along his line, Mr. Alton has the best wishes of the Newton citizens and they hope he will remain and continue his work the same as before."
A week later the news was that the Dr. Alton had left Newton to return to Malad to resume his practice. The Newton correspondent expressed the sadness of the community in losing one who was needed so badly in the town, and wished they could have kept him. However, by mid-October of the same year the doctor returned to Newton with the praise that “Dr. Alton had done considerable work here and also in neighboring towns.” Possibly the doctor was a restless man and very likely there was insufficient business, especially cash paying patient, in the small town, and during his absence he was replaced as Newton’s health officer. The last news of him comes with the June accident in 1912 when he tipped his car over while going to visit a patient. There was no information hinting he had an automobile prior to this tipping over of his car, perhaps he just procured his car hoping to improve his business by using it. 12 Dr. Alton never registered as an automobile owner in Utah through 1915, suggesting he possessed his automobile a very short time before the accident. There has been nothing found on the doctor after his accident.
The most reliable listing of automobile owners in Newton comes from the State of Utah register which became in May of 1909 and carried through into May of 1915. The Newton owners on this listing with their assigned number, name of owner, location, make of car (including factory number, style car with horsepower) and date of registration are as follows, noting the first with a Logan residence as explained earlier:
No. Owners Name – Residence – Make of car, factory#, style, H.P. – Date registered
1220 – Larson, E. L. – Logan – Studebaker E.M.F. – Aug. 2, 1910
2139 – Jones, W. R. – Newton – E.M.F. f# 40715 Touring car 30 h.p. – June 4, 1912
2355 – Haws, D. E. – Newton – E.M.F. f#300593 Touring car 30 h.p. – Aug. 3, 1912
2403 – Rigby, Wm. F. – Newton – E.M.F. f# a31603 Touring car 30 h.p. – Aug. 23, 1912
2508 – Jenkins, Pearl E. – Newton – E. M. F. f#45307 Touring car 30 h.p. – Oct. 5, 1912
2935 – Frederickson, Fred – Newton – Studebaker f#12478 Touring car 25 h.p. – April 29, 1913
3896 – Beck, Dr. W. W. – Newton – Ford f#230863 Touring car 22 h.p. – Oct. 3, 1913
3964 – Beck, M. T. – Newton – Ford f#270056 Touring car 20 h.p. – Oct. 30, 1913
4192 – Christensen, Chris – Newton – Buick f#7429 Touring car 28 h.p. – Mar. 17, 1914
5089 – Griffin, W. H. – Newton – Ford f#419283 Touring car 22 h.p. – June 3, 1914
5430 – Peterson, Andrew – Newton – Studebaker f#4B8740 Touring car 25 h.p. – July 6, 1914
5808 – Christensen, Nephi – Newton – Studebaker f#16869 Touring car 30 h.p. – Aug. 31, 1914
5588 – Williams, T. E. – Newton – Studebaker f#17117 Touring car 25 h.p. – July 17, 1914
6004 – Johnson, A. A. – Newton – Maxwell f#6034 Touring car 25 h.p. – Sept. 24, 1914
6218 – Jenkins, P. E. – Newton – Jeffery f#45219 Touring car 38-42 h.p. – Dec. 2, 1914
6445 – Hansen, James P. – Newton – Buick f#147273 Touring car 37 h.p. – Feb. 24, 1915 13
A quick survey of the above names reveals the follow: D. E. Haws lived in Newton precinct on the east side of Little Mountain; auto owner Wm. F. Rigby remains a mystery unless the widow or family of Wm. F. Rigby, Jr. used the deceased man’s name in registering; Dr. W. W. Beck was a Newton fellow who had just finished his medical training and never lived in Newton while a doctor; T. E. Williams is not known, possibly a new person trying to find a way of living in Newton or employed by the company installing the culinary water system; and A. A. Johnson from the east side of the county was the new principal of the Newton school who quite possibly bought his automobile because of his new position and location. For four of the above persons the time between purchasing their new vehicle and getting it licensed by the state can be determined. For Will Jones and Fred Frederickson it was the same day or within a day or two, W. H. Griffin about thirty-three days and for Chris Christensen half a month. The state was making a concerted effort to force owners to comply with the law. The registration records show that by the end of 1912 there were only five automobiles in the Newton area with one (#2403 the Rigby auto questionable) and by the end of 1913 the total on paper was eight with two probably not present (#2403 Rigby and #3896 Dr. Beck were elsewhere). By February of 1915 the total Newton vehicles on the register came to sixteen but no more than a dozen were traversing the streets and roads in and around Newton. The automobiles were still somewhat a novelty and news worthy for the newspapers. In May of 1913 under Newton news was coverage of Fred Fredricksen purchasing a “late model car” and Mr. and Mrs. Fredricksen and family were driven to Logan “in their new car by the Studebaker demonstrator.” It made the newspaper that George L. Jones “autoed” to Richmond one day in May of 1913, and Fred Fredricksen “motored” to Logan in his Studebaker 25 in January of 1914. When information reached the newspaper or local correspondent that someone had purchased a new automobile, it was relayed to the printed medium, such as Chris Christensen buying a new Buick in February of 1914 and W. H. Griffin had a new automobile in late April of 1914. 14
However, such newspaper reports and checking of the old records can possibly reveal a mystery. One of the Logan newspapers for May 7, 1914, gave some automotive news for the Cache area. The Blair Motor Company had just unloaded a railroad car of Buick automobiles. A man from Preston had recently purchased a 55 horsepower six cylinder Buick and two local men had purchased Fords. Then the newspaper continued with “M. C. Rigby of Newton has purchased a 35-4” Buick, possessing 35 horse- power and four cylinders. 15 Quite routine in 1914 but when compared with the official registration list of automobile owners kept by the secretary of state’s office for the period between May of 1909 and May of 1915, no entry could be found for M. C. Rigby and the Buick purchased in May of 1914. Double checking of the microfilmed copy of the old records revealed in the alphabetical records two Rigbys, one from Lewiston and #2403 for Newton with the name and date not even close. At the time M. C. Rigby was the Bishop of Newton and a prominent businessman, grain buyer, farmer, etc., and his first counselor had recently purchased a new auto and registered it two weeks later. Unless the newspaper report cited above was for a pending sale that never materialize, there are basically two options, either Bishop Rigby did not comply with the law, or somehow his name and vehicle fell through the cracks in the recording of his registration. The latter choice seems highly unlikely since the initial registration number was assigned on a consecutive number basis and followed by an alphabetical listing of surname. If the former, then Bishop Rigby broke the law and continued in non-compliance for well over a year and a half as he finally registered his vehicle receiving license #6047 quite late in 1915 (license #1 was issued in May of 1915 and six thousand and forty-six were issued before his number was assigned).
The Pearl E. Jenkins (#2508) who registered his E.M.F. on October 5, 1912 was the same person as the P. E. Jenkins (#6212) who registered a Jeffery on December 2, 1914. One of the folklore errors of Pearl’s vehicles has to do with all stories and pictures telling of his Jeffery. The dates show he had the E.M.F. first and possessed it for over two years before obtaining the larger Jeffery. It would appear that he sold his first car and bought the Jeffery which could have been a 1914 model the first year of production or the newest 1915 model due to the time of year. Under the first automobile registration law, he could have retained his assigned number and sold just the vehicle or he could transfer both the number and the car to someone else. Perhaps the E.M.F. was the first car Pearl sold as he soon became a dealer or agent selling the Jeffery. The Thomas B. Jeffery Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin, started making bicycles which were named “Rambler.” In 1902 the company started manufacturing automobiles which sold under the brand name of Rambler, and when the founder died in 1910 his son Charles T. Jeffery took over the business. For the 1914 model the son of the founder changed the brand name to Jeffery to honor his father the creator of the company. The production of the Jeffery continued into 1917 when the company sold out completely to Charles W. Nash, former president of General Motors, who formed the Nash Motor Company, producing the Nash automobile. Thus the Jeffery brand existed only from 1914 to 1917.
Because the Jeffery will be featured again in the Newton story a little extra information about his particular vehicle will be given as taken from a 1915 Jeffery sales brochure published by the Thomas B. Jeffery Company:
Specifications for 1915 Jeffery -
Motor--Four-cylinder en bloc, high-speed, high-efficiency, L-head type; 3 ¾-inch bore' 5 ¼ -inch stroke; unit power plant; forty horsepower.
Starting and Lighting--Two-unit, six-volt electric system.
Control--Steering, left side, levers in Center. Jeffery silent "cane" type gear shift. Horn button on top of steering post.
Wheels, Rims, and Tires--Front and rear wheels artillery type, twelve 1 ½ inch spokes; demountable rims; Goodyear fortified tires, 34 x 4 inches; front plain; rear, All-weather tread.
Wheel Base--116 inches.
Shipping Weight--2800 pounds.
Body--Chesterfield type; divided front seats; auxiliary seats fold neatly against front seats and can be instantly removed from body when so desired. Rear seat 48 inches wide.
Equipment--Rain vision windshield, foot rest in tonneau, extra rim and carrier, tool roll, electric horn; electric lighted instrument board on which are mounted speedometer, battery indicator, oil sight feed, ignition and lighting switch, and carburetor air adjustment; headlights equipped with small bulbs for dimming lights; specially designed one-man top, anchored to windshield.
TYPES AND PRICES
Standard Seven Passenger . . . $1,035
Without Auxiliary Seats . . . $1,000
Three-Passenger Roadster . . . $1,000
SEDAN (Top Removable)
Five-Passenger . . . . . . . $1,165
Seven-Passenger . . . . . . $1,200
Prices F.O.B. Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The basic car was an open touring vehicle with an option to add an enclosed “sedan” enclosure that could be secured to the car, thus making the “Jeffery Sedan,” one of the first enclosed cars with the entrance through a rear side door. The sedan body could be easily removed, giving the option of returning the vehicle to an open touring car with a summer top for “pleasant weather touring.” 16
In early 1915 the
State of Utah passed a new registration law superseding the first registration
law which had registered almost 8,000 owners and vehicles over the period from
May of 1909 through May of 1915. The new registration would be for only one year
and would have to be renewed annual with a registration fee higher and based on
different factors. For the first time the registration would include state
issued uniform license plates for each car, one for the front and another for
the rear. The metal plates were white with green numbers pressed into them. The
numbers began with number 1 and went almost to 8,000, and on the far right side
of the plates there would be a small “U” for Utah and underneath a “15” denoting
the year 1915. The cars listed as in Newton on this registry were as follows:
NEWTON CARS – Book 3 – Utah Motor Vehicle Register - 1915
1140 – Jones W. R. – Newton – Studebaker – Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
4089 – Petersen, A. – Newton – Studebaker – Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
4453 – Johnson, Andrew A. – Newton – Maxwell – Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
4460 – Griffin, W. H. – Newton – Ford – Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
5270 – Christensen, Chris – Newton – Buick – Touring 28 h.p. – Pleasure
5318 – Larson, E. L. – Newton – E.M.F. – Touring 30 h.p. – Pleasure
5504 – Christensen, Nephi – Newton – Studebaker – Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
5917 – Fredrickson, Fred – Newton – Studebaker – Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
6047 – Rigby, M.C. – Newton – Buick – Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
7503 – Jones, W. R. – Newton – Jeffery – Touring 40 h.p. – Pleasure
7797 – Jenkins, P. E. – Newton – Jeffery – Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure 17
The new registration reduced the list of Newton cars to eleven, acknowledging that the D. E. Haws family still had their automobile but listed as at Trenton since precinct lines had been changed (later they would change again putting them back in Newton precinct). It changed the Frederickson name on the first list to Fredrickson (with some question remaining as to whether ending should be “sen” or “son”), and this list confirmed that the E. L. Larson (Larsen) on the first list was the same person with the same car as this list. W. R. Jones started early with a Studebaker and ended the year with a larger Jeffery with much more horsepower. Bishop M. C. Rigby was registered and P. E. Jenkins still had a Jeffery but with much less horsepower. Principal Andrew A. Johnson and his wife were living in Newton while he remained over the school. These were Newton corps of “autoists” and more would thereafter join their ranks.
If there was an unofficial leader of this corps, it would have been Pearl E. Jenkins, the son of Moroni and Martha Ann Erickson Benson Jenkins. Pearl was born in Newton on May 5, 1881. The 1910 census for Newton had him living with his widowed mother, and he was recently married with the census listing his occupation of a sheep shearer. He went into Idaho frequently attending to family farming and sheep raising operations, and he built a new home in Newton in 1911 and started a family. He repeatedly took his mother to Bancroft. In the fall of 1912 he bought his first automobile, perhaps a used car from the Thatchers. His E.M.F. stirred his interests into what the vehicle could do to how it worked, and it broadened his horizons. The old-timers interviewed gave enough information about him to give a brief idea of the man and his personality. He enjoyed life and liked to have fun and wasn’t above doing whatever was needed to bring it about. He was somewhat a jokester and perhaps a natural promoter or salesman. To describe him as flamboyant might be a little strong but he was colorful and left a definite impression, perhaps doubly so with his new automobile as explained earlier. 18
Two specific examples were related in the old-timer interviews about Newton concerned Pearl. Probably on Christmas Day of 1912 or 1913, the Newton Ward has holding its annual afternoon children’s dance. To enliven the activities, Pearl Jenkins took his automobile out of the normal wintertime storage, put water in the radiator and removed the blocks that held the weight off the tires. Then he started the vehicle, almost assuredly the E.M.F., and drove to the town square and in some manner caught the attention of anyone close by and the party givers and children, and then he drove his vehicle around the square three times as a crowd gathered to watch the performance. He returned home and put his car back into winter storage, but remained the talk of the town for quite awhile, and memories of this circling the square were recalled by several in the 1960s’ interviews. Possibly in 1916 or the summer of 1917, Pearl was hired by three young men from Newton, who were at least fifteen to eighteen years his junior, to use his new Jeffery and be their chauffeur to take the boys to Clarkston to pickup their dates and bring them all to Newton for a dance, and finally return the dates to Clarkston and the boys back to Newton. Pearl agreed to the arrangement and on the night of the dance he picked up the young men—Alphonso Christensen, Alvin Christiansen and Parley Peterson—and drove to Clarkston to pick up their dates. Alphonso and Alvin picked up their dates and they proceeded to the third girl’s place and Parley went to get his date. Parley returned with his date and she got into the Jeffery, but before Parley could get in Pearl deliberately let the car engine die. Pearl quickly asked Parley to step around and crank the engine, and Parley obliging went to the front of the car and bent down searching for the crank handle in the darkness. At this point with shock and surprise that sacred the daylights out of Parley, the car was started from the driver’s seat by Pearl with his Jeffery’s electric starter. The frightened Parley had reeled backwards in surprised shock. With the car now running, Pearl quipped in Parley’s direction, “You don’t crank this one!” Six persons in the Jeffery enjoyed the fun and hilarity of the moment, but Parley was not pleased with the trick played on him, especially as the incident was talked about during the rest of the evening and recalled for a long time afterwards. 19
Sometime in 1915 Pearl E. Jenkins became a dealer or agent for the Jeffery automobile. The distributor for this brand in the Utah, Idaho and Wyoming area placed large ads in one of the Salt Lake newspapers, with the following typescript of the advertisement in October of 1915:
"The Jeffery Four --Standard Seven-Passenger . . .$1035
Without Auxiliary Seats. . . . $1000
[Picture of a family in the automobile not included here]
New seven-passenger body--divided front seats--extra length springs--
two hundred pounds lighter--the first automobile of its quality, size
and efficiency to sell at a $1000 price.
Distributed in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming by
69-71 West Fourth South Phone Was. 1401.
DEALERS--ALBERT TRACY, Almo, Idaho; MOTOR INN (T.J. Winter & sons),
Rexburg, Idaho; C. W. BAGWELL, McGill, Nevada; P. E. JENKINS, Newton, Utah. 20
There exists a family picture of Pearl in one of his automobiles from a large family album. Pearl’s daughter, Leatha Taylor, permitted Cleo Griffin and the Newton Library to view the family album and copy some of the pictures. Among those copied was the one with Pearl in his car, and Leatha Taylor gave the Newton Library permission to use the picture as they saw fit. Some time later and after the family album was returned, the home (built by Pearl Jenkins) where Leatha and her mother Nettie lived for a number of years caught fire with the loss of the structure, the large family album and much more. Thus the number of photographs of Pearl with his automobiles was greatly reduced, perhaps increasing the importance of those still known. Therefore, a close look will be made of this known photograph of Pearl Jenkins driving one of his automobiles which will be shown below. The photograph was supplied by the Newton Library and permission given the author to use it in this article. The caption on the picture was made by the family of Pearl Jenkins.
Pearl Jenkins in one of his cars.
Along with this picture and for comparison purposes, there are two pictures, a photograph of a 1914 Jeffery touring car like Pearl bought and a picture of a 1912 E.M.F. touring car (the latest model he could have purchased in case he bought a new car instead of a used one).
1914 Jeffery Touring Car
Front view of 1912 E.M.F.
The author of this article fully believes the information on Pearl’s car picture is incorrect on both the vehicle being the first in Newton and the make of the automobile. He believes Pearl was driving his first car which was an E.M.F. Confirmation of this can be obtained by comparing pictures of the Jeffery and the E.M.F. The E.M.F. had the steering wheel on the right side while all Jeffery models had left hand drive. In addition the steering wheel in this picture is much smaller than the large one on the Jeffery, and the shape of the radiator, the two side lamps and the rectangular shaped plate (to which the windshield would be attached when used) just in front of the steering wheel is definitely E.M.F. rather than the more advanced styling of the much larger and powerful Jeffery. Pearl’s E.M.F. was probably an older model than the 1912, but close observation of the 1912 E.M.F. picture above reveal two small metal brackets which held the windshield to the rectangular shaped plate below it. The windshield on the Jeffery could not be removed as shown in the Pearl Jenkins photo.
No specific details are known about Pearl’s success at selling Jeffery automobiles, but by a close look at the two registration lists of Newton automobiles, one might suggest a sale or two to Newton owners with speculation as to why Pearl’s high-power Jeffery of 1914 was replaced by a smaller engine in the 1915 listing. However, it is known that Pearl established a garage for repairs, sold gasoline and other auto supplies from interviews and a newspaper article. The best newspaper account comes from December 18, 1917, which boosted Newton with its 600 people with electric lights both in the homes and street lights. Then the article mentioned the various businesses in town. It stated: “Pearl Jenkins the auto doctor, is a very busy man trying to keep his many customers supplied with gas and extras as there are about fifty automobiles and some Fords to be taken care of at his garage.” 21 Allowing for some exaggeration by the person writing about Pearl’s garage and the number of cars, the number of fifty seems very high. Even if every car in Newton was there plus a few from out of town getting gas and/or seeking repairs, there needs to be some other explanation. Possibly Pearl had a few vehicles there on consignment, hoping to sell some for their owners. All too soon Pearl E. Jenkins was killed in an automobile accident at Grace, Idaho, June 12, 1918. He had played a significant role in bringing the revolution on wheels to Newton.
Only the first chapter in the adventures with the automobile in Newton has been briefly sketched. It began in 1910 when the newspapers were expressing caution, fearing an automobile epidemic and too much debt. One paper wrote: “The poverty-stricken farmers of Cache Valley are acquiring the automobile habit at a rate that can but be gratifying to the dealers.” With another newspaper echoing that sentiment by suggesting that “Paying interest on the mortgage is one of the best cures for automobiliousness.”22 The newly coined word may not have been grammatically correct, but it dealt with the crucial factors of cost and debt connected to automobiles which continued for years and was only partially resolved by the seeming ever-lowering price for the Model T. Some local perspective on costs came from Newton’s W. H. Griffin, an automobile owner since June 3, 1914, when interviewed in Logan after making a trip by railroad in mid-December of 1917. According to the newspaper “Mr. Griffin says it is cheaper to ride on the railroad than by automobile when you go alone.” 23 At this time there were several options via rail to reach Logan, but some would exchange money for time and convenience. For many there remained more years of animal powered mode of transport as the primary source of local individual travel. The issue of good roads continued to be a big problem illustrated as late as 1920 when a Newton man purchased a new seven passenger Nash automobile and could not drive it home “on account of the roads being so bad.” 24 Even worse the automobile oriented troubles of flat tires, getting stuck on muddy roads and breakdowns would be followed by accidents with injuries and deaths.
A good story of the early automobile in this small Mormon community has yet to be written but a partial account will be attempted, hopefully, to spur a more detailed account. In the first decade of the twentieth century, residents of Clarkston became aware of the new mode of personal transport and a fortunate few perhaps saw one of the new horseless carriages on a trip to Salt Lake City, Ogden or Logan. The Salt Lake and Logan newspapers had articles and sometimes pictures of the new vehicles. Possibly one of the more direct involvements of the town in connection to the automobile came in 1908 with the “Good Roads” movement being heavily promoted by the boosters of the new automobile. Finally, a convention at Salt Lake City was called in mid-January to focus on this issue which was important to some but strongly opposed by a large segment of the Utah population. Governor John C. Cutler, who served from January 2, 1905 through January 5, 1909, sent a letter to the officials in every Utah city and town in late 1908 asking them to select delegates to meet in convention to discuss the issues involved with this movement. The Governor’s letter authorized the local leaders to select these delegates with no limit as to number. Apparently, within Cache County the Governor’s letter received little to no attention. A specific example has been found in the Newton town records where at a meeting of the Newton Town Board on January 8, 1909, the minutes recorded: “A letter from Gov. Cuttler (sic) asking for delegates for good road convention were read. No action taken.” 25 From the reported turn out at the convention the rest of the county, with two exceptions, did about the same.
The primary exception came from Clarkston, the small farming community on the west side of Cache County. Here the local leader took prompt action and notified the Utah Governor as reported in a Salt Lake newspaper on December 30, 1909 as follows:
“GEORGE GODFREY, chairman of the town board of Clarkston, has notified
Governor Cutler that he will make an effort to attend the Good Roads convention
to be held in Salt Lake on Jan. 14, and that he is in entire sympathy with the aims
and purposes of the convention. He had appointed as delegates from Clarkston:
James B. Jardine, Andrew H. Heggie, Lars Rasmussen, John E. Godfrey and Peter S. Barson.”26
On January 13, 1909, the delegates to the “Good Roads Convention” met at the Armory Hall in Salt Lake. One of the Salt Lake newspapers listed the names of the delegates and a brief survey reveals the following communities, counties and other groups who sent delegates and the number sent: Forest Dale, 5; Sanpete County, 13; Bingham Canyon, 6; Brigham City, 5; Lehi, 1; Gunnison, 6; Fillmore, 2; American Fork Commercial club, 5; Salina, 6; Scofield, 3; Parowan, 6; Tooele, 6; Springville, 2; Pleasant Grove, 7; Kane Commercial club, 3; Payson, 6; Grantsville 5; Murray, 4; Beaver City, 5; Davis County, 13; Elsinore, 5; Green River, 8; Weber County, 21; Salt Lake City, 6 with Salt Lake Real Estate association, 5; Mt. Pleasant, 6, with Mount Pleasant Commercial club, 5; Provo, 5 with the Provo Commercial club having 5 more; Utah Society of Engineers, 4: State School of Mines 3; and Cache County, 6. The latter came with “Herschel Butters, Jr.,”(sic Herschel Bullen, Jr.) from Logan and the five from Clarkston as cited above by name. In addition members of the Utah House of Representatives planned to attend both the morning and afternoon sessions of the convention. 27
The results of what was called “one of the best attended state conventions ever held,” and though a “war of words” with “catcalls and cries to ‘sit down’” to various speakers, and inter mixing of politics, the convention focused attention on the status and condition of the roads and manifest that the state had to become more involved than ever before. Some of the more significant progress was made in appointing committees to draft resolutions and proposals to be presented to the legislature then in session. There were two decided factions, and opposition was based on the belief that the country folk and farmers would be taxed to make roads so the rich city slickers could tour the countryside in comfort and their slogans were echoed in their anti-tax ideas of one group being taxed to benefit another elite group. The supporters of the good roads were gentler in their phrases and slogans with some examples as follows: “Don't whip the horses; fix the roads.” “Bad roads cultivate bad tempers.” “A road with growing weeds is one cause of crop failures.” “An empty wagon can get stuck in the mud.” “Don't irrigate the roads; use the water on your crops.” “Out of 8000 miles of roads in this state comparatively none that are good.” “Good roads mean half the time and twice the load.” “A good road increase the value of property.” “What you save in taxes you more than spend for wagon repairs on bad roads.” Both factions saw the farmers as the most important key in their movement with one saying, “Farmers and automobilists go hand in hand for good roads.” The other side saying “Tax, Taxes” repeatedly. 28 It would take time, but wheels had been put under the Good Roads idea and there was movement.
There were no automobiles in Clarkston at this time except for the possibility that a venturesome visitor or salesman made his way there for some purpose. In 1909 the State of Utah passed a law requiring the registration of all automobile owners and their vehicles with the secretary of state’s office in Salt Lake City. The registration began in May of 1909, and, as initially conceived, it would be a one time affair involving a small fee of two dollars and an assigned number with a certificate or tag which was to be attached inside the automobile with the owner responsible to display the assigned number on the rear of his machine either painted directly on the automobile or on some metal plate or other material and attached to it. This registration followed this procedure for the next six years with those with assigned numbers allowed to transfer both their number and machine to another person or just the automobile. From this state register the following was extracted for those listing their residence as Clarkston with the assigned number, name of owner, residence, make of car and date of filing for the register:
UTAH MOTER VEHICLE REGISTER - Books 1 and 2 -- May 1909 through May of 1915:
CLARKSTON: Column information includes assigned number, name of owner, location, make of car and date of registration:
2296 – Jensen, N. P. – Clarkston – E.M.F. – Aug. 2, 1912
2349 – Christensen, Clif – Clarkston – E.M.F. – Aug. 2, 1912
2351 – Hurst, Jr., John – Clarkston – E.M.F. – Aug. 2, 1912
2352 – Jacobsen, Peter – Clarkston – E.M.F. – Aug. 2, 1912
2353 – Jenson, Moroni – Clarkston – Flanders – Aug. 2, 1912
2354 – Philips, Wm. – Clarkston – Flanders – Aug. 2, 1912
2326 – Dahle, David – Clarkston – Overland – June 23, 1914 *
5969 – Goodey, Alma – Clarkston – Ford – Sept. 18, 1914
7146 – Buttars, Ben – Clarkston – Buick – Apr. 29, 1915
7149 – Buttars, T. J. – Clarkston – Buick – Apr. 29, 1915 29
David Dahle’s assigned number of #2326 along with the filing date of June 23, 1914, indicates that he obtained both his number and vehicle by being transferred from someone who had filed for it about two years earlier, and there might be a connection with the first six named listed above. These first six names are somewhat a mystery in their connection with Clarkston. They can’t be found on the 1910 census at Clarkston and when the next state registration law required a new registering, they were not in Clarkston. This information along with the six men registering their vehicles on the same date leads to the speculation that possibly they were involved in some sort of work connected to one of Clarkston’s projects in the 1912 period such as the installation of the culinary water system, construct on the new church building or the new school; or they were part of some speculative venture connected in some way with land and farming. The low number for David Dahle (#2326) which he came by purchasing of a previously owned and registered Overland car in June of 1914, could possibly be connected in some fashion with the first six names perhaps an associate or boss of these six sold his vehicle to David Dahle when his activities at Clarkston came to an end in the summer of 1914.
After the first registration law had been in effect for about six years, the State of Utah for various reasons decided its original concept of this law were flawed as the accumulative listing of automobile owners didn’t adequately keep tract of the owners after the initial listing and the one time registration didn’t provide enough revenue. In 1915 a new law went into effect requiring all motor vehicles to register for one year with an annual registration thereafter. From that registration book all those for the year 1915 were extracted whose residence was cited as Clarkston and is shown below:
Book 3 – Utah Motor Vehicle Register – 1915:
CLARKSTON — [Numeric
order of license plates with no dates except year.] Column information includes
1786 – Barson, Peter S. – Clarkston – Ford – Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
1873 – Whitney, Wells W. – Clarkston – Ford – Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
2322 – Buttars, Thomas – Clarkston – Buick – Touring 28 h.p. – Pleasure
4912 – Dahle, David – Clarkston – Overland – Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
5933 – Buttars, Daniel – Clarkston – Buick – Touring 37 h.p. – Pleasure
6040 – Stuart, Nina – Clarkston – Studebaker – Touring 40 h.p. – Pleasure 30
For 1915 the yearly registration fee was higher and was based in part on the horse power of the automobile. After filing and paying the fee the owner received from the state the first automobile license plates, one for the front and one of the rear of the car. Now the registration number and the number on the license plates were the same and issued in consecutive order starting with number one. Thus, Peter S. Barson, the first from Clarkston with the 1915 license plate, had two metal plates white in color with the green numbers 1786 pressed into them and good only through 1915.
Other early automobile owners from Clarkston can sometimes be picked up in bits of news in the Logan newspapers. One of those papers reported on June 19, 1917, that two salesman from Logan spent the previous Saturday in Clarkston and sold a new five passenger Overland automobile to James Thompson of Clarkston. Another Logan paper reported for July 29, 1916, that: “Peter S. Barson of Clarkston was in Logan yesterday. He is still driving the Ford for Mrs. Barson.” 31 In late June of the following year a newspaper related how Clarkston planned to celebrate the Fourth of July with the following description: “Clarkston, June 29.--There will be a Fourth of July celebration at Clarkston. Saluting and rising (sic) of the flag at daybreak by twelve of our young men; marshal of the day Mr. R. F. Shumway; Miss Pearl Buttars, Goddess of Liberty; maids of honor, Jennie Thompson, Susie Clark, Hattie Buttars, Sylvia Griffith, Jennie Dahle and Etta Godfrey. There will be six cars arranged with the national colors to escort goddess and her maids and brass band to the meeting house where the program will be rendered at 3 p.m.” 32 In late July of 1917 the Logan Sales and Service Company of Logan released some information to the press about the popularity of the Paige automobile in the area, including the sales of it during the previous week to men in Lewiston, Mendon, Preston, two men in Logan and to John A. Thompson of Clarkston. They bragged they had sold thirty Paiges “this season by this company and . . . do not have a dissatisfied customer.” Six weeks later the same company gave an update on the Paige owners in the locality—one in Smithfield, Avon and Millville, five in Lewiston, four in Newton, Wellsville and Logan, and two in Clarkston—John Buttars and John A. Thompson. 33
An oral story of the first automobiles brought into Clarkston comes from a talk or interview that Calvin Buttars had with Flossie Atkinson (daughter of Louis and Lottie Buttars) many decades after she had married and moved to Trenton. According to this source three Clarkston men brought automobiles into Clarkston about the same time and as recalled they were David Thompson, one of the Barson brothers, and a name she was unable to remember. The main focus of her account was on David Thompson, and well in advance of obtaining an automobile, had some definite views on his anticipated new mode of transportation, one of which was that it wouldn’t be left exposed to the weather but would be housed in storage facility or garage. To this end he built or modified an existing structure to store his soon-to-be possession. He was now ready to purchase his automobile and went to the point of sale, probably Logan but could have been Ogden or Salt Lake. After purchasing his new vehicle, perhaps the seller insisted on both oral instruction and some time in getting familiar with the vehicle before he was released on his own with the new fangled vehicle to return to Clarkston. David drove back home with no details known about the trip. Perhaps he was quite proud of arriving safe and sound, and possibly thinking he had the hang of operating his automobile. Upon reaching home the first order of business was to put his new car in his garage. The oral account didn’t detail the positioning of the automobile or the opening the doors to the garage, but went straight to putting the vehicle inside. As David drove into the narrow confines of the building something went wrong, most likely he hadn’t had enough time behind the wheel. He became momentarily confused, and in a flash he was in trouble which caused him to respond with several loud and emphatic “Whoas!” The machine did not respond to his oral commands, appropriate for a team of horses, and continued into and possibly through the back wall of the garage. Perhaps, a semi-humorous example of where the best laid plans of men went astray by way of habit when facing a new experience. 34
The oral account was not accurate in regard to the first cars into Clarkston as David Thompson’s name was not found on the State of Utah Motor Vehicle register up through 1915, and the few newspaper sources didn’t mention his name. But two other Clarkston sources reveal their fathers talked about David Thompson’s early car. David, on the 1910 census, was twenty-nine years old, married with children. The writer believes Flossie Atkinson’s account has more than a kernel of truth in it as an oral story or tradition which has been passed down over the many years.
The best evidence of the first Smithfield resident to own an automobile comes from the State of Utah Motor Vehicle Register - Books 1 and 2-- May 1909 through May of 1915. This official record has Emanuel E. Colpin of Smithfield registered as the owner of a 1909 model Reo on June 18, 1909. Mr. Colpin, the druggist at Smithfield, was one of only six people from Cache County to comply with the new state law and registered as an owner in 1909. He was assigned the official number of 601 which was affixed as a small tag inside his vehicle with the owner responsible to place a larger representation of this number on the rear of his automobile to show he was certified to operate on the roads and streets of the state. Colpin had traveled to Salt Lake City and bought his new car from the Sharman Company on April 28, 1909, but while providing these details of the purchase, the Salt Lake newspaper incorrectly had the vehicle as a two cylinder Maxwell. Another Salt Lake newspaper correctly had Mr. Sam Sharman leaving Salt Lake the following morning headed for Smithfield to deliver a Reo car. The roads were muddy and snow was “falling thick” and it took Sharman two hours to reach Ogden where he called back to his business reporting he had driven that far slowly but safely. He continued on to Cache Valley and delivered the Reo. The paper does not name the new owner but in mid-May the new automobile registration law went into effect and Colpin registered the first Reo that came to Smithfield in mid-June of 1909. When the 1910 census was taken in Smithfield, Colpin was a thirty-four-year-old druggist with a wife and young son. Little more has been found about Colpin except that by April of 1913 he was in southern Idaho at Oakley (half way between Burley and the Utah border) where he was the druggist. While in Idaho he joined with other druggists, cigar dealers and retail merchants in Utah and Idaho organizing the first co-operative candy manufacturing institution in the United States to create their own source of supply by working together. Colpin was expected to serve in some leadership capacity with this business. 35
SMITHFIELD - - Utah Automobile Registration Books 1 & 2 - this listing gives the assigned number, name of owner, location, make of car and date of registration:
601 – Colpin, Emanuel E. – Smithfield – Reo 1909 Model – June 18, 1909
1624 – Miles, Jr., E. R. – Smithfield – Cadillac – June 14, 1911
1630 – Merrill, Dr. Ralph T. – Smithfield – E.M.F. – June 17, 1911
3099 – Smith, G. Y. – Smithfield – Case – May 14, 1913
3471 – Smith, W. H. – Smithfield – Buick – June 26, 1913
3732 – Rice, A. L. – Smithfield – Ford – Aug. 13, 1913
3785 – Wolford, Thomas – Smithfield – Ford – Aug. 27, 1913
3786 – Griffith, Robert – Smithfield – Paige – Aug. 27, 1913
4306 – Hillyard, Fred – Smithfield – Maxwell – Mar. 28, 1914
4675 – Fulkersom, L. A. – Smithfield – Case – May 1, 1914
4798 – Smith, W. H. – Smithfield – Buick – May 12, 1914
5079 – Read, Isaac – Smithfield – Overland – June 2, 1914
5849 – Griffith, Wm. – Smithfield – Studebaker – Aug. 28, 1914
5850 – Gamet, Andrew – Smithfield – Studebaker – Aug. 28, 1914
5861 – Smith, N. H. – Smithfield – Studebaker – Aug. 29, 1914
5916 – Mickle, James J. – Smithfield – Studebaker – Sept. 5, 1914
6001 – Griffith, Robert – Smithfield – Buick – Sept. 23, 1914
6090 – Hillyard, Fred – Smithfield – Overland – Oct. 23, 1914
6091 - Miles, Leonard S. – Smithfield – Overland – Oct. 23, 1914
6581 – Smithfield Implement Co. – Smithfield – Case – Mar. 15, 1915
6774 – Parsons, E. A. – Smithfield – Maxwell – May 1, 1914
6853 – Traveller, F. W. – Smithfield – Ford – Apr. 9, 1915
6996 – Winger, I. O. – Smithfield – Ford – Apr. 20, 1915
7063 – Allen, J. V. – Smithfield – Case – Apr. 24, 1915
7179 – Allsop, Thomas – Smithfield – Ford – May 1, 1915 *
566 – Kirkwood, I. H. – Smithfield – Rio – * 1914 by transfer of registration number and car.
* * * Autos - - Book 1 & 2 –May 1909 to May 1915 –
Cache County – 371 automobiles registered with 191 in Logan (51%); 40 in Richmond (10%); 26 in Smthfield (7%); 24 in Hyrum (6%); and 23 in Wellsville (6%). These five locations totaled 304 cars or almost 82% of the automobiles in Cache County.
SMITHFIELD --- Book
3 - 1915 – (May to end of year in 1915) - Column information includes
1060 – Smith, Jonathan – Smithfield – Case Roadster -- – Pleasure
1646 – Woolford, T. H. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
1652 – Miles, Mrs. E. E. – Smithfield – Cadillac Touring 32 h.p. – Pleasure
2125 – Smith, G. Y. – Smithfield – Case Touring -- – Pleasure
2142 – Harry, John W. – Smithfield – Metz Roadster 22 h.p. – Pleasure
2343 – Smith, R. H. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
2426 – Winger, Walter – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
2572 – Read, Isaac – Smithfield – Overland Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
2910 – Griffith, Wm. H. – Smithfield – Studebaker Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
3299 – Allen, J. B. – Smithfield – Case Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
3345 – Farr, Thomas B. – Smithfield – Cadillac Touring 30 h.p. – Pleasure
3680 – Griffith, Robert – Smithfield – Buick Touring 37 h.p. – Pleasure
3980 – Merrill, C. W. – Smithfield – Studebaker Touring 22 h.p. – Pleasure
4072 – Homer, Wm. – Smithfield – Ford Roadster 22 h.p. – Private
4073 – Merrill, Jr., R. T. – Smithfield – Case Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
4074 – Merrill, Jr., R. T. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 22 h.p. – Private
4088 – Sparks, Wm. – Smithfield – Case Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
4507 – Cantwell, Stephen – Smithfield – E.M.F. Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
5052 – Meekle, J. J. – Smithfield – Studebaker Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
5055 – Allsop, Thomas – Smithfield – Ford Touring 22 h.p. – Private
5105 – Secrest, W. B. – Smithfield – Buick Phaeton 25 h.p. – “Bus”
5233 – Rice, A. L. – Smithfield – Studebaker Touring 25 h.p. – Pleasure
5234 – Nelson, Oliver – Smithfield – Ford Touring 22 h.p. – Pleasure
5251 – Traveller, F. W. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
5496 – Smith, W. H. – Smithfield – Studebaker Touring 40 h.p. – Pleasure
5782 – Hillyard, Fred – Smithfield – Overland Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
5837 – Smith, W. H. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Business
6152 – Gordon, S. A. – Smithfield – Franklin Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
6466 – Nelson, Samuel – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
6467 – Harry, John W. – Smithfield – Metz Roadster 22 h.p. – Pleasure
6627 – Harper, W. F. – Smithfield – Dodge Roadster 30 h.p. – Pleasure
6830 – Miles, Leonard S. – Smithfield – Oakland Touring 38 h.p. – Pleasure
6888 – Hatch, Minnie – Smithfield – Ford Touring 22 h.p. – Pleasure
6933 – Vanesse, Jos. A. – Smithfield – Case Touring 30 h.p. – Pleasure
7020 – Napper, W. P. – Smithfield – Ford Touring 20 h.p. – Pleasure
7100 – Farmers Union Mills – Smithfield – E.M.F. Delivery 30 h.p. – Business
7571 – Plowman, John J. – Smithfield – Saxon Touring 30 h.p. – Pleasure
7749 – Farrell, Lionel – Smithfield – Overland Touring 35 h.p. – Pleasure
Totals for 1915--Logan – 227 ; Richmond – 38; Smithfield – 38 ; Hyrum – 31; Wellsville – 29.
After Mr. Coplin’s vehicle, the next documented automobile did not come to Smithfield for another two years. An item under Smithfield news noted on June 13, 1911: “Bishop Miles and Dr. R. T. Merrill have each purchased a fine automobile and now live lives of leisure.” The Doctor’s car was am E.M.F. while Bishop E. R. Miles, Jr. had a Cadillac, and both men registered their vehicles in mid-June of 1911. Smithfield prepared to celebrate the Fourth of July in 1911 with a program followed by wrestling, a baseball game with Logan and races. There were foot races for the children, horse races for saddle ponies (200 yards and one-half mile) with a small entrance fee and prizes awarded, bike race for 200 yards and prizes. And for Smithfield its first automobile race over one-half mile course with the prize a blue ribbon. The local contestants were at most three, but more likely only Dr. Merrill and Bishop Miles. No results have been found for the winner. 36 The state register lists no more cars in Smithfield for almost two more years. Then more automobiles came in and, in time, several in Smithfield were associated with the new industry as traveling salesmen or servicing car. In the fall of 1917 a fine garage was completed as the Smithfield Motor Company with Thomas Woolford as manager. They sold Fords and repaired all makes. 37
A short survey of newspaper reports under heading of “Smithfield Riplets” or “Smithfield News” from the The Logan Republican give an idea of the current automobile news: Feb. 28, 1914: “Leonard S. Miles has accepted the position of traveling salesman for the Maxwell Motor Car Company.” Sept. 26, 1914: “Alma Carson purchased an overland car lately and Robert Griffith a Buick.” Nov. 3, 1914: “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Griffith, Master Robert Griffith and Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer motored to Idaho Falls last Saturday and visited Blackfoot and Pocatello on their return home Monday.” Dec. 19, 1914: “Mr. William Sparks has bought the large automobile of Mr. Fay Fulkerson of Preston the last week.” July 10, 1917: “The gun club took first prize, $10, for the best decorated automobile. They represented a forest with the elk, birds and animals lying at rest in the shrubbery. Jonathan Smith took second prize, and R. T. Thornley third prize in the decorated automobiles. Bishop Winn's car, draped in white and decorated with red crosses, was filled with a beevy (sic bevy) of Red Cross nurses, also was of worthy mention.”
NOTE: It will not be possible in this article to even briefly survey or follow the advent of the automobile in each community as this writer doesn’t know the particular incidents, how people reacted and its impact on the citizens. Hopefully by furnishing the Cache County automobile registration lists covering the years 1909 through 1915, it might encourage formal written recounting of family stories and research resulting in filling in the blanks of the early days of the automobile. While family accounts sometimes claim more than can be verified, they may contain something of value or “kernel” of historical information that should be looked into and preserved.
Thus an open invitation is extended to anyone who will write up the story of the early automobiles in their family and/or community in Cache County and submit it to this site; it will be seriously considered for inclusion into the above story and the author’s name should be attached to the account.
1 Deseret Evening News, July 2, 1904, April 29, 1909, Oct. 23, 1909, June 4, 1910. Oliver L. Peterson Diaries, 1901, 1908-1910. J. Arbon Christensen, Bridgerland, Your Land and Mine, (Providence, Utah : Keith W. Watkins & Sons, Inc., 1976.) Salt Lake Herald, May 2, 1909, July 28, 1910.
2 Salt Lake Herald, Sept. 7 and 8, 1908. Deseret Evening News, Sept. 7, 1908.
3 Utah Motor Vehicle Register – 1909 – 1915 –Book 1 and 2 Series 375 (microfilm State of Utah Archives). Salt Lake Telegram, June 17, 1910. Deseret Evening News, Aug. 10, 1910. Salt Lake Telegram, June 11, 1910.
4 Deseret Evening News, June 4, 1910.
5 The Journal, (Logan, Utah) May 31, 1910.
6 Genealogy of Erastus Laurty Larsen. Ancestors of Gareth L. Larsen, an Internet site under that title. U.S. Federal Censuses 1870 and 1880 for Logan, Utah.
7 Cache County Township Plats survey map and entry register for Township 13 North Range 1 West Salt Lake Base and Meridian.
8 Interview with Eva Benson, April 1, 1967.
9 U.S. Federal Census 1910 for Newton and Logan. Utah Motor Vehicle Registration from May 1909 to May 1915, (on microfilm form State of Utah Archives, Series 375, Reel #1).
10 Interview with Archie Jenkins, July 7, 1968 and memories as to his stories to his fifth and sixth grade class recalled by the author. Interview with Elizabeth Ecklund, Oct. 22, 1966. Letter from Maud Barker Jorgensen, Feb. 15, 1992.
11 The Journal, June 4, 1912.
12 Ibid. Newton Town Board Minutes, Dec. 23, 1909, Dec. 8, 1910, Jan. 5, 1912. U.S. Federal Census - 1910 for Newton, Utah. Salt Lake Telegram, April 6, 1911. The Logan Republican,(Logan, Ut.) June 17, 22, Oct. 24,1911.
13 Utah Motor Vehicle Registration from May 1909 to May 1915.
14 The Journal, May 3, 24, 1913, Jan. 17, 1914. The Logan Republican, Feb. 28, 1914, April 30, 1914.
15 The Logan Republican, May 7, 1914.
16 Jeffery brochure digitally reproduced on the Wisconsin Historical Society Web site as "Jeffery Four: The Newest Automobile from Kenosha's Thomas B. Jeffery Company."
17 Utah Motor Vehicle Register – 1915 – Book 3 Series 375 (microfilm State of Utah Archives).
18 U.S. Federal Census 1910 for Newton, Utah. The Logan Republican, Oct. 7, Oct. 4, 1911. The Journal, Mar. 14, May 16, 1916.
19 Interviews with Alvin A. Christiansen, April 13 and 28, 1967.
20 Salt Lake Telegram, Oct. 17, 1915. (Other ads Oct. 31 and Nov. 14 , 1915).
21 The Logan Republican, Dec. 18, 1917. Interviews with Alvin A. Christiansen, April 13 and 28, 1967.
22 Deseret Evening News, June 4, 1910. Box Elder News, July 28, 1910.
23 The Logan Republican, Dec. 18, 1917.
24 The Journal, Feb. 3, 1920.
25 Newton Town Board Minutes, Jan. 8, 1909
26 Salt Lake Herald, Dec. 30, 1908.
27 The Evening Telegram [Salt Lake Telegram], Jan. 13, 1909.
28 Salt Lake Telegram, Jan. 14, 15, 1909.
29 Utah Motor Vehicle Registration from May 1909 to May 1915, (on microfilm form State of Utah Archives, Series 375, Reel #1).
30 Utah Motor Vehicle Registration – Book 3 – 1915 (on microfilm form State of Utah Archives, Series 375, Reel #1).
31 The Logan Republican, June 19, 1917. The Journal, July 29, 1916.
32 The Logan Republican, June 30, 1917.
33 The Logan Republican, July 21, Sept. 8, 1917.
34 From a January 2010 talk with Calvin Buttars of his interview with Flossie Atkinson (daughter of Louis and Lottie Buttars) who had married Joe Atkinson and lived in Trenton when interviewed in the early 2000.
35 Deseret Evening News, April 29, 1909. Salt Lake Herald, May 2, 1909, April 9, 1913. U.S. Federal Census 1910 for Smithfield, Utah.
36 The Logan Republican, June 13, 1911, July 1, 1911.
37 Ibid., Dec. 18, 1917.
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Updated: 13 Oct 2010
Copyright 2010 by transcriber Larry D. Christiansen
Produced for Cache Co. UTGenWeb