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History of Newton, Utah

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A HISTORY OF NEWTON by Larry D. Christiansen

The beginning of the community of Newton is inseparably connected with that of her neighboring town to the northwest-Clarkston. The latter village had been founded in 1864, but its first five years had been trying ranging from long cold winters to freezing crops, grasshopper invasions and Indian scares. They had been forced to create a fort to live in and still the problems came with flooding from spring runoff or summer thunderstorms, and they were the most isolated community in Cache Valley being on the west side of Bear River in the area where fording the river was extremely dangerous and ferries and bridges not available. In the fall of 1867 Clarkston’s change of church leadership brought William F. Littlewood (in 1877 he changed his name to Rigby) in as bishop. The presiding church authorities in Cache Valley were first-Apostle Erza T. Bensen, then Peter Maughan and third William B. Preston. The latter serving as a presiding bishop in the Valley as he would later serve as Presiding Bishop of the whole Church a few years later. Whether from the top down or from the bottom up the Church leaders in Cache Valley decided that it would be in the best interests of all to relocate the settlement of Clarkston. Which ever way the idea developed nothing would have been done without the full approval and support of Benson, Maughan and Preston. However, before making the decision final it was determined to allow the settlers to express their opinions.

In late February the brethren from Clarkson worked for two days breaking a road from their village five miles southeast to the present site of Newton. Although one valley diarist reported that the winter of 1868-1869 was "the mildest that had been known in Cache Valley . . . with an early Spring," the wind over and across the bench land between the two locations made even little amounts of snow form deep drifts. Finally on February 28, 1869, at least 32 men from Clarkston made the trip to the proposed new site for the village. Bishop Littlewood presided at the meeting which covered the pros and con of relocating Clarkston. One of those supporting the move noted that were 29 inches of snow at Clarkston while the south slope of the proposed new site was free of snow and beginning to turn green from new growth. After discussing the issue a vote was taken in which 29 voted in favor of moving and only 3 opposed it. Within a week the Clarkston men gathered at the proposed new town site, and all those there agreed to move to the new location. The bishop was directed to lay out the town site to consist of sixteen ten acre blocks, each containing eight 1 acre lots. Less than a week later on Monday March 15 th James H. Martineau, the Cache County surveyor, commenced his work laying out the townsite. All this expedited due to the Cache Valley church authorities promoting and pushing the matter.

The Clarkston Ward records contain a summary of what had transpired in the previous two weeks in minutes dated March 14, 1869, which stated: "President Peter Maughan and Bishop W. B. Preston had been over and fixed upon a new location for Clarkston city situated about 5 miles South of the present city and it was also determined that the new location shall be called Newton. Bishop W. B. Preston gave it the new name." Later that spring the first settlers of Newton moved to the site of the new community officially founding the town in 1869. The plan of the Church leaders in Cache Valley was for all of the residents of Clarkston to relocate to Newton over a two year period.

The first year settlers at the new site worked at constructing their residences. Perhaps typical was the case of John Jenkins. He was new in the area, and he and his family lived in their wagon. After the decision to relocate he stayed at Clarkston long enough to cut enough timber in the mountains above town to build himself a log house in Newton. Beyond homes the first settlers planted town lot gardens plus assisted what they could to communal projects like the water ditch and saw mill. Most the work on the latter two projects came from those remaining at the established base of Clarkston. The objectives of both groups directed to the eventual relocation of the whole community. In the spring of 1870 more settlers relocated to the new site with the anticipated move of all before fall. And because land and water rights did not come from land titles from the federal government but from grants from the church by communal agreement all the water rights would be controlled from the new community. Plus the land at the old site would pass from individuals to a reserved communal domain.

As the relocation plan entered its sixteenth month and final phase President Brigham Young and his party of Church leaders were making the customary visit to the outer settlements. The church leaders reached Newton on June 8, 1870, and at a meeting Apostles Lorenzo Snow and John Taylor addressed the residents. Their remarks were the same as those given in the other settlements on the tour. The President Young and his party went on to Clarkston with the intentions of moving farther north to Weston and then to other communities they wished to visit. However, they encountered a surprise at Clarkston when some dissenters appealed directly to President Young and requested that they be accorded the privilege of remaining permanently at Clarkston. Young acceded to their request and gave permission for them to remain at Clarkston. Now the party had to backtrack to Newton and explain what had been granted at Clarkston, and effectively thwart the relocation plan that had been in effect for fifteen months. Saying that the area could support both communities was the easy part as effortless as words, making it so would take much hard work and some ingenuity primarily by the new community.

For the permission turned a "few" into a majority within a year and a half which turned Newton’s share of the essential water of Clarkston Creek from one-third down to a low one-fourth--not nearly enough to take care of their needs. Before that summer was over the crops in Newton perished due to a lack of water, and without sufficient irrigation Newton’s fate was sealed.

The settlers at Newton quickly realized that their small share of the water of Clarkston Creek was insufficient. Much, if not most, of their part of the water was swallowed up by the thirsty ground beneath the water course before reaching the fields and town lots of Newton. Although the summer supply of water was not adequate there were times when water was wasted. In the late fall and winter there was some water flowing in the creek and with spring runoff and after heavy rainfall there was considerable water pouring into Bear River. Newton’s survival depended upon impounding and storing the excess runoff water, and the Newton’s settlers were among the first to utilize the concept of storing water from an entire watershed for irrigation purposes at a later time. Still there were questions such as, "Was there was enough excess water to store?" and "Could the settlers expend that much time and expense to do the needed work?"   [1870 Census, Newton, Utah opens in new window.]

On March 30, 1871 at a "business meeting" at church, Thomas Beck made a motion that the settlers of Newton build a reservoir "and draw water therefrom in proportion to labor done thereupon." The motion was duly accepted, and a building committee for the purposed reservoir was appointed consisting of William F. Littlewood, Franklin W. Young, Stephen Catt, Swen Jacobs and John Jenkins. In early April, the men turned out with teams and scrappers and began to construct an earth and rock dam across the creek bed at a narrow neck of land just below a natural depression. The work produced a small dam causing the water to fill the depression forming a reservoir. It was finished enough to provide more irrigation water than the previous year but still by the end of the growing season they were still seriously short of water. Work on the dam and main water ditch continued for several years. Spring runoffs washed the dam out three times, and each time the dam was replaced at severe cost to those doing the work and/or paying for it. In 1885 the dam was raised to a height of 28 feet and the main dam 127 feet in length with the reservoir extending back of it one and a half miles. The last major washout came in 1888, and there were several narrow escapes with one of the closest coming in 1911. In 1939, just a few years before construction of the new dam, the old dam was described in government papers as consisting of two parts-the main dam of 325 feet in length and a dike 500 feet in length both abutting against a small knoll near the center of the channel. The old dam started in 1871 was "one of the first" storage reservoirs in Utah and the United States. The present Newton Dam was built a mile below the first dam, and constructed between 1941 and 1946 as the "Newton Project" under government contract with the construction costs repaid over many years. The storage capacity of the new reservoir was more than three times that of the old facility and with construction of two high line canals brought irrigation waters to hundreds of more acres.

In the meantime Newton had another problem for the best area to impound this water was not within the Newton precinct but in Clarkston’s. As Newton continued to increase the size of the dam and reservoir the stored water moved farther back into Clarkston precinct, and presented an area of potential conflict between the two towns. On February 4, 1874, Bishop Littlewood presented and carried a motion at a business meeting at church "that we petition the county court to organize an Irrigation District for this precinct." Earlier in 1865 the Utah Territorial legislature passed a law that granted individual irrigators the right to organize themselves into irrigation districts which allowed these areas to levy water or canal assessments on their members for the operation and maintenance of their water facilities. Two years later the irrigation districts were authorized to form irrigation companies. Within its boundaries the irrigation district had much authority and control over land adjacent to its water courses. Newton petitioned the Cache County Court asking that an irrigation district be laid off in and about its precinct including the area where its dam and reservoir were located. On March 9, 1874 the court corresponded with the Newton petitioners and asked them to send a man to represent their petition. Clarkston learned of the Newton request, and they protested Newton’s move and asked the court to not grant the privilege of establishing an "irrigation district in the Clarkston field," but keep the proposed district within the Newton precinct lines. Clarkston's first request came on April 23, 1874, and they followed it up on May 4th with a request for their own irrigation district with its southern boundary extended to the Newton precinct line.

On September 7, 1874 the Cache County Probate Court over the strong opposition of Clarkston granted the Newton Irrigation District with a small but vital portion within the boundary of Clarkston precinct. On September 21st Clarkston petitioned the court asking it to reconsider the grant they had made to Newton. The court took the request under advisement. When it became apparent the court would not reverse itself Clarkston petitioned for an irrigation district that included all of the precinct except where the Newton Irrigation District extended into Clarkston. The court created the Clarkston Irrigation District in December of 1874, which included its right and possession of all the water of Clarkston Creek of the time. At the same time the court granted a petition from Newton amending the boundaries of its irrigation district. On December 28 the court ruled the new boundaries to be: "All of Newton Precinct, and as much of Clarkston Precinct as is within the following boundaries: The whole of the hollow to the highest point on both banks that Clarkston Creek runs in. Provided, however, that it shall not exceed twenty rods from centre of said creek on either side from the north line of Newton Precinct to the point where the present Clarkston field fence intersects it, and two (2) rods wide around the Newton Dam on Clarkston hay bottom, and thence in a Southerly direction two rods wide of the highest land on which we can run a ditch to the north line of Newton Precinct, with the rights and possession of all the water of the Clarkston Creek one-fourth of the time."

Newton and Clarkston would continue to fight over the water of Clarkston Creek for the next hundred years plus. In spite of repeated advice from stake leaders that Newton and Clarkston should settle their irrigation dispute peacefully among themselves and avoid the contentions in the court, the court was forced to decide the matter-if it is finally settled. But with a dam, reservoir and irrigation district Newton now had the ways and means to survive. The community did not have all the water it wanted and in some years was extremely short of water, still the majority of settlers stuck out the hard times. The construction of the initial dam and the repeated re-constructions of the dam along with capital improvements on the major canal took a heavy toll on the community in the first quarter of a century.

Agriculture in and around Newton also received a boost with the new system of dry farming. At first the new method was by chance and very iffy. The first success came in the Bear River City area where Scandinavian immigrants found the alkaline water of the Malad River killed their crops. In desperation they broke new ground, planted crops and did not try to irrigate. This 1863 attempt surprisingly produced a fair yield. It was not until 1879 to 1880 that dry farming experiments were tried in Cache Valley, and not until the mid-1880's that dry farming became established in the area. The major theory and techniques along with better seed came even later. Perhaps Newton had an inadvertent try at dry farming as early as 1874. In December of that year the Newton Irrigation District began taxing the cultivated land to provide funds to make and improve the water ditches. As they considered the land under their control they had some dry land where irrigation water was unavailable where "volunteer grain" grew. The district needed money desperately so it classified this land as "cultivated." By the mid-1880's land on the high bench between Newton and Clarkston, which had been considered of little value a short time before, became desired dry farm lands. With this new method of agricultural the residents could reach out to more distant area to farm, and Newton farmers did so.

In 1870 the population of Newton was enumerated at 195 while Clarkston’s count reached only 153. In 1872 the number of people in Clarkston outnumbered those in Newton by 241 to 219, and Clarkston would continue to have the larger numbers until 1890. Newton was a typical Mormon community. Bishop Littlewood had been released as the bishop of Clarkston and made the first bishop of Newton. If the community had a problem or needed a reservoir or school the decision was made and directed by the settlers in their church meetings. The community endeavored for self sufficiency and early attempted a water operated saw mill to provide sawed lumber. But the "up today down tomorrow" saw did not have enough water or fall to make it work efficiently. The town established a school, co-operative store and United Order to provide the services and goods needed. In 1872 John H. Barker described life in Newton in a letter addressed to his sister in England. He wrote: "There is not a family in this town (35) but what has a cow, chickens, pig, live in their own house, (perhaps only one room and built of logs) on their own land. The bulk of the people farm their own land for a living. We live all in a little town, and fence our farms in one big field by cooperation. We sell grain to get supplies for family use, do not live very rich but plenty of butter, milk, vegetables, and plain food. I have not yet known a family where the little ones did not have all they could eat, but the other side of the picture is that we are all hard working, no one lives on their wit. . . ."

The first church and school meetings were held in homes. In 1873 the nephew of Brigham Young, Franklin W. Young left Newton and the community purchased his large home to serve the dual purposes of school and church meeting place. At about the same time the settlers taxed themselves and began the construction of a rock building to serve as a meeting place for the school and church. The new building was 41 by 31 feet in size and was finished to the point it could be used in October of 1874. The combination use of the rock structure did create a few problems but when the church leaders decided they needed a meeting during a normal school period the school was called off. A more important problem was find qualified personnel to teach in the school. Initially local people served as teachers, then in the mid-1870s the school trustees invited a man from Oxford to come down to their community and be the teacher. The individual wrote a beautiful hand, and his spelling was superior to most of the residents. He knew and used a little Latin to end his minute taking. All of these qualities made him in demand for recording the proceeding of meetings.  However, before long he was unhappy with the teaching contract which he signed only as "a Latter Day Saint, and not by any means as a mutual business contract." Shortly, the school trustees were not pleased with this teacher’s lack of control in his class and the leather strap he used to try and enforce it. By mutual agreement the teacher was replaced, and thereafter Newton had many short term teachers in its first few decades.

Within a short time of their founding transportation became a concern of the residents living west of Bear River. The county court had the responsibility of locating and constructing roads and bridges plus see that they were maintained. To accomplish the latter objective the court made each precinct a road district and appointed a road supervisor in each district. A territorial law required all physically able men over the age of 18 pay a "poll tax" of one day’s labor per year on the roads in his district. The court appointed John Jenkins as the first road supervisor in Newton’s district on July 11, 1870, and a week later the county court established the first official road through Newton which ran from Weston south through Newton to the Bear River pass. Bear River in its southern reaches in Cache Valley was difficult to cross and hazardous to fording in the early part of the year. A ferry was established near David Rees’s farm  between Newton and Logan, but the settlers west of the river wanted a bridge. Residents of Newton and Smithfield petitioned the county for an appropriation to build a bridge over Bear River. They granted the request and appointed a six member committee to locate the bridge site. The committee with two from Logan and one each from Hyde Park, Smithfield, Clarkston and Newton chose a site in a direct line between Newton and Logan and close to the Rees Ferry. The court appropriated $1,000 for the bridge and ordered that the balance of the expense be sustained by the people of Newton and Clarkston. The 109 foot Newton Bridge was started on January 3, 1871 and completed by March. Along with the new bridge there was also a county road connecting Clarkston and Newton to Logan and places elsewhere. A resident of Newton in a letter to the Deseret News praised the new bridge as a "much needed improvement . . . . of public enterprise." Then in September of 1875, the court ordered that the bridge be given to the citizens of Newton and Clarkston and people of that region and they keep the bridge in repair. Clarkston protested this order and requested the court to revoke it. Their efforts failed and the men of Newton and Clarkston had to keep up the bridge for several years before the county resumed this duty. Others bridges across Bear River were constructed north of the "Newton Bridge, the next one in 1878 directly west of Smithfield. After the railroad came through Bear River Canyon and established Cache Junction, a bridge was built across the river between the junction and Newton in 1891.

The formation of county roads and construction of bridges were just the initial steps in providing access to broader horizons and travel. It required constant maintenance with the hauling of tons of gravel along with much work to keep the roads, streets and sidewalks in passing order. In church meetings and later from town leaders there were repeated calls for work parties to haul gravel for the community’s streets and sidewalks. According to the frequency of these calls the streets of Newton were in poor condition in bad weather and far from good in the dry seasons. While the county roads and bridge were taken care of by the county poll tax, the streets in town were maintained by these calls for volunteer work parties. When Newton was incorporated in 1900 one of its first ordinances was to create a town street supervisor and impose a town poll tax. This obligated all able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 50 to pay a "road poll tax" of either three dollars money or two eight hour work days on the streets under the supervision of the road supervisor. This continued until 1916 when the poll tax was changed to provide only money payments.

One of the most significant changes in the life of Newton came with the acquisition of legal titles to the land. Prior to this time the settlers in Cache Valley were squatters on the public domain. In the absence of federal laws and land surveys the Mormon Church used ecclesiastical jurisdiction and assigned land to the settlers. In accordance no one was allowed to have more land than he could take care of, and if a settler did not use his assigned land wisely the bishop could take it away from him and give it to someone else. Initially the land was given as a stewardship which no man could buy or sell, but he must use it. As a general rule the church’s stewardship land policy work well as the vast majority were willing to accede to the church leader’s judgments. Prior to the settlement of Newton in 1869 no one could have secured legal land titles even if they had wanted such. Suspicions and disagreements between the Federal Government and the Mormons created a long delay between the initial settlements and ways and means to acquire legal land titles. The belated 1855 Federal Land Survey had covered barely two million acres when it was brought to a close in early 1857 by the "Utah War." After this difficulty much of the work of this first survey came under official disapproval. Failure of the government to extinguish Indian claims in a timely manner, and then Congress’s rejection of a treaty doing this made it so the Federal Land Office was not opened in Utah until March 9, 1869. There remained vast areas still not surveyed but in the areas survey in the late 1850's settlers were able to file under the Pre-emption or Homestead laws and receive patents for the land for a small per acre fee and upon complying with residence and improvement requirements secure legal title to the land.

In Cache Valley only the areas covered by the partial survey of 1856 could be claimed without more surveying. The surveyed areas were the flat areas adjacent to Bear River. In 1870 four men from Kaysville filed on four quarter sections in the area which became Lewiston to become the first to use the Homestead Law in the valley. The settlers of Richmond were upset because they had thought these lands were reserved communal lands for grazing by the established settlers. In 1875 the remainder of Cache County was surveyed, and in 1877 the survey was approved and registered. In the areas of Cache Valley where land jumping was not seen as a threat and the Church’s system of distribution the land had been successful, the settlers did not immediately seek titles to the land they were occupying. The pre-emption and homesteading laws did not provide for the small patchwork irrigated farms which had been occupied and possessed for several years. Furthermore there were the payment of $1.25 per acre for the land, other filing fees, the requirement to construct a house on the land and the trouble of traveling way down to Salt Lake City where the only land office was located. It was not until 1878 when a problem developed over land rights in Newton, and at the same time President Moses Thatcher of the Cache Valley Stake urged the people to get legal titles to all their land and make arrangements among themselves for the property lines that existed before the government surveys, the Newton residents took concerted actions in this matter.

There were a few notable exceptions for in 1875 and 1876 while the government surveyor, A. J. Stewart, was in the field in Cache County. Five pre-emption grants were initiated covering the majority of the irrigated land around Newton. An individual acted as the pre-emptor and filed on either 160 acres or 80 acres, and this agent traveled to Salt Lake City and finished the process to get the patent for the land. In the church records for each of the five pre-emption grants the large land tract was reduced into the small plots of the various possessors. The pre-emptor was paid for his time and expenses, and the many possessors shared the cost of the land and the expense of a section house, provided one was built which rarely was the case. The church acted as guarantor or guardian of the arrangement. It was a feasible solution to a thorny problem but still there was a big hitch. Where was the money coming from? The Newton farmers were having a difficult time just providing for their families, keeping their reservoir functioning, paying school taxes and tuition, Church tithing, etc. They did not have the cash to pay for this so in Newton a "Land Committee" was organized in 1878 to find the necessary funds. The committee secured a loan from a Mrs. Benson in Logan, and the five preemption grants were paid for and the patents received from the Land Office. When the five pre-emptors returned from Salt Lake City the bishop announced in church meeting that they "were ready to settle up with any one holding land of their claims." In the short term the arrangements of sub-dividing caused little trouble, but without surveying out each individual plot and obtain a legal title the land problems would plague many for a long time. A more immediate problem came when the time to repay Mrs. Benson came and there was no money to do so. Mrs. Benson demanded payment on the note she held against parties in Newton, and it reached crisis level to the point at a church meeting the bishop’s counselor read aloud the names of individuals and the amounts they owed. Then Bishop Wm. F. Rigby, who was also one of the five pre-emptors, threatened that if the individuals did not pay up immediately there would be "sheriff’s sales" of some of the land involved to secure payment of the debt. With much difficulty the money was obtained and the debt paid without the sheriff’s sale.

In the meantime few individuals began filing on quarter sections on unclaimed land which aroused suspicions and distrust. At a church meeting in May of 1877 a priesthood holder wanted to know if these quarter sections were "going to be owned for an eternal inheritance by the men who pre-empted them or whether they were for the benefit of the Public?" This pointed question turned the meeting into a heated discussion over land claims and the rights of these individual pre-emptors. In the ensuing controversy one man admitted that he had filed on two quarter sections-"one for himself and one for the public"-but he now stated he did not want his section if the brethren did not want him to have it. About this same time Peter Christensen filed for a homestead grant of 160 acres on non-irrigated land west of town. The bishop protested this move claiming the land was supposed to be "reserved for new settlers." When this brought no response the bishop in February of 1878 condemned the man’s actions declaring they were "not becoming of him as a Latter-day Saint in trying to jump" this reserved land. When religious and social pressure plus a few threats ("lose their salvation" and "their fellowship with the Saints will be called in question"), failed to bring compliance to church wishes the Ward leaders tried one more plan. They sent a couple of the older boys out to this quarter section and they began to plow it. This lasted a short time when Peter Christensen told them that he did not mind their plowing the land, but he strongly emphasized the fact that the land was his and only he would take crops from it. By now it was becoming apparent the control of land through the Church was no longer sufficient

Still the local churches tried to continue as before. In 1880 the bishop at Clarkston gave out 25 acres plot of dry farm land to his members. In Newton the bishop tried to get those filing for quarter sections to take only a portion of their claim (no more than half) as personal land and allow the church to determine who received the remainder. This policy while successful in part produced hard feeling about land the bishop had taken from the original filers. The throes of obtaining land titles heightened another problem. Peter Christensen was not officially removed from the church due to his land problem with the bishop directly. But upon the quarter section homestead he had a house constructed, and the man doing the work had a young wife who lived temporarily on the property. In the course of time Peter took the young woman as his second wife. His first wife and family lived in the southwest portion of Newton. In 1880 Peter Christensen was excommunicated from the church because of adultery. Polygamy as practiced in Mormondom was not a right but a privilege granted and controlled by the church, so Peter was cut off. In all likelihood the difficulty over the land put Peter on the course counter to his church and was the underlying cause of all that happened thereafter. While his first wife would eventually divorce him, the family operated the post office and became, so most Newtonites supposed, the primary spies on the polygamists living in Newton. Whether from this source or just the tightening laws against plural marriage, or perhaps both, Newton's ten or so polygamists spent the 1880's looking over their shoulders, time hiding out and several went to "Uncle Sam’s boarding house," as the territory penitentiary came to be called.

Through the trials and tribulations life went on. In 1887 they decided it was time to have a ward meeting house for the church. They began the construction of a frame building which they boasted would be "the largest house of worship of the settlements on the west side of Bear River." Progress on the building went well the first year as the walls and roof were constructed. In May of 1888 the people intended to have the building finished by the end of the summer. However, the following month the Newton Dam broke with a loss of almost all the stored water. This caused extremely poor crops, and together with a depression in 1890 which brought agricultural prices down thus the building was put on hold for some time. Finally in 1892 the residents pushed to complete the church building which was finished and dedicated on March 26, 1893. The ward meeting house served not only the religious aspects of life but the social as well. Within this structure were held celebrations, dances, dramas, operas, banquets and basketball games. According to which function was playing the meeting house became the "dance hall" or the "Newton Opera House." In 1903 the bishop suggested the community needed a brass band and orchestra, and with the ward’s help both were organized.

As the community grew its one room, one teacher school of the pioneer era gave way. In 1892 they made a sizeable addition to the rock school house. By the addition of an inside partition and later its removal the school moved back and forth between two and three classrooms. In 1905 the Newton School District rented the Relief Society Hall and held a third class in it until another partition in the school building provided three classroom there again. After much contention and the initial failure of a bond votes to erect a new school the community finally voted in favor of a $10,000 bond to erect a new school. Work commenced on the new structure and in January of 1908 school commenced in the new two story brick school house called the "finest schoolhouse in Cache County outside of Logan." Two months later the Cache County residents outside of Logan voted on a proposal to consolidate all the small school districts into one large county district. Although the voters rejected the proposal the Cache County commissioners ordered consolidation into the Cache County School District on March 23, 1908.

On another front the town showed signs of growth as it had a hotel, and a doctor (for two years) and a dentist tried to establish their practices in the town. Telephone, electricity and public water system came into the community in the second decade of the Twentieth Century. Entertainment played a larger role in the citizens life as many stock companies and other traveling troupes came and performed. The local residents put on plays in the town and in neighboring communities. Sports, motion picture shows, plays, concerts and even operas of a sort became much more common, and the level of sophistication perhaps was reflected when home town critics wrote a form of review of the local performances for the Logan newspaper. The coming of the railroad in the 1890's and the improvement of roads and the coming of the automobile in the 1910's opened the way for more groups to come in or the reverse as now Newton residents could go to Logan or elsewhere to expand the level of the entertainment they sought. By the second decade of the Twentieth Century businesses within the community reached their zenith, and advancements were made in the methods and ways of agriculture.

On the dark side of the landscape there was growing fear of contagious or infectious diseases. In 1900 the newly incorporated town organized a Board of Health and instituted a strict system of quarantine to prevent the spread of disease. An epidemic of scarlet fever struck the town in the winter of 1912-1913 and again in 1917. The worst outbreak was that of the Spanish influenza which almost paralyzed the community from October of 1918 through early April of 1919. At times all public gatherings were prohibited and even some funeral services were held outside the residence of the deceased. Fire also took a toll as two stores burned down, and then on the night of July 4, 1923 lightning struck the two story school building resulting in its total destruction. A new school quickly replaced it the following year. But another fire was more disastrous and long term. The ward meeting house burned down on January 9, 1929. While the effort to replace the structure began immediately the ensuing depression and later the second World War would forestall the total completion and dedication until nineteen years later. War would impact the community three times progressively in these conflicts from the minor Spanish-American War where Newton had only two volunteers, and then the Great War (World War I) and World War II. But perhaps the foremost negative influence in and on the community was the Great Depression which not only wreaked havoc on the economy but psychologically beat down the spirit of the people from the effulgent optimism of continued progress and hope of the previous three or four decades.

After World War II, Newton as well as most small communities in Cache Valley, began to experience a decline in population. From a census year high of 696 people counted in 1930 the population dropped to 480 in 1960 a decline of over thirty per cent. The trend at the time seemed irreversible until the 1970's when for economic and/or ascetic reasons most of Cache Valley’s smaller communities were "discovered" and a flow of new residents came in. By 1995 Newton’s population exceeded its previous high as the count went over 700 residents. In 1982 the Newton Ward was divided to create two LDS congregations in the community founded by this church one hundred and thirteen years earlier. While much in the community is different from the past still the core is in line with its heritage and traditions.

Author's aside : Quigley Crossing, located on the Newton Creek just northeast of Newton, was named after Andrew Quigley.


The primary sources:
Clarkston Ward Historical Record Book "A" (In the LDS Church Archives Salt Lake City, Ut.), pp. 25-62, 92.
William F. Rigby, "Excerpts from the Diary of William F. Rigby," Our Pioneer Heritage IV , pp. 255-256.
Newton Ward Historical Record Book 72329. 1871-1887 , pp. 12, 32, 81, 135, 144, 158.
Newton Ward Historical Record Book "D" , 70-81.
Newton Ward Historical Record Book "G" , p.32.
Letter of John H. Barker to Jenny Barker, Feb. 3, 1889.
Cache County Probate Court Record Book "A" , pp. 152, 161, 222, 231, 235, 237-241, 277, 283.
Cache County Probate Court Record Book "B" , pp. 581,585, 563, 615, 619.
Cache County Probate Court Record Book "C" , p. 28.
Larry D. Christiansen, A New Town in the Valley: The Centennial History of Newton, Utah , pp. 1-100.

Supplemental materials from:
Isaac Sorensen, History of Mendon: A Pioneer Chronicle of the Mormon Settlement (Utah State Historical Society, 1988), pp. 60.
Deseret News , March 15, 1871.
The Utah Journal , June 9, 1888, Feb. 11, 1911.
The Herald Journal , March 25, 1956.


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Updated: 17 May 2009

Copyright 2000-2007 by Larry D. Christiansen
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