Maeser (Mill Ward)


Photo: The Old Maeser Mill destroyed by fire in 1934

The town of Maeser, formerly known as Mill Ward was settled in the Fall of 1877. When the first post office was established, it was given the name Buena Vista and then changed to Mill Ward (named for the LDS church ward in the area which had several mills operating in the vicinity). To avoid confusion it was then again changed to Maeser, named after Karl G. Maeser, an early LDS Church eduacator.

The first schoolhouse was built in the area in 1882. Some of the earliest pioneers in the settlement were the Downing and Mason families, Rich and Rock Gill, G.W. Vangundy, William and Finn Britt, and S. Pete Dillman. Those coming in the fall of 1879, just before the hard winter, were the Robert Bodily family, Martin Oaks family, William Shaffer, W.G. and Bob Reynolds, Heber Timothy, Ben and Eph Green.

During the hard winter of 1879 flour became very scarce and a way to grind flour for the settlers was desperately needed. W.G. Reynolds and Moroni Taylor went near what is now Fairview cemetary and got two large boulders. Mr. Taylor was a stone cutter and under his direction two burrs were cut. W.G. Reynolds faced the burrs and put them in a frame, one stationary with their faces together. They were attached to a horsepower which would turn the other burr. Because of their crudeness and inefficiency, dirt, wheat and all were ground into the finished product. As winter advanced the horses became very poor and weak and it was necessary for the men to assist them in turning the mill. This milling was done in Ashley Center, now Vernal. In 1880, Robert Bodily gave William Reynolds fourty acres of land for a mill site, upon which the first flour mill in Ashley Valley was built. William P. Reynolds, father of William G. and Bob (Beldon) Reynolds moved here and assisted with the building of the Reynolds mill, which was completed with one room by Christmas, 1880. Martin Oaks hauled all of the logs and Jesse McCarrell and G.W. Vangundy were two of the carpenters. The two burrs which had been used for the Ashley Center the previous winter were moved to the new mill site and used until new machinery could be installed.

Mr. Reynolds operated this mill for about 25 years until it was purchased by W.L. Fletcher and it was known as the Farmers Mill, with W.G. Reynolds still serving as miller until a short time before his death in April, 1920. Some years later Mr. Fletcher sold to Farmers Milling Company. David Ellis became the next owner and operated it until it was destroyed by fire in 1934 and Maeser lost one of her old landmarks.

Other Maeser businesses:
About 1888, Lycurgus Johnson, who was in the mercantile business at Old Ashley, rected a flour mill which operated for over 20 years. George Goodrich was hired as one of the first millers.

The first store in Maeser was operated by Moroni Gerber. William Rutledge became proprietor of this store some years later and operated it for many years.

There were three blacksmith shops located in this ward during it's early days. Mr. Hatch operated a shop in 1895. Robert Bodily operated a shop on the corner of his old home. Joe Ritter owned a shop but it was used more as a private shop. In 1897, William Rudge came (to Maeser) from England and built a shop just west of the old Mark Hall residence.

William Oaks was one of the first men to burn gypsum. Maeser ward furnished gypsum to Dr. Earl Douglas for plaster used in the Carnegie Museum, as well as to Ashley Valley residents for many years.

Pat Carroll erected a sawmill just off the old Ft. Thornburg military reserve. It was run by water power and supplied lumber to early settlers of the entire valley.

D.H. Workman constructed the first lime kiln in Maeser for the purpose of burning lime for plaster. This kiln was located one-fourth mile from the old Glen Oaks residence.

-From the "Builders of Uintah", courtesy of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers

Last Updated: 06.16.2015