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THE GOSHEN VALLEY PERIOD
Approximately 1856 to 1863
This material is taken from the Goshen Valley History by Raymond Duane Steele who has very carefully documented this history for accuracy.
In the spring of the year 1856, two or more men came into Goshen Valley on horseback looking for seme cattle which had strayed during the night. Phineas Cook was one of these men. They had followed the tracks of their cattle and were thus led into the valley and across it, scmewhere a little south of what is now called White Lake.
The newcomers were pleased with what they found. On the lowland near the East side was a swamp and meadow area about three miles long and one mile wide watered by the water from some warm springs on the south end.
As Cook and his companions made their way across the valley, they discovered still another large meadow area. This one was about five miles long and a mile wide and was watered by a fairly large creek of water which entered the valley from the south and was fed by some springs and the melting snow on the high mountains in the distance.
The discovery party too, no doubt, saw the large ireas of rich, 3oamy, black soil and realized at a glance its possibilities for crop production. Cook, who seemed to be the leader of the group, studied the situation further and concluded that with what natural resources and materials locally available, a dam could be built across the meandering creek and the water diverted onto the adjacent low-lying farm land.
Other factors necessary for a settlement were most likely also surveyed and evaluated. After the straying cattle had been rounded up and driven back into the valley from which they had wandered, (probably Payson), Phineas Cook lost no time in making his way to Salt Lake City and to President Brigham Young from whom he sought permission to establish a new colony.
His request, evidently, was immediately granted, because we find him in the sunnier of 1856 at the head of a group of about twenty-five men building an irrigation dam across what was then named Little Salt Creek, (Later Currant Creek).
We do not know the names of the men who helped Cook put in this first dam. The most authentic information we do have comes from an eye witness account of one of our first residents, Mikkel Powelson, who stated that he thought most of the crew were working for wages or on a swap-work arrangement of some kind. They camped all summer by their work, one and one-half miles west of the present town of Goshen. Before winter set in, most of the men returned to their homes, but Phineas Cook and a few others remained in the valley during the winter of 1856-57. This, however, was counted as a mere camp and not a settlement.
How did Goshen get its name? Some of the early residents of the town claim it was so named because of its resemblance to the "Land of Goshen" given to Jacob and his sons by Pharoah and Joseph as related in Genesis, Chapter 17 Verses 6-11 where Pharoah said to Joseph, "The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell."
It may be that Phineas Cook and his associates in 1856 thought this valley to be the best of the land with its rich, black soil, lush meadows, and grassy uplands, and so named the place Goshen.
Others argue that the valley and town were named after Phineas Cook's home town, Goshen, Massachusetts.
In the spring of 1857, the actual settlement of Goshen took place when the following ten families moved in as early as possible to build a fort, prepare the soil, and plant crops. According to the best sources available, the names of these first ten families are: Phineas Cook family, William Finch family, Paul Gourley family, George Ekins family, Henry H. Dahl family, Madsen Powelson-Jasperson family and James Gardner, single.
Before the summer ended there were perhaps twenty-five or more families in the new settlement. As soon as the new colonists arrived they decided upon a site for a fort and settlement about two miles north of the present town of Goshen on the east side of what was then called Salt Creek. In view of the Indian troubles throughout the new settlements, Brigham Young advised the new comers to build themselves a substantial fort to protect them frcm the depredations of the Indians. Two projects were uppermost in the minds of the settlers. One was to construct the fort and build shelters, and the other was to prepare the ground for seeding and to plant crops.
According to authentic records, a fort, enclosing about two acres laid out in a square, was built that spring The walls were built of large cedar posts and filled in between with sod from the nearby meadow. These provided the needed protection for both man and beast. Besides the materials for the walls were easily obtained thus enabling the pioneers to make good headway. The buildings inside the fort were mostly log cabins with sod chimneys with gunny sacks hung over the windows in place of glass. Some of the other dwellings inside the fort were merely dugouts. At nights what cattle, horses, and sheep the people had were locked in the enclosure. Sentries were on duty both day and night. Each man had to take his turn at this important duty.
Meanwhile the dam across the creek had been completed and the work of preparing the land and seeding it went on. Great care was taken to give their crops every advantage. Crop failure this year meant ruin and hunger.
As the summer advanced, the flour supply of the colonists began to dwindle. Something must be done to get more. Manti, some sixty-five miles to the south (and east) of Goshen, was the nearest point from which flour could be obtained. The road between here and Manti was at that time infested with Indians. It would be a dangerous undertaking for anyone to reach the mill and return in safety with the load required. Bishop Phineas Cook called for volunteers. Several men volunteered. Among these was James Gardner who said he would go but that he wanted to go alone since he felt that he could do the job without assistance. Finally, Bishop Cook consented, so Gardtier made ready his team, wagon and provisions and set off to purchase the flour and bring it home. All the people came out of the fort to watch him depart. Some with misgivings, that he would never make it there and bade and some wondering what would happen to them if he failed.
There were numerous stories afloat in the community telling how men had been robbed and scalped on just such expeditions as this. As time went on and James Gardner did not return, the nerves of the people became very tense Some of the more pessimistic of the group said they had known all along that he would never make it, while others who perhaps knew Gardner better, felt sure that he would accomplish his mission.
One day while the hungry people at the fort were still in this state of anxiety, a dust appeared on the road at the south end of the valley. Before long the lookout could make out a lone outfit slowly making its way towards the cormunity. The news scon spread. Before long some men mounted horses and rode out to see who it was. Yes, sure enough, it was James Gardner! He had successfully made the round trip and brought back the much needed flour. All of the people rejoiced.
During the sunmer of 1858 a bowery was built within the walls of the Old Fort, also called Sodom. Here all of the cotmunity meetings were held that summer. Observance of the Fourth of July was given greater attention this year than had been possible the previous Natal Day of our Country.
These early Mormon Pioneers were patriotic, loyal Americans and did what they could to celebrate the Fourth even though they were out in the wilderness. The flag was raised, a conmunity dinner was served, speeches were made, songs were sung, and as usual in Mormon gatherings of this kind, a place was prepared and dancing enjoyed to conclude the day's observance and celebration.
As the summer of 1858 advanced, more people came to the Old Fort. This was due in part to what was known in Utah as the "Move" of 1858. Johnston's army of about twenty-five hundred men had entered Utah and passed through Salt Lake City June 26, 1858. A few days later they made camp in Cedar Valley just over the hills to the northwest not far from the little settlement of Goshen. During the following three or four years the settlers had a ready cash market for their surplus grain, beef, mutton, butter, eggs, poultry, straw, forage and fresh vegetables.
At Camp Floyd, where the army had been stationed, the people were able to buy groceries, clothing and other necessities if they chose. Since the only industries at Fort Sodom were agriculture and stock raising, this new cash market proved a boon to the residents.
Camp Floyd had a population second in size only to Salt Lake City. They paid for whatever they bought from the Goshenites in gold coins in denomination of $2.50, $5.00, $10.00, $20.00 and $40.00. When they came into the valley, they brought with them lots of mules, harnesses, wagons, guns and most all kinds of merchandise. It was from the Army conmissary at Camp Floyd that some of the Goshen boys purchased their first leather shoes and factory made clothing.
In the year 1860 the soldiers had orders to sell out and leave Camp Floyd as the Civil War was about to break out. They condemned their horses, wagons, mules, guns and swords. A good many of their animals, branded with a large "C" were sold at public auction. Horses and mules went by the span from $5.00 to $100.00. One large wagon with three sets of harnesses brought $30.00. In 1861 they left and went south.
In the fall of 1859 the people of the Old Fort selected a new site for a settlement on the bench land, as it was called, which lay about one mile to the southwest of the Fort. The reason for this move being that their present area was too low, boggy and unhealthful. Before winter set in most of the people had moved from Sodom to the new location which held promise of being a pleasant, suitable place for a new town.
However, they were destined to be disappointed in their new site. It wasn't dampness this time; but it was the wind and sand. Whenever the wind blew — and it seemed as if it was always blowing — it had a habit of picking up the dry, drifting sand and depositing it in the eyes, hones and beds of the inhabitants. This place was therefore called "Sandtown". No meeting house was ever built in this new location. The meetings of the Saints were held in private hones.
Not all of the people went to Sandtcwn when the move from the Old Fort was made in 1859-1860. A small number of the settlers moved over the creek about three hundred yards to the southwest and established a small town they called "Mechanicsville." Sandtcwn and Mechanicsville both lasted only a short time.
Frcm the beginning of the Goshen Colony, Phineas W. Cook had served the people here as Presiding Elder with John Reynolds and John Rouse as his counselors.
Early in the spring of 1860 Phineas Cook was released from his position of Presiding Elder over the members of the Dformon Church in Goshen and William Price was ordained a bishop, February 15, 1860 while yet in Salt Lake City, and appointed to preside over the Goshen Ward.
THE GOSHEN PERIOD
As Recorded By Carl Cock, Son Of Phineas W. Cook
While he (Phineas W. Cook) was living at Payson, his mules strayed away and in searching for them he wandered ; over the hills toward the south, until he saw the meadows, bogs, and brush-land where Goshen is now. He felt the thrill of pioneering, so he applied to President Brigham, as he fondly designated the great leader, and secured permission and encouragement, as well as direct counsel and instruction, to take a colony of families which President Young called, and go and make a settlement.
In 1857 father, in charge of a colony, went to the southwest from Payson and started to establish a settlement. They had no time to get logs from the distant mountains and build houses for winter shelter, so they dug pits, covered them with poles, grass and earth and called them dug-outs. In these they lived very comfortably (?) (I wonder about light, heat and ventilation.) until some time in February. Then the water began to rise; and seep into their homes and they were obliged to move to higher ground, and burrow again for the rest of the winter. Later under the personal supervision of President; Young, they moved the settlement a mile or two further upland and began building more permanent homes.
We do not know when the town was named, but it was no doubt for the birthplace of its first Bishop, who was born at Goshen, Connecticut.
At any rate, father was the first presiding officer in the colony and the people called him Bishop. I talked with an old man at Santaquin, Utah in 1930, who remembered Bishop Cook, of Goshen, and he gave me the details of the early settlement and the "Dug-outs."
It was while living in Goshen that a Mr. Teeples came courting my sister Harriet, whom she married when she was only fifteen years of age. She also gave me much of the history of my father, as recorded herein.
After presiding there as Bishop for a few years, pro-' bably not more than four or five, father was released and a trip to California. Later he came back and moved clay house from. Goshen to a new location down on the st side of Utah Lake where he took up a place and called the "Long Tree Place." Here he built a stockade com- of sheds, corrals, etc., of heavy cedar posts set together. A sort of shelter against Indian's as well as from wind or storm. He had a consider-lot of hay in stacks, which he had cut on the nearby ral meadows, and enough livestock to feed it to. But caused by ashes thrown out in the yard, from the stove in the house, and fanned by the wind burned stockade, sheds, hay and all, late in the fall and them in distress to take care of the stock.
Later, in answer to a call from President Young, he to Camp Floyd for a year and he was then called to help settle Bear Lake Valley.