PAYSON–THE FIRST 100 YEARS
PART 3–David Crockett--First Mayor
Payson Historical Society
Walker War — First Grist Mill Built
“The first city council was organized in April, 1853, with David Crockett elected mayor; others in the council were: Alderme” n, Benjamin F. Stewart, John B. Fairbanks, James E. Daniels, Israel Calkins, James McClellan; Councilors, David Fairbanks, James Adair, Henry Nebeker, Elijah Haws, William C. McClellan, Breede Searle, H. Stevens, James B. Brackin, Samuel Adair, Joseph Curtis, Benjamin Cross and George Wilson. From then on the Bishops, City Council and Citizens have worked together for civic betterment and the growth of this community.
Mayor Crockett had only been in office a short time at the outbreak of the Walker War.
In consequence of the Indian trouble, the people David Crocket were compelled to fort in again, in many instances the houses had to be torn down (they were made of logs) and built in fort style. The settlement had grown so that it made a row of houses sixty rods square. The Pioneers built a fort around the settlement. The wall was four feet thick, eight feet high on the inside, and sloped to the outside. The mud was taken from a trench four feet deep on the outside of the wall. The north wall was never completed as the trouble came from the south. Gates were on the south and east. The east gate was located at the old adobe barn. The public square was in the center of the fort, where the Nebo Stake Tabernacle now stands. A flagpole stood in the center of the square and a public well to the north of it. There was also a public woodpile.
Bishop Cross died Dec. 30, 1853, and this left the bishopric in charge of the councilors, Breede Searles and Joseph Curtis. Not until March 5, 1854 another bishop ordained. Charles B. Hancock was then put in as bishop with James McClellan and John B. Fairbanks as Councelors. The first adobe houses were built in 1855, and a few shingles were now being used on roofs instead of dirt. Charles B. Hancock, Breede Searles and others built a grist mill. This was quite an undertaking, as the building and machinery had to be built out of mountain timber. The only iron obtainable for gudgeons and other parts where iron had to be used, was old wagon tires and scraps.
The Deseret News, August 29, 1855 states: "The inhabitants of Payson Nephi, Palmyra. Springville, etc. are respectfully invited to call and try the Payson Grist Mill, where they can get as good a turn out of flojur and of the best quality as any mill in the county. Charles B. Hancock and Co..
P. S. “We will warrant 43 lbs. of good flour to 60 lbs. of good wheat."
This mill was purchased by Orrawell Simons about the year 1860. He rebuilt and improved it. Pardon Webb built the first saw mill in Payson Canyon, and started the manufacture of lumber and shingles during the year of 1854. The roads to the canyon were improved in order to get out the lumber which was not only used in Payson but surrounding settlements.
Henry Nebeker built a school house in 1855. and although it was a private school he let it be used for public purposes of all kinds and the children of the town were allowed to attend school there. Jane Simons and Isaiah M. Coombs were among the first teachers.
The first theatrrical performance was given in 1856. Joseph Barker, Salt Lake City, gunsmith, plaved the lead, taking the part of "Luke the Laborer," in a drama of that name. The play was given in the home of Franklin Stewart. Cotton cloth, without paint was used for scenery.
During this year the Indians killed some people in Cedar Valley so the citizens again had to keep guard, both around the towns and their herds of cattle and horses. Farmers had to plow and sow with gun in hand.
The bishop lead out in building a Tithing House in 1858. A cellar was excavated 34 by 56 feet on the outside. This was walled up with sandstone, then adobe and notive pine were used. The basement was completed the first year, with just a dirt floor. A stage was built in the south end. Cans of tallow with a rag in the center, and candles lighted the hall. The bishop seeing that the men were willing to work, had them build a stone wall around the tithing yard about two or three feet high. A small cellar was built with a tannery and machine shop on the top.
The year 1858 was the year of the "Move". The President of the United States, James Buchanan, sent out a large army to invade Utah, as it was reported that the Mormons were not loyal to the government. All the people in Salt Lake and north of there were told to move south. This brought many into Payson, especially the poorer class as they could go no further. Bishop Hancock, realizing the condition of the people, led out in many enterprises in order to make work. He built another grist mill in the upper part of town. This mill was purchased in the year 1880 by the Payson Co-operative Institution. They had a first-class merchant mill built on the site and commenced operation with James Finlayson in charge. In 1881, Finlayson became the owner. Better roads were made into the canyon. With his brother George W. a glove factory was started, lumber yard, tannery, shoe shop and etc.”*
*Quoted from “The Payson Story” pages 2-3, published by the Payson Centennial Committee, October 1950