Bear River Valley History


The Bear River Valley was originally inhabited by the Fremont and Shoshoni Indians. The French-Canadian trappers entered the valley early in the 1800's.

As best as can be determined DEWEYVILLE was the first town in Bear River Valley, settled by William Empey in 1864. Later, John C. Dewey and his family settled in the area. The post office was established in 1873 and the town was named DEWEYVILLE.

In 1866 Scandinavian Mormon converts were assigned by Brigham Young to live by the Bear River north and west of Corinne. Michael Bourdon, a French Canadian trapper, named the river because of the numerous black, brown and grizzly bears found in the region at the time. The town was named after the river, BEAR RIVER CITY.


In 1867 people from Wellsville, Utah, settled just south of the Idaho state line. It first had a name of Hay Town, which refers to the large hay fields grown there. It was later named PORTAGE.

In 1869 PLYMOUTH was settled, just south of the Idaho border. It was first named squaretown, because the first four families built homes on adjoining corners of four sections of land. It was named Plymouth for the imagined resemblance of a nearby large rock to the Plymouth Rock.

SNOWVILLE is near Deep Creek and the Idaho border. It was settled in 1871 by Idahoans who named their community after Mormon Apostle Lorenzo Snow, who was assigned to supervise the development of this section of the Utah Territory.

TREMONTON, the largest town in the Bear River Valley, was first colonized by white settlers in 1888. These settlers were farmers that came from Nebraska, as well as a German Colony from Tremont, Illinois. They came to farm the irrigated pastures available in the area. Three of these farmers, John Shuman, Fred Nihart, and John Petty, first laid out the town of Tremonton in the spring of 1903. They chose the site due to its central location on the crossroads of the Bear River Valley as well as for its location on the Malad branch of the Oregon Shortline Railroad. For the first few weeks of the town's existence, it was without a name. Then the town manager, Fred Nihart, named the town Tremont at the request of the German inhabitants from Illinois. After three to four years, the town had an identity problem due to the close pronounciation to another Utah town, Fremont. The postal authorities requested the new town change its name. To remedy the problem, two letters were added to the end of the name making the official name Tremonton.

GARLAND is a small thriving community one mile north of Tremonton. It was originally settled in 1890 and was later named for William Garland who led the construction of the Bothwell Canal. He was a leader in developing the sugar beet industry in the region.

FIELDING is a small agricultural town originally settled in 1892-1893. The town was officially named in honor of the mother of Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Mormon Church.

HONEYVILLE is 10 miles north of Brigham City. The early settlement was first known as Hunsaker's Mill. Joseph Orme, the first permanent settler, suggested the area be called Hunsakerville, after the first Mormon bishop, Abraham Hunsaker. Hunsaker had a large herd of cattle and milk cows. In the mountains east of the settlement, the settlers regularly raided several wild beehives for the honey. Hunsaker asked the settlement be named Honeyville, because the area reminded him of the biblical Canaan, a land of milk and honey.

HOWELL is a small agricultural community that was first settled in 1910. The Promontory-Curlew Land Company laid the town out. It is named after Joseph Howell, President of the company and Utah's Representative to the United States Congress.

ELWOOD is located two miles southeast of Tremonton. It was established in 1929, with an early name of Manila Ward, in honor of Commodore George Dewey's victory in the Spanish American War. The name was later changed to Elwood by the postal authorities to avoid confusion with the Manila Voting Precinct.

GROUSE CREEK is a small rural ranching and farming community of about 80 people located in the Northwest corner of Utah, about 8 miles from the Nevada border and 18 miles from the Idaho border. The first settlers came from Tooele in 1875. They were attracted to the area because of the acres of natural meadows for their herds to feed on. The first settlers built log houses with dirt roofs and rock floors. The families of the Tanners and Kimbers hold a reunion each year on the 4th of July where many of the descendants return to celebrate their heritage.


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