Elwood History


Elwood

In about 1850, when the stagecoach went from Corinne, Utah to Montana, the road passed through a tract of land that was covered with an abundance of bunch grass that was favorable for grazing.  Herds of cattle and bands of sheep grazed there in the summertime.  The first permanent settlement was made in 1868 when Mr. Davidsen and his family took up what was known as "Squatter Rights" on a tract of land on the bank of the Malad River.  Other settlers came as homesteaders and began the task of building homes, farms, and families.

In 1866, Anders Peter Andersen and his four brothers planted and harvested the first 20 acre field of dryland grain in the state.  From this humble beginning, the great dryland industry was developed in the West. The land went under cultivation and sugar beets became a major crop.  In 1918, a branch railroad was built from the U & I Sugar Factory in Garland to Elwood to transport the sugar beet harvest to the factory.  In 1922-23, the Elwood Drainage District titled a large portion of the land in the area and brought even more ground under cultivation.

In 1889 a branch of the Church of Jesus christ of Latter Day Saints was organized.  Stake President Lorenzo Snow ordained A.C. Hunsaker as the Presiding Elder.  The branch was named "Fairview" after President Snow remarked " What a fair view you have here!"  The branch carried this name for eleven years.

Also in 1889, a post office for the settlement was applied for.  At that time it was discovered that there was already a town in Utah named Fairview.  The name Manila was suggested, but again, there was already a town named Manila in Utah.  The U S Mail Service suggested the name of Elwood.  The name was accepted by the community, but it wasn't until 1898 that a post office was established at the home of Charles Kroksh.  This was the first and only post office in Elwood.

In 1889-90, in a one-room log building on the property of A.C. Hunsaker, the first school convened.  There were 13 students that first year.  In 1891 a brick one-room school house was erected, and by 1917 it was expanded to 4 rooms.

In 1900 a Ward of the L.D.S. Church was established called the Manila Ward, however, in 1901 the name was changed to Elwood Ward so it would have the same name as the post office.  P.M. Hansen was the first bishop.  In 1904, an amusement hall was built by allotments contributed by the Saints and was used for religious services as well as for amusements.  In 1930 a chapel and recreation hall were completed.

The first Bell Telephone in the settlement was in the store of N.A. Petersen in about 1902.  In 1904-05, the Bear River Valley telephone service was brought from Tremonton, and almost every home had this convenience.  In 1921, the electric line was brought from Tremonton, and the settlers very much enjoyed this advantage.

In the spring, summer, and fall, the ground was cultivated, planted and harvested.  In the winter, wagons and sleighs were used to harvest ducks and geese.  Nothing was wasted.  The meat was eaten, and the feathers made pillows and mattresses. Livestock was tended, cows milked, and eggs gathered each day.  There was always much work to be done, but friends and neighbors gathered together often.  The ladies "quilting bees" not only produced warm quilts, but proved an enjoyable social occasion.  Dances were held frequently in various homes.  At first the music was furnished by K.H. Fridal on his violin, and later the Bear River Brass Band was organized.  It consisted of musicians from Bear River City and Elwood. Many if these musicians could play more than one instrument.  If seven or eight couples participated, they felt they had a good crowd, and a good time was enjoyed by all.

Elwood has continued to grow and prosper.  Elwood is still home to  many ancestors of the early settlers.  Some of them live on the same property their forefathers homesteaded, and some live in the original homes that have been renovated and remodeled.  Challenges have changed, but the sense of community remains strong.