Mantua History


Mantua

Mantua, first known as "Little Valley, is a little basin about 1 + miles wide and 2 1/4 miles long, completely surrounded by mountains.  It was well known to the early trappers and hunters.  Indian trail was the major trail for Indian tribes and early mountain men.  It ran from the south end of Cache Valley, over the mountains to Brigham City.  Parts of trail are still visible today.  It was a favorite herd ground for stock of early settlers.  In November 1856, Eli H. Perrce and others were appointed as a committee to manage and control Box Elder Valley (now Brigham City) and "Devil's Gate" Canyon for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of Brigham City.

In the spring of 1863, about twelve Danish families were called by the authorities of the L.D.S. Church to settle in this small valley.  The church authorities conceived the plan of raising flax or hemp to help with the supply of cloth.  The climate of "Little Valley", with its cool nights and short growing season, seemed to favor the growing of flax.  The flax, however, did not prove successful for use as cloth as it was too coarse.  It did make strong rope, and the finer fibers made a good thread.

The settlers made their homes in the north western part of the valley along Halling Creek.  The first houses were dugouts which were later replaced with log houses.  They located their houses in the shape of a fort for protection against hostile Indians.  The problem necessitated extreme cooperation and was one of the main factors in survival and advancement of community life in the valley.  In the early Spring of 1864, a rock fort was started, but it was abandoned as the Indians became more friendly.

Little Valley, also called Flaxville, was renamed Mantua which means beautiful gown, by President Lorenzo Snow because it reminded him of his birth place in Ohio.  In the fall, the valley adorns a beautiful gown as the leaves change color.  In 1864 the town platted north of Box Elder Creek.  The main street ran north and south and was the direct road to Cache Valley as it is today.  The part of the town south of Box Elder Creek was laid out in blocks and lots.  It was considered a part of Brigham City and was represented by one member in the city council until 1911 when the town was incorporated.

There have been many locations for the post office over the years in different homes and various stores.  A well-known landmark is a lime kiln which was run for many years by the Sheffield family of Brigham City.  It furnished lime for most of the building that was taking place in Brigham City and Bear River Valley for many years.  There have been numerous mines in the area including some gold mines.  About 1880 a saw mill, located on the south side of Big Creek, was built on the cooperative basis.  A second saw mill was located on the flat below the present L.D.S. Church on the south end of town.  Later it was moved up the canyon, south of Mantua.

One of the oldest businesses in Mantua is the Fish Hatchery located on the southeast side of Maple Creek.  It was once owned by several business corporations to raise and sell trout commercially.  The State bought the hatchery in 1970 for the purpose of improving the Bear Lake Cutthroat trout.  Sugar beets were once again grown in the valley and hauled to Brigham City on sleds in the winter, but the growing season was short and the crop was eventually abandoned.
 
Since Mantua was settled in 1863, there have been four school buildings.  Throughout the years, the students in the school of Mantua have enjoyed a closeness of spirit and unity that is experienced in little country schools.  The first church meeting house was a one-room structure, and it later became know as "the schoolhouse".  It was used for church, school, dances, parties, and shows.  A new chapel was built in 1905, and as the town grew, it was remodeled in 1952.  By 1973, the old church was bulging at the seams and a new church house was built.

There are many springs in the valley, and a man-made reservoir on the east of the town provides water.  Although the recently improved four-lane highway that gives easy access east to Logan or west to Brigham City, Mantua still enjoys the seclusive of a little valley nestled within the slopes of the majestic mountain range, providing country living at its best.  (Information taken from the book compiled by Vernon Baker.)