Thatcher History
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Thatcher History


Thatcher is a small community that was settled in the early 1890's.  It is located just west of Tremonton.  Thatcher was one of the first settlements on the west side of the Bear River Valley.  As was typical of the area, most of the ground was covered with sage brush.  Although there were a few non-Mormons who settled in this area, the settlers were predominantly L.D.S. (Mormon).  Some of the settlers came from Scandinavian countries who were sponsored by someone sending money for their immigration fees.  Upon arrival in this country, they worked for this sponsor to pay off this obligation.

The territory including Bothwell, Thatcher, Penrose and Promontory was known as Roweville, named after William A. Rowe who was an instigator in building the Bothwell Canal.  Thatcher was later named after Moses Thatcher, an apostle of the L.D.S. Church living in Logan.  Until the Bothwell canal was finished in 1892, there were only a few settlers, most had dry farms they would run during the summer and return to their permanent homes in other sections of the valley for the rest of the year.  As the canal was completed, however, this valley began to fill with permanent settlers, both Mormons and non-Mormons.  The valley had been surveyed and ditches made.  Many of the places were homesteaded, and others were purchased from the Eastern company that sponsored the canal.

The first water was turned into the canal in 1892, and it was the only water supply they had for irrigation, as well as for domestic use.  The people did not know how to use the water from the canal properly.  They thought that since they had so much water available, they might as well use it.  They let the water run almost continuously on the land, thus causing the land to become water logged, allowing alkali to surface.  They put in open drains, but the drains quickly filled with silt.  They tried putting tile drains in by hand, but they couldn't keep the bottom level for a fall.  Finally, they got a tile machine which made the work faster and they were able to make a more level slope.

In 1894 a branch of the L.D.S. Church was organized with Joseph M. Stokes as the presiding elder.  It was called the Roweville Branch and belonged to the Bear River City Ward.  In 1895 the first schoolhouse was built in Bothwell.  Bothwell became a ward in June of 1898 and everyone in this area belonged to that Ward.  On July 5, 1895 a meeting was held at the residence of Christian Tolna Peterson, and a Sunday School called Rawlings Sabbath School was organized.  At the time of the 1900 Ward conference, there were three Sunday Schools known as East side (Bothwell), West Side (Thatcher), and Allen (Penrose).  It was at this conference that they decided to secure a cemetery.

The first mail was brought from Bear River City.  When rural free delivery was begun, a canvas bag with a drawstring on top served as a mail box.  Each resident had a post in front of his place with a hook on, and the mail carrier hung their sack on it.

The first school in Thatcher was held for one year in the Freeburg home and then at an adobe house just south of the old Thatcher store.  A one-room schoolhouse was erected in about 1898 on the NW quarter of Section 15.  On February 15, 1902, a branch of the L.D.S. Church was organized at Thatcher, with James Nelson Jr. as presiding elder.  September 28, 1902, the branch was made into a ward and included the Penrose and Promontory branches.  Mr Nelson was the first bishop.  For many years Richard G. Watt also presided as bishop of Thatcher.  The town maintains a commodius church and school building.

Hay and grain were the only crops grown in the valley until the railroad came through.  Then farmers began raising sugar beets, and this area began to prosper.  The farmers sold their hay to sheep men who wintered their sheep there.  There would be eight to twelve herds wintered along the hills.  Apples were grown but because of low prices, blight and disease, many of the orchards that had been planted were soon pulled out.  Everyone had large vegetable gardens, and they had their own milk, butter, and eggs.  Some of them braided rugs, and they had straw ticks on their beds.  Oluf Jeppson was the first blacksmith, and later A.C. Christensen came from Brigham City.  One of the first stores was the Foxley store.  In 1900, Hewett Tolman began to come through once a week with a light wagon filled with groceries and dry goods.  The children collected eggs to trade for his candy licorice.  He was known as the "Little Peddler."  In 1911 when Mr. Tolman discontinued his peddle wagon, he opened a store in Thatcher.