A History of Mapleton
Freeman C. Bird
The first part of this history from 1860 to 1900 is based on a history written by my mother, Abbie Ann Whiting Bird. Names, dates and places are from her history.
The pioneers of Mapleton were the early settlers of Springville and their children. In 1860 this tract of land was uninhabited except for the Indians and wild animals that roamed at will over this barren waste sage. The roads were the trails of the Jack rabbit, the coyote and hungry wolves.
Mapleton extended from Hobble Creek Canyon on the north to Spanish Fork Canyon on the South. Bounded on the east by the Wasatch Mountains. The large mountains at whose feet this small farming community nestled was called "Sierra Bonita," meaning "Beautiful Mountain," was named by the Indians. We always felt that it stood there in its grandure [sic] and beauty as a protection to us people of the soil. In the distant west the shining, silvery water of Utah Lake shimmered in the sun. A more beautiful valley with ideal climate and beautiful scenery could not be found.
A native grove of Cedars ran around the perimeter of this bench, from Hobble Creek to Spanish Fork Canyon. A good screen for Indian raids. Evergreen Cemetery is named because this grove of Cedars ran through it. The Cedars that remain there are part of this grove.
This bench was used as a herd ground for horses and cattle by the pioneers of Springville. Many of these animals and others from the valley were driven away by the Indians. They would come out of the canyons, gathering the horses and cattle and drive them over the high divides into the Strawberry Valley. One raid gathered 50 horses and 30 head of cattle and started up Maple Canyon. The alarm was sounded and men from Spanish Fork and Springville followed them over into Diamond Fork. Two of the posse were determined to go ahead of the group. The posse caught the Indians. The Indians had killed three beef cattle for food. The remainder of the animals were recovered.
The Indians scattered in a running fight, eight Indians were killed or wounded and their camp destroyed. The two young men who went ahead of the posse were found, one was wounded, the other killed. They found him scalped and his body mutilated. The wounded man was carried out on a stretcher by the men in the posse who were from Spanish Fork. He died of his wounds the following day. The body of the dead man was also brought out by the posse. This battle was fought in Diamond Fork on June 26, 1866. This battle was one of the more decisive battles fought with the Indians in the wars.
The Indian troubles were carried on until about 1877. Then people could live away from the forts, and feel quite safe. But the red man was stil [sic] hostile and caused troubles. They frightened the isolated people who were more or less unprotected.
Chief Walker was a very cruel man. He stole children from other tribes, carried them to the white people to be sold as slaves. He brought a little boy to Springville, the child was frightened and hungry, and Chief Walker tried to sell him to the settlers. No one could pay what he asked, he became furious took the child by the feet, hit his head on a wagon wheel and threw the lifeless body into the sagebrush. Chief Walker was one of the Indians wounded in the Diamond Fork Battle.
There is a monument in Diamond Fork Canyon for the two men who lost their lives, a Mr. Demmick and Mr. Edmonson, they were both from Spanish Fork.
In 1860 conditions had settled enough that a group of men came to this sage covered bench and tried to farm the land. They planted corn, barley, sugar cane and broom corn. This first project was located in Section 14, south and east of our church. They fenced and cleared the land and then planted seed. There was little water, the thirsty soil drank in the moisture but returned little. Three other projects were started, but all the projects failed because of Indian troubles and were abandoned. From these trials came the name Union Bench. The Indians were still hostile and resented the White mans [sic] intrusion of their hunting grounds.
By 1875 there were some shanties on Union Bench and the Homestead Act had been passed. This gave men the chance to start homes and clear the land. The first permanent homes were built by Oliver Fullmer, Charles Malmstrom, William P. Fullmer, Lucious Whiting, L.J. Whitney, Edwin Whiting, Eli Ashcraft, Richard Mendenhall, soon others followed. By 18 80 [sic] there were man [sic] families. My father moved his family on to 80 acres of land he had homesteaded, into a two room shanty. The family consisted of my father, mother, and two children. My mother said she lived in fear of the Indians for ten years. Many other families followed and by 1882 there were about forty families on Union Bench. The people traveled to Springville for their church and civic activities until 1885 when they were permitted to hold their own Sunday School. Lucious Whiting was ordained Presiding Elder, William T. Tew and John Mendenhall were his counselors and Charles M. Bird the clerk.
In 1884, Lewis R. Perry donated an acre of land on which to build their first church, and the first school. They were located where the City Building now stands. The people constructed a shanty 14 ft. x 16 ft., later they lengthened it for dances and social gatherings. Their place of amusement prior to this building was a roofed over cellar where they danced and held socials. It was built by Lucian Hall.
In 1888, in a business meeting. L.J. Whitney made a motion that the name of Union Bench be changed to Mapleton. The motion passed and Union Bench became Mapleton. Thecommunity [sic] had started to take its place and its people were proud of their accomplishments.
They held school and church, danced, held socials and everyone enjoyed themselves in the first little building on the land donated by Lewis R. Perry until 1888. On August 6, 1888, Apostle Francis M. Lyman, A.O. Smoot of the Utah Stake and Nephi Packer, Bishop of Springville, organized a ward in Mapleton. The first Bishop was Lucious Whiting with William T. Tew and John Mendenhall as counselors and Charles M. Birs [sic] as Clerk. The ward organizations followed. The first Priesthood Meeting was held August 6, 1888 with thirty-four men presetn [sic]. The Relief Sociey [sic] was organized with Annie Van Leuven as President. On December 8, 1888 the YMMIA and YWMIA were organized by George H. Brimhall and Zina Mechan from the Utah Stake with Charles M. Bird as YMMIA President and Abbie Ann Bird as YWMIA President. Samuel O. Fullmer was named as President of the Elders Quoru [sic].
On July 4, 1887, the first baptisims [sic] were performed in Mapleton. Charles Monroe Bird Jr., Milton Curtis and Hattie Whiting Jensen were the first Baptisms. Vina Malmstrom was the first child born in Mapleton, and Ester Whiting was the first person to pass away.
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HISTORY OF MAPLETON ** FREEMAN C. BIRD CONT.
They held school and church, danced, held socials and everyone enjoyed themselves in the first little building on the land donated by Lewis R. Perry until 1888. On August 6, 1888, Apostle Francis M. Lyman, A. O. Smoot of the Utah stake, and Nephi Packard, Bishop of Springville, organized a ward in Mapleton. The first Bishop was Lucious Whiting with William T. Tew and John Mendenhall as counselors and Charles M. Bird as clerk. The ward organizations followed. The first Priesthood meeting was held August 6, 1888 with thirty four men present. The Relief Society was organized with Annie Van Leuven as President. On December 8, 1888 the YMMIA and YWMIA were organized by George H. Brimhall and Zina Mecham from the Utah Stake with Charles M. Bird as YMMIA President a nd [sic] Abbie Ann Bird as YWMIA president. Samuel O. Fullmer was named as President of the Elders Quorum.
On July 4, 1887, the first baptisms were performed in Mapleton. Charles Monro Bird Jr., Milton Curtis, and Hattie Whiting Jensen were the first baptisms. Vina Malmstrom was the first child born in Mapleton, and Ester Whiting was the first person to pass away.
With the ward organized and growing there was a need for a larger church. In a Priesthood Meeting, John Mendenhall, William T. Tew and Charles M. Bird were called as a committee to find and purchase a suitable spot for a new building. Matelda Streeper owned the land in the center of Mapleton, the committee called on her and she offered to give them one acre of land if they would build immediately. The people were eager and excited and went to work. They constructed a large church built of brick. By 1889 the new church which filled their needs for church and entertainment was completed. The people were neighborly and community life took on a new interest. We enjoyed July 4th and July 24th celebrations and Christmas parties around the new church.
I was baptized in the Big Hollow west of Mapleton in 1900. I became a deacon in 1904. I took my place in the Aaronic Priesthood. We Deacons did the janitorial work in the church. We swept, cleaned, dusted, cleaned the lamp chimney, chopped the wood for the pot bellied stove to heat the building. Two deacons per week were assigned this task.
Forty families needed schools. The citizens built three one room schools, the North, the Central, and the South. The North School was on 300 West 800 North. The Central was built where the fire station now stands. The south was at 800 South 580 West, the Buss Williams home. All the grades were taught in each school.
My first year at school was in 1898 in the little Central School. In 1899 a new Central School was built, where all the grades had a room for themselves. In 1893, the people whose children attended the South School were permitted to organize a Sunday School. Thomas Williams was Superintendent, Greg Metcalf organist, Ted Marchbank chorister. This Sunday School was discontinued in 1906.
In 1888 the citizens of Mapleton petitioned the County Commissioners to become a town. John R. Bromley was elected the first town president with William T. Tew, John H. Lee, C.S. Houtz, and John Tuckett as Board Members with C.M. Bird as clerk. Mapleton remained a town until 1948, with a group of new officers every two years. Roads were graveled, cnals [sic] built from Hobble Creek Canyon to the farms. Many more improvements were made. A good school system under the County, a franchise was given to the Utah Power and Light. Electric power was brought to Mapleton, blowing out all candles and coal oil lamps. Burton E. Tew was elected town President in 1948 and before his term as President was ended Mapleton became a 3rd class city. Mr. Tew was sworn in as the first Mayor. The first City Council consisted of Ernest Binks, H. Reese Anderson, S. Lavell Bird, Freeman C.Bird and Willis Harmer as clerk.
Elmer W. Bird was the first elected Mayor of Mapleton in 1952. The first elected City Council was John C. Perry, George Murray, Elmer Wiscombe, Lewis Wing, Jack Canto, Freeman C. Bird and Norris F. Binks, clerk. I served 6 yrs.