By Lyman Cook
The following articles are a collection of stories and events that have been a part of Plain City. These are in no way a complete list of the stories that could be told. We have older people who can remember the colorful events and stories, the eras of history, and they should be told and recorded. I hope these people will do so while they are here to tell them. I have touched upon a few. Whether the stories are good or bad, it has not been my purpose or intent to have all the questions and answers, but merely to help your mind reflect upon the beautiful memories of Plain City.
Please, as readers, do not take any personal offense or injury to any of the stories. They were not written with any unkindness in mind, but hopefully you will enjoy them.
The stories are, in reality, a tribute and a compliment to the early settlers of Plain City. I cannot comprehend the magnitude of courage and strength, and the hardships those early pioneer men and women endured. How unselfishly they worked and planned for the betterment of Plain City to make it a better place for you and I to live todays. I have a deep personal feeling that we owe them everything.
The most interest and pleasure that the book has brought to me has been the fact that I have had an opportunity to visit in the homes of so many wonderful and interesting people. Compiling, reading, and writing the history has so fascinated and compelled me that I have stayed up all night, only to find in the morning that I am justices refreshed as if I had slept all night.
The following people have been so kind and helpful to me in writing the stories. They have told me stories, and refreshed my memory. I feel a deep appreciation for them, and I feel that they should be recognized. They are: Mrs Lavina Thomas (on tape), Lyle Thomas, Byron Carver, Lee Carver, Laura Musgrave, George Knight, Clyde Hadley, Amy Robson, Harvey and Jennie Cook, Dick and Luella Skeen, Bill and Nonie Freestone, Irene Skeen, Ivy Skeen Marsden, and many others: Kris Ewert, for her printing. A special thanks to all. And also Ina Poulsen.
“TRUE STORIES AND COLORFUL EVENTS OF PLAIN CITY”
One of the pleasant memories of a cold, crisp, clear pioneer winter night, was the jingling of sleigh bells as families made their way to church or to visit with friends or neighbors. The rich sound of their ringing through the hollow night air could be heard all over town. First starting out faintly and then increasing in volume as they approached their destination. It would seem that the still, peaceful night was just made for the ringing of the sleigh bells.
Almost all the families had a string~of sleigh bells that were a prized possession, and a family treasure. Some of the larger strands would go across the back of the horses and around underneath the stomach, also a strand would fit on the hames. The quality of the workmanship that produced the full, rich tones will continue to enrich our memories of the past. Maybe if we let our minds be calm and drift back through the years, we can still hear the tinkling of the sleigh bells.
PIONEER HOMES, WASH DAYS, FEATHER TICKS, COLD BEDROOMS,
OLD COAL OR WOOD STOVES
The pioneer home was usually built with two rooms, and as the family income and new family members came along, they would add an addition of bedrooms, and a dining room, parlor, or living room. There was usually a large cook stove for the parlor and dining room. The kitchen was the center of activity in the home, and only on special occasions, or when company came, would they build a fire in the other rooms. They would usually bank the stoves with wood or coal to last as long as possible. But by morning, the fire was always out. They would have two or three coal buckets, and a kindling box, and some member of the family had the chore to see that they were always full. It took a strong constitution to roll out of bed on a cold winter morning and make the fire, and wait for it to get warm.
Monday morning in the home was washday. It would start very early and last all day. They would heat the water in a copper bottom boiler and would usually boil the clothes to help get them clean. They used a homemade lye soap. The women scrubbed the clothes on a scrub board usually pieced in a metal washtub, and after scrubbing, would rinse the clothes two or three times. They would then be hung on the clothesline to dry. There was a special pride taken in the wash and to tell a woman that she hung out a pretty wash was to pay her a special tribute.
The pioneer families would usually wait until cold weather to kill their meat. They would cure it, salt brine it, or dry it. For fresh meat, they would put it in a flour sack and hang it high on the north side of the house. When they wanted fresh meat they would go outside, climb the ladder, or use a pulley to bring the flour sack in. They would cut off what meat they wanted and return the flour sack out on the north side. It was not uncommon to see flour sacks hanging from the north side of most homes.
The bedrooms were usually located on the north side of the house, and were the furtherest from the stoves. It was like going into another world, or the north pole to go to bed. If you slept with a brother or sister, you would try to get them to go to bed first so they could warm the bed. The frost and ice crystals would collect on the window glass usually forming in the fall and never leaving until spring. It would usually be about a half inch thick on the glass. The frost crystals would form in beautiful designs and patterns on the windows.
The straw tick or mattress was made with a cover and filled with straw. Each year they would empty the straw, wash the cover, and refill it with new straw when they thrashed in the fall. They would place a feather tick on top of the straw tick, and it was filled with feathers from geese and ducks. It was really warm and soft. The sheets, blankets, and quilts were piled on the bed until they were so heavy that it was hard to turn over. It was especially nice when the dog would sleep on your side of the bed, as he made an excellent foot warmer. What a breed of people to survive the cold, hard times of pioneer life.
There seems to be no evidence of any Indian violence or hostilities in Plain City. However, they would visit the homes of the early settlers and ask for food. As a sign of friendship to the Indians, they would always give them food. It was a very frightening experience for the pioneer women to have the Indians call when the men were in the field working and they were home alone. The children were especially scared, and were taught to be very careful when they were around.
There are people alive today in Plain City that can remember when Indians would come into town and camp. Some favorite campgrounds were across from Paul Costley’s garage, and across the street north of George Cook’s home. The white kids always played close to home when the Indians were in town, and they never went anywhere at night.
The Indian squaws would go to every home and ask or beg for food. The homes that were generous would be visited several times. The Indians would stay for several days, and they would then load their treasures and leave and go north. The Indians must have liked the people of Plain City because they returned each year for many, many years.
The ferry boat and landing was located near where the river bridge crosses the Weber River on the Plain City, West Weber road on 4700 West. It provided a river crossing for people, cattle, sheep, horses, and wagons. The ferry was made of logs tied together, and a large molasses boiler and a pole was used to push the ferry across the river.
In the spring when the flood waters covered all of the low lands, the ferry would run from the hill on the north side near the Warren canal to the hill on the south as you enter West Weber. When the water reseeded, the ferry returned to the channel. It has been said that in the spring the Indians would come to the hill and if the ferry was on the West Weber side, they would call across the river until the ferry came to get them. Sarah Richardson Hodson could imitate the Indian’s call for the ferry. She seemed to know more about the ferry than anyone we knew of.
The people who traveled the main routes from the Oregon Trail to Salt Lake City in the early days used the ferry. The route ran from Hot Springs about where North Plain City Road is today, along 4700 West to the river, crossing the Weber River on the ferry. It then went to Taylor, angled southwest to Hooper, continued through West Point into Syracuse along the bluff road into Layton. The reason this route was used was because of the sand hill through Wilson, Roy, Sunset, and Clearfield. The wagon wheels would cut into the soft sand, and it made it almost impossible for the oxen and horses to pull the wagons. A Mr. Higbee operated the ferry.
It might be important to include information about the times before all of the reservoirs were built to hold back and store the early runoff water. Almost every spring the river would leave its channel and flood the low lands of Slaterville, Plain City, West Weber, Warren and West Warren. During some years the water would be so deep the road was closed. As a boy I can remember traveling 4700 West when the water would be up to the running boards of the Model A. The last year of excessive high water was in 1952.
Not too much is known about the ferry, but it lends itself to another colorful era of interesting Plain City history.
The Plain City Post Office was located where Neta Charlton’s home is located, or one block North of the school on the northeast corner. It was run by Charlie Neal and his wife, Pussy Neal. He ran the Post Office for 25 years from 1877 or 1878 until 1902 or 1903 when the government closed the Post Office and the mail was brought into Plain City by Fred Kenley and delivered by horse and buggy.
Merl England has in his possession a letter that was postmarked Plain City, Utah, August 8, 1891.
Pussy Neal had, and kept a start of live yeast and would sell it to the women of the town to use in mixing bread. Annie Skelton Skeen would send her daughter, Nonie Skeen Freestone, down to the Neal’s for yeast. It didn’t take many trips before Nonie developed a real taste for live yeast. She would buy a three pound lard bucket full, but by the time she walked five blocks home, she would have half of the bucket drank. She claims that it was quite a tasty drink.
A very important date in the lives of young eight year old people was their baptism. Nowadays, this ordinance is performed in a stake center with a very beautiful font. Before this time, this ordinance was performed in canals, rivers, lakes, and ponds. One of the most popular places to be baptized was the First Rock Crossing, or seek, as it was called. This was located on Center Street next to George T4est’s home, long before the canal was cemented. There was a row of poplar trees along the street, and the children would dress behind the trees. Some people would take their children up the street in the buggy and dress them, and then return for the baptism.
There were usually just two baptisms a year, one in the late spring and the other in the early fall. As a result, there were usually several children to be baptized at a time. The children would sit on a log and wait for their turn.
Some of the young people went down to the river and were baptized. The location on the river was near where the present bridge is located, They used willow trees to dress behind. Laura Musgrave and Royal Carver were two that were baptized in the river.
George Knight told me that he was baptized in the Warren Canal about where the present pump is located. This was a colorful era of the past and should help to rekindle some pleasant memories for those who participated.
THE PRIVY, CRANNY, ROOSEVELT, OR ALIAS, THE ONE
HOLER OR THE TWO HOLER
There was a great deal of social status involved and a real pride taken in building, caring for, and beautifying the outdoor privy. Some of the seats were made of select lumber and sanded and smoothed to the point where they were quite comfortable. And on the other extreme, some seats were rough and slivery. Some families were careful to make the privy weather proof, while others you could look out the cracks in every direction.
You could usually tell the size of the family in the house, whether it be large or small, by the size of the privy. Is it a one or a two holer?
Some of the families, to prove to the world that their cranny was something special, biddy, and a respected place, would cut beautiful designs in the top of the door. I never quite figured out whether the hole in the door was for ventilation, or simply to study the wonders of the sky at night. Some of the designs were a half moon shape, a diamond shape, star, or just a round circle.
The Skeen girls, Ivy Skeen Marsden, Lenora Skeen Freestone, and Jennie Skeen Cook, still maintain to this day that their little brother, Dick Skeen, learned to throw the baseball so very well by practice throwing at the privy. He would wait until the girls would get inside and lock the door, then he would open up with rocks, clods, green pears, or anything to keep them pinned down. Dick’s favorite was the dirt clod. He would aim for the hole in the door and throw the clod through. The clod would hit the wall, break up and shower the girls with dust and dirt. He would then really laugh when the girls would cry, scream, and holler for their mother to come and rescue them from their brother.
Halloween was a risky time for outdoor privies. One of the favorite Halloween pranks for the kids was to spend the night tipping over crannies. The only thing that I would like to say on the subject now is that I am ashamed and sorry, and I must report that I am one of those parents who feels like the kids of today are going to the dogs.
During the depression and late thirties, and prior to World War II, the government had a P.W.A. and W.P.A. program. Workmen would come to your home and build outside crannies. They had a cement floor and a lid on the seat. They were weatherproof, and most people who owned one felt like that was the next best thing to running water. They were called “Roosevelts.”
Usually an old Sears catalog would act as a years supply of toilet tissue.
Some of the more discreet families would keep a pot, or thunder jug in the house for emergencies during the cold stormy winter nights. This fact was considered the family’s dark, deep secret, and was usually emptied before dawn.
With the exception of two years in the Navy, I used the outdoor privy for 26 years, and first four years after I was married. We sometimes hear it would be nice to go back to the good old days, but certainly not to the days of the outdoor privy.
1. The first school was in George Musgrave’s dugout. He later held school in a one room adobe.
2. The first public school was built on the south of the square. It was built out of adobe. It was one room.
3. There was a school located on the northeast corner of the square. The town and ward used this building for some social functions. It was built out of adobe in 1873 or 1874.
4. The North school was located where Walter Christensen now lives.
5. The South school is still standing and was remodeled by Harvey Cook into a home. It is located where Gordon Sorensen now lives, and across from Eldon Weston’s home. This home was built out of brick.
6. The Poplar School was located across from Augusta Nash’s home.
I have been led to believe that there was school classes being held in all these four schools at the same time, This would be shortly before and after 1900,
There have been at least ten stores and meat markets in Plain City up the present time. Some of the stores have stayed in the same place, but have had several different owners. I’ll just mention where the old stores were located; There were two Coy Stores. They were owned by Sarah Coy and Eliza Coy. One was where Irene Skeen now lives, and the other one was across the street about where Mildred Sparks now lives. This is about 9200 North and 4650 rest. The old ZCMI store was where B & C Foods is now located. Carner’s store was where the pool hall is now. England’s store was where Merlin England now lives. McElroy’s store was where Jack’s Garage is now located. Stoker’s was located one block behind the school where Cordon McFarland lives. Maw’s store was located just west of the bowery.
John Vause built and operated a meat market just north of Adela Carver’s home. Some of Steve Knight’s family operated a meat market about where White’s Cafe is today. Peter M. Folkman had a meat market across from the school on the east side.
Most of these early stores would trade merchandise for eggs and butter. This was especially nice for the kids of the town because they could take one egg or more and trade for candy. There wasn’t a hen’s nest that was safe in Plain City. Laura Musgrave tells of how she would get Nonie Freestone and they would raid Nonie’s father’s chicken coop for eggs to go to the store for candy. There was real safety for Laura, as she always has been real sharp in having Nonie in her own father’s coop with her.
1. Christopher Folkman was the first one in Plain City. He learned his trade in Denmark. It was located near Leslie Maw’s home and Elmer Carver’s home.
2. Janus Lund’s Blacksmith Shop was located near Dennis Lund’s home. He died in 1908.
3. Rall J. Taylor started his shop in 1908 and the building still stands just north of Kirt Knight’s garage.
4. Lew Ericson’s shop was located on the property of Neta Charlton.
5. George Davis’ shop was near Phil Alsup’s old home and across the street from Thomas’.
6. Lee Gould’s shop was located where Florence and Carl Hodson now live.
7. Farley’s shop was located near where Sterling Thompson now lives.
8. Lyman Skeen’s shop was located just south of his old home. The property is now owned by George Skeen Cook.
THE EARLY DENTIST
Lyman Skeen acted as the early dentist, and his only specialty was pulling teeth. He had a special pair of forceps which are still in the possession of the family.
People came from all of Plain City to have their teeth pulled. In those days they didn’t have any dental checkups, or fill any decayed teeth. If a person got a cavity, they endured it until the tooth would ache and then Lyman Skeen would pull the tooth.
He was a large man and once he hooked onto the tooth, he had very little trouble getting it out.
Some of his children report that when anyone came to have their teeth pulled, they would run into the house and hide under the bed and hold their ears so they couldn’t hear the person holler or scream.
Lee Carver tells the story about as a boy going down to Lyman Skeen’s and having a tooth pulled. He was told if he would sit still and not holler or scream, and act like a man, that Lyman would pay him 25¢. It certainly must be one of the rare cases of a dentist paying his patients
George Knight told me he made a trip to Lyman Skeen’s home to have his tooth pulled. He was told that if he would take it like a man and not holler or yell, that he could drive the mules and wagon. After the tooth was out they went out and harnessed the mules and hooked them to the wagon and George drove the mules to his home. George said that there was nothing that Lyman could have done to make him feel more important and give him a bigger thrill than to sit on the seat with Lyman and drive those large mules home. He was so excited that he forgot what he had gone down there for.
Ina Poulsen tells the story of her toothache when she was a girl. It was a large double tooth, and it had ached for days. She finally decided that having it pulled couldn’t hurt any more than the ache, so she went to see Lyman Skeen. She walked down to his place in the evening and they were eating supper. She said he got right up from the table and didn’t even finish his meal to pull her tooth. Annie got the forceps and sat her in his large grandfather chair. Again, the Skeen kids scattered and hid from the noise. Ina did mention that she did holler and scream, but it was all over in a minute. She said he was really good at pulling teeth. It also gives some insight into the quality, character, and gentleness of Lyman Skeen.
An interesting part of the history of Plain City was the old ice house. It was located across from the school on the property where Clara Folkman now lives and sat behind the old home. In the winter when the Four Mile reservoir, river and other water would freeze hard enough, they would cut it with ice saws. They would then haul it by ~ m and bobsleigh to the ice house for storage.
Peter M. Folkman owned and operated the ice house, and in the winter he would have as many as twenty men working for him. They would work through the winter and would fill a rather large building with ice. They would cover it with wild hay and sawdust so it wouldn’t melt so fast in the heat and it would last all summer.
They would sell it to the people of Plain City for their use in the old wooden ice chest, for making ice cream, mainly for parties, and for whatever else their need was.
Peter M. Folkman also ran a meat wagon in Plain City for three years. He would use some ice to keep meat cool. He had a bell on the wagon and as he got to the house, he would ring it and the lady of the house would come out and buy the meat. He later had a meat market business next to his home.
MARTIN SMITH AND THE MEAT WAGON
One of the colorful characters that would come into Plain City was Martin Smith. He owned a team of skinny horses and a closed in meat wagon, and peddled fresh meat from door to door. He would come into town two or three times a week. He always carried a green willow switch, and would open the meat box, and use the switch to chase the flies out.
The lady of the house would come out to the wagon and look over the variety of cuts, or I would imagine he would cut whatever they wanted. A favorite pass time of the kids of the day was to try and sneak weenies when he was busy with their mother. He was a sharp enough businessman that he made sure he always got enough money to pay for the wieners.
It sounds rather primitive in todays world, but it filled a need and is another colorful chapter out of the past,
GEORGE MOYES AND HIS MILK TRUCK
George Moyes had the first milk truck in Plain City. He delivered the milk to some of the homes in Plain City. It was George that was coming home from the dairy and discovered the fire in the dummy had started and burned Charlie Taylor’s barn. He used his load of milk to help put out the fire. I don’t know of anyone today who wouldn’t like to own that little truck.
THE EARLY THRASHERS
A colorful time on the farm was thrashing time. The first machines were horse powered, and were a great improvement over the hand method. These colorful pictures are of some of the early steam powered thrashers. There were men who owned their own machines and would do custom work for their neighbors. When the thrashers would move onto a farm, it would usually take several days to complete the farmer’s field.
While the thrashers were at the farm, it was the responsibility of the farmer to feed the men three meals a day. This consisted of many of the neighbors who helped each other. They worked hard and they required large meals. The women worked all day long to prepare the meals. The phrase, “I have cooked enough food for the thrashers,” was probably coined during this era. The farmer had to take care of the horses also. The men usually carried their own bedrolls and slept on the new fresh straw. Arthur Skeen and Frances Thomas owned and operated thrashing machines that I remember.
THE GYPSY HORSE TRADERS
The horse traders would come into Plain City once or twice a year. They would arrive in large white top wagons leading a large number of horses. Some of the camping areas where they would stay were; out by the old beet dump, by the water tower, on the square, and in the lot across from the Lyman Skeen home where George Cook now lives. They would stay for about a week and would camp or live in their wagons.
The kids were frightened at the sight of the traders and the week they were in town they played close to home and never ventured far from home at night. The traders were famous for taking things that didn’t belong to them.
As a boy I can remember the traders camps and walking through them with my father. Because of the shady characters and the stories I had been told, I can remember of never letting go of my father’s hand. To see the people involved and the many horses there were, made a lasting impression upon my young mind.
If any of the townspeople needed a horse or team, or wanted to sell any horses, they would bring their horses, or come to the traders camp. They would barter, trade, or sell. In order to make a sharp deal they would dicker all day. There were many stories told of how sharp a deal they made or how badly they got stung by the horse traders.
There were two beet dumps in Plain City. One was located across from the water tower, the other was the Lyman Dump located one-half mile west of the canning factory where the railroad tracks crossed 5100 West. It was named after Lyman Skeen because of his work on the railroad to that point, and on into Warren. John Vause was the weigh master and was more or less in charge of the dump. They would haul the beets with teams and wagons to the dump, where they would be loaded on to the rail cars and taken to Wilson Lane for processing. At times the cars were not available and they would pile the beets by hand. The pile had to be six feet high and stacked just right. When cars were available, the factory would pay the farmers thirty cents a ton to load the beets by hand and then into the cars.
A story is told of a certain farmer that would bring beets to the dump. The drivers were supposed to stay on the wagon to weigh their beets over with the wagons loaded, and then back their wagons across empty. This farmer would get off the empty wagon, stay on the scales, but would reach up and take hold of a board on the scale house, and pull most of his weight off the scales. John Vause used to say, “Look at that fat old . He thinks he is fooling me, but I always take 200 pounds off whether he is on the scale or not.”
Sherwin Thompson was there and tells a story about Lyman Skeen hauling a large beet rack full of beets to the dump with a four-horse hitch. The lead team was fine large horses and the back team was large mules. The dump was elevated with a steep incline up to a platform where the wagon would stop and be unloaded. It was high enough to clear a rail car and the beets ran down into the car. The decline from the platform was steep. He made his approach with the team struggling to pull the heavy wagon up the incline. As the teams topped the platform, something spooked them and the teams lunged forward down over the decline. Lyman sprang to his feet and held the mules back so the wagon rode up against the rumps of the mules, and he moved the lead horses out fast enough to keep out of the way. He never lost a sugar beet. It was truly a great display of fine horsemanship. It was truly his ability with the horses that saved him and his team from death or injury.
He calmly made a circle around to the approach incline and took the teams up the incline. This time he was ready for them and the mules and horses stopped where they were supposed to. As the teams came down off the decline, they knew they had been taught a valuable lesson by a skillful master.
THE SWIMMING HOLES
If anything in this world can turn a man into a boy again, it is the pleasant memories of the old swimming hole. The warm summer days with friends and the happy, carefree times are the most memorable in a life time. There seems to be a special magnetic force that pulls and draws boys to water. It is especially difficult to try and explain to parents that special force, and why it was so necessary to go swimming so much. We lived in the water and the longest part of the day was the one hour we had to wait for our dinner to digest before we could go in swimming again.
Every irrigation canal, pond, river, or creek had their favorite swimming hole. The favorite holes in Plain City were out by the First and Second Rock Crossing, the canal, by Four Mile, Draney head gates, and the Anderson hole in the river. The Anderson hole was located just below the Warren pump by the bend in the river and northeast of the bridge. One could tell by the number of ponies, wagons, and buggies, that there was always a large crowd, and from the laughter and the noise, you could tell they were,having a great time. The Anderson hole was secluded enough, and no girls around. For the men and boys it was pure skinny dipping. If any boy had shown up with a swimming suit in those days, they would have laughed him out of town.
The Anderson hole was the place all of the men and boys took their Saturday night bath. George Knight tells the story that he counted 65 men and boys swimming at one time in the river. Sant Madsen was the oldest at 65, and there also was a young boy of about 6 years of age.
Wilford, or “Wiff” Skeen was considered the most gifted and powerful swimmers around this country. During World War I he swam on a Navy swim team. Gordon Thompson and George Knight said that Wiff was the most beautiful swimmer they had ever seen. Fred Kenley, I think, was in the Navy and traveled throughout the world He said in all his travels that Wiff was the best swimmer he had ever seen. He would put his little brother, Dick Skeen, on his back and I swim out into the middle of the river. Dick must have been real little then, but he would dump him off and Make him swim to shore while he carefully watched. Someone lost a shovel in Anderson hole and Wiff dove down to the bottom and brought it up, supposedly the only man to ever touch bottom.
Ogden City, Swifts, and the By Products, began to dump raw sewage into the river and ruined probably the greatest memory maker in all of Plain City. It just seems so strange that man has a habit of always destroying his own best things in life.
DRIVING THE COWS TO THE PASTURE
The people who milked cows for their own use or who later on milked cows to sell the milk to the creamery, would usually drive their cows to pasture during the summer months. The pasture was located one, two, or three miles from home. It would require taking the cows out in the morning and returning them in the evening. This responsibility usually fell to the younger members of the family and required a cow pony. In those days everyone’s home, yard, and farm area were fenced so the cows traveling to and from the pastures did not create a problem. During the hot, dry summer weather, the roads and trails of the cows were very dusty. It was very difficult to follow the cows very closely as the dust was so heavy.
One of these pastures was called the West Pasture. It was located north and west from Ivan Moyes’ home. This pasture was owned by several different people. The number of cattle they would put in the pasture was based on the amount of the pasture that they owned. In the evening the first person to the gate would open it and let the cows out. The cows, from force of habit, would follow the same trail to the town park where they would feed. It was not uncommon to see twenty five or thirty milk cows feeding on the square in the early evening. The farmers would go to the square, collect their cows, and take them home. ~
For those who played baseball, football, or just played on the square, there were some real hazards involved after the cows had been there.
Modern feeding and milking techniques have eliminated the need for the daily move to the pasture and also the need for the fenced in yards.
Another very important industry in Plain City was the growing and canning of tomatoes. The first factory built in Plain City was across the street from Loyd Olsen’s at 1900 North 4700 West. Laura Grieves Muegrave tells of working in this factory filling the cans with tomatoes. She was just a girl at the time, and expressed how happy she was to be able to earn money in those days. At that time there were no child labor laws.
Part of this factory was later moved near the square and used by the Maw family for their store and other buildings.
The second canning factory still stands at 1975 North 4650 West, and was used for many years. The sandy loam soil of Plain City seemed to be ideal for the tomatoes to grow and helped to give them the flavor, quality, and yield that rarely can be equaled. Times were very tough to earn money in those days, and many men and women would work at the factory in the fall of the year to help supplement their income. This factory was built in 1925.
The empty cans would be shipped in by railroad and the processed tomatoes would be shipped out on the railroad. The events that impressed my memories most about the factory, were the lines of loaded wagons and trucks waiting to be unloaded. While the farmers waited for boxes, or to be unloaded, or for their tomatoes to be graded, they would visit by the hour. The stories and the tall tales that would be told during that time will long be remembered. It used to fascinate me to watch the women peel the tomatoes. The full pans would be scalded and go around on a belt. The women would take a full pan, core and peel the tomatoes~and when their pan was full, they would put their number in the pan and return it to the belt. They were paid by the pan! and it amounted to five cents a pan. In later years it raised from eight cents to ten cents a pan. The fastest peelers could peel about 60 pans a day.
Some of the fastest peelers were Dorothy Christensen Thelma Hodson Wayment, Doris Hodson Chugg, and Ruth Arave Taylor, deceased. Whether peeling tomatoes, cutting potatoes, thinning beets, wall papering, or whatever, Ruth Taylor, as I remember her, had to be the hardest working woman I ever knew. I always marveled at her ability.
Can your minds eye visualize the smoke coming from the tall stack, and the pleasant tomato odor that drifted along the air currents through the town of Plain City.
PEA VINERS PEA WAGONS
One of the early industries, or cash crops of Plain City was from the raising of peas. It must be remembered that in the very early times, the settlers were only interested and concerned about food to keep them through the winter. AS they worked and improved their homes, the roads, and the irrigation system, their ability to produce more and vary their crops increased. It was then that they branched out into the pea industry.
The main pea viner was located on 2200 North, about a half mile west of 4650 West, on the north side of the street. It provided work for some of the men of the community, to stack the pea vines. In the winter the farmers fed the vines to their cattle.
The farmers would plant the peas in the early spring, and the harvest would begin about the 4th of July. The pea vines would be cut with a horse drawn mower. They would pitch them on a wagon and haul them to the viner by a team of horses.
AS young boys we would look forward to the horse drawn pea wagons on their way to the viner. We would run out into the street and catch the wagon, pull off a big armful of peas, carry them into the shade, and eat peas all day long. I don’t believe that peas gave you as severe a belly ache as green apples, but it ran a close second. More important, we were ready to go after the first wagon the next day. AS a young man, I pitched the peas on the wagon in the fields, and off at the viner.
Later, another viner was built out east. It was located about one half mile east of the water tower.
In 1949, I was building my house and my friend and neighbor, Louis R. Jenkins, would come frequently and visit. He said, “You have a nice location, but when the wind is right you may be able to smell the pea viner, but you know, that’s a good smell.” I never forgot his statement though the pea industry lasted only a very few years after that date. But, who could ever forget the potent odor that came after the vines and the juices fermented. No wonder the people who hauled pea vines had very little, if any, sinus trouble.
Epilogue. Included should be the smell and the people who would haul and feed fresh beet pulp.
The Plain City area is situated where there are many creeks, drains, sloughs, ponds, and water areas for the muskrats to live. It seemed to me at one time or another, about every young man was involved in trapping. This could have been an inborn spirit in each young boy to be a trapper or a mountain man. The season would usually start in the fall until the water froze, and then again in the spring when the ice left. It came at a time when jobs were hard to find for young men and provided spending money for them. Trapping provided a good source of money for me when I was going to high school. The hide buyers would usually pay from thirty five cents to a dollar and a quarter, depending on the size of the hide.
A good trapper could usually catch around 100 rats a day. I know one trapper that bought and paid for a new car during one trapping season. Some of the better trappers in Plain City that I can remember were, Elwin Taylor, Everett Taylor, Lyman Thomas, and Joe Wheeler.
Practically no one grew up in Plain City without having a nick name tacked on to him or her, because of something they did, said, or the way they acted, or some mannerism. It was not at all uncommon for a group of Plain City boys, just to impress a girl friend, to talk and call the individual by their nick name, and the girls never knew who they were talking about. On the other hand, someone may come into the town and ask for Don Singleton, Darrell Christensen, Boyce England, Elwin Taylor, Horace Knight, LaGrand Hadley, George Cook, Clair Folkman, Lynn Folkman, Eldon Weston, or Jay Freestone, only to be told that they didn’t know anyone living here by that name. But had they asked for “Seebo,” “Breezy,” “Buzz,” “Bunny,” “Skinner,” “Gandy’Goose or Pety Hadley,” “Joe,” “Ober,” “Homer, or “Grass,” the townspeople could tell them right away where they lived.
Some of these people whose names will be mentioned have passed away, and it is my purpose to pay tribute, and add to their good names, rather than take anything away from them. Some have also moved away, but they got their name in Plain City.
There are so many names that I simply can’t remember them all, but here are a few “Buss” Lyman Skeen, “Rip” Ronald Skeen, “Geg” Garry Skeen, “Brig” Orson Knight, “Snide” Elmer Carver, “Suitcase” Blair Simpson, “Hues” Harold Hadley, “Tubby” Frank Hadley, “Duke” “Frog” Kenneth Christensen, ‘iFooz” Grant Lund, “Hazel” Kenneth Lund, “Bud” Richard Dallinga, “Cirk” Keith Lund, “Sodie” Elmer Hipwell, “Duff” Jack Etherington, “Tiff” Clyde Skeen, “Taa” Jack Freestone, “Sunny” Lyman Freestone, “Bub” Howard Freestone, “Cork” Carl Hodson, “Tumbleweed” Don Van Sickle, “Red” Lyman Cook, “Chic” Dee Cook, “Heater” Bert Cook, “Beef” Wheat Taylor, “Big Chub” Charles Fulmer, “Little Chub” Robert Fulmer, “Buddies” Rulon Jenkins, “Curley” Quenten Jenkins. “Bun” Ray Hadley, !’Weiny” Dwaine Hadley, ‘mustard” Bill Hadley, “Napkin” Dennis Hadley. “Punken” Elmer Crimson, “Elf” Kent Jenkins, “Perk” Ray Coy, “Bear” Ronald Hogge, “Stine” Wayne Skeen, “Hinke” Verl Rawson, “Toad” Loyd Knight, “Tarzan” Thayne Knight’ “Dob” Blaine Robins, “Ikee” Ivan Hodson, “writ” Dean Moyes, “Bub” Knight, “Lym” Skeen, “Beaver” Gordon Hadley, “Trapper” Durland Hadley, “Deddy” Darrell Thompson, “Pubby” Vernal rioyes, “Sam” Lyle Thomas, “Gonnie” Kenneth Woods, “Jim” Theron Rhead, “Mag” Noel England, “Jim” Elwin Skeen, “Bones” Bob Folkman, “Swede” Brent Taylor, “Curly” Davis, “Kingfish” Wilmer Maw, “Misery” George Maw, “Tooley” Louis Poulsen, “Dick” lwood Skeen, “Mud” Claude Rhead, “Weeser” Gene Lund, “Fiddler” alto Rhead, “Hook” Harold Johnson, “Roan” Harold Ross, “Mike” Milo Ross, “Wheeler” Keith Blanch, “Luke” John Nash, “Tom” Vadel Maw, “Joe” John Maw, “Judge” Thayne Robson, “Bushy” Wayne Cottle, “Pickus” Paul Coy, “George” Cliff Folkman, “Willie” Warren Williams, “Wally” Wallace Knight, “Cruzz” Kent Robson, “Evert” Bill England, “Tom” Merrill Jenkins, “Aus” Bob Wade, “Cougar” Norman Carver, “English”iWay:ne Carver.
Something more interesting than the names is how each one got their nickname. You should ask some of them sometime, We should announce from Plain City to the world that we have had for the last 55 years, the original “Jaws” Paul Knight. It is very distressing and disturbing to read where some outsider has taken the name “Jaws” and capitalized on it, made a film, and grossed more than 25 million dollars, when the original “Jaws” has been in Plain City all along.
When we analyze the personality, the good times, and especially the stories, I doubt that anyone in Plain City would take 25 million for our original “Jaws.”
THE PEST HOUSE OR PRIMATIVE HOSPITAL
The constant underlying fears that pioneers and early settlers lived with daily was the threat of disease, illness, or sickness. There just weren’t any doctors or medicine available, and if anyone got sick, they either got well on their own, or they didn’t make it.
If a dreaded disease, or plague, as it was called, struck the early settlers, many of them felt like it was God’s way of punishing them for things they had done or for the things they had not done. There were so many mysteries and superstitions concerning that, that the people acted and responded in what now might be considered strange ways. The people felt the best thing to do was to isolate the sick people, and as a result of this type of thinking, the pioneers built the Pest House. To make sure it was really isolated, the people went about a mile west of town on the bank of First Creek and built Pest House. The Pest House was located about one block north of Clyde Hadley’s house on the bank of the creek. There were some tall poplar trees surrounding the building, but have since been removed. Clyde tells me that information was handed down and told to him about the spot where~the Pest House was located. Years ago there was some evidence of a building there.
When a person would get sick, they would take him to the Pest House to get better. They were usually left alone to care for themselves. Someone from the town would take food and water! and provide some care, but for the most part, it was just a kill or cure method. In most cases the patients, if they died, expired from exposure or lack of care rather than from the disease because the building was poorly constructed.
During the Smallpox epidemic of 1871, or about then, there weren’t any public meetings held in Plain City from September until the next [larch. The people lived in total fear of the disease.
The William Skeen family was hit very hard with Smallpox and they lost four children. It has been told that while his family was very sick, he called for the Elders of the church and they were so fearful, they refused to go help. His friends also turned away. This good man was left to bury his four children all alone, and some of them at night. He was so disappointed in the Elders of the church and his friends, that he left the church and he named one of his sons that was born later “Frenz Denial.”
1. Ivy Skeen Marsden and Lona Ipson Watson were the first lady missionaries to leave from Plain City in 1914. They served in the Eastern States Mission.
2, The first car reported to be seen in Plain City was Dr. Rich, who drove out to treat a patient.
3. It mentions that a Richie owned the first car. Some of the other early car owners were Tom England, John Maw, Lyman Skeen, and others. Later, Lyman Skeen owned an eight passenger Chandler.
4. Sammy Sampson was one of the early barbers.
5. There are seven children of original settlers living today in 1977 that we know about. There may be others. Four of them live in Plain City. They are:
Ada Skeen Williams Allred
Victorine Sharp Hunt
Mary Sharp Richardson
Ivy Skeen Marsden
Lenora Skeen Freestone
Jennie Skeen Cook
Elwood “Dick” Skeen
It is remarkable when you think after 118 years that there are still children of the first settlers still living today.
6. Richard Lund was the early fiddle player in the town.
LYMAN SKEEN, OWNER OF GREAT HORSES
Lyman Skeen owned and loved great horses. He had two large barns full of fine Stallions, besides many work teams that he used in his construction business. He worked in Utah’ Wyoming, and Idaho, on construction building canals, road beds, and whatever. He knew horse flesh and people would bring their horses from all over the country to have him doctor their horses.
Lyman made three trips to Europe to buy horses, On one occasion’ he bought six head of Shire horses in England and brought them by ship to the United States, and by rail to Ogden. He also brought a little Englishman named Tommy to take care of the horses and train them.
When they arrived in Ogden, Lyman took Blaine Skeen, Elmer Skeen, Orson Knight, and others to help bring the horses home. Orson Knight tells before they brought them to Plain City, they paraded them down Washington Boulevard. He mentioned that no boy could have been prouder to lead those large horses down Washington. He said the little Englishman walked beside the horses with a whip, and he would crack the whip and the horses would rare up and prance and put on quite a display for the large horses.
Sline was probably the greatest Shire horse to ever come into the State of Utah, or the West. The little Englishman is holding Sline in the picture.
The Skeen kids can remember frequently someone yelling “Sline’s out.” and he would always prance up through the lot. Lyman would send his boys out to catch Sline, but they never could catch him. Lyman would sit back and watch his proud horse run and exercise, and when Lyman felt like he had enough, he would walk out and up to Sline and lead him to the barn. Wherever Sline had been he left hoof prints about a foot square through the garden.
SAMMY SAMPSON THE BARBER
Sammy Sampson barbered in his home which was located across the street from Dell Sharp’s home. He was one of the early barbers. Byron Carver tells of getting his hair cut there when he was a boy. He said, ” You could ask for any type of a cut you wanted, but you only got one cut, mostly bad.” I can see Byron chuckle as a twinkle from the past came into his eye. “Oh it was bad,” he said, “and as long as you had any hair left, Sammy would keep~cutting.”
On one occasion he went to get his hair cut when it was hot and Sammy was cooking something that didn’t smell too good. Some of the men who had gathered were smoking Elropeo cigars, and Byron was getting light headed as he sat in the chair. As Sammy worked him over he became more ill. Sammy soaped his neck and shaved it with a large thick, straight razor, that scraped more than it cut. Sammy kept a pan of hot water on the stove with a wash cloth in it that he used to wash the soap off. As he laid that hot cloth on Byron’s neck, Byron rolled off the chair and fainted dead away. When he came to, big Lafe Skeen was holding him on his lap. That was one hair cut Byron will always remember, and as long as he is alive the memory of Sammy Sampson the barber will live on.
Sammy charged 5 to 10 cents a haircut in those days, and trim and a shave on the older men was 15 cents.
THE RACE TRACK, PLAIN CITY’S FIRST
William Skeen owned some very fine racehorses and he built a racetrack to train his horses. The neighbors would meet on occasion and race their horses to test the speed against their neighbors horses. Stories have been told that there were some very exciting races held at that track. It was located near four mile reservoir.
They tell the story of a man from Ogden, who was quite a foot racer and he was supposed to have challenged and bragged that he could beat a horse in a certain distance. It was well talked up and word spread around, and the race was held. There was a little money that changed hands and quite a crowd. But you know, no one can remember who won the race. It was another colorful time in early Plain City.
THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT SHOW
Growing up as a kid during the late twenties, thirties and into the early forties here in Plain City was quite an eventful time. It seemed that the world moved at a slower more relaxed pace and there was time to enjoy visits and to create your own entertainment and fun. Depression times were very hard for most families, with very little money and barely the necessities of life. There was very little money available for entertainment and if you had any entertainment you created your own. They were carefree happy times. As a kid you were lucky if you got into Ogden once a month or even once during the summer. By comparison with today, all the entertainment seems to be provided for the young people and all they have to do is show up with money and everything is provided for them.
In the summer kids games and ball games were a very big thing and something was going~on every day and night. Hide and seek, run sheepy run, kick the can, and whatever else anyone could think up were always popular. Skating and sleigh riding were the fall and winter games. You would skate all day and build fires at night so you could skate even longer.
Sometime in the thirties the movies began to be very popular. Someone from Ogden would bring a movie out to Plain City every Wednesday night. It was held in the upstairs of the old church house and there would be two to three hundred people or more watching the show. The admission was ten cents and hardly anyone ever missed the Wednesday night movie. There was usually a serial episode before the regular movie and it would last for about ten weeks. It would lead you up to an exciting climax and then announce, “To be continued next week.” I can remember they would be the longest weeks ever, waiting to get back to the show to see what happened. Tail Spin Tommy was always a big feature with the serials.
There were some very spooky shows and~I can recall small kids screaming and crying, and they would have to leave the show. The shows were scary, but the spooky part was walking home at night after the show. You were always extra light on your feet, and with any strange sound out of the blackness of the night, you would be at a full gallop and double your stride. Ah, but they were good times.
The automobile and the war, and the latest movie hits in Ogden all led to the down fall of the Wednesday night show in Plain City. It was a colorful era in Plain City and one that everyone seemed to enjoy.
A TRIBUTE TO BETTY
Somehow the roads of Plain City look and seem a little different now days without the familiar figure of Betty. Her shopping bag in hand, her figure that time and age had bent a little, and limp that the years had brought on, headed up the road to Ogden. Time had also slowed her steps, but not her courage to walk to town.
Probably Betty was born fifty years too late to fit in well with a changing society. Her life was the simple life, and her wants and needs were few. She was very strong willed, proud, and stubborn in some regards. She was very determined not to be pressured into joining the modern world.
Some people would say she was eccentric, old, and strange, but she was a rugged individualist who refused to conform to anyones standards but her own. As a result of her ways the young people would sometimes tease and torment Betty. But in her own way she ignored them and went her way. Is it not strange that we from our own little worlds are so willing to unfairly judge other people by our own knowledge and standards. Especially if their standards and personality traits do not measure up or lower down to our own.
I wouldn’t begin to know how many thousands of times Betty walked to Ogden, and back with groceries, even after she was around seventy five years of age. I suppose before we could fairly evaluate Betty we should ask the women of Plain City how many times they have walked to Ogden, and back home. Their were many people who were good to Betty and wanted to help her, but she seemed determined and happy to do things her own way.
Betty was a hard worker and she worked for many people in Plain City. Later she worked in Ogden doing housework. I carried mail in Ogden for thirty years and would see Betty working at some of the finest homes in Ogden. Her family paid me a tribute when they asked me to speak at her funeral.
Betty will be remembered as one of Plain City’s remarkable characters. If we let our memories wander a little, and through our minds eye we might still catch a glimpse of a shadow of Betty walking to town.