Filed Under Settlers

History of Willard, Utah

Willard has many beautiful geographical and historical features that make this town one of a kind.

The Willard area was first surveyed by Henry G. Sherwood in 1851. As a member of the 5th Company of Ten in the Brigham Young pioneer company, Henry Sherwood was one of the first Mormon settlers in Utah. The town was originally named Willow Creek due to the numerous flowers located around the creek. In 1857, it was renamed “Willard,” in honor of the Mormon apostle, Willard Richards. 

Willard was originally a fort used to fend off the local Native American groups like the dominant Shoshone. In fact, Willard might have had the biggest fort in any Utah town during this time period. The fort was later proved unnecessary and was torn down. The leftover stones of the fort were spread throughout the town in building homes.  

The construction of these rock homes are credited to Shadrach Jones. Jones was a stonemason from Wales who converted to Mormonism in 1849. Later he moved to Willard, Utah. He participated in the building of the Logan temple and was later sent on a mission back to Wales where he died. His home still stands today, along with several other homes constructed by Jones. 

Eventually a booming fruit economy was created in Willard. Local Native Americans played a key role in developing the fruit business in Willard. The natives taught the citizens of Willard how to care for service berries, haw-berries and chokecherries. Years later, a cannery was built. The newly established railroad line increased the exportation of these fruit goods and the Willard fruit industry's popularity. 

The flood of 1923 impacted Willard in a devastating manner. Overgrazing in the region had prevented rain water from being absorbed into the ground when the snow melted from the mountains. The property loss was enormous. The Box Elder News reported that, “Hundreds of fine farms have been covered with rock and gravel, crops washed away, animals and poultry destroyed, and orchards ruined. The loss will run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.” In fact, it wasn't until October that the sanitary conditions in Willard met state health standards after flooding. This flood also impacted the Willard cemetery, as numerous pioneer graves were washed away with the waters. Only a few headstones survived the flooding.

In 1964, a reservoir was built in Willard as part of the Weber Basin Project to create a reservoir to store surplus water from the Ogden and Weber Rivers.  The resulting reservoir was drained of salt water and refilled with fresh water directly from the Weber River.

Images

Shadrach Jones House, 101 West Second South, Willard, Box Elder County, UT
Shadrach Jones House, 101 West Second South, Willard, Box Elder County, UT South side and east front of stonemason Sahdrach Jones' home. Source: "SOUTH SIDE AND EAST FRONT - Shadrach Jones House, 101 West Second South, Willard, Box Elder County, UT." Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ut0014.photos.158160p/
George Mason House in the Willard Historic District
George Mason House in the Willard Historic District "Front of the George Mason House, located 150 N. 200 West in Willard, Utah, United States. Built in 1865, it is part of the Willard Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places." Source: Taft, Louise T. "George Mason House in the Willard Historic District." July 1985. Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division HABS. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Mason_House_in_the_Willard_Historic_District.jpg Creator: Louise T. Taft
Willard, Utah, 2009
Willard, Utah, 2009 "City of Willard, with Willard Bay and the Promontory Mountains in the background." Source: "Willard." 25 October 2009. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Willard3.jpg

Location

Metadata

Jesus Monroy, Weber State University, “History of Willard, Utah,” Intermountain Histories, accessed February 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/368.