(From Box Elder County) Among the first settlers to this little valley was Kumen Tarbet. It is said that as he broke the ground from the sagebrush that he used oxen to pull the equipment. Oxen were eventually replaced with mules, and later came horses. Other early settlers were George Henrie, Fred Manning, Tony Nelson, John Adams, P.N. Pierce and John W. Deakin. It wasn’t an easy job clearing the ground of sagebrush and bunch grass. The process of railing, stacking, burning and then plowing with a team of mules or horses was accomplished by long hours and hard work.
Water was a premium. If you drilled a well and were blessed with good water, it was a great advantage. Some wells only produced warm air while others had warm, nasty water. One well, hand dug by the Peter Jensens, was over 400 feet deep and “Cemented up” from the bottom with pipes placed across at intervals as a ladder descended for repairs and maintenance. It is said that Mrs. George Shuman would stand above, holding a mirror so the suns rays could reflect light into the well enabling the workers to see. There was a community well located on the section lines, east of what is called the “Big Field”. Many families would haul water from there for themselves and livestock.
There were two blacksmiths in the valley: Fred Doutre, who also was a craftsman with leather, and Roy Southwell who served as a janitor for the school. Several of the teachers boarded in his home. The fist school was held in an old house in 1914, and in 1915 a new one-room school was built for eight grades and one teacher. The school burned the same night as Mr. Richard Ilger, the storekeeper, was murdered at the Blue Creek Store, and school for the rest of the year was discontinued. The next year a new two-room schoolhouse was built to accommodate two teachers. In 1934 there were four 9th graders and three 5th graders. This was the school’s final year.
A Blue Creek Store was located on the section line north of the Blue Creek Springs. It also housed a post office and was the family home. A third store was located about two miles north by the main road to Snowville. It contained the post office, the family home, and the gas station, and it was the school bus stop for the Snowville bus going to Bear River High School.
In March of 1900, just North of the Blue Creek Springs, Mr. Lewis Grant purchased 160 acres of ground. He built a large two story building which served as their home, a boarding house, and a dance hall. Some of their tenants were school teachers and weary travelers. Just north of their home Mr. Grant opened a store in 1910, selling much needed supplies to the area families and others in need as they were traveling.
Centerdale was an L.D.S. Branch of the Howell Ward. It was organized in 1914, with Peter Jensen as Presiding Elder. Other Presiding Elders were John Adams in 1917, Albert W. Bishop in 1918, John W. Smith in 1923. The total population of Centerdale Precinct was 131. Many baptisms for this area were performed in the large water trough at the Art Nelson Place. Many dances were held at this church building, and there was always a large crowd attending from several communities in the area. Mr. John Glenn played his accordion, and Arba Glenn was his accompanist. Civic functions and other forms of gatherings were held here. One event took place in 1940 when W.W. Whitney was the “Wheat King”. Harvesting 40 bushels per acre, he held a dance and watermelon bust. This was one of the many harvest dances held there.
With the coming of gas powered vehicles, better roads made traveling easier and faster. The families “staying on the farm” soon became part of the past. Electricity came to this valley in 1947, bringing more changes to the way of life. Ice no longer had to be cut during the winter from the reservoir and stored in sawdust or straw for the summer to keep food and drinks cold. As the many years have come and gone, so have many families, and experiences, memories of good times, names and faces fade.