Built in 1906, this is one of 28 still extant, well-preserved tithing buildings in Utah designed from one of at least three standard plans. It is almost identical to the design of the Ephraim, Spring City, and Fairview tithing offices. One half of the facade consists of an arched porch set in the northeast corner; the other half has three windows. This is a one-story building with tall sandstone foundation and red brick walls plus a pyramid-shaped hip roof. A carved stone inscription plaque distinguishes it from its neighbors. The building is very well-preserved and has undergone some careful restoration. Bishop C.J. Christensen had this building constructed at a cost of $2300. He managed this tithing office between the 1850’s and 1910. It was also used as women’s Relief Society building. Vacant during the 1950’s it is now used by the Daughter of the Utah Pioneers.(*)
This two-story brick home was constructed in 1877 by Hans Peter Olsen. A Mormon convert who left his native Denmark in 1853 at the age of twenty, Mr Olsen was a farmer and director of the Fountain Green Co-Op Store.
L.D.S. Ward organized: 1877-1881 L.D.S. Ward reorganized: 1897-1926 Population at its maximum; About 20 families, over 200 people Electricity came to Freedom: 1935
The fruit orchards in Freedom were known as the best in Sanpete County. They grew apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, pears and plums. At the top of the street at the foot of the mountain there was a large piece of ground planted in strawberries and raspberries.
William L. Draper, known as “Doc Draper”, moved his family to Freedom in 1870 because it was a very lush, fertile valley where grain would grow very tall. William’s brothers Henry, Grant, Parley and Albert followed him to homestead in Freedom. They originally called this place Draper. The postal authorities made them change the name because there was already a town called Draper, Utah, south of Salt Lake. They then renamed it Freedom because freedom was what they wanted and they felt free now to do anything they wanted. Freedom became a County Precinct in 1875. The Drapers filed on their homesteads in 1878. The town was never incorporated. William Draper died in Freedom.
Freedom grew as many people found it a desirable place to live. At one time there were as many as twenty families making a population of over 200 people residing in Freedom. There were approximately 30 houses in Freedom during the depression. Many of the families were polygamist families. There are those who say Freedom, in the springtime, looked like the Garden of Eden.
The railroad was run from Nephi through Freedom to the coal mines in Wales. Martin Van Buren Taylor had a contract to build some of the grade for the railroad. He took his boys and some other people and built the grade from Fountain Green to Wales. There was a little shack about a mile south of Freedom which was a depot where they could flag down the train so people could get on.
The town of Freedom had a school house, church, town hall, and a small store that was connected to Dorcey Draper’s home. At first they had to go to town for their mail but eventually they had their own Post Office.
Freedom had its own school house. In the front of a book that belonged to Glen Taylor’s sister, in the possession of Margaret Taylor at this time, it states that school started October 6, 1902. Her husband Glen Taylor told her his memory of the school as it was when he attended in 1906. The school was built of lumber and was approximately 30 feet by 50 feet in size. It was built between the old home of Joseph Draper (Dorcey’s Dad) and Frank Eliason’s fence line.
The one room school house had two large windows on the west side and had two windows on the opposite side. There were also two smaller windows on the entrance side of the school. The heating stove was located in the center of the room. The school benches and the desks were lined up on each side of the stove. There were two students to a desk and they were seated according to the grade they were in from beginner to sixth grade. Later on single desks were purchased. There was a blackboard at the front of the room and the teacher’s desk. The children wrote on slates. There were between eight and sixteen children at various times in attendance depending on the number of eligible aged children. The children started school at the age of six and there were six grades taught in the Freedom School House.
The children of Freedom walked to school as well as the children from Jerusalem, which is a mile or more to the north of Freedom. They took their lunches with them. School started at 8:00 a.m. and let out at 4:00 p.m. They had a morning and afternoon recess at which time they played marbles, baseball, tag and other sports.
Some of the teachers were Mary D. Taylor, Hannah Hardy, Myrtle Thorpe, Sarah Sumsion, Delphia Rees and Marie Anderson. Most of them lived with families in Freedom during the school year.
After the sixth grade the children rode in a covered wagon to Moroni to school, but the children from Jerusalem still had to walk to Freedom to ride in the wagon to school. They had blankets and heated rocks to keep them warm on the trip during the winter. The trip took two hours with the horses at a fast trot. It was dark when they left Freedom and dark when they returned. The children did their studies at night by lamplight. Lather on they got a school bus. The one room school house in Freedom was closed down in about 1918. The children were then bused to Moroni and it was only a ten to fifteen minute ride.
Freedom’s L.D.S. Church
When the Sanpete Stake of Zion was organized July 4, 1877, the saints of Draper were organized into a ward called Freedom, with Henry Draper as Bishop. He acted as Bishop until 1880, soon after this the ward organization was discontinued, and the members were transferred to Moroni.
When the polygamist family of Martin Van Buren Taylor moved to Freedom a new ward was organized on May 5, 1897, with Martin Van Buren Taylor as Bishop. The church house was on the north east corner where the road turns to go to Maple Canyon. It had a nice organ in it, which the people of Freedom purchased. The organ, pulpit and clock from the church are in the DUP room in Moroni. In 1926 the Freedom Ward was dissolved because so many families had moved away. The few remaining families were put in the Moroni West Ward.
After Doc Draper lost a four month old son and a five year old girl in 48 hours he buried them side by side on his farm. This was the beginning of the Freedom Cemetery in 1885. Doc Draper’s father then came to live with them in Freedom, and he died one year later on May 28, 1886. He was the next person to be buried in the cemetery. The Doc, himself, died May 2, 1887 and was buried there too. There are many children buried in the cemetery because there was an epidemic of Diphtheria which took the lives of many of them.
There is one Indian buried in the cemetery and his name is “Indian Jim” or Jin Wanup. The Mt. Pleasant DUP put a beautiful marble headstone on his grave in 1975 but his name is misspelled on it. It is spelled James Onump on his headstone. He was a full blooded Ute Indian. Indian Jim was a good friend to the people of Freedom and he would spy for them and let them know when the Indians were going to attack. The people of Freedom built him a dugout to live in on the west side of Freedom.
The cemetery is still visited by many people each Memorial Day and other times during the year. It is still a very peaceful and quaint little cemetery where those that come can remember what Freedom used to be like.
Born Aug. 12, 1849
Killed Near This Spot By Indians June 1, 1867
This monument replaces one previously erected north of town near the site of this historic event. Over the years the original marker was weather-
eroded and vandalized.
Lewis Lund, and eighteen-year-old herdsman, along with Jasper Robertson, Swen Anderson, Albert Collard and Charles Jones were guarding the Fountain Green settlement’s stock north of town. Indians swooped down upon the herdsmen, shooting and driving off the cattle and horses. They shot and killed Lewis Lund. The other herdsmen escaped.
After Albert Petty surveyed this site in 1859, pioneers came, built homes, erected a meetinghouse of logs cut by William Gibson and Asbury Parks. In 1861, Bishop Robert L. Johnson opened first store and hotel. Polly Johnson was first Relief Society President; Catherine Oldroyd served as midwife. Bernard Snow supplied flour from his burr mill in 1867. John Green operated adobe and brickyard. Black Hawk War forced settlers to move for safety. They returned and built fort in fall of 1866. Plaque below: The bell atop this monument rang its message from the tower of the first schoolhouse, 1880. As each new schoolhouse was built, the bell was transferred; tolling time, fire and curfew for 88 years.
This location, later called Fountain Green, was a favorite camping place for travelers. Sept. 30, 1853, James Nielson, William Lake, William Reed and Thomas Clark, while camping here with their ox teams, were killed by Indians. Under direction of Brigham Young in July, 1859, George W. Johnson, his son, Amos, and a group of pioneers established a settlement. Big Spring, one mile west, supplies this city with water and power and the major part of the electricity for Moroni, Wales and Levan.
After Albert Petty surveyed this site in 1859 (laying out twenty blocks of about 4.5 acres each), pioneers came, built homes, erected a meetinghouse of logs cut by William Gibson and Asbury Parks. In 1861, Bishop Robert L. Johnson opened first store and hotel. Polly Johnson was first Relief Society President; Catherine Oldroyd served as midwife. Bernard Snow supplied flour from his burr mill in 1867. John Green operated adobe and brickyard. The Black Hawk War forced settlers to move for safety. They returned and built the fort in fall of 1866.
There are several historic markers around town telling of the history, including:
– and the bell atop this monument (pictured below) rang its message from the tower of the first schoolhouse, 1880. As each new schoolhouse was built, the bell was transferred; tolling time, fire and curfew for 88 years.
Another historic marker tells of Lewis Lund, and eighteen-year-old herdsman, along with Jasper Robertson, Swen Anderson, Albert Collard and Charles Jones were guarding the Fountain Green settlement’s stock north of town. Indians swooped down upon the herdsmen, shooting and driving off the cattle and horses. They shot and killed Lewis Lund. The other herdsmen escaped.
In 1849, as groups of Mormon colonists began to immigrate to the fertile Sanpete Valley, many of them camped at a verdant location in the northwestern end of the valley known as Uintah Springs. A decade later, George W. Johnson of Santaquin was granted permission to establish a permanent settlement on the popular campgrounds. In July 1859 Albert Petty surveyed a townsite,. Other pioneers soon joined the Johnson family, building log homes and, in 1860, a multipurpose log meetinghouse. In the same year, an irrigation channel was plowed to a canyon in the San Pitch Mountains just west of town, and the growth of Fountain Green was well under way.
Fountain Green’s name is still a fitting description of the lush, green hillside village abundantly watered by what is now called Big Springs and Silver Creek which it forms. Artesian wells and later pumped water provided an ample water supply, allowing the development of agriculture and stock raising, the staple industries of the town from 1860 to the present. In 1865 a sawmill was constructed, followed in 1866 by an adobe meetinghouse and in 1867 by a flour mill. Due to hostilities and one death during the Black Hawk War of 1865-67, a rock fort was erected in 1866. After peace was made with the San Pitch Indians, growth and progress continued unhindered and major crops of wheat, oats, and potatoes were harvested.
Although Fountain Green was the first Sanpete community to receive the railroad in the 1880s, it did not take full advantage of this opportunity, being the only major town in the region to drop in population between 1880 and 1890. Experiencing less fluctuation in size than most other Sanpete villages, Fountain Green reached its zenith of about 1,150 people in 1920, about twice its size of 578 in 1980. It had a population of 602 according to the 1990 census.
Fountain Green’s flourishing in the early twentieth century, during which time it was considered the “richest town” in the county, was due mostly to its successful wool growing industry. Expanding from a cooperatively owned herd of Spanish Merino sheep in the 1880s, sheep growers greatly enhanced their profits after upgrading their herds with high wool producing Rambouillet stock.
In 1902, 40,850 sheep were owned by twenty-six growers, for an average of 1,571 head of sheep each, although some owned far more than others. The Fountain Green Woolgrowers Association was founded in 1908 and became the dominant group in town, with the possible exception of the LDS Church, whose members they shared in common. The association created the nationally famous Jericho Pool of 100,000 sheep, giving Fountain Green its nickname, “Wool City.” A celebration known as the “City of Lambs Days,” is still held annually, although the sheep industry has diminished in importance over the years. In 1987, 47 percent of the farms in northwest Sanpete County raised turkeys, while only 26 percent produced sheep, revealing the economic shift from Fountain Green to Moroni, the center of the county’s turkey industry.
From 1869 when a Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution store was established along the main highway, a small string of general stores, shops, and public and religious buildings has gradually filled in the modest business district. The ZCMI was initially a profitable venture, delivering a 68 percent dividend in 1870, its first full year of operation. In time, other private co-ops and general mercantiles were founded to offer ZCMI some competition. A general store built of rock in 1880 with an 1884 dance hall and theater addition was the most imposing of the private commercial structures in the early days. By 1885, Fountain Green formally organized its city government, electing Reese R. Llewellyn as the first town president.
A substantial Mormon meetinghouse, built over a thirty-year period beginning in 1880, was the most prominent religious structure in nineteenth-century Fountain Green. A tithing office built in 1906 and a church-built theater and dance hall erected in 1917 allowed for expanded economic and social activity. The influence of the Mormon Church was pervasive, as it remains today, with its Sunday School, Relief Society, choir, children’s organizations, and overall concern for the community’s welfare and progress. Members of other religious faiths have lived in Fountain Green during much of its history, although no group has managed to establish a permanent foothold. A varied ethnic makeup also helped to shape the town’s early nature, with 65.3 percent of its adult married population being foreign-born in 1880.
The twentieth century brought incorporation as a city in 1910, plus several new improvements for Fountain Green, including a large elementary school in 1907, an improved water system in 1913 (updated in 1935), a high school in 1920, a city park in 1935, and a state fish hatchery in 1939-40. In recent decades, new religious, educational, and business facilities, together with the restoration and new construction of residences, mark Fountain Green’s continued vitality.
A drive down Fountain Green’s Main Street and up the hilly lanes of the square blocks to the west helps one understand the community’s story. An outstanding collection of red brick homes stands witness to the town’s once-thriving brick industry. The two-story elementary school and the fine brick tithing office on Main Street also remain along with impressive residences such as the Hans Peter Olsen home (on the National Register). Many of the log, adobe, and brick houses are vacant now, but their varied architecture testifies to the ingenuity and talent of their builders. Although there may be more buildings than people in Fountain Green–evidence of years of gradual out-migration, a trend that seems to have stabilized in the last decade–the town remains a vital part of Sanpete County.