At the entrance of Riverside Park, there is a big rock monument with “Early Morgan Pioneers” engraved at the top. Under the engraving there is a list of some amazing people who have shaped Morgan County into what it is today.
The Sons of Utah Pioneers maintain this monument and Monday afternoon they added two more names to this prestigious list. This year there were 10 submissions and all were remarkable people who did great things for Morgan County. While only two were chosen for this year, Jay Taggart reminded everyone that two more names will be added each year and there is plenty of room left on the monument to add names.
The honorees for this year were Willard G. Smith and Colonel Jesse C. Little. David Reeder, great-grandson of Willard G. Smith, presented a brief synopsis of his ancestor’s contributions. Smith made his home in Morgan County when he was called to preside as bishop over the settlements of Porterville, Richville, South Morgan, Croydon and Milton.
Reeder talked of his great-grandfather’s closeness to Joseph Smith. He talked of how Joseph would “place his arms affectionately about Willard and drawing him close, would give him loving advice and counsel.” Reeder also talked about Willard’s heroism at Haun’s Mill. Smith served three terms in the Utah House of Representatives and a fourth term as chaplain. He was also the president of the Morgan branch of Z.C.M.I.
Smith was instrumental in the construction of the railroad in the area. In the spring of 1867, Brigham Young took a contract to build about 100 miles of the Union Pacific Railroad. Smith looked over the situation and found out what kind of labor people were best prepared to take up and he would get contracts for them. After the contracts were arranged, he and John Seaman took a railroad tie contract from the Union Pacific.
Don Little put on the military uniform of his great-grandfather, Colonel Jesse C. Little, and spoke of his service to the pioneers as well as his service to Morgan County. Little was in the advance guard that lead the way into the Salt Lake Valley and was one of the first nine men to enter the valley ahead of the main vanguard company.
Don spoke about how his great-grandfather travelled to Washington D.C. in 1846 and successfully lobbied for the creation of the Mormon Battalion. The creation of the Mormon Battalion provided assistance to nearly 15,000 exiled saints who had been driven from their homes by mobs.
In 1856 Little was commissioned by Brigham Young to assist in the planning and settlement of the newly opened Morgan Valley. He built a log cabin south of Milton near Deep Creek and the name Littleton was given to the settlement. Little was a landowner and also engaged in the real estate business. He installed a large water wheel and other machinery in Deep Creek, which remained until relatively recent years.
Little was active in military preparations in the East Canyon area during the threat of the Utah War in 1857-58. He was instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the first wagon road in Weber Canyon. Little also served on the resolution committee for the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads and represented his church at Promontory Point when the two railroads met to drive the golden spike.
The unveiling of the new names on the monument was performed by Richard Wiscombe and Jay Taggart. The actual engraving was provided free of charge by American National Monument. The event was well attended by family members of the honorees and members of the community.
Guests included Mayor Jim Egbert, Councilwoman Shelly Betz, Chair, Morgan Historical Society, Linda Smith and Steve Withers represented American National Monument.