History of Harrisville

The history committee has made a collection of biographies of Harrisville people.  These are available on a disk that can be purchased at the city ofice for $15.  The committee continues to accept personal histories to add to the collection.  We invite information and a picture of deceased persons, and anyone over 80 years of age who spent the majority of their life in Harrisville.  if you want a copy of only one or two of the biographies, copies can be obtained individually at the city office for 25 cents a page.  Please continue to submit the stories of people who made this their hometown so they can be added.

Click here for a list of available biographies.

A complete history of Harrisville is published in a hard-bound, picture-filled book, entitled "Harrisville Horizons." The book, "Harrisville Horizons," may be purchased at the city office for $20.00. A FREE pamphlet for a self-guided tour of Harrisville historical sites is also available at the city office.

The following is a brief history of Harrisville.

Harrisville is located north of Ogden in Weber County. In the early years, the area witnessed a double tragedy which cost the lives of two human beings. It was in 1850, just three years after the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, that Urban Stewart built the first house in what was to become Harrisville. It was constructed of logs and was located about 300 yards to the southwest of where the Harrisville chapel was later constructed. Stewart had planted a garden and watched over it with care. The night of 16 September 1850 he heard rustling out in his corn patch and saw a moving object, which he fired at, killing Chief Terikee, of the Shoshones Indian Tribe. The Indians retaliated by killing a white man named Campbell, a transient employee of Farr's Mill, and Stewart had to leave the country. The Indians were intent on destroying the Weber County settlement. When the Mormon Church authorities sent 150 men to help secure the Weber colony, Terikee's band took the body of their chief and retreated northward.

In 1851 Martin Henderson Harris, for whom Harrisville was named, and a nephew of Martin Harris of Book of Mormon fame, built a log home west of Four Mile Creek. Others soon followed: James Lake; Pleasant Green Taylor, who settled on the Urban Stewart claim; David Jenkins, who put up a small house on the south portion of Stewart's claim; William W. Dixon, who settled by a small creek that would bear his name; Stephen Ordway; Luman A. Shurtleff; and others. In 1852, Haskel V. Shurtleff, Levi Murdock, Warren Child Sr., George Tiffany, and William Elder moved into the settlement. However, Indian trouble started again. Some houses were dismantled and moved into Bingham's Fort. Crops were planted, and the settlers would work on their farms, but they had to carry their guns to protect themselves from the Indians. The trouble eventually subsided and they moved back to their homes. Before they moved into the fort, the area farmers had just used the water from Four Mile Creek. After much effort, they received a charter and grant to take water from the Ogden River in November 1855.

Luman Shurtliff built an adobe house. Later Luman's son, Noah L. Shurtliff, made red brick by hand. A brickyard was later established, and local brick making turned into a major business. There has been a brickyard in Harrisville ever since.

In 1858, the town was briefly abandoned in the face of Johnston's Army, but the settlers returned to their homes that fall when the trouble was resolved peacefully.

Martin Harris at first taught school in his home, but as more people moved in, it was necessary to organize a school district and build a schoolhouse. Logs were brought from North Ogden Canyon and from Garner's Canyon and the 16-foot by 18-foot schoolhouse was finished in 1863; it had a dirt floor and a dirt roof. In 1867 a new two-room adobe schoolhouse was built which served for school, civic, and religious affairs. Many children had to come a great distance to go to school, so eventually area residents decided to build a schoolhouse in the west end (which later became Farr West). In 1892 the adobe school in the east end burned down. A new two-room red brick schoolhouse was erected that same year. In 1913, a two-story, four-room, yellow brick schoolhouse replaced the two-room schoolhouse. This served very well until the 1940s when it was abandoned and students were bused to schools outside of Harrisville. Once more some children in Harrisville attended schools within Harrisville City limits when Majestic Elementary School opened in Harrisville August 1998, followed in August 2003 by Orion Junior High School.

In 1863 Harrisville was organized as a branch of the LDS Church, and in 1868 it was organized into a county precinct, at which time it was officially called Harrisville. It was organized as an LDS ward 28 May 1877. Church services were held in the east end of town in the Harrisville school building one Sunday and the following Sunday in the west end in the Farr West school building, alternating each week. A division was made in 1890, and two separate wards were organized.

After the ward was divided, a new LDS church house was needed. Bishop Pleasant Green Taylor donated the land (1300 North Harrisville Road). The church was dedicated in 1891. In 1913 it was added to, and in 1926 the building was renovated. Additional renovations took place in 1932, and 1937. In 1955, ground was broken for a new chapel and an addition to the existing meetinghouse, which was completed and dedicated in 1959. Another building addition took place in 1980. A new meetinghouse was erected in the ball field behind the existing building and was dedicated 7 May 2006. A short time later, the historic meeting house was removed. As Harrisville continued to grow, an additional LDS Church building located on 2000 North was completed in 1988, and one at 1650 North 400 West was completed and dedicated February 2000. The Ascension Lutheran Church held worship services in its new building at 1105 North Washington Boulevard on 20 August 1995, and completed an addition to that building in 2003.

The Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads ran through Harrisville. In 1904 a local company laid tracks through Harrisville, Pleasant View, and on to Plain City. The line operated and ran through Harrisville for four years.

Harrisville not only manufactured bricks but also washboards, cheese, and brooms, and even briefly made some silk cloth. Early pioneer families often carded their own wool to spin and then knit into basic clothing. In 1871 a small post office was built. In 1875 there was a sawmill and a molasses mill on the banks of Four Mile Creek. They used the water to turn the wheels to run the mills. Local farmers raised sugar cane to make the molasses. In 1900 Parley Taylor had a good cheese factory. By 1909 there was a harness shop, a shoemaker's shop, and a slaughterhouse. In more recent years, many businesses have found their way into Harrisville City's commercial districts including a Wal Mart Super Store.

At 3:27 P.M., 9 April 1962, Harrisville became an incorporated township. The first mayor was Leland Saunders. He, along with several other dedicated men and women, were appointed by Weber county commissioners to direct the new town. After permission was granted for a special census count, Harrisville was made a third-class city 30 January 1964. The population of the new city was 867.

The city leaders purchased twelve acres of land on the east side of Highway 91. A portion of this property became the site of the first small city hall. This first city hall building was actually a home from Verdland Park (World War II housing). It was moved onto a foundation and remodeled. City council members and citizens donated the labor, and Mayor Saunders donated the needed equipment. The city hall came into use April 1965. Later, a maintenance shop was completed which housed the city police. These buildings were used as such until January 1989, at which time a new city office building was completed.

The city purchased forty-four acres adjoining the twelve original acres for park development. A pavilion was erected with tables and benches. They added a baseball park and tennis courts in 1972. In 1976, the nation's bicentennial year, the city bought the property originally owned by the Martin Harris family for the Martin Henderson Harris Memorial Park. The Utah Bicentennial Committee provided most of the money and local citizens provided much of the labor.

Harrisville City has welcomed new residential developments with citizens who have come here to share the quality of life and pleasant atmosphere of the area. Harrisville continues to function as a vital northern Utah community.

Shanna C. Edwards, City Historian