The Beginning Days of Roy

I don’t know how William Evans Baker did it!! In 1873 he saw something great in a land that was desolate, occupied only by rabbits, snakes, lizards, coyotes and a wolf or two. The land didn’t even have water. To leave a reliable farm in Hooper with a couple neighbors near by. To forge out on his own and start from scratch a farm in a land where even the Indians didn’t inhabit? Folks in Hooper thought he had lost his mind. When asked about it William said that he liked the location and wanted to see what he might be able to do with it. It wasn’t an easy path, they would be the only family in this unnamed area. The homesteading law said that you had to live on a land for 6 months at a time in order to stake a claim on it. So William, his wife and their growing family lived in Hooper for 6 month and Roy for 6 months until he had a home built on the 80 acre farm. William was from Huxley Warwickshire, England. His father had died leaving behind his mother and 5 children. His family had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints and when neighbors heard that they belonged to that church they pretty much told them to leave, so they did. In 1862 they made the across the globe journey to Utah. An older brother and sister stayed in England with their families, it must have been hard to say goodbye. His sister did later come to Utah. They arrived in Riverdale in October and William immediately took on the role of being the man of the family and found a farm they could rent. It is so amazing to me how families worked together then to create a home from nothing, everyone pitched in. William was very smart and saw a business opportunity with travelers crossing the swollen Weber River on their way to the gold fields of California or to greener land in Oregon. He cut down some trees bordering the river and built a ferry to assist the travelers. Before too long he had enough money to buy an ox team and several other supplies. William also worked for his landlord William Cole. While working for him he fell in love with his daughter Esther and married her shortly after her 18th birthday. William and Esther moved to Hooper after they were married (in 1865) and lived in a wagon box until William could get a house built. They had their first child, a little girl named Rachel Eva.  Eight years after moving to Hooper they wanted their own land and found some in what is now called Roy. Some time after moving permanently to Roy, William dug the first well. It was over 50 feet down. Back in those days they didn’t have tractors to assist. He did it with a shovel and a lot of hard work. It was the only well between Kaysville and Ogden. The well gave enough water for cooking and drinking but they had to go to Muskrat Springs in Hooper 3 miles away to get enough water for household purposes such as washing, cleaning and laundry. Sheep and cattle also traveled to the same spring for water. William and Esther had a big family with 11 children (5 sons and 6 daughters). William worked hard to get water to the Roy area. He was the President of the Hooper Irrigation Company and has done much for the building of that section as well as helped to bring about the Weber and Davis County Canal. Roy was settled in 1873, 25 years after Ogden and many of the surrounding communities were also already settled. It had names such as Central City, Sandridge, The Basin, and Lakeview. Roy was eventually named after the child of a school teacher. Roy C. Peebles, who had died. The City of Roy was incorporated on March 10, 1937.
They came from other places  Those who had learned to mold the land  and their dreams to their will.  They had learned to plant, to own,  To want more from the earth than simple  sustenance. They divided the prairie among them And ran their fences.  Each man could do what he liked with is own piece, And wrest from the slumbering earth  all that he could take, Then they left their footprints in the sand  For all who followed.  –Author Unknown–


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