Grouse Creek is located at the extreme west end of Box Elder County near the Nevada and Idaho borders. It is a hundred miles from Brigham City as the crow, flies and well over that via the nearest paved road, Utah Highway 30, south from Interstate 15 at Curlew Junction, then north from Grouse Creek Junction on an unpaved road.
The first white settlers of Grouse Creek came in 1875 from Tooele, and settled on the West Fork. They were attracted to the area because of the many acres of natural meadows. Valison Tanner, Sr., and his brother Alma C. were the first to arrive. They brought with them co-op herds of cattle to feed on the natural meadow lands in the area. John Ferguson and Oliver Calgary came to help with the cattle. The settlement was first named Cooksville, from a family of early settlers including Benjamin Cooke who dug the first well in the area, finding good water at the sixteen foot level. William (Cotton) Thomas came fromBrigham City, Utah and shortly after he arrived, he named the valley Grouse Creek, for the plentiful Sage Grouse in the valley.
In 1876 other settlers arrived on the West Fork, later called Etna. They were Richard E. Warburton, William Gallagher, Ezra Rowberry, Seth Fletcher, Henry Merrill, Elisha Hubbard, Levi Beetal, CharlesBrizzee, Thomas Atkinson, Philemon Merrill, Ara Sabins, Charles Smith Sr., Charles Smith, Jr., Walter Henningway, Charles Kimber, Sr., Charles Kimber Jr., William Kimber, and B.F. Cooke. They came fromRush Valley, Tooele, and Grantsville, Utah, to engage in stock raising and some farming.
During the winter of 1877, Isaac Kimball, son of Heber C. Kimball, wrote a letter to the Deseret News in which he described the Grouse Creek Valley as a good place to locate homes and raise livestock. The letter attracted the attention of Albert Richins, William C. Betteridge, Sr., Phillip A. Paskett, William P. Paskett, R. Allen Jones, and James R. Simpson of Henefer, Summit County. They decided to investigate the suitability of the location with the idea of establishing homes. It was decided the following men should made the trip as soon as weather permitted in the spring. Phillip A. Paskett, William C. Betteridge Sr., Albert F. Richins, and Robert Allen Jones started on 16 March 1877 and arrived five days later, locating claims on the East Fork. The land had not yet been surveyed, and was covered with large sage brush. Even so, the men decided to establish their claims.
The first women to come to the East Fork were Ellen Simpson, wife of James Simpson, and Jane Richins, wife of Albert F. Richins, from Henefer, Utah. Soon to follow were David H. Toyn, Isaac Lee, Joseph B. Lee, Daniel McLaws, Thomas Davis, James W. Betteridge and Samuel H. Kimball.
The first settlers built dugouts then later log houses with dirt roofs, then later modern homes. In 1878 the settlers on both forks cleared land and raised some wheat. There were several very dry years with very little irrigation water, but the settlers continued to clear land and build their livestock herds. They endured many hardships.
The closest place to get mail, groceries, and supplies was Terrace, a railroad town twenty five miles across the mountain or forty miles around the mountain. Later different individuals had stores in Grouse Creek. For several years the people owned the coop store that was sold to a private owner in recent years.
The Irrigation Company of the East Fork, Grouse Creek, was formed and incorporated according to the laws of Utah. In 1908 a pipeline from Buckskin Springs was built to serve the community. It has been upgraded several times.
On 17 July 1879 the Grouse Creek LDS Ward was organized by Oliver G. Snow, president of the Box Elder Stake. Samuel H. Kimball was set apart as Bishop, Benjamin F. Cooke, first counselor and Phillip A. Paskett, second counselor. The meeting was held in the home of B.F. Cooke. Meetings were held in homes until a log social hall was built in 1891. In 1912 a new chapel of native sandstone was completed. It was a beautiful building with stained glass windows and a basement for recreation purposes. The building served the community for seventy-one years. It was torn down and a new brick chapel was built in 1983. The people hated to see the old building go but have enjoyed the new building.
In 1882 a school was started with Phillip A. Paskett as teacher. School was held in a log tithing granary. Later a building of logs was built. A four room school house was built of native dressed sandstone. It has since been remodeled, and a gymnasium was built in 1980. The school teaches kindergarten through grade ten. Children attend grades eleven and twelve in larger communities and have to board away from home.
The first mail was brought from Terrace by horseback or team and wagon. Later the mail was picked up from the train in Lucin. Now the mail is delivered daily from Snowville. The first post office was built about 1890. Isaore H. Kimball was the first postmaster. In the early years a school and church were held on the West Fork (Etna) also but have been consolidated and held on the East Fork or Grouse Creek.
Since the area was first settled there have been no doctors in the community, but in the early days there were two trained mid-wives Mary Hadfield and Ellen Blanthorn who delivered babies until about 1928. There was also a male nurse, George Blanthorn, who assisted in times of accidents and sickness. With the coming of cars, people have gone to larger cities for medical attention. At present the community has an ambulance and some trained emergency medical technicians.
In the 1910s Grouse Creek had a brass band that played at celebrations. They also had a good dance orchestra, which provided music for almost weekly dances.
For years, at market time, cattle were trailed twenty-five miles to Lucin, and loaded on the train to be marketed in Ogden. Sometimes they were trailed fifty miles to Oakley, Idaho. Now they are trucked to market. The main occupation of Grouse Creek residents had been cattle and sheep ranching. In years past large bands of sheep grazed the area. Electricity was brought to the community in 1952, making it possible to have more conveniences.
Though remote, life in Grouse Creek is enjoyable.
Written by Merlin and Kenna Tanner in 1992.