Mantua History

Little Valley, Flax Ville, Geneva, Hunsaker Valley, Little Copenhagen and Box Elder Valley are some names that have been used to identify our beautiful town in the past.

In the spring of 1864, Lorenzo Snow, an L.D.S leader, along with the early settlers, went up on the knoll on the east side of the valley where they could overlook the whole valley.There Lorenzo Snow named the knoll "Mount Hope" and he dedicated the land and the water that it might be a blessing to the people.  He also named the settlement "Mantua" meaning "beautiful gown", after his birthplace in Mantua, Ohio.

When Box Elder (now Brigham City) was founded in 1851, Box Elder Valley (now Mantua) became a favorite herd ground because of its lush grass and bountiful water.  By an act of the Utah Legislature, approved January 18, 1858, Box Elder Valley was granted to Lorenzo Snow and others for this purpose.

It is remembered that Abraham Hunsaker was among the men who ran the largest number of stock in the valley, so when Lorenzo Snow wanted to settle the valley he offered him land north of Box Elder in trade.

In the spring of 1863, about a dozen Danish Families were called by church authorities to settle "Little Valley" and to raise flax to help with the supply of cloth. The growing of flax didn't prove a success for the use of clothing because it was so course.  It was however, used for grain sacks, rope and the finer fibers made good thread.

The first homes in Mantua were dugouts or cellars, built close together for protection.  A little later, log cabins and then various types of houses were built.  The predominant type was an adobe lined frame, two-room structure with a lean-to at the back.

In the early days there was some trouble with the Indians.  In the spring of 1864, a rock fort was started where the old church house now stands, but was later abandoned as relationships improved.The Indians often came and helped some of the settlers harvest their grain, which had to be cut by hand.  They received some of the grain as pay.

It is recorded in 1859, that the Pony Express trail included Mantua.  Brigham Young called Samuel Whitney to carry the mail from Cache Valley to Box Elder County.  Sam was friendly with the Indians, spoke their language, and they recognized him from afar because he had one arm missing.  The Indians called Sam "Burrowit" meaning "one arm gone".

Part of Sam's mail route was to go through Hyrum and Paradise and then go west of Paradise over a pass called Old Indian Trail, into Hunsaker Valley (Mantua) near a round hill where the reservoir is now.

One day Brigham Young came through Mantua and saw a group of men working northeast of town in what is called Clappers' Hollow.  He asked what the men were doing, and he was told they were building a road to Cache Valley.  He advised the man in charge to call the men in because that was the wrong place to build the road.  He told them that the road should go west of there, the place where it is now. 

Most business in the early days was on the cooperative basis.  The co-op store was one in in which each setter took some stock in.

Since Mantua was settled there have been four school buildings.  In 1865, school was held in a building that had only one room.  It was located just north of where the old church is and it served as both school and church house.  In 1867, a frame building replaced it.  It was built in the shape of a "T" and had three rooms.  About 1908, the third schoolhouse was built.  It was constructed in the form of a square and had four rooms.  It was located south of the present day school building.  Because cracks appeared in the walls it was condemned and torn down.  It was used from 1908 to 1928.  The fourth and now standing schoolhouse was used from 1928 to 1960 for school and now serves as the town hall.

Before plumbing, water was drawn from a well and then kept in a bucket in one corner of the room.  The pupils would line up and take turns drinking from the dipper. School lunch was usually tomato soup and cost two cents.

In 1905 a new church was built and then later remodeled in about 1952.  The remodeling of the church made it necessary to take down the old Mantua Co-op store, "Meda's, which used to be where the parking lot of the old church is.

The present day church building in use today was dedicated on Sunday, July 27, 1975 by President Boyd K. Packer.