Union Ward, East Jordan Stake

Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, p.898-899

UNION WARD, East Jordan Stake, consists of the Latter-day Saints residing in the village of Union (map) and the surrounding farming districts, in Salt Lake County, Utah. Union is about 12 miles south southeast of the Temple Block, Salt Lake City.

Union was known as Little Cottonwood from the time of its first settlement in 1849 to 1854. Among the first settlers on the south side of Little Cottonwood Creek, in the spring of 1849, was Jehu Cox, who built a house on the present site of Union Fort and commenced farming. Elijah Elmer located about two miles further up the creek about the same time. In the fall of 1849 Silas Richards (cemetery marker) bought out Elijah Elmer's improvements and settled there with his family, together with a number of saints who had just crossed the plains in a company of which he was captain. The following year more settlers arrived and a comfortable school house was built, in which Silas Richards taught school during the winters of 1850-1851 and 1851-1852. Captain Richards was appointed to preside over the settlement immediately upon his arrival, but on July 13, 1851, he was ordained a Bishop and in that capacity, appointed to take charge of the saints at the Little Cottonwood settlement and in the vicinity. As the Indians were somewhat hostile, and depredations were frequent in other parts of the country, an adobe fort was erected at Union in 1854, with walls 12 feet high and six feet thick at the base. But although most of the people moved into the fort, they were never molested by Indians. On account of this structure being errected, the place was known as Union Fort for many years. The name Union was chosen on account of the unity which prevailed in the settlement.

On Oct. 26, 1856, a call was made for the people of Union to furnish five good wagons with experienced teamsters, five span of horses, with feed for the animals, and the wagons to be loaded with clothing and provisions to be sent out to meet the belated Willie and Martin handcart companies, which were snowbound in the mountains. By sunrise the next morning the company was ready to start and the ready response made to the call was astonishing to all.

Bishop Richards having been called to help settle southern Utah, in the beginning of 1865, Union, or Little Cottonwood, was amalgamated with the South Cottonwood Ward. Branch meetings, however, were held occasionally at the old fort at Union, presided over for a time by Richard Taylor, and later by Ishmael F. Phillips (Ed Note: Ishmael Phillips was the foster father of Emily Cope). On July 1, 1877, the Union Ward was organized, composed of the Union and Sandy districts of the South Cottonwood Ward, with Ishmael F. Phillips as Bishop. In 1882 Sandy was separated from Union Ward and organized as a separate ward, and in 1920 the western boundary of Union Ward was changed by the creation of the East Midvale Ward, which considerably reduced the area of the older ward.

For some years religious services were held in the Union school house, but in 1885 a substantial meeting house, a brick structure, was erected in Union, located about one fourth of a mile west of the old fort site. To this, in 1929, was added another brick building, to be used as an amusement hall, erected at a cost of $25,000. It has an auditorium, with stage equipment, capable of seating 1,000 people.

Bishop Ishmael F. Phillips presided over the Union Ward 23 years, when, being ordained a Patriarch, he was succeeded in 1900 by Willard C. Burgon, who was succeeded in 1910 by Charles L. M. Milne, who acted until his death, Jan. 11, 1918. He was succeeded by Heber J. Burgon, who acted until 1927, when, having been chosen to preside over the newly organized East Jordan Stake of Zion, he was succeeded as Bishop of Union Ward by Horace T. Godfrey, who acted in that capacity Dec. 31, 1930. On that date the Union Ward had 708 members, including 129 children.

Union Ward belonged to Salt Lake Stake until 1900, when it became part of the Jordan Stake, and when that stake was divided in 1927, Union Ward became a part of the East Jordan Stake.

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