The following history is excerpts from "The Founding and Development of Grantsville, Utah, 1850-1950", a Theses and Dissertation by Alma A. Gardiner in 1959. To read Mr. Gardiner's entire theses, please click on the following link. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5703&context=etd
The first men who went to the area of 'what is now Grantsville' for the purpose of establishing themselves and of making their homes were James McBride and Harrison Severe. These rugged pioneers were brothers-in-law, who, with their wives and families, made the long trek from Missouri to Great Salt Lake City in the summer of 1850, arriving here on October 1 of that year. They made their camp a little north of the city near what was known as the Warm Springs, but their stay was of short duration. They heard, soon after their arrival, that Apostle Ezra T. Benson was building a sawmill in Tooele Valley near the city of the same name, and which had been established the previous year. Their contemplations of a suitable location were thus resolved, and the two families headed west for Tooele. Here these tried, but hardy, men learned of a more "favorable appearing place twelve miles northwest." The enthusiasm for immediate settlement plus the prospect of an inviting area of fertile and tillable land, along with sufficient life-giving water, motivated a quick move after a one night stand in Tooele. Thus it was that, in the words of James McBride, "We arrived in this place on the 10th day of October, 1850." This "place" was then known as 'Willow Creek," named for the mountain stream that had cut its gravelly course northeasterly to the valley, and from whose banks Severe and McBride cut willows to aid in making their crude shelter of the first winter. These willows thatched the roof, and, along with mud, filled the gaps of this sixteen by-sixteen foot log dwelling. Lying in the northwest section of Grantsville, this spot no longer evidences the original domicile of the first pioneers. The first winter, 1850-1851 was both a hazardous and a hard one for these two men and their families. Their original supplies depleted, "game such as deer, antelope, rabbits, wild fowls," along with some fish obtained from adjacent streams provided a "bare living" with what little other necessities were obtained by hauling charcoal to Great Salt Lake City. Muzzle-loading rifles brought down the needed game, while charcoal, produced for the blacksmith's forge, was made by bringing cedar wood from the canyons and burning it in pits about ten to twelve feet long. When nearly charred, the burning material was covered with sand and "finished."
In 1852, Benjamin Baker, the president of the small Mormon branch, asked Church Leader, Brigham Young to send more families to Grantsville. In 1853 twenty-three more families settled in Willow Creek (Grantsville). They were Dayley /Bailey/, Pope, Mecham, Walker, Fairchild, Steele, Bell, two Orr families, Martindale, Barrus, Clark, Blair, Abbott, Martin, Burton, Bicmore, Burbank, Sabin, Phippin, Wrathall, Palmer and Clark. In the autumn of 1853 quite a number more families settled in Grantsville some of which were: Parkinson, Pea* Lee, McMurray, Matthews, Wilson, Whittle, Hudson, and Hale. This apparently is only a partial list.
Another event of these first three years of pioneering achievement was the changing of the name of the settlement from that of Willow Greek to Grantsville. It was to honor Colonel George D. Grant that the change in name was made in the year 1853. Although the new settlement was still wobbly at this time, that it would now continue was a certainty.
The years of 1855 and 1856 were perhaps the most trying that the pioneers of Grantsville ever faced. This was a period of dire need, when hunger, caused by unfavorable growing seasons and invading hordes of grasshoppers, was felt by every man, woman, and child, and felt so acutely that, as James McBride wrote "Men staggered with weakness as they went to and from their labors,"
The difficulties began with an uncommonly dry growing season in 1854. Also, grasshoppers, at times so thick their flying hordes darkened the sun, had helped destroy part of the anticipated harvest. The winter of 1854-1855, however, was survived without hardship. It was spring when suffering among the families of the little settlement began. The scanty supplies of the previous season were almost exhausted. Only one or two had enough to divide, and this they did to their everlasting credit. Spirits were lifted, however with the harvest of the first grain to ripen in 1855. John W. Cooley, one of the first pioneers, and an outstanding leader in the community, had a small patch of barley ripen first. After being threshed with flails and cleaned by the wind, each family received a half a bushel which was ground in coffee mills and made into "thickened milk" or mush, which served to ease the monotony of the rough and skimpy diet of early spring and summer.
December 21, 1854, is the earliest indication of Grantsville's enjoying the services of a much-desired U. S. mail. On this date an entry appears in the "Journal History" entitled "New Mail Routes and Post Offices in Utah Territory." It indicates the names of the routes and post offices established at the 'last session' of congress in this territory." One route is designated, "from Tooele City to Grantsville."
The petition to the 16th annual legislative assembly of the Territory of Utah was presented on January 3, 1867, by the Hon. John J. Rowberry in the House of Representatives, where it was read and referred to committee. The "ACT" as drawn up was known as "H.F. No. 11, and was sent to the requisite legislative bodies for processing, where it "was concurred in and the House notified accordingly, on Wednesday, January 9, final approval, over the signature of territorial Governor Charles Durkee, became definite as per section one of "An ACT to incorporate the City of Grantsville".
The first recorded meeting of the City Council occurred on June 4th, 1867. No mention is made of the place of assembly. However, it was probably held in what was called the "Adobie School House," for other minutes make mention of its use for such meetings as well as for other public affairs. Although the minutes of the initial meetings of the Grantsville City Council do not list the first city officers as such, they readily reveal, as one peruses them, that the first Grantsville City Council as elected by law was Cyrus W. Bates, Mayor; William Jefferies, James Wrathall, Aroet L. Hale, Aldermen; Emery Barrus, Edward Hunter, W. C. Martindale, John Felt, Wm. C. Rydalch, Councilmen; and A. W. Sabin, Justice of the Peace.
Sometime in 1861, the "Adobie School House," as the new structure came to be called, was made ready for school use. It was located inside the old fort walls on the southwest corner of today's intersection of Clark and Cooley Streets and served in the beginning as chapel and recreation hall, as well as the community center of learning. Without doubt, the most famous teacher, and one who many times whitewashed and further kept the early structure as well equipped as possible for the times, was Joshua R. Clark, father of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency of the L.D.S. Church. He began his service to the youth of the community on November 10, 1868, with twenty-nine pupils in attendance, and taught for a four-year period before other assignments, primarily Tooele County superintendent of district schools from 1879 to 1889, called him to other fields. On August 29, 1892, the Grantsville Academy building was dedicated. The large upstairs room had been prepared for the occasion and was filled with guests from Salt Lake City and with Church members from all of Tooele County. The Grantsville Academy building, housing the community's district school from 1892 to 1913, was a great distance from those homes in the eastern section of town. For the first number of years of the school's existence the parents apparently brought their small children from home in horse drawn conveyances. Some of the older youngsters rode bicycles or came on horse back, while walking was the vogue for the majority. Thus, with the completion of another district school building (dedicated on January 13,1914 , Grantsville entered into a modem education program for its elementary school children and, at the same time, provided a secondary schedule for youth of high school age in the Grantsville Academy building.
The outstanding annual social event, and one that is believed to be entirely unique to Grantsville alone, is the "Old Folks Sociable." Having its beginning with the early inhabitants of the community, it became an institution of prime importance. Always, since its inception on January 6, 1884, has it been an enterprise of great enthusiasm on the part of the entire community and great numbers of those who may once have lived there . No picture of Grantsville's early culture is complete without the inclusion of its well-known brass band, its predecessor and its successor. Music was "in the blood" of many of the community's "old timers". The band seemed almost to be an obsession, not only with the musicians but also with the people themselves who lent great support to its endeavors. The band always was the center of every early function. It was a great honor to be one of its members.
The people of Grantsville have ever been as interested in drama as they have in music. Long before the days of the community's historic Opera House, the contributions of early dramatic clubs were highlights in the community, and always drew excellent crowds. Traveling groups found eager audiences in the days of the "old hall" where accommodations were far from adequate in comparison with those of the Opera House that the future held in store. Even prior to these early halls the people put on plays in the old "adobe school house" built in 1861 where wide-eyed children, also, thrilled parents with their Church and school productions. As in the other esthetic areas, the art of drama was a nourished, cultural facet of Grantsville from pioneer days. The Grantsville Opera House was used before it was completely finished and, of course, long before it was paid for. The future opening and probably the first use of the building, was reported in the Deseret News of July 27, 1900, thusly "The theater opened Saturday evening, July 28, with the celebrated drama, 'Santiago'. The building was dedicated on December 1, 1901.