Roy is six miles southwest of Ogden, abutting Hill Air Force on the east and the town of Hooper on the west. Roy was settled in 1873, twenty-five years after Ogden, and most of the surrounding communities had been settled prior to that time. No one really wanted this dry, sandy land. Yet, eventually a trickling of settlers came and endured harsh conditions to tear a living from the resistant soil. The only fuel available for heat and cooking was the tamped sagebrush. The thorns of growing cacti were cut off and the plants were then fed to the animals.
William Evans Baker made the decision to settle this unseeming land. Many asked "Why?" Baker, then living in a green, water-fed place, later named "Hooper," said only that he wanted "to see what he could make of it." He eventually persuaded three of his brothers-in-law to test the existence of his choice. One was Henry Field, who followed William Baker to the area six months later. The other two brothers-in-law were Justin Grover and Richard Jones. There was also one ox and one horse belonging to William Baker.
The four men measured off the land for what they hoped would be a permanent settlement. They laid out four streets in an east to west orientation and three streets north to south. These are still the main arteries used today. Years later, when the area was officially surveyed, there was found to be very little error in the original measurement. The road near Roy's south boundary was affectionately known as "Cousin Street," until 23 July 1957, because all the residents on the road were cousins. This was the area where the four brothers-in-law originally settled.
A well was dug fifty feet deep by installing open barrels in the ground as it was dug to keep the loose sand from caving in. The meager water available was colored and brackish. The settlers trudged each day to Muskrat Springs in Hooper for acceptable water to satisfy their personal needs and to provide for the animals they owned. This procedure continued until 1882 when the settlers realized that if this place were to grow, they needed to find better water sources. An idea was born. Walking up to sixteen miles up Weber Canyon, the settlers--men, women, and children--dug a canal by hand to bring water from the nearby mountains. The canal was lined with rocks that the women and children amassed as the route was cleared.
The canal was surveyed and leveled by simple but effective means, and, when it was finished, the water scuttled through the rows the settlers had made. Prospects for the town were at once improved.
Church services were at first held in Hooper. When the first one-room school was built, the LDS Church for a time became a Sunday tenant. To build a chapel seemed an impossibility, but land was donated along with 80 percent of the labor, and half of the cost was met by the church hierarchy in Salt Lake City. Still, it took thirty-five years to pay off a $3,000 mortgage for the dedication to take place.
Twenty-one years after Roy's first settlement, the town's few residents met to start the wheels of progress turning by obtaining a post office. The first requirement was the selection of a permanent name for the town. Roy had been called Central City, Sandridge, the Basin, and Lakeview. One member of the group, Reverend David Peebles, a schoolteacher, recently had lost a child to death, a young boy named Roy. Peebles exerted pressure to have the town named after his son, and the local citizens were sympathetic to his plea. On 24 May 1894 Roy officially had a name and a post office. Orson Field was appointed as the first postmaster. The post office consisted of a few slots built in the corner of the kitchen in Field's home.
In the early 1940s, with the establishment nearby of Hill Field, the town was suddenly transformed. New settlers formed a stream and then a river. Almost overnight, Roy, swelling with a flood of newcomers, was faced with greatly inadequate services, facilities, and accommodations. Nothing seemed as urgent as educating the ever-flourishing crop of students. In 1943, the one school building in the community was filled beyond capacity. Classes were held in the halls, on the stage, and in the church house, and even the small supply room was used. The local school board and the town leaders scrambled to house the students. High school students were bused across Ogden to the north end of Washington Boulevard, a procedure practiced until 1965 when Roy high School was built. It became Weber County's largest high school and was later rated as one of the ten best in the nation.
Businesses in Roy were limited until the early 1940s. With a population of 800, a gas station, a couple of grocery stores, a cafe, and a lumber yard made up the modest business district. That changed in 1943. Roy developed rapidly during the war years; stores and offices of all kinds began to appear. Roy housed many of the workers and personnel from adjacent war bases: Hill Air Force Base, the Navy Supply Depot, and the Defense Supply Depot.
September 1953 marked a milestone in Roy's history--Roy received a charter to establish the first branch bank in the state of Utah. This branch of the Bank of Utah pioneered the way for other banks to establish branches through out the state.
Today, Roy boasts of most types of businesses and services. Roy is a first-class city, tagged "Weber County's Fastest Growing City," with a population of 24,603 in 1990. There are sewer, gas, and electrical systems and three water systems: the canal, a culinary water system, and a secondary water system. A large museum was built in 1993 and contains memorabilia of Roy City to preserve for others something of Roy's past.
Emma Russell and Beverly Wiberg