Utah History Encyclopedia


By Linda Thatcher
Smithfield, located in Cache County, is eight miles north of Logan. Smithfield was settled in October of 1859 by Seth Langton and by Robert and John Thornley, who had been living in Salt Lake City. The original pioneers were joined by additional settlers who were primarily from Salt Lake and Davis counties in the spring of 1860. The first settlement was located approximately one-half mile west of the present site and was originally called Summit, because of its location on Summit Creek. The town was surveyed in March 1860 by the territorial surveyor, Jessie Fox.

In July 1860 the settlers were attacked by a band of Shoshone Indians, and when the skirmish was over two white men had been killed. The settlers moved closer together and eventually sixty-eight houses were constructed in fort lines. For protection, the men worked in groups whenever they left the fort. Crops were planted, including wheat, oats, corn, squash, sugarcane, beans, carrots, peas, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and flax. A few fruit trees also were planted.

The first bishop of the Mormon community was John Glover Smith, who was called in 1860. Summit was eventually renamed Smithfield after Smith. In 1874 the United Order was introduced to the church members. Sixty-three families joined and 568 acres were divided into five districts, with a supervisor over each. Besides agriculture the order also included the Smithfield Co-operative Mercantile. Other industries included a sawmill, lime kiln, tannery, molasses mill, grist mill, cabinet-making factory, and blacksmith shop. Although the order was proclaimed a failure in 1875, some LDS church members in the area continued to partially practice it for some time. Construction on the Smithfield Tabernacle began in 1881 and was completed about twenty years later. In 1906 the town was divided into two wards; it has since grown to thirteen LDS wards.

In 1881 the Presbyterian Church established a day school in Smithfield; the teacher was Nellie F. Bartlett. In 1882 the Smithfield Presbyterian Church was built; it was called the Garfield Memorial Chapel. The school and church closed in 1909. The Methodist Episcopal Church established a mission in Smithfield in 1888.

The first public building, a combination school, church, and amusement center, was completed in 1863. Thirty-six pupils were enrolled in the school. Prior to that time, teaching took place in private homes. Smithfield now has two elementary schools and Sky View High School, which serves students who live in the north end of Cache Valley.

In 1866 the telegraph line was extended from Logan to Smithfield. By 1873 the Utah Northern Railroad had been extended to Smithfield--which was a great boon to the community, bringing better mail service among its other benefits. By 1922 a volunteer fire department was organized and civic improvements made.

The dairy industry is important to Smithfield, and in 1892 the Smithfield Dairy Company built its plant--which was later taken over by Sego Milk Products. In 1920 the Morgan Pea Factory began business and was later bought by Del Monte Foods; it has since been turned into a can-making factory. Some current businesses in Smithfield are Cantwell Brothers Lumber, Smithfield Livestock Auction, and Smithfield Implement.

A tradition in Smithfield began in an elementary school in 1925 as the Health Pageant. It has grown and developed into Smithfield Health Days, which is now an annual event and includes a parade and pageants. The population of Smithfield has steadily increased in recent years. In 1940 it was 2,461; in the 1970s the city began to grow more rapidly. According to the 1990 census there were 5,566 people in the city of Smithfield.