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Ecclesiastical History by Cora Beck Adamson
ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF HIGHLAND
By Cora Beck Aamson, 1964
Situated at the mouth of beautiful American Fork Canyon on the high bench above American Fork is the lovely little community of Highland. Many families have lived in this community and many people have moved from this little settlement but still love to call it home. It is known for its brisk north winds in the winter and the high snowdrifts and in the summer the cool canyon breeze in the evenings.
It is a wonderful place to raise a family and the spirit of the Lord has always dwelt in the hearts of the people of this part of Alpine Stake. Highland got its name from Alexander Adamson of American Fork, grandfather of Bishop LeGrand Adamson. Alexander was a convert to the LDS Church from Scotland. He used to bring his stock up on the bench to graze and the high bench reminded him of his beloved Highlands of Scotland. There were several Scottish families in the vicinity of American Fork and they all called it Highland.
In the year 1888 a schoolhouse was build on the lot where the Church is now standing and the new Church contains part of the original schoolhouse built by the County school district. It was originally a one-room brick building. The first Highland school district officials were George Y. Myers, Stephen Moyle and William Wilcox. These men were appointed in 1893, five years after the schoolhouse was built. Before this time the children of the early settlers attended school at the Presbyterian boarding school in American Fork or in Lehi or Alpine.
The schoolhouse gave the settlers a place to hold church meetings so it was decided that a branch of the Church should be organized. They had traveled many miles to Church in wagons and buggies in the summer and fall and in bob sleighs in the winter. Some of the Highland people went to the 3rd Ward in American Fork, some who lived on the West end of the bench went to Lehi and the people in the Northeast, many of whom had originally come from Alpine, continued to go to Alpine.
An account of the organization was found in some of the papers that Jessie Myers Adamson had saved for many years. Jessie was the daughter of George Y. Myers and the first of his children to be born on the Highland bench. She was born in 1878 in the house where Ben and Mary Lee Myers now live. The following is an excerpt (verbatim from the original):
From The Highlands
To the Editor of the Evening Dispatch As I have never seen any items of news in The Dispatch from “Highland,” I respond to its repeated invitation and “write a few lines.”
Probably there are not many readers of the Dispatch who know where Highland is. I will tell them It is situated between Am. Fork and Alpine and is the outgrowth of Lehi, Am. Fork and Alpine. And owing to the isolated condition of the people it was thought best to organize a branch of Am. Fork Ward. Accordingly on Sun. Mar. 13. 1892 Bishop George A. Halliday together with Bro’s Samuel Wagstaff and Stephen D. Chipman of Am. Fork Ward visited and organized us into a branch of the above named ward Elder S.A. Eastman was appointed to preside. On Sun. June 26 1892 S.S. Jones and O. H. Berg visited and organized us into a Sunday School ordained Samuel A. Eastman superintendent and James J. Bolin as his assistant.
For sometime past it has been thought best to have a reorganization. Accordingly on Sun. Aug 13 1893 David John and Edward Partridge of the State Presidency, Bishop T. R. Cutler of Lehi Ward Bishop Marsh and counselor Carlisle of Alpine counselor Geo. Cunningham and Wm S. Robinson of the High Council Am. Fork visited us for the purpose of reorganization After interesting talks from the Brethen present the people were asked to suggest the names of the brethern whom they would like to preside. Samuel A Eastman Richey Harkness and Hyrum Healey were suggested and then it was left to the authorities present to make the selection. Hyrum Healey was chosen and sustained.
Being deficient in teachers it was decided to set apart four others to act in this capacity. James F. Pulley Stephen Moyle Samuel A. Eastman and Richey Harkness were sustained and set apart Samuel A. Eastman was retained and sustained as superintendent of the Sun. School A vote of thanks was rendered him for his past services as presiding Elder.
August 15, 1893 Highland Laddie.
Highland Laddie was the only name written on this fine piece of history but it is believed by many that it was written by James Brown who built the big red brick home North of the Church where Leonard J. Hyde lived. This home was one of the finest homes ever to be built on the bench. Mr. Brown was a convert to the Church from Scotland and returned there later on a mission. He married Janet Adamson, daughter of Alexander. They were the parents of two daughters, Agnes and May and later adopted a young son, Jimmy. Jimmy later met a tragic death in American Fork Canyon. James Brown was probably the 2nd missionary to leave from Highland. He was active in the Church and baptized several of the people of the branch in the Lehi ditch behind the home of Dave Strasburg. One of those he baptized was Lewis Strasburg, father of David and Evar Strasburg, Otis Day and Maggie Orr.
There was more history in this piece of paper “Highland Laddie” wrote than we found in going through the papers and books in the Presiding Bishops building in Salt Lake.
Hyrum Healey lived at the upper end of the Myers street near Alpine and was the son of John Healey, one of the early settlers of Alpine, who came from England. Brother Hyrum Healey died on April 27, 1896. He died very suddenly and this was a great loss to the branch. He was followed as presiding Elder by James J. Bolin, who was sustained November 2, 1896. On October 19, 1897, Robert Adams Bolin was set apart as the first missionary from the Highland branch and he was sent to the Southern States and returned April 7, 1900.
James J. Bolin had purchased the home of John Poole, which was located on the land where Dave Strasburg now lives. At this time there were 27 families in the Branch and 146 souls, 2 Seventies, 13 Elders and 6 Priests.
Rob Jones, a stepson of John Whiting who built up where Bishop Smith of Alpine lived for so long, was also very active in the Branch and did a lot of good here in Highland. It states in the history of John Whiting that after his first wife died that he married Rob Jones’ mother and that Rob shared along with John Whitings children. Brother Whiting helped build a home for Rob Jones on the Highland bench.
On June 26, 1892, when the Sunday School was organized, Martha Givens was appointed to teach the intermediate class and Mary Lee Wilson was teaching the Primary class. Mary Lee Wilson later married George Myers after the death of his first wife, May Ann Whiting. George Munns was secretary and the attendance was 10 to 20 the first winter and 20 to 40 the following summer.
In the year 1899, James Copeland Orr came to Alpine from Avon, Cache County, with his wife and family. He had married Maggie Farrell of Alpine and they were the parents of five children. He came here to teach in the Highland school. He is the grandfather of Cora Beck Adamson. They lived in Alpine a year then moved out to Highland to live in the Earnest Hunter home south of the schoolhouse. They lived there for a year or so and then moved to the Hyrum Healey home. They also lived in the Edward Winn place, long since burned down, stood where the old ruined basement that Oscar and Nida Hall built. He was a very good schoolteacher and a faithful Latter-day Saint. He attended school at the LDS University of Deseret and went on a mission to the Southern States from the little town of Clover out in Tooele County. Brother Bolin moved away and soon Brother Orr was chosen to be the presiding Elder. He was set apart as Presiding Elder of the Highland Branch on April 29, 1900 by David John, Stephen L. Chipman and George Cunningham, with David John being mouth.
Brother Orr taught school for nearly eight years and was the teacher of all eight grades. He also had to do the janitor work and make the fires in the old coal stove. Every morning he walked the long distance to the school from the Hyrum Healey home. Many Sundays he was the only one to Church with the members of his family. No one ever kept better discipline in the schoolroom or was more respected by his students. I can recall my father Stephen F. Beck, telling us this story about my grandfather Orr.
Jacob Beck always sent his children to Alpine to school in a buggy and one morning my father said that he was tired of going to school up in Alpine and that he was going with his friends the Whitings over to Highland and have Brother Orr for a teacher. He said that he was one of the finest teachers that he ever had.
Brother Orr was always taking time to visit the sick and the homes of those that needed help with their lessons. He was one of the first trustees of the Alpine school board of the High Schools and his name was inscribed in the marble memorial to the first trustee in the American Fork High School hall.
He was assisted in his church work by James Brown and William Loveridge. Brother Loveridge was the father of Cressie Greenland and Hazel Buhler. Both of these wonderful men were converts to the church and were faithful in their church work. William Loveridges’ name is in the History of the Church in England as one of the early converts and leaders there. These men carried the work of the Lord on under many hardships. James Orr had a bad heart but oftentimes walked all the way to church from his home up by the mountain where the John Miller family now lives and this must have been a great strain on his heart.
There were so few saints on the Highland bench and so few that attended meetings that it was thought advisable to disorganize the Branch and release the Presidency. This was done in 1905 0r 1906. After that those on the West end of the bench went to Lehi and those on the East traveled to the American Fork 3rd Ward. The Orrs and Becks went to Alpine where James C. Orr held many positions in the Ward. Cressie Greenland remembers that she was in the kindergarten when they started to go by horse and buggy to church in the 3rd Ward. It was from that Ward that Orville C. Day, the Highland schoolteacher was called to go on a mission. John Greenland also went on a mission about this time. It was hard for the people to go so far to attend their meetings but they were very faithful in going.
On July 15, 1915 the Alpine Stake President, Stephen L. Chipman, with James H. Clark and Abel John Evans came to the schoolhouse for a meeting. (Another classroom had been added on in 1910.) The passed slips of paper to all in attendance and asked them to write the names of three brethren they would like for a Bishopric. Brother George A. Zabriskie was chosen as the Bishop and Orville Cox Day (the schoolteacher) was chosen as first counselor with Stephen F. Beck as second counselor. Archie Taylor was chosen Ward clerk. This bishopric served for five years.
In February, 1919 Clarence Greenland, a young unmarried man was chosen to serve as Ward clerk and served faithfully for thirty-seven years. He served with every Bishop that the Highland Ward had until 1956.
Bishop George Albert Zabriskie moved to American Fork and on July 31, 1920 Stephen F. Beck also moved to American Fork so it became necessary to reorganize the Bishopric. On July 11, 1920 Wayne C. Booth was chosen as Bishop. His counselors were Orville C. Day and William Mower. Wayne Booth lived in Dry Creek on the North end of Highland. This creek bed was made as a result of the early Spring waters that came from Alpine canyon and flowed into Lehi. Bishop Booth was a very young man and very capable, with a good education.
January 1, 1922 William Greenwood was sustained as Bishop, as Bishop Booth had moved away to attend BYU. Bishop Greenwood lived at the Utah Power and Light plant at the mouth of American Fork canyon. His counselors were Brother Pitts and George White. About a year later Brother Pitts moved away and he and George White were released as counselors. Ludvig M. Larsen, a young man that joined the Church as a small boy in Sweden, was chosen as counselor, along with Robert Booth, father of the former Bishop, Wayne Booth. These two men worked faithfully with Bishop Greenwood. They served for ten years during which time the school children from Highland were moved to the schools in American Fork by bus as it was thought that they would have more advantage and it would be better to care for them.
The Saints had been holding church all these years in the school building. As mentioned, another room had been added in 1910, with a hallway joining the two classrooms. The entrance was on the South by way of a porch. Just inside the entrance was a place to hang coats, etc., then one could enter either room from the hallway. Between the two large rooms on the North part of the building was a dark storage closet that opened into either room. This room had shelves on either side of the hallway and was a dark, dismal, gloomy place to be shut into if you were naughty in school!
The School Board was planning to dispose of the building and the Bishopric decided to buy it and remodel it for a nice place to hold church meetings. In 1929 they met with the school board and offered them $300, which was accepted and Highland finally had its own church building. It was a happy day for everyone when they first met in their very own building. Although $300 was not a large sum, it was a great deal for the small branch of Highland to pay and it was with a great deal of sacrifice that these good and faithful Saints did raise the money to pay for this two-room brick schoolhouse.
The school seats were taken out and benches were added but not much renovating was done to the outside of the building. It kept the same dismal appearance that it had as a schoolhouse.
The people loved Bishop Greenwood very much and they felt bad when he had to move from the Ward. He had a family of five daughters and they had all worked faithfully in the Ward. Harry Jerling, Bishop Greenwood’s newest and youngest counselor, was sustained as the new Bishop. He chose as his counselors his two neighbors, Hyrum Groesbeck and Ray L. Alston.
Bishop Jerling was a faithful and hard working young man. He was married to Velma Wing of Lehi and built a new home on the Alpine road, a modern brick bungalow, and some new chicken coops. His parents, Emil and Marie Jerling, had joined the Church in Sweden and came to America when Harry was small. Harry was an ambitious and farsighted young man. He was chosen as a counselor to Bishop Greenwood about July 1, 1928, and was sustained as Bishop on Sept. 7, 1930.
Brother Hyrum Groesbeck was a tall and energetic, hard working poultry farmer and the father of five children: Lou, Mac, Byron, Leslie and Paul. These children played an important part in the Highland Ward. Brother Groesbeck was quite a familiar sight on the bench, as he drove his open air Chev very fast up and down the Alpine road. He had a great desire to see Highland grow and develop. He was one of the first to see the vision of the Poultry co-op at that time and devoted a lot of his time to the development of the Utah Poultry Co-op. Brother Groesbeck had served less than a year when he died in a Salt Lake hospital, leaving a sorrowing ward and a very young family to make a living from his small poultry farm. His family grew up to be a great credit to him. His wife, Lue Emma Stephenson, was a lady in every respect. Tall and slender and very pretty with a dignified air of a real lady and we loved and respected her quiet dignity in the face of great sorrow.
Brother Alston lived just West of Bishop Jerling, down the Lehi ditch. He also raised chickens, which at this time was a big industry in Utah. The poultry farmers on Highland were doing very well and many new coops were being built. American Fork was the poultry center of Utah and “Poultry Days” was a yearly celebration there. Some of the leading poultry businessmen were on Highland. Eggs were shipped to New York and other places, where “Milk White” eggs were a premium. Farsighted men looked forward to great days for Highland and this industry.
After the death of Brother Groesbeck, Brother Alston was advanced to first counselor and Stephen F. Beck was sustained as second counselor on June 10, 1931. Brother Beck had recently returned to the Ward from Wasatch County. Shortly thereafter Brother Alston moved and Kenneth White was sustained as the new counselor.
During this time it was thought advisable to remodel the old schoolhouse and make it into a suitable place to meet. There were still the same two rooms with the dismal dark closet between them and the small, dismal hall with coat hooks along the wall and the coats never seemed to stay on the hooks and were always falling on the floor. In the wintertime when the pile of boots got high and the stack of coats higher it was quite a melee to find the one that belonged to you.
The front of the building had a very unsightly porch that had two steps on either side coming from the East and the West. On the South of the porch was a board railing where we all used to try and sit, swinging our feet before and after meetings. If you were lucky you didn’t get pushed over backwards and off the railing so someone else could take your place. There was a little pump house sitting just South and West of the old porch. A driveway allowed cars to be driven right up to the porch so that passengers could jump from the car to the porch on rainy days (if you were the first to arrive, that is). Young men who wanted to impress the young ladies would drive the old Model A around and around the pump house after Church. The outside of the Church was always dark and gloomy at night-no modern outside lighting-children could play all kinds of wild outside games after church and whoop it up for an hour while they held Bishopric meetings, or go around the corner and meet your young man or lady in the dark.
The West room of the church we thought was rather nice because it had a slightly raised platform that the Bishopric sat on. Although this platform wasn’t large it was large enough to present some elegant plays. The plays were outstanding and when we had Deane White directing, no play was too big to be put on, even thought the stage was cramped, the curtain worn threadbare and scenery made of pieces of cardboard pasted together or a back curtain.
The big production that really stands out in my memory was the fabulous mystery “Cat O’Nine Tails” with a marvelous cast of 20 young men and women. We sat spellbound as the mystery unfolded before our eyes in three long acts. Reese Roundy was the very charming hero, Feryl Beck a very lovely leading lady, Virgil Adamson the villain and Maurice Larsen the Sheriff. When Maurice fired the gun out the window the shock pulled him right outside with the blast-and they weren’t blanks either. Also in the cast were Henry, John and Lois Greenland, Bernell and Ted Roundy, Gladys and Pearl Moss, Roma Beck, Thelma Strasburg, Clyde Adamson and several more. Both of the leading characters, Feryl and Reese died when they were very young.
Deane White directed many plays. Another favorite of mine was “Seventh Heaven” with Mac Groesbeck as the lead. Mac was a very personable young man with red hair and a marvelous personality. He entered the Armed Forces during WWII and went overseas to fight in the Pacific Zone. He was listed as missing in action over the Solomon Islands in 1942. Mac did a lot for our Ward and should be listed as one of those who did make this a better place for those who came after. He served as Dance Director in the MIA with his sister Lou who was a very good singer who later went to New York to study music. Mac and Lou served also as Stake Dance Directors. At this writing (1964) Lou is head of the Elementary Music department at BYU and is on the Primary General Board.
Back to the old Church. The good thing about driving up to the front porch and stepping out of the car onto the back step was that the building shielded you from the North wind and the snow that came whipping around the corner of the building. Oh, the many times the young men would drive their cars around and around the church. We had so many young men and women in the Ward at that time. There were three families of Adamsons in the Ward-Peter L., David and Tom, who had eight boys among them-all in their teens. Ted, Bernell and Reese Roundy, Lewis Day, Dave Strasburg and his cousin Henry, John and Henry Greenland, Don and Everett Lewis and the Goochs, just brand new living on the Jim Wight estates, ant that’s another story. The Bowens, who built a small home on top of the Knoll, the only family to ever live there. The Hyrum Larsen family (also on Jim Wight estates): Elmo, Zelda and Thelma, Ben and Dee Myers, Laurence Jonsson, who about this time had polio and the Ward fasted and prayed that he might live; the Wilds family, Woodrow and ; Maurice and Harold Larson.
Of girls there were plenty: Elizabeth and Genevieve Roundy; Feryl, Roma and Vivian Beck; Gladys and Pearl Moss; Thelma Strasburg; Stella Bowen and LaDean Myers.
I mention this group because this was the big group that used to use the West room to have dances and have a great time. This was the group that presented the plays and officered the organization: Maurice in the Sunday School, Reese Roundy was MIA president and most of the organizations were staffed by these excellent young unmarried teenagers. Although the building was small and most of the time there was not half enough room for all of us, I’m sure that no better spirit has ever existed even in the most expensive churches or chapels that were ever built, for the feeling of love for everyone was rich and deep and lasting and the talent was abundant. Deane White was one of the most talented directors that ever lived in a Ward.
I must add the names of some of the other productions that Deane White produces with some of these young people. “Dixie Rose Lee”, with Feryl Beck as the lead and Leland Adamson the good-looking young hero. The big production of “Seventh Heaven” would have been a tremendous production even for a grand opera house. Mr. Weiser from Alpine always came so willingly and made up the characters and they were real authentic charters when he got through with them for he was a theatrical man with a profession of acting behind him.
To catch a glimpse of the warmth that existed in this Ward you must understand why we needed this warm lasting friendship between each other-because the Church was heated by two great big black round bellied stoves, one in each room. It seemed that the one in the east room never did get very warm because it was always cold in that room. The ones who were lucky enough to get to church early and sit up in front became the unlucky ones later in the evening because the stoves had to be red hot to keep the ones in the back of the room warm. Consequently the ones by the stoves were much too overheated and the ones back by the windows and doors nearly froze. If you sat by a window and one of our frequent northern blizzards was blowing you could watch the snow drift on the windowsills and even seep in under the cracks and pile up inside the window.
When we had a dance it was a wonderful time for young and old alike. Carter’s orchestra from Lehi came up and played the same good music for thirty years and my, how we crowded that hall. It would take a dozen pages to list all the people who used to live in the Ward and dance in the old hall.
I think the deciding factor in enlarging the building was when the dance “Horses” came into fashion and all the young people tried to dance in that little cramped hall. I think the Bishopric threw up their hands in despair and said “this is it, we have to have a bigger place”. The $300 the people had sacrificed to pay for the little red schoolhouse was well worth the money but the big change was on.
Sunday School was difficult to hold. There was a curtain pulled across the stage for one class, one pulled down the center of the big west room-it would look very small to us now-and the east room was divided into four rooms with curtains. I remember one Sunday morning in particular, after the curtains were pulled and we were in class, Bishop Jerling came into our section and taught us because our teacher had not come. He looked so big and friendly and he taught us how to be polite, saying to be polite is the most important thing that we could learn as young people-to speak softly and courteously.
Bishop Jerling and his two counselors worked hard to rebuild the old school house and make it into a nice recreation hall with a small but usable kitchen, four nice classrooms on the north and an entrance hall on the south. When we first used the new stage we thought we were on Broadway and that it was the biggest, most wonderful stage in the world. Hyrum Larsen did a lot of the work, as he was a hard-working carpenter who wasn’t afraid to tackle any job, no matter how big.
Our dear Bishop Jerling had a hard time during the depression years-no welfare for the church then and people in the Ward were hard put to buy enough clothes and food and coal to keep through the winters. Those who lived on the bench during the years of the depression were also faced with a drought and there was not enough water to reach the crops, let alone keep them alive and you couldn’t find a job no matter how hard you tried. Many of the wells went dry and people used each other’s wells-many families got their water from the well at the church. It was a struggle to keep from starving. Finally there was the W.P.A. and work projects that paid enough money and commodities to keep people from being hungry. There were also the CCC camps where the boys who had no other means of support went and worked to repair national forests and did much by building amphitheaters and camping areas for the public. There was a large camp of CCC boys at American Fork Canyon one summer and our boys played baseball with them and we had the opportunity of having supper at the camp after the game.
Through it all we managed to come up with enough clothes to attend school and church and we had so much joy and happiness because of the little church house we had to attend for out spiritual meetings and the many plays and socials.
I can remember many times seeing Bishop Jerling with a load of coal on his pickup truck on a cold, snowy day, taking coal to some needy family to save them from getting cold. Many times he got stuck in the snow and was late getting home to his own work. We loved him and he worked very hard for all the people of the Ward. Our sorrows were his and he cried right along with all of the people when tragedy hit our homes. He had such a tender heart, it almost broke each time someone in our Ward suffered. In 1940 tragedy struck his own home when his only son was struck by a car while riding his scooter on the highway early in the evening with his pal, Paul Groesbeck. He died early the next day. This little lad, Carl, was greatly loved by all in the Ward. He was a fun-loving lad of ten and so full of mischief. I taught him in Sunday School and he was always smiling and just couldn’t sit still a minute. He was the same age as Bishop Jerling’s two counselors’ sons, the Beck twins, Malcolm and Duane and the two Maxfield boys, Gerald and Calvin. It seemed hard that the Bishop should be asked to part with his only son when the Beck’s had eight boys and the Maxfield’s had five.
On January 20, 1935 Kenneth White had been released from the Bishopric and E.O. Maxfield was sustained in his place. He was a fine man, jovial and well liked. He worked at the Utah Power and Light plant and lived there at the mouth of American Fork canyon. He liked everyone, especially the two men that he worked with in the Bishopric. His wife, Rosamond was very talented and when she played the piano we all sat up and listened, especially when she played “Listen to the Mockingbird”. We had the best times when they held Bishopric meetings. It was much too far those days to take the family home and then come back for a meeting, so the whole family stayed and talked in the big hall while they held a meeting. Velma Jerling, Rosamond Maxfield, Maud Greenland and I always stayed and the meeting we held was much more fun than the one the Bishopric held in the kitchen. Of course, with Maxfield’s sense of humor and Bishop Jerling’s fun-loving nature and Mr. Beck’s sound wisdom their meetings were far from dull.
E.O. Maxfield was called into the Stake High Council and William T. Hyde III took his place. Then in 1942, Stephen F. Beck moved to American Fork and LeGrand Adamson, his son-in-law, and grandson of Alexander Adamson was chosen as the new counselor. He had recently returned from a mission in the Western States where he had served as a District President. He was only twenty-six and had been married for just over a year. Later William T. Hyde III was released and David Strasburg took his place.
Bishop Jerling’s health was not so good at this time so on October 21, 1945 he was released from the position that he had so capably filled for fifteen years and LeGrand Adamson was sustained as Bishop. He chose as his counselors, David Strasburg and Leonard Hyde. Brother Hyde had been a Bishop in the Conda Ward in Idaho.
Barely three months after this new Bishopric was sustained, in January 1946, as the closing prayer was being given at Mutual, someone noticed flames in the air vent and fire could be heard crackling in the roof of the building. The fire department was called and every one worked hard to carry from the building everything that would move. Though they went up into the attic with the water hose and fire departments from both Lehi and American Fork came, they could not save the building. There was not enough water in the well and the nearest water was the Lehi ditch, a quarter of a mile north and it was frozen. They broke a hole through the ice to put in the hose and the Lehi truck was there at the ditch to pump water through the lines to the church.
The new Bishopric met with the Presiding Bishopric in Salt Lake and asked for permission to tear down the walls and build a new church but was told no. They suggested that the old building be replaced as it had been before but with a new furnace. All of our meetings were held in the Tabernacle in American Fork and attendance was very good even though we had to go so far. On March 5, 1946 an initial banquet was held to raise funds for the new chapel that we hoped to build in the near future. I remember one night when we were visiting after Sacrament meeting and Bishop Jerling stayed to visit with us while the Bishopric held their weekly meeting. He said to us: “whatever you do when you get enough to start on a new building, don’t build anything but a nice chapel to hold church in. I have always prayed for the day, and that it would soon come, when we could have beautiful chapel with a nice organ to hold our Sacrament meetings and funerals in that would be reverent and quiet. I always looked forward to the day when I could conduct a meeting in a chapel with carpets and benches.” When Bishop Jerling and the men had completed the first renovation of the schoolhouse they obtained benches that had been used either in the Salt Lake Tabernacle or the Assembly Hall to use in our building. They were elegant, a little hard to move and store when we danced, but mighty nice to sit on after the funny chairs that we had in the old hall.
The two years after the new Bishopric was installed were very tragic for the Highland Ward. Seven young men in our ward died. All but one of them were fathers, some with very young children. First came the sad night when Louis Day, a recently returned missionary and father of five young children, one just a baby about four weeks old, died of an ulcer that hemorrhaged. Then came the cold spring day when William Elmer was tragically killed on a tractor while working for Bishop Jerling. Then a fine young man, Eugene Ferguson, was drowned on Utah Lake. Eugene was about twenty at this time. As a young boy he had received a leg injury and couldn’t swim. He was boating with some friends and they were going too fast and he fell from the side of the boat. Before they could turn around and come back to pick him up he had disappeared beneath the water.
In November 1947, Orson Hyde, a young father of two small children, died from injuries received while serving with the Marines in the Pacific War. Orson lived in Reno at the time and was going to school. They brought him home for the funeral and burial in the Salt Lake Cemetery. Then, when it seemed as if we had had all we could stand, our beloved Bishop Jerling died November 10,1947 at the age of forty-eight. He was greatly missed by all.
Sister Gertrude West, our Relief Society President, came home one afternoon from a Stake Union meeting and found her husband, Alma, dead from a heart attack. Then a memorial service was held for Mac Groesbeck who was finally declared dead by the War Department. Mac, a radio gunner on a huge B-29, was missing on a night raid over the Solomon Islands.
Hyrum Larsen died October 28, 1947. Hyrum was a remarkable man who had many talents and abilities. He had worked so hard to remodel the first building and was too sick to help when the fire took our church. He was a hard working man and did much good in the Highland Ward.
David Adamson, a long time resident of Highland, died March 5, 1946. He had moved to Highland as a young man to raise his family, which included our Bishop, LeGrand. At the time of his death he was living in American Fork as he had retired from farming and his sons, LeGrand and Clyde were living on the farm. He had raised ten children here in the Ward and had served in many offices including Chairman of the Old Folks committee, on which he served for many years. He had been a member of the Highland Ward for over forty years.
We were glad when the church was finished in August, 1947 and we were able to move back to our Ward. We held a Ward reunion and really enjoyed our newly painted church.
In 1951, David Strasburg was released because of shift work at Geneva Steel and Don LeBaron, son-in-law of Bishop Jerling, took his place. In January of 1953 a drive was started to raise the needed money to start on a new chapel. We needed a sum of $10,000. The plans were drawn up for a new chapel, Bishop’s Office, classrooms, a Relief Society room, rest rooms, a new kitchen and a Scout room. This was the biggest project the Ward had ever tried to accomplish and by June the money was raised and we were ready to go ahead with the new church.
On June 20, 1953 Bishop LeGrand Adamson was released and a new Bishopric sustained. Merlin B. Larson was Bishop with Don LeBaron as first counselor and Glen Strasburg as second. The new Bishopric had the big responsibility of building the new church. In July, 1953 a groundbreaking ceremony was held and the building was off to a good start. That fall, because of his school, Don LeBaron was released and Ellsworth Hardy was sustained as second counselor.
The new church was completed in 1954 and dedicated on September 26. Dedicatory services were held that evening with Elder Richard L. Evans of the Council of the Twelve coming to dedicate our new building with all the splendid improvements. I think the one thing that we were most thrilled with was the new chapel and the rug and organ. Many former residents came back to celebrate the end of work and planning and the accomplishment of the dreams of many who had lived here before. This was the happiest night in the history of Highland. The Chapel was filled to overflowing and the recreation hall was full also. The day had come when we had plenty of room. We had three large classrooms in the new addition. There was also a Relief Society room that was furnished with the money that many Relief Society Presidents and members had worked for and saved for many years. Sisters Jessie Hyde, Gertrude West, Esma Strasburg, Maud Greenland and finally Marie Greenland, who helped to push the final realization of the dream of furnishing the new room.
The Bishop’s office was a joy to behold and the large new kitchen was going to be a thrill to all who would help with church dinners in the future. We finally had rest rooms and would not have to follow the path to the south fence through the trail made in the deep snow to use the fancy WPA toilets. We even had a large foyer which, in time, would not prove half large enough for our needs but at the time felt large and roomy and was a blessing to all. This was a wonderful building and the Bishopric had worked hard with the full co-operation of the families of the Ward to complete it. We are truly thankful to all the good people who have lived in our midst who have helped to bring this day to pass. It is with the help of all the people that have ever lived among us that made it possible to have things that we have today. Our hearts turn back to the good men and women who so nobly led our people toward this goal. We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father for the many blessings that he has blessed us with, for without the material wealth to put up this magnificent structure we would have still met in the old recreation hall that was not big enough for a growing ward.
In January 1956, Clarence Greenland, our faithful Ward Clerk, was released after 37 years of continuous service. A grand party of thanks was held for him on February 1 and he was presented with a six volume Comprehensive History of the Church, written by B.H. Roberts. William Oscar Hayes and Jerry Delane Pace were sustained as Ward clerks but after a few months they were released and Melvin Day was sustained. Melvin was a son of O.C. and Otes Day, a returned missionary, married with one daughter. A year or so later, in the fall of 1957, Melvin went deer hunting in American Fork Canyon with some friends. One of his party mistook him for a deer in the brush and shot him, mortally wounding him. He lived only a few minutes, a tragic end to a man so full of life. His wife was expecting their second child. Richard Reisner, son-in-law to Henry Greenland, was sustained as Ward Clerk with Sylvan Buhler as financial Clerk.
It is now 1964 and the day has arrived when we can no longer get into what we felt at the time was a church large enough to hold the people of Highland for many, many years to come. We had outgrown our Chapel and the classrooms and especially the recreation hall and we are now in the midst of a new building program which promises to be one of the nicest buildings in the church. We have a building supervisor and new builder missionaries. It is a challenge to all of us to watch this huge building grow in our midst. We will have a large chapel with a recreation (Cultural) hall big enough for the boys to play basketball and many new facilities that we need so badly.
Highland is no longer a small ward-many people have built large, expensive homes here. We have a huge Country Club Golf course (named ALPINE, much to our chagrin), one of the finest in the west, with a large clubhouse and plans for a swimming pool in the future. Many mink farmers as well as Engineers, schoolteachers and other businessmen have built in our Ward. The Ward stretches from the boundaries of American Fork to Alpine and Lehi and sometimes it is difficult to determine which Ward the people actually live in. If they are good church people then we would like to move the boundaries north or south to take them in.
The early pioneers who struggled so hard with the elements and the water problems in this community would be proud to behold the accomplishments now, and would point with pride and joy at the new water system that has changed the appearance of the bench. Thanks to farsighted men like Yukus Inouye, Reed Thompson, Ludvig Larsen, Perry Jepperson, Gordon Larsen, LeGrand Adamson, Glen Strasburg and Merlin Larson we have one of the best water systems in Utah and the Ward is growing fast.
Highland is still the best place in the world to raise a family. We stand in population along with the other wards in the Stake, with about 85 families and 460 people.
Source: HIGHLAND HISTORY: A compilation by Charles T Greenland II for the Highland Historical Society
Highland Historical Society Home Page
Highland Historical Society Mission Statement
Highland History Chapters (compiled by: Charles T Greenland II):
- Highland History
- The 1st Highland LDS Ward
- History of Highland by Cora Beck Adamson
- Highland Residents Poem by Cora Beck Adamson
- Ecclesiastical History by Cora Beck Adamson
- Record and History of the Highland Sunday School by Ruby B. Day
- Highland Oldsters by O.C. Day 1959
- Highland Ward History by Beth Roundy Day Hyde 1954
- Early Recollections of Highland by Della Miller Hatch
- Beloved Highland by Jean Day Perkins 2005
- History of the Highland Church by Eva Buhler Turner 1991
- The Highland School
- Electricity Comes to Highland
- Peas and Peaviners in Highland
- Famous Feature
- The People
Highland Family Histories
1958 Highland Aerial Map
1958 Highland Homes and Families (table with addresses)
Highland Censuses (and LDS Ward Membership List)
Link to: David T. Durfey 1992 Master's Thesis - Aberrant Mormon Settlers: The Homesteaders of Highland, Utah