History of Congregational United Church of Christ, Ogden
A Continuing Series by Dr. Gordon Harrington
Copyright, 2011, Gordon Harrington
The site where Ogden presently is located was first permanently settled in November, 1844, when Miles Goodyear, a trapper and mountain man built a cabin in the area. When the Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 they bought Goodyear out in November of that year. He was paid $1,950 for his land, improvements and livestock. Mormon settlers soon began to arrive and in 1851 a town was incorporated and named Ogden, commemorating the Hudson Bay Company trapper, who had been in the area east of Ogden in 1825.
For almost two decades Ogden remained a sleepy Mormon community. Although threatened by occasional hostile Indians, life generally was uneventful. By the late 1860s Ogden had a population of about fifteen hundred souls.
But then, at 11 :20 AM on Monday, March 8, 1869, life in this quiet Mormon town took a sudden and irrevocable turn. At that moment the first Union Pacific Railroad steam engine puffed into town behind gangs of track layers. The latter kept right on going bent on gaining as many miles as possible before completing a final connection with the Central Pacific Railroad which was building from the west. Ultimately, by act of Congress, the two railroads were officially joined at Promontory, Utah. Later the Union Pacific leased to the Central Pacific the track between Promontory and a point five miles east of Ogden, and the city became the terminus for the two railroads. Almost immediately Utah businessmen and others began to build local railroads to the north and to the south from Ogden. Both freight and passenger traffic exploded and the town took on the nickname of “Junction City.”
Changes in Ogden were immediate. The population multiplied to over 6,000 by 1880. Mormons found their quiet community invaded by Gentiles (anyone who was not a Mormon). The stark difference in the life styles of the two groups caused deep bitterness. Mormon kids fought Gentile kids, Mormon adults stood aloof from Gentile adults, and the Gentile Party and the Mormon People’s Party railed against one another in a constant and never ending harangue.
With the coming of the Gentiles the religious nature of Ogden changed. Catholic and Protestant churches appeared. Among the Protestants the Methodist and Episcopal churches began services in 1870, holding their first services in the Union Depot.
The first Congregational work in Ogden began in 1876, when the Rev. A. W. Safford arrived and began to hold services in a hall located over Wm. Driver’s Drug Store at 2349 Washington Blvd. Services were held there for about six months, after which Mr. Safford was forced to return to the east because of ill health. During this period the church had ten members. Present records reveal the names of only three of the original number, including Mrs. Jane Taylor, Mrs. Aura Thompson and Mr. Alexander Bruckman. On the withdrawal of Safford the church died out and did not revive until 1883.