Lyman, East Loa

Adus F. Dorsey II

If you were to get Dick Davis talking about anything other than the Snuggle Inn, he could tell you that Lyman was once called East Loa and Wilmoth in the days of yore. And if you were headed to Lyman from Loa, in a buggy with Grandpa in 1883, he would have enough time to tell you at least three really long stories about walking to school, in the snow, before you got there, No matter how many times those kind of good ole timey stories get told, I always enjoy hearing about the birth of a community the most. 

     It was on a Sunday in November 1883 that the town site of East Loa (later Wilmoth) was dedicated by Elias Hicks Blackburn; a man of such high standing that his legacy is still being relayed at firesides in Wayne County today, (see A Gift of Faith by Voyle & Lillian S. Munson.) Ten years later in 1893 while Apostle Francis M. Lyman was attending Stake Conference in Loa and after hearing of many of the challenges in the town site of Wilmoth, Elder Lyman and several Stake officials felt it necessary to take a Sunday buggy ride to Wilmoth (East Loa) to see if there was anything they could help resolve. 

    Like many communities in what was once Piute County (today Wayne County) it was a well documented fact that there had been much sickness as a result of the drinking water supply which came from a free flowing irrigation ditch. It was during a casual conversation that Elder Lyman was informed of a spring that came from the mountains, located in the hills near the northeastern section of the scattered settlement, a source of pure mountain spring water, thus the Lyman Town water system suggested.   

     Although it was urged many times from the pulpit to follow the advice of Apostle Lyman and other church authorities to move the community, many of the Wilmoth (East Loa) residents did not find it a suitable suggestion to just pick up all their worldly possessions, their houses, Mothers in laws and move to the new town site of Lyman. 

     And as anyone that has ever attended a Wayne County Water Boardmeeting well knows, any attempt at changing one persons mind certainly is hard enough. So, in the 1890’s to try and change a whole community’s way of thinking would surely prove to be as monumental a task as the Prophet Moses standing at the waters edge preaching to the masses that he was about ready to part the Red Sea so that they could safely cross to the other side.  

     In the 1890’s the newly proposed town site was under the total ownership of Bishop Peter Christensen, a rather reasonable man of mild temperament and who found it necessary to speak out against the bad feelings that were arising. Since Moses was unavailable for consultation in the l890’s about the Wilmoth migration to a new town site, Church leaders and community minded individuals did come to a general consensus and cooler heads did prevail. In a massive community effort, unlike and unseen in Lyman since, (except maybe during a 100 year flood or two) houses were raised by the use of long poles used as levers then placed on wagons, which had been modified for that purpose and a new town in what was to soon be Wayne County was born. 

     Bishop Christensen and John L. Buchanan then stimulated construction in Wilmoth through the leasing of the Mansfield Sawmill. These two men permitted their fellow townsmen to work at the mill alternatively in order that they might have lumber to build their homes, public buildings and a tithing granary. Community buildings served for a time as the schoolhouse, meeting house, recreational hall and home for the Relief Society. Eventually the new town was named in honor of Apostle Francis M. Lyman.  

     Not to be whizzed through, going speedier than 35 mph, today Lyman proudly sits on the big bend in the road at the end of the Lyman Lane. A true testimonial to community pride and activism that still exists to present day. 

References; 

My favorite Lyman friends – Jack and Owena Chappell

Lyman Town Centennial 1895 – 1995

A Gift of Faith / Elias H. Blackburn by Voyle and Lillian S. Munson  

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