Establishing the Peoa Area
From 1824 to 1825, William Ashley, Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger and Kit Carson stopped at the numerous springs near Peoa. Named from a word found carved into an old log in 1857, Peoa at one time had a hotel, store, and blacksmith. Cattle and dairy farmers also grew lettuce and peas for sale to the miners in Park City.
In 1825, William Ashley’s party of trappers rode across the Kamas Valley to the Weber River, and on to Echo Canyon and Wyoming. An old Indian trail followed the eastern foothills. Early visitors found a Spanish canon in the middle of the valley, abandoned during their search for gold. At Oakley, Thomas Rhodes built his home on the banks of the Weber River in 1853
In 1868 first William Stevens became the permanent settler in what was called Oak Creek, then Oakley. In 1859, Thomas Rhodes settled at a spring at the base of Hoyt’s Canyon near Marion, Samuel P. Hoyt established a ranch in 1861, his herd of over 600 cattle was one of the largest in the territory. In the 1940s there was a cooperative pea vinery here.
Founded in 1860 by Gibbons family and others. It is unincorporated and relies on county government for civic purposes.
It was from the etchings in a log that the small town of Peoa received its name. Found in 1857, by some of the 1st white Mormon settlers, the letters peoha were believed to be the name of a previous trapper or a Native Indian name.
Peoa was once a fertile, thickly vegetated area that was full of wildlife and fresh-water springs. The lifeline of the Weber River still gushes through its core bringing abundant water for farming and livestock. The local Indians that are believed by some to be a tribe of the Ute Indians called the Timpanohoges relied heavily upon the area’s wildlife and vegetation for their livelihood.
The original residents were rightfully more than a little upset when the new settlers began to deplete their food sources. The Black Hawk War was the culmination of the strife between the 2 sides. As with all the communities in Summit County, the new settlers prevailed while the surviving native residents moved away in search of new lives.
The Maxwell & Neel Families
Arthur was born in Peoa in 1864, just 4 years after his parents John and Ellen Russel Maxwell had been sent by Brigham Young to settle the area. John was the only doctor in the area for 30 years. In 1889, Arthur Maxwell purchased 2 acres from John and Clemency Neel for $40.
He had just married Mary Ann Marchant in 1887, and finally they had enough money to build a small house for their growing family. Eight of the 10 children grew up in this home. In 1906, they sold the home for $300 and moved to Tabiona to homestead 160 acres along the river.
Peoa’s Original Meeting House
One hundred years after the 1st Mormon pioneers settled permanently in Peoa, locals gathered to celebrate in their huge new meeting house. It was not the 1st chapel they had built and it would not be the last. Few gathered that day could have imagined that in just 36 years the building would be obsolete and an even larger meeting house needed.
Peoa’s original meeting house was built 9 years after the 1st pioneers arrived. Led by W.W. Phelps, the group of 28 men, 1 woman and 1 boy would layout the area. “I surveyed between 20 and 30 lots from 10 to 22 acres each of tolerable fair appearance for grain and meadow land,” he reported in the May 20, 1857, edition of the Deseret News. “Logs were cut and hauled for several houses, grain sown, and potatoes planted.” These 1st settlers left that fall avoiding the harsh winter weather and apparently did not return until May 1860.
By 1865, the Mormon population was sufficiently established to spend time constructing a church. That year also marked the beginning of the Black Hawk War. Fortunately the meeting house had been constructed of logs so was easily dismantled and rebuilt. It was reconstructed inside the town’s newly established fort, built for protection from the anticipated Indian attacks.
(Taken from the Summit County website with thanks)