William Henry Stevens (1849-1913)
was the oldest son of William and Emma Crowden Stevens.
Emma Crowden was born in 1823 in Somerset, England. She married Joseph Stevens there in 1842 and the couple had one child, Emma Jane, before Joseph died of pneumonia in 1845. Two years later – in 1847 – Emma married his cousin William.
Like his cousin, William was a blacksmith and also had a small farm. In 1855 he was baptized into the Mormon Church. Emma followed suit the following May and within the month they were on board the Wellfleet, bound for Boston, Massachusetts with their five children and Emma Jane.
The family lived in New York for four years before crossing the plains in 1860 in the Franklin Brown Company, Emma giving birth to their sixth child en route.
Since the Salt Lake Valley was becoming crowded, the company was asked to settle outside the area, and they stopped on the Weber River at Wanship. Their last two children were born there.
Crossing the plains in the same company were Edmond and Maria Meade Horton, from Warwickshire, who had emigrated in 1855 with their nine children.
Edmund was born in 1808 and his wife in 1814, and the couple were married in 1834. They had spent several years in New Port, Kentucky before moving to Omaha, where their two eldest daughters, Harriet and Ann, were married.
The Hortons went a little further south to what is now Rockport, where Edmund farmed until rheumatism forced him retire and move to Wanship. Maria died in 1886 and Edmund moved to live with his daughter Eliza in Oakley. He died six months later and is buried in Wanship.
The Stevens family also homesteaded in Oakley (then called Oak Creek) and by 1870 William had passed over responsibility for farming to his eldest son, William Henry. William Henry married Eliza Alice Maria Horton on January 1st 1870 and the couple moved to Oakley.
They lived initially in a log cabin but built a brick house – the finest in Oakley – in 1885,
using bricks from the Rasmussen brickworks. Later they built another brick house on their land where William Henry’s parents lived until their deaths in 1900 (Emma) and 1902 (William).
William Henry and Eliza’s first four children were born in Wanship but their fifth, William Ward Stevens, was the first child born to a settler in Oakley.
William Henry farmed and raised cattle. In 1882 he built the Rocky Mountain Grist Mill and next to it a sawmill with a millpond and mill race.
Around 1900 he founded the Oakley Creamery, at first making butter two or three days a week but later adding cheese. The creamery became part of a Salt-Lake based cooperative
and the family eventually went on to open creameries in Salt Lake City and Evanston, WY. He also ran a store, the second in Oakley, at first out of his house and then in a little brick building on Main Street. In addition he built a dance hall which his daughters Marie and Clarice ran, booking bands and selling and collecting tickets.
In total, William Henry and Eliza had eleven children. William Ward died in a sawmill accident in 1906 but the rest lived well into the new century.
Around 1907 the couple moved to Salt Lake, selling the house to their son George Geroy. William Henry died in 1913 and Eliza in 1926. They are both buried in the Stevens cemetery in Oakley.
George Geroy Stevens was the second son of William Henry and Eliza Stevens, born in Wanship in 1873. He married Clara Ellen Wilkins,daughter of Oscar Wilkins of Peoa in 1875. George owned one of the first automobiles in Oakley (his father had the first). It was noisy and scared the horses, and didn’t go too well on the muddy streets. George and Clara lived in Oakley until 1919 when they too moved to Salt Lake City and sold the house to Mark and Marie Peterson.
Mark Harper Peterson was born in 1892, one of eight children of Peter Henry Peterson (Niels Peter Henrichsen) and Harriet Harper. The family had originally settled in Rockport, but moved to Marion by 1885. He married Marie Erma Ross in 1915 and the couple bought the Stevens house in 1919 after selling up their ranch in Marion. Six of their seven children were born there. The family lived there until at least the 1930s when Mark got a job with United Airlines and moved to Salt Lake. From there they moved to California. Marie died in 1960 and Mark in 1977. They are both buried in Marion.
The Stevens House still stands at 4743 Cow Alley, Oakley.