Town of Auburn History

Town of Auburn History
By Ila Wilkes

Ned Eddins (a noted local author) said that he has always considered Auburn to be the "hub" of Star Valley. The first settlers settled here and for many years all main roads came to or through Auburn. The Lander Cut-Off left the Oregon Trail and came into the south end of the valley. From there, the "road" traversed the west hills past the settlement of Stump Creek (later called Auburn). The Cut-Off then traveled through the mouth of Stump Creek Canyon into Soda Springs, Idaho and continued its way into the far west. It is estimated that as many as 13,000 people used this road between the years 1859 and 1912.

To some extent, the accounts of the first white men came to or through Star Valley varied. It is quite certain that for many years numerous parties passed through the Valley before the first families finally settled here. Some of our streams, mountains and lakes were supposedly christened by Wilson Price Hunt's "Astorians" who worked in this area as early as 1812. Hoback, Smith and Day were some of these. Some records indicate that part of the Snake River was called "Day's River" for a time.

It is accepted that the first families to stay in the valley settled in Auburn. Joseph Welch and sons, John Alexander and Ben, arrived during the late 1870's as fur trappers. August Lehmberg's family came also in the late 1870's. The James Sibbertts, Sam Sibbertts, Hyrum Simmons, James Francis, Charley Smith and Jacob Grover were also among the first settlers.

From among these original pioneers, Auburn accumulated an impressive number of firsts for Star Valley: the first settlers, the first baby boy (Theodore Simmons, born 19 September 1879), the first baby girl (Belle Subverts, born 19 December 1879), the first store (owned by Jonathon Davis), the first school (Jacob Grover, the first teacher), the first swimming resort, the first rock building (Welch's fur cache) and the first Rock Church built in 1889.

In 1886, Auburn was still called Stump Creek when several new families came to make their homes here. On 25 May1886, William and John Cambridge and Joseph Hyrum Holbrook arrived with their families.

Some early settlers, followers of the Mormon faith, came seeking refuge from persecution for their polygamist families. They came for acreage they could call their own. The Homestead Act, enacted by Congress in 1862, provided both families and individuals with that opportunity.

In the spring of 1888 the town site was surveyed by Henry W. Harmon. It was laid out in twenty-four, ten-acre blocks with streets six rods wide (ninety-nine feet!)

The first building constructed within the town site was the Rock Church, built in 1889 and the first dwelling was built by Albert Burns that Fall.

A special meeting was held July 1, 1889, attended by Elder Heber J. Grant and other prominent men. The LDS Branch was organized as a ward with William Corbridge as Bishop. At that time the community's name was discussed again. The names Stump Creek, Burlington, and Melrose were reconsidered. A new name, "Auburn" was suggested by Wesley K. Walton, who had been born in Auburn, Maine. Auburn won the vote.

In 1889, a US post office was established in Auburn with George Davis serving as the first Postmaster.

Heavy snows made Star Valley a safe place to "hole up". Using alias names, Butch Cassidy and his partners were occasionally seen at church socials and dances held at the Old Rock Church.

Town of Auburn Cemetery History
Location: From the Auburn four-way stop-sign intersection of Hwys 237 and 238, travel south on Hwy 238 for 0.5 mile. Turn right (west) on Lincoln County 134 for 1.0 mile. Then turn left on the Auburn Cemetery Road (Lincoln County 402) and travel south for 0.1 miles. The road then turns again to the right (west). The cemetery is located on top of the knoll approximately 0.1 mile. (GPS: 42.78301N 111.01184W)
How Obtained: Joseph Hyrum Holbrook donated the land - five acres.
History: by Charles A. Welchman

Between the years 1883 and 1890, a few pioneers of Star Valley located on Stump Creek and surrounding country on the west side of Salt River in the north end of upper Star Valley. Each took a claim and held it by what is known as Squatter's Right, as the land was not surveyed at that time. They had come for the purpose of settling here and securing land and building homes.

They had not been here long before death came. On 4 May 1883, Florence Leavitt, a child of James B. Leavitt died which necessitated the selection of a burying ground. A plot of ground was selected, a short distance southwest off where Auburn now stands, from a claim which was being held and was later filed upon as a Deseret claim by Catharine C. Holbrook.

In the Spring of 1888, the town site of Auburn was surveyed by Henry M. Harmon. On 1 July 1889, the Auburn ward was organized by Heber J. Grant with William Corbridge, Bishop, Joseph H. Holbrook as first counselor and Heman Hyde as second counselor. The town was then known as Burlington.

On 2 October 1889, a second death occurred, that of a girl about two months old, daughter of Samuel L. Rollins. There appears to have been a general understanding that the plot of ground as above mentioned was to be the town cemetery for about this time the Holbrooks traded their Deseret claim for a claim which was owned by Hugh Evan Morgan. He died and the land fell into the hands of John Morgan, (father of the deceased), through court proceedings.

He, in turn, sold it to Soren C. Peterson about the year 1902. At which time Henry George, as agent for the ward, secured title for that plot of ground containing 4 acres, paying $1.50 per acre, $6.00 in all. A deed was issued from Soren C. Peterson to Heman Hyde who was then bishop of the Auburn ward. This land was surveyed and plotted and layed off in lots by David Ross.