Town of Freedom History

Town of Freedom History
By Carrie Bagley, Ora Luthi, Maud Ranzenberg, Etta Nebeker, Vernessa Wright, Maud Burton, Ray M. Hall and Mrs. Alvin J. Rolph

The Freedom community is unique in that it is situated on the boundary line between Wyoming and Idaho. It has been said that it is the only town in the United States to be within two states and three counties. The main street runs North and South through the center of town, being the state line.

Freedom was first settled in June 1879 by Latter-day Saints who came from St. Charles, Idaho seeking this isolated valley as a haven from the federal agents who would jail them for their polygamous preaching and practice. When the Idaho Marshall began to seek them out, these polygamists had merely to cross the nearby border into Wyoming to be beyond the law's grasp. The town was named "Freedom" because a fugitive could move across the border of either state and gain his freedom.

Among the first people to locate in Freedom were John S. Rolph, Martha A. Rolph, Jay J. Rolph and Moroni and Cynthia Hunt.

The winter of 1879 and 1880 was bitterly severe. Almost all of the livestock perished of cold and starvation, while the colonists themselves suffered extremely from the cold and isolation. The snow was said to be eight feet deep on the level.

In February of 1880, Sarah Ann Heap gave birth to a baby boy, the first boy to be born in Star Valley and the first child in the Lower Valley.

Stock raising was the principal occupation of the first settlers, but no farming was undertaken until 1885.

Arthur B. Clark was named presiding elder of the first Freedom organization of the LDS Church in 1886. Not only was he the father of his ward, but was a singer, musician, chorister and the first dentist. Extractions cost twenty five cents.

A considerable number of families settled in the north section of town which was, at first, called Ulet, later to be called Glen.

The church house built in 1889 was used as the first school house with Alice Dixon Lee being the first teacher. One winter the school kids had to live right in the school house because of the deep snow. On weekends their parents would bring them more food for the next week or take them home over the weekend.

The Freedom Ward was organized in 1891 with A. B. Clark as bishop.

The first post office was handled by William Heap, Sr.

In 1914, a bank was established under the direction of Eddie Mehr.

Ernest Brog started a Swiss cheese plant in 1926, which proved to be a very profitable industry.

Town of Freedom Cemetery History
Location: From the four-way stop sign in Freedom, travel south one block on LC 125. Turn right (West) on Weber Lane and travel 0.2 miles. Turn left (South) on Heiner Road. Travel 0.9 miles on a windy, gravel road to the cemetery. (GPS: 42.97081N 111.05265W)
How Obtained: Samuel Weber, father of Fred, Charles, etc. donated five acres of land to the Freedom Ward to be used as a cemetery.
History: by Reynold Robinson
(NOTE: Freedom's first cemetery was up the Tin Cup road on the Charles Luthi ranch, but later it was moved south and west of Freedom on a knoll).

Samuel Weber, father of Fred, Charles, etc., donated five acres to the ward to be used as a cemetery. Mr. John Robinson, father of Carl, Reynold, etc., later on dug a well which was the only source of water during the years.

A few early graves were dug on the Haderlie Ranch (Tincup) and also the D. Rainey Ranch and later on were moved to the present cemetery. The first grave was dug for a Haderlie child, a brother to Luther, etc., Haderlie.

Today the cemetery is watered by a sprinkler system belonging to Darrel Jenkins, his place being next to the cemetery. The ground has been leveled and planted in lawn and plans are underway to hire a permanent caretaker; cost to be covered by the taxpayers.

According to Bishop Reynold Robinson, from whom this information was obtained, the exact year of the establishment could not be learned. His mother died in 1916 and at this time there were already a number of graves there. A grave of the "Hunt" family is supposed to be the first one.

According to tombstone inscriptions, the earliest graves are:
Samuel R. Miller - 20 April 1887 and
William Christensen - 6 May 1891.
However, there could be older graves unmarked.