The Nixon Cabin was built in 1859 by Stephen Nixon, his 16 year old daughter, Margaret, and their friend, Henry Roper. This cabin started out as the family home, where they also held church meetings. It later became the first Summit County, Utah courthouse. Then some time down the road it became a general store.
Stephen was born 27 March, 1807, on the Isle of Malta. He arrived in Nauvoo, March 27, 1842. That same day he met the Prophet Joseph Smith. Stephen generously gave both time and money for the growth of the church. He labored charitably in the building of the Nauvoo House. He also joined the Nauvoo Legion and was a bodyguard to the prophet, Joseph Smith. He received a wonderful blessing from the Prophet. On the 9th of January, 1846, he and Harriet Rushton were endowed and sealed in the Nauvoo Temple by Amasa Lyman. They owned land on Sidney Street, Block 254, Kimball 1st Addition.
He was the son of William and Margaret Nixon. William was a soldier or sailor in the British military service, so they were aboard ship many times. In 1819, Stephen was twelve and obtained a pass and went to Leek, Staffordshire, England, where he lived until his parents came home in 1825. There he met and fell in love with Harriet Rushton. They married on June 26, 1827. They had seven children; John James, 7 March 1828; William, 13 Oct 1830; Sarah Ann, 13 April 1834; Thomas Stephen 19 Feb 1836; Harriet 26 Jan 1839; Margaret 13 Nov 1843 (Nauvoo); and Rose Hanna, 26 July,1846.
In 1840, in England, Mormon missionaries shared the Restored Gospel with the Nixon family. On the 14th of January, Stephen and Harriet Nixon were baptized. The following May, Brother Nixon was ordained an Elder by George Albert Smith and soon after was called to be a missionary. Elder Alfred Cordon called him to labor at Doncaster, Yorkshire, and other cities. He labored in these parts for some time, after which he returned to Yorkshire for additional successful missionary work.
Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, Pg.636- Pg.637:
'Elder Stephen Nixon writes from Doncaster, Yorkshire, under date of August 21st, informing us that he had lately commenced laboring in that place--that he had baptized two local preachers and three members of the Aitkenite society. This was done in two or three days from the first introduction of the gospel into that place. Many more are believing, and one more preacher had given his name for baptism.'
Like all English Saints at that time, the Nixons were anxious to reach Zion, so in January of 1842 he went to Liverpool to arrange for passage to Nauvoo and Zion. When he arrived in Liverpool he was called by Elder Parley P. Pratt to take charge of a large company of Saints on the ship "Tremont". Many tragic experiences, which included a burial at the sea, made the voyage unforgettable. But happy times were also enjoyed during the long eight week voyage across the ocean. Upon their arrival in New Orleans, Brother Nixon chartered a boat for St. Louis, then came to Nauvoo.
After the martyrdom of the Prophet and Hyrum Smith, they were among the Saints who were forced to flee from Nauvoo. On July 26, 1846, Rose Hannah was born, and on the 15th day of November Harriet Nixon died while crossing the plains and was buried beside the trail.
Brother Nixon and his family continued on to Winter Quarters where they stayed until 1852, when he felt he could take his family on to Utah. Upon their arrival in Salt Lake City, President Brigham Young sent them south to help settle Provo. While there he married Mary Paine, but for some reason the marriage was not successful. The children were growing up and some of the older ones were married.
In September 1859, he and his daughter, Margaret, who was now sixteen years of age, and a young man named Henry Roper left Provo and by way of Three Mile Canyon to enter Weber Valley he had been called to pioneer. They followed the Weber River north to a point where another stream entered the river. It was later known as Silver Creek. Here the party stopped and immediately built a log cabin, the first structure in the locality. They lived alone in the cabin that winter and in February 1860, Stephen Nixon's son, Thomas, and his family joined them.
The settlement grew and in spring, the men broke up six acres by ox team and raised a light crop. In 1861, about three hundred Indians camped near the settlement and as the story goes, the settlers shared food with the Indians that winter till there was no more. It has been said the Chief was friendly to the little group of pioneers who had settled at the 'meeting place of the waters'. Apparently, the townspeople revered Chief Wanship enough to name their settlement after him. Wanship, today, is simply beautiful, nestled in the valley of creeks, surrounded by mountains.
Mr. Nixon managed to take care of his family by opening up a general store. It was the first in the Valley. He carried it on in a log cabin he built with the help of Margaret, who also helped him with a small farm taken out of the brush, so to speak. Often they went to work in the fields with just bread and water for dinner. They also dug sego roots and gathered wild berries to add to their food supply.
He was known far and wide and loved dearly for his kindly nature. He always kept a barrel of peppermint candy in the store to give to the children.
The love of music was inherent in this family. Mr. Nixon went to Salt Lake City where he purchased instruments and secured the services of a music teacher, Mr. Chapman, who helped organize a Fife and Drum Corps, which was greatly enjoyed. In 1864, Stephen became the first postmaster in Wanship. He had always stayed true to the Church and its principles. His family was now grown up, married, and settled in the valley, following the teachings of their parents.
The first church services were held in the homes. A short time later it was held in a small rock schoolhouse, used as a chapel Stephen Nixon had assisted in building.
The country was growing, and in 1867, a nice brick church building was begun. It was built by George Dunford with Stephen Nixon doing the woodwork. It was completed and dedicated by Apostle Franklin D. Richards on January 12, 1890. (This lovely church burned to the ground November 14, 1958.)
Early in 1893, Stephen Nixon went to visit the home of Daniel Bates on Willow Creek. Daniel was an old friend and neighbor from Wanship. Stephen took seriously ill and died there March 5, 1893. He was eighty-five years, eleven months, and six days of age. He was buried at Willow Creek Cemetery.
Seven years after being built, the cabin was remodeled to become the first Summitt County Courthouse. The wood joist for the sleeping loft was cut out. They then raised the ceiling 3 feet higher to make a 10 foot high ceiling, better suited for a courthouse. The first minutes were recorded June of 1866. One of the first judges was Elias Aspen, with Thomas Bullock acting as county clerk.
In 1924, Francis and Sadia Vernon purchased the 65 year old cabin from Willard and Mary Gibbons. Along with three acres, the property sold for $345.00. The cabin was filthy and it took a lot of scrubbing to get it clean and livable. It was now a two-room cabin, a kitchen and a bedroom, both with tall ceilings.
In the cabin, Sadia gave birth to three boys. Art Kay Vernon was born 8 January 1925. Louie Oriel Vernon was born 6 February1927. Stewart Graham Vernon was born 4 April 1929. Louie recalls they slept three to a bed. Baths were taken once a week in a galvanized round tub in the kitchen, in front of a wood burning cook stove. When they were done they hung the tub on the back of the cabin. Nights were cold enough to freeze a glass of milk, a garden, fruit trees near the cabin, and, of course, the cows! The Vernons rented the cabin to 13 different families. A partial list of renters includes Blanch Crittenden, Reta and Jesse Moore, Freeman and Emma Peterson, Ron Bates and Leone, Chamey and Elaine Frome, Smithee and Ruth Wardell, Mable Smith Balinder, and a school teacher and her mother.
History of Francis Oscar Vernon:
Francis Oscar's family lived up Weber Canyon, there miles above Oakley, when he was a small child and later moved back to Rockport when he was nine years old. He went to school at Rockport and then finished his schooling at North Summit Academy. As a young man he served in the Sunday school and second counselor in the bishopric until he was called on a mission to England in 1913. He served there two and a half years, returning in 1916. While on his mission, World War One started and the missionaries had to travel on their bicycles in the dark. While out proselyting he was struck by a car, while riding his bicycle, pinning him underneath the car. He sustained serious injuries to his shoulder. After a brief period of recovery, he carried on with his missionary duties. He carried these scars from this accident his entire lifetime.
When it came time for him to be released from his mission, the President of the mission, Hyrum M. Smith, gave an order to the missionaries not to begin their journey home for two weeks. One young missionary left on his own and boarded a beautiful new ship for home. This ship was hit by a submarine and sank. The missionary did save his own life, but all of his belongings were lost. Two weeks later President Smith released the missionaries to board an old vessel for home. He waved his white handkerchief until they were out of sight. They returned home without incident.
It was at a party in Marion, Utah, where he met his future wife, Sadie Amelia Olsen. It was reported he could not keep his eyes off her. On Sunday evening June 9, 1918, in his parent's Ford car he went to see her. Her parents were sitting on the front porch. Her mother said, "Another automobile Agent?" When he arrived, he said "Is Sadie home?" She came out and they went for a ride and later had a flat tire. Sadie got out and helped him fix the tire. From then on he always went to see her with the horse and buggy and courted her on a weekly basis.
Sadie and her dad went to Park City. While they were there they purchased some wedding invitations. When he came to see her the next time, she told him what she had done, so he said "Well then, let's get married." So they set August 13, 1918 as their wedding date and were married in the Salt Lake Temple by President Joseph Fielding Smith. The wedding reception was held in her parent's yard and they invited about 200 guests. A few days after the wedding, they went to Salt Lake and purchased two tables, four chairs, and a pretty new tub. He worked for his father on his father's farm until he was married.
Francis and Sadie were good parents and were a good example to their children. They taught their children how to work and to be thrifty. They were active members of the church, always attended their meetings on Sundays and accepted any callings they received.
Francis Oscar Vernon died May 21, 1976 at the age of 86. His wife, Sadie Amelia Olsen Vernon died January 1, 1982, at the age of 84.
Old Book E page 102 describes lots owned by Stephen Nixon and by him sold to George Synder.
George G. Synder deeded to E. R. Young for 10,250 Mtg. 3,850 the gristmill known as the Synders and Alexander mill on the north side of Silver Creek mill property being same lots owned by Stephen Nixon May 25, 1895 E. R. Young died. His estate was probated block 11 and was deeded to George W. and Robert Young. George and Robert used the cabin for a store.
1911 George Young deeded to Robert Young and Robert sold to James Snapp 1911. James Snapp deeded to William J. Gibbons. Gibbons deeded to Francis Vernon. Nauvoo Log Cabins purchased the Nixon Cabin from Don Vernon, son of Louis Vernon, who was born in the cabin of Francis and Sadie Vernon.
The Nixon cabin was beautifully constructed with a sleeping loft. The floor of the sleeping loft had joists protruding through the front and rear log walls of the cabin. From the outside you could see the butt ends of the joists at about the seven foot level.
About 1866, the sleeping loft floor was removed and the 1st floor ceiling was moved to the height of 10 ft. allowing the structure to better serve as a commercial building.
Nauvoo Log Cabins put the ceiling joist back in their original position so the cabin once again has a sleeping loft.