History Of Layton, Utah
The City of Layton began in 1850 as an agricultural extension to the settlement that later was incorporated as Kaysville, Utah. The original boundaries of what was called Kays Ward extended from Haight’s Creek on the south to the Weber County line and the Weber River in the north, and from the Wasatch Mountains on the east to the shores of the Great Salt Lake on the west. Although the settlers of Kays Ward eventually laid out streets and established a typical town plan and city center in 1854, the area that is now Layton remained rural, unorganized and unplanned during this early period.
The first three white settlers of what is now the City of Layton were Edward Phillips, John Hyrum Green, and William Kay. These Mormon pioneers first established farms in April of 1850 along the banks of a stream that later became know as Kays Creek. Edward Phillips and John Green arrived a day earlier than William Kay, but when an LDS Church ward was established in January of 1851, William Kays was called to be the LDS bishop. Consequently, the fledgling settlement was called Kays Ward after Bishop Kay. However, in 1856 William Kay left the area to colonize in Nevada Territory so the name of the settlement was changed to Freedom. The settlement was known as Freedom from about 1858 until 1863 when the name Kaysville came into widespread use.
Within a year of the first settlers planting crops and building cabins, there were almost 300 people living along the banks of three local streams—Kays Creek, Holmes Creek, and Haight’s Creek. The majority of these families were from England or were New Englanders of English descent. Among them were several families that were related or were from the same or nearby English towns and cities. Later LDS immigrants from England tended to settle in Kays Ward too, making the settlement an ethnically as well as religiously cohesive community. Most of the early immigrants were of the working class, but only a handful were farm laborers in their native land. Consequently, the skills of farming in a semi-arid desert environment were learned from firsthand experience.
Following the building of a wagon road between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah, several mercantile and trade establishments were founded along what is now known as Layton’s Main Street. Also, in the late 1860’s the Utah Central Railway was built with tracks running parallel to Main Street so several businessmen opened workshops (blacksmiths, shoemakers, tanners, harness makers, weavers) or became tradesmen (carpenters, rock masons, sawyers). Other settlers built flourmills, made adobe bricks, or were innkeepers. With time, the small business district came to be called Kays Creek—as a suburb of Kaysville three miles to the south.
Kays Creek and Holmes Creek were the main streams capable of supplying enough water for irrigation. Roads running east and west soon skirted the sides of these creeks. Holmes Creek, according to several histories, was called “Fiddler’s Creek” for a time because three early pioneers who lived along the stream played the fiddle for early community dances and parties. Also, several families settled north and east of Kays Creek. This area became known as “Little Scotland” because these settlers were of Scottish ancestry while most of the other Kays Creek settlers were English or American.
Because Layton was an outgrowth of Kaysville, the settlers did not build their homes around a city block plan or a central fort. When fort districts were established in 1854 and 1855, for protection, the people living along Kays Creek contributed money and labor to the building of the Kays Ward fort. However, these settlers never lived in the Kays Ward fort area but built their own stockade that was called “Little Fort.” This structure was built on the east side of Kays Creek, south of what is now known as Fort Lane Street.
The earliest mercantile businesses in Layton for which there are records were the Burton, Herrick and White Company, Barton and Company, Adams and Son's Company, the Kaysville Farmer’s Union (later to become the Farmer’s Union of Layton), the William A. Hyde store, the A. H. Ellis Mercantile store, and the Layton Golden Rule. With time, these establishments became the nucleus of Layton’s commercial endeavors and their activities eventually led to a movement to make Kays Creek a separate and distinct town.
In 1886, with the establishment of a Post Office, the area that was previously known as Kays Creek became Layton. The name Layton was given to the community in honor of Christopher Layton an early LDS bishop and property owner along Kays Creek.
In 1907, the people living in Layton officially separated from Kaysville and a new town was born.
The following is a chronology of important events in the town’s history:
||Utah Central Railroad connects Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah
||Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company organized—bringing water to hundreds of farms
||Denver and Rio Grande Railroad extends through the Layton/Kaysville area
||Layton Post Office established
||Bamberger Interurban Railway operates between Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah
||Layton Elementary School opens
||Telephones appear in Layton, Woods Cross Canning Company factory opens
||First National Bank of Layton opens; Severe east wind storm destroys many Layton buildings
||Layton Sugar Company factory built and operations begin
||Layton incorporates as a town
||East Layton town is incorporated and then annexed back into Layton
||Laytona incorporated and then annexed back into Layton
||Ground is broken for Hill Air Force Base
||Layton’s first subdivisions—Hill Villa, Skyline and Ellison are started
||Verdeland Park housing complex built to support Hill Air Force Base during World War II
||St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church dedicated
||Layton become a third class city
||Central Davis Junior High School opens
||Layton City purchases Verdeland Park property from Federal Government
||Fort Lane Shopping Center opens, Layton Sugar Factory has its last run
||I-15 nears completion, Verdeland Park dismantled and Layton Commons Park takes its place
||Layton High School opens
||North Layton Junior High opens
||North Davis Hospital opens
||Layton Pioneer Museum dedicated, name later changed to Heritage Museum of Layton, museum opens its doors in 1980
||Layton Hills Mall opens
||Layton Branch of the Davis County Public Library opens
||Layton City builds new city municipal building and complex
||Northridge High School opens
||New St. Rose of Lima church dedicated, Ed Kenley Amphitheater opens
A comprehensive history of Layton entitled: Layton, Utah, published by Kaysville/Layton Historical society is available to the Heritage Museum. The cost is $25.