Farrel Sandberg was a skinny 6-year-old kid the day he threw a penny or two into a honey bucket that was to be buried beneath the big cement pillar marking the site of the old Grantsville Fort.
The date was July 24, 1934, and other people, including Farrel’s parents and siblings, had gathered to celebrate placement of a monument on what was then the Grantsville First Ward LDS Chapel (on the corner of Cooley and Clark streets). The monument was in commemoration of a fort built in 1853 by early Grantsville settlers to protect themselves from Indians.
Several pennies and nickels were tossed into the bucket on that historical day in 1934. Copies of the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, and even names of Grantsville’s mayor, councilmen, judge, recorder, treasurer, traffic officer, marshall and attorney at that time were written on a piece of paper. Other residents of the small town attending the event wrote their names on a notebook. Everything was then placed inside the honey bucket.
The rectangular base of the monument — the monument marking the spot of the old Grantsville fort — contained a square hole, according to Farrel. The honey bucket was placed in that hole. Farrel remembers that the monument was constructed on what was then the front porch of the First Ward Chapel. After the monument was built, it was so heavy that a ramp had to be used to roll it to the site of placement.
“It probably weighed a ton or two,” Farrel said. “The forms for the monument were made by Frank Jefferies (deceased). Clark Jefferies (deceased) set the stone.”
Farrel continued, “The grout job was good because we had to use a jack hammer to dig into the stone and get the honey bucket out.”
The honey bucket containing the coins and papers put into the ground in 1934, was uncovered on a Saturday in December 2004.
Farrel is one of only a half-dozen or so Grantsville residents still living who attended that July event more than 70 years ago. And it was because of Farrel’s recollection of burying the bucket that some of its contents will be displayed March 19, 2005, at Grantsville’s 121st Old Folks Sociable.
Farrel’s love for the town he calls home It was a couple of years ago when Farrel called Doug and Shelley Snow, newcomers to Grantsville, and offered them an invitation they couldn’t refuse.
“I want to drive you around town and let you see Grantsville from the eyes of someone who lived here as a boy,” Farrel told Doug. “I want to help you and your wife learn to love and appreciate this city the way I do.”
Doug and Shelley were thrilled with Farrel’s offer.
“We moved from Salt Lake City to Grantsville to live in a place that has a hometown spirit and hometown pride,” Doug said. “We were more than happy to take that ride with Farrel.”
As the trio rounded the corner of Kearl and Clark streets, Farrel told Doug and Shelley how he used to herd cattle in that area. And when they got near the west end of Clark Street, Farrel explained to Doug and Shelley how the old First Ward Chapel — which has been remodeled and is now home to the Bret and Jeanene Hamatake family — was once located inside Grantsville’s fort.
Farrel told the Snows that Ferris Williams and Claude Sutton had put the bronze plaque on front of the monument. The plaque states: Erected July 24, 1934: This monument marks the site of the Grantsville fort built in 1853 as protection against the Indians. The fort was 30 rods square with a wall 12 feet high and five feet thick at the base and 18 inches thick at the top. The north wall was 143 feet north of this point. About 50 people lived inside the fort during the early settlement of the town of Grantsville which was named in honor of George D. Grant, one of its pioneers.
Then Farrel told the Snows about the day Grantsvillians gathered for the dedication of the monument. He told Doug and Shelley about the honey bucket buried beneath the monument.
A few months later when Doug and Shelley were asked to serve on this year’s Old Folks Sociable committee, Doug remembered the buried bucket. He thought it would be fun to dig it up and see if anything could be salvaged.
Honey Bucket dug up Farrel, Don Ed Sandberg, Jim Sutton and Gayle Watson, who were all boys when the honey bucket was buried, were called and invited to the “digging up” ceremony last December. Mark Nelson, chairman of this year’s Sociable and his brother Merrill, along with the Hamatakes and several other Grantsville residents, were there as well.
“They started chipping away the stone at the base of the monument with a jackhammer,” Farrel said.
“They couldn’t find the joint of the stone. I told them exactly where the bucket was placed and Merrill said maybe it would be a good idea to drill at a angle toward that spot.”
Farrel continued, “When the bucket couldn’t be found for quite some time, the others started questioning my memory. I was excited when they finally found the bucket. That’s when they learned that I wasn’t ‘nutty’ and that I had remembered what I told them I remembered.”
The coins inside the honey bucket, including a Utah medallion, were very corroded. The papers were browned and for the most part unreadable. “The bucket was amidst a good foot of cement but moisture had seeped in,” Farrel said.
After unearthing the honey bucket, Doug Snow took it and all its contents to the University of Utah Manuscript Preservation Department.
“They were able to separate the two newspapers,” Farrel said.
One of the readable headlines in a July 1934 edition of the Deseret News taken from the bucket states: “LDS leaders ask their members to pray for rain.”
The Utah medallion inside the bucket was totally corroded, but through research a replica was found at a Salt Lake City coin shop and it will be displayed at this year’s Sociable. Some of the cleaned up pennies and Indianand buffalo-head nickels that were unearthed will also be showcased at Grantsville’s social event of the year. And a video of the men and women who dug the old honey bucket out of the ground can be viewed by Sociable-goers.
With the aid of a magnifying glass, Farrel is currently trying to make out the former Grantsville residents’ names found in the honey bucket. So far he has put together the surnames of: Burmester (“That would be Frank Burmester”), he says.
He’s also deciphered: Erickson (“Probably Hilda or John A.”); Anderson (“Could be any number of people, there were a lot of Andersons”); Millward (“Probably Annie or her husband”); Choate (“That would have been Ada Swenson Choate”); Brown (“Could have been anybody”); Benson (“I don’t know who that was”); Barrus (Most likely Mont Barrus.
He owned a lumber yard.”); McBride (“This McBride could have been Amos. He had a motel on Main Street”); Rydalch( “That would have been Thomas, son of Chunky”); Sandberg (“Dewey and the tribe”); Booth (“Willie Booth owned land on Booth Street where that subdivision is now”); Cooley (“This might be Maude or Vergie Cooley:”); and Rowberry (“This would have been Ray or Donald. It was probably Don because Ray may have been dead by then”), Farrel said.
Farrel’s remembers how Grantsville was Born Nov. 9, 1927, Farrel was the fourth of Dewey and Myrtle Anderson Sandberg’s children. His only sister is De Ona Sandberg Ajax. His brothers are Mervin, Joe and Lamar. Farrel and Lamar (who resides in Salt Lake City) are Dewey and Myrtle’s only living children.
Farrel, who is extremely proud of his Swedish heritage, was born and grew up in the house located at 282 W. Clark St., Grantsville. The house is now occupied by Sam and Annette Kelley.
The Grantsville old-timer remembers that when he was a kid, the building now housing the Donner Reed Museum (on the corner of Clark and Cooley streets) served as a school.
Early pioneer Joshua Clark was asked by Brigham Young to establish a school in Grantsville. Young was then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had led many of his church members from Nauvoo, Ill. to what is now Utah.
Farrel remembers that Grantsville’s first school was surrounded by wooden structures when he was growing up.
“Frank Burmester had a service station and garage on the east side of that bunch of buildings,” Farrel said. “He also had a motel there.
After those buildings deteriorated, Frank built a store and a Shell service station on the west end of Main Street.
“About the same time, Tony Williams took a building from the old Horse Shoe Campground (which now houses a car wash at approximately 21 E. Main St.) and put in another Shell gas station,” Farrel said.
Because Burmester’s gas station was located on the west end of Grantsville, he sold a lot of water bags. “His place was the last stop between Grantsville and Wendover,” Farrel said. “A lot of tourists loaded up on water bags before trying to cross the desert to get to Wendover.”
Farrel remembers that Myrtle Barrus (deceased) had a cafe near his boyhood home. And “The McBride boys” including Art, George and Aaron (all deceased), sons of Tommy McBride who lived to be 100, repaired vehicles in a shop nearby.
“The McBrides kept a big English bulldog chained up at their business when they went home at night,” Farrel said. “That dog was meaner than heck.”
He continued, “Then, of course, there was the old Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) store that was located in what is now an apartment (at approximately 240 W. Clark St., Grantsville). “I think every little pioneer town in Utah had one of those co-op stores. They built them back in the days when the Mormons had to keep their money together to survive.”
Farrel also has fond memories of a lean-to that was near the house of Golden Stromberg (deceased) near 260 W. Clark St.
“They used that lean-to for (LDS Church) Primary activities,” Farrel said. “There was a tall pole near the lean-to and each May, we kids would create ‘ribbons’ from different colors of crepe paper.
“After we danced around the May pole, we would take our sack lunches and go down Cooley’s Lane,” he said. “The purple flowers in the meadow would come up to our chins and we would sit there and eat our lunches and listen to our Primary lesson.”
Farrel remembers the days when his dad would take the family’s cows to pasture down Burmester Road.
“The sub-water down there would come up and make a lake on each side of the road,” Farrel said. “The water would freeze over during the winter and we’d go down there to ice skate.”
Farrel laughs as he talks about “riding cows because no one could afford horses. When we wanted the cows to turn left, we’d crank their tails to the left. When we wanted them to go right, we’d crank their tails to the right.”
Farrel is married to Lucy Roberts Sandberg. Their children include: Annette York, Tooele; Brad Sandberg, Grantsville; Kim Castagno, deceased; Moana Dalton, Grantsville; and Wade Sandberg, Grantsville.
Deep inside Farrel’s heart, the memories of the way Grantsville used to be will live forever. So if you see him at this year’s Old Folks Sociable, you might want to take him aside and listen to some of his stories about the city he loves with all his heart.