Collections - Towns and Communities - Afton

Town of Afton History

By Fern Heyer, Phillis Linford, Allie Hyde, Elmina Papworth, Harold Papworth, Lovina Leavitt, and Rulon Campbell

Afton as a community had no name or identity until the fall of 1880. In 1879, the valley was dedicated as a home for LDS colonists. The authorities, after a survey, advised the people to move across the valley to the foot of the east mountains and make their home there, the present site of Afton.

Charles D. Cazier, who was chosen to preside over the few saints in the valley, had a town site surveyed to contain 30 blocks, each comprising 10 acres - selling for one dollar. The survey was done using a carpenter's square and a rope. When officially surveyed later, it was in error by only a few feet.

President William Budge, of the Bear Lake Stake (LDS Church), a native of Scotland, suggested that the new town be called Afton, because the roaring, tumbling stream gushing out of the mountains was the very antithesis of the placid stream he remembered of Sweet Afton fame.

The first house built on the Afton town site was built by Harvey Dixon in 1885. Alfred Dixon, the first child born in Afton, in October 1885, was born in the same house.

The first sawmill was installed in Swift Creek Canyon in 1885 by Harvey Dixon and Sam Cazier.

The first general store in Afton was operated by W. W. Burton in 1886. Goods were exchanged for butter, meat, hay, grain or whatever the settlers wished to exchange. Also, in 1886, Archibald Gardner brought the first flour mill to the valley.

In 1887, Afton was made a ward in the LDS Church and Charles D. Cazier was sustained as the first bishop. He was also appointed postmaster.

William Blanchard came to Afton in 1888 as the first to repair shoes and harnesses. He was a gifted violinist and was much sought after at dances and dramas.

By 1889, Afton was said to have had a population of 60 families.

After the people of Star Valley saw a need for a bank, one was established with the name of Afton State Bank with A. C. Lund, from Nebraska, as first cashier. Later, the Freedom Bank merged with the Afton State Bank to form the Star Valley State Bank, with G. A. Newswander, president.

The first newspaper and printing plant in Star Valley was established in 1901 by Emil Vaterlaus, who published
"The Star Valley Pioneer" later changing the name to "The Star Valley Independent".

Afton had grown to such proportions that the town was incorporated in 1902 with A. V. Call elected mayor.

Town of Afton Cemetery History

Location:  From Hwy 89 in Afton, travel east on 6th avenue for four blocks. Turn south on Cemetery Street (Ford Avenue) for one
block. Entrance to cemetery is at the end of the road. (GPS:42.71851N 110.92332W)

How Obtained:  First donated by William Henery Kennington, Sr.

History: by Archie Hale - 30 July 1969.  

After Mr. Kennington's death, his family sold the acreage to the Town of Afton. The farm ground is now owned by Glen
Kennington, a grandson.

Three "Hurd" children’s' graves are outside the cemetery fence.

According to Old Timers, the Alfred Kennington grave (1 July 1887) is the oldest grave, but according to dates on tombstones,
the oldest grave is Zerna Ada Nelson (girl), 8 April 1887.

The four oldest graves are given in the following order:

1. Zerna Ada Nelson, 8 April 1887.

2. Alfred Kennington, 1 July, 1887.

3. Julia Hale, 28 August, 1887.

4. Andrew McCombs, 2 September 1887.