“Utah, after nearly forty years of receiving emigrants and raising two generations of its own, was getting crowded. Most of the agricultural lands had been homesteaded. The colonies established in southern Utah and Arizona were full. . . . The LDS Church was on the lookout for new lands offering economic opportunities for the upcoming generation.” (SV 111). In August 1878, Apostles Brigham Young (son of President Young), Moses Thatcher, and Charles C. Rich, along with others, visited Star Valley, Wyoming Territory, to explore the idea of establishing it as an area for settlement (SV 115). The Valley was “one of the very finest and most beautiful” they had ever seen in the West. (SV114) By 1880, with encouragement from Brigham Young to colonize the area, twenty-one Saints moved to the Valley.
With the issuance of the Edmunds Act of 1882 polygamy was declared a felony; however, it wasn’t until about 1885 that enforcement of th eAct became intense. According to Aroet (3rd journal), by 1885 “hundreds of our Brethren that was living in polygamy was arrested and throde in prison.” Not only were husbands and fathers arrested, but many women were held in contempt of court and jailed for not testifying against their husbands. The enforcement of this federal legislation was leading the Church toward economic and political destruction. President Wilford Woodruff’s revelation that let do the issuance of the Manifesto (1890) eventually ended the legal confrontation, but until that time Aroet was determined to protect his family by making one of the most difficult decisions of his life.
Aroet left Grantsville in February 1886, and after visiting with some of his older children who had settled in the southern part of Idaho, he made a pair of snowshoes and went to St. Charles, Idaho. He was anxious to visit with his son A. Lucius (Aroet Lucius Hale, Jr.), who had been called in 1868 by President Young to help pioneer and colonize the Bear Lake Valley. Aware that his father was looking for a safe haven for one of his polygamous families, Lucius suggested that the sate of Wyoming, and specifically Star Valley, was a welcomed area to settle. Wyoming was relatively free from federal marshals, who were attempting to arrest and imprison all polygamous practicing families. Unlike governors of other states and territories, Governor Moonlight encouraged polygamous families to settle in Wyoming and even offered protection from the marshals who were anxious to continue their pursuits.
Upon arrival in St. Charles, Aroet and A Lucius snowshoed through the mountain pass to Star Valley. Aroet found the valley to be everything his son had said it would be and agreed that it would be an ideal place to bring Charlotte and their children.
Aroet and A. Lucius set to work to assist Henry M. Harmon in surveying the land that would become the town of Aton. A long rope was measured by a carpenter’s square and bearings were taken from the noonday sun and North Star, guided by reference to the Almanac. When an official survey was made several years later, it was found that the original survey was a mere four to five feet out.
As original settlers, bot Aroet and A. Lucius had the option of homesteading their selecte property sites. They proceedd to plow and fence their 160 acres, plant prain and potatoes, dig ditches, and build their first small but adequate homes. A. Lucius then moved his wife, Eliza Ann, and their five sons to their new home before the end of the summer.
By the fall of 1886, Aroet had traveled to Grantsville and returned to Afton in covered wagons with his wife Charlotte and their seven children. One week after arriving in Afton, it began to snow. They didn’t see th ground again for six months, but even after endureing the severe winter months and living under primitive conditions, Charlotte said Star Valley was “the most beautiful place she had seen since she left England.”She was asked years later if she’d like to return to Grantsville, but she considered Star Valley her home and had no intention of leaving.
By the close of 1888 there were about 40 families making their permanent home in the valley. In addition to the severe winters, these initial settlers faced additional challenges. The nearest realroad was fifty miles away. The road out of the valley followed creek beds in places, while meandering over high hills an through steep canyons in others. The snow depth during a typical winter was recorded to have fallen from two and one-half to six feet deep, literally snowing everything in. Sometimes in winter, it was necessary to haul supplies into the valley by men on snowshoes. Under these conditions, it was no small undertaking to pioneer this country.
About the year 1888 or 1889, Aroet returned to Grantsville, having been reassured that his son A. Lucius would lend support to Charlotte and the children as needed. From this point on, Aroet frequently traveled between Afton and Grantsville to see to the needs of both families.
["Early Days of Star Valley, Star Valley Independent, C. Watt Brandon, March 15, 1951]
Pictures are of the Star Valley, Wyoming Temple and A. Lucius Hale, son of Aroet Lucius Little Hale. The Temple is located on the original homestead of A. Lucius Hale family.