Looking At The History of Layton, Utah

Layton is a community in Utah that is well known in the area. This thriving small city is on the cutting edge of local innovation, economics, and acts as a strong leader in furthering development not only of their own city but also the surrounding cities and suburbs. However, this thriving community wasn’t always a diamond on the hill, so to speak. Layton’s early history was much more humble in its origins.

Originally Just An Off-Shoot
Layton’s history starts in the early 1850’s as an expansion to another settlement that was already in the area, one that would eventually become known as Kaysville. Layton’s name comes from the name of Christopher Layton, a prominent Mormon leader and colonizer of the time. Even as Kaysville was organized into streets, addresses, and a more formal setup, early on in the process Layton kept its identity as an agricultural expansion, meaning it remained rural even as Kaysville made that move towards a more urban setup.

A Contentious Beginning
While you might think that the early relations were solid between the two developing settlements, it didn’t take long for that to go south, at least at the political level. Kaysville considered Layton just another expansion that belonged to their town proper, but the early farmers that made up Layton disagreed. Eventually a strong separatist movement formed demanding Layton be independent as a settlement.

Layton quickly had hundreds of farmers settle, and they often took care of their own issues such as volunteer fire fighters or creating their own smaller barriers for defense since they weren’t covered by the fort setups that protected the larger settlements that were more urbanized.

Eventually this fight led to Layton claiming itself independent from Kaysville, arguing on the basis that since they didn’t receive any municipal services. Since they didn’t receive any services from outside sources, they made the argument in court that they were a separate entity that didn’t need to follow the city council of Kaysville anymore, specifically with paying taxes.

This was a case that actually went all the way to the Supreme Court and was settled in the case titled “Linford v. Ellison” where the Supreme Court dictated that since no services were provided to Layton landowners, that those landowners were not obligated to pay taxes.

An Independent Start
While the case of “Linford v. Ellison” was settled in 1894, Layton wouldn’t break fully free as an independent community until 1902. Originally considered an informal “unincorporated area,” the population continued to grow, although it wasn’t always smooth sailing. The Woods Cross Canning Company factory opened in 1903 to provide more work and industry to an area that had been mostly agriculture, and in 1905 the First National Bank of Layton opened, bringing finance into town.

Those were the positive first signs of growth, but in 1905 there was also a severe wind storm that destroyed multiple buildings throughout the unincoprorated village that then needed to be rebuilt. Still, the town pushed on and 1915 saw a sugar company factory get built, bringing even more modern industry to further develop the town.

This helped continue to encourage growth to the point where Layton did eventually organize and was considered an incorporated settlement in 1920. The population continued to grow, to the point where, ironically, a settlement broke off of Layton and developed East Layton in 1936 (although they would be re-incorporated in 1984).

The biggest explanation for the population explosion that would bring Layton from a quiet farming community with a few factories to a large city would be the opening of Hill Airforce Base in 1940 as World War II ramped up. This military presence would introduce many new people to the area in addition to adding permanent income, jobs, and business to the community.

Expansion & Growth
Layton would continue to prosper and often absorbed smaller communities (incorporated and unincorporated) that used to be like early Layton. Subdivisions like Hill Villa, Skyline, and Ellison all appear and begin to thrive, as well. This is how a town of 646 in 1940 would grow to over 9,000 by 1960 and then continue to grow into the city of just short of 70,000 citizens that it is today.

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