Archibald Gardner was one of Utah's earliest entrepreneurs, made history in the state of Utah as a mill builder, canal builder, irrigation developer, bridge builder, bishop and as husband to 11 wives, father of 48 children and grandfather to 201.
Archibald, born in Scotland, immigrated to Canada as a young man. There he built his first mill. There he met and married his first wife, Margaret. Together, they traveled with Utah's early pioneers, crossing the plains from Missouri River to the Great Salt Lake Valley, arriving there in 1847.
In his lifetime, he built more than 36 mills, as well as canals and bridges. He was also instrumental in the building of the Salt Lake Temple. Gardner provided the valley with valuable irrigation water through his canals.
In 1858, in the face of the threat of Johnston's Army and the Utah War in the Valley, he and his family moved to Spanish Fork, consisting of nine wives, fifteen children, seven step-children and an adopted Indian girl, Fanny. Archibald left behind a homestead at Mill Creek, the mills in the canyon above, a grist mill and carding machine on the Big Cottonwood stream, a grist mill and saw mill on the Jordan River, and the "big hay field" of about 1,000 acres in the river bottoms in the southern end of Salt Lake Valley. Archie began to build a large home for his family in Spanish Fork. However, in 1859, he was called to return to the Valley as bishop of the West Jordan Ward, a position he held for 32 years being released in May of 1891.
Archibald built the original mill in West Jordan in 1853. In 1877 the mill was dismantled and moved to Fairfield. Archibald then built what he referred to as a "bigger and better" mill on the West Jordan site, with a stone basement. Surrounded by a mattress factory, a broom factory and a blacksmith shop, the flour mill became the center of activity in the area. A general store was located just west of the mill (where the Gardner Monument now stands) and supplied goods to settlers from miles around.
He also built the Red Rock Church, which is still standing, near his mill starting construction in 1861. People were poor, and when it was ready for roofing, the money was gone. It was decided to hold a ball as a fund raiser. A tarp was stretched overhead and officers from Fort doublas arrived in uniform adding a military touch. Many church officials were present including President Brigham young and George Q. Cannon. The church was completed in 1867.
Archibald served two terms in the territorial legislature and was also instrumental in the discover of ore in the area. The first location claim in Bingham Canyon is signed by Gardner, Ogilvie and others. The document is dated Bingham Kanyon, Sept 17, 1863.
In 1886 he spent several months in Mexico to escape the federal marshals, who were on the trail of polygamists. In 1889 he moved to Star Valley, Wyoming, to escape the persecution. From this time his family were spread across three locations - Spanish Fork, Utah; West Jordan, Utah; and Afton, Wyoming.
Each of Archibald's wives had a home and acreage in West Jordan. Some of those houses are still standing. There are more than 20,000 descendants of Archibald and wives, living in every state except Delaware and in 22 countries.
Excerpts from Eagle Newspapers, 17 Nov 1994 by Olga Milius