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Payson, Utah

Coordinates: 40°2′20″N 111°43′59″W / 40.03889°N 111.73306°W / 40.03889; -111.73306
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Payson, Utah
Peteetneet Museum in Payson
Peteetneet Museum in Payson
Location in Utah County and the state of Utah
Location in Utah County and the state of Utah
Coordinates: 40°2′20″N 111°43′59″W / 40.03889°N 111.73306°W / 40.03889; -111.73306
CountryUnited States
FoundedOctober 20, 1850
IncorporatedJanuary 21, 1853
Named forPayson, Adams County, IL
 • MayorWillam Wright
 • Total13.05 sq mi (33.81 km2)
 • Land13.04 sq mi (33.78 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
4,700 ft (1,418 m)
 • Total21,101
 • Density1,618.17/sq mi (624.66/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-6 (Mountain)
ZIP code
Area code(s)385, 801
FIPS code49-58730[1]
GNIS feature ID1444252[2]

Payson is a city in Utah County, Utah, United States. It is part of the ProvoOrem Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 21,101 at the 2020 census.[3]



Pioneers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by James Edward Pace Jr. first settled what is now Payson, Utah.[4] On Sunday, October 20, 1850, Pace with his family and the families of John Courtland Searle and Andrew Jackson Stewart, totaling 16 settlers in all, arrived at their destination on Peteetneet Creek.[5][6]

The settlement was originally named Peteetneet Creek, after which Chief Peteetneet was named. Peteetneet is the anglicized approximation of Pah-ti't-ni't, which in the Timpanogos dialect of the Southern Paiute language means "our water place".[7][8] Chief Peteetneet was the clan leader of a band of Timpanogos Indigenous Americans[9] whose village was on a stretch of the creek about a mile northwest of Payson's present city center. The village, when fully occupied, housed more than 200 of Chief Peteetneet's clan and near kinsmen. It served as a base from which seasonal hunting and foraging parties moved to the mountains each summer and fall.[10]

Five months later, on the morning of March 23, 1851, Brigham Young, having lost confidence in the leadership of James Pace, released him from his calling and reorganized the community under Bishop Benjamin Cross.[11][12] Then, in the afternoon, in a secular meeting, Brigham Young acting as Territorial Governor, designated the settlement on Peteetneet Creek as Payson, Utah County, Utah Territory.[13][12] He acknowledged naming the town after Payson, Illinois, a small town in Adams County near Quincy where kind citizens had taken in the Young family after they were driven from Missouri in 1839.[14][15]

In January 1853, Territorial Governor Brigham Young submitted a bill to the Second Utah Territorial Legislature to incorporate Payson as a city. On January 21, 1853, on the last day of the legislative session, the legislature passed the act. Brigham Young signed it. And Payson became an incorporated city within a strip of territory two miles wide on either side of Peteetneet Creek, extending from the shore Utah Lake to the top of the mountains to the south.[16] On April 12, 1853, Payson voters elected a city council composed of aldermen and councilmen, the distinction between the two being uncertain. The voters also elected as the town's first mayor, David Crockett who had returned to Payson after James Pace's fall from power. He would serve as Mayor for 2 additional two-year terms and as an alderman until 1860.[17][18]

On March 6, 1854, the LDS Church organized the Payson Ward as part of the Utah Stake with C. B. Hancock as Bishop and James McClellan and John Fairbanks as counselors. Bishop Cross, who was in declining health died on December 31 at age 65.[19]

The Payson Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated by Wilford Woodruff in 1872.[20]

In 1873 the Payson independent school District established a high school, the first such institution in Utah south of Salt Lake City. It closed in 1876 after Brigham Young Academy opened in Provo,[21] and a Presbyterian mission school offering education through grade 12 was established under Rev. Wildman Murphy.[22] An opera house was built in Payson in 1883.[23] In the late 1800s, a factory making horse collars operated in Payson.[24]

When the Strawberry Valley Reclamation Project was completed in 1912, the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company decided to place a sugar beet processing factory in the area.[25] The plant was completed in October 1913.[25] By 1915, the biggest year for the factory, 5,014 acres (20.29 km2) were planted, yielding 36,915 tons of sugar beets, which were processed into 7,722 tons of sugar.[25]

In 1897, the beet leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus, the only known vector of the beet curly top virus (BCTV), invaded Utah County. Its transmission of the disease caused serious crop losses in Payson, Lehi and other areas of the county. As the disease grew worse, Payson farmers reduced beet acreage and planted other crops. Those willing to take a chance with beet contracts experienced declining yields. In 1924, beet growers all over Utah County experienced a complete crop failure. The result was that in 1924, Utah-Idaho Sugar closed its Payson and Lehi sugar factories. The factory was dismantled and demolished in 1940, leaving only the sugar warehouse. Beet contracts continued to be signed in the Payson area, and harvests were processed in the Utah-Idaho Sugar factory in Spanish Fork.[25]

In 1940, the sugar factory property, which included only the sugar warehouse, was sold to the Utah Poultry Producers Co-operative Association (now Intermountain Farmers Association = IFA Country Stores), which used the building for grain storage until 1978.[26][27] In 1979, this property located at 10460 South 4400 West in Payson became the present IFA fertilizer storage, blending, packaging and distribution facility.[28]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[29]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 12,716 people, 3,654 households, and 3,058 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,871.8 people per square mile (723.1/km2). There were 3,855 housing units at an average density of 567.5 per square mile (219.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.02% White, 0.13% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.24% Pacific Islander, 3.52% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.79% of the population.

There were 3,654 households, out of which 51.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.8% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.3% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.47 and the average family size was 3.87.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 38.3% under the age of 18, 12.8% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 14.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,539, and the median income for a family was $47,491. Males had a median income of $32,244 versus $20,869 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,588. About 7.0% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.

Payson's population has doubled in 1990–2010, when the population was 8,700. Payson was at the southern end of Utah valley's real estate boom. It's currently over 20,000 residents as of the year 2020. [citation needed]


A historic cabin at Payson City Center

Payson is the site of the annual Scottish Heritage Festival, held every July. Other annual festivities include a salmon supper, held every August, and the annual Onion Days festival, held every Labor Day weekend. The city also has band concerts in the Memorial Park, and has had such concerts since the early 1950s.

Payson is where most of the 1984 hit movie Footloose was filmed, in settings such as Payson High School and Sudsie's, a local car wash. The town was also one of the locations for the 1985 thriller Warning Sign. Payson was the setting of the 1979 children's movie Banjo the Woodpile Cat. The town is a film favorite for seminary videos filmed by the LDS Church. The popular Mormon film Baptists at Our Barbecue was also shot on Payson's historic Main Street. Most recently, Payson was used to film most of the Disney Channel movie Hatching Pete.

Payson was originally named Peteetneet, after a Ute Indian chief who lived near Payson's current location. A monument still stands to Chief Peteetneet at the Peteetneet Museum and Cultural Arts Center, originally the first school in Payson. The Peteetneet Museum is a historical gem in the community and is known for its historical significance, beauty, and great sledding. A committee headed by Marva Loy Eggett has recently raised funds for the Peteetneet Museum glass elevator. Construction was completed on it the summer of 2008.[30]

Payson celebrates its heritage through monuments such as the historic Main Street, Peteetneet Museum and Cultural Arts Center, and several Payson Historical Society markers that note houses and other sites in the city over a hundred years old.

The city was the birthplace of singer-songwriter Jewel.

It is the hometown of Disney animator and film producer Don Bluth.[31]

The city has large numbers of persons with Scottish and Scots-Irish ancestry. However, the expansion of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area into Payson has changed the city's ethnic and religious makeup with additions of Catholic (including Eastern Rite Catholic and Greek Catholic brought in by Greek, Italian and Yugoslav settlers), Presbyterian, Evangelist, and Wiccan. Payson, like Provo, has a predominantly Latter-day Saint population,[citation needed] but other religious sects and denominations such as Lutherans, Methodists, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists. The imprint of Scandinavian settlement is found in thousands of residents with Scandinavian (i.e. Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Icelandic) surnames; Swiss people and Austrians; and since the 1930s, Mexican Americans among a few other Hispanics and Latinos.[32][33]

On January 25, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that a temple was to be built in Payson, the Payson Utah Temple.[34] With construction completed before dedication on June 7, 2015, the Temple is the 15th in Utah and the 146th in the world.



Payson is served by Nebo School District. Public schools in this district within Payson include the following: Payson High School, Payson Junior High School, Mt. Nebo Middle, Barnett Elementary, Parkview Elementary, Springlake Elementary, Taylor Elementary, Wilson Elementary. Payson High School is one of the very few schools in the USA that has its own Bagpipe Band.[citation needed].

Annual events


Payson is home to the Onion Days and Salmon Supper events held every August[35] and an annual Scottish Festival.[36]

Notable people



  1. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 2, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "QuickFacts Payson city, Utah; United States". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1941) p. 644
  5. ^ Pace, James Edward Jr. 1884. Autobiographical Sketch. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Genealogical Society Archives. Salt Lake City, UT.
  6. ^ Pace, James Edward Jr.. 1946. Autobiography and Diary of James Pace, 1811–1888. Harold B. Lee Library. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. 186 p.
  7. ^ Sapir, Edward. 1930. The Southern Paiute a Shoshonean Language, Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 65(1):1–296.
  8. ^ Sapir, Edward. 1931. Southern Paiute Dictionary, Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 65(3):537–730.
  9. ^ Janetski, J. C. 1991. The Ute of Utah Lake, Vol. 116. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, UT. p. 31-33.
  10. ^ Sumsion, Oneita Burnside (1983). Thistle – Focus on Disaster. Springville, Utah: Art City Publishing Company.
  11. ^ Young, Brigham. 1851a. Payson Branch, March 9, 1851. Mss History, Diaries, Correspondence, Journals. Boxes 11–42. Brigham Young Collection. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Archives. Salt Lake City, UT.
  12. ^ a b Journal History (JH). 1850–1852. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1972 (inclusive), Reel 10 (microfilm: June 1850 – January 1852
  13. ^ Young, Brigham. 1851b. Brigham Young Papers (1848–1857), Mss A, Correspondence, Will, Office Journal, Box 1. Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT.
  14. ^ Young, Brigham. 1839. Manuscript History of Brigham Young 1801–1844, E. J. Watson (ed.), pp. 40. Smith Secretarial Service, Salt Lake City, UT, 1968. 274 p.
  15. ^ Wells, Emmeline B. 1891. Biography of Mary Ann Angell Young. Juvenile Instructor, January 15, 1891. pp. 56.
  16. ^ Utah Territorial Legislature (1852–1853). 1853. An act incorporating the city of Payson (Jan 21, 1853). Acts and Bills Jan 21 Legislative Assembly Territorial legislative records, Utah Division of Archives and Records Service, Salt Lake City, UT. Reel 2, Box 1, Folder 140.
  17. ^ Utah Territorial Records (UTR). 1849–1858. Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City, UT.
  18. ^ Journal History (JH). 1852–1853. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1972 (inclusive), Reel 11 (microfilm: January 1852 – March 1853). Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, UT.
  19. ^ Journal History (JH). 1853–1854. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1972 (inclusive), Reel 12 (microfilm: March 1853 – October 1854). Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City, UT.
  20. ^ Dixon, Madeline Cloward. Peteetneet Town: A History of Payson, Utah. (Provo, Free Publishing Ltd., 1974) p. 25
  21. ^ Dixon. Peteetneet Town. p. 25
  22. ^ Gillilan, J. D. 1895. Churches in Utah: Ministers Now Employed in Utah (Rev. Wildman Murphy, Presbyterian Mission & School. Church Review Historical Edition (Dec 29, 1895), Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 1.
  23. ^ Dixon. Peteetneet Town. p. 27
  24. ^ Dixon. Peteetneet Town. p. 30
  25. ^ a b c d Arrington, Leonard J. (1966). Beet sugar in the West; a history of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1891–1966. University of Washington Press. pp. 75–76. OCLC 234150.
  26. ^ Wairen, P. 2016. Utah's Intermountain Farmers Association (Nov 16, 2016). Utah Stories Magazine. Salt Lake City, UT.
  27. ^ Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA). 2020. IFA Country Stores: History. IFA, Salt Lake City, UT.
  28. ^ Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA). 2020. IFA Country Stores: IFA Locations: Fertilizer Distribution. IFA, Salt Lake City, UT.
  29. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  30. ^ "Fence Company Macon Helps Museum".
  31. ^ "Don Bluth, Mormon Animator and Businessman | Mormons in Business". mormonsinbusiness.org. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011.
  32. ^ http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/p/PAYSON.html [bare URL]
  33. ^ "Utah QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on November 4, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  34. ^ "President Monson Announces New Temple in Payson, Utah". newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org. January 25, 2010.
  35. ^ Annual Salmon Supper and Annual Onion Days
  36. ^ "Home". Payson.

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