THE BIG PIONEER STORE
Pearle M. Olsen
Salt Lake City, Utah
Second Place Essay ~ Saga of the Sanpitch
Some people in Mt. Pleasant or in Sanpete County, Utah, may be unaware of the fact that for a period of
over twenty years there was a Z.C.M.I. branch store in Mt. Pleasant, and that it occupied three different
locations during those years.
I sometimes heard my father speak of the old store known by that name, and I became interested in its
history as I learned that the large red brick building I knew to be the Union Store had once housed the early
Z.C.M.I. in the years of my father‘s youth.18
The Union Store in Mt. Pleasant stood on the present site of the Doughboy monument and the Armory
Hall on Main and State streets. It faced south, and I found out that it was the first building erected in town that required a break in the old pioneer fort wall. Some rocks had to be removed from the southwest corner of the big wall in preparation for it.
I had also heard reference to a small store in early days that was called Z.C.M.I. and was on south State
street. Still I heard of another location where a store was known by the same name. That building I
remembered, but I knew it as a blacksmith shop on the corner of Main and state streets (southwest corner).
My interest was challenged by the various locations known as the early day sites of the store, and
research led me to several references recorded by Andrew Madsen, a grand uncle of mine. His daughter
compiled his information on early day Mt. Pleasant, and a book was sponsored by the Pioneer Historical
Association of that town.
The book was sold for many years by the Association, but has been out of print for years as it was a
limited edition. With this in mind I pass information along to share with many who have not had the privilege
of reading and knowing about that old branch Z.C.M.I.
The Mt. Pleasant store was organized in 1870 after the pattern of the store that had been established the
previous year in Salt Lake City, and named the Zion‘s Co-operative Mercantile Institution. The local company was begun with seven hundred dollars worth of stock subscribed by various individuals, among who were: W.S. Seely, P.M. Peel, Andrew Madsen, N.P. Madsen, Jacob Christensen, Niels Widergren Anderson, Peter Monsen, Hans Poulsen, J.W. Seely, Hans Y. Simpson, Mortin Rasmussen, and W.S. Seely was chosen as the first manager and superintendent. Andrew Madsen and C.N. Lund served later as superintendents. I was intrigued by the fact that my grandfather, Niels Peter Madsen, had been one of the first and principal investors.
Business began in one small room of a log building on the east side of State Street at Third South.
Anthon H. Lund was a clerk there for a short time. Then the company built a larger, new log building on the
southwest corner of the Main and State Street intersection where the drug store now stands. The logs of that
new store were chinked with mud and the room was plastered with mud. Outside, above the door a large sign read: ―Z.C.M.I.
Charles Hampshire and Olaf Sorensen were the clerks. One spoke English and the other Danish, so
customers were understood and helped no matter which language they spoke. The store carried a variety of
merchandise and developed a fine trade.
All trading was done at that time by written order or printed due bills for which people traded their
produce. The produce was then freighted to Pioche, Nevada, and other mining towns where cash was received for it. Long trips were made with mule or horse teams, and the shorter trips with ox teams. It was seldom that a silver dollar was seen in Mt. Pleasant in those days, and the produce was as valuable as money would have been.
By 1878, it was found that even the mud-plastered building was very inadequate for the volume of
business being done. So a two-story red brick building was planned and built on the corner opposite from the one chinked with mud. It later became the Wilson blacksmith ship that I recall.
The brick used in the new store was made at a brick yard west of town, and was mixed with horse
power. After the adobes were formed they were covered with burlap and sand until thoroughly dry, then packed and burned for a week or two. Cedar wood from the Cedar Hills was used for burning.
A ladder was placed and men formed a bucket brigade that carried water up the ladder where it was
poured over the kiln until the bricks were saturated. Any brick with lime in it would burst and be discarded.
The good bricks were tested again by laying them in running water for several days.
Nothing but the first class bricks and other materials were used in building the new store. The huge
timbers were hewn with a broad axe, and smoothed with drawing knives. A large basement furnished ample
room for the storing of commodities on hand, and at its peak the store carried a twelve thousand dollar stock.19
An outside stairway along the east side of the store led to a theatre and dance hall in the second story
that served as an up-to-date amusement center accommodating larger crowds than the previously used Social Hall on the church square.
When the term of incorporation of Mt. Pleasant Z.C.M.I. expired, the stockholders decided to
incorporate under the name of Equitable Co-op, and sometimes it was referred to as the Co-op Store. Later the name was changed to Union Store and was managed by Andrew Madsen for many years. The building was finally razed to provide a site for the Armory Hall and Doughboy monument.
Personal knowledge of the author.
Gleanings from the book, Mt. Pleasant, compiled by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf in 1939.