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Coalville, Utah

When Thomas and Sarah McKenna arrived in the United States in late 1872, the traveled by rail to Echo, Utah and then proceeded the remaining five miles to Coalville, Utah.  There they joined their friends, Robert and Jane Allen who had befriended them in Belfast, Ireland and introduced them into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Robert and Jane arrived in 1871 and joined their son Thomas, father Robert Allen Sr. and sister Susannah who had arrived in the Fall of 1869.  But the Allens were not the first to arrive from Ireland.  When the first Allens arrived in 1869, they intended to stay with the James Salmon family who had emigrated from the Belfast Branch in the summer of 1868.  James Salmon was from Scotland, but lived for a short time in Belfast, prior to emigrating to the U.S..  

Instead of living with the Salmons, the Allens were taken in by the first Irish family to arrive in Coalville, Daniel Murdoch Bell and his wife Esther.  The Bells had arrived in Salt Lake City in the late 1850s and lived in the Sugarhouse area.  One of their neighbors was Bp. Henry B. Wilde who helped settle Coalville in 1859.  It is likely the Bells were part of the original settlers of Coalville.  By the time the first Allens arrived in 1869, they stayed with the Bells who then lived in Hoytsville.

In the 1880 census, Thomas and Sarah lived in Coalville right next door to Robert Salmon, who was brother to James Salmon. Unlike his brother James, Robert emigrated directly from Scotland.  Robert Salmon was called as branch president of the Coalville Branch when Henry B. Wilde dies in 1875 and was called as the bishop in 1877 when the Summit Stake was organized.  He served as bishop until 1889 when the ward was divided into the Coalville North and South wards.

By 1880, Robert and Jane Allen had divorced, which was a rare thing in those days.  Robert lived in Hoytsville with his sister Susannah who had married Charles Draper.  Jane lived in Coalville, close to her son Thomas, and supported herself working as a laundress.  Neither Robert nor Jane ever remarried.  In 1894, each of them, apparently independent of each other, went to the Salt Lake Temple and received their endowment.

Thomas and Sarah McKenna lived in Coalville in the 1880 census, but by 1882 had moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where Albert Franklin McKenna was born.

The History of Coalville:

"The people of Utah experienced a fuel shortage almost from the time that the first Mormon pioneers made their way into the valley of the Great Salt Lake. This was because there was a limited supply of timber, and no coal deposits had been unearthed near enough to the population centers to be freighted by wagon in sufficient quantity to meet the demands of the settlers. This shortage grew progressively worse through the 1850's as the population grew and industry began to develop.

In the autumn of 1859, the first discovery of coal near Salt Lake City occurred east of Coalville on Chalk Creek in Summit County. Coalville was located about five miles south of Echo in Weber Canyon and fifty wagon road miles east of Salt Lake City. Coal mines were opened immediately, and coal was wagon-freighted to the fuel starved people of Salt Lake City and other Utah communities.

Coalville was first settled on May 7, 1859, by Bishop Henry B. Wilde and a small group of Saints from the Sugar House Ward of Salt Lake City. At the time of settlement, the town was named Chalk Creek; its name was changed to Coalville when it was incorporated by the Utah Territorial Legislature on January 16, 1867.

When the Union Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869, it passed just five miles north of Coalville; and with the construction of the Utah Central Railroad in 1870 (from Salt Lake City to Ogden), it was possible to carry coal by rail all but the first seven miles from the Coalville mines to Salt Lake City."  THE HISTORY OF UTAH’S RAILROADS, 1869-1883, Clarence A. Reeder, Jr.

20 October 1869 - Coalville and Echo Railroad began grading the rail base for a railroad from Coalville to Echo.  The company never laid any rail because Union Pacific broke their commitment to provide the iron rails.

29 November 1871 - Summit County Railroad was formed.

Spring 1872 through August 1872 - Summit County Railroad repaired the grade originally made by Coalville and Echo Railroad and completed the bridges between Coalville and Echo.

November 1872 - Some of the iron rails arrived but it was too late in the season to start laying the rails.

January 1873 through 7 April 1873 - Rails were laid from Coalville to Echo.

15 June 1873 - Branch lines are completed to the coal mines.

1874 - Union Pacific owned a monopoly on coal and created the "Coal Wars" by charging exorbitant prices for coal.

December 1876 - Union Pacific buys controlling interest in Summit County Railroad and the Church-owned coal mines.

7 September 1879 - The Salt Lake Daily Tribune reported that "The Coalville railroad has been almost abandoned for the past year, scarcely a train a week passing over it. The reason for this is that the Rock Springs coal has supplanted the home product."

May 1880 through 12 December 1880 - Rail is laid between Coalville and Park City.

16 September 1883 - Deseret News reports: "The people of Coalville are just good, honest souls, building a little at a time to that which they already have. There is a solidity (strength) that betokens absolute security."