(Editorial Note: Part 231 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Franklin County Citizen, 1920; Preston Booster, 1913; Hometown Album, compiled by Newell Hart; Cache Valley Newsletter, compiled and edited by Newell Hart; Life histories of Hyrum Brimhall and Ida Christensen Brimhall.)
The Preston Booster newspaper of December, 1913, carried an article about a new scaffolding used in construction that had been invented by Hyrum Brimhall, a Preston resident. The article referred to it as a ‘Novel Invention.”
“Mr. Hyrum Brimhall, whose inventive genius is well known to the general public here in Preston, and who has perhaps done more towards beautifying the town than any one builder and architect, has just invented a portable steel scaffold, which can be erected at any elevation at a small loss of time, and when once set, the building can be built without moving the same. Bricklayers can stand up and work, there is not stooping over, and it is absolutely indispensable for chimney building. With the aid of this contrivance, bricklayers can lay from 200 to 500 more bricks per day without stooping down or up. Here is the real kind of a proposition to make money, as Mr. Brimhall will consider a good man with money going in with him on the proposition. He has also perfected a scaffold jack for chimney building on the outside, without using nails, which can be adjusted to any pitch of the roof at a minute’s time and is absolutely safe.”
Brimhall had come to Preston in 1903, a single father with a family of seven children. The children were living with relatives and he missed them. He was in his early 40’s and had made his living for several years as both a musician and a builder. Born in 1861, Union Fort, Salt Lake County, Utah, he was a member of a large family that encouraged music in both instrument and voice. Brimhall’s early employment was in Payson, Utah, teaching music at the Payson Academy. His first wife passed away, leaving him with four small children, then in the care of his in-laws.
He moved to Ephriam, Utah, teaching at the Snow Academy (later to become Snow College). Here he met another faculty member, Johanna Jensen, and they were married. Two more children later, with the third on the way, Hyrum accepted a position in Salt Lake City, hoping to improve their financial situation. The Brimall family was barely settled in Salt Lake City in February of 1903, when the third baby was delivered. Just eight days later Johanna died. Hyrum now had seven children, one of them an infant.
Hyrum’s musical abilities within the church academy system took him next to Preston, after burying Johanna in Salt Lake. Professor Hyrum Brimhall became part of the staff at the Oneida Stake Academy. Lonely for his children he hired Ida Christensen, who had known his family in Ephriam, to become his housekeeper and care for his children. They were married in 1904 in Logan, UT.
Brimhall’s talents as a musician are very evident in Preston’s early years. In 1906, he performed a violin solo as part of the Oneida Stake Academy commencement exercises. He played with the town band, appearing in handsome uniforms in a photo of 1908, in the Cache Valley Newsletter. There was a Brimhall orchestra that played for dances at the Opera House. Hyrum’s brother Bert Brimhall was part of the orchestra as was his daughter Cora who played the piano.
This multi-talented man was also a builder and one construction job moved the family to Grace for a time. In Grace they operated a confectionery from their home. They made and sold ice cream, candies, and catered to a dance hall of Grace that was very popular in the area. Their musical talents made this group an asset wherever they lived. In this third marriage Hyrum had three more children. They moved back to Preston in 1911, and Hyrum partnered with John Christensen. They rented a building on North Main St. and went into the moving picture business. It was called the Zeus. The theater offered three different shows weekly. The Brimall family provided the orchestra for these silent films.
His reputation as a builder brought Hyrum building contracts from out of town which they couldn't afford to pass up. In those days people couldn't get to and from places with horses and wagons very easily and the demands of Hyrum's construction business limited what he could do at the Zeus. The partnership dissolved in the fall of 1913.
The invention, mentioned above, was in use throughout this area of the country. Music continued to be a mainstay for the Brimhalls. The Citizen of 1920 reported that Hyrum and Prof. Chas. J. Engar of the Oneida Academy combined their stake choirs for a beautiful offering at a combined stake conference. The family continued to make Preston their headquarters and stayed in a home that Hyrum had built until 1922, when they moved to Pocatello. They had a contract to build the Pocatello 6th Ward Church. A tribute given to Hyrum was that he was “a musician, a teacher, a builder, an inventor.” He passed away in 1933.