Support Local Journalism

( Editorial Note: Part 198 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Preston News, 1909-1912; Preston Booster, 1912-1914; Franklin County Citizen, 1916-1920; Southeastern Advocate, 1914; Cache Valley Newsletter, compiled & edited by Newell Hart; Hometown Album, compiled by Newell Hart.)

Before the gasoline engine, and when a population was striving to send down roots in relatively unsettled territories, there was much need for the services of those who earned their livelihood as dray men. These men were without a doubt the movers and shakers of their community, because of the nature of their employment. A dray is a low, strong cart without fixed sides for carrying heavy loads. In these first years there had to be a team of strong working animals to pull that cart. They delivered household furniture; they delivered products to the grocery store. No matter the item they were part of fulfilling the process of supply and demand. These were the truck drivers of the future, and their animals were the power behind the trade.

A 1909 city ordinance of Preston discusses the matter of regulating the local businesses: “A dray or hackman must pay for a license, the fee being $2 per quarter (of the year). Another newspaper carried a short classified: “Anyone wanting real estate in Preston should ask A. G. Peterson, the dray man.” He was better known as Gus Peterson around the county, with two means of income. Gus was the father of E. G. Peterson, longtime president of the Utah State Agricultural College (USU, today) in Logan. “Old timers say ‘Uncle Gus’ was an avid joker, yarn spinner, tobacco chewer and prankster,” stated Newell Hart in one of his histories.

Another drayman who advertised regularly in the newspapers was Wallace A. (W.A.) Head. He was born in Franklin in 1872, and took an active part in community affairs. He played the baritone and was a member of a small band which played for the dedication of the the Oneida Stake Academy in 1901. An ad in 1912 proclaimed, “When You Want a Job of Moving Done—See Me. I am equipped to do all kinds of moving for all kinds of people.“ Large and small items were all accepted.

The Southeastern Advocate noted once that Head’s dray service was laid up for a couple of days due to a sick mare. This may have prompted his reported consideration of the possibility of adding an auto truck to his hauling business.

Drayman Ed Evans came to this area from Virginia in 1903. The first mention of his moving business was in 1906. Ed had a pair of mules who were recognized all through the county. “Their names were Kate and Jewel. Kate lived happily, but Jewel came to a sad end ... One night Jewel, who had been sick, got loose and went wandering around town. She went back into the dark alley, behind a store. The night watchman saw the motion in the shadows, there by a back door, and called, ‘Come out or I’ll shoot.’ Jewel didn’t come out and was shot for a prowler.”

Those mules and horses, the laboring power for the draymen, were personalities known all over the area. They needed to be calm and steady, given special care to match their responsibilities. Newell Hart wrote an article in 1937 about Preston’s last dray horse. She belonged to Mart Cafferty, a veteran one-armed animal lover. Here are some excerpts from the article: ‘Preston’s famous bay mare ‘Ole Pet,’ straight-footed, intelligent pal of Mart Cafferty’s that has become a pillar of tradition on the city’s street ... will not be seen as much this winter as in her previous 25 years. Her noted nod and friendly trot will be missed — but not because Old Pet is hanging up the hour! She‘s just going to enjoy a well-earned rest.

“Mart started out as a drayman about 20 years ago (about 1917) — he and Old Pet — she was five or six years old at the time, and since then he has taken intimate care of her. Blacksmith Allen Taylor reports having shod her about 125 times during these years. He says the remarkable thing about the old mare is that she has a unique set of ‘Mule feet’ which enable her, coupled with Mart’s kind care, to keep up so well. If Mart had her in the blacksmith shop and didn’t have time to take her home for dinner before work Mart would bring up a bucket of oats for her to eat while Taylor was putting on the shoes. He applied five sets of shoes per year, on an average.

“All those years of jogging down Main street, the old mare grew mechanical. ‘She knew the exact number of steps to take in backing down to a curb or alley, one merchant said. She would only stay at a certain place just so long — if Mart stayed in the café too long with his cup of coffee, she’d start out.”

Things changed rapidly as the 20th century budded and blossomed. The need for the moving and hauling service continued, but with “auto trucks.” Call it progress.

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.