Preston is a small
agricultural community established in the spring of 1898 by Mormon
settlers and named for William B. Preston, the elderly fourth
presiding Bishop of the LDS Church in Utah.
The land the townsite rests on
was originally the Maddox or Matties Ranch which operated pre
1896. In 1890, the ranch was leased by Stephen Williams and
in 1892, Agnes Timpson was teaching two children at the ranch. In
1894 Virginia Carothers was the ranch teacher.
Thirteen wagonloads of settlers left
Moroni, Utah to settle in White River Valley, via Water Canyon,
arriving on March 20, 1898. Preston was laid out near one of
several springs that gushed up from
Z. D. Bradley, presiding elder, and
his wife, Martha Jane, built the first wood home in 1898. William
Davis and John Horsley, a rock mason, manufactured bricks on the
flat area between Lund and Preston. Albert Madison was considered
to be an excellent cabinet maker.
The first store was a log cabin
operated by Mart Peterson and H. A. Comins. The store was sold to
Chris and Jim Jensen and later, to James Summers. Other store
operators over the years were: Marie Jensen, Dan Nicholas and
Soren Peterson, the first choir
leader, was also the father of the first baby born at Preston. His
son was named Preston Peterson after the town where he was born.
Early musicians were George Morley, Z. D. Bradley, and Andrew
The first teachers were: May
Rutledge, then Louise Lewis of Ely, NV and she was followed by
Violet Redd of St. George, UT.
The First Postmaster was Oliver
Cloward, followed by Tom Windous, whose wife, Margaret Windous,
was a midwife and doctor. Herbert Allred served as a Deputy
Sheriff in Preston for fifteen years.
Effie O. Read related a humorous
story about a couple of original settlers, Agnes and Jim Bernson,
in her Preston article published in the Ely Daily Times dated
March 22, 1962. It seems that one day a stranger arrived at the
Bernson home to see Jim Bernson regarding a business matter. Agnes
Bernson answered the door and stepped out to point to where her
husband was out working in the field.
Jim Bernson was attempting to rake
hay using a fractious team of horses. As the stranger and Agnes we
looking in the direction of the field, they watched the team bolt,
tipping the hay rack over and throwing Jim Bernson to the ground.
The hay rack was quickly demolished from bouncing behind the
The stress of the moment caused Mrs.
Bernson to excitedly grab the man standing next to her and scream,
"My God, you'll not get to see him now for there goes Jim Bernson
to hell in the band wagon."
Preston is located about 2
miles west of Lund and has a small