Founding Families of Syracuse: The Thurgoods

BY TAMI L. JOHNSON

Colleen Thurgood has a twinkle in her eye when she remembers her first husband, Van Dahl. They enjoyed several years of happiness together while living in Syracuse and raised five children before he passed away. The following year, Colleen fell in love and married Van’s first cousin, DeLore Thurgood. DeLore has also since passed, but Colleen continues to live a life filled with devoted friends and family, while actively participating in the community.

Earl and Evaline Dahl

Each of these two good men mentioned above, Van Dahl and DeLore Thurgood, have strong ties that take them back to one of Syracuse City’s founding families: the Thurgoods. We begin by learning about Van Dahl’s parents, Earl and Evaline Thurgood Dahl. Earl was born in South Hooper (which is now West Point). Evaline was born and raised in Syracuse. Both Earl and Evaline attended North Davis High School in Syracuse. There, they met and started a five-year courtship. They married in April 1919. Earl and Evaline raised five boys, including Van Dahl.

The Dahl family ancestry goes all the way back to Sweden. Earl Dahl’s mother, Alma, immigrated to America in 1887, when she was 23 years old. Alma’s future husband, John, followed five months later, when he was only 19 years old. Neither John nor Alma brought any family history records with them. The names of their ancestors and the histories of their families were solely dependent upon the memories of a 19-year-old and a 23-year-old. Interestingly, the Dahl name was known as “Dahlin” but was later changed to Dahl.

Thomas James Thurgood and Elizabeth Regena Stoker Thurgood were married in 1885 and went on to have ten children.

The Swedish immigration was very high towards the last half of the nineteenth century. Very few personal possessions came with Alma and John to America. On February 1st, 1890, John and Alma were married. Alma was living in Minnesota, and John was in Utah, but it was handwritten letters which brought them together. The young married couple bought a farm in South Hooper (now West Point), which they maintained for over 62 years.

Evaline Thurgood’s parents were Thomas James and Elizabeth Regena Stoker Thurgood. Their lives and accomplishments will always be remembered as a founding family of Syracuse.

James and Elizabeth Thurgood

While a young boy, Thomas Thurgood remembers when the railroad from Ogden to Salt Lake was being constructed. This railroad ran through the family farm of 10 acres. Thomas often made the long, 20-mile trip from Bountiful to Syracuse to work on the Sandridge Farm, which his father owned. Cultivating corn and potatoes, along with handling hay and grain, were part of the daily chores on the farm.

Thomas and Elizabeth Thurgood were a young married couple in 1885. The following year, in 1886, they began their lives in a tiny, one-bedroom home that Thomas’s father and uncle had built in Syracuse, Utah. Here, they chose to establish their roots.

In 1887, a large bundle of logs from an old stable in Bountiful were purchased for just $26.00 in order to build a small home. These logs were hauled to Syracuse, onto a 20-acre piece of land Elizabeth’s father had given the newlyweds. A cozy, humble log cabin was built and provided shelter, memories, and a place to call “home” for the next eight years.

John & Alma Dahl in 1940 on their Golden Wedding Anniversary

As time went by, Elizabeth and Thomas decided to build a brick house to continue raising their growing family of ten children: six daughters and four sons. This brick home was built on 2285 S. 1000 W. in Syracuse. The old log cabin was not forgotten, however, and was still being used as a stable for the horses and cattle. In 1912, the Thurgoods built yet another home located at 1782 W. 1700 S. This home still stands today in Syracuse. Syracuse was incorporated as a town in 1935. Thomas Thurgood was remembered fondly by many community members as a long-time resident and a first town mayor of Syracuse. He was also elected as the first town board president.

Later on in his life, Thomas Thurgood was known as “TJ Thurgood.” Many “firsts” happened while TJ served as mayor of Syracuse. The first services he would help provide for the city involved a central culinary water system, as well as an effort to establish a beautification plan for the Syracuse Cemetery, complete with a sprinkling system.

Earl & Evaline Dahl family in 1969

TJ also served for a time as a Davis County Commissioner and a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (he served six missions throughout his lifetime). Passing away at the age of 88 on April 21, 1954, TJ left a legacy as one of the first founding families in Syracuse City, along with his wife, Elizabeth Thurgood. She passed away at the age of 57 on February 12th, 1921.

Drawing of Log Cabin home of 1887.
First home of Thomas J. and Elizabeth R. Stoker Thurgood
Thomas and Elizabeth Thurgood home
Syracuse, Utah
Picture was taken June 10, 1975
Earl Dahl Home – 1949
Syracuse, Utah

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