Isaac Barton built the first general store in Syracuse in 1888. The assumption is that it was built to accommodate the growing population and the bathing resort. It is believed that he sold the store in 1891 to three brothers, James T., Daniel H., and Ephraim Walker, and it became known as the Walker Store. In 1901, the first telephone was installed there. The line from Hooper cost $300. James T. Walker had two daughters, Mattie and Golda, who took and delivered messages. Because of a growing population above the bluff, the building of a new store was begun that same year in November and completed in April of 1902. It was built on the southwest corner of Antelope and 2000 West, with the help of four other investors, William Criddle, Charles A. Layton, Arnold Miller, and Samuel Cook. That store was called the Syracuse Mercantile.
The first party line came to the Walker Brothers’ store below the bluff in 1903. In 1909, the Davis County Independent Company1 brought a party line to the Syracuse Mercantile to connect those above the bluff. William Criddle was one of the first to have a telephone in his home. Others soon followed. Telephone service cost $1.00 a month but had up to nine customers on one line.2
I came along in the 1950s. In the 1960s, we were still dependent on party lines, my first experience with eavesdropping. By the late sixties, we had a private line. By the early seventies, cell phones were being introduced, making communication mobile. On August 6, 1991, the World Wide Web became available to the public.
Now, 30 years later, the residents of Syracuse are being offered high-speed glass fiber transmission lines owned by Utopia, not the city. This will allow for state-of-the-art broadband communications, available within the next two years. Residents will still have a choice whether to join and, if they join, which internet service provider to utilize.
With the speed of light, messages can now be sent around the world. We’ve come a long way since two little girls delivered message from the Walker Store.
Mayor Mike Gailey
1 The Davis Independent Company was a competitor of the company that brought the Hooper line to the lower store. It would not last. It went into receivership in 1911. The History of Davis County; Glen M. Leonard; Utah Historical Society; Davis County Commission, 1999.
2 The Community of Syracuse; 1820-1995; Syracuse Historical Commission, Syracuse Utah; Clayton Holt; pp. 120-21;138