West Valley City, despite being Utah’s second largest city, is a relatively young city. Incorporated in 1980, the city does not have the deep civic traditions of older Utah communities like Ogden, Salt Lake City or Provo. But the lack of City Hall formalities does not mean that there were not good people in the area that would become West Valley City for over a hundred years before incorporation. Joseph and Susanna Harker’s family were the first pioneers “over Jordan” in 1848, and other families soon followed in 1849.
While many of these first families moved further south to what would become Taylorsville, a wave of new settlers to what was called Granger came beginning in 1866, developing farming communities that would later evolve into suburbs. Many of these pioneering families still have descendants in the city today bearing names like Rasmussen, Hemenway, Warr, Parks, Holmberg, Bess, Turpin, Todd, Wallace, Barton, Nebeker, Hill, Bawden, and Bangerter.
By the 1870s and 1880s canals were dug across the west side of the valley, bringing water from the Jordan River that became invaluable for irrigation. This allowed settlement further west and the area of Hunter was settled by families like the Rushtons, Hansens, and Days.