Adapted from: “Early History of Clarkston, 1864 to 1867.” https://www.mendonutah.net/history/cache_county/43.htm. Accessed April 21, 2020; Griffin, Kaylene. “A Brief History of Clarkston.” http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~archibald/genealogy/clarkston.htm. Accessed April 21, 2020; Peterson, Ross F. A History of Cache Valley. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1997.
Located in the Northeastern portion of Cache Valley, Clarkston was originally established in 1864, a product of Brigham Young’s encouragement for settlers to establish settlements to the west of the Bear River. The settlers initially settled to the east of modern Clarkston, but found that the water situation there was less than ideal, so the settlers, with Brigham Young’s encouragement, moved to higher ground. The town is named for Israel J. Clark, the first bishop of the settlement .
The settlers of Clarkston chose to completely abandon the settlement in 1866, largely because of concerns about danger from the Indians and Clarkston’s isolation from the other towns of Cache Valley. This abandonment did not last long, as some of the settlers returned by 1867, attempting to design the town with safety in mind. The settlers organized their homes in a pattern that served as a fort, and constructed a public corral.
Harsh winters led some settlers to move from Clarkston and to settle where Newton is today. This process excited a considerable amount of hostility between the two communities, as some wanted to stay in Clarkston and others wanted the new settlement to be Clarkston. The contention got to the point that Brigham Young visited both settlements and listened to their grievances. He decided that the situation allowed for the viability of both settlements, and Clarkston remained Clarkston.
One of Clarkston’s claims to fame is its ties to Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Harris lived for a time in Clarkston, died there, and was buried there. For many years, the town held a musical pageant commemorating Harris’s life, which drew thousands of visitors. The population is a little over 700.