A drainage district is a quasi-public agency with legal authority over the finance, design, installation, operation and maintenance of drains for drainage of farm lands. Under drainage district law, land ownership within the district is required for membership and participation in district activities. A majority of land owners in a given area must agree to the formation of a drainage district before the district can be formed. District taxation creates capital finances through the issue and sale of district bonds for drain installation and maintenance.
A board of three supervisors constitute the governing body of a drainage district. Supervisors are appointed by county commissioners, after nomination by landowners at an annual meeting or by a petition signed by landowners. A president, secretary and treasurer are elected by the district supervisor. In some cases, the offices of secretary and treasurer are filled by a single individual. According to the original petition papers for February and March of 1918, the original board of supervisors for Drainage District #4 were: George T. Holdaway (president), Alva Curtis (secretary) and Edwin Sorensen (treasurer), but in a document dated September 3, 1918, Alva Curtis resigned his position to work for the United States Government in a military occupation and Willard Richard Johnson Jr. was sworn in his place. Johnson served as secretary from 1918 until 1940, and was one of the original petitioners for Sevier Country Drainage District #4.
Drainage districts were first formed in Utah in the early 1900s as a reaction to the rising water table in several Utah counties. As the state's population grew, waterlogged land required reclamation for expanding agricultural practices and arid regions needed water for irrigation. Sevier County Drainage District #4 was established in 1918 and covered the general location of south east Aurora, about 1,000 acres, in central Utah. The contract for drain construction was made between Brown & Kleinschmidt, Drainage Engineers of Salt Lake City, and the Board of Supervisors, Sevier County Drainage District, on June 14, 1918. Like many drainage districts in Utah, District #4 occasionally suffered from poor management. Annual reports were not always submitted to the county commissioners and taxes were not always paid. In 1932, this latter problem led to the court case Sevier County Drainage District #4 vs. State of Utah and the State Land Board. Lack of technical expertise formed the main management dilemma of many district managers. Engineers constructed and over saw the implementation of drains, but once the groundwork was laid, drains were often neglected and subsequently clogged or damaged. During dry years in the 1920s and 1930s, some farmers in Sevier County opposed drainage of their land and deliberately clogged drains with soil, straw, manure and burlap, to raise the ground water level.
The records of the Sevier County Drainage District #4 are contained in four boxes. The collection is composed of two boxes of correspondence and two boxes of general files for the district. The general files contain financial records from 1918-1940, as well as minutes from meetings, legal proceedings, and the original petition to organize the Sevier County District #4. The correspondence files are mainly letters to Willard Richard Johnson Jr., secretary of the Sevier County district from its creation in 1918 until 1940. also, included are letters from 1918-1928 addressed to the treasurer, Edwin Sorenson.
Restrictions on Access :
No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.Restrictions on Use :
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.
Permission to publish material from the Sevier County Drainage District #4 Records must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.Preferred Citation :
Initial Citation: Sevier County Drainage District #4 Records USU_COLL MSS 235, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.
Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 235, USUSCA.
The collection is arranged in alphabetical order.
Processing Note :
Processed in May of 1998Acquisition Information :
The papers in this collection were donated to Utah State University Special Collections and Archives by Utah State Archivist Jeff Johnson on May 7, 1997.Custodial History :
The papers in this collection were kept by Willard Richard Johnson, Jr., who served as secretary for Sevier County Drainage District #4 from 1918 to 1940. Johnson died in 1948 and his wife, Georgianna Cropper Johnson died in 1977 leaving his desk to their grandson Bradley Thomas Johnson. When Bradley was cleaning out the desk he found the papers for Sevier County Drainage District #4 and gave them to his brother Utah State Archivist Jeff Johnson.
Detailed Description of the Collection