Settled in 1864, the community of Ovid was among the first permanent settlements in the Bear Lake Valley. Its first residents were predominantly Scandinavian immigrants, and the first home was a dugout cabin constructed by Thomas C. Peterson. Over the years, the townsite supported homes, various shops, churches, a school, post office, railroad stop, and even a dance hall.
The first permanent settlements in the Bear Lake Valley were established by Mormon pioneers, lead by Charles C. Rich. These settlers entered the valley via Emigration Canyon. Paris was settled in 1863 and Ovid in 1864, along with several other towns, including Montpelier to the east.
This plat map (middle left) shows the layout of parcels in Ovid around 1940. The thick, dark line shows the route of US-89 through the town. The road running out of town to the west leads to Emigration Canyon, a precursor to current SH-36.
Old Ovid Chapel
Visible from the road on the west side of US-89 is the old Ovid chapel, built in 1896. It replaced a church built in 1880, which in turn had been built to replace the town's first public meetinghouse, which served multiple functions as a school, public center, and church.
Local accounts recall the church building's construction cost $3,000 in
total, of which $500 was funded directly by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters. The rest of the money was provided by local residents, some of which was garnered from the sale of donated livestock.
This photograph (top center) shows a gathering at the church around 1904, before the large tower at the front of the building was shortened. The church officially closed July 2, 1967.
The above photograph (bottom center) shows Elizabeth Sorensen's general store, founded in 1905. A local 1937 news article notes "...the store of Mrs. E.A. Sorensen now being known as the place in Ovid to buy groceries, dry goods and shoes." The building visible in the background, may be the old Ovid Methodist church.
*From Lars Peter Nielson: No Ordinary Man, Lee Search Associates, 2000.
In 1911, the Olson brothers opened "the first modern dance hall (pictured bottom right) erected in the country, outside of Montpelier" in Ovid. The Oxford Minuet, Mesuvieann, and Berlin Polka were among featured dances. The Ovid dance hall burned down in 1918 and was never rebuilt.