History of early home costs

James and Harriet Ward with their 11 children.

This article is part of a series we’re doing on how much homes used to cost back in the day.


James Ward was an English pioneer born in 1840. At the age of 21, he immigrated to Utah with his wife, Harriet Brown. They attempted to homestead a farm in Ogden. He had practically no necessities; he used a provision box as a table and only had a kettle as their sole kitchen utensil. A neighbor gifted them an old stove that James fixed up to last them.

James’s property at Five Points consisted of approximately ten acres, but because of its clay content, it was not very productive. However, he tried to use the clay to his advantage, making clay bowls. When their neighbor would give them milk, they kept it in these bowls until it would seep through, and the bowl crumbled to pieces.

It was a rainy period when their first child was born. It rained for 21 days without stopping. Their handmade shelter couldn’t withstand the downpour. It was impossible to keep a fire. Not an available thing could keep the rain from soaking the bed, bedclothes, mother, and baby. Not a dry thread could be had for their comfort. In the end, they received some assistance from an Indian Chief.

Florance and W. Ivan Ward in April, 1900

As a result of that tough winter, James opted to sell the farm to George Smith and James Harrop. In return, he got a yoke of oxen, a cow that was reportedly pretty old, and something between $20-$40 worth of gold dust. First, they moved briefly to Washington Boulevard in North Ogden where their second child was born but settled a little farther north.

On March 19, 1864, they moved farther north and bought an eleven-acre tract of land for $1,400. James tried his hand building a better structure, this time building it out of logs. It became the birthplace of the Ward’s next five children–all boys. Eventually, their third oldest child, William Ward, built a two-story brick home to replace the log structure, where four more of his siblings were born. William would go on to raise his family in that home and die intestate.

James H. Ward, William’s brother and uncle to William’s two kids, Florence and Ivan, made sure that they were the heirs to the home. It was a two-room brick home built by their father at 2737 North 1050 East. Florence’s uncle on her mother’s side, Hyrum Bailey, with the help of some friends, added two more rooms and a pantry to the Ward home. It included the farmland of mainly fruit trees. The fruit was picked and placed in the built-in cool cellar. Florence kept a beautiful yard and loved and tended beautiful flowers, including roses.

By the time the original James Ward was 75 years old, he had 11 children, 58 grandchildren, and 26 great-grandchildren.

The house still stands today. By 2009, its market value had shot up to $110,078. Just five years later, it was valued at $140,524. Today, it is approaching three times the value it was ten years ago, at $228,000. That doesn’t even include its original 11 acres, only about a third of an acre.

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