Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Mystery of Layton's Gentile Street

By Lynn Arave
LAYTON, UTAH -- Perhaps no other street name in Davis County's largest city is more unusual than Gentile Street.
Located on the south side of town, this striking moniker spans the west to the east, more than nine miles in length.
Most residents probably rarely give the name a second thought.
Some erroneously pronounce it as "Gen-till."
According to Layton City's history (www.laytoncity,org) and the Utah State History site (, Layton City's territory was first settled in 1851  by early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The earliest settlers were grouped around the natural streams in the area (Kays Creek and Holmes Creek), as water was scarce, until canals were created.  By 1877, the Davis and Weber Canal was dug and that opened new areas of settlement.
By 1882, Gentile Street was open for travel.
The street's name came from the only two resident families on the east end of the road, who were not members of the LDS Church.
The Gentile Street name likely came from those early non-Mormon settlers, Giles Bowler and Joseph Hudson, who lived along the road on the City's west side and referred to themselves as "Gentiles."

Hence, "Gentile" the street name was born.
To Jews, Gentiles are anyone who is not Jewish.. For LDS (Mormon) Church members, the Gentile name refers to anyone who is not Mormon, according to the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
Later, a Protestant Church was once located along Gentile Street, which further solidified that name.
Ironically, in the 21st Century, there are three different LDS Chapels located along Gentile Street -- two on the east side and one on the west. There is also a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith located on the east section of Gentile Street.
Gentile Street also extends westward, beyond Layton. Even though some Syracuse City street signs call it "3700 West Street," there some (like in the second photo below), where even Syracuse uses the Gentile name officially.
Also, of interest is that at least one of the old, historic homes on the East Gentile half sports address numbers that denote when the home was built, like 1877, rather than refer to an exact geographical reference point.
And, the area not far from today's Layton City Hall was originally referred to as "Scotland," because that's where its earliest settlers had came from.
Today's Fort Lane road name came from the "Little Fort Lane" title it had in the 19th Century, when a fort was built in that area to protect residents from the Indians.
--Layton also has a Chapel Street, home to an LDS Chapel, as well as a Catholic Church.

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