On July 29, 1847 a group of Mormon pioneers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) known as the Mississippi Company, among them John Holladay of Alabama, entered the Salt Lake Valley. Within weeks after their arrival, they discovered a free-flowing, spring-fed stream, which they called Spring Creek (near what is now Kentucky Avenue). While most of the group returned to the main settlement in Great Salt Lake for the winter, two or three men built dugouts along this stream and wintered over. Thus, this became the first village established away from Great Salt Lake City itself. In the spring, a number of families hurried out to build homes and tame the land. There were numerous springs and ponds here and grasses and wild flowers were abundant, making this a most desirable area for settlement.
When John Holladay was named as the branch president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the village took upon itself the name of Holladay’s Settlement or Holladay’s Burgh. John Holladay’s family dates to the early 18th century in Virginia. His ancestors were signers of the South Carolina Declaration of Independence and fought in the Revolutionary War. He is a cousin to Ben Holladay, The Stagecoach King, who traded with the LDS and ran his Denver-San Francisco stage line through Salt Lake. It is not known if they were in contact. John and his father Daniel, a Revolutionary War veteran, pioneered in Alabama before John’s conversion to Mormonism. A year before the first LDS migration, in the spring of 1846, he departed west with his extended family joining other converts that made up the Mississippi Company led by John Brown. They had been led to expect to meet the main party on the trail but after going as far as Laramie without a sign of them they went south and wintered at Pueblo, Colorado where they were later joined by the Mormon Battalion sick detachments. They had not gotten the word that Brigham Young’s departure had been delayed by a year.
Holladay is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Utah, since Salt Lake City was abandoned for a time in 1857 when Johnston’s Army occupied the city.
Cottonwood, a nearby settlement, was always associated with “Holladay’s Burgh,” and the area was first designated “Big Cottonwood,” and later, as one of Salt Lake County’s unincorporated communities, as “Holladay-Cottonwood”.