The small communities of early pioneer Utah, about 1877, often existed in dire poverty due to isolation and lack of financial resources. One attempt to improve conditions was to create what came to be called United Orders. They were implemented on a trial basis in a few select locations and then if successful, they were to be extended to all parts of the state. The main requirement was that all members signed contracts deeding all their property to be jointly owned by the community. Therefore, all economic functions and facilities were shared in common; all lived in similar housing, each structure located adjacent to the next; all wore identical clothing, produced by the jointly owned tailor shop; herds and flocks were jointly owned and jointly tended; community land was jointly farmed; children were educated in a community run school; and everyone was paid in kind from jointly produced resources. The goal was for the community to be self sustaining.

The Orderville United Order was the most successful of these socialistic experiments and the common action which took place in that Order gave members the ability to eat and dress better than they had ever before; in fact they were doing better than their non-Order neighbors in surrounding communities. There was just one problem: There were few opportunities for self expression, especially in dress and fashion, what with everyone wearing the same “floppy straw hats, identical gray jeans, and valley tan shoes.” This was accepted quite well by the adults but not so well by the young adolescents. The problem only grew worse when the Silver Reef Mining District opened up, pumping millions of dollars into the area, money not shared by the Orderville Community. The young people noticed that their neighbors were now wearing store bought clothing, far more attractive than their own humble attire.

One enterprising young Orderville man came up with a solution. He noticed that when the lambs’ tails were docked, they were simply discarded. He surreptitiously gathered them, sheared off the wool, and secretly stored it in sacks. Later that summer he was able to take the wool to market, up in Nephi, where he netted enough to buy a pair of well-fitted, store bought pants. He wore them to the next community dance where he made “quite a sensation.” The young ladies were especially impressed; a surviving account says that one even “rushed to him, embraced him and kissed him,” this being unusual behavior for that day and time. Immediately a scandal was born. The community Elders launched an investigation and the young man was ordered to appear before the board for an explanation and possible reprimand. It was determined that the pants were technically community property and promptly confiscated. Subsequently they were taken apart and used as a pattern for new production. Everyone it seemed wanted the new style, especially the young men, but new orders could not be accepted until the older models were completely worn out. After some very busy days at the tailor shop it was discovered that young people were secretly entering the shed where the grindstone was housed, to surreptitiously add wear to their clothing. The Elders, after some protest, finally capitulated. Fabric was obtained and all were given the new style pants. The so-called “Pants Rebellion” ended.