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By Robert Wagstaff

Stories about St. Johns, are many, but in the beginning Brigham Young and Jacob Hamblin from Santa Clara sent out the missionaries to prove the story of real, intelligent Indians living in permanent homes. They were called the Hopi Indians. Hamblin told them that they came in peace and brought a book and history of the Indians’ ancestors. The ten missionaries were taken into their homes. When winter came, most of them left except four men. They were Andrew Gibbins, William Hamblin, Tom Leavitt and Ben Knell. The Indians had cut their food supply to the starvation level. The missionaries decided to leave for Santa Clara. The final act of kindness was that Chief Tubva took a sack to each door with the offering of piki bread in it. The Navajo were apparently not as ready to be taught the gospel as the Hopi were.

It is doubtful that any other group of people could settle this Indian territory in the north-central corner of the Arizona territory. There were no mineral deposits to attract the fortune hunters and no seaport to funnel commerce through. There was not even a pleasant climate that might induce people to stay. It all happened as the Barth Train people had a contract with the army and the Barths traded this town for 750 head of cattle to Brigham Young.

came to America as a boy of 13 from his native Poland in 1855. He criss-crossed the Rocky Mountains and southwest territories.

The story is related to the founding of St. Johns and had influence on the surrounding area. Solomon Barth operated a pack train as early as 1864. , a son of Solomon, was the source of the astonishing facts about the Barth Wagon Train. The route the Barth Train took ran through the most dangerous Indian and outlaw territory in the west. It was overwhelming in size alone.

The train was composed of 38 big Murphy wagons. They were something special since they were all made to special order and were built to the Barth specifications in a jumbo size. When loaded, they required the efforts of eight oxen to move each wagon. The number of animals driven along as spares to replace the sick, lame and weary oxen averaged 200 — adding to the 300 head that were required to move the train. The service of nine blacksmiths [was] needed to keep the train rolling. Their work was accomplished while in transit with three wagons as repair shops. They did the work on the wood, as well as the iron work.

If we compare the rate of speed mentioned then to the 1990s Supersonic planes flying from New York to Tokyo in five hours, it was dreadfully slow.

Although the Barths were not Mormon pioneers, they helped pave the way for Brigham Young to trade for cattle. It is not now a really prosperous farming community, but it is thriving with two coal-fired generating plants which serve the west and give employment to over 500 people in St. Johns, Arizona.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]THANKS, PIONEER

Brigham only let them pause to rest

Then from his flock he picked the best.

When from the list their names he read;

To the chosen ones he said:

“Go South and build an empire.”

With the crudest kind of tools

They built churches, homes and schools

That we might here in comfort live.

So to your memory, now we give

Thanks, Pioneer.

By Milo Wiltbank

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