This article originally appeared in Vol.58 No.2 2011 issue of Pioneer Magazine

From Whitney’s History of Utah: Trouble at

It was with reluctance that the Timpanogos who met the Higbee colony in March, 1848, permitted the first white settlement on Provo River and that, too, in spite of the invitation previously extended to the colonists by the chiefs, Sowiette and Walker, to settle among their tribes and teach them how to become civilized. It has also been stated that soon after Fort Utah was founded, Walker, according to Colonel Bridger and Mr. Vasquez. began stirring up the Indians against the “Mormon” settlers. In this movement Walker was aided by another chief named Elk,—variously styled Big Elk, Old Elk, etc.,—like himself a hater of the whites, and apparently quite as fond of fighting. It was with Big Elk and his band that the Provo settlers, in their first regular battle with the savages, had immediately to deal.

It was believed by Governor Young that Colonel Bridger and other mountaineers were at the bottom of much of the ill-feeling manifested by the red men, and they were incited to attack the “Mormon” settlements. The Governor, (Brigham Young), however, seemed to have confidence in Mr. Vasquez, who had opened a small store in Salt Lake City, and whose interests to that extent were identified with those of the settlers
The Indians, at first so friendly with the Utah Valley colonists, began their depredations in that vicinity in the spring of 1849. Grain was stolen from the fields, cattle and horses from the herds and now and then an arrow from an Indian bow would fall uncomfortably near some settler as he was out gathering fuel in the river bottoms.


The first fight with the Indians took place on Battle Creek near the present site of Pleasant Grove. It occurred early in the spring of 1849. There, Colonel John Scott, with thirty or forty men, after a sharp skirmish defeated the savages under Chief Kone—also Roman Nose—and drove them up Battle Creek Canyon. Five Indians were killed, but none of Colonel Scott’s men were hurt. He had been sent south to recover some stolen horses taken from Orr’s herd in Utah Valley, and several cattle stolen from Ezra T. Benson’s herd in Tooele.

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