The History of Sanpete County, as written in 1898

From The History of Sanpete and Emery Counties Utah

by W.H. Lever, 1898

Editor’s Note:  The content found on this page was originally written in 1898 – a very different time than we live in today. By today’s standards, many of the references to the local tribes during the Walker and Black Hawk Wars would not now be considered socially acceptable, and perhaps rightly so.  Nevertheless, although several edits were made to material for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, we intentionally left the language of 1898 as it was then regarding these conflicts.  The early settlers considered the indigenous people to be generally savage – a description that no doubt was born from years of war, and intense personal loss at the hands of their perceived enemy. We choose not to judge them by today’s standards and hope you will confer upon them the same grace.

SANPETE COUNTY occupies a central position in the group of natural divisions comprising the State of Utah. It includes all of the rich valleys of the Sanpitch, with an elevation of between 5000 and G000 feet above sea level, being bounded on the north by Utah, east by Emery, south by Sevier and west by Millard and Juab counties. The Wasatch mountains form a perfect natural watershed and eastern boundary line, dividing the snow reservoirs on the summit, and supplying numerous streams for irrigating the cultivated area in the valley. A similar boundary is formed on the west by the Sanpitch mountains, thus enclosing one of the most delightful valleys of Utah.

The Sanpitch river flows through the valley, from north to south, being fed by numerous streams and springs from the snowbanks of the mountains. The names of river, valley, and bounty are derived from a tribe of Indians, who made this lovely mountain dale a ground before being conquered by the white men. A remnant of this tribe yet remains in Thistle Valley, in the northern part of this county, on lands donated to them by the people who made of this county the present great “Granary of Utah.” This high mountain-walled home of the dusky Sanpitch natives is now distinctly marked as Sanpete county, and contains about 1820 square miles, being 6O miles in length and having an average width of 30 miles. The great altitude, fertile soil, abundant water, and protection from storms make it a most healthful and desirable location.

The History of Sanpete County, as written in 1898

The present population numbers probably 18,000 industrious and energetic citizens, devoted to their homes and country, enjoying health, wealth, and happiness amid their peaceful and comfortable surroundings. Farming, stock-raising, and wool-growing are the chief industries, and no valley of similar dimensions in the Great West produces more of the fruits of field and range than this county. The fifteen beautiful cities, towns, and villages comprising the county attest to the industry of the and their sons and daughters in converting the sagebrush desert into a veritable mountain paradise, free from drouths, cyclones, and the plagues and storms of many less fortunately located sections. With two railways passing through the valley, the development of mineral resources, and the increasing of water supply for reclaiming more of the desert, Sanpete county has a future not surpassed by any county within the borders of the State.

When the Utah pioneers had secured homes in Salt Lake Valley and were preparing to convert the desert into fruitful fields, a delegation of Ute Indians, under Chief Walker, appeared in Salt Lake City, June 14, 1849, and requested colonists for Sanpitch Valley, to teach the natives how to build homes and till the soil. An exploring party, consisting of Joseph Horn, W. W. Phelps, Ira Willes, and D. B. Huntington, left in August, and with Walker as a guide, entered the beautiful Sanpitch Valley, crossing the divide from Salt Creek canyon, and reached the present site of Manti, August 20, 1849. They were royally entertained by the savages, and after a few days returned and reported everything favorable for founding a colony.

The San Pitch Utes, today. Courtesy of Wikimedia.


A company of about fifty families from Salt Lake City and Centerville was organized and started late in the fall for Sanpitch Valley. The commanders were Isaac Morley, Seth Taft, and Charles Shumway, who represented the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, and Nelson Higgins the military. Among the original pioneers were the following men, some being accompanied by their families: D. B. Huntington, Barney Ward, John Lowry, Sr., Titus Billings, G. W. Bradley, Albert Petty, O. S. Cox, Albert Smith, Jezreel Shomaker, Cyrenus H. Taylor, Azariah Smith, Abram Washburn, John D. Chase, Isaac Case, Sylvester Hulet, William Potter, Gardner Potter, James Brown, Joseph Allen, M. D. Hamilton, William Richey, Harrison Fugate, Sylvester Wilcox, Gad Yale, John Carter, Isaac Behunin, William Mendenhall, Edwin Whiting, William Tubbs, John Hart, John Baker, John Elmer, – John Butterfield, Amos Gustin, John Cable: and W. K. Smith.

The company cleared roads, built bridges and successfully passed through Salt Creek canyon without any great hardships, and moved to the south in quest of a suitable location. Some wanted to pitch camp at Shumway Springs, but better counsel prevailed, and the present site of Manti was selected as the frontier town of central and southern Utah. The first camp was made on City Creek on the evening of November 22, 1819, and temporary houses made of wagon boxes comprised the town. In a few days, the snow began falling and continued almost incessantly until the ground was covered to a depth of three feet or more, and the colony changed quarters to the south side of temple hill, where some families had dugouts, while others occupied their improvised wagons and tents.

That winter was most severe and the snow fell to a greater depth than ever was known to the Indians, and the equal has never since been recorded. Men and boys were engaged almost daily in shoveling snow in winrows to bare the grass and furnish shelter and food for the starving cattle. Even the horns of cows and oxen were sharpened by filing, to give them better means of defense in fighting wild animals, and enable them to break through the crust of the frozen snow in search of the dry grass. Of the two hundred and forty head of cattle brought in by the colonists, only one hundred and thirteen were living the following June. The Indians camped around the colony greedily devoured the dead animals and praised their white neighbors for giving them the beef to ward off starvation.

When the camp was made and all was in readiness for the winter, a company of twelve, under the command of Jerome Bradley, was sent back to Salt Lake City after provisions. They loaded their supplies and started for Manti, but were detained at Provo, on account of reported Indian hostilities. Two friendly Indians, Ammon and Tabinan, a brother of Chief Walker, volunteered their assistance as guides, and the party left Provo and continued on to the ‘‘Forks of Salt Creek,” where they were forced to camp on account of the great depth of the snow. The next January, Tabinan rode into Manti and informed the people that a. white man was lying across the Sanpiteh river, almost dead. A party headed by Bishop George W. Bradley started out on snowshoes and found one of the supply companies, trying to wade through the snow, which was three or four feet deep. He reported the company snowed in, and sleds were drawn by hand over the snow, ranging in depth from S to 20 feet, to their camp and the supplies brought in during the month of March. Among the people arriving then was Daniel Henrie and his wife, riding on one of the sleds.

In the evening following the first warm day of early spring, the peaceful colonists were startled by a continuous hissing and rattling of myriads of rattlesnakes that made a simultaneous attack upon the habitations, wriggling and writhing about in the boxes, beds, cupboards and everywhere they could get inside the homes of the settlers. General warfare was inaugurated by the aid of pine-knot torches, and many hundreds of the reptiles were killed, nearly five hundred being slaughtered in one night. The strangest thing connected with the raid of these deadly serpents was that not one person was bitten, though the coiled enemies were everywhere present, in threatening attitudes, frightening men, women, and children on every hand. Notwithstanding the severity of the winter and scarcity of food, on account of supply teams being snowed in at Salt Greek, the people enjoyed remarkably good health and but few cases of sickness occurred.

In the spring of 1850, when the time for plowing and planting came there was but one team able to draw a plow through the native desert until the feed was obtained from the growing grass. This team belonged to Jezreel Silomaker and was used to break small garden patches, while the other poor animals were resting and recruiting. The snow which had lain on the ground all winter to the depth of three feet or more was slow in melting and no crops were sown until June. But, the colonists were fortunate in having a fair supply of seed, and the soil proved very productive, thereby giving some green vegetables for food within a short time after planting. Small ditches were taken from the creek, and the water freely applied to the then parched sand.

About July 1st, of this year, Chief Walker and a band of 700 warriors of the Sanpitch Indians, with their squaws and pappooses, returned from a successful foraging expedition against the Shoshones and camped in a semi-circle ’round the colonists, remaining during the year. They proudly exhibited their trophies of war, held frequent scalp dances, and forced the squaws and children, prisoners, to dance with the scalps of their kindred attached to poles, being significant of humbleness. While thus being amused, Chief Walker and his leading men would tantalize the colonists and threaten to treat them in a similar manner. These fiendish orgies would be kept up all night long, while the small colony of white people slept not knowing but that they would never awaken.

President Brigham Young visited the colony in August 1850, and christened the town Manti, in honor of one of the notable cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and the county he called Sanpete after the Indian tribe then inhabiting this section, the chief of whom was Sanpitch. A log schoolhouse was erected under the direction of Isaac Morley, afterward known as “Father Morley” and Jesse W. Fox was installed as the pioneer teacher. He was soon followed by Mrs. Mary Whitiy, and the children were furnished with the best opportunities for obtaining an education that the primitive colonists could afford. Soon after the visit of President Young, a small grist mill was erected in the canyon east of the city by Phineas W. Cook, the capital being furnished by President Young and Father Morley. The only mill in use previous to this was a mammoth coffee grinder, which was passed about from house to house as needed.

The act of Congress organizing Utah Territory was approved September 9, 1850, and Brigham Young was appointed Governor. A provisional form of government was instituted and Isaac Morley and Charles Shumway represented Sanpete county in the first Legislative Assembly. That legislature met in Salt Lake City, and passed an act incorporating Manti City, which was approved February 5, 1851, at the same time Ogden and Provo were incorporated, they being the only cities in Utah, excepting Salt Lake City. During this season the city, comprising ten square miles, was surveyed by Jesse W. Fox, and the people left their camp under “Temple Hill” and moved to their city lots. Titus Billings and Jezreel Shomaker built the first houses, which were followed by others before winter. A city government was formed, and the colony began to give evidence of prosperity.

Sanpete county was organized by the authority of an act of the Territorial Legislature, passed February 3, 1852, and Manti was made the county seat. The first officers were George Peacock, Judge; Gardner Lion, Phineas W. Cook, and James Richey, Selectmen; Nelson Higgins, Sheriff; John Lowry, Jr., Assessor and Collector; George Pectol, Treasurer, and Cyrenus H. Taylor, Clerk. The county then comprised an unknown area, including all of southeastern Utah, and no well-defined description was given until an act of the Legislature, approved January 10, 1S60, gave the following boundaries:

 “All that portion of the Territory bounded south by Sevier county, west by Juab county, north by the summit of the range of mountains between Sanpete Valley and Spanish Fork river, and along the summit of said range until it intersects Green river, thence by a line drawn due east from said intersection to the thirty-second meridian west from Washington City, and south by said meridian. Provided, that the hay ground of Thistle Valley shall be included in the county.”

The Indians, under Chief Walker, continually gave indications of a desire to stir up trouble among the colonists, and notwithstanding his pleadings for white neighbors, to settle among them and teach them the principles of a peaceful and happy government! This hypocritical chieftain simply wanted more victims to slaughter. An aged diplomatic chief, Sowiatt, pleaded with his people to let the white men build homes and dwell among them in peace, and his counsel generally prevailed, because the Indians knew Walker was treacherous and could not be trusted even in his own tribe. Walker desired the scalp of Charles Shumway, and at last determined to make an effort at getting someone to torture, so he could frighten his pale face friends.

One day in the early summer of 1853, while most of the able-bodied men were at Pleasant Creek, assisting M. D. Hamilton, or in Salt Lake City after supplies, Walker and a band of painted warriors entered Manti and demanded the body of Shumway and others against whom they had imaginary grievances, that they might be tortured and put to death. This demand was not granted, and an attack was threatened. The old men, women, and boys remaining in the city determined to resist the savages and made preparations for battle, but the political leader, Sowiatt, conquered and hostilities ceased. Walker was so humiliated at the apparent cowardice of his braves that he mounted a pony and rode hastily away into the mountains to sulk for a month, hoping this act would draw the warriors’ affections from Sowiatt to him.

On July 18, 1853, Alex Keele was killed at Payson, by Arropine, a brother of Walker, known among the Indians as Siegnerouch. This act was the signal for beginning general warfare against the settlers throughout southern Utah, and on the very next day, Indians fired upon the guard at Pleasant Creek, now Mount Pleasant. The day following a raid was made upon the herds of Manti and several horses and cattle were stolen and driven into the mountains. A similar attack was made on the range near Nephi, and William Jolley was wounded by Indians at Springville. The colonists became alarmed and at once organized for the defense of their homes and families. A company of fifty militiamen, under Capt. P. W. Conover was sent out from Provo to assist the settlers at Mount Pleasant, who were few in proportion to the savages.

The troops met the Indians on July 23rd, at Hamilton’s mill, east of Mount Pleasant, and engaged in a fierce battle, resulting in the death of six warriors and a complete routing of the savages, who fled to the mountains. The settlers then removed from Mount Pleasant to Spring City, where a small fort had been built, and by the aid of the militia were enabled to harvest their crops. But the Indians were on the alert and did not wait long to recruit from the previous engagement, for on Sunday, August 2nd, Spring City was attacked and all the horses and cattle were rounded up and started for the mountains. The herders were fired upon and fled to the fort for protection, while the Indians rode away yelling and waving their arms in defiance of the small garrison.

Two of the herding ponies eluded the Indians and returned to the fort, thereby giving the settlers a means of communication with Manti, the only point from which relief could be expected. A messenger was dispatched immediately, and by riding west across the valley, then south, succeeded in evading the vigilant Indian scouts patrolling the eastern trail. The express messenger reached Manti about three o’clock in the afternoon, making one of the quickest trips ever recorded. When the news was received drums were sounded, cattle collected and sentries posted at all prominent points, while hasty preparations were made for sending relief to Spring City Three wagons with twelve yoke of oxen hitched to each accompanied by teamsters and twelve mounted guards left as quickly as possible, reaching Spring City at daylight next morning. The colonists were taken to Manti and given quarters in a fort that had been constructed that year.

The entire population of Sanpete at the time of the evacuation of Spring City numbered only 765 men, women, and children, who remained in the fort at Manti until the spring of 1854. All parties engaged in wood hauling, herding, and other outside work were armed and consisted of a dozen or more men, one-half standing guard while the others worked. A guard was kept at the little mill near the mouth of Manti canyon to prevent an attack from Indians until sufficient flour could be made for the winter supply. But, on October 1st, both miller and guard, John E. Warner and William Mills were killed by the Indians, who made their escape, leaving the mill undisturbed. They returned later and burnt the mill, claiming it was done in retaliation for the shooting of five Indians, convicted of stealing cattle and ordered executed by Maj. Higgins.

A few days previous to the killing of the miller and guard, four ox teams, loaded with grain, started for Salt Lake City, being followed a few hours later by twelve horse teams hauling provisions, feed, and Saints en route to the semi-annual conference and intent upon visiting friends in the north. Arrangements were made for camping at Shumway Springs, but the first teams kept going until they reached Uinta Springs, now Fountain Green. Before the rear teams reached camp the Indians made an attack, killing all the drivers, Thomas Clark, William E. Reid, William Luke, and James Nelson, and driving away the oxen. Having no use for the grain, the savages cut open the sacks and scattered wheat over the ground to complete their work of destruction and show their hatred for the white men.

The mutilated and mangled bodies of those unfortunate freighters were picked up by the rear of the company and removed to Salt Creek for interment. Several Indians watched them from the cover of cedars on the mountain slope, and followed down the canyon, making frantic gesticulations of joy over their massacre. When the company reached Nephi seven Indians who had kept at a safe distance and yelled defiance at the whites, were promptly arrested and shot. This had the desired effect upon the remaining warriors, who began to fear the vengeance of their new neighbors, and hostilities ceased for several months. A few days previous to this Capt. J. W. Gunnison, United States Topographical Engineer, and a corps of seven men, including William Potter of Manti, were killed by Indians, while in camp on the Sevier River, west of Fillmore.

During 1851 the Indians confined their depredations chiefly to Millard county, but frequently raided the herding grounds of Sanpete and stole cattle and horses, always succeeding in making good their escape. On January 20, 1855, Walker died at Meadow Creek, in Millard county, and the war ended. Arropine, who had begun the work of exterminating the white men, became chief of Walker’s band and made a treaty of peace. He professed much love for the Mormon people, and, as evidence of his friendship, deeded the entire county to Brigham Young, trustee in trust for the church. A copy of this remarkable document, as found recorded in “Book B, Church Transfer” is hereto appended:

“Be it known by these presents, that if Siegnerouch (Arropine), of Manti City, in the county of Sanpete, and Territory of Utah, for and in consideration of the good will which I have to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, give and convey unto Brigham Young, trustee in trust for said church, his successors in office, all my claim to and ownership of the following described property, to-wit: The portion of land and country known as Sanpete county, together with all material and timber on the same, valued $155,000; ten horses, valued $500; four cows, $120; one bull, $10; farming tools valued at $10; in all $155,765, together with all the rights, privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging or appertaining. I also covenant and agree that I am the lawful claimant and owner of said property, and will warrant and forever defend the same unto the said trustee in trust, his successors in office and assigns, etc.”

Signed by SIEGNEROUCH (Arropine) by his mark.

Witness: George Snow, R. Wilson Glenn, John Patten

In the spring of 1852 a company consisting of about fifteen families, under the command of James Allred, was removed from Salt Lake City and began a settlement at Spring City. The colony was small and suffered many hardships from Indians and other disadvantages of an isolated community. But, the brave colonists held out against all misfortunes and built a fort for protection. The following spring a company from Manti, under the direction of Madison D. Hamilton, began a colony at Pleasant Creek, now Mount Pleasant, given in some of the archives as “a pleasant spot twenty-four miles north of Manti.” The Indians forced them to take refuge in the fort at Spring City in July, and in August that settlement was abandoned. The Indians burned the fort in January 1851, and no further efforts were made to rebuild for five years.

Early in the spring of 1851 a number of families left the Manti fort and located on Pine Creek, seven miles north of Manti, the site afterward being called Ephraim, the name coming from the Book of Mormon. Isaac Behunin had built a home on this creek as early as the spring of 1851 but had to return to Manti for protection against the Indians. This settlement was really the first successful approach toward forming a colony outside of Manti. Several additions were made to their numbers during the fall of 1854 by families of Scandinavians from Salt Lake City. The grasshoppers invaded their farms in 1855 and 1856 and destroyed almost all crops, causing much disaster and privation, but the noble band withstood the pangs of hunger and poverty and overcame all obstacles.

The year 1859 was favorable for locating new colonies, because of peace having been concluded with the Indians, and an early spring giving evidence of a good crop season. A company, made up of James Ivie, W. S. Seely, David Jones, Isaac Allred, and others, entered upon the present site of Mount Pleasant in April and began the work of a permanent colony. The same month James Allred and others returned to Spring City on Canal Creek, and began a second time the settlement of what was for some time known as “Little Denmark.”

In March of this year George TV. Bradley and eight others from Nephi located Moroni, “eighteen miles north of Manti.” In the fall Geo. W. Johnson and others settled Fountain Green, put up some hay, and built a few houses. Gunnison was settled this season by Jacob Hutchinson and company.

Fairview, generally called North Bend by the old settlers, was first colonized during the winter of 1859, by a company consisting of James H. Jones, Henry W. Sanderson, Jehu Cox, Isaac Y. Vance, Lindsay A. Brady, and others. Wales, or Coalville, was located this year by John E. Reese, and in 1862 about fifteen families settled there and opened the pioneer coal fields of Utah. All those early colonies were weak in numbers and suffered many hardships during the first few years and during the , the smallest places had to be abandoned, while the settlers sought refuge at the stronger points. The early settlers were strong men and women, possessed with indomitable courage and a desire to secure homes, or the county could not have been settled under such discouraging and troublesome circumstances.

Indian treachery is proverbial, and the insincerity of the red men was fully illustrated in their failure to keep the treaty made by Arropine, on the death of Walker. The warriors continued their depredations, especially on unarmed travelers, whom they met in lonely canyons or found alone hunting or herding in the isolated foothills. Even Arropine and his braves remained sullen and often made threats of an outbreak if more beef and biscuits were not furnished immediately. The settlers soon learned that the transfer of the county because of goodwill and friendship would cost them the total value with much more added for interest, to keep the Indians clothed and fed and maintain peace. When a demand was made by Arropine the colonists donated beef, flour, and clothing and thereby kept the peace.

Ute Indians in 1871, during the Black Hawk War

On May 21, 1855, A. N. Billings and a company of forty men were sent from Sanpete to settle the Elk Mountain country and make peace with the Indians. They crossed the Grand River and erected the Mormon fort, where Moab is now located. In August some of the colonists returned to Manti, and on September 3rd the Indians made an attack, killing Wiseman Hunt, Edward Edwards, and William Behunnin and wounding Capt. A. N. Billings. The colonists entered the fort, which the Indians immediately surrounded and gave notice of their intention to massacre all the inmates. The next day some of the chiefs interceded on behalf of the white men and the imprisoned colonists were permitted to return to their homes unmolested, with the understanding that the settlement should be abandoned and Grand Valley left in undisputed possession of the Utes.

In the spring of 1858, James Miller and George M. Bright were killed and five others wounded by Indians, during an attack on the Salmon River settlement, which caused the abandonment of the colony. On June 4th of this year, Mels Jorgensen and his wife, Jens Turkelsen, and Christian E. Kjerluf were killed by a band of fourteen Sanpitch Indians, in Salt Creek Canyon. October 5th Samuel Brown and Josiali Call were massacred by Indians on Chicken Creek. These periodical attacks were kept up by marauding bands of Sanpitches and Utes, and no man was safe outside the settlements. James Hanahin, a deserter from the United States Army, was killed by an Indian on August 7, 1860, near Manti, the savage firing upon him from ambush.

In March 1865, the Indians camped around Manti began to be very quarrelsome and insulting when in the presence of the colonists, and many threats were made indicating the desire for some pretext for war. On April 9th, John Lowry and others had a quarrel with Jake, one of the chiefs, about some cattle the Indians boasted of stealing. This altercation was considered sufficient provocation for declaring open hostilities, and Chief Black Hawk hurriedly assembled his warriors for the conflict. A party of men was sent out from Manti on the day following the disturbance, to collect the cattle for the purpose of ascertaining how many had been stolen. Black Hawk and fifteen warriors fired upon the men, near Twelve Mile creek, and killed Peter J. Ludvigsen. The Indians were in ambush and immediately decamped for the south, driving away some cattle and uttering oaths of defiance.

On the same day of the attack on Manti herders, Elijah B. Ward and James Anderson were massacred and scalped in Salma Canyon, the Indians making good their escape into the mountains and driving some stock stolen from the settlers. The people were now thoroughly aroused and determined upon waging uncompromising warfare against the treacherous redskins. Col. J. T. S. Allred, with eighty-four members of the Sanpete militia, pursued the Indians and were surprised and fired on in Salina Canyon, April 12th, and Jens Sorenson of Ephraim and William Kearnes of Gunnison was killed. The sudden attack from ambush so confused the command that a precipitous retreat to Salina followed without any further demonstrations. At the request of Col. Allred, a. company of men was picked from the ranks by Col. W. S. Snow and returned to the scene of action and secured the bodies of those killed.

The Indians did not wait for any further attack, but hurried away into the mountains, taking all the cattle they had stolen. On May 25th, Jens Larsen was killed, while herding sheep, near Fairview, and the next day John Given, wife, and four children were massacred in Thistle Valley, presumably by the same band of Indians who had shot Larsen. May 30th, David M. Jones of St. George was shot and killed near Fairview, while in the mountains hunting his horses. On July 14th of this year Robert Gillespie of Mount Pleasant and James Robinson of Alma were killed by Indians near Salina. Thus the work of secret murders continued, while the Indians kept driving away horses and cattle and retreating into the mountains, where they were safe.

In July President Brigham Young visited Sanpete County and conferred with the citizens as to the best policy to pursue to prevent further depredations from the hostile foe. On July 15th Col. Warren S. Snow was elected a Brigadier-General and immediately took command of the militia and minutemen. He pursued the Indians into Grass Valley, and on the 18th engaged in a pitched battle, which resulted in the killing of twelve Indians and wounding one of Gen. Snow’s command. The savages fled into the mountains and eluded pursuit. On July 26th the settlement of Glenwood, Sevier county, composed chiefly of those called from Sanpete, was attacked by Indians and one man was killed and two horses wounded. An express messenger notified the military command, and Gen. Snow and company followed the redskins to Green River without capturing any of them or having an engagement.

The militia was kept on the alert, sleeping on their guns and expecting orders to move at any moment. An attack was threatened on the southern colonies, and General Snow charged upon the Indians, forcing them back to Fish Lake, where, on September 1st, a spirited engagement was fought, resulting in the death of seven Indians and the wounding of General Snow and two of his command. The troops returned to Manti on September 24th and rested for nearly two months. October 17th of this year the Indians attacked some of the settlers at Ephraim, killing Morten P. Kuhr and wife, Elizabeth Peterson, William Thorpe, Soren Jespersen, Benjamin J. Black and William T. Hill, and driving away all the stock they could find, numbering about 100 head. Again the raiders were successful in escaping without giving battle.

November 6th the Indians raided Circleville, killed three men, and started off with the town herd. The citizens gave chase and fired with such certain aim that the thieves were completely routed and left the cattle for their owners, while the redmen retreated in great haste into the mountains. This was the last attack for the year, as the winter was very severe, the snow deep and the canyons impassable. The Indians had sufficient stock feeding upon the ranges in the San Juan and other southern valleys to supply them and did not care to tempt the white men to pursue them into their camping grounds. The colonists passed through a severe winter, with but little food for man or beast, on account of the grasshoppers had destroyed the crops. But the military duties had to be performed to guard their stock and homes against the Indians.

With the opening of spring in 1866, the Indians resumed their work of stealing cattle and murdering defenseless colonists. About February 1st, when spring work was beginning in the southern settlements, a band of hostile Indians raided Washington, Kane county, killed Doctor Whitmer and a son of John M. Moody, and drove away all the cattle that could be found on the range. This was evidence sufficient that the troubles were not over, and General Warren S. Snow with a part of his command started for the scene of hostilities. At Nephi, on March 12th, he arrested five renegade Indians, on the charge of having been engaged in the various raids. The prisoners were taken to Manti and put in jail till evidence could be obtained against them. With them were two important chiefs, Sanpitch and Ankawakets, who were held in the hope of capturing the notorious leader Black Hawk.

When the prisoners were safely secured General Snow and men returned to Nephi and captured four more Indians, known to have been connected with the Black Hawk raiding band. They were taken to Manti, tried and convicted, and shot by order of the imprisoned chiefs, who hoped thereby to gain their own liberty. By this time the Indians were very much excited and threatened a perfect slaughter of all helpless white persons, wherever found. On April 2nd an attack was made on Salina, three persons were killed, another wounded, and all the stock was driven away, while the whoops of derision filled the air with savage effrontery. The imprisoned chieftains and comrades at Manti, on hearing of this fresh outbreak, began to tremble and give signs of uneasiness. They feared the commanding officer would order them to put to death, and on the night, of the 14th broke jail and attempted to escape.

The guard pursued the Indians and killed three within the limits of the city. A posse followed the fleeing fugitives to Mt. Nebo and tracked them far up into the snowbanks, where they were shot. Chief Sanpitch was killed on April 18th while in hiding between Moroni and Fountain Green. Three days later the settlement of Salina was abandoned, teams being sent from Manti and Gunnison to haul the inhabitants with, their effects to the north. April 22nd William Ivory and Thomas Jones were fired on by Indians in an ambush near Fairview, and Jones was killed, Ivory being severely wounded. Three days later a raid was made on Marysvale, one of the frontier towns of Sevier county, Albert Lewis was killed, three men were wounded and the stock was driven into the mountains, the Indians escaping without any injury.

The country is so sparsely settled and raids of so frequent occurrence, it was almost impossible for men to attend to their farms and stock and fight Indians without some assistance. When the people of Utah and Salt Lake counties learned the real condition of their friends in the south preparations were made for reinforcing the military power. On May 4, 1866, Capt. P. W. Conover, with fifty men from Utah county, reported to General Snow for orders, and two days later Col. Heber P. Kimball reached Manti, having a company of fifty men from Salt Lake county. On the 14th Col. W. B. Pace took command of the forces under Capt. Conover, and with such an additional military force the citizens felt secure and proceeded to their daily duties in comparative safety. The Indians kept away from such a formidable array of troops but continued their depredations.

June 10th the Indians made an attack on the settlers of Round Valley, killed James Ivie, and drove away all the stock insight. Col. Pace and command intercepted the marauders at Gravelly Ford, on the Sevier River, near Salima, and a sharp battle of several hours’ duration was fought, resulting in the killing of several Indians and wounding one member of the militia. The troops retreated to Gunnison on account of the ammunition being exhausted. When more powder had been obtained a larger force under the command of Gen. Snow and Colonels Kimball and Pace, advanced upon the Indians and pursued them some distance, but did not have a second engagement. The troops returned to Manti and on June 20th, Gen. D. H. Wells arrived from Salt Lake City and took command of the entire forces.

Three days after Gen. Wells took command, James Ivie, Jr., killed a friendly Indian in retaliation for the death of his father, whom the Indians had murdered only a fortnight before. This act incensed the savages more than anything that had ever transpired and gave them an excuse for entering more vigorously upon their bloody work of massacring white settlers. June 24th they attacked a portion of Col. Kimball’s command, under Capt. Peter Dewey, in Thistle Valley, killed Charles Brown and wounded James Snow. Maj. Ivie reinforced Capt. Dewey and the Indians were forced to retreat hastily into the mountains, after losing several warriors. Three days later the redskins raided Spanish Fork, and killed John Edmiston of Manti, wounded another man, and drove away all the stock.

The settlers of Spanish Fork and Springville combined their forces and pursued the Indians as far as they dared follow in the canyons, and secured most of the stolen cattle. The Indians continued on into Sanpete, then into Sevier, and sought the unprotected points as places of attack. They kept on the mountains when near Manti or in the vicinity of the troops, and thus avoided an engagement. About July 1st of this year, 1860, Gen. Wells, in obedience to instructions from President Brigham Young, issued an order for the abandonment of the settlement in Piute county, and the colonists removed to Sanpete, most of them locating in Ephraim. During this summer the Indians became so troublesome in the vicinity of Fairview, Fountain Green, and Wales that the colonists were compelled to leave their homes and remain in the larger settlements until the autumn, to ensure safety.

On July 12th Captain Bigler and sixty men from Davis county reached Manti and relieved the troops from Salt Lake county. The new men soon had an opportunity for a conflict, for on the 27th of this month the Indians made a night raid on the stock of Ephraim and Manti, driving away about 150 head. Gen. Snow and Capt. Bigler, with their commands, pursued the thieves into Castle Valley but did not succeed in recovering the cattle or capturing any Indians. This successful raid gave the redmen enough beef for the winter and but few people were troubled anymore until the following spring. They managed to keep at a safe distance from the troops and enjoy the fruits of their many exploits while making calculations on the possible strength of their enemies when another spring should open.

When the first warm days of March 1867, had cleared away the snow and the settlers at Richfield were contemplating beginning farm work, the Indians dashed through the town and on toward Glen wood. They found a company traveling with an ox team and murdered Jens Peter Peterson and his wife and Mary Smith. The citizens of Glenwood gave battle and a sharp engagement resulted, in which the Indians were victorious and succeeded in getting possession of about one hundred head of stock and driving the herd into their mountain retreat.

April 1st President Young counseled the settlers to abandon their homes and remove north for safety. Teams were sent from Sanpete and a company of minute men assisted in removing all the inhabitants of Richfield and Glenwood to this county. The removal occurred about May 1st, and the homes and farms of that section were empty and deserted.

At this time Gen. D. II. Wells released Gen. Warren S. Snow from his command and placed Gen. W. B. Pace in charge of the entire Sanpete military district, then comprising all of southeastern Utah, lie inaugurated a new policy and placed all the stock of the several settlements under heavy guard day and night. This foiled the Indians in their stealing operations and checked their ravages for a time. But, on June 1st, Louis Lund was killed and Jasper Robertson wounded while herding stock near Fountain Green, and about forty horses were taken from them and driven away. The next day Major J. W. Vance and Sergeant Heber Houtz were killed by Indians at Twelve-Mile Creek and Capt. Miles and Private Tanner narrowly escaped.

After defeating the troops and dispersing the small guard then stationed on the herding ground the Indians made their escape, taking about fifty head of cattle belonging to the people of Gunnison. August 13th another attack was made on Spring City, James Meeks and Andrew Johansen being killed and William Blain wounded, while engaged in hauling hay from the meadows. The redskins started off with all the stock in sight, but were so hotly pursued by the herders and guard, that they left most of the cattle and were glad to get away with only a few. On September 14th John Hay of Gunnison was killed by a band of Indians, who found him alone burning lime. Four days after this murder the stock owned by the citizens of Beaver was driven away by a band of Black Hawk’s warriors, and the redskins decided to remain in their haunts until spring. But the settlements were becoming too numerous for the Indians, and their safety was better assured by keeping back from civilization, which they wisely concluded to do, making only occasional sallies on travelers or driving off some cattle when hungry.

The year 1867 was a prosperous season and large crops were harvested without molestation except for a few straggling warriors, who generally remained in the mountains. Minutemen were held in readiness and the guns were kept loaded in expectation of an outbreak at any time. The horses and cattle were carefully guarded and every precaution was taken to prevent any further loss of lives or property.

In April 1868, a gold excitement caused many people to return to the deserted settlement of Alma, where it was reported immense quantities of gold had been discovered. The Indians attacked a company from Sanpete, on the way to the goldfields, a few miles north of Richfield, and killed Lars A. Justesen and Charles Wilson and wounded Peter Thompson. The company returned to their homes, reporting no gold but plenty of Indians. About twenty-five miners remained for a time until discouraged and frightened by the redmen, when they left, thus deserting the town the second time. On July 10th a raid was made on Ephraim, and the Indians started away with all the stock obtainable, but the citizens gave chase, when a sharp engagement was had, the Indians were forced to retreat and leave their captured stock. The Indians held a long pow-wow among their several bands and finally decided to make a treaty of peace with the white men.

On August 19th a treaty was concluded in Strawberry Valley, and the Indians promised to remain peaceable. This, like the usual Indian pledge, was soon violated, for one month after a raid was made on Fairview and eighteen horses were driven away. The redskins finally resolved that there was honor even among thieves, and ceased hostilities till 1872, when, on June 16th, Veils Heizelt was killed by a band of braves, at Twelve Mile creek. The troops had been withdrawn, and under the order of Gov. J. W. Shaffer were not permitted to muster, drill, or bear arms, except under the direction of the United States Marshal. This order was issued September 15, 1870, and the Federal authorities took up the Indian affairs, resulting in a final treaty, consummated by Gen. Morrow at Mount Pleasant, September 7, 1872.


The Indian wars prevented any permanent improvements being made except under heavy guard, hence the colonists were practically compelled to curb their ambitions for good homes and neat farms until peace was fully restored. In 1865 and the following year the grasshoppers came in such numbers as to almost destroy all the growing crops, causing hunger and privation in many homes. The chickens and turkeys were turned loose to devour the pests, and every man and boy able to drive the hoppers were pressed into service. After much tribulation, the insects were forced into ditches and burned.

The first material improvement of general benefit to all the settlements was the completion of the Deseret Telegraph line through the county to Manti, which was celebrated December 28, 1866. This placed Sanpete, the acknowledged “Granary of Utah,” in direct communication with the capital city, and through that, the entire commercial world. Its benefits were felt at once in giving valuable information on the prices of grain and cattle, thus advising the people when to start by team or on horseback for marketing their products. Many citizens of this .county were among the first stockholders of this pioneer telegraph line, and some yet own stock in the company.

Sanpete Valley Reailroad, J. Williard Marriott Digital Library


A few years later, in the early ’70s, the country was connected with the outside world by the Sanpete Valley railroad, extending from Nephi to Wales. This enterprise was started by capitalists in Salt Lake City, to reach the pioneer coal fields located in 1859 by John E. Reese, and at the time the road was constructed, the only source of coal supply in Utah. The road was a narrow gauge, connecting with the standard gauge Utah Southern, but it extended commerce to the open parts of the world.

In the spring of 1874, the Fairview Coal and Coke Company was incorporated and operations began on developing another coalfield, within the borders of this county. The third coal mine was discovered in 1887 by Henry Thomas, in Six Mile Canyon, near Sterling, and the following year he and others opened up a good mine, which was operated by a single horse whim, but supplied all the coal required for home consumption for several years. The Sanpete Valley Railway company later built a road to the mines, which they purchased, and have constructed extensive hoisting works at the terminus, now called Morrison. Thus the coal deposits have been important factors in the growth and development of the county, and the future of this business will no doubt be a leading financial addition to the commerce of central and southern Utah.

April 24, 1877, the site for the Manti Temple was dedicated and work began on one of the most imposing buildings of the State. This was erected chiefly by the donations of the generous citizens of this county, and is a monument to eleven years of prosperity enjoyed by the people, while it was being constructed. On July 4, 1877, Sanpete stake of Zion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized, with Canute Peterson president and Henry Beal and John B. Maiben counselors. This marked the beginning of a better era of cooperation and union, as nearly all the people were members of that church, and every effort possible was advanced for the building up of a colonial granary the equal of which could not be found within the confines of a similar-sized mountain-walled valley throughout the great new West.

During the years of 1890-91 the Rio Grande Western railway was extended through the entire county from north to south, connecting all of the prominent cities and towns, and adding over sixty miles to the railroad trackage in the county. Two years later the Sanpete Valley was extended to Morrison and made a standard gauge. These roads furnished employment to many citizens and opened a market for ties and timbers, thus stimulating the lumber-making Industry until the vast forests of the canyons were partially utilized in the rapid accumulation of homes and property for which the county is noted far and near, wherever its people are known. The railroads opened the dormant channels of trade, established new telegraphic service and express delivery, and placed every colony of the county on the great highway of commercial prosperity.

The political history of Sanpete in the early days is the same as in other counties, in that the People’s Party was in the ascendency, there being’ practically no opposition. In 1S91, when the national parties were organized and local issues discarded, Sanpete elected Democratic candidates. This party continued in power until 1894 when the Republican ticket was elected, and for two years the county was marked in the Republican column. At this election, seven delegates were selected by popular vote to assist in framing a Constitution for the proposed new State of Utah. Those elected as delegates to the Constitutional Convention were Hon. C. P. Larsen of Manti, Hon. J. D. Page of Mount Pleasant, Hon. Lauritz Larsen of Spring City, Hon. A. C. Lund of Ephraim, Hon. Parley Christiansen of Mayfield, Han. James C. Peterson of Fair-view, and Joseph Jolley of Moroni.

January 4, 1896, President Grover Cleveland issued a proclamation in accordance with an act of Congress, admitting Utah to the Union as the forty-fifth state. The first Legislative Assembly under Statehood had three representatives from Sanpete county, Hon. W. D. Candland of Mount Pleasant being in the Senate and Hon. John Lowry of Manti and Hon. Peter Thompson of Ephraim in the lower house. They were elected by the Republican party. At the general election held in November 1896, the entire State and county official ticket was Democratic, hence the present administration, with the exception of District Judge and County Superintendent of Schools, is under the control of Democracy. No third party has yet succeeded in the county, which under the present law of equal suffrage has about 6,000 voters. Local political history contains no exciting periods except the temporary removal of the county seat to Moroni in 1863, and subsequent return to Manti.

The present county officials are as follows:

  • District Judge—Jacob Johnson, Spring City.
  • Commissioners—Peter Greaves, Sr., Ephraim; Peter Sunchvall, Fairview; J. A. Tuft, Gunnison.
  • Assessor—Alvin E. Allred, Chester.
  • Clerk—M. F. Murray,  Ephraim.
  • Sheriff—Joseph Judd, Manti.
  • Recorder—Amasa Aldrich, Mt. Pleasant.
  • Quarantine Physician—A. H. Olsten, Manti.
  • Superintendent of Schools—A. C. Nelson, Manti.
  • Prosecuting Attorney—William K. Reid, Manti.
  • Treasurer—Mons Monson, Moroni.
  • Surveyor—J. IT. Hougaard, Manti.
  • State Senator—J. F. Allred, Spring City.
  • Members of the House—Aaron Hardy, Moroni, and N. C. Sorenson, Gunnison.

Sanpete is an agricultural county, a land of small holdings in farm property and a fertile valley, justly and indisputably entitled to the name given by that honored western pioneer, President Brigham Young, “The Granary of Utah.” The county has 1540 individual, well-tilled farms, made up chiefly of small areas, containing an aggregate of 35,000 acres, which, with 25.000 acres of hay meadows, from which annual harvests are secured, make 60,000 acres improved, with an outside acreage in its native state, susceptible to reclamation, through additional irrigation ditches, of almost 50.000 acres. The annual wheat yield averages over one-half million bushels, much of which is exported either as grain or flour, the cash returns being used in building up the county and beautifying the homes. The yield of oats, barley, and rye reaches one-quarter million bushels yearly, the grain being marketed or fed to home animals.

In the production of wool and mutton, this county leads, not only in Utah but the entire United States, no other county has so many as a half-million sheep, the property of the most representative and influential citizens. The average wool clip ranges about 3,000,000 pounds annually and the shipments of mutton sheep are many trainloads every year. The sheep are mostly well-bred Merinos and Cotswolds and yield immense revenues to the wealthy flock masters.

Stock raising has always been one of the leading industries, there being at present over 15,000 range cattle and milch cows owned by several farmers and stockmen. The best breeds of Durham, Herefords, and other first-class animals are fed and kept on the ranges, and Sanpete cattle are in demand on all the Western markets. The dairy and creamery interests are increasing every year as the market requirements for Sanpete butter and cheese are greater than the supply.

Decent analyses of soil and sugar beets grown in this county show the superiority of natural facilities for producing the highest testing beets. With the stimulus now given to the sugar industry, there is no doubt that within a few years the largest and most profitable factory for making sugar, molasses, and other necessities from saccharine producing beets will be erected in Sanpete. This will bring about an era of smaller farms, closer cultivation, and greater yields and make this valley the farmer’s paradise.

The annual potato yield is about 100,000 bushels, of excellent quality, saleable on all the Western markets, and in great demand even where other potatoes are not wanted. The future of potato-growing in this county cannot be readily contemplated by those unacquainted with the natural advantages. Many thousand acres could be planted with profit and in addition to supplying the outside market, a mammoth starch factory is among the numerous prospective industries that could be erected and supported in the county.

The county has never been considered a fruit-growing region, but there are about 500 acres planted to various trees and vines, the yield reaching over 18,000 bushels yearly. Some of the most extensive apiarists in Utah are located in Sanpete, there being over 2000 hives of bees owned, and the annual output of honey reaching almost thirty-five tons. The growing of fruit and bees increases every year and soon this county will be entitled to the additional cognomen “the land of fruit and honey.”

The rich alfalfa grows luxuriantly everywhere, feeding the bees and furnishing nearly 50,000 tons of hay annually. In addition to the alfalfa hay fully 15,000 tons of wild hay are harvested every year and used chiefly in feeding 5000 milch cows, 0000 horses, and other domestic farm animals used as the servants of the industrious and frugal citizens.

All agricultural lands in the county require irrigation to produce crops, hence this modern science has been thoroughly developed by the Sanpete pioneers. The cooperative or community plan was practiced in the early days, all farming one field and every man assisting in constructing and maintaining the canals and ditches. Water was taken from the several mountain streams by gravity courses, with but little expense except for labor, and distributed equally, according to the area cultivated. Since the passage of the general incorporation act of 1884, there have been thirty-one canal and ditch companies incorporated in this county, having an aggregate of $1,045,130 as capital stock. A majority of the companies consist of the citizens of the towns where ditches are located and consequently are performing* the work for which they were incorporated. A few areas are yet undeveloped, but in the course of time will be important factors in building up the agricultural interests of the entire valley.

Sanpete is an agricultural county in every sense of the term and has no large manufacturing plants, but there are ninety individual concerns in active operation, using 1056 horse-power, employing 468 persons, and having an output of over one-quarter million dollars annually. Many enterprises may be added, and there is no doubt but the time is not far distant when the natural resources will be developed more thoroughly and woolen mills, sugar factories, grain elevators, starch factories, cereal mills, paper mills, sanitariums, summer resorts, and other money-producing organizations are affected.

The county has large deposits of coal, unsurpassed water power, best transportation facilities, superior climate, and all other natural inducements for creating all the factories named and mam* more similar institutions. The county has no indebtedness, and the property valuation is about five million dollars. There are eighty-eight stores doing good business, employing 115 persons and disbursing $50,000 annually in wages.

The official Territorial Bureau of Statistics for 1895, being the latest report on the number of inhabitants in this county, is quoted as published. Since that date, the population of each place mentioned has advanced materially, so that 18,000 is a fair estimate of the present number of people. The county had in 1895 a total of 15,538 people, distributed among the fifteen cities, towns, and villages as follows:

Chester 286, Ephraim 2213, Fayette 251, Fountain Green 929, Indianola 136, Gunnison 1367, Manti 2328, Mayfield 546, Milburn 223, Moroni 1406, Mt. Pleasant 2481, Spring City 1220, Sterling 347, Fairview 1494, Wales 305.

The following places are incorporated cities: Ephraim, Fairview, Manti, Moroni, Mt. Pleasant, and Spring City. The towns are Fountain Green and Gunnison.

April 24, 1885, the first newspaper was published in Sanpete county. The paper was called the Home Sentinel and was issued from Manti, James T. Jakernan being editor and publisher. This paper was published for several years by various parties, and finally suspended in 1895, Ward Stevenson being the last editor. In June 1890, the County Register was issued at Ephraim by James T. Jakernan. After some years the plant was sold to M. F. Murray, who now conducts the Enterprise. In November 1890, the Pyramid was started at Alt. Pleasant by A. B. Williams. The paper is still numbered among the enterprising county publications, being published by J. M. Boyden. October 13, 1893, the Messenger was first issued at Manti, Joel Shumaker being the editor. This publication is now under the management of P. A. Poulson. In June 1898, the Sanpete Democrat was started at Manti by L. A. Lauber.

The Sanpete Valley railway, the pioneer road of this county, length fifty-one miles, connects with the Oregon Short Line at Nephi and extends through Juab and Sanpete counties to Morrison. This road was surveyed and partly graded in the ’70s by residents of Salt Lake City, then sold to an English syndicate, who constructed the line to Wales in 1881 to tap the first coal beds opened in the Territory. The coal not possessing sufficient commercial value to pay high prices for mining and expense of long freight hauls, the mines were abandoned, and in 1884 the track from Draper to Wales was taken up, a new grade made to Moroni, thence to Chester, which was the terminus till 1893. Theodore Bruback, the president, succeeded in reorganizing the company and placing it on a sound financial basis, after which the road was extended to Manti, reaching that city on Thanksgiving clay, 1893.

In 1894 the road was extended to Morrison, its present terminus, and in 1896 the gauge was changed from narrow to standard. The charter has been amended to allow the construction of an extension southwest through Cedar City to the Nevada line, and work will begin on this in the near future. The general offices of the company are in the MeCornick Block, Salt Lake City, Theodore Bruback president, and general manager, S. T. Pearson, secretary, and treasurer. Local headquarters, Manti; II. S. Kerr, general superintendent, and general freight and passenger agent. The policy of the company is to employ local men to the exclusion of transients. The good service, courteous treatment, and satisfactory management give this road its share of the local and through freight and passenger traffic. A direct connection with the Oregon Short Line at Nephi makes a through-line from Salt Lake City to Manti, and business from and to Eastern points is interchanged with the Union Pacific at Ogden. At Morrison terminus are located the extensive coal mines of the Sterling Coal and Coke company.

The Sevier Valley branch of the Rio Grande Western railway was begun at Thistle in June 1890, and completed to Manti, a distance of sixty miles, and opened for traffic on January 1, 1891. The line was extended through the county to Salina during the year 1891, many residents of the county being employed in grading and furnishing ties and timbers. In 1896 the road was continued to Belknap, in Sevier Valley, and the line as contemplated will probably continue through Utah and to the coast, making Sanpete Valley the most direct route to the Pacific ocean. This road is well equipped with modern coaches and shipping facilities and carries an immense tonnage of sheep, cattle, wool, and grain from Sanpete every year, bringing in merchandise and other articles of commerce. The company furnishes first-class service in every particular, with obliging agents and enterprising officials, ever on the alert for the comfort and safety of its patrons. It is distinctly a Utah road, with the mainline and branches connecting all important points in the highway of commercial activity. The officers are:

William J. rainier, president; George P. Peabody, vice-president; D. C. Dodge, general manager; A. E. Welby, general superintendent; S. H. Babcock, traffic manager, and F. A. Wadleigh, general passenger agent, with offices at Salt Lake City.



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