Establishing Zion
Eugene E. Campbell

Chapter 4.
The Inner Colonies

[p.57]Trade with gold seekers and the acquisition of some California gold brought unexpected prosperity to the Mormon pioneers. But these were not the only factors prompting church officials to initiate an extensive colonizing program two years after arriving in the Rocky Mountains. Recognizing that the region had only limited fertile soil and water for the thousands of Mormons being urged to gather in the valley, Brigham Young began calling groups of colonists to settle the neighboring valleys. Although church leaders had purchased Miles Goodyear’s fort in Ogden and initiated some small settlements in what is now Davis County (between Salt Lake and Ogden), the program that was to bring Young fame as one of America’s greatest colonizers was not instituted until the spring of 1849.

This ambitious program resulted in more than one hundred settlements in the Great Basin during the next decade and well over two hundred by 1869. Historians have noted two kinds of settlements in the Mormon colonizing process: the so-called Inner Colonies, which were founded primarily on the basis of contiguity to the Salt Lake Valley, and the less grandiose Outer Colonies, which were established for such specialized purposes as mining, sea ports, and Indian missions. This chapter describes the development of the Inner Colonies during the Mormons’ first decade in the Great Basin.

In his study of westward migration in American history, Frederick Jackson Turner observed that the usual pattern was for settlers to [p.58] move to the next valley or county rather than travel long distances to acquire new land. Although the Mormons countered this pattern when they made their long trek to the Great Basin, they tended to follow the logical practice of moving only as far as the next area of fertile land, once they had established their base colony. True, they established some outlying colonies for special reasons, but the main colonizing pattern was based on contiguity. Only three of the first forty-five colonies were established in areas not bordering the Salt Lake Valley. Not only did the pioneers follow the principle of contiguity as far as valleys were concerned, they established small villages within a few miles of each other in the same valley. Thus Salt Lake City became the base colony, not only for the entire Great Basin but also for a dozen small communities within the valley. In like manner, Ogden, Provo, Tooele, Manti, Parowan, Fillmore, Nephi, and Brigham City became centers of colonization in their respective regions.1

The Mormons did not settle on individual farmsteads. Following the basic principles, but not the details, of Joseph Smith’s “City of Zion” plan drawn in 1833, they settled in forts or small villages and commuted to their farms. In each area, they first worked on cooperative projects—building a fort, fencing in a big field, and constructing an irrigation system. As soon as possible, they acquired individual city lots and built their own homes and farms. They would continue to work cooperatively on irrigation canals, fences, bridges, and other community projects. The City of Zion plan, which called for each village to be laid out on a grid pattern of rectangles, provided ample land for each family to have its own home, orchard, and garden. Wide streets, with homes set back, gave a feeling of spaciousness, and public squares provided areas for schools, churches, public buildings, and parks. Barns were supposed to be on the farms, out of town, but most pioneers found it more convenient to have their domestic animals housed near their homes.

Mormon sociologist Lowry Nelson suggested that the City of Zion plan was devised to prepare people for the Millennium. Whatever Joseph Smith’s intent, small communities proved to be particularly well-adapted to the Great Basin. The lack of sufficient water dictated settling in small towns where streams flowed from the canyons. Such [p.59] villages were more easily defended against Indian attacks and provided an enriched social, cultural, and religious atmosphere.

Believing that their leaders were inspired to establish the Kingdom of God, the Mormon pioneers accepted mission “calls” to colonize new areas and usually remained in a colony until they were “released” from their “missions.” Often, men who were well established in Salt Lake City or other centers accepted such calls to settle in far less attractive regions. On 3 June 1849, when Brigham Young called several men to the Pacific islands, he asserted that “when the First Presidency ordered a thing, they need not ask any questions but just do as they were told.” According to his unpublished manuscript history, Young concluded that his remarks “ended [the meeting] right off,” implying that the men did not question their leader. Such attitudes enabled Young and other Mormon authorities to establish colonies throughout the Great Basin using experienced leaders and men and women possessing a variety of talents and skills.

The first expansion from Salt Lake City was to other locations within the valley and northward into Davis County. Searching for additional pasturage for their animals, Perrigrine Sessions and Hector C. Haight spent the winter of 1847-48 in an area ten miles north of Salt Lake City and, noticing the richness of the soil and the availability of water, encouraged colonists to settle the present towns of Bountiful and Farmington in 1848 and Kaysville in 1849. Pioneers settled Layton the following year. These early settlers were not “called,” but Brigham Young later appointed bishops to preside over each community and called other families to build up these settlements.

At the same time, a number of families, led by John Holladay, were establishing a farming community (called Holladay) on the Big Cottonwood Creek, about nine miles southeast of the base colony, with cabins close together in a village. A few months later, in the fall of 1848, John Neff moved his family to the mill he had built on Mill Creek. He was joined by two other mill builders, Robert and Archibald Gardner, who built a saw mill and a grist mill on the stream. Ultimately, sixteen mills dotted the banks of the creek, supporting a community of millers and farmers called East Mill Creek. In addition, the Salt Lake Valley communities of Sugar House, South Cottonwood, West Jordan, and North Jordan all started in 1848, while Brighton, Granger, and Draper were settled in 1849. Clearly, the valley was beginning to fill up.

Settling Ogden in the north was different from the other pioneering assignments because it involved purchasing Miles Goodyear’s Fort [p.60] Buenaventura which had been established near the confluence of the Weber and Ogden rivers in 1846. Captain James Brown, of the Mormon Battalion, visited the outpost in August 1847 on his way to California to obtain discharge papers and pay for his troops. Noting that Goodyear had a small garden with “beans ripe and corn in tassell,” Brown was convinced that crops could he raised in the region. He may not have decided at that time to purchase the fort upon his return from California, but he had plenty of time to think about the location as he made the long trip to San Francisco and back.

Meanwhile, events were taking place that made the purchase of the fort imperative in the opinion of Mormon leaders. Several dissidents and their families had left the Salt Lake Valley in October for Goodyear’s establishment, and the prospect of having a non-Mormon settlement inhabited by apostates and Gentiles seemed intolerable to church leaders. Henry G. Sherwood reported that Brigham Young, before returning to Winter Quarters, advised him to acquire the property. However, Goodyear’s asking price of $2,000 was high, and a committee, consisting of Ira Eldredge, Daniel Spencer, and Henry Sherwood, unsuccessfully attempted to raise the money.

A few days later, Captain Brown returned from California with $3,000 in back pay for the Mormon Battalion. The Salt Lake High Council, meeting in special session in late November 1847, decided to use part of the money to purchase Fort Buenaventura. The transaction was completed by the 25th, and Goodyear turned over a deed to his land, all of his improvements, seventy-five cattle, seventy-five goats, twelve sheep, six horses, and a cat “in exchange for the sum of $1,950.”2

Apparently, Captain Brown was able to convince church leaders that he had invested enough of his own money in purchasing Goodyear’s fort to justify his taking over the fort and appropriating the livestock. In any case, he sent his sons Alexander and Jesse to look after the newly acquired property early in January 1848. Two [p.61] months later, Brown, accompanied by the remainder of his family and several friends, mainly from among the Mississippi Saints, with whom he had become acquainted during their stay in Pueblo, moved to Fort Buenaventura, which they renamed Brown’s Fort and later Brownsville.

The little colony was successful in raising a hundred bushels of wheat in 1848, and their dairy products enabled the Ogden pioneers to survive the severe winter of 1848-49 and to share some of their food with the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley. They were not so generous with non-Mormons, however, and Brown refused both food and lodging to Captain Howard Stansbury and his party, who arrived in Brownsville on 27 August 1849 to survey the region. Stansbury was able to secure food from a “neighboring plantation” but was surprised by the inhospitality of the “surly nabal.”

Despite some personality problems, Brown became bishop of the LDS Brownsville Ward in February 1849. Later, in September, Brigham Young visited the settlement and recommended that the colony move to a better site, according to Dale L. Morgan, “on the south side of Ogden’s Fork at the point of bench land so that waters from the Weber River and Ogden’s Fork might be taken out for irrigation and other purposes.” The following month, the October General Conference of the church voted “that a city be laid off in Captain Brown’s neighborhood.” And in August 1850, Young, accompanied by a number of church leaders, traveled again to Weber County to choose a site for the city. He advised the settlers, according to his manuscript history, to “build good houses, school houses, meeting houses, and other public buildings, fence their gardens and plant fruit trees—that Ogden might be a permanent city and a suitable headquarters for the northern country.” Young sent Lorin Farr to preside over the settlement. Farr organized a branch of the church and became the first stake president when the Weber Stake was organized in 1851. He built the first saw and grain mills in Weber Valley and was the first mayor of Ogden, a position he held for twenty years without pay.

Ogden became an important center when a road was built through Weber Canyon, a route many immigrants preferred to Emigration Canyon. Thousands of gold seekers also visited the city on their way to California via Fort Hall. Brigham Young directed many of the Mormon immigrants to settle in the area, and by December 1854, according to Dale L. Morgan, Apostle Wilford Woodruff reported that “the county seat of Weber County is a flourishing place containing some 150 families.”

[p.62] Ogden may have appeared to be flourishing to Woodruff, who had seen it in August 1850, but the new settlers were engaged in a daily struggle to survive. Most had moved from their wagon boxes and “dugouts” along the river banks, but their adobe houses and log cabins were decidedly unpretentious. Roofs were of dirt, and doors were hung on wooden hinges. There were no wooden floors until the Burch Saw Mill was built on the site of Riverdale, south of Ogden. In 1851, Luman A. Shurtliff, father of future Ogden leader Lewis Shurtliff, moved one of his wives and three children into a shanty, 10 feet square. His other wives and four of his first wife’s children lived in his wagons until he could build another log house which he described as “tolerable, comfortable with no floor.” Settlers obtained fuel from sagebrush dug while clearing the land. They made their own soap, candles, homespun clothing, and shoes. Money was in short supply, and almost all trading was by barter. Much energy went into developing canals for irrigating crops. These streams also turned water wheels to run lathes, sugar mills, and other commercial enterprises and were used to supply culinary water to local householders.

Difficulties with Indians (see chap. 6) made a city wall advisable, projected to be “six feet wide at the bottom, eight feet high and thirty inches at the top.” The wall was never completed because the need passed, although the possibility of a wall may have contributed to the increased friendliness of the natives. Ogden leaders tried to solve the Indian problem by assigning Indians to families who were to feed and clothe them during the winter and teach them how to cultivate the land more effectively.

Other northern communities were eventually established at Riverdale, Uinta, Brigham’s Fort (Lynne), Slaterville, Harrisville, and North Ogden. Wilford Woodruff’s December 1854 report described schools in most of these communities and unusual success in farming. Weber County, with Ogden as its center, was an especially bright spot in the church’s early colonization efforts in the Great Basin.

The next logical center for settlement was Utah Valley, separated from the Salt Lake Valley only by a low range of mountains but joined by the Jordan River which flowed from Utah Lake northward into the Great Salt Lake. Mormon leaders were reasonably well informed about Utah Valley by Fremont’s and others’ reports, and they had been warned by Jim Bridger that the Ute Indians, who occupied the area, were a “bad people” who would rob and abuse a man if they captured him. Bridger advised the Saints to settle the Salt Lake Valley which was not occupied regularly by any tribe.

[p.63] Several Mormon groups had traversed Utah Valley in 1847 and in 1848, and Parley P. Pratt had been authorized to establish trade relations with the Utes but without any success. However, the influx of Mormon immigrants in 1849 made it mandatory for the Mormons to colonize additional locations, and Utah Valley was the first to be occupied that year. Control of this valley was necessary if the Mormons were to carry out their plan of establishing a line of colonies to the Pacific coast since Utah Valley was on the direct route from Salt Lake City to southern Utah. The valley also possessed fertile soil, adequate water for irrigation, pasturage for the cattle, and several canyons filled with timber. Fishing opportunities in Utah Lake as well as in the rivers and streams that flowed from the mountains on the east were also important.

A high council meeting held in Salt Lake City on 10 March 1849 voted unanimously that “a colony of thirty men settle in Utah Valley this spring for the purpose of farming and fishing and instructing the Indians in cultivating the earth and teaching them civilization.” Three days later, the twenty-nine men called to settle Utah Valley met with Brigham Young to receive instructions and to organize. John S. Higbee, who had explored the valley with Parley P. Pratt in December 1847, was named leader of the group. His brother Isaac and Dimick B. Huntington were appointed as his counselors. Huntington, who had previously gained some knowledge of the Ute language, also served as interpreter. The men who responded to the call, together with their families, made up a company of about 150 settlers.

Higbee’s group arrived on the Provo River on 1 April 1849 and two days later began to build a fort on the south bank, about a mile and a half east of the lake. Named Fort Utah, the settlement was completed in about six weeks and served as a refuge from Indian attacks. A cannon was mounted on a bastion in the center of the fort to protect the settlers from the Indians. Farming lands were opened to the south and west, and by May, 225 acres had been cleared.

In September 1849, Brigham Young and his counselors in the First Presidency, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards, accompanied by Thomas Bullock, Truman O. Angell, and John S. Higbee and some of their wives, toured the colony to check on their progress. As usual, Young advised the colonists to move to higher ground and selected a spot two miles to the east where the city of Provo is now located. A new fort was constructed enclosing about 11 acres, and a central meeting place, which could serve as a church and school, as [p.64] well as meet civic and recreational needs, was erected in the middle of the enclosure.

Serious Indian difficulties (see chap. 6) made remaining in the fort advisable. Settlers began building on city lots soon after a survey was completed in 1851 and tried to build a wall around their community. The threat of Indian attacks soon subsided, however, and they never completed the project. Early industries included a grist mill, a carding mill, a pottery factory, a tannery, and a cabinet shop.

In 1852, the Provo settlers petitioned Brigham Young to send Apostle George A. Smith to preside over them, and the church leader honored their request on 17 July of that year. The Saints built a home for Smith and two of his wives, but, although the wives remained in Provo, Smith was busy with other assignments and spent little time in Utah Valley. According to Smith’s report to the Deseret News, by September 1853

Provo contain[ed] over two hundred families, three saw mills, one grist mill, one shingle machine propelled by water, one carding machine, and one manufactory of brown earthen ware. There is also a turning lathe for turning wooden bowls, one threshing machine propelled by water power, and two cabinet shops. A meetinghouse, eighty feet by forty-seven, to be finished with a gallery and steeple has been commenced.… Provo River affords a great amount of water power for machinery. We occasionally get a taste of trout from Utah Lake, which are very fine.

Within a short time, other settlements were established in the valley. Lehi, Pleasant Grove, Springville, Payson, Alpine, Spanish Fork, Lindon, and American Fork were all founded in 1850; Cedar Fort (in Cedar Valley, west of Lehi) in 1853; Fairfield in 1855; and Salem and Santaquin by the summer of 1857.

With colonies both north and south of the base in the Salt Lake Valley and the Wasatch Mountains to the east, the logical direction for the pioneers’ next move was west. The Great Salt Lake lay directly west of Salt Lake City, and a salt desert stretched for miles west of the lake, but Tooele Valley,3 on the southwestern shore of the Great Salt Lake and stretching southward for twenty-five miles, appeared [p.65] capable of supporting several settlements. The valley had been partially explored by Brigham Young and fellow apostles in July 1847 and had been traversed by Parley P. Pratt on his exploration journey in December that same year. These men had noted that the soil seemed fertile but that there were only small canyon streams to supply water. There was, however, plenty of grass.

On 17 July 1849, Brigham Young, accompanied by about a dozen men, reconnoitered the valley. About the same time, John Bernard brought a herd of cattle into the region and discovered that Howard Stansbury, a surveyor for the U.S. government, had built a small adobe house near the most prominent landmark in the north end of the valley (soon named Adobe Rock) during his explorations in the early 1840s. Three months later, Apostle Ezra T. Benson sent Cyrus and Judson Tolman and Phinias Wright into the valley to build a mill. Settling on a large creek in the south end of the valley, they were soon joined by a few others and built cabins on the east side of Settlement Creek, just south of present-day Tooele City.

Benson, assigned by Brigham Young to build both a grist mill and a saw mill in the valley, brought additional settlers into the area, including John Rowberry, who became the leader of the community. A mill was established at Twin Springs (which locals called “E.T,” after Ezra T. Benson), and the valley was used as a herding ground for Benson’s livestock. About twelve families spent the cold winter of 1849-50 in the Tooele area.

Difficulties with Indians forced the Tooele colonists to build a fort in 1851. By 1853, a town site had been surveyed, and the people began to settle their city lots, building a mud wall around three sides of their settlement. Like other colonies, when the Indian threat abated, the settlers discontinued building the wall.

Grantsville, some twelve miles west of Tooele, was founded in the fall of 1849, and Lake Vie and Batesville (Erda) were settled in 1850 and 1851, respectively. E.T. City was founded in 1854. Tooele also became the center for colonizing Rush Valley to the south. Clover (Johnson’s Settlement) was founded in 1854, Vernon in 1862, and neighboring St. John’s, named after early Mormon leader John Rowberry, in 1867.

Manti, in south-central Utah, was also founded in 1849, but since the settlers did not follow the principle of contiguity, its development might be more properly discussed in the following chapter on the Outer Colonies. However, the settlement’s initial purpose—civilizing a band of Ute Indians—failed, and the community soon became the [p.66] hub of numerous settlements in the Sanpete Valley. Thus, it is probably more appropriate to consider Manti as one of the Inner Colonies.

Manti was founded after Walker (or Wakara), a Ute Indian chief from Sanpitch (Sanpete) Valley, visited Salt Lake City in June 1849. He asked the Mormon leaders to send a group of colonists to live near his tribe and teach them to farm and to live as white men did. Some explorers were sent into the valley two months later, and they recommended the present site of Manti for the colony. Church patriarch Isaac Morley was notified during October General Conference that he was called to establish the new colony and that he would be aided by Charles Shumway and Seth Taft. Settlers were selected and notified that they would be expected to leave as soon as possible. By 28 October 1849, Morley left Salt Lake City with the nucleus of a company headed for southern Utah.

As Morley traveled, his company grew and finally consisted of about 225 people, including 125 men and 100 women. They passed by the fertile areas of Utah Valley, continued on to the present site of Nephi, and then traversed Salt Creek Canyon and journeyed into Sanpete Valley, arriving at the site of Manti on 22 November 1849. Unfortunately, the snow began to fall before many houses were built. A few settlers did begin to build log cabins, while others made dugouts, and still others attempted to live in their wagons for a time. Morley advised the people to move to the south side of the hill and make their dugouts there, and it soon became apparent that his advice was sound. Not long after the colonists’ arrival, Walker appeared with some 500 to 700 warriors who pitched their tents about a mile away. They stayed near the settlement throughout the winter, showing a friendly attitude towards the Mormons but demanding food. Morley reported that notwithstanding the settlers’ meager provisions, they shared their food with the Indians who sometimes cried because of hunger. The snow continued during the winter, making it difficult for the animals to survive.

In his report the following March, Morley said that the group had lost 41 oxen, 38 cows, 3 horses, and 14 head of young stock, which the Indians took for food. The Mormons were able to maintain reasonably friendly relations with Walker’s group, although the chief advised them to travel in companies of eight or ten, to keep well-armed, and to keep a good watch at night. Unfortunately, many of the Indians contracted the measles and died. Meanwhile, the colonists had driven their cattle to warm springs two miles south of the settlement, and the men and boys shoveled snow from the grass to help their starving livestock. The cattles’ horns were sharpened to [p.67] protect themselves against coyotes and wolves, but of the 250 head of cattle, only 100 survived.

Because of the severe winter, the pioneers spent most of their time tending fires, taking care of cattle, and trying to stay alive. By 20 February, Morley reported that they had erected twenty houses but that most of the people were still living in tents and in caves. He noted that they were erecting a school house of pine logs which they expected to have finished in a few days. As spring came, the people planted their crops; by May they had 250 acres of wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes. While waiting for their crops to mature, the pioneers were sustained by ten loads of grain collected in Salt Lake under the direction of the city’s bishops.

Brigham Young visited the Manti settlement, arriving on 4 August, and on the following day the group chose a site for the city to be established permanently. In the fall 1850 General Conference, Morley was given the right to select additional men or women to join him, and he chose another 100 men and their families. By the end of 1850, Manti was a well-established livestock and agricultural center, with a population of about 365 people. The city of Manti was granted a charter by the legislature of the General Assembly of Deseret on 7 April 1851.

Following Manti’s success, Brigham Young encouraged further settlement in the Sanpete Valley. Spring City was settled under the leadership of James Allred and his sons in 1851. Pleasant Creek Settlement, now Mount Pleasant, was established the same year, and Ephraim was occupied during the fall and winter of 1852-53. Many of the settlers were Danish, and towns such as Ephraim and Spring City soon came to be known as Little Denmark. Other early settlements in the Sanpete Valley included Fountain Green, Moroni, Fairview, and Gunnison, all of which were settled in 1859.

The Manti colonists had passed an attractive location on Salt Creek on their way to aid Chief Walker’s people. And Brigham Young was well aware that the area immediately south of Utah Valley was on the most direct route to the Pacific coast. In July 1851, Young called Joseph Heywood to “pick up volunteers” to establish a settlement on Salt Creek. Heywood gathered twenty families and began erecting a town they called Nephi. They first surveyed the area in the fall of 1851, and by December Heywood could report to the Deseret News that “about 12 houses have been erected: viz. 3 built of adobies, two of willows plastered inside and out, [a] two-story house built of four inch planks, and the balance of logs obtained from a distance of about 10 miles. Our roofs and flooring are principally of [p.68] lumber cut at Hamilton and Potter’s Mills, Sanpete Valley, distance about 30 miles from Nephi.” Mona, five miles north of Nephi, was founded by December 1854.

Within a month of the settlement of Nephi, a central colony in the next major valley to the south was being settled by seventeen families under the leadership of Anson Call. Named Fillmore, in honor of the U.S. president who had signed the bill granting territorial status to Utah, the city was almost exactly in the center of the territory. Located in the Great Pauvan Valley which stretches from the rim of the Great Basin on the south to the Utah and Cedar valleys on the north, Fillmore was expected to become the center of a great colonizing effort. The broad expanse of level land caused Mormon explorers to overestimate the location’s potential, but even so the area occupied an important site. In addition to its central location, Fillmore was on the direct route to the seaports in southern California.

Brigham Young was so impressed with the reports of the area that he determined to make Fillmore the capital of the territory and signed, on 4 October 1851, a legislative act designating that Millard County be formed and that Fillmore City be the “seat of Government of the Territory.” Accompanied by prominent men of the church and territory, Young traveled to the site soon after signing the act to help select the proper location for the capital city. Before leaving, Young advised the colonists to build a fort, which they did, according to Milton R. Hunter, by “erecting their houses in close formation … in the shape of a triangle.” In his message to the 1851 territorial legislature, Young asserted that the “Pauvan Valley will sustain a large and dense population” and encouraged colonists to settle there to build up the capital city. By 1853, more than 300 church members had occupied the valley which continued to grow.

In addition to homes and public buildings, the settlers were called upon to erect a state house. As conceived, the building would consist of four wings capped by a mammoth dome. The colonists were able to complete the south wing by December 1855 at a cost of $32,000, but changing circumstances kept them from completing any more of the territorial capitol building. The legislature met in the building in December 1855, but this proved to be the only session that would ever meet there. Legislators found life in Salt Lake City more to their liking. A year later Salt Lake City was designated the temporary territorial capital, and Fillmore’s role was reduced to being the center colony of the Millard region. Holden was founded in 1855, Meadow in the spring of 1857, and Deseret and Kanosh in 1859.[p.69]

While settlements were being established south of Utah Valley, a few pioneers were pushing north of the Weber settlements into Box Elder County. The first settlement was begun in March 1851, when five families erected cabins on North Willow Creek, some fifteen miles north of Ogden. Eventually naming their settlement Willard, these families were joined by several additional families that fall and the next year. Willard was not destined to become the hub city of the Box Elder region, however, for eight or nine families went a few miles further north to Box Elder Creek and founded Brigham City in the spring of 1851. The little colony was almost surrounded by a group of 500 Shoshone Indians, who appeared to be friendly as long as their demands were satisfied but whose presence was a serious threat to the survival of the colony. Fort Davis was constructed by the fall of 1851, and a larger fort was built in 1853. Nearly all of the colonists spent the winters of 1853, 1854, and 1855 in the fort. Many Scandinavian emigrants were sent to Brigham City during 1852 and 1853, and the community assumed a Nordic atmosphere despite the fact that a Welsh party had been the first to colonize the area.

Apostle Lorenzo Snow’s 1854 assignment to lead the Brigham City colony was a turning point in the history of the settlement. Called to gather fifty more families to strengthen the colony, Snow brought not only more settlers but also efficient leadership to the community. He encouraged drama and other cultural activities, as well. But he is perhaps best remembered for later establishing a cooperative association that was responsible for making Brigham City one of the most prosperous and attractive communities in the territory. The region continued to develop, and additional communities were founded at Harper in 1852 and at Perry in 1853.

Wellsville, in Cache County, was chosen as a site for a settlement by Peter Maughan, who had become dissatisfied with Tooele due to a series of dry years there. Traveling from Brigham City, he passed through Box Elder Canyon and emerged into Cache Valley in July 1856. Maughan selected a site in the southern end of the valley, returned to Tooele, and recruited six other families to join him. Most of the settlers were immigrants from the British Isles. Arriving in the valley on 15 September 1856, the colonists were forced to form their wagons into a fort for protection against Indians who regarded Cache Valley as a favorite hunting ground. A fort was completed in 1857, but the community was abandoned in 1858 due to the “move south” when Johnston’s Army was approaching the Salt Lake Valley. Before the move south, however, the little town of Mendon was started by Alexander B. Hill and Robert Hill. Colonists returned in the fall, but [p.70] the following year the city of Logan was founded and soon eclipsed Wellsville as the hub of Cache Valley.4

There can be no doubt that the “call” was important in settling communities throughout the territory, but no uniform pattern was followed in calling leaders and settlers. The Davis County settlers called themselves at first, and later Brigham Young appointed leaders and called families to strengthen the settlements. James Brown was assigned to settle the Ogden area by the stake presidency and high council of the Salt Lake Stake while Brigham Young was in Winter Quarters. Brown’s call may have resulted from his having volunteered to purchase Fort Buenaventura from Miles Goodyear. The Provo colonists were called individually, but the Tooele colony resulted from the assignment of an apostle to build mills and herd livestock. Isaac Morley was appointed to select a group and lead in the settlement of Sanpete County. Two years later, James Allred was assigned to go to Sanpete and choose a location for his “numerous posterity,” resulting in the founding of Spring City. Joseph Heywood was told to “pick up volunteers” to settle Nephi, and Anson Call was assigned to “raise fifty families” to settle Fillmore. Brigham City was founded by volunteers, although Brigham Young began directing Scandinavian groups to settle there as well. Wellsville was founded by Peter Maughan who received permission to leave Tooele and look for a new location. Any of the other Tooele settlers who wished to follow Maughan were given permission to do so.5 Although colonization was not always well organized, when calls were issued they were taken seriously, and there was some attempt to send certain nationalities to colonize specific areas to avoid language and cultural differences and encourage compatibility.

Additionally, Brigham Young relied on trusted apostles to lead in the colonizing program. As noted, Ezra T. Benson was sent to settle Tooele and Lorenzo Snow was assigned to preside in Brigham City. Charles Rich and Amasa Lyman were chosen to establish a colony in California (see the next chapter), and George A. Smith was called to supervise the iron mining mission. A few years later, Smith, [p.71] aided by Apostle Erastus Snow, established the cotton mission in and around St. George (named in Smith’s honor). Orson Hyde was assigned colonizing missions in Green River County (Wyoming) and in Carson Valley (Nevada) before being assigned to Sanpete County. And Rich was called to colonize the Bear Lake region after the recall of the San Bernardino colony.

The apostles deserve the recognition they have received for their foresight, but the real leaders of Mormon colonization were the bishops of the respective settlements. In addition to colonizing an area, these men were expected to care for their own families, be responsible for women whose husbands were on missions for the church, as well as care for widows, orphans, and the sick and aged members of their groups. They were also expected to carry out the programs of the church, including presiding at worship services, supervising local schools, collecting and distributing tithing, and watching the morals and spiritual attitudes of their flocks. They were required to organize irrigation companies, build forts, negotiate with local Indians, and promote economic projects for the benefit of the communities. Bishops were usually appointed probate judges and were expected to preside at bishops’ courts. They were called to organize cattle drives and raise money and labor for special projects such as building telegraph lines, freighting supplies, and rescuing immigrants. They were expected to provide homes, goods, and employment for new members of the communities until they could establish themselves. Bishops were also expected to set an example to the communities in the matter of plural marriage. New men were chosen to replace recalcitrant bishops who refused to take additional wives. Truly, the bishops were the key players in the colonization of the Great Basin.

Also important were the pioneer women.6 These wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and children confronted the same challenges and difficulties as the men. In addition, they bore and raised children, often in primitive conditions without competent medical supplies or doctors. Many women faced these difficulties without the support of husbands, who were sent on proselyting, colonizing, and other specialized missions and were away from their homes for months or even years. Some women, though married polygamously, [p.72] had to fend for themselves to a considerable extent, since their husbands had other wives and families to care for. Tragically, under such circumstances, many women died at an early age, while others lived lives of bitterness, hardship, and disappointment. But from among those who survived emerged a remarkable generation of strong women who became midwives, medical doctors, leaders in womens’ rights movements, teachers, and managers of farms, stores, and other businesses. Their lives, examples, and contributions constitute a significant legacy to the Mormon church. [p.73]


1.Wellsville, in Cache Valley, was colonized in 1856 but was abandoned in the early summer of 1858 as Johnston’s Army approached Salt Lake City. Logan, founded in 1859, became the regional center for Cache Valley after the settlers returned to the northern colonies.

2. Dale L. Morgan’s History of Ogden discusses the problems connected with the amount of money Brown carried back from California and the amount used to buy out Goodyear. Morgan asserts that only $3,000 was owed battalion members, not $5,000 as is cited in some works. Milton Hunter, in Brigham Young the Colonizer, contends that Brown paid Goodyear 3,000 Spanish pesos, worth approximately $1,150, and that Brown paid this out of his own funds earned as a captain in the battalion and from the percentage he charged the men to collect their back pay. Morgan questions this, stating that Goodyear was paid $1,950 from money belonging to the battalion men and that it is not clear why Brown acquired all of Goodyear’s stock, “exercis[ing] almost a proprietary interest in the land.”

3. There is a difference of opinion as to the origin of the name Tooele. The most probable theory is that the area was named after the Indian chief Tuila. Stansbury’s map designated the valley by that name in 1849. However, Bancroft, Tullidge, Whitney, and other historians accept the theory that the name resulted from Thomas Bullock’s misspelling of “Tule,” a reed-like plant growing in the region.

4. In addition to the Cache Valley settlements, other early communities were established in high mountain valleys to the east of Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Prove: Wanship in 1854, Morgan in 1855, Peoa in 1857, and Midway and Heber in 1859.

5. By contrast, the calls to the Outer Colonies were more specific (as is detailed in the following chapter). Men called on Indian missions heard their names called from the pulpit at General Conference. A notable exception (discussed in chap. 5) was when apostles Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich had so many volunteers to go to the San Bernardino region that they exceeded their quota.

6. True, B. H. Roberts included a chapter in the third volume of his Comprehensive History of the Church on “Pioneer Women.” But the title is misleading since only two and one-half of the chapter’s twenty-seven pages are devoted to the role played by women in colonizing the Mormon communities.