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THE WASHINGTON CITY UTAH HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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UTAH'S "DIXIE" BIRTHPLACE 

 By Harold and Priscilla Cahoon 
List Price: $29.95              
Soft Cover 8.5 x 11 282p  & 300 Photos
ISBN 1888106204 July 1996  14 PT

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Illustrators   Authors    A Brief History of the Washington City Area   Excerpt  

 Back Cover Text
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Of the pioneers who came to Utah from the Southern States in the 1800s, a group was asked to go on to Southern Utah and grow cotton, a commodity needed in the face of the Civil War. Life was hard, food was scarce, and more babies and children died than lived as flood after flood destroyed their crops. Stories of individual pioneers.  Includes statistical Info, maps, surveys, stories about people, folklore, medicines, food, superstitions, script used for money, etc. Sponsored by The Washington City Historical Society.

ILLUSTRATORS
Lee, Roland-cover Painting; Interior Paintings and Drawings: Beanna Gentry, Prudence Bice, Julia Fox, Oneta K. Shurtz.

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AUTHORS HAROLD CAHOON & PRISCILLA CAHOON

Harold P. Cahoon, born in Salt Lake City, attended the University of Utah and gained a B.S degree in Ceramics. Receiving the Edward Orton Fellowship at the University of Washington, he graduated with a M.S. degree in Ceramic Engineering with a minor in Mineralogy. In 1955 he received a Ph.D. in Ceramics and a minor in Mineralogy from the University of Utah. He rose to president and CEO of Interstate Brick Company, and was also president of Entrada Corporation, Wasatch Chemical Company, Fox Clay Company, and Interstate Land Company.

Priscilla Johnson Cahoon was born in Mesa, Arizona, and graduated from Lincoln High School in Orem, Utah. She is the mother of five children, twenty-five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She was the president of junior and senior high school PTA organizations, president of Sugarhouse Rotary Arms, president of Neighborhood Garden Club, president of Salt Lake Literary Art Guild, Five-year Service Award volunteer at the Primary Children's Hospital, Member of the Preservation Commission of Washington City, and president of the Washington City Historical Society.

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A Brief History of the Washington City Area

John D. Lee established a farm on Ash Creek in 1852 and called it Harmony. He spent some time exploring the Virgin basin, and reported to Brigham Young that the land was fertile and there was plenty of water. The climate was mild and tropical plants, including cotton, could be raised there.
    In the summer of 1854 Jacob Hamblin and four other men were sent on a permanent basis to settle on the Santa Clara River. Their main mission was to teach the Gospel to the Indians. In 1855 they planted some cotton which did very well, and enough lint was produced in 1855 to make thirty yards of cloth. They grew another crop in 1856, thus proving that cotton could grow and mature there.
    Brigham Young could see the conflict that was about to erupt between the Northern and Southern States, and he knew that it would disrupt cotton growing in the South, making cotton supplies unavailable for cloth. He also wanted the Saints to be self-supporting and not have to rely on the "Gentiles." Most of all he wanted to keep the short supply of money in the area so that the Saints would not be so dependent on outsiders. He felt that cotton growing was a timely solution to all these problems.
    In 1857 just one year after Tonaquint was founded, Brigham Young had two groups called to the Virgin basin, and specifically to the Washington City area. (Tonaquint was located where the Santa Clara empties into the Virgin, and it was completely destroyed by the 1861-62 flood.) Brigham Young chose the area of Washington City because of John D. Lee’s report of the flat land south of the city, and the abundance of water available. One group, the Samuel Adair Company, consisting of ten families, left Payson, Utah, on March 3, 1857. They arrived in Washington City at what is known as Adair Spring on April 15. The second group, the Robert D. Covington Company, consisted of twenty-eight families. They left the Salt Lake area shortly after being called in early April and arrived in the same area as the Adair group on May 5 or 6, 1857. Both groups were from the Southern States, and had experience growing cotton. They came mainly from the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee. Robert Covington had worked as an overseer on a cotton plantation where he directed slaves in the growing of cotton. These settlers brought tobacco with them, as well as the habit of using it.
    It was these early Southern missionaries who first called the Washington City area "Dixie." It just came naturally to them to call the land Dixie. The name later spread to include all of the Southern Utah area, but mainly St. George, Washington, and Santa Clara. These early settlers formed the mission which was called both the "Cotton Mission," and the "Southern Mission."
    On May 6 or 7, 1857, at a 4:00 p.m. conference, President Isaac C. Haight of Cedar City gave instructions to both groups, and the precinct was named "Washington" in honor of George Washington, the Father of Our Country. At the same conference which lasted two days, Robert D. Covington was selected president of the Church branch that was formed. It was approximately a year later when he was made bishop of the Washington Ward. They also elected Wm. R. Slade and James D. McCullough as Justices of the Peace, James Matthews and John Hawley as constables, Wm. Young and Joseph Adair as fence viewers and G. (Gabriel) R. Coley as stray pound keeper. Wm. R. Slade, Geo. Hawley and G. W. Spencer were named school trustees.
    They must have laid out the town soon after this meeting since no homes are built in the roads, and the streets are wide and straight running north and south, east and west. No record has been found telling who laid out the city in 1857. It is the authors’ opinion that William Hinton Crawford laid out the city and surveyed it, because he was appointed Washington County Surveyor in 1857.
    They went right to work to prepare ground for planting crops, and they built dams and ditches to carry water to them. The Virgin River (spelled "Virgen" then) played its ugly part that first year. It washed out the dams twice in 1857. It was too late to plant wheat so they planted corn and other vegetables as well as cotton. Each family had about one pound of cotton seed with them.
    Early housing was meager at best. Wagon boxes, willow and mud huts, and dugouts were the main shelters. See P-22A-1 and P-22A-2 for pictures of the remains of old dugouts.

The 1857 missionaries had a very difficult time, and half of them had left the area by 1861. It was a common saying that those who remained were too poor to leave. Malaria (chills and fever, or "ague" as these symptoms were called) was rampant. Other diseases also plagued the families and were especially hard on the children. It was said that more babies and young children died than lived. Malaria not only killed some, but sapped the strength of others so that they could not work at one hundred percent capacity. There was little money. Food was scarce. Wire was not available for fencing, so keeping animals out of the gardens was a problem. Animal forage was also scarce and that remained a problem until alfalfa (called "lucerne" by the pioneers) was introduced into the area by Charles Stapley who returned to this area when the Saints were called back from San Bernardino, California, in the winter of 1857-1858. A letter sent by R. F. Goold to the Deseret News in 1861 states there were a few small patches of alfalfa growing. Bleak’s Crop Report of 1864 states that lucerne was grown in several towns in Washington County. In 1864 in Toquerville where Stapley lived there were 24 acres being grown. It took several more years before its production was sufficient to supply their needs. Native forage was so scarce that straw and other substitutes were sometimes fed to the animals, which didn’t give them the necessary strength to do a hard day’s work. 
    Dams on the Virgin River were repeatedly washed out. Every year the rock-brush dams were destroyed by floods. In 1857 it happened twice, then two times in 1858, and three times in 1859. The few settlers remaining were worn out by hard work and the effects of illnesses. Food scarcities meant that they ate greens or bulbs or whatever they could find. Things were tough.The mission appeared to be a failure, or close to it, in 1861. There were only seventy-nine families living south of the Great Basin rim (south of Kanarraville) and only twenty families were left in Washington City by June of 1861.
    In the General Conference of October 1861, President Brigham Young called 309 families to come to Dixie to bolster the towns already established and to settle a new city, St. George. Elder Orson Hyde was instructed to enlist thirty to fifty families to strengthen the settlement at Fort Clara (Santa Clara). A group of about thirty families, who were from Switzerland, were sent to Santa Clara. These groups of 1861 not only settled St. George, but also spread out over the whole area. Among those settlers of 1861 are many of the prominent families whose names are recorded in early Washington City history.
    During the winter of 1857-58 about fifty families from the abandoned settlement of San Bernardino came through Washington on their way back into Utah. One of these families was that of William Smithson, known as "Buck." He was from South Carolina and felt at home among "kinfolk." He stayed and became one of the best cotton farmers. This added group imposed an additional strain on the ’57 settlers, but they did the best they could to welcome the San Bernardino group. In 1858 most of the California group moved on.
    In 1889 after much expense and effort, the pile dam—that was fully expected to finally conquer the Virgin River—was completed. On December 7, 1889 a large flood came that washed out half the dam. While deliberations were underway on how to repair it, a bigger flood came on December 15 and washed it all away. That incident seemed like the final blow. Before the flood the city population was about six hundred. After the flood the numbers gradually dwindled—by 1892 there were only 312 people left.
    Many people simply left. Others collected what small pittance of their belongings they could carry and then left. At least half of the homes in the city were left vacant. Those homes were occupied by horse traders and transients during the winter season. One can easily see why those homes were neglected and the original occupants forgotten.
    In February of 1891 the pioneer Washington Field Dam was completed. That dam tamed the Virgin River as never before. It withstood all floods—until the Quail Creek Dam broke in 1989 and washed out part of it. Washington Field Dam has since been repaired, thus insuring the continued cultivation of the Washington Fields which has been going on successfully since 1891.
    Washington City has grown very slowly until the past few years when there has been an influx of retired people who have discovered it to be a very attractive and warm place to spend winters. Recently the whole Dixie area has exploded with new population growth.

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EXCERPT

John D. Lee established a farm on Ash Creek in 1852 and called it Harmony. He spent some time exploring the Virgin basin, and reported to Brigham Young that the land was fertile and there was plenty of water. The climate was mild and tropical plants, including cotton, could be raised there. In the summer of 1854 Jacob Hamblin and four other men were sent on a permanent basis to settle on the Santa Clara River.... In 1855 they planted some cotton which did very well, and enough lint was produced in 1855 to make thirty yards of cloth. They grew another crop in 1856, thus proving that cotton could grow and mature there.
    Brigham Young could see the conflict that was about to erupt between the Northern and Southern States, and he knew that it would disrupt cotton growing in the South, making cotton supplies unavailable for cloth.... In 1857 just one year after Tonaquint was founded, Brigham Young had two groups called to the Virgin basin, and specifically to the Washington City area.
    During the starving time, the pioneers ate anything they could. Corn was their chief grain, which made a coarse bread. Grapes and dried fruit were other foods. Flour was scarce and expensive as well as meat, milk, and cheese. There were three major sources of script (money) in the early days. Tithing, Cotton Factory, and Cannon Co-op script were common. Later, script from some stores was also used.... Script could be used like money at the different locations but they didn't have much cash value. Early residents had their superstitions also. The breaking of a mirror meant seven years of bad luck. It could also mean that a death in the family would occur. Walking under a ladder was bad luck. Quoting from Reference No. 131 (p.74), "My mother once was giving a dear friend and neighbor a few sewing needles. The friend said, 'Oh, Sister Pearce, don't hand them to me. I am very glad for them but just put them up where I can see them and I will take them when you are not looking-otherwise they will bring me ill luck and cut our love and friendship'."

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BACK COVER

Thousands of families left their homes to come to Northern Utah, almost a desert land. Among these stalwart pioneers came a group from the South, before the bitter fighting of the Civil War. These pioneers left a South that was fertile, lush, and green, where huge plantations grew bounteous crops. On March 3, 1857, Samuel N. Adair and ten other Southern families were asked by Brigham Young to go to Southern Utah-reportedly a more fertile land-to grow cotton, a much needed commodity. Less than a month later, Robert D. Covington and another group of twenty-eight Southern families left to join the first group. The day following their arrival on May 7, 1857, the two groups met together under the direction of President Haight of Cedar City and organized themselves to function as a group. They formed a city, which they named-Washington City. Immediately they started digging ditches and canals, then the greater effort of building dams-to provide water to irrigate their crops. These Southerners decided to name their land -Dixie-and later it was called "Utah's Dixie." Life was hard and food was scarce. More babies and children died than lived. These stout-hearted pioneers found the natural environment of Southern Utah unforgiving of their efforts to harness the river. Successive floods drowned out their hard fought efforts to produce crops. Eventually the railroad connected the United States from coast to coast and cotton became available. Thus the "cotton" effort in Southern Utah was brought to a close. The valiant efforts of these Southerners have never been forgotten and their legendary spirit remains with us today.

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PHOTO & ILLUSTRATION CONTENTS

Adair, George Washington 260

Adair Spring 92, 222

Adams, John 70
Adams, Morgan 176
Adobe Yard 80
Alexander, Martha 57
Alexander Family Graves 108
Andrus, Randolph 103
Atkins, Heber and Cox 116
Averett, Geo. Washington Gill 75
Averett, Henry 68
Averett, Jim 70

Bastain, Jacob 113, 114
Beet Seed 127
Boggs, George 133
Bridge-Wooden on Virgin River 185
Brigham Young’s Road 222
Camp Washington 188
Cascade Swimming Pool 188
CCC Camp 196
Cemetery, Washington City 190
Chidester, John P. 151
Clark, John W. 137
Community Corral 93
Connell, Bert 110
Connell, Robert 102
Connell, Samuel 105
Cooper, Rasmus 61
Cooper, William Darby 66, 73
Cotton Factory 166
Cotton Factory Sign 227
Covington, Robert D. 95
Crawford, Arthur 185
Crawford, Joseph 89
Dam—Canal from Frontside 198
Dam—First Dams 199,200
Dam—Pile 205
Dam—Remains of Pile Dam 206,207
Dam—Virgin River 205
Dam—Washington Fields 225
Dance Hall 85
Dugouts on 200 East 92
Elephant Arch 226
Ephraim Hall 104
Fence—Cut Stone 212
Fence—Foundation of Lava Rock 212
Fence—Living Willow 214
Fences—Rock 211
Fence—Solid Cedar Post 213
Fences—Woven Cedar 209, 210
Foster Farm 208

Gould, Billy 109
Gould, Samuel 127
Grapevine Pass Springs 220
Gravel Pit 192

Hafen, Frank 193
Hall, Calvin 154, 185
Hall, George 140
Hall’s Headhouse 93
Hall, Irvin 86
Hall, James 120
Hannig, Joe 106
Hannig, Sr., Julius 64, 203
Hannig, Jr., Julius 64
Heywood, Martha 82
Highway 91
Crossing Ash Creek 215
Hofer, Mr. and Mrs. 194
Hog Pasture 173

Iverson, Christian 121
Iverson, Elijah (Leseus) 62
Iverson, Jeppe 63
Iverson, Miller 60
Iverson, Walter H. 129
Iverson, Walter Molasses Mill 128
Iverson, Victor 124

Jails 56
Jolley-Cox Home 146
Jolley, John 102
Jolley, Washington L. 134
Jones, Thomas Jefferson 165
Judd, Joseph 133

Kiln, Pioneer Lime 208
Larson, Frank 89
Larson, William 74
Lee, John D. 97
Lloyd, Robert Lewis 262
Lyle, Cuba Hall 150

Mill Ditch 178
Mill Ponds 164
Miller, Edward 174
Milne, Athole 118
Monument—Daughters of Utah Pioneers 228
Monument—Honoring Pioneers 1857, 1860, 1861-1862 - 222, 229

Neilson, Peter, Sr. 73
Neilson, Peter, Jr. 77
Neilson, Israel 187
Nichol’s Peak Cut 202
Nisson, Niels 137
Nisson Store 185
Nisson, Willard 175

Parker, Robert Home 186
Paxman, Arthur 182
Pecan Tree, largest in Utah 84
Pectol, Roy 95
Peter’s Leap 215
Pioneer Road on Black Ridge 217
Prisbrey, Hyrum 62
Prisbrey, Sr., Hyrum 68
Prisbrey, Hyrum 100

Quarry, Rock 95, 191
Quarry, Black Lava Rock 192

Relief Society Hall 143
Ruby, Lodema 176

Sand between Anderson Junction and Leeds 218
Sandberg, Elmer 58
Sandberg, Steen 184
Sandberg, Swen 59
Sandberg, Wayne 68
Schmutz, Herman 72
Shinob-Kiab 195, 196
Smith, Allen Freeman 263
Smith, Elizabeth Janett Smithson 264
Smith, Thomas Washington 264
Snow Grist Mill 170
Sorensen, Andrew 108
Sproul, Denzil 143
Sproul, Leonard 129
Staheli, Frank 130
Stephens, Lydia 81
Stone Church—Washington Ward 149
Stone School 144
Stone Quarry 39
Stray Pen 185

Tanner, Jim 165
Tanner, Sr., John 54
Tanner, Jr., John 181
Tegan, Herman 123
Terry, William R. 260
Thayne, Alec 86
Thayne, George 138
Tithing Granary—Old 203
Tithing Yard 101
Tobler, Albert 152
Tobler, William 125
Tunnel—Schlappi Tunnel 200
Tunnel—Sproul, Picket, Beard 201
Turnbeaugh, William 193
Warm Spring 173
Washington Fields Dam—Work 225
Weaver, William 115
Westover, Charles 111

Young Pete Neilson 78


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