Sunday, March 24, 2013

City Begins by Indian Request ~ by Fern M. Jacobs

In the beginning, there was a beautiful little valley tucked between high mountains of the Wasatch Range.  The Indians and wild animals  had been its only occupants.  Several sparkling mountain streams flowed down the face of the mountains giving life to the land it touched.  Then came the white men and civilization as it is called.

It is impossible to separate the migration from almost every nation of Europe, from the Latter-day Saint Church......especially in the beginning.  They were attempting to escape the persecution of men not believing in the "inalienable right" to worship as they pleased given in the first documents written up by the founding fathers of this new nation.  So it was decided to come west to a spot no one else would want in the dessert surroundings of the great salt sea.

So as the migration continued, there were many who found land and built homes in the Salt Lake and Cache valleys.  After Chief Walker, Chief Sowiette and a band of Ute Indians went to Salt Lake to urge President Young to send "pale faces" south to this Sanpitch Valley to teach the Indians how to build their houses and till the soil, a group of men journeyed down into this valley and were entertained by the Indian tribe.  It was decided that Manti be the first settlement.  They came on November 22, 1849, about 43 families making shelters in dug-outs, wagon boxes, or whatever could be found.  After a terrible winter and infestation of rattle snakes in the spring, they began the arduous task of clearing land, planting crops and building homes.

Among the group who first settled Manti were two men, Madison D. Hambleton, Gardner Potter and their families.  These two men, in 1851, came north to Pleasant Creek Canyon and found desirable timber to be cut.  So they brought out timber, cut shingles and furnished lumber for building the first homes in Allred Settlement ( later called Spring Town ).

In the spring of 1852, under the direction of these two men, a settlement was made on Pleasant Creek about a mile west of where the town of Mt. Pleasant is not situated.  About six families made their way here, built homes and began to till up the soil on the south of the little settlement.  There was plenty pastureland as well as the creek and the sawmill which he and Potter built.

It has been found through research and the stories of a great-granddaughter of Madison Hambleton now living in Mt. Pleasant, that Mr. Hambleton was born Nov. 2, 1811 in Erie, New York, and died July 1901 in Nephi.  He and his family, consisting of a wife and two daughters, had been in Nauvoo when the expulsion took place and came west to Salt Lake and lived there in Cottonwood for a time before coming to Manti with the first group.

Their sawmill was located in Pleasant Creek Canyon just west of the present site of our power plant and supplied lumber for much of the building in the valley.  These two men saw the great possibilities of what was to become one of the big enterprises of the community later on.  At one time, many sawmills dotted our mountains and gave employment to many men with their teams and wagons.

The site was chosen near the slaughter house used for many years by Erickson Meat Co.  This to many seems the most logical place, from the scant information give of our early history.  If anyone knows more about this matter, we would greatly appreciate additional data.  Around this spot are many trees  .... not necessarily the local type.  One can recognize Russian Olive, ash, box elder and the more common poplar, willow and oak.  This suggests these trees having been planted for shade trees.  Also the site was on the bend of Pleasant Creek as it turns north to join Sanpitch River.

Early in July, 1853, the Ute Indians went on the war path because of some killings  the Indians thought unjust.  Chief Walker had changed his attitude toward the whites shortly after they had arrived in the Manti Valley and had been stealing cattle.  Chief Sowiette tried and was successful in subduing Chief Walker many times on behalf of the white men.  But this time the Indians got out of hand so to speak, and word was passed down through the state to expect trouble.  A posse was dispatched from Provo on July 23, 1853 and  after a bloody fight at Hambleton, the posse assisted the settlers to get to Spring Town.  As they left, they turned to watch the flames from Indian torches lay to ruin their little settlement and the sawmill.  Some of the men later returned to harvest what they could salvage of their crops.

The stay at Spring Town (or the Allred Settlement) was brief as they also had been threatened.  As a result, all was moved to Manti.  Here 765 men, women and children lived that winter.

In 1857, as Johnston's Army threatened the "peace to destroy,"  President Brigham Young urged the people to move farther south.  Thus, many more found their way to our little valley of the Sanpitch.  Also, there was a great migration about this time from the Scandinavian countries of LDS converts.  Many came to Ephraim, Manti and Sanpete.  By February of 1859 permission had been granted by President Young to resume a settlement on Pleasant Creek while urging extreme precaution to be taken and a fort built immediately to protect the people in case of another fierce Indian attack.  That spring, a larger group numbering about 20 families  lead by James R. Ivie, Joseph Clement and Isaac Allred left Manti.  The men had come up previous to this time to cut cedar posts and see the lay of the land.

The question was arisen as to why Madison Hambleton's name was not on the list of those who came in the second group. The answer has been found  through research that he and his son-in-law, Abraham Bosworth, had contracted to deliver mail from Manti to Nephi and up to Salt Lake once every week.  So he moved to Nephi and lived there the remainder of his life.  Just another side issue , Abraham Boswell had come over from Nephi  to purchase lumber from the Hambleton-Potter Sawmill and had met and fallen in love with Gerusha Hambleton.  They married in 1853 and lived in Hambleton Settlement until they were driven out with the rest.

As was suggested, a fort was one of the first considerations and was duely built of stone with native rock and mud mortar.  It was 26 rods square, with the walls 12 feet high ~~~ four feet at the bottom and graduated to two feet at the top with port holes to fire at the Indians if need be.  On the inside the fort walls were used as one wall for houses built about 18 feet square.  There were two large gates on the north and south with smaller ones on the east and west, leaving space for Pleasant Creek to flow from east to west through the fort to supply water for them.  This fort was located on the intersection of what is now Main and State Streets;  East about a block, north to about first north, west 40 rods, and south the beginning.

Many lived in the fort for a time until a dugout or houses could be built.  Then they would move out and others would come and take residency in the Fort until their abodes were ready.  Many families came and the town grew rapidly.  Soon there were about 800 inhabitants with about 1200 acres of ground under cultivation.  There was great rejoicing as the fort was completed in July 1859.  When the drums would beat, it was a signal for all to run for the fort as the Indians were coming.

In the center of the fort was built the first community building.  It was used as the very first school house with A.B. Strickland and Mrs. Oscar Winters as teachers.  It also served as meeting house, theater, dance hall and for church services.

There were difficult times but everyone had to be united in the effort of self protection, preservation from cold, hunger and lack of means.  It was a time of bartering....not much money changed hands.  Each one in turn would trade what he had, could raise or could make for something he needed, that someone else could furnish.  The United Order was begun but did not survive long, although in one sense of the word, the exchanging of services, handmade products and food was the basis for their survival.

There was much to do to get everything started.  City lots and farming land were divided and the settlers drew their land by number.  Irrigation ditches and canals had to be dug and rights established which stand to this present time.  We can stand in awe and amazement at the system organized with little or no understanding of the principles of irrigation.

Homes had to be built, trees, gardens and grain planted after the arduous task of clearing the high sage brush and rocks from the land.  Women set up looms and spinning wheels in their homes to make clothes from scratch; that is they would shear the sheep, wash and card the wool, spin and dye it, weave it and then cut and sew it by hand to make wearing apparel for their families as well as knitting stockings and sweaters.

I wonder in this day and age just how many of us would survive long if we had to grow or produce all we had to eat.  It gives us a deeper appreciation of our progenitors the work and diligence they demonstrated.

William S. Seely was appointed the first bishop which also entailed being the mayor and judge, but the town prospered.

They couldn't have all work and no play.  Not long after the fort was completed, there were theater performances staged with wagon covers used as curtains.  There were dances, weddings to celebrate, quiltings and celebrations to liven things up.

Five languages were spoken in Mt. Pleasant, so there was much confusion in understanding each other, but each group studied the gospel in his own tongue and was united in one cause .....their religion.

The first school established outside the fort was "Aunty Hyde's" school, located about one half a block west of the present high school.  She would call "to books ... to books" to begin the day in lieu of a bell.

The town was incorporated on February 20, 1868.

Many businesses needed to be established and all followed in the course as the needs arose such as a printing press, blacksmith shop, shoe makers, dentist shops, doctors' offices, hotels, post offices, banks, leather tanneries, adobe kilns for making bricks, sawmills and flour mills. Space will not permit a detailed outline of each of these projects and names of those responsible given credit.  I hesitate mentioning names for fear of deleting some more important than others.  All assisted each in his own way to make our town a better, more desirable place to live.

President Young sent word for a brass band to be established.  John Hasler, a musician from Switzerland brought instruments from his native land and established the first brass band.  For playing in this band each man was given a ten acre field in the northwest part of the community fields.  It is even yet referred to as the "brass band field".

The different auxiliaries of the church were organized and eventually the town was divided into wards and churches were built.  Dr. McMillian came and established Wasatch Academy in the year 1875.  A school house was built and called the "Simpson School" as Hans Y. Simpson had contributed generously to its being built.  It was located on 200 West and about where the Wasatch Academy tennis court now stands.

In 1889 the Deseret Telegraph branch line was completed to Mt. Pleasant.  1872 found the Indians and white men signing the Black Hawk War peace treaty in Bishop Wm. S. Seely's home which is now our Pioneer Museum on State Street.

The D&RG Railroad started its run from Salt Lake to Mt. Pleasant in the year 1890 as well as the telephone system from Fairview to Mt. Pleasant the following year.  Thus distances and communication brought the world closer to our fair, becoming city.

Mt. Pleasant erected a three story brick school house in the year 1898.  Its bell tolled curfew at nine o'clock each night and again in the morning, people could set their clock by the 8 o'clock bell ringing loud and clear with precise regularity.  The school was to have been named Hambleton in honor of Mt. Pleasant's first leader, but somehow it was changed to Hamilton.

The North Sanpete High School was completed in 1912.  This gave students a chance to continue their education beyond elementary school.  Wasatch Academy now included instruction for children kindergaarten through 12th grade as well.

Mt. Pleasant weathered three major floods in 1893, 1918, and 1946.  All went roaring down through the main section of town distributing mud, rocks and debris on each side of Pleasant Creek, through houses, stores and streets.  In 1918 one life was lost.  A flood dam has now been built to catch the quick run-off so we are hoping the problem is solved permanently.

For many years the sheep industry was the main way of making a living here.  First came the more common variety of sheep which would be taken to the west desert in the winter, returning in the spring to be traded to the mountain tops to graze on the high green grass.  Later, the Ramblette was brought from Russia.  This breed had long wool fibers and were much sought after.

In 1872 Mt. Pleasant boasted of a population of 3000 but times change and many sons and daughters reluctantly left home to make more lucrative living elsewhere.  Lately, many are moving back and the town population is increasing.  Several land development companies are selling lots for homes.  Many people have found out clean clear air, our desirable climate, cool mountain setting very desirable.  As you can tell, I for one, love our fair little city.

Fern acknowledges the book of  "Mt. Pleasant", compiled by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf; "These Our Fathers", compiled by Florence Bagnall and the family of Madison D. Hambleton, Mrs. Thomas Milburn a great granddaughter of Hambleton and "History of Sanpete and Emery Counties".  as her sources for her excellent report.

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"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."

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