1. The Pioneers Enter Sanpete Valley
  2. A Year of Privations
  3. The First Summer
  4. Health, Indians, Grist Mill
  5. Walker, the Crafty Indian Chief
  6. The Indians on the War Path
  7. The Indian Troubles Continue
  8. Novel Indian Move Gave Sanpete County Impetus
  9. Maniti's First Settlers

Novel Indian Move Gave Sanpete County Impetus

By Mrs. W. G. Freschknecht, Deseret News Correspondent

Early morning haze hung thickly on the late August morning, almost shrouding the towering Wasatch Mountains to the east, and making an opaque cobalt overcast on the endless sagebrush flats and bluegrass bogs over the Sanpitch Valley floor.

That was August 21, 1849, when Chief Wah-ker and his subchiefs stood on an eminence north of what is now Fountain Green and might have said to the emissaries of President Brigham Young: "This is the valley I would have the paleface settle to bring knowledge of his God and ways of his growing roots and animals to my people."

Several days before, Chief Wah-kar and his subchiefs had paid a visit to President Brigham Young in Salt Lake City, and had requested that he send colonists to Sanpitch. Subsequently, President Young sent Joseph Horne, W. W. Phelps, Ira Willis and D. B. Huntington south with the Indians to ascertain the feasibility of Wah-ker's unique request.

Exploring the valleys of what is now Sanpete County, and possibly the Sevier River watershed and valleys, the appraisal party returned and reported that colonization of the area seemed both feasible and desirable. Then, too, the royal welcome and courtesy shown to the emissaries by Wah-ker and his people, had something to do with the report both from a standpoint of colonization, and the fact that here at last had come a request from the Lamanite that he be taught the Gospel.

President Young immediately called for volunteers to colonize Sanpitch Valley, and sometime later 50 families from Salt Lake City and Centerville responded. The company left late in the fall under the leadership of Isaac Morley, Seth Taft, Charles Shumway and Nelson Higgins.

After roads were cleared and bridges built over streams in Salt Creek Canyon (Nephi Canyon) the colonists finally entered the Sanpitch Valley on November 22, 1849.

What the settlers saw as they observed the bleak valley floor, and the forbidding mountains now covered with snow, must have chilled them to the bone. But they went forward, undaunted, until they reached what is now Shumway Springs south of Ephraim. At this point some of the settlers wanted to make a settlement, but others wanted to push on "where the hill juts out from the mountains into the valleys." The latter opinion prevailed and the company made its first permanent camp on City Creek, where Manti now stands.

Prepared For Winter

Temporary shelters made of wagon boxes and other belongings were put together just in time to cope with heavy snows. At that time it was deemed advisable to move to the south side of the hill from where they were camping so they could dig in for the winter, and be more protected from the elements.

As soon as the camp was settled, 12 men under the direction of Jerome Bradley, were dispatched to Salt Lake City to get supplies. The first winter (1849-1850) was extreme in its fury. By the middle of December there were three feet of snow on the valley floor and some drifts ranged from eight to 20 feet deep. Indians claimed it was the most severe winter in their memory.

Having brought no grain nor hay for their animals, men and boys set to work shoveling snow into windrows for protection of the cattle and to uncover the dry grass found near the Sanpitch River slues. Stories are told of how the settlers filed the horns of the oxen and cattle to make them sharp so that attacks of wild animals could be warded off, and at the same time assist them in breaking through the frozen snow to the dry grass underneath.

Herds Were Halved

It is reported that in the spring of 1850 only 113 head of cattle remained out of the 250 head the colonists had brought the fall before. Many stories are told of how the half-starved Indians would wait for an animal to die of starvation, and then greedily pounce upon the bony carcass.

The principal work during the first winter was gathering fuel, shoveling snow from the dry grass and hunting for edible animals for food.

Soon after arriving the pioneers found that the area was occupied by Ute Indians. They were predatory and war-like by nature, and maintained control of a tribe of Indians called "Diggers" who were never permitted to leave the valley. This Vassal tribe lived on roots, berries, rabbits, groundhogs and birds. This slave tribe was called Sanpitchers. Remnants of the tribe lived in Thistle Valley or Indianola, for many years after the settlement of Sanpete.

This history is from a pamphlet, Early Manti, Printed in 1959
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