In 1864, after reading
the U.S. Army report of navigation possibilities of the Colorado
River, Brigham YOUNG,
president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dispatched an
exploration team to the Colorado with a two fold mission.
First they were to determine a location for a warehouse and river port for
supplies and passengers. Second, they were to scout the area and determine
locations for settlements to raise crops and in particular cotton. The Civil War
had cut off cheaper cotton from the south and this was a main crop to be grown
in these settlements. The church also needed a less expensive way to transport
passengers from Overseas to Utah.
A location was
established for the warehouse and river port which eventually became Calls
Landing named for Anson CALL who supervised the building. Eventually a small
community named Callville was also established,
but this was on the Colorado
River and south of the area
that became known as Moapa
In January of 1865, a
small group of pioneer settlers arrived at a location given to them by the
Church and founded the settlement of St. Thomas, so named for Thomas
Sasson SMITH, itís leader. It was eventually moved
about a mile and a half farther south at the direction of the Church to prevent
flooding. Several months later, more pioneer settlers arrived and settled an
area seven miles north of St.
Thomas naming this one
Joseph for Joseph Warren FOOT,
their leader. Both settlements were along the
River which supplied drinking
and irrigation water. These pioneers drained swamps,
dug canals for water and raised many crops including grapes, cotton, barley,
rye, wheat, vegetables and maintained cattle, hogs and chickens. A mill was
built on a sand bench above the settlement of St.
Joseph near what is now Perkins
Field. It was called Simmonville for the
builder, and later Milltown.
Some pioneers settled a
small area three miles west of St.
Joseph named Overton. It
was so called as it was referred to as going over town. Overton also received
water from the Muddy
River. These settlements were
a source of cotton and other goods to be sent down river to other settlements in
Arizona and around into
With the failure of Calls
Landing in 1868, outside contact was lost with the exception of trails along the
old Sante Fe Trail into
Vegas which was then a ranch
owned by Helen J. STEWART. Farmers sold their wares along the
Dorado mining area and Searchlight, and into Arizona along the Shiv-Wits plateau and Kingman.
These settlements were
part of the Cotton Mission according to records, but also referred to as The
Muddy Mission. They were located in what was later to become the Lower Muddy
valley. In the spring of 1868, a small group of pioneers under the direction of
Andrew GIBBONS went west into the Upper Muddy and established
Point, so called as it was the
farthest west of all towns in the region along the
River. After the abandonment
by the Mormons, and in 1873, West Point later became part of the Moapa River
Indian Reservation and the area settled by whites was named Moapa.
Moapa was a bastardized version of the Pahute name Moa-Pah meaning
"bitter or muddy waters".
River had its beginnings at
the springs located in the upper Muddy
Valley in an area now known as
Warm Springs. It consisted originally of a small brick cabin. A few years
later, the HUNTSMAN family established Cave Springs near the mouth of the
Meadow Valley Wash canyon. This later became the dividing line between
County and the new
County created in
A small canyon dividing
the upper from the lower was called the Narrows. Hiram and Dortha WISER, parents of Helen Jane WISER STEWART purchased
this land as it was near the Sante Fe Trail between
Utah. They built the Wiser
Ranch and, along with providing a resting place for weary travelers, they
supplied them with food and drink.
The Mormon exodus took
place in February of 1871 after two things occurred. The final
Nevada border line was
established determining that this entire area was in
Nevada and not in
Mexico. Nevadaís taxes were
payable only in gold and the Lincoln County Sheriff was posting notices on all
doors that past (2 years worth already paid to Utah and Arizona) taxes were now
due and payable. The farmers had nothing but their crops and no way to obtain
gold as the miners did. They left crops in the fields, livestock and in many
cases personal possessions, returning to Utah. Only one family
remained headed by Daniel BONELLI. By this time, BONELLI had moved down the Muddy to its confluence with the
Colorado and built a home there.
He also established a ferry business. This was known as Junctionville, Bonelliís
Ferry or Rioville.
In 1873, the federal
government established a Paiute Indian Reservation at
the abandoned settlement of West
Point. A Miner by the name of
LOGAN settled in one of the
homes abandoned by the settlers of St.
Joseph and that area became
known as Logan or later Logandale.
In 1881, Elizabeth
WHITMORE, widow of Dr. Robert WHITMORE who had explored this area in the 1850ís,
returned to the area and purchased land immediately renaming it Overton.
In her employ was Ute Warren PERKINS. PERKINS cleared the land and purchased
some of his own. PERKINS and WHITMORE became two of the largest landowners of
In 1935, upon completion
of Boulder Dam, now called Hoover Dam for President J. Edgar HOOVER, the
resulting backup of water creating Lake
Thomas, the only continually
occupied original settlement of the Pioneers. Graves were relocated to the now
Cemetery located off Magnasite and State Route 169 in Southern
For more information on
this area see:
Zion On the Muddy by G. Lynn Bowler,
Thomas and Kaolin,
Patricia SCOTT and
Virginia Beezy Lani TOBIASSON, 2006
Howard Hughes and
His Other Empire and His Men by Clint Baxter and Jim HAWORTH,
Hookey Beans and Willows by
Orville PERKINS, reprint 2001.