Pinto, Washington County, Utah


Pinto is now considered a ghost town although there are a few year-round residents and many others that keep semi-permanent homes there.  Some long-time Pinto families include the Hafens, Milnes, Snows, Knells, Harrisons, and several others.   

Clear Pinto Creek and its surrounding lush meadows was a natural stopping place on the Old Spanish Trail for the traders and Indian slavers who were the main users of the trail. The area grew a good natural grass and grain that the settlers of Parowan would come and gather as hay for their cattle.

Pinto was one of the earliest LDS settlements in Washington County.  Some of the early missionaries who were sent to Harmony settled in the Pinto area.  Captain Rufus Allen, Richard S. Robinson, Amos G. Thornton, Prime T. Coleman, Benjamin Knell, Robert Dixon and David W. Tullis were among the group who went to Pinto in the fall of 1856.  Rufus C. Allen finished the first dug-out on Pinto Creek and the two families of Rufus C. Allen and Richard S. Robinson and several unmarried men spent the winter of 1856-57 there.

In 1859 on July 17 Pinto was organized. Richard S. Robinson, president of the branch; and Amos G. Thornton, first and Benjamin Hulse, second counselor; Thales H. Haskell, clerk. At this time the settlers at Pinto were: Richard S. Robinson and family, Amos G. Thornton and family, Benjamin Hulse and family, Prime T. Coleman and family, Thales H. Haskell and family, Widow Eccles (whose husband,  Thomas Eccles, died on the plains in the  1856 Martin handcart company) and family, Benjamin Knell and George Day. The Pinto branch was attached to the Santa Clara organization.

At the March 1860 term of the Washington County Court, Pinto was organized as a precinct of Washington County. Benjamin Hulse was appointed Justice of the Peace, Prime T. Coleman, constable, Amos G. Thornton, pound keeper and Richard S. Robinson, road supervisor.

The first settlers on Pinto Creek located where Pinto now is, according to advice from President George A. Smith. The settlers built their houses close together in fort style, making two rows of houses. They had no trouble with the Paiute Indians, but the Navajo Indians, about 1886, stole some stock from the range. The main street of the town follows the general course of the valley from southeast to northwest. The first meeting house at Pinto consisted of a small log house about 15 x 16 feet, built about 1860. A rock meeting house 24 x 34, was built in 1866 and was for many years also used as a schoolhouse.

In 1865 a treaty was made with the Paiute Indians by Colonel O.H. Iries at Pinto on September 18, 1865.

In 1868 the Union Iron Company comenced operations at Little Pinto bringing more settlers to the area.  James G. Bleak who was traveling through the area with Erastus Snow and others said of their stop at Pinto on July 22, 1868, "...At this settlement there were nineteen families. It was a thriving place, built in fort style. Richard S. Robinson was Bishop at this time. A very creditable juvenile choir was found here, under the direction of Elder Joseph Elredge, formerly of London, England. This place was found to have a fair prospect of breadstuffs for a year to come, though there have been serious frosts."

Pinto continued as a small thriving farming community until 1916.  At that time some residents who needed more land and water than Pinto offered bought and homesteaded the land at the mouth of Pinto canyon on the edge of the Escalante desert. They began to farm in the area and vacated the Pinto settlement to found the new town of Newcastle.

The first Bishop of the Pinto Ward was Richard S. Robinson, he was chosen and ordained in 1867 with Amos G. Thornton and Benjamin R. Hulse as his counselors. He served until 1877 when Robert Knell was set apart to preside over the Pinto Ward. His counselors were John H. Harrison and Donald Forsyth.  He served until 1897 when he was succeeded by Robert C. Knell. In 1903 Heber E. Harrison was chosen as Bishop, he served until the Pinto Ward was dissolved in 1916.

The Pinto area still offers excellent pasture and grazing for stock and many nice summer gardens are raised in the beautiful valley.

The stalwart pioneers of Pinto have many descendants throughout the country who are very proud of their ancestors and their Pinto roots.

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Pinto Cemetery Records: from Wesley W. Craig's Washington County Cemetery Index

Pinto Pioneer Index

History of Pinto, Utah by Rulon Knell: from the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

Related links:


Note to all:

If you have histories of the pioneers of Pinto (on a website or that you would like to have published on the web),
other genealogy help for this town, or know of related links please let me know.
--Cindy Alldredge



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Copyright © 2006 by Cynthia B. Alldredge