Tonaquint was settled in 1856 when three log cabins were built there by Rufus C. Allen, and Hyrum Burgess. It was named for Tonaquint, a Band of Indians, under the leadership of Chief Tut-se-gavits, who lived nearby on the Santa Clara Creek. Allen and Burgess were Indian missionaries from Fort Harmony who had come down to help the Indians in the area. The missionaries helped with irrigation and a dam was constructed with the resulting water to be used half on one side for the Indians and half on the other side for the whites.
Later, some of the settlers of Washington, who had become discouraged, moved to Tonaquint. At the time Brigham Young visited the place in 1861 there were twelve families all of whom were former settlers of Washington. This settlement was also known as "Seldom Stop," or "Seldom Sop," "Never Sweat," and "Lick Skillet."
On the occasion of Brigham Young's visit in May 1861 he stood and looked toward what would become the valley of St. George and gave his famous prophecy of the area.
B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.127,
p.122 tells us:
"On the occasion of President Young's visit to the Rio Virgin valley in May, 1861, he had stood at the little settlement of Tonaquint and looked northward up a gently sloping valley between two and three miles in extent from the banks of the Rio Virgin. The valley is formed by "the projecting ridges of two spurs of the Pine Valley Mountains, opening and expanding toward the river, skirting it on the south." Waving his hand to include this valley in the scope of his remark, the great Pioneer said: "There will yet be built between those volcanic ridges a city with spires, towers, and steeples, with homes containing many inhabitants." The head of that valley, the place indicated by President Young, is where St. George now stands, with its beautiful white temple, with church steeples as well as the temple tower, its substantial and creditable school and other public buildings, and around which are grouped "homes containing many inhabitants."
The flood in early 1862 changed conditions for everyone in the southern part of Utah Territory. The cotton farm at Tonaquint was swooped clean and replaced with miles of mud and debris. The townspeople lost their homes and livelihood made their way to the camp of the St. George pioneers and lodged for a time in the large tent the St. George settlers had been using for two weeks as a school.
The settlement of Tonaquint was abandoned after the flood, but the land was farmed under what came to be known as the "Seep Ditch." While Tonaquint existed, it was the southernmost settlement in the Territory of Utah.
The name of Tonaquint is not forgotten in the area. As the city of St. George has sprawled and encloses the area of the original settlement it has named a new park, cemetery, and road in the area Tonaquint. The name is also found in area businesses. -CBA
Andrew Jenson in the Encyclopedic History of the Church says this about
"TONAQUINT, Washington Co., Utah, was the name of a small settlement founded by Latter-day Saints in 1859, at the junction of the Santa Clara River with the Rio Virgen, about eight miles southeast of the Santa Clara fort. It was, at the time of its existence, the most southern settlement in the territory of Utah. Tonaquint existed as a settlement until 1861, when the founding of St. George took place. James Pearce acted as president of the Tonaquint Branch when St. George was first settled."
For more information on the settlement of this area check out these two books
by Guenavere Allen Sandberg at the Washington County Library or the Dixie
State College Library:
-"A MILLION MILES OF FAITH; THE STORY OF RUFUS CHESTER ALLEN"
-"ONE WIFE TOO MANY" - the story of Rufus's second wife Margaret McConnell.
Note to all:
If you have histories of the pioneers of Tonaquint (on a website or that
you would like to have published on the web), other genealogy help for these
towns, or know of related links please please let me know.
Copyright © 2006 by Cynthia B. Alldredge