Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.
HISTORY OF PINTO, UTAH
BY RULON KNELL
Pinto, with its lush meadows and clear stream of good water, was a natural stopping place on the Old Spanish Trail. The chief products carried over this trail, before the coming of the Mormons, were Indian slaves and peltries. When the Mormons first arrived in southern Utah they found a well-beaten trail through the streets of Pinto.
At the April conference in 1854, President Young called a group of missionaries to the Indians of Southern Utah. Under the leadership of Rufus C. Allen, they commenced operations at Harmony, Utah. About the end of May, the same year, President Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt and others of the General Authorities, visited there, President Young gave much instruction regarding conducting the mission and building up the settlements in southern Utah.
In December 1854, Jacob Hamblin with Ira Hatch, Samuel Knight, Thales Haskell and A.P. Hardy went down the Rio Virgin and settled Santa Clara. In the summer of 1855, Isaac Riddle, Jehu Blackburn and Robert Richey left Harmony and settled Pine Valley.
In the fall of 1856, six or eight Indian missionaries camped on Pinto Creek by a hay stack owned by Brother Gould, who, however, was not a permanent settler on the creek, but had come out from Parowan to cut hay. The missionaries, who were in charge of Rufus C. Allen, were on their way from New Harmony to Santa Clara. Benjamin Knell, one of the missionaries writes: "Rufus C. Allen was our president, or captain, and was with us most of the time, trying to get the Indians to come to our camps that we might let them know we were their friends. A few of the older men would come in, but were very shy. From our visit to the Santa Clara we went to Pinto and camped at Gould's hay stack in the summer of 1856. Brothers Dixon, Richard S. Robinson, Amos G. Thornton, Prime T. Coleman and David Wilson Tullis were a part of the company. That year we made our homes on the Pinto Creek hauling hay from the Mountain Meadows for our stock. The winter of 1856-57 was quite mild. Jehu Blackburn and I went on horseback up Pinto Creek to ascertain if we could get a team up the Canyon as he wanted to get into Pine Valley from New Harmony. We found the pass impossible. We drove two yoke of oxen and a heavy wagon on the trail to the head of the middle fork of Pinto creek and then climbed the ridge, getting into Pine Valley that night. Heavy freight teams enroute from Los Angeles, California to Salt Lake City would frequently camp on the Pinto Creek. The mountains were covered with grass. Jacob Hamblin was appointed our captain in a short time and he frequently came to Pinto to give us council.
Another account says that a meeting was called in the fall of 1856 by Rufus C. Allen who proposed, on account of the shortage of water, that the settlers at Harmony should take the water out from the Kanarra Creek, and the missionaries take the water from Harmony as this arrangement would give enough water for both parties. John D. Lee was opposed to this plan and the company divided, some going to the Santa Clara and others to Pinto. The following named brethren went to Pinto:
Rufus C. Allen (captain)
Samuel F. Atwood
Lorenzo W. Roundy
Richard S. Robinson
Amos G. Thornton
Prime T. Coleman
David W. Tullis
The same fall Nathaniel V. Jones came from Salt Lake City on his way to Las Vegas to work the lead mines there. He took Brother Samuel F. Atwood and Lorenzo W. Roundy with him. Rufus C. Allen finished the first dug-out on the Pinto Creek and two families, Richard S. Robinson and Rufus C. Allen, and a number of the unmarried men spent the winter of 1856-57 on Pinto Creek.
1857: Rufus C. Allen presided over the Pinto Settlement during the first six months of its existence, during which time meetings were held in private houses. In the spring of 1857, Rufus C. Allen was called back to Salt Lake City and Jacob Hamblin was appointed president of the Indian Mission by President Brigham Young. Brother Hamblin appointed Richard S. Robinson to preside at Pinto. Amos G. Thornton states that after the first two winters (1857-58 and 1858-59) most of the families moved down on the Santa Clara for the winter, returning to Pinto Creek in the spring. The principal industry of the Pinto settlement during the first two years was stock-raising and dairying and the little settlement soon became noed for its excellent cheese and butter. Grass was good and plentiful all over the hills and valleys. In a few years, as the range began to give way and more settlers moved in, more attention was paid to agriculture. All the available land and water was brought into use either for grain, grass, or vegetables. The water supply being very limited, farming was carried on on a small scale, but theland along Pinto Creek is of the best quality for grain, grass and vegetables.
1959: Elder James G. Bleak writes:
"July 17, 1859, 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 Captain Edward Martins' handcart company in 1856), and family, Benjamin Knell and George Day.
This Pinto branch as well as the settlers at Pine Valley at this time were attached to Santa Clara organization.
1860: At the March term (1860) of the Washington County Court, Pinto was organized as a precinct of Washington County, known as precinct No. 9. Benjamin Hulse was appointed Justice of the Peace. Prime T. Coleman, constable, Amos G. Thornton, pound keeper, and Richard S. Robinson, road 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 1866, stole some stock from the range. A townsite was subsequently surveyed. 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. The present rock meeting house 24 x 34 was built in 1866 and was for many years also used as a schoolhouse. A Sunday School was organized at Pinto January 11, 1863 with Robert Knell as superintendant.
1865: Colonel O.H. Iries made a treaty with the Piute Indians at Pinto September 18, 1865.
1867: Richard S. Robinson was sustained as presiding Elder of Pinto in February 1867, but at the meeting held at Pinto July 11, 1867, he was chosen as Bishop of the place and ordained such by President Erastus Snow. His counselors were Amos G. Thornton and Benjamin R. Hulse. Up to this time Pinto had belinged to the Cedar City Ward.
1869: Benjamin R. Hulse was set apart for a mission to the state of New York, April 21, 1869; he returned August 13, 1870. After the departure of Brother Hulse on this mission, Prime T. Coleman was chosen as second counselor in the bishopric in his stead.
In June 1868, the Union Iron Company commence operations at Little Pinto.
In July 1868, Erastus Snow and a number of other brethren from St. George visited the settlements belonging to the southern mission lying northwest of St. George. James G. Bleak, one of the party wrote: "From Spring Valley the missionaries started towards home on Tuesday 21st July, and drove to Pinto where they arrived on the evening of the 22nd of July. 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 directinof Elder Joseph Eldredge, 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."
Other early settlers in Pinto include Benjamin Platt, Robert Knell, Oscar Wood, Charles Westover, Neil D. Forsyth, Joseph Whithorn, Charles Nye, Isaiah Taylor and ---- Liston.
A Relief Society was orgainzed at Pinto May 9, 1869, with Mrs. Emma Coleman as president.
July 1, 1869, Erastus Snow and party on a visit thorugh the settlements held a meeting at Pinto. By unanimous vote, Mountain Meadows and tohse settled at the Pinto Iron Works and at Little Pinto, were attached to the Pinto Ward.
1871: Elder George C. Lambert, who visited Pinto in the spring of 1871, writes: "Pinto is a thrifty little settlement of about 14 families, containing several very good houses and a very neat substantial meeting house. Bishop Richard S. Robinson is a stirring, enterprising man and under his superintendance the people of this settlement have organized a co-operative stock herd which is now in successful operationa dnin connection with which a dairy is soon to be started upon the sme principle.
Under date of April 17, 1871, Bishop Richard S. Robinson wrote to the Deseret News from Pinto the following: "On Friday the 14th, I visited the Iron works in our Ward, and saw the brethren actually making iron. After some three years hard struggling, success has crowned their efforts. I saw several tons stacked by the works, and they were tapping the furnace at regular intervals and running out some eight hundred pounds every eight hours. No interruptions or stoppages by non-fluxing or chilling or uncontrollable obstructions occur as perplexed the brethren at Cedar City years ago; but everything seems to work very satisfactorily. Brother Richard Harrison of this place was present; a man long experienced in moulding iron in England and he pronounced the iron No. 1. Their blast is blown by a small steam engine, imported from the East at consideralbe cost. The members of the company, few in number, have labored hard and long to bring about the present result. There are some dozen of fifteen hands at work, running night and day, and when the material on the ground is used up they will be compelled to stop and blow out the furnace, not having hands or captal enough to keep it running and supply it at the same time. The company is making arrangements to cast the iron into useful articles such as hand irons, sad irons, hollow-ware, and stoves, and show to the people in Utah and the world that the manufacture of iron i n Utah is a fact. As I said, the few that stuck to the enterprise have labored hard, and have become somewhat reduced in circumstances, but as success has attended their efforts, they are quite elated in their feelings at the prospects of the future. The company is organized on the co-operative principle, with Brother Ebenezer Hanks as President, who is quite a businessman. Brother Home Dunan is Vice-President, with good men for directors. Brother Seth M. Blair is Secretary.
This enterprise is worthy of being pushed forward, as we need cast and wrought iron and steel; and if it be manufactured in the territory it will enable us to keep the means at home that we now send abroad, and thus take another step to live within ourselves. Here, then is good opportunity for some of our capitalists to invest their wealth, enrich themselves and build up the country. The production of iron here is no phantom, but is a fact, and I am told the ore is inexhaustible and very rich, giving at least 75 percent, and the fluxing materila is nearby. Stone coal is found nearby, a little of which was shown me,and there are thousands of acres of cedars, good wood to make into coal nearby, so you will perceive that all the material wanted to carry on iron making on a large scale is here. I hope to see the time when all the iron that is needed for railroads, quartz mills and domestic use will be produced in our midst."
1874: President Erastus Snow, accompanied by other Elders, visited Pinto March 17, 1874 and organized Pinto Ward in the United Order. He was assisted by Elders Milo Andrus and Angus M. Cannon. The following were elected as ovvicers: Richard S. Robinson, President; Robert Knell and Amos G. Thornton, vice presidents; Joseph Eldredge, secretary, and Benjamin Knell, treasurer. Subsequently Robert Knell was elected foreman of local work, Amos G. Thornton as general business agent, Charles Westover, David W. Tullis and Oscar A. Wood, appraisers at Fort Hamblin and Moses S. Emett, superintendent at Fort Hamblin.
On Monday, June 18, 1877, a special meeting was held at Pinto attended by Apostle Wilford Woodruff and the St. George Stake Presidency. On this occasion Robert Knell was ordained a High Priest and Bishop and set apart to preside over the Pinto Ward. On the same occasion John H. Harrison was ordained a High Priest and set apart as first counselor and Neil Donald Forsyth ordained a High Priest and set apart as second counselor to Bishop Knell. In July 1877, the Pinto Ward consisted of 170 souls, or 23 families; of these, 13 families, or 111 souls resided at Pinto, 9 families, or 50 souls at Hamblin, (presided over by Jacob M. Truman), also Edward Edwards and family at Iron City, consisting of about 9 souls. In the Pinto settlement there was a Relief Society, a Sunday School, a Y.M.M.I.A. and Young Women's Retrenchment Association and a day school.
In 1897 Robert C. Knell became bishop and he was succeeded in 1903 by Heber E. Harrison with Neil D. Forsyth and Walter J. Knell as counselors.
1916: Some of the residents of Pinto, realizing the small amount of farming land in that narrow valley, had for years had their eyes upon the flat, extensive country lying at the mouth of Pinto Canyon on the edge of the Escalante Desert, and in due course of time some of the Pinto people bought a school section (section 16 of Township 36 South, Range 15 West, Salt Lake Meridian) and commenced to farm the sme, appropriating the waste water or seepage from Pinto Creek which was wasted on the desert. Besides purchasing the school section for $11.25 per acre, they took up adjoining sections under the Homestead and Desert Acts. This led during the following years, to the vacating of the old Pinto settlement and the founding of the new settlement called Newcastle on the plain below the mountains. However, the Ward organization at Pinto was continued with Hever Eldredge Harrison as Bishop, Neil Donald Forsythe as fist and Walter John Knell as second counselor, and John Heber Harrison as Ward Clerk until June 18, 1916, when at a Stake Conference held in 1916, the Pinto Ward was disorganized and attached to the Parowan Stake of Zon, to be continued as the Newcastle Ward.
From the Pinto Ward, small as it was but of stalwart people, 28 went of missions for the Church; 24 taught school; Joseph E. Robinson, son of Richard S. Robinson, was President of the California Mission for nineteen years. At the present time (1950), the productive meadows still make excellent pasture for stock and most of the fenced of the fenced land is used for grazing The following have interests there: Karl and Albert Harrison, Herbert and Ronald Knell, Arthur and Richard Snow, and Adolph Hafen and sons.
The information regarding Pinto was taken from the History of the Church by Andrew Jenson.
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.
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