UTAH'S DIXIE HISTORICAL SITES
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Where is it?
The encampment mall consists of a seven-acre park in the heart of the Dixie State College campus. The monument that graces the head of the mall consists of five sculpture pieces set along a meandering stream within native rock. Artists L’Deane Trueblood and Jerry Anderson created the sculptures. In addition, bronze plaques list the names of the original settlers. Over 1,000 descendants of the original pioneers contributed financially to the project. More than 300 volunteers donated in excess of 1500 hours in labor creating irrigation systems and laying sod. Students of Dixie State College provided the trees and shrubs.
ENCAMPMENT MALL (Settler’s Encampment)
The initial settling of St. George was commemorated during a dedication of an “encampment mall” on October 8,1998, on the Dixie State College campus, the site of the original settler’s camp.
Although Parley P. Pratt, John D. Lee, Joseph Horne had led expeditions into the area in 1849, 1852, and 1858 and 1859 for different purposes, and Brigham Young had visited the small village of Tonaquint in 1861, the main body of settlers were called during the October conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young read the names of 309 families who were officially called to settle “Dixie.” The initial party of settlers arrived in this area on 1 December 1861 and camped at the site of what is now known as the encampment mall. The original camp was set on the Eastside of the adobe clay fields where two springs ran South towards the river. The wagons were lined up on both sides of the streams.
As an Apostle of the church, Erastus Snow was set apart to preside over settlements in the Dixie area. Upon arriving, Snow appointed several committees, including one to propose a town site, one to plan for canals to bring water to the fields, another to search for timber, and a council to receive the reports and guide the development of the city. Snow presided over settlements from the Muddy River in Nevada, to a chain of communities on the Little Colorado River in Arizona, and over several colonies in Mexico for two decades, exercising remarkable pioneer leadership.
The early settlers suffered from inclement weather. Rains began, for example, on 25 December 1861 (Christmas night) with the downpour continuing for 40 days. The rains brought growth to the lands but also attracted swarms of flies and mosquitoes, from which the settlers had no protection. The insects were irritating, food was scarce, and malnutrition was rampant. Unsanitary conditions led to the spread of typhoid, diphtheria, malaria, whooping cough, measles, and scarlet fever. Then, the hot Dixie sun parched the earth and fierce desert winds created suffocating conditions. Within the first four years, 134 individuals died, with 99 under the age of eight. Three of five births ended in early death.
The great distance between the settlers living in wagon boxes and cave-like dugouts in Dixie, and those left behind in the North, resulted in loneliness and depression. Men, women, and children toiled in the fields and labored at other grueling tasks. The first camp census was taken 2 January 1862, indicating that there were 378 males, 370 females, 209 wagons, 121 horses, 34 mules, 569 oxen, 340 cows, 346 young stock, 677 sheep, 32 pigs, 92 plows, and 33 harrows. The City of St. George was incorporated 10 February 1862. On 22 March 1862, families began to clear their lots and move on to them. However, a camp survey on 10 June 1862 indicated that there were 245 families consisting of 430 individuals living in St. George. Only the most tenacious persisted.
Erastus Snow is credited as the driving force behind the St. George settlement. Alder and Brooks (1998, p. 40) explain that “his was the tedious task of pleading with people to stay at the thankless challenge of living in the region of excessive heat and devastating floods. He articulated the vision of maintaining the kingdom’s outer edges where no one wanted to be. It was a refiner’s fire, and it took his compassion to help people want to stay in Dixie.”
Written by R. Wayne Pace, 21 February 2004. Sources: Roberta Blake Barnum. Circa 1998. Southern Utah Cotton Mission: Settler’s Encampment. Unpublished manuscript, St. George, Utah, 7 pages. Douglas D. Alder and Karl F. Brooks. 1996. A History of Washington County: From Isolation to Destination. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, pp. 38-40. Dixie Pioneers. 1998. Unpublished list of original pioneers who settled in St. George between 1 December 1861 and 10 May 1869. Encampment Mall Dedication program. St. George, Utah: Dixie State College, October 9, 1998.
30 Mar 2018