Pioneers settle Manti in spite of brutal conditions

Early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes, often during horrible weather conditions, and were forced to seek safety and peace out west. Brigham Young led the saints to the Salt Lake Valley and then urged members to settle other regions of Utah, from St. George to Logan. In 1849 many saints traveled to Sanpete Valley and settled Manti.

Brigham Young has been called a master colonizer. Even as the hardy pioneers began tilling the ground and establishing what became Salt Lake City, President Young received an invitation by Ute Chief Walkara to send people down to the Sanpitch area to teach the Utes how to farm.

The original company of 50 pioneer families arrived in the winter of 1849. Isaac Morley led a company of 224 men, women and children out of the Salt Lake Valley on Oct. 28, 1849.

The pioneers found limestone, sparse grasses, clumps of rabbit bush and sagebrush as they struggled to establish the oldest town in Sanpete County. The pioneers, whose first camp was established on what is now Temple Hill, spent their first winter enduring hardships of scant food and clothing, hostile Indians and makeshift housing.

Settlers were forced to use wagons and dugouts for protection against the severe cold and the 700 Indians camped about a mile away. About half of their cattle froze to death and they were unable to get more food and supplies from Salt Lake City.

Winter was not the only problem, as spring approached the ground thawed and the pioneers were faced with hundreds of rattlesnakes. Miraculously not one of the settlers died from snakebite.

In 1850, Brigham Young decided on the name Manti, a town mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The Indians were outnumbered as more settlers arrived and grew hostile, venting their frustration in constant harassment.

The weather was unpredictable, with early and late frosts, long winters and dry summers. A spirit of obedience, a strong religious conviction and tenacity kept the stalwart pioneers on a steady course and the community grew and eventually thrived then and continues on today.

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