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As winter gave way to spring in 1855, twelve missionaries were sent to southern Utah by Brigham Young to colonize this region. Fearing an attack by Indians, they began the ambitious project of building a fort. Their energies were initially directed at hauling stone which was plentiful and nearby. Local Indians, whom they trained and who were willing to help in exchange for food, assisted them. As soon as enough stone had been gathered, the work on Fort Santa Clara began in earnest.
Four stone masons from Cedar City directed the work which took approximately three weeks to complete. While inspecting the fort during one of his visits south, Mormon Leader Brigham Young pronounced it, “the best fort in the territory.”

Because of the efforts of the missionaries, there was great peace among everyone who lived in this area. The fort was never attacked by Indians. The fort became the focal point for the Swiss Settlers who arrived in November 1861.

On Christmas Day 1861, it started to rain. We were known to have a skiff of snow about this time of year, but this year it rained, and it rained for about a month and a half. The ground became completely saturated, and the small creeks feeding the Santa Clara became streams, and the Santa Clara became a torrent. Some small trees and other debris washed down from above, backed up the Santa Clara, and during the night of 4 February 1862, the Santa Clara ran over its bank and started entering the fort from the north gate. Sarah and I awoke with water in our cabin, and we rushed out into the night in our bed clothes to warn others. By then the water was washing away our cabin on the southwest corner of the fort. The women and children were carried to safety. Two hundred bushels of the Indian’s wheat was carried from the northwest cabin to safety before that wall collapsed. We were all exhausted from the effort. Sarah and I lost everything we had except for my horses and saddles. We rushed out into the night without taking time to dress. Many miraculous events took place that night. It was dark and raining, the fort was washing away. Wheat was saved, children led and carried to safety. Some were able to save some valuables, but most was lost. But God was good to them, not one life was taken.

At conference, 22 March 1862, Jacob Hamblin was called to be the new President of the Indian Mission. With the importance of his new position and the disaster of losing the fort in the flood, Jacob started building a new home. Most of Jacob’s garden area and orchard by the fort were destroyed, so he started again. The stone from the north wall of the fort was used in building the structure, and the Swiss people used the rest, so the last of the fort wall disappeared.” – Ira Hatch, Indian Missionary, by Richard Ira Elkins

Today, within the walls of some of the homes in our community, these rock walls still stand as a shelter to the inhabitants of this beautiful city of Santa Clara. Jacob Hamblin’s home, now registered as a historical site and open for public visits, is a reminder of the courage of those who fought the vagaries of nature and made this part of the world their garden.

How Would You Build a Fort?

A single community cabin was the starting point for the fort. The fort was to be one hundred feet long on each side with stone walls twelve feet high and about two feet thick. The plan called for seven cabins on each side of the fort. Each cabin was about twelve and one-half feet wide and twenty feet deep and had one door and one window. Stone fireplaces, placed in the center back wall of each cabin, provided a good portion of the outside wall of the fort. The inside cabin walls were of logs, except for the end cabins which had two walls of rock. The cabin roofs were supported on logs set into the rock on one end and on log walls on the inside of the fort. Protective gun ports were built into the outside rock walls. On the east and west side of the fort, defenders would lie on the roof tops to fire from the gun ports. Wooden ladders gave access to the raised platforms on the north and south sides. The main gate faced south; a smaller cattle gate was built into the center of the north wall. Entrance into the fort was gained by two doors on the south side which faced the road. These doors swung on heavy iron hinges built into the rock; heavy cross members, about three inches thick, were bolted to them for strength. The doors were locked with four by six inch beams placed into carriers. A large iron hasp held them closed when the beams were not needed.

The Stockyard

In 1996, the foundation of the Fort Santa Clara Stockyard was unearthed. The original stockyard was located some distance away from Fort Santa Clara so the animals would not be a nuisance to those living in the fort. The animals could be easily watched from the fort which was south from here toward the Santa Clara River.

The Missionaries

The monument is dedicated to the following men who colonized the Santa Clara area.

The five missionaries were:

  • Jacob Hamblin
  • Ira Hatch
  • Samuel Knight
  • Thales Haskell

Missionaries called at October 1853 General Conference to the Indian Mission, Southwest Territory:

  • Thomas Brown
  • Samuel Atwood
  • Robert Dickson
  • Benjamin Knell
  • Robert Richie
  • David Tullis
  • Hyrum Burgess
  • Lorenzo Roundy
  • John Lott
  • Clark Ames
  • Rufus Allen
  • Richard Robinson
  • Amos Thornton
  • Isaac Riddle
  • Prime Coleman
  • William Henefer
  • David Lewis
  • Elnathan Eldredge
  • John Murdock