The first group of pioneers came to Panguitch on March 16, 1864, from Parowan under the leadership of Jens Nielson. They followed the route over the rugged Bear Valley, a part of the Spanish Trail. Crops were planted, but the season was short and they did not mature. The winter of 1864 was extremely cold and the snow was deep. The closest supplies were either in Gunnison, 115 miles to the North, or Parowan, 40 miles to the west over the difficult Bear Valley Road.
Seven men, Alexander Matheson, William Talbot, Thomas Richards, Jesse Lowder, John Butler, Thomas Adair, and John Paul Smith left Panguitch to go to Parowan to get flour and food for the starving colony. They had two yoke of oxen and a light wagon which they had to abandon at the head of Bear Valley because of the deep snow; they then proceeded on foot. The only progress that could be made over this frozen, crusted snow, was to lay a quilt down, walk to the end of it, relay it and walk again. In the way they reached Parowan.
Alexander Matheson recorded in his journal,”We decided that if we had faith as big as a mustard seed, we could make it and bring flour to our starving families. So we began the quilt-laying in prayerful earnestness. The return trip was harder with the weight of the flour, but we finally made it to our wagon and oxen and on home with thankfulness to the Lord for His goodness. The whole settlement welcomed us, because we had been gone longer than expected. There had been prayers, tears, and fears which turned to rejoicing and cheers.”
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