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  • SOUTHERN UTAH MEMORIES: Cemetery and historical marker are main reminders of Hamblin ghost town site
    by Loren Webb
    Published - 07/26/13 - 09:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 443 443 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    (WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah) - In 1856, Jacob Hamblin, known as the “Buckskin Apostle,” for his service as an Indian missionary and peacemaker, built a ranch near the north east end of Mountain Meadows.

    A few other families moved to what would become the community of Hamblin to raise livestock and hay to trade with California-bound settlers, according to Stephen L. Carr, author of The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns.

    Hamblin, which belonged to the Pinto LDS Ward, is five miles west of Pinto, 35 milies northwest of St. George, and 25 miles southeast of Modena, the nearest railroad station on the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, according to the book, Under the Dixie Sun; A History of Washington County By Those who loved their Forebears.

    Hamblin is located at about 6,000 feet above sea level and, according to Under the Dixie Sun, is windy and receives heavy snowfall in the winter.

    According to an unpublished article by author Grace M. Twitchell, entitled “The Ghost Town of Hamblin, Washington County, Utah,” the Hamblin family made butter and cheese and sold that and other produce to immigrant trains passing along the Old Spanish Trail to California.

    It was at Hamblin on Sept. 11, 1857 that 18 small children, survivors of the Mountain Meadow Massacre, about 3 miles south of the community, were brought to Hamblin’s wife, Rachel, “for her to care for them until they could be placed in foster homes by Jacob Hamblin and the Indian authorities.”

    When the Blackhawk War began in 1866, “the Hamblin residents , who were spread throughout the valley, moved close together for protection and the town was temporarily named Fort Hamblin, although it had no connection to other military forts,” according to an article written by Warren Anderson, Cedar Spectrum Office Manager.

    Twitchell states that in 1866, LDS apostle Erastus Snow suggested the settlers gather together to build the fort for protection.

    “They built their homes close together along one end of the street with the building which served as a church and school at the far east end of the street,” Twitchell wrote.

    “In 1877, the census of the Pinto Ward, of which Hamblin was a branch, showed 9 families consisting of 50 souls, at Hamblin. There were evidently the families of Richard Gibbons, Edwin R. Westover, David Canfield and three of his sons, Simpson Emett, John Day, and Jacob Mica Truman. Jacob M. Truman had been the youngest enlisted member of the Mormon Battalion on their history making march across the continent. He is buried beside his wife in the little cemetery at Hamblin, where a fitting marker notes his membership in the Mormon Battalion,” according to Twitchell.

    In 1867, James Holt arrived in Hamblin to visit his brother-in-law, Simpson Emett. Holt eventually built a home five miles north in what is now known as Holt.

    David Canfield, who had lived in Santa Clara, and who in 1864 also lived on a ranch below Central in Washington County, moved to Hamblin where he and three of his sons built homes and farms. Twitchell states that two of these families, the Canfields and Emetts married, and also joined with the Day family and the Westover family.

    In the late 1860s, Jacob Hamblin moved his family to Kanab, Twitchell states.

    During the late 1860s or early 1870s, some improvements were made to the town.

    For instance, historian Andrew Karl Larson states in his book, I Was Called to Dixie; The Virgin River Basin: Unique Experiences in Mormon Pioneering, that telegraph lines were extended to Pioche, Nev., by wasy of Pine Valley, Pinto, Fort Hamblin, and Panaca, and to Rockville, Long Valley (via Shunesburg), Kanab and Winsor Castle (Pipe Springs).

    According to Under The Dixie Sun, the townsite was then surveyed in 1873. Richard Gibbons became the first presiding elder at Hamblin and he was followed by Jacob M. Truman, who died Nov. 26, 1881. He was then succeeded by George A. Holt, who presided until 1891 when he was called to serve a mission for the church. George A. Holt died Sept. 13, 1935, according to Twitchell.

    George A. Thompson, in his book, Some Dreams Die; Utah’s Ghost Towns and Lost Treasures, states that irrigation water flowed to the town from Meadow Valley Creek, but “a series of floods through the 1890s cut deeper into its already deep wash until water could no longer be raised from it onto the fields.

    Nevertheless, in 1892-93, “Mary Ann Cottam, later the wife of Albert E. Miller, of St. George, taught school at Hamblin and boarded with the John Day family. The following year, Sara Meeks Morris taught school at Hamblin, later in the spring of 1895 she moved to Enterprise where her husband, Ben, had been building one of the first homes in that town.,” Twitchell writes. In addition, J.S. P. Bowler also taught school at Hamblin for one year, 1893-1894, while Elizabeth Storey Depue Caufield was postmaster at Hamblin. She lived in Hamblin for 33 years, Twitchell adds.

    As a result, people began to leave and the LDS branch at Hamblin ceased to exist. Most of the Hamblin families settled in Enterprise where a new town was starting.

    In 1971, Boy Scouts from the “Utah National Parks Council erected a stone monument with Hamblin relics embedded in its masonry to commemorate the all but forgotten site,” Cedar Spectrum office Manager Warren Anderson wrote.

    “There are no remains to be seen of the community today,” Anderson wrote, “but the original springs discovered by Jacob Hamblin is located directly behind the monument where water still seeps out. Hamblin’s old cemetery is one-half mile west of the monument.

    Hamblin is reached by taking the Pinto turnoff from State Highway 18, 7 miles north of the Pine Valley road and 6 miles southeast of Enterprise, according to author Stephen Carr.

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