Thursday, October 29, 2009

Manti Pioneer Settlers Are Plagued By Rattlesnakes

Chief Walker and a band of Ute Indians appeared in Salt Lake City, June 14, 1849 and requested that Brigham Young send settlers to the Sanpitch Valley to teach the Indians to build houses and til the soil. On the following August 20th, Chief Walker and an exploring party reached the present site of Manti and were well entertained by the natives. Favorable conditions for settlement must have been evident, because on November 19, 1849, some fifty families under the spiritual leadership of Isaac Morley and Captain Nelson Higgings, made their camp on the north side of the creek bottom and began what was destined to become Manti City.

All was not so rosy as might at first seem possible. The following winter proved severe and the settlers lost 127 head of their cattle from a band of 240. The male population was forced to shovel snow into winrows to provide shelter for the cattle and to uncover the dry grass for them to eat. even the horns of the cattle were sharpened to enable them to break the snow crust and also as a better protection against the wolves.

The first warm days of spring brought a most unexpected and unwelcome party to the camp. Just after sunset on this memorable occasion, a weird hissing and rattling was evidently heard coming. It seems from all points at once and the very earth appeared to be writhing with spotted backed rattlesnakes which, to the horror of the pioneers were invading the quiet camp. They took quarters in their beds, cupboards and in every accessible place in these outlying domiciles. And among a less hardy band would have created a perfect chaos of confusion. The whole male population with pine tordches casting a lurid light upohn the wierd scene, began an extermination campaign, which resulted in nearly 500 rattlesnakes being killed the first night. Although the fight against the deadly serpents continued for several days, not a single person was bitten.

This article was written by Gerald Henrie for the Salt Lake Trubune in about 1922.
It is taken from Hilda's Scrapbook.

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