A Short History of Toquerville
- Category: History
- Published: Thursday, 06 May 2010 18:36
- Written by Layne
- Hits: 3244
In a letter written by John D. Lee to Willard Richards on August 7, 1852 and published in the Deseret News on November 4, 1852, comes the following quote: "A few days ago we had a visit from the Toquer Indian Captain with about 30 of his warriors, who wished to hold a council with us upon the subjects of forming a settlement in their country. They met us with the warmest of Indian friendship. Chief Toquer asked that the Saints settle there and teach his Toquits (or Toquerates) to work like the white man."
Brigham Young sent skilled men to settle in different locations. A group was sent in the spring of 1853, down from the Iron County along the Black Ridge and then along the stream we now call Ash Creek.
About six families came and settled in 1858. When they arrived they found a group of Indians calling themselves the Paiute or Toquit or Toqurat Indians living along the creek and cultivating a small piece of ground. Chief Toquer lived there in a tent of leaves formed over a framework of cane and willows. The new settlers considered him an enlightened Indian, friendly and with clean habits. The name "Toquerville" was given to the new settlement, taken from the Indian word 'toquer', (pronounced toe-ker), meaning black. With the abundance of black rock on the hill to the East of the new town and in the fields surrounding the town, the name was appropriate. The first homes in Toquerville were made of logs filled in with mud. Ash Creek was just a small ditch one could step over, but the floods kept washing the dirt away and opened up new springs.
The first dozen families found the water so scarce they got discouraged and moved to Kanarra. As the water increased they took up land on the west side of the stream. At first cotton was discouraged as they could not exchange it for breadstuff. In 1859 there were 19 families at Toquerville, who were prospering remarkable well, and at this time were very busy putting in wheat and other crops, and making fences and other improvements. One of these improvements was the erection of their first meeting house. It was of Adobes, and about sixteen by twenty feet, and also used for school purposes. The town became known for its fruits and nuts and once had a thriving cotton gin. The busy village came to be likened to an oasis in the Arabian Desert, as the traveler emerged from the harsh desert to a cultivated island of green growing things. One fruit Toquerville became famous for was excellent figs, with people traveling from everywhere to buy the crop.
One story tells of a buyer coming for figs with nothing but his hat to carry them. When he asked the price for a hat full from the young woman selling them, she asked if fifty cents would be all right. From that incident came the standard Toquerville rate of fifty cents for a hat of figs. Black rock, Indian, and figs are just a few of the things that make this desert oasis unique. Look around and see the history still here in the Town Hall and many of the historic homes around town. Clippings from the Deseret News 1868 by Martin Slack - - Peace Dwells in the hearts of the people, everyone busy, no loafers, no office seekers, no gambling saloons, no drunkards in our town. We all mind our own business - - we are all helping to build Zion, the City of our God. The first sight of this thriving village gave the impression said to be experienced by the traveler who suddenly comes to an Oasis in an Arabian desert.