Brigham City, Arizona Territory (Winslow, Arizona)
“Ballenger’s Camp” Cemetery
Established April 18, 1876
In January 1876 President Brigham Young, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, to select men and their families to travel to the Arizona Territory to establish several Mormon colonies in the Little Colorado River Valley. The purpose of this venture was to take possession of the land for the State of Deseret, to establish and develop the United Order, to proselytize among the indigenous Indian people of the territory, create settlements that would serve as havens for polygamous families who are being persecuted by the government of the United States and secure seaports.
In response to President Brigham Young’s call, over 200 men, women and children prepared to head south in the middle of winter to unfamiliar and desolate lands. The first groups arrived on March 24, 1876 after six weeks of harsh winter conditions, crossing the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry and the treacherous Little Colorado River.
Lot Smith and his company established Sunset, on the northeast side of the Little Colorado River, George Lake and William C. Allen went further upstream and established Obed and Allen’s Camp “St. Joseph” on the opposite sides of the river. Jesse O. Ballenger and Company arrived April 18th, 1876, and began the fort opposite from Sunset, west of the Little Colorado River. By June, all four settlements were building forts to protect themselves from foreordained indian attacks, constructing dams and irrigation canals to irrigate crops.
The visions of the Pioneers, establishing a permanent settlement, building homes, establishing successful crops, orchards, raising livestock, building a city with industry and places of employment was underway by mid July 1876. In November 1876, the fort was complete, 200 feet square with seven-foot high walls with openings on each side. Bastions were built on the northeast and southwest corners. Sixteen dwellings were inside the fort in addition to a schoolroom, tannery, cobbler shop, pottery kiln, blacksmith’s shop, dinning hall and kitchen. The fort also housed large room that served as a bachelor’s hall.
In October 1876, the men of Sunset, Ballenger’s and Allen’s Camp were sent to Kanab to ferry materials to establish a sawmill near Mormon Lake. The site of the sawmill is Millville and the first milled lumber is being produced by November 6, 1876.
The freshwater well in the fort was dug to a depth of 25 feet. This supply is sufficient for the forts demands but is very salty and unsuitable for growing vegetables.
In 1877 a thrasher was acquired by Jesse O. Ballenger to process the wheat being grown. This sped the work of many. In January 1878, the name of Ballenger’s Camp was changed in honor of President Brigham Young to Brigham City. On April 10th, the second post office on the Little Colorado River was established at Brigham City with James T. Wood serving as postmaster. On May 23, 1878, the gristmill started producing ground corn and wheat flour for the fort and surrounding settlements. The dairy at Mormon Lake in July 1878 had produced over 4400 pounds of cheese in addition to fresh milk and butter. The pottery produced at Brigham City by Wilhelm Frederick Otto Behrman in the northeast bastion corner of the fort supplied the needs of the Sunset, Allen’s Camp and Brigham City from 1876 to 1879. The kiln built by Behrman was the only nineteenth-century European-style kiln in Arizona. The pottery is green-glazed red ware. And samples of his work helped archaeologists to calibrate the recent historic portion of the curve used to calculate archaeomagnetic dating since 1991. The tannery and cobbler’s shop run by Marcor Hansen Peterson produced fine supple shoes, boots, saddles, livestock tack and aprons.
Floods sporadically came, erasing the landscape of cultivated fields, dams and irrigation canals. In 1880 the settlement faced near complete crop failure and in 1881, Erastus Snow after visiting the Order, released the colonists from Brigham City. As the approach of the Atlantic and Pacific Railway reached the Little Colorado River, Brigham Young’s son, a railroad bed contractor used Brigham City as the headquarters for the railroad. The fort of Brigham City was sold in 1881 to Charles and Edwin Whiting, Jerome J. Adams, Charles R. Richardson and Andrew Peterson for $800.00. In 1890 the property was homesteaded by Sydney Wilson and passed to Fernando Thornton LaPrade in October 1890. F. T. LaPrade converted the fort into Sunset Dairy. The barn built from the stonewalls was a landmark for many years and was the oldest stone barn in the State of Arizona until its demolition in the 1980’s. Many of the stones from the fort’s walls were sold and traded locally for the construction of homes, gardens and can been seen today in the extensive sandstone walls enclosing the lawns and gardens at LaPosada in 1929-1930. The Sunset Dairy operated until 1945. In 1947 the City of Winslow purchased the property and leased the area as the city farm and leased the property. Today the Brigham City Restoration Committee, Inc. established in 1988 leases and is restoring the Brigham City Fort.
Brigham City A.T. Fort is located on LaPrade Lane and North Road, East of the North Park Dive and Mikes Pike BLVD interchange.
The Cemetery is located northwest of the historic fort off of North Park Drive on the Historic Beale Wagon Road National Historic Trail, Winslow, Arizona.
GPS Coordinates: 35.05301, -110.70558
- Added: 29 Mar 2004
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #1981013
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