New Harmony


compiled by Lin Floyd, September 2002

General historical background: Parley P. Pratt and 50 men at Brigham Young's request were sent to explore the Southern part of Utah as early as Dec 1847 to determine if settlements could be established. They traveled to the South Rim of Great Basin (which is north and west of Kanarraville where the rest stop now is on I-15). Anciently Lake Bonneville was located here, then they went over the Black Ridge and down the Virgin River to where present day St. George is located. They found little to recommend this area and on the way back stopped at Ash Creek and looking south from there Parley Pratt said : "This is as far south as we will go. For now this will be the southernmost settlement. We will leave that country (pointing south) to the rattlesnakes and tarantulas". (1, p. 1)

In 1851, George A Smith, John D. Lee and several others were called by Brigham Young to make a new settlement in Southern Utah. On Dec 11, 1850 they left their homes in SLC with 167 people: 110 men, 30 women and 18 children. They brought with them some animals: 121 chickens, 14 dogs and 18 cats along with some military equipment, farming tools, food supplies and seeds. Through deep snows and many trials with the cold and with hostile Indians, they finally arrived at the present day town of Parowan where they settled in Jan 1851. John D. Lee was given a specific assignment in Oct 1851 to settle Dixie where the Santa Clara and Rio Virgin Rivers but first he was to help with the settlements in Parowan, Cedar and surrounding areas which would include the New Harmony area. (1, p. 15.)

Map of locations

The original "Harmony" town site
Here a wooden fort was started in 1852 near a springs and on Ash Creek had about 160 acres of farm land and 20 miles of grazing ground. It was located about 25 miles south of Cedar City near old US Highway 91 on Ash Creek. (6) It's location according to New Harmony resident historian Sheldon Grant is directly southeast after you pass over the Hwy 91 bridge going south from Mountain Springs. It is located between the freeway and Hwy 91.

On Dec 8, 1852, George A. Smith wrote to Deseret News ..."On the first water south of the rim of the great basin, in Wash. Co, John D. Lee, Elisha Groves and company are building a fort on Ash Creek called Harmony...Fifty one loads of lumber have been taken there from Parowan...Ten men and several Indians are constantly employed building the fort; one of the first rooms built was a school house. The point is well selected as a military point and commands the springs and about 160 acres of farm land on the creek."(6, p, 23-24)

The purpose of this new community was to provide farms to produce food to support the miners and mill workers of the Iron Mission and also to start a Mission with the Lamanites or Indians of the area. In April 1854, Pres. Brigham Young called 23 young men under the direction of Rufus P. Allen to serve as missionaries to the Indians. They were to raise food, share it with the Indians, convert them and teach them how to live. When the missionaries arrived in Harmony on May 2, 1854, John D. Lee put them to work clearing land, building fences and growing crops to support the settlement during the coming winter. John D. Lee was later in charge of the govt. Indian agency in 1855 and was to distribute seeds, tools and other supplies to the Indians to help them to farm. (3a, p.342) The missionaries assigned to the Indian Mission went about 4 miles up Ash Creek where New Harmony now stands, and established a farm for the Indians and a school with 10 Indians pupils assisted by Augustus Hardy in 1852 or so. Thales Haskell and Jacob Hamblin also helped.

Pres. Brigham Young arrived 2 weeks later to visit and counsel them. Heber C. Kimball prophesied that "if the elders would labor faithfully with the Indians at New Harmony, peace would abide there." He also prophesied that "a wagon road would be built over the Black Ridge and a temple would be built in that vicinity...that Indians would come from across the Colorado River and get their endowments in the temple."(5) But problems arose, there wasn't enough land to grow food and sustain the new colony at Harmony and they couldn't hold the water from Ash Creek in the canal and the dam across the creek kept washing out, so Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and others rode up unto the broad tableland and selected a more permanent site for Fort Harmony.

Fort Harmony

It was built 4 miles north of the original "Harmony" town site where the water from the Kanarra and Harmony creeks could be used to irrigate additional acres. It was built for protection from the Indians and laid out by Parley Pratt as surveyor according to Brigham Young's instructions. The fort's ruins are located just off the highway to New Harmony about 1.1 miles from the I-15 freeway exit. Not marked by any road signs, just turn left off county highway unto a dirt road immediately west of a small block building. Travel 0.3 miles to the monument in the middle of the fort's ruins dedicated May 9, 1936. The four corners of the fort have been preserved and show how large the fort was, 200 ft square, as well as where to look for the rock footings.

From the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks monument on this site: "Established May 9, 1854 by John D. Lee, Richard Woolsey, William R. Davis and others who founded Harmony in 1852, county seat of Washington County until 1859.Headquarters of Mormon Mission to Lamanites 1852-1854. The fort was finally abandoned in February 1862, following heavy storms that caused the walls to crumble and fall., the settlers founding New Harmony and Kanarraville. The wall was 300 feet square. Houses on the east side were one story and wall was 10 ft. high; on the west side two stories and wall 16 ft high. Kanarra and Harmony Creeks supplied water for irrigation." [Note-Harmony was the original Mission headquarters not Fort Harmony and according to Sheldon Grant, Brigham Young designed the fort to be 200 feet square which is what the ruins measure not 300 feet square.]

Archeological work at Fort Harmony

Click on picture for full size

Fort Harmony was built on rock footings 3 feet wide with gates on the north and south. A well was dug in the center to supply culinary water. Thousands of red adobe bricks were used to build the walls, which formed one side of the houses within. (3a, p. 342.). The walls were three feet thick and built of adobe clay brick.In the center of the fort a well was dug, which was 100 ft deep. It supplied their culinary water. (1, p. 2) [It can be seen as the sunken impression in the ground directly west of the monument.] The farms at the original Harmony site were still being worked until water could be brought to the Fort Harmony site from Ash Creek.(1, p. 2) Ditches were built from Ash Creek to the West to bring down more water for irrigation. The main canal was 8 ft wide and 2 ft deep (1, p. 20)

Brigham Young had a plan for the New Fort Harmony. (1,p. 18) The fort had double walls with a space in between, the outside wall was 3 ft thick and the inner wall 18 in thick. The rooms were 15 ft square, and the under rooms (basement) were their kitchen and cellars. Windows were on the inside, a second story would have windows on the inside and outside for shooting if necessary. The upstairs rooms were for lodging. Fort Harmony was set up as the Washington County seat in 1856 and John D. Lee was appointed probate judge and assessor. With his wives they established a thriving hotel business of providing meals and provisions for travelers. Most wagon trains going to Califoria past through Fort Harmony on their way to California. In 1861, Brigham Young visited Fort Harmony and praised the industry of the settlers and stated that it was the best fort in the territory. In Dec 1861, a branch of the church are organized with John D. Lee chosen as presiding elder.

Click on picture for full size

Although Fort Harmony was supposed to one of the best forts in Utah, during an earthquake on Jan 20, 1860, the fort wall cracked. Some walls had to be torn down and rebuilt. Then on Dec 25, 1861 during a public dinner and party for the branch, rain began to fall and heavy winds bit into the adobe walls. On Jan 1, 1862, snow fell and then melted causing flooding in the underground rooms and the fort walls crumbled away. On Jan 18th, all families except one of Lee's wives moved from the fort to their wagons. Feb 7th, 1862 his wife Sarah was still in the Fort preparing to leave when a gust of wind blew down a wall and broke through the lower floor, killing two of their children. The fort was abandoned. In the spring of 1862, some of the settlers moved 5 miles to the west where they founded New Harmony and others moved north and west to found Kanarraville. (3a, p. 343.)

JD Lees journal, "On Thursday morning (June 30,1859) Emma, my seventeenth wife, was delivered of a stillborn son...I gave it the name John Henry.....at10 am, its remains was neatly interred in the Harmony Graveyard."

Rachel Lee’s Minutes of Fort Harmony (Feb. 1856-July 15 1860):

1856 April 27 "An Indian named Ira Groves (14 mo old) was blessed. He died the following month."

1857 Jan. 2 (p 23), "George Dalton, an Utah Indian….died unexpectedly"
June 31st, (p. 45) , George Shirts died of worms.

Sept. 16, (See Sept 20) an Indian child was blessed before it expired , name Matilda

1858 Aug 8th Rachael, daughter of James G. and Polly Davies died, age 19 mo, buried at noon.**

Military Training Camp Site

Located on the road to New Harmony, at the first left turn just before the cemetery, is a DUP monument. The actual monument has been bypassed by the road realignment. Park carefully off the road and walk over. This area on a flat north and east of the present town of New Harmony in 1867, here was a military training camp site covered with tents and many men took part in simulated spirited battles here. The dry field ditch as we know it now was made and used by them at that time so they could have water for their camp.(1, p. 52.)

From the DUP monument at this site dedicated on Dec 10, 1940:

"Fort Harmony was designed as the training site of the Iron County Division of the Utah Militia. In 1857 the Militia was divided into 13 districts. The southern group consisted of all counties south of Beaver and was known as the Iron County Division. In 1867, during the period of the Blackhawk War, these companies trained at this place under under the command of Brigadier General Erastus Snow and Captain James Andrews."

New Harmony
DUP monument on grounds of LDS church in New Harmony:

"In 1852 Elisha H. Groves, John D. Lee and others built a fort on Ash Creek, called Harmony. The fort was abandoned in 1854 and a new site located called Fort Harmony. Following disastrous floods in 1862 settlers again moved and established New Harmony where the first log school house was built in 1863. Through community effort a frame structure was erected. For nearly a century the bell atop this building called citizens to church, school and all other public gatherings. Wilson D. Pace served as first Bishop."

After the flood of 1862 some of the settlers from Fort Harmony moved to this area 5 miles west of Fort Harmony and founded New Harmony. The first houses were small crowded dugouts made in the creek banks. Many of them flooded and as soon as possible they built log cabins and adobe and brick houses for their families. The early settlers of New Harmony were Paces, Redds, Woolseys, Lees, Darrows, Paces and Seveys. A public bldg used for school, meetings etc was built on John D. Lee's farm. The first desks for the school were boards placed upon stumps, with log seats. Later a cement school house was built where Lyle Prince's home now is. A later school house was built north just east of our present Fire Station. and was used until 1923 when another large room was built on the west of it. The four lower grades 1-3 used this sections and the bigger or first section was used for grades 5-8 until it burned down in 1957. Then students were transported by bus to Cedar City for elementary and high school. The one room white frame church house was used for all Ward functions until it was moved to make room for a new larger one in 1953. (1, p. 86.)

Farm of John D. Lee
- now known as the Pace Farm. near Lawson Spring. After the flood and storm of 1862. John D. Lee moved his family to New Harmony and built out of lumber a great hall on his farm southwest of the present town. Here all early town functions were held, including church meetings, dances, parties, etc. John D. Lee was presiding Elder of the church. Later a log school house was built on lower street. It served as a church, school and amusement hall until a one room church was built in 1875. (1, p. 85.) An early pioneer cemetery is located here on John D. Lee's farm property where his children and others are buried that died in the flood and later.

Lee's Great Hall. This is the site of Lee's frame House, Great Hall that is shown on map in Utah Redd's book. The reeds of fish pond in foreground. The native locust trees place perpendicular as if planted have the wall running betwee them I presume. A line of either wild or single petal yellow pioneer roses grow in line between trees. Probably planted in front or back of the wall and are greatly overgrown, but still an unusual stand, not random.

John D, Lee and others rode out 16 miles to meet Brigham Young and escort him to Lee Great Hall on farm. A bowery was erected and about 400 people fed. Many were served dinner courtesy of the Lee's.






The view from site of Lee/Redd farm duplex home. brick pieces in foreground. Mormon Chronicles states Lee made 60,000 bricks while living on this farm. Method for self-brick kiln can be found on Rick's Bricks. No permanent kiln ever mentioned by anyone that I know of in valley.






Turning back around and going back into town the road is the same as when the Lee and Redd children walked, ran and skipped along it. John D Lee entertained on this farm and made the townspeople welcome. My great-great grandmother, Mary Carbine Grant Taylor, taught school for a time on the Lee property. When Harvey A. Pace acquired the farm it was shared with the townspeople for baptisms. and other recreation. Southern hospitality carried down through the ages.







Peter's Leap to be explored at your leisure, requires about a 4 mile hike from old Hwy 91 near site #1 on the Black Ridge near the Mountain Springs area. Peter Shirts was then County Road Commissioner in the 1860s and was to build a road from Fort Harmony heading south. The road was very primitive and went along Hogs Back ridge. It was so steep that it was difficult to use. When asking Peter how to cross it, he said "leap it" thus it got its name "Peter's Leap". Wagons had to be lowered down the dugway with ropes or taken apart and reassembled at the bottom. It was more of a trail than a road. It was the second road built going south and was little used at first. The main and first road built ran north out of New Harmony through Pinto and Mountain Meadows to Santa Clara following the old Spanish Trail. (1, p. 58)

(1) Harmony, Fort Harmony, New Harmony and surrounding area / by Sheldon Grant, 1995, 203 p. (979.248 G763h in Dixie State College lib.)
(2). The Harmony Valley - and New Harmony, Utah : history and memories compiled by Sheldon "B" Grant with Kay Daun Pace Edwards , 1999, 210 p. (in SLC FHC Library & NH lib.)
(3a). History of Washington County and (3b)Pioneers of Washington County-lesson manuals by DUP, 2001. (Available in bound volume of DUP lessons for 2001-2, cost-$16)
(4) Life and family of William Reese Davies by Murland R. Packer also includes "History of New Harmony, Utah" by Laverna Englesteadt , 1990, 60 p. (929.273 D286dw in SLC FHC Library also on film.)
(5) Memories of New Harmony by Alice Redd Rich, n.d. 13 p. (979.2A1 in SLC FHCLibrary)
(6) Under Dixie sun : a history of Washington County /by those who loved their forebears; illustrated by Nellie Jenson ; [Hazel Bradshaw, editor], DUP, 1950. 428 p. Index available separately. (979.248 H2b 1978 in SLC lib, also available at Wash. County Lib. and Dixie State College Lib- 979.248 D265u,)

Other Sources cited in (1) above:
A Mormon Chronicle from the diaries of John D. Lee by Quanita Brooks.
John D. Lee by Quanita Brooks
Black Ridge, extracts from Peter Shirt's diary by Morris A. Shirts
Journal of Rachel Andoa Woolsey Lee 1856-1860 by BYU, 1970

Additional Sources not used:
Minutes of Meetings, Fort Harmony, Utah (Feb 1856-July 1860) by Rachel Woolsey Lee 1

The Library is scheduled to open November 29th 2006

The library is completed in New Harmony Valley near Fort Harmony historical site.