Mormons, a Law-abiding Element

The Mormons were, too, a peaceable and law-abiding element, and as long as their party was in the majority they maintained good government.

It was not long, however, before the Gentiles were attracted to this beautiful valley in considerable numbers, coming from neighboring counties and from a distance; and between these and the Mormons hard feelings were soon engendered owing to disparity of tastes and customs, as well as to the conflict of mutual interests.

In 1852 came to San Bernardino the first physician, Dr. Ira Burris, who was shortly followed by Dr. Ainsworth. The settlement was always very healthy.

Up to this time all the territory to the Colorado river on the east had been comprised with-in the limits of Los Angeles County, and for the transaction of all business of a legal character the residents in the San Bernardino district were under the necessity of journeying to Los Angeles, the county seat, a distance of sixty miles. The State Legislature was now petitioned to ordain a division of the county, and accordingly on April 26, 1853, the Legislature of California passed an act separating from the county of Los Angeles a new county to be known as San Bernardino. This act appointed Isaac Williams, H. G. Sherwood, David Seeley and John Brown members of a board to designate election precincts, appoint inspectors, receive returns, and issue certificates of election.

The first county election was held in January, 1853, resulting in the election of the first officers of San Bernardino County, as follows: County Judge, D. N. Thomas; County Attorney, Ellis Ames; Clerk, Richard R. Hopkins; Sheriff, Robert Clift; Treasurer, David Seeley; Assessor, William Stout; Surveyor, H. G. Sherwood; Justices of the Peace, John Brown and Andrew Lytle. These officers entered upon their duties, and the new county assumed her portion of the debt of Los Angeles County, and moved forward under the new organization. The town of San Bernardino had been appointed as the county seat, by disposition of the act be-fore mentioned, and in the spring of 1853 it was surveyed and laid off. The town as then platted was one mile square, and this was abundantly ample for the business needs of the time.

Among the first buildings erected upon the town site was the old Mormon Council-House, which was long a landmark of the town. This structure, which stood at the corner of Third and Grafton streets, was razed in July 1867, to make way for a large, new brick building.

In 1856 was celebrated for the first time the Fourth of July.

At this time the friction between the Mormons and the Gentiles had grown to such a point as to menace serious difficulties, which were averted, in all probability, only by the circumstance that the Mormon population of San Bernardino was recalled to Utah, in consequence of causes as follows: President James Buchanan, in 1857, had sent out Alfred Cumming to take the office of Governor of Utah in place of Brigham Young, and to enforce the authority of the National Government a military force of 2,500 men was sent with Cumming. The chief of the Mormons attempted to oppose force of arms by armed force in resisting the mandate of the President, and to concentrate all his strength to that end he called in to Salt Lake all his distant followers from the outlying colonies of the church. The blindly faithful obeyed, and submitted to the sacrifice of their happy and fruitful homes and valuable lands, in exchange for the lesser attractions of Utah and a very fair prospect of death at the hands of the United States soldiery. These obedient ones took their departure, having sold to eager purchasers, and .at nominal prices, their rich lands and careful improvements.

Others there were who resisted the manifest injustice of the sacrifices demanded of them, and so elected to remain in California and defy the thunders of the “prophet’s” wrath. Among these independent spirits were the leaders, Messrs. Lyman, Rich, Hanks, and many others.

The departure of the majority of the Mormons relieved to a great extent the strain of feeling between their party and the other faction, although the animosity continued to exist o for long thereafter.

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.

1 thought on “Mormons, a Law-abiding Element”

  1. Your summation of the San Bernardino settlement is okay (serious research would have helped) but your final paragraph appears to be extremely biased and actually pretty rude, as well as incorrect! First of all, there was no ‘thunder of the prophet’s wrath,’ then there’s the bit about the ‘independent spirits’ … If you’re referring to Apostle Amasa Lyman, he most certainly did go back to the Great Salt Lake City and my great great grandmother and her brother went with him. As for Rich (Apostle Charles C ? and Hanks ((Ephraim ? ) they were NEVER rebellious. You have to understand that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints love and revere their prophets and would stop what they’re doing and follow them any day of the week.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top