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Tooele County, Utah

Tooele County is a county located in the U.S. state of Utah. As of 2000, the population was 40,735 and by 2005 was estimated at 51,311. Its county seat and largest city is Tooele. Evidence of several indigenous Native American groups has been found in Tooele County, but only the western Shoshone-speaking Goshute tribe claim the desolate lands as their ancestral home. The Goshute's traditional territory includes most of modern Tooele County.

In 1849, the first whites, Latter-day Saints led by Ezra T. Benson established permanent settlement in the area. Building a sawmill, the settlement was called "E.T. City" after Benson. The territorial legislature first designated Tooele County—initially called "Tuilla"—in January 1850 with significantly different boundaries. It is thought that the name derives from a Native American chief, but controversy exists about whether such chief lived. Alternate explanations hypothesize that the name comes from "tu-wanda", the Goshute word for "bear", or from "tule", a Spanish word of Aztec origins meaning "bulrush". Tooele was one of the six original counties in Deseret, which would become Utah Territory.

By 1852, Grantsville, Batesville, and Pine Canyon (later named Lincoln) were settled.

In 1855 the town of Richville was designated county seat, but it soon became clear that Tooele was much larger. In 1861 the territorial legislature allowed the county to select a new seat, and Tooele was selected unanimously.

Tension with native Goshutes plagued settlement in early Tooele County. In response to cattle thefts, a contingent of at least 50 men pursued Goshutes and attacked their camp in 1851, killing nine. The settlers suffered no casualties. Similar attacks occurred throughout the 1850s with natives typically being on the losing side. In 1859 Robert B. Jarvis, a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs representative, convinced some of the nomadic bands to congregate at a farm reservation called Deep Creek. The results looked promising, but Jarvis resigned in 1860 and support for the project disappeared, causing the farm to be abandoned. Jarvis' replacement, Benjamin Davies, noted the Goshutes had lost faith in the federal government, and recommended limiting further encroachments on Goshute land, but his suggestions were largely ignored.

Twenty-two overland stagecoach outposts were built in Goshute territory, often on the sites of rare natural springs. Goshute attacks on mail outposts escalated in 1860, resulting in dozens of deaths in alternating waves of raids. At the outbreak of the Civil War, federal troops left the area leaving defense in the hands of the Nauvoo Legion until General Patrick E. Connor arrived in Salt Lake City from California in 1862.

Connor acted ruthlessly toward the natives. He killed over 300 Shoshone in Southern Idaho in 1863. Connor's men attacked Native American camps, sometimes indiscriminately, but through 1863 stage coach companies had lost 16 men and over 150 horses to depredations. A peace treaty was signed in 1863 which included an annuity of goods and US$1000 in compensation of killed game in exchange for an end to the hostilities and overland routes. The treaty did not cede Goshute control of land, but a follow-up agreement made in June 1865 did.

General Connor, who was anti-Mormon, also encouraged his troops to prospect for minerals. Connor believed that mining would bring non-Mormons to Utah Territory. After his men discovered gold, silver, lead, and zinc deposits in Tooele County in 1864 he was proven right. The Rush Valley Mining District was established by soldiers in the western Oquirrh Mountains and more than 100 claims were staked in the first year. Two new mining towns, Ophir and Lewiston ballooned to over 6000 people each in the 1870s, exceeding the population of Tooele and all the Mormon settlements. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



This page was last updated Tuesday, 11-Oct-2011 23:50:25 EDT


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