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Mormon Pioneers: The Swarthout Family

The Mormon Stockade

In June of 1851, the Mormon newcomers in San Bernardino were alerted of Indian skirmishes and raiding dangers in the area. In the center of their new mile-square town of San Bernardino, the leaders set aside eight acres and fenced in a parallelogram. 300 feet wide by 720 feet. Twelve foot high walls protected three of the sides. The fourth side was a series of log buildings jammed close together. All exterior walls were loop-holed and the gateways were indented to allow for crossfire.

Ranger Horace Bell, In his book Reminisces of a Ranger, described the structure as "a stockade about a quarter of a mile square with two great gates leading into it. Inside they placed their dwellings, shops and stores. Every night the gates were barred and a sentry kept vigilant watch from the walls against surprise." The Mormons stayed in the stockade for approximately nine months, the anticipated war with the Mojave Indians never occurred. It was in October of 1857, when Brigham Young called the "saints" to "Zion".

On December 27, 1958, when United States Colonel William Hoffman's "Mojave Expedition" camped near the original Cajon, they learned that approximately 1,000 had stayed in the area of San Bernardino.

Ironically, historian Horace Bell described all those living in the Mormon Stockade, thus: "I was benefitted by my contact with these serious, rugged people. They set good examples for youth. There were no gamblers tolerated in San Bernardino, no rum sellers, no loud characters offering vice for sale. There were no drones there. Persistent industry, intensive husbandry were the impressive features of life there." Now, the Church those who choose to stay behind as "men, whose character is such that he could not be tolerated in Utah" (As reported by Major General, James H. Carleton)

San Bernardino 1865

A group of over a hundred Mormon Battalion veterans entered Salt Lake Valley in late September-early October 1847. These battalion men had been discharged in Los Angeles on July 16, 1847. (Both Hamilton and Nathan Swarthout were mustered out with their company July 16, 1847 at Los Angeles, California) No longer under military order, the men formed into hundreds, fifties, and tens, under the leadership of Levi Hancock. There were 223 men in this group. They traveled through California’s central valleys, past Sutter’s Fort, into the Sierra Nevada. When they were near Donner Summit, they met James Brown with a letter from church authorities telling the men about the destitute situation in the valley and recommending that they return to California and "work a season."

Several diaries of these men contain the notation that "about half went on and half went back" to work for Captain John Sutter at Sutter’s Fort. The Hancock Company went directly to Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Nathan And Hamilton Swarthout were in the group of "half" that continued on with Levi Hancock to the Sutter’s Mill area after meeting James Brown in the Sierra.

Records revealed that Nathan Swarthout returned to the San Bernardino area by 1850, and Hamilton Swarthout lived in Monterey, California in 1850 and died in San Bernardino, California March 16, 1894.

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San Bernardino, Ca.


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