%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
Riches, Ranching & Railroads
(1850-1900)

Mormon Government

The crossing of the Carson River, and the town called Ragtown was an important stop for many of the emigrants across Nevada.  The California legislature, in fact, created Pautah County with a county seat named Carsonville near Ragtown.  They petitioned Congress to expand the state boundaries of California to include the area.  When Congress refused, the California legislature repealed the law in 1858.

Mormons were some of the earliest settlers in Nevada, in the Carson Valley in 1851 and at the Las Vegas Mission in 1855.  Most of Nevada was a part of Utah Territory at that time (southern Nevada was a part of New Mexico Territory), and it was important to secure the boundaries of the territory.

The Mormon settlers in Carson Valley were a long way from the territorial government in Salt Lake City, and they formed their own local government, a "squatters' government", in 1851.  They needed some sort of orderly system for selling land and for settling disputes among the settlers.  Non-Mormon settlers objected to a government by the Mormons, and in 1853 they petitioned California to annex part of western Utah Territory.  In 1854 Carson County was created by the Utah Territorial Legislature, and Brigham Young, president of the Mormon Church, sent Orson Hyde to administer the new county.

Hyde's mission proved to be a difficult task.  Many settlers and miners resented Mormon control and ignored Mormon authority.  In 1856, Orson Hyde returned to Salt Lake City, and Mormon government began to break down.  In 1857, Utah Territory was in conflict with the federal government, and there were fears that federal troops would march on Salt Lake City.  Brigham Young called many Mormons home to defend Salt Lake City, and Mormon settlers abandoned their farms and ranches.  Mormon government ceased to effectively exist in western Nevada.  With the establishment of Nevada Territory in 1861 a new government was created.
 

Photo Credit:
Nevada State Library and Archives