Richfield Utah
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 Utah Travel Center Cities RichfieldHistory

Richfield, sometimes referred to as the "hub of Central Utah," is the county seat of Sevier County. It is located 160 miles south of Salt Lake City, placing it near the center of the state. The altitude is 5,280 feet and the climate is moderate, with typical average temperatures from 90 F high to 50 F low in the summer and 43 F high and 16 F low in winter. The city covers an area of four square miles and in 1990 had a population of 5,593.

In July 1863 George W. Bean was called by Mormon apostle George A. Smith, who was presiding over the Utah Valley area, to take a small exploring party and go up the Sevier River above Gunnison and look for suitable locations for settlements. After crossing to the west side of the Sevier River, the party found a big spring where Richfield was later settled. There they found fertile soil, good water, and wood in the nearby hills. The party, returning by way of Spring City, met Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde, who informed them that the settlement of Sevier Valley was under his direction.

In January 1864 an independent party of ten men under the leadership of Albert Lewis came from Sanpete and arrived in what is now Richfield on 6 January. In the winter of 1864 Orson Hyde called additional families to go. Some bought their way out, but others responded to the call to settle. The first two white women in Richfield were Ann Swindle and Charlotte Doxford. The first settlement was called Big Springs or Warm Springs, after the life-giving spring at the foot of the red hills to the west. The settlement later was called Omni after a prophet in the Book of Mormon. The name was changed to Richfield because of the fertile soil. The first dwelling places were dugouts.

The early settlers wasted no time. August Nelson planted cottonwood saplings and Joseph F. Doxford even organized a martial band. A temporary bowery was built. Early in 1865 about 100 more families arrived, most from Sanpete Valley. In February 1865 the first schoolhouse was built; the first teacher in the school was Hans P. Miller. A fort was started in the fall of 1865; each man who owned a city lot was required to build one rod (16.5 feet) of wall.

In 1864 Nelson Higgins, a veteran of the Mormon Battalion, was selected as temporary president of the settlement. In 1865 Black Hawk and his band of Indians took ninety head of stock from nearby Salina, killing two settlers working in the canyon. Other attacks followed. For safety, about forty families from nearby Glenwood moved to Richfield. Three settlers, Jens Peter Petersen, his wife Amalia, and Mary Smith were killed by Indians between Richfield and Glenwood on 21 March 1867; this became a deciding factor in the evacuation of the settlement, which was completed by April. In 1871 many of the former settlers returned and took up their old homesteads. By July 1872 there were 150 families in the area. In March 1874 Bishop Williams Seegmiller reported 145 families, 172 men, and a total of 753 persons in Richfield. There were 117 children attending school.


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