[Side A:]The Settling of Santa ClaraThomas Carlyle said of the Switzers, "They are honest people... they are not philosophers or tribunes; but frank, honest landsmen."
In April 1861 a company of Mormon converts from Switzerland, under the direction of mission president Jabez Woodward, bade farewell to their native land and set out for Zion in the new world of Western America. They traveled to Liverpool, England where they sailed for America. Landing in New York, they took the train to Florence, Nebraska and stayed there several days, making preparations for crossing the plains.
They carried only the essentials of food, clothing, and cooking utensils for the anticipated ten-week journey. Six days a week they traveled, making some 15 to 20 miles a day. On Sundays they held a religious service and the balance of the day was devoted to rest. Traveling all the through the summer, they arrived at Salt Lake City in September where they remained for several weeks.
At the October 1861 conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young called a total of 309 missionaries to southern Utah. Included in this total was the Swiss Company consisting of 87 Swiss people living in various parts of northern Utah. When they arrived in the south, they were told to go to Santa Clara to raise grapes and cotton, both of which had been grown there successfully. An Indian mission had already been established and when the Swiss settlers arrived on November 28, 1861, there were already about 20 families living at the fort or nearby.
The settlers braved wind, rain, heat, floods, and disease - living in humble dugouts until homes were built; orchards, gardens, and fields were planted; and the prosperous village came to life.
The success of that mission is evident in the beautiful community you see here today. Many descendendants of those original Swiss pioneers still live in Santa Clara.
[Side B:]Santa Clara's First Public Buildings First Santa Clara Meetinghouse and School
1863-1902On the northwest corner of this lot stood the first meeting house in Santa Clara. The building, which faced the street on the west, was completed in 1863, soon after the Swiss settlers arrived. The original structure was one room measuring 40' x 28' and was used for church, civic, school, and recreational activities. There was a big curtain in the center which could be pulled to make two meeting areas. Later another room was added and used as a stage. A jail was built under the stage. The children of Santa Clara's first settlers learned reading, writing, and arithmetic within the walls of this humble building. And they, along with their parents, worshipped there on Sunday. Santa Clara Chapel
1897-1947The red-bricked Santa Clara Chapel with its cathedral style windows, was built on the southwest corner of this square in 1897. The building was officially dedicated on April 27, 1902. Here Santa Clara citizens met for church on Sundays, and school classes were held during the week. The building was heated by wood burning stove in the middle of the room. A long pipe hung from the ceiling by wires and ran out the back of the building. Electric fans were placed in all the windows for cooling during the hot summer days. The red sandstone steps in front of the building were used as a gathering place for children playing games, group pictures, and visiting. The building was torn down to make way for the new chapel.
Behold the work of the old. Let your heritage not be lost,but bequeath it as a memory, treasure, and blessing.Gather the lost and the hidden and preserve it for thy children.-Christian Metz
Missionaries and Settlers of Santa Clara
Prior to 1861In the early winter of 1854, Jacob Hamblin, Samuel Knight, Thales Haskell, A.P. Hardy, and Ira Hatch came to the Santa Clara Valley. They built a log cabin and a rock dam to divert the water from the Santa Clara Creek. In the spring of 1855, with the help of other missionaries sent here to the Southern Indian Mission, the cabins were expanded to become a fort. Before 1861, other settlers, including families of the missionaries, located in Santa Clara.
[Note: On the Marker are listed the names of 157 individuals who came to Santa Clara prior to 1861.]