WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
LOCATIONUtah's Dixie, or just Dixie, is a term used for the southwestern area of Utah, primarily Washington County, but sometimes including parts of Iron County, Kane County, the Arizona Strip, and the Muddy Valley section of Nevada.
HISTORY OF THE NAMEIn 1852, John D. Lee and his party explored the area which now makes up Washington County. They concluded that cotton could be grown here. In 1854, missionaries from the Indian Mission brought seeds down to Santa Clara from Parawan and raised a good crop of cotton in 1855. The seeds from the 1855 crop were used to raise an even larger crop in 1856.
Recognizing the likelyhood of a civil war between the northern and southern states, President Brigham Young was concerned that the availability of cotton cloth might be cut off. And more generally, he wanted the Saints of the Utah Territory to be as self-sufficient as possible. So in the early spring of 1857, he called 38 families from the southern states, who were familiar with the growing of cotton, to go down to southern Utah with the specific assignment to grow cotton. This unique colonizing mission was called the Cotton Mission or Southern Mission.
As these people lived and worked together on this enterprise, they started to call this new area "Dixie" after their homeland. The song "Dixie" was also popular during this time which helped the southerners to reminisce about their homeland: "In Dixie's Land I'll take my stand to live and die in Dixie!" The name spread and soon the area was known as "Utah's Dixie", name which has stuck to this day.
REFERENCESThe Cotton Pickin' Story, Why "Dixie" ?
Compiled by Dr. Harold P. Cahoon for the Washington City Historical Society