Washington City Logo



Washington was settled by the first missionaries to the Cotton Mission in 1857. It was named in honor of the nation's first president and had the purpose of raising cotton for the territory.




After being sent a sample of cotton raised in Santa Clara and with a glowing report from John D. Lee, Brigham Young called 38 Southern families in the early, early spring of 1857 to come down and established a town, to be called Washington after the first president of the United States, and specifically to grow cotton. He wanted the Saints to be independent and self sufficient, not relying on the "Gentile's" world of trade. This unique colonizing mission was called the Cotton or Southern Mission.

Two groups of pioneers came. Ten families under Samuel J. Adair arrived at a spot that was later called Adair Springs on the 15 of April 1857 and twenty eight families under Robert D. Covington arrived at the same location on the 5th or 6th of May, 1857. They knew exactly where they were going since they stopped in Harmony on the way down and John D. Lee and others told them exactly where to go to secure water and tillable land. At Adair Springs, they founded the City of Washington during a two day meeting with President Isaac Haight, president of the Cedar City Stake. They assigned every position needed to have the city operate.

Washington was granted a city charter in 1876 by the Territorial Legislature. It has had a city government since that time.

Thomas Jefferson Jones   (1878-1881)
Marcus Funk   (1881-1882)
Samuel Connell   (1883-1884)
Levi Harmon   (1885-1886)
David Paxman   (1887-1888)
???   (1889-1896)
Andrew Sproul Sr.   (1897-1898)
???   (1899-1902)
Edmund Van Orden   (1903-1904)
???   (1905-1907)
Arthur A. Paxman   (1908-1909)
Lewis H. Bastian   (1910-1911)
Cornelius McReavy   (1911-1913)
Arthur A. Paxman   (1914-1915)
Isreal Neilson, Jr.   (1916-1920)
Willard O. Nisson   (1920-1921)
Edward P. Nisson   (1922-1923)
Isreal Neilson, Jr.   (1924-1927)
Bert Hall   (1928-1930) ???
Frank Staheli   (1928-1937) ???
Victor Iverson   (1938-1943)
Frank Staheli   (1944-1945)
Bert Hall   (1946-1947)
Woodrow Staheli   (1948-1949)
Quentin A. Nisson   (1950-1964)
Benjamin Jolley   (1964-1969)
Willard Pectol   (1970-1973)
Bryon Thulin   (1974-1977)
Walter C. Watters   (1978-1979)
Franklin H. Staheli   (1980-1981)
Robert Slack   (1982-1988)
Larry Jolley   (1888-1993)
Terrill Clove   (1994-2009)
Kenneth F. Neilson   (2010-Present)

431 in 1864


Photos on the web:
1/2004 photo of the monuments out in front of the Washington City Museum
1/2004 photo of a reconstructed granary and monument just east of the Washington City Museum
9/1909 photo of the Alex Mornig vinyard (Malaga grapes) in Washington field


Official website of Washington City
Washington City Historical Society
Washington City Historical Society
Washington City Historic Preservation Commission
Wikipedia article about Washington
A history of Washington
A history of Washington
A history of Washington
Washington City's 150th Anniversary Booklet
Washington City Homecoming Booklet, July 2-4, 1983
List & map of historic sites in Washington
Washington City Historical Locations and Walking Tour, January 2023

Locations of Pioneer Sites. Pin Pointed on a Washington City Map
by Harold P. and Priscilla J. Cahoon
First Edition, 1993

Utah's "Dixie" Birthplace
Locations of early pioneer sites in Washington City, Utah pinpointed on a Washington City map
    and stories about the people who lived there
Book by Harold and Priscilla Cahoon
St. George: CFP Books, 1996
Soft Cover, 8.5 x 11, 282 pages & 300 photos
ISBN 1888106204, July 1996, List $29.95
See the information page.

Washington City "MONUMENT PLAZA"
May, 10, 2003
This document from the Washington City Historical Society contains histories by Harold P. Cahoon
    for people with statues being sculpted by Jerry Anderson for the Washington Monument Plaza.
See the information page.

Washington County Chapter, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, " Under Dixie Sun".
1950 with 1978 Supplement.
Pages 233-253, Supplement Pages 49-50.

Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future
Program about a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit, September 3, 2001

History reveals intriguing origins of unique place names in Southern Utah
Article by Ammon Teare, St. George News, 6/12/2021