Muddy mission settled a ‘forbidding, lonely’ area

The Muddy Mission of 1865 brought the first LDS settlers to the area now known as Nevada's Moapa Valley, roughly 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The area was referred to as "a lonely, barren desert" that appeared forbidding to the settlers, according to Andrew Jenson, an LDS historian in the early part of this century.The Brethren, he noted, hoped to establish cotton crops in the river valley that was lower and hotter than St. George, Utah. They also wanted to set up a route of passage between southern Utah and the Gulf of California where merchandise and emigrants could be transported.

Some of the settlers established contacts with the Indians, but still suffered extreme hardships. Under Thomas S. Smith, a company of settlers arrived at the Muddy Valley early in 1865. They were joined by others until the settlers numbered upwards of 50 families. The St. Thomas Ward was organized May 28, 1865, while the Overton Branch was formed in the fall of 1869.

After a few years, though, the area was claimed by three states, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. After visiting the area, Brigham Young yielded the area to Nevada. In 1871, according to Jenson, the taxes levied by Nevada became so oppressive that the settlers returned to Utah.

In the 1880s, however, Overton, St. Thomas and Logandale were re-settled and the Overton Branch was reorganized in 1883. Overton became headquarters of the Moapa Stake in 1912.

Today, the Logandale Nevada Stake includes the communities of the Moapa Valley.