the seasons were short...it was
a good sheep and cattle country."
Adelia Bunker Crosby
About 120 miles northeast of Santa Clara, across a high mountain range and the present day Zions National Park, is the town of Panguitch, Utah. A few miles to the southeast of Panguitch is Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike the Virgin River Basin where the seasons are mild, Panguitch experiences the full range of seasons with substantial snow in the winter. It was here that a few hardy pioneers first attempted to make a settlement in about 1870. A few homesites were established, but due to hostile Indians the little community was abandoned. Edward's eldest daughter Emily and her husband Mahonri Moriancumer Steele were some of the first to move there in February of 1870. While there they had a baby boy who they named Mahonri Moriancumer Steele, Jr. Not long after, the Indians who lived there became so bad that Emily Bunker Steele and family moved to Parowan where they resided for awhile. Then in 1872 the Indians were pacified, and the Steele's returned to Panguitch along with several other families. Emily bore her second son, John Edward Steele, on September 24, 1872.
The town was reestablished and Edward's third child, Hannah Adelia Bunker Crosby, moved there after her marriage in 1872. She relates in Bunker Family History:
"Panguitch was a new country, the seasons were short, our crops frosted year after year. The Indians had once broken the town up, but gave us very little trouble. It was a good sheep and cattle country, and through experience we learned better how to handle the climate, and we, with others, succeeded very well financially."
Edward Bunker Jr. moved to Panquitch in the spring of 1872 and bought a "two room lumber house". He leased a dairy near Bryce Canyon and during the first summer fenced 1,000 acres and milked forty cows. He purchased a small herd of sheep and acquired stock in the co-op store. Edward, Jr. began to prosper and was called to be a counselor to the Panguitch Bishop and a member of the city council.
EB: Salter and I bought a place in Panguitch and were among the first settlers after the town was established. Moved part of my family and two of my sons also settled there.
During 1872 Edward, Sr. moved Mary McQuarrie and her children to Panguitch. At first they lived with Edward, Jr.. That fall Edward, Sr. made a trip north, and came by way of Panguitch and took Mary and her children to visit her family at Ogden. Edward, Sr. returned to the south with his wagon loaded full of supplies for the stores in "Dixie". Mary returned with him to Panguitch.
At the same time Edward returned to Panguitch and then Santa Clara, Brigham Young come to St. George. President Young made a report on the conditions at Santa Clara in a letter he wrote on January 11th, 1873 which was recorded in the Manuscript History of Santa Clara:
"The Clara settlement consisting of 20 families, 12 of whom are Swiss and were sent there by the P. E. [Perpetual Emigration] fund without a dollar have all got houses, land, vineyards, horses, wagons and cattle and are sending 100 children to school, besides having a number too small to go. The donations they handed in to Bishop Bunker he sent to the poor of St. George, they [Santa Clara] having no poor. I learn that they all paid their tithing and feel united and blessed of the Lord."
The above account is somewhat inconsistent with the census taken in 1870 where 43 families were identified in Santa Clara. It appears that Santa Clara was becoming an economically stable and almost prosperous community. Perhaps Edward was finally seeing the fruits of his labors over the years. The hallmark of his leadership was unity, cooperation, stability and success.
While on his mission, he stabilized the Sheffield conference, after the difficult experience with William Clayton and the announcement of plural marriage. The handcart company that he led travelled faster and with fewer misfortunes than almost any other company crossing the plains. Now he had brought Santa Clara from contention and starvation to a point where no poverty existed and they were supporting others. No one sang his praise from the roof-tops, but his quiet management style transformed adversity to prosperity.
Besides management ability, Edward was gifted as an engineer of roads. He had been involved in the building of roads as far back as his Mormon Battalion days. He had also directed the building of roads in Ogden as a City Councilman. It is probably because of his experience and ability that he was called upon to assist in establishing a wagon road to and from Lee's Ferry across the Colorado River.
On April 3rd, 1873 a company of 28 men, under the leadership of President Joseph W. Young, Bishop Edward Bunker and I. C. Haight arrived at Lee's Ferry, in Lonely Dell, Arizona. Here they met John D. Lee, who was in hiding at Lonely Dell and later convicted for the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 1857. The men had been assigned by President Brigham Young via telegraph to examine the two separate crossings on the Colorado River and decide the best place for a company of 250 families to cross on their way to building a settlement on the Little Colorado River. John D. Lee writes in his diary:
"Everything considered we went and examined the present crossing, the one that I located and was much pleased with. They had also examined the lower place (from this side) that was selected by Jacob Hamblin and reported [it] could be made with $100 expense; & that it would cost $3,000 to make a road at the upper crossing and the lower crossing was just as good."
"Lonely Dell, Arizona, Friday, Apr. 4th, 1873: I showed them the route that I had selected and they was much pleased with it. Bishop Bunker thought that it was a heavy job while at the same time he admitted that a good road could be made with a fair grade, but it would require more time and labor than we can spare at this time. He feared and was of the opinion that if a road can be made at Jacob Hamblin's rout for $100 as he reported, it would be better to cross there at present."
This experience demonstrates that Edward was regarded by those around him as an experienced road builder. They listened to him and followed his advice. This experience also suggests that Edward was well-travelled throughout southern Utah.
Another experience that took Edward away from home may have been the annual hunt for wild beef cattle. Each fall the men would go to Bull Valley or the Beaver Dam Wash with teams and wagons to procure loads of meat for the following winter. It is suggested that these cattle may have been a result of the Mountain Meadow Massacre of September 1857, "when the cattle owned by that company were left to run wild." Perhaps the event that was responsible for the cattle should be explained.
The Mountain Meadow Massacre
The following are excerpts from Larsen's I Was Called To Dixie where he explores the massacre:
"The Francher party from Arkansas arrived in Salt Lake City early in August. There seems to have been one party with the Francher train, described as the "Missouri Wildcats." They travelled leisurely through the chain of Utah settlements on the road to California."
"On July 24th, 1857, the news came that an army was on its way to Utah to put down a rebellion alleged to be existing in the territory. This threat, coming as it did on top of the chain of persecution that had already driven them from their homes in Missouri and Illinois, brought their emotions to the boiling point. They [the Mormons] were resolved to resist this injustice with every resource at their command. Everywhere they preached resistance, and in fiery speeches stirred their respective people to fight and no longer submit to what they considered a military mob bent on their destruction. Coupled with this came the news of the assassination of their beloved apostle, Parley P. Pratt, at the hands of an Arkansan."
"In view of the precarious outlook, the people of the settlements had been told to store their grain for future contingency. Brooks says, `That this group [The Francher [party] began to have trouble soon after they left Salt Lake City there can be no doubt. Much of this grew out of the belligerent attitude of the Mormons and their steady refusal to sell supplies, but some of it must be attributed to the conduct of the travelers themselves. Reports of their boastful and hateful remarks come to us from many sources; little things like naming their oxen Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball and then cursing them roundly as they passed through the Mormon villages, or trying to buy provisions and being refused, popping the head off a chicken with a long bull whip, or turning their cattle into the Mormon fields'".
"`As tensions grew, there were those who boasted of having participated in the Missouri outrages and the Haun's Mill massacre [of Mormons]. One man even claimed to be carrying the gun which shot Old Joe Smith. Wait until they reached California and told the people there what was going on in Utah! They'd come back with an army from that direction, too, and then these traitorous Mormons would literally be between the hammer and the anvil. They would learn what it meant to defy the United States of America.'"
"Reports of the alleged misdeeds lost nothing in the telling as news of their coming preceded the Francher company. These reports, together with [their] behavior gathered strength and potency as the company moved toward Parowan and Cedar City."
"The High Council [at Cedar City on September 6th] was divided between proponents of those who wanted to take direct action against the company and those more level-headed individuals who were in favor of letting them continue unmolested. Two resolutions emerged from the meeting: one was to send a messenger to Salt Lake City to get Brigham Young's instructions; the other was to dispatch a messenger to John D. Lee at Harmony and ask him to come and manage the Indians who were following the Francher caravan."
"Some of the redmen from as far north as Fillmore were hanging on the flanks of the company, encouraged in their belligerence, no doubt, by the obviously hostile attitude of the Mormons, and sending out runners to urge the other bands along the route to join them in plundering the well-equipped travelers. [The Francher] body now camped at Mountain Meadow to recuperate their animals before attempting the long stretch of desert ahead of them."
In the 1850's the Mountain Meadow was a favorite spot where those traveling to California would camp. John D. Lee became an integral part of the effort encouraging the Indians to attack the train. The Indians did in fact, attack, but were not of sufficient strength to gain victory. Lee and other "hotheads" joined in and all in the train were killed, except the children that were too young to comprehend the event. Secrecy was pledged among the white participants and the blame was placed on the Indians. In spite of the secrecy, those involved went into hiding and were excommunicated from the church.
Edward Bunker was in Ogden at the time and did not even come to Dixie until four years later. But he did know John D. Lee. Larsen writes: "Lee was finally taken by U.S. Marshall William Stokes at Panguitch in 1874 when Lee had come in from his place of exile at Lonely Dell, near the mouth of the Paria River, to visit his family." This was just one year after Edward worked with him in Arizona. Lee was convicted and put to death at the Mountain Meadow in 1876.
Mountain Meadow was a spot not too distant from Santa Clara, and at one time part of the area that Edward was responsible for as Bishop. While in Santa Clara Edward probably learned a great deal about the massacre.
In the autumn and winter of 1873-4 two more children were born
to Edward's wives.