THE EARLY HISTORY OF IBAPAH

 

By

 

Mrs. Wade Parrish

 

“This ‘History of Ibapah’ is based upon my personal knowledge and the many facts given to me by the families and friends of early settlers in the Ibapah valley.  I wish to express my appreciation to all those who have contributed family histories and related incidents of those early days.  From the information collected I hope to give the history of this community as correctly as possible.

 

The Ibapah valley, which is located approximately 60 miles south of Wendover, Utah running north and south just east of the Utah-Nevada line, was first settled in the 1860s.  At that time the Pony Express was in operation and one of its stations was located there.  Some of the first settlers were employed by this company, and other people following the Pony Express route came into the valley and started settling.

 

The Pony Express was of short duration, possibly not over two and one half years at the most.  During that time a telegraph station was also established.  It was located a short distance southwest of the store owned by John Devine, later taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Owen Sheridan, and now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Curly Nicholes.  The first operator was Major Eagan followed by James Ferguson.  James Ferguson, better known as Jim, was born in Wellington, Ontario, Canada.  Before coming to Ibapah he was employed as a government operator at Camp Floyd, Utah which was located South (east) of Tooele.  While at Camp Floyd he met Elizabeth Dunlap and in 1868 they were married at the Valley House in Salt Lake City.  Immediately after the marriage they went to Ibapah where Jim was placed in charge of the telegraph station until it ceased operation in 1883.  Elizabeth was born in Glasgow, Scotland and in 1861 she came to the United States and later came West reaching Salt Lake City in 1865.

 

After the Pony Express stopped functioning, the Overland Stage started operation over practically the same route.  At that time the telegraph station also served the stage passengers as an eating and changing station.  To help with the cooking Jim’s sister, Rachel Matilda Ferguson, came from Wellington, Ontario, Canada.  She came by train as far as possible, making the last part of her journey by overland stage.  She was one of the first woman setters here and was later to become the wife of Charles Felt.

 

When the telegraph ceased operation in 1883 Jim Ferguson took up a homestead in Ibapah and later bought land adjoining it, making in all over 800 acres.  He became a very successful sheep and cattle rancher.  Jim and Elizabeth brought up their four daughters, Matilda (Hillman), Lillian (Dunyon), Daisy (Chamberlain), and Corey (Albritton), on this ranch.

 

 

Mr. Ferguson died of blood poisoning from a cut on his foot.  Mrs. Ferguson continued to run the ranch for about three years and then married a stockman named, Edward Bonnemort, who ran the ranch and continued successfully in the livestock business.  After the death of Mr. Bonnemort, his wife Elizabeth, carried on the business for many years and was given the name of ‘Sheep Queen of Utah’.  This ranch, which was originally homesteaded by Jim Ferguson, is now owned by Wade Parrish but is still referred to as ‘The Bonnemort Ranch.”

 

(Note:  Russ Felt was at his Air National Guard drill at the Salt Lake Airport one weekend.  An associate there, Dave Maynard, asked him if he had ever heard of Ibapah, Utah.  I answered yes and why did Dave ask?  Dave’s wife Afton, daughter of Wendall Mabey, a prominent businessman and politician in Salt Lake, told this story.  Her father purchased a piece of land with a home on it on South Temple St. and about 6th East in Salt Lake.  The house was torn down and a business establishment built.  Wendall began to consider the upper floor of the building as an accommodation for visiting businessmen.  Wendall began to have dreams about the rooms.  His family thought he was having mental issues.  The bedroom was lavish with deep red curtains and other lavish decorations.  The bathroom included a walk in Jacuzzi like tub made of tiles with lavish colors.  The small living room had a high ceiling painted like Italian cathedral.  There was a dining room with a glass table.  A sun room looking out on South Temple had flowers.  Wendall dreamt of these furnishings and even went to Europe to purchase suits of armor and other items of antiquity.  The Mabey family sometimes stayed there as a treat.  They would be awakened in the night with doors opening and closing and there was the smell of fresh flowers in the rooms.  Once, even in San Francisco on a trip, Afton smelled the freshly cut flowers in her room.  Afton and her sister wanted to know what was happening with these events.  They researched and came to the conclusion that the house that was torn down for this building was built and owned by the Sheep Queen of Utah, Lizzie Bonnemort.  Dave and Afton went to Ibapah to see the Bonnemort ranch.  Now that reverse ‘L’ log building with roofs gone look more like sheds for stock and they the serve that purpose.  Originally, it was the Bonnemort ranch house.  Lizzie had lush furnishings as is shown in photos of the place in Ron Bateman’s book.  She would carry freshly cut flowers from room to room with her.  She loved the smell.  Afton and her sister were convinced that the ‘ghost’ of Lizzie Bonnemort was present in that building in Salt Lake and that Wendall was prompted by Lizzie to do what he did.  Russ and Rita Felt visited those quarters above the business and it is incredible.  Since then, the Mabey family sold the building.  Afton disliked telling the story due to ridicule by others at the telling.)

 

Chloe Felt Parrish’s History of Ibapah goes on to celebrate the families of the valley.  Russ Felt has chosen only to use the colonization of the valley and the Ferguson part of the story since they are relatives.  Ron Bateman’s books give a complete history of Ibapah.  Russ Felt has a typed copy of her writing.

 

 

 

 

One other note: The Bateman ranch house has on the wall the citizenship certificate of Charles Felt, son of John Felt.  John Felt moved from Grantsville, Utah to Huntsville, Utah but Charles, his eldest son, stayed in Grantsville and eventually went to Ibapah where he was a successful rancher.  He married Rachel Matilda Ferguson and they raised their family there in Ibapah.  Chloe, author of this history, was one of those children.