THE COTTON MISSION
When the Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young recognized the need of the pioneers for clothing as well as food. He resolved that the Latter-day Saints should be economically independent, and experiments in growing cotton in the Salt Lake Valley were implemented.
Early exploration in the 1850s confirmed that the Santa Clara and Virgin river basins, located 300 miles south of Salt Lake City at a lower altitude, had the potential to grow cotton, grapes, figs, flax, hemp, rice, sugar cane, tobacco, and other much-needed semitropical products. Following the Utah War of 1857-58 Brigham Young's drive for self-sufficiency was strengthened.
By this time Parowan, New Harmony, Pine Valley, Toquerville, and Santa Clara had been established. The mission of those sent to Santa Clara was to befriend the Indians. This had to be done before cotton could be planted. However, at Santa Clara three quarts of old cotton seed were procured, planted, harvested, and ginned. The cotton was then carded, spun, and woven into thirty yards of cloth. A sample was sent to Brigham Young.
Church members were called to go to Washington County to colonize, with the specific assignment to "grow cotton." They were told that the Cotton Mission should be considered as important to them as if they were called to preach the gospel among the nations. Settlements involved in the Cotton Mission, some now erased from memories and maps, were Washington, St. George, Heberville (Tonaquint), Parowan, Grafton, Hurricane, Santa Clara, Harrisburg, Duncan's Retreat, West Point, Rockville, Millersburg, Shunesburg, Northrop, Springdale, Gunlock, Harmony, Kanarra, Hebron, Middleton, Pine Valley, Pinto, Leeds, Bellevue (Pintura), Panada, Eagleville, Cedar City, and Toquerville. There were also those on Muddy Creek--St. Joseph, St. Thomas, and Overton. Some of these settlements involved just a few famiies.