The city of Monticello
rests at the foot of Blue Mountain on the Great Sage Plain of southeastern
Utah. Local springs east and west of its present location offered water
to passersby, who gave them such names as Piute Springs, Soldier's Spring,
and Vega (Spanish for "fertile plain") Creek.
In March 1886
Francis A. Hammond, LDS stake president of San Juan County, sent an
exploration party from Bluff to determine likely sites for towns close
to the mountain and its water. The south and north forks of Montezuma
Canyon provided real possibilities, yet the general region was already
utilized by Edmund and Harold Carlisles' Kansas and New Mexico Cattle
and Land Company, located a few miles north of Monticello, and the L.C.
outfit, headquartered on the South Fork of Montezuma Creek. Undaunted,
Hammond called Frederic I. Jones and four other men to start planting
crops, laying out a townsite, and surveying an irrigation ditch. By
the first part of July 1887 the men had their tasks well under way and
had joined in a conflict with the cowboys of the Carlisle outfit that
would continue for approximately the next eight years. Warning shots,
heated disputes, and legal wrangling were all part of this tension as
each group tried to control access to the area's water. Homesites established
at Verdure, on the South Fork of Montezuma Creek, were not free of conflict
either, with cowboys as well as Ute Indians adding to the stress.