When the Civil
War broke out in 1861, Brigham Young thought it would be necessary to
raise cotton, if possible. Many of the early settlers of St. George
originally came from the southern states. They came to the "Cotton Mission"
to grow cotton, but they also brought with them a phrase for the area
which has become widely adopted--they called the St. George area "Utah's
St. George itself
was named in honor of George
A. Smith, who, although he did not participate in the town's settlement,
had personally selected most of the company of the pioneers of 1861.
The first years in the new outpost were difficult. Great rainstorms
almost destroyed the farmlands, and intense summer heat and lack of
culinary water made life far from pleasant.
In 1863 St. George
became the county seat for Washington County. That same year the construction
of the St. George LDS Tabernacle began. It was completed in 1875. Before
the tabernacle was completed, on 9 November 1871 work commenced on the
St. George LDS Temple. Construction of the temple was a cooperative
effort of many communities in southern Utah. The area was suffering
from a monetary depression, and a work project was needed in which employment
would mean food for families. The building cost $800,000 and was dedicated
on 6 April 1877. Other important area buildings from the pioneer era
include the historic courthouse (1870) and the social hall and opera