Lund: The Trail to Township
by Brenda Manges Jones
Lund is a small town located in White Pine County. It was founded by the Mormons in 1898. The Mormons acquired the land due to an unconstitutional congressional bill. In 1887, the Edmund Tucker Bill was passed, allowing legal confiscation of personal properties owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Part of these properties were large herds of cattle, which were turned over to Ira Nichols and Elias H. Parson on the Tom Pain, Maddox, and Murry Creek ranches. In 1893, the Edmund Tucker Act was declared unconstitutional and a resolution to restore the confiscated church property was introduced. No action was taken on this until 1896, by which time the cattle herds were severely reduced from poor management, bad investments, and severe winters. The three ranches were obliged to turn over everything they owned as replacement of the cattle they had lost, giving the Mormons the remaining cattle, horses, equipment, and a large piece of land to begin colonizing.
Lund was named after Apostle Anthon H. Lund, one of the men who surveyed the ranches located there and who gave a favorable report to the church in regards to colonization. The church purchased more property to supplement the ranches and formed the Nevada Lund and Livestock Company, which was in charge of the division of land.
"With more than fifty years experience in colonization, the church was prepared to send to Nevada people of stamina as well as those who had a variety of trades and learning."
Thomas Judd of St. George, Utah, who had been involved in the settling of the Dixie country in southern Utah and had helped engineer a number of irrigation projects was chosen by the church to be Lund’s colonizing agent. He bought the Home Ranch and helped the newly arriving settlers. Much work needed to be done and the drawing for lots would not occur until October, so the first settlers lived and worked together on the Home Ranch. They had a community garden, set up an irrigation system, laid out the town, and divided the farmland during that first year.
In the summer of 1898, a White Pine County surveyor, Aaron Campton, was sent to Lund to survey the land. Tall white pine stakes were laced with new hemp rope, forming the town lots and streets. That fall, the Nevada Land and Livestock Company held drawings for town and field lots. "Town lots ranged from $22.50 to $25.00 each, and farm land in ten-acre plots ranged from $12.00 to $19.00 per acre." The land had sufficient water rights and a five-year contract. The contract specified a down payment of ten percent of the purchase price with ten percent due the following January and twenty percent each year thereafter with an eight percent interest rate till paid in full.
The first settlers of Lund were of many types: saints who had to live down the scornful insults of their practice of polygamy; people who were prepared to become some of the most respected citizens of the country; poor people who established themselves in dugouts, log huts, and homes fashioned from sod and rock, until later, seizing the opportunity, they bought homes from the mines of Ward, Taylor, and Hamilton.
The homes that were bought from these mines had to be torn down, hauled up to 100 miles on roads that would be considered impassable today, and rebuilt on new owner’s property. Some of these houses were infested with bedbugs, so the new owners needed to find a way to destroy these bugs. They found that by splashing a generous amount of cold water throughout the rooms and into all the cracks and crevices, their bedbug problem was eliminated.
These early settlers attacked their housing problems with the same type of ingenuity: "Lund was located over two hundred miles from any source of supply so getting material presented a major problem. It would also be a costly project and money to most pioneers was like teeth to chickens — they just didn’t have any."
Therefore the settlers decided to use the land and resources that were available to them and build houses from sod. They built a pug mill to mix the clay soil, straw and water used in forming the adobe bricks that would be used to build many of the first homes. Some of the settlers built log homes from the tall, straight white or yellow pine trees that grew high in the mountains east of the town. This was not an easy task, the trees were cut down, the bark and branches were trimmed, then the logs were drug down a steep mountain to the town site where the ends were hewn to fit. Others built their homes of rock, with the rocks being hauled out of the surrounding hills. They then had to hand hew the rocks and fit them together, forming the walls of the house. The Indians from the encampment in the foothills about Lund were hired to do much of the heavy work and the women would do a large load of laundry for twenty-five cents. All was peaceful between the Indians and the settlers in the White River Valley. Then, the 1918 flu epidemic struck. The Indians became sick first and eighteen of them died. The settlers then became ill, but none of them died. The remaining Indians decided that this area was cursed; they destroyed their encampment and fled. There has never been another Indian encampment in the area.
In 1899, Mary Leicht Oxborrow arrived in Lund. "She has been set aside by church authorities as a midwife and doctor for this community." She delivered 235 babies and doctored the town’s people with her medicines, salves and face creams. She had a keen knowledge of herbs and would not give out the ingredients to her medicines.
In August 1898, Lund’s first post office was started. "The first mail was brought into Pioche by train and then to White River twice a week by horse and buggy." John Melvin drove this route for several years. Then, in 1906 the railroad came to Ely and the mail route was changed. It now was brought from Ely and Joseph Oxborrow became the first mail carrier on this new route. "The round trip of seventy miles with horse and buggy took two days."
Effie O. Read wrote about Lund, "We were isolated, no newspapers, no radios, and not until 1915 was there a telephone." About 1914 the first telephone line reached Lund. It was built and paid for by the town’s people and called the Lund and Preston Telephone Company. It ran from Lund, through Preston, and into Ely, connecting with the White Pine Telephone Company. The first office was in the home of N. W. Harrison, but it would be moved several times from home to home and land eventually into the Reid and Carter Store, which provided a messenger service for those who did not have a telephone. In May 1968, the Bell Telephone of Nevada bought out the stockholders and provided modern telephone service to the community.
In 1900, the organization of a church ward was started. A new, two story, log building was begun. This building would be used as a church, school, and a general meeting place. "Schools were of major importance in an L.D.S. Community."
Lund, a farming and ranching community, had survived the numerous boom and bust cycles that destroyed many of Nevada’s mining towns. Many of the people living there today are descendants of the original settlers and have carried on their values of family, church, and community. They still own and use some of the original stone and sod houses that were built by early settlers, taking pride in what their ancestors accomplished in a wide isolated, Nevada valley so many years ago.
On State Highway 318, 38 miles from Ely, Nevada.