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Nephi’s Whitmore Mansion echoes with historic past

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My wife and I are studying the pioneer history of Nine Mile Canyon and as a result just learned about the Whitmore Mansion in Nephi.

Two brothers, George, and James Whitmore from Nephi were the first to graze cattle in upper Nine Mile Canyon. Another young Nephi resident, Shadrach Lunt was also a pioneer cattleman in Nine Mile Canyon, and we will discuss him in the August issue of Serve Daily.

In 1879 George Carter Whitmore brought the first cattle to the Mountain Meadow area, now known as Whitmore Park.

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Today that area is about 15.5 miles northeast of Wellington on the Solider Creek Road.

Several cabins in the area are attributable to the Whitmore cattle operation, including one that dates to the 1880’s.

George’s father James Montgomery Whitmore had a cattle ranch in Texas when they became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1856. They migrated to Utah with a group known as the Homer Duncan Company and initially settled in Salt Lake City.

In 1861 James Whitmore was called to serve the Dixie Cotton Mission to establish the town of St. George. He became a cattle rancher with some land in Arizona.

In 1866 James was killed by an Indian assault on his ranch. Six years later George, now 18 years old, moved to Nephi and in 1875 he married a local girl named Mary Elizabeth Hague and together they had eight children.

George and his brother James established the Whitmore Cattle Company and reportedly ran 10,000 head of cattle. Their operation expanded to Whitmore Canyon, which is now called Sunnyside because it was located on the sunny side of the Book Cliff Mountains.

In 1886 George established the First National Bank of Nephi and remained its president until his death in December 1917. The bank grew to three branches, The State Bank of Payson, Fillmore Commercial and Savings Bank, and Fountain Green State Bank.

His son George Montgomery Whitmore served as president until the bank collapsed during the economic depression of 1935.

George C. Whitmore was elected to two terms to the Utah State Senate from 1900 to 1908. He was on the board of trusties of the Utah Agricultural college from 1902 until 1906. He was on the University of Utah Board of Regents from 1910 until his death in 1917.

George also served on the board of the Utah State Hospital in Provo for several years. He was asked to run for governor of Utah but declined because of poor health.

The house that George C. Whitmore built and is now known as the Whitmore Mansion was built between 1898 and 1900. The house was designed and built by Oscar M. Booth, who was a carpenter-builder in the Nephi area.

It has an octagonal corner tower and other elements of Queen Anne style architecture. Interestingly, it has been reported that Booth lacked formal architectural training. The house was placed on the National Historic Registry in 1978. It certainly illustrates the wealth of the Whitmore family in rural Nephi in 1900.

The house is located 110 South, Main Street, in Nephi Utah. Call 385-201-9073 for tour or lodging information. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)

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