Led by Daniel Webster Jones, the Lehi Company in 1876 was asked by the Mormon Church in Utah to lead a colonizing party to Mexico.
He was authorized to stop sooner if a suitable site was found – and he did. Originally called Utahville and sometimes Jonesville, the settlement was later renamed Lehi and was eventually incorporated into Mesa.
In fall 1877, the “Mesa Company” trekked to the East Valley from Utah and Idaho. These founding fathers of Mesa were Charles C. Crimson, George W. Sirrine, Francis M. Pomeroy and the company’s leader, C.I. Robson. Jones invited the Mesa Company to join the Utahville settlers, but it declined for fear of overcrowding. They instead traveled over nearby bluffs hoping to get water flowing through the canals.
On July 17, 1878, Mesa City was registered as a 1-square-mile townsite from Mesa Drive to Country Club and University to Broadway. The Newell family were the first official Mesa residents; having set up a tent on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Center Street.
By 1883, the town surpassed 300 residents, most of whom worked as farmers, merchants and blacksmiths supporting the agricultural community. Mesa has doubled its population every decade between 1930 and 1990, making it one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities. As of 2016, Mesa’s population was roughly 485,000.
The Fort Utah Monument commemorates the Lehi Company’s first permanent settlement. (Photos courtesy Mesa Historical Museum)