On our second day in St. George we drove to Toquerville. It’s only about 20 miles on the freeway and down into a valley on a twisty highway. We have some family roots in the area. This trip was to see the family home of John Conrad Naegle (Naile). He was a rancher, farmer, entrepreneur and a Mormon (LDS) Pioneer and Polygamist. We are descended from his 4th wife, Verena Bryner.
John C. marched across the southern deserts of the west with the Mormon Battalion. When the men of the Battalion were released from duty in San Diego in 1947, many of the men traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to meet up with the wives, parents and siblings that had come west with the Mormon Migration. Some of the men decided to stay in California and work to earn money before going to Salt Lake. Quite a few found work in the Yerba Buena area, building mills on the river in the mountains. John C. determined that he could learn a lot from the Spanish and Mexican ranchers in California. He found work on several of ranches from San Diego, north to the San Francisco area.
About the time he found himself in Northern California, the news was out that gold was found. John C. became a gold miner. When he had determined that he had enough gold, he left the gold fields and turned back toward the coast. He purchased a ranch in the area between the Bay and the mountains and successfully ranched there for several years. (Family history states that the ranch was located in what is now Fremont and the California School for the Deaf and the Blind is built on the original ranch lands.)
After running a very successful ranch operation in California for several years, John C sold his ranch to some of the new Mormon settlers in California and headed to Salt Lake City. The rest of his life, John C Naegle spent taking care of the families of his 7 wives and the responsibilities of his Church duties and responsibilities. He was asked to go to “Dixie”, the southwest corner of Utah and develop farming and ranching in that area. He built this home in Toquerville for several of his wives and it also served as the storage and distribution center for the sacramental wine for the LDS Church that was made from the grapes grown in the area.
John C eventually went to Mexico to avoid prosecution for polygamy and died there. As he moved farther south, he set up wives in homes with property to help provide for the families. That is how our Great, Great Grandmother Verena and her son Casper Conrad (our Great Grandfather) came to St. Johns & Concho, Arizona.
While we were in St George, we had a great visit with another cousin, Rachelle Naegle Crawford. Rachelle was given one our Great Grandmother Helena Naegle’s quilts and we were able to look at it and share some information with Rachelle about the pattern and construction of the quilt.