Desert Dames learn local history during luncheon

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Local author and historian Geraldine Zarate speaks to the attendees of the Desert Dames’ luncheon on May 28. Submitted photo.

Local author and historian Geraldine Zarate speaks to the attendees of the Desert Dames’ luncheon on May 28. Submitted photo.

Geraldine White Zarate addressed the Desert Dames women on Wednesday May 28 with an overview of the history and settling of Mesquite.  Author Zarate is a fourth generation resident of Mesquite, She chairs the Virgin Valley Historical Committee, which took on the project to compile the history and gather documents  and pictures from descendants of early settlers and the archives of the Virgin Valley  Heritage Museum.

She told the group about explorers who told of blistering heat, disease-carrying insects, and scarce, evil-tasting water. Explorers like Kitt Carson, John C. Freemont, Jedediah Smith and John Wesley Powell all passed through the Virgin Valley, but none stayed, and their reports of the area did not encourage colonization.

In 1877 the first group of settlers arrived and settled what was named Bunkerville after Edward Bunker.

Later in 1879 a group settled the north side of the Virgin River. They built a dam to supply water for their crops, gardens, household washing and drinking.  The summer of 1882 brought a flood that damaged homes and washed away their dam, ditches, crops, and by the next spring, many had given up and returned to Southern Utah. The flooding turned out to be the biggest obstacle in the settlement of the Virgin Valley.

Today we live in our air conditioned homes, drive in our conditioned cars to shop in air conditioned stores.  Mesquite is now bustling with hotel/casinos, shopping centers, many housing developments and golf coursed and even air conditioned golf carts.

Vice President Darlene Carpenter thanked Geraldine Zarate for her most entertaining and informative lecture. Luncheon was held at the Grille Room, Oasis Golf Club. The women were treated to meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, fresh  green beans, salad and a sundae bar.

The Desert Dames promote friendship through meetings, social functions and special interest groups. For information call Sissy Graham, membership chair, at 702 346 1907.

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