When the town of Panaca was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1864, it was not in Nevada, rather in Washington County of the Utah Territory.
Even until early 1866, after Nevada had become a state, Panaca was still in the Utah Territory.
In the book “A Century in Meadow Valley,” Barbara S. Mathews wrote, “On May 5, 1866, by Act of Congress, a strip of land, measuring one degree in width between the 37th and 42nd parallels, was added to the eastern edge of Nevada…”
Lincoln County had been created in February 1866, but had not included the strip of land where Panaca and Meadow Valley was.
Extending the border eastward one degree as it was, brought it to the present location with the state of Utah that exists today.
But doing that only created some difficult and testy problems Mathews writes. She noted, “At the time, the boundary line had not been surveyed and there was a question as to its exact location. It was generally recognized the line was somewhere near Panaca, but no one knew exactly where.”
The residents of the Meadow Valley, the ranchers, farmers, and miners in the communities of the surrounding area, Panaca and Pioche included, considered themselves to still be part of the Utah Territory, and refused to pay taxes levied by officials of Lincoln County, Nevada.
They were willing to continue to pay taxes to Washington County, Utah, but not do it twice over to Nevada.
Mathews notes that some residents of Meadow Valley were said to refuse reporting their crops to the County Assessor, and ran him off their land at gunpoint when he came calling.
By the spring of 1869, County Commissioners found the problem had grown so severe, and emotions so raw, they sent a letter to Washington, asking the U.S. Surveyor General for, “immediate action in regard to establishing the boundary line between the Territory of Utah and this State.”
The 1869 Lincoln County taxes were being assessed for all residents, but the people of the Meadow Valley region refused to pay, still believing themselves to be in Utah.
In January, 1870, District Attorney C.W. Wandell, (the county seat was at Hiko from 1867-1871) filed complaints against 59 families who had not paid their 1869 taxes.
Mathews wrote, “settlers were threatened with forcible collection of taxes by the Sheriff and a posse if the cases went to default judgments.”
LDS Church Apostle Erastus Snow in St. George got involved, suggesting someone be sent to Hiko with receipts to show that the 1869 taxes had been paid, to the Utah Territory. And he said they should hold that position until the boundary dispute could be resolved. Snow advised them “to arm and defend your property, if necessary,” wrote Mathews.
The Governor of the Utah Territory asked the United States Supreme Court to issue an injunction against the Lincoln County Sheriff or his deputies, to restrain them as well, from trying to collect the taxes.
The Court issued the injunction.
The issue simmered for a few more months in 1870. A new survey was being done, but in the meantime tempers flared, words passed, attorneys were hired to represent both sides in court, and probably not but a few times was violence narrowly averted.
Finally, in the middle of December, the results of the official survey were made known. President Snow then wrote to Bishop Henrie in Panaca stating basically that all the western settlements, including those on the Muddy (River) in Nevada, were really in Nevada, and not in Utah.
But that did not sit well with some of the settlers, many of whom packed up and moved back to Utah, and others who stayed were still not going to pay the 1870 Nevada taxes, declaring they had already made their payments, to Utah.
In early 1871, the Justice Court in Pioche filed claims against 67 individuals or businesses for unpaid taxes.
After another year of legal wrangling, and with many stories not touched on here, the affair seemed to become pretty much a stalemate. Mathews wrote in her article, on Dec. 4, 1871, the County Commission stated, “It is ordered that the District Attorney be directed to discontinue the action in the 7th District Court…said actions being suits brought for delinquent taxes.” The legal merry go round was just not worth it anymore.
Mathews adds in the final paragraph, “Now reconciled to being citizens of the State of Nevada, they would henceforth pay taxes to Lincoln County.”
Things did continue for a little while longer on a somewhat smaller scale, but that’s another story for another time.