Fremont County, Iowa

Manti--Part 2
Alpheus Cutler- The Founder

by Nancy K. Jaeckel

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of March 17, 2011

After Alpheus Cutler was excommunicated and he brought his followers, known as Cutlerites, to Manti, he founded a new church believing that because of the authority that Joseph Smith had given to him, he had as much right to lead the church as did anyone else. He called his church "The True Church of Christ." Happily, the excellent soil of the lower Nishnabotna Valley provided Cutler and his followers an inviting agricultural paradise in contrast to the isolated desert lands that Brigham Young sought in Utah.

Even before there was a post office, a rudimentary log structure was built in Manti in 1853 which became a school and soon also served as a church. After a separate church was built in 1854 or 1855, the school continued to be the center of activity for the area. In April of 1854, a post office was opened in Manti. By 1860 it had an extensive main street that included 2 general stores, a harness shop, a blacksmith shop, 2 inns, a doctor, a post office, a candy, stationary and music store, and a chair maker, Almond Whiting woodworker.

Following the Civil War the population at Manti grew with veterans who came to settle. Many immigrants came into the fertile lands of southwest Iowa and liked the thriving community so stayed. At its peek, Manti's population was over 1,000.

Manti survived for twenty-five years. Then, in 1871 the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad completed a branch line through the area. It ran some 4 miles west and a little southwest of Manti where a train stop was planned and the town that became Farragut was platted.

The railroad continued on north and east to form a stop that became Shenandoah. Manti townspeople began to move to those new towns to be closer to the railroad stops. It was relatively easy to put a wooden building on runners and move it to another site--in this case to Shenandoah or Farragut, and this many of the locals did.

Other factors that caused Manti's demise was the death of Cutler June 10, 1864, at the age of 80, and the leaving of members of Cutler's group to join the Reorganized Latter Day Saints church. The increasing number of non Mormons moving into the area weakened the hold the Cutlerites had over their members as well.

All that is left today is a grove of virgin walnut and shell bark hickory trees now a public park maintained by the city of Shenandoah, a sign where the school house stood, the original stage coach stop building. (Today it is a private home which the owners have kept in good repair) and the cemetery. The Greater Shenandoah Historical museum has a replica of a Manti cabin with furnishings similar to those used by its early settlers, tools from that era and extensive articles and maps that help tell the story of Manti.

The Fremont County Historical Museum in Sidney has two chairs made by Almond Whiting when he had his woodworking shop in Manti. Nancy Jaeckel's manuscript and other Manti material are available for genealogy and historical research through FCHS. 

Source: From a master's thesis written by Nancy K. Jaeckel

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Page updated on June 22, 2023 by Karyn Techau