Volume 83, Number 2 (Spring Issue):
Check out the Spring 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly to learn more about where Utah has been, and how we’ve come to where we are today. Join the Historical Society for your own copy .
Each issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly is accompanied with rich web supplements that introduce readers to sources, photos, interviews, and other engaging material. These “extras” are located at history.utah.gov/uhqextras.
WEB EXTRAS: See here
IN THIS ISSUE
“Zachary Taylor Is Dead and in Hell and I Am Glad of It!”: The Political Intrigues of Almon Babbitt
By Bruce W. Worthen
A Bear and a Bandit
By Steve Siporin
Desert Cold Warriors: Southeastern Utah’s Fight against Communism, 1951-1981
By A. Chase Chamberlain and Robert S. McPherson
The Green River Launch Complex: A Photo Essay
Thumbing through documents, looking at historic images and objects, or even glancing at vital statistics: these actions pique curiosity and prompt us to ask, What happened here? Who were these people? How does this information pertain to the current day? Shaping the scraps and facts of the past into narratives is the joyful, difficult work of archaeologists, folklorists, historians, and many others. How researchers arrive at their conclusions and what stories they decide to tell is a varied and often controversial endeavor. This issue of Utah Historical Quarterly presents four pieces that suggest the depth of experience that can be discovered by digging into the past.
Our anchor article introduces readers to political drama in mid-nineteenth-century Utah. The general outlines are well known: three years after Brigham Young led his people to the eastern edge of the Great Basin, Congress rejected appeals for a State of Deseret, instead creating Utah Territory. What is less known is the political maneuvering and self-interest of the Mormons’ lobbyist in Washington, Almon Babbitt. He had some friends in Congress, including Senator Stephen A. Douglas, but none of the sophistication or perceived noble spirit of John Milton Bernhisel—his rival, who Young ultimately selected over Babbitt as Utah Territory’s delegate to Congress. Babbitt’s partisanship and inside maneuverings hindered Mormon efforts for statehood and contributed to a growing rift between the federal government and the Mormons that would culminate in the Utah War of 1857 and, later, the showdown over plural marriage. This article uses letters, speeches, newspapers, and other sources to recreate the shadowy deals and positioning that ultimately put Utah on the political map.
The second article in this issue examines the many parallels between two incidents that, on the surface, have little resemblance to each other: the killing of Old Ephraim, the famed grizzly bear of Cache Valley, and the killing of Domenico Tiburzi, an Italian bandit. In the hands of a skilled folklorist, the stories of the bear and the bandit reflect unsettling yet celebrated cultural and ecological transformations in northern Utah and central Italy. Old Ephraim and Tiburzi died—and the stories they inspired, born—coinciding with the perceived end of wilderness in both locales. In popular folklore, both became celebrated figures representing “relief and regret” over irreversible changes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This essay blends history and folklore to contextualize and compare powerful stories, illustrating that a common experience and a common humanity can exist between even the most disparate of places.
From Cache Valley and Maremma, Italy, we move to an entirely different subject—how the Cold War played out in San Juan County—with an article that demonstrates how historical research can yield unexpected information. With its sparse population and desert landscape, San Juan County is, perhaps, not the first place one would associate with the U.S. government’s efforts to counter the Soviet Union. However, because of uranium mines and missile tests, the county’s residents had a disproportionately large role in the nation’s Cold War preparations. In addition to the outsized drama of the Cold War, this story has a hometown flavor: missiles fired during high school football games and flirtatious soldiers at the local café.
The spring issue concludes with a photographic essay that substantiates the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words. Of course, a historian might say that pictures need analysis and information—words—to be more fully understood. In this case, we present a set of striking photographs of the now-decommissioned Green River Launch Complex, a site closely associated with the missile tests of our third article. In its current state, the remains of the launch complex might simply appear to be old stuff in the desert. Within the historical setting, however, the role of that stuff in Utah’s rich and complicated past becomes more clear.
Robert S. McPherson, Viewing the Ancestors: Perceptions of the Anaasází, Mokwi ˇc, and Hisatsinom. Reviewed by Farina King
Thayer Tolles and Thomas Brent Smith, The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925. Reviewed by James R. Swensen
Ronald K. Wetherington and Frances Levine, eds., Battles and Massacres on the Southwestern Frontier. Reviewed by Brent M. Rogers
Howard M. Bahr, Saints Observed: Studies of Mormon Village Life, 1850-2005.
Howard M. Bahr, Four Classic Mormon Village Studies. Reviewed by Richard Francaviglia
Eric A. Eliason and Tom Mould, eds., Latter-day Lore: Mormon Folklore Studies. Reviewed by Deirdre M. Paulsen
Nathan N. Waite and Reid L. Neilson, eds., A Zion Canyon Reader. Reviewed by Betsy Gaines Quammen
Sue Jensen Weeks, How Desolate Our Home Bereft of Thee: James Tillman Sanford Allred and the Circleville Massacre
Philip R. VanderMeer, Burton Barr: Political Leadership and the Transformation of Arizona
Royce Allen and Gary Willden, Images of America: South Davis County
Robert M. Utley, ed., An Army Doctor on the Western Frontier: Journals and Letters of John Vance Lauderdale, 1864-1890
Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey, Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth behind a World War II Fence
David J. Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space
Daughters of Utah Pioneers, comp., Museum Memories, Vol. 6