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UHQ Winter 2015 Web Supplements

UHQ Interviews: Utah Historiography

Robert Parson, “Neither Poet Nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 6-19

Utah-HeritageAccompanying Robert Parson’s article on the historian S. George Ellsworth, we offer conversations with the noted historians and archivists Gary Topping and Robert Parson on the historiography of Utah, as well as selected accompanying documents, including letters from Ellsworth on the writing of Utah’s Heritage and a diary excerpt from Leonard Arrington on the founding of the Western Historical Quarterly.



Charcoal Kilns: A Photo Gallery

Douglas H. Page Jr., et al., “Charcoal and Its Role in Utah Mining History,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 20-37

The winter 2 Three Kilns Spring 015  UHQ introduces readers to the dozens of charcoal kilns, now abandoned, that dot the Utah landscape. These kilns are visible reminders of a once profitable and ubiquitous industry. They are also a remarkable visual display, revealing the kiln’s unique and varied designs and the often remarkable craftsmanship that went into their construction. We thank Doug Page, a retired forester, for providing the text and photos.


Gallery of Female Imagery in Advertisements

Kathryn L. MacKay, “The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 38-51

chocolate boxes

With publication of MacKay’s article on chocolate dippers we present historical advertisements using women and their bodies to sell goods and projects. These images are housed at the collections of Utah State Historical Society.




Sounds of the Cathedral

Gary Topping, “Transformation of the Cathedral: An Interview with Gregory Glenn,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 59-69

Gary Topping, archivist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, unearthed an LP of the Cathedral Madeline choir in 1960. We converted the songs to a digital format and make them available here.



UHQ Spring 2015 Web Supplements

1-WebSupAlmon Babbitt and Early Utah Politics: A Portfolio of Documents

Bruce Worthen, “‘Zachary Taylor Is Dead and in Hell and I Am Glad of It!': The Political Intrigues of Almon Babbitt,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Spring 2015): 84-97.

Here we offer faithful reproductions of some of the primary documents Worthen used to construct his analysis of behind-the-scenes political wrangling of Almon Babbitt, the Mormon’s ambitious State of Deseret designee in Washington, D.C. leading to the creation of Utah Territory in 1850. These letters, minutes of meetings, and official documents that recreate the shadowy deals and positioning that ultimately put Utah on the political map. We also provide short biographies of important political individuals and political cartoons from the era.

 Folklore and History: An Interview with Steve Siporin2-6

Steve Siporin, “A Bear and a Bandit,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Spring 2015): 98-114.

We spoke with Siporin, a professor of folklore at Utah State University, about the stories of Old Ephraim and Dominenci Tiburzi and the marriage between folklore and history. Siporin reminds us that humans are natural-born storytellers, and that “we are always, subconsciously perhaps, aiming towards a more meaningful and artistic story because it’s about communication about past experience. It’s not always about literal truth.” Click here for the audio and transcript of our conversation.

3-4Southeastern Utah Missile Launches

Robert McPherson, “Desert Cold Warriors: Southeastern Utah’s Fight against Communism, 1951–1981,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Spring 2015): 116-31.

See the following links for resources on southeastern Utah missile launches during the Cold War: Robert McPherson’s interview with Rudy Alonzo, who was in the tracking station south of Blanding following the missiles fired from Green River; “The Athena That Got Away,” regarding the missile that landed in Mexico; and Jim Stiles’s “The Last Flight of Felon 22″ for information the crash of Felon 22 in 1961; and the White Sands Missile Range newspapers Wind and Sand (1950 to 1969) and Missile Ranger (1969 to 1990), online searchable archives, at

 Extended Photo Gallery of the Green River Launch Complex4-11_metal-slides

“The Green River Launch Complex: A Photo Essay,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 132-41.

We publish here additional historic and contemporary photos of the Green River Launch Complex. The contemporary photos are complements of Chris Merritt, Chris Hansen, and Cory Jensen.


Veterans Utah History Project


Where were you when WWII ended?

The Division of State History and the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs have joined together on the Veterans Utah History Project.

Whether you are a WWII veteran and want to document and share your experiences and memories or you want to volunteer to interview a WWII veteran there are opportunities to participate.

Visit the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs website to learn more and get involved to collect, document and archive this important part of our history.

Utah Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month celebrates Utah’s rich archaeological and historical resources with a month of lectures and hands-on learning. Statewide events include:

  • Open house at the South City Campus of Salt Lake Community College with educational activities for kids and adults
  • Annual poster contest
  • Lectures and paper presentations
  • Tours of archaeological and historical sites

Please note: Updates occur regularly, but may take up to 48 hours to appear. Please note: Jumps may land slightly below their marker. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Do you have an event? Please email and fill out the Archaeology and Historic Preservation Event Form


 Where are you interested in attending events (by County)?







Salt Lake

San Juan











Board of State History Meeting Agenda

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rio Grande Depot, Board Room, 300 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, UT

TIME:  Noon - working lunch for Board members, hosted by State History

12:15 p.m. – WELCOME – Greg Thompson


12:20 p.m.        Oct 16 2014 Board Retreat Minutes Draft – Greg Thompson

12:25 p.m.        Board of State History Committees – Kevin Fayles

12:35 p.m.        Overview of Meetings for the Utah State Board of History – Kevin Fayles

12:45 p.m.         NRHP Board PrimerReview Board Procedure Update – Cory Jensen

1:00 p.m.          National Register of Historic Places Nominations for Review and Approval – Cory Jensen
1) Joseph Hill Cabin
2) Amundsen House
3) Bennion Flour Mill
4) Boyce-Newman House
5) SLC 29th Ward LDS Meetinghouse
6) Western Macaroni Co. Factory
7) Weber River RR Bridge

​1:30 p.m.          BREAK & Group Photo Retake – Kevin Fayles


1:45 p.m.          How do we widen community and legislative support of State History? – Dina Blaes

2:05 p.m.          Board member turnover 2015 – Greg Thompson
submit nominations to the Governor’s Office at

2:15 p.m.          Budget Report – Kevin Fayles

2:25 p.m.          Request for Review by Committee
1) Fellows and Honorary Members Process – Brad Westwood, Jed Rogers
2) Publication Awards AND Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Awards – Brad Westwood and Holly George

​2:35 p.m.          October – December 2014 Program Accomplishments for State History – Brad Westwood

3:00 p.m.          Utah Committee on Geographic Names – Brad Westwood, Arie Leeflang

3:05 p.m.          Markers and Monuments Database AND Circleville Massacre – Jed Rogers, Brad Westwood

3:15 p.m.          Revisit Committee Member Assignments – Kevin Fayles

3:20 p.m.          Recognition of Partnership with the LDS Church and Utah Territorial Papers and the Salt Lake Telegram Newspapers Projects – Brad Westwood, Steve Olsen

3:25 p.m.          Utah History Day at the Legislature (Jan. 30) and 2015 Capitol Hill Preservation Advocacy Week – Brad Westwood


NEXT MEETING:  April 16, 2015, 12:00 pm – 3:00 p.m. 


UHQ Winter 2015 Supplements


UHQ Interviews: Utah Historiography

Robert Parson, “Neither Poet Nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 6-19

Utah-HeritageAccompanying Robert Parson’s article on the historian S. George Ellsworth, we offer conversations with the noted historians and archivists Gary Topping and Robert Parson on the historiography of Utah, as well as selected accompanying documents, including letters from Ellsworth on the writing of Utah’s Heritage and a diary excerpt from Leonard Arrington on the founding of the Western Historical Quarterly.







Charcoal Kilns: A Photo Gallery

Douglas H. Page Jr., et al., “Charcoal and Its Role in Utah Mining History,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 20-37

The winter 2Three Kilns Spring015 UHQ introduces readers to the dozens of charcoal kilns, now abandoned, that dot the Utah landscape. These kilns are visible reminders of a once profitable and ubiquitous industry. They are also a remarkable visual display, revealing the kiln’s unique and varied designs and the often remarkable craftsmanship that went into their construction. We thank Doug Page, a retired forester, for providing the text and photos.



Gallery of Female Imagery in Advertisements

Kathryn L. MacKay, “The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 38-51

chocolate boxes

With publication of MacKay’s article on chocolate dippers we present historical advertisements using women and their bodies to sell goods and projects. These images are housed at the collections of Utah State Historical Society.




Sounds of the Cathedral

Gary Topping, “Transformation of the Cathedral: An Interview with Gregory Glenn,” Utah Historical Quarterly 83 (Winter 2015): 59-69

Gary Topping, archivist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, unearthed an LP of the Cathedral Madeline choir in 1960. We converted the songs to a digital format and make them available here.




Ute Photographs

Here we present a small gallery of Ute photographs found in the collection of the Utah State Historical Society. Although we do not use Google Picasa, we gathered as much contextual information as we could find to identify individuals in the photos. If you, dear reader, can help us identify more of the individuals in these photos, please contact us at


Ute indians; Captain Jinks with Indian Women

Captain Jinks, a Ute, with women in Atchee, Colorado. The identities of the women are not known.


A group of Utes taken prisoner at Fort Meade, South Dakota, c. 1906. Left to right : Ben Tabbysheetz, unidentified, Ta-tw-wee Chegup, Mo-cha, Quien, J. Scott Apputnora, Quip, Tse-uts (brother of Red Cap). Photo courtesy Boyce Areep. Gift of the Western History Center of the U. of U.

A group of White River Utes taken prisoner at Fort Meade, South Dakota, c. 1906. From left to right, Ben Tabbysheetz, unidentified, Ta-tw-wee Chegup, Mo-cha, Quien, J. Scott Apputnora, Quip, and Tse-uts. Faced with the unwanted opening of the Uintah Reservation to white settlers, a group of Ute Indians sought refuge in South Dakota among the Sioux. While in flight, the Indians were apprehended by the U.S. Army in southeast Montana and held as prisoners near Fort Meade, South Dakota. Although the federal government initially agreed to have the Utes remain in South Dakota, further conflict with the United States ultimately convinced the Indians to return to their reservation in Utah, which they did in 1908. For more, see David D. Laudenschlager, “The Utes in South Dakota, 1906–1908,” South Dakota History 9 (Summer 1979): 233–47.


Chief Ouray and Chipeta of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe, ca. 1880.

Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta, of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe, ca. 1880. Original credit: Smithsonian Inst., National Anthropological Archives, Bureau of American Ethnology Collection.

Sally Kanosh: Died December 1878. Wife of Chief Kanosh.

Sally Kanosh, recently married to the Pahvant chief Kanosh, ca. 1877. For nearly three decades, Sally was an adopted member of Brigham Young’s household, purchased from an Indian named Batiste in 1847. “At first [Sally] slept outside and preferred the meat she gathered from the gutters instead of good fried beef,” Young had exclaimed, but soon she came to adopt the Mormons’ customs and religion. She died in December of 1878. See John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), 215–16.




Ute Indians, 1915. L. to R.: 1-3 unknown; 4. Washington Dutchie; 5. Joe Bishop (Medicine Man) ; 6. Anson (Scotty-Posey's brother); 7. Unknown; 8. Posey ; 9. Gov. Mabey.

Ute Indians standing with Charles Rendell Mabey, future governor of Utah, 1915. The only identifiable figures in this photograph are Washington Dutchie (fourth from left), Joe Bishop (fifth from left), Anson (sixth from left), Posey (second from right), and Mabey (far right). Posey, a Paiute who married into the Ute band, later became namesake of the 1923 conflict known as the Posey War.


Southern Utes. Ouray & Chipeta on right. Credit: U.S. Signal Corps.

A group of Ute Indians posing with federal officials for a photograph in Washington, D.C., 1880. Front row, from left to right: Ignacio, chief of the Weeminuche band of the Ute tribe; Carl Shurz, U.S. Secretary of the Interior; Ouray, chief of the Uncompahgre band of the Ute tribe; and Chipeta, Ouray’s wife. Back row: Woretsiz, a Ute Indian, and Charles Adams, a U.S. Army officer and Indian agent. Ouray died later that year after negotiating a treaty that established a reservation for his people in Utah. Original credit: U.S. Signal Corps.


Whiterocks Shinny Team; Ute Women.

Ute women on the Whiterocks Shinny Team. The game shinny involved using three-foot long sticks to strike a ball made of rawhide over the opponents’ goal line. The town of Whiterocks is in Uintah County, Utah.


A group of Utah Indians, including Arrapene (Sinnearoach), the Head Chief of the tribe (Utes), and Luke, the interpreter. Taken on the outskirts of Camp Floyd looking northwest toward the Oquirrh Mountains.

A group of Ute Indians on the outskirts of Camp Floyd looking northwest toward the Oquirrh Mountains, date not known. Jake Arapeen (also known as Chief Yene-wood), a Ute leader, is likely the figure facing away from the camera. Luke, a Ute interpreter, may be the man in the middle of the photo. Original credit: National Archives and Records Administration.


Water: Records in the Utah State Historical Society and at the Utah State Archives

Woods Cross Spring

Woods Cross Spring

It may be cliché to say that water is the lifeblood of the West, but it is hardly an exaggeration. On this side of the hundredth meridian, rainfall is generally less than twenty inches annually, making the region largely semiarid or arid, dependent on irrigation for the growing of crops. It was a necessity for the ancient Fremont and Anasazi Indians, it was a necessity for Mormon settlers in the nineteenth century, and it remains a necessity for inhabitants of the West today. John Wesley Powell, in his Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States, with a More Detailed Account of the Lands of Utah (1879), concluded that there was not enough water to “reclaim” all of the western states. But he advocated development of irrigation works and urged federal involvement to encourage the formation of local irrigation districts. Powell may not have been the first to recognize the importance of water to this part of the country, but he was the first to call broad attention to it—and to conduct a systematic study of its distribution and potential uses in Utah Territory.

The following is our attempt to review research materials in the Utah State Historical Society and at the Utah State Archives that address the central theme of water. We present below a listing of collections on water use, development, and recreation in Utah. To whet your palate, we also provide a sampling of their contents.


Utah State Historical Society


The Frank B. Robinson Papers, 1915–1931, MSS B 158, 0.5 lin. ft.

Account books and studies for the adjudication of the Beaver River.




Winsor, Luther M., Autobiography, MSS A 1428-1, 76 pp., photocopy of typescript

Born in Hebron, Utah, Winsor lived in Washington County as a child, graduated from Utah Agricultural College as an engineer, and worked as a water and irrigation expert.



Utah Water Regulation Collection, 1965–1979, MSS B 719, 0.5 lin. ft.

Collection includes “Code for Waste Disposal Regulations,” “Design and Construction Standards for Public Drinking Water Systems,” “Program Description and Evaluation” for Salt Lake City-County Health Department.





Utah Water Records Project Inventory, 1979–1981, MSS B 219, 4.5 lin. ft.

An inventory of water records pertaining to Utah in the custody of Utah State Archives, private water companies, and the LDS church. From 1979 through 1981, with funding by a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission, the Utah State Historical Society conducted the survey.



Irrigation Company and District Records

Steed Creek Irrigation and Water Company Records, ca. 1920–1985, MSS B 599 2.5 lin. ft.

Located in Farmington, Utah, the SCIWC was organized in the early 1890s and incorporated in 1924 to supply shareholders with water for irrigation and household use. This collection contains articles of incorporation, bank statements, census of irrigation, correspondence, legal papers, minutes, stock certificates, and other company records.

The correspondence in this collection gives researchers a sense for the district’s evolution from its founding to dissolution in approximately 1985. Like other irrigation systems of the time, SCIWC originally had an open ditch system. The company sought to install a pressure irrigation system in the early 1960s. Although pressure irrigation enabled “a more beneficial use of water,” early priority users tend to be “loath to place this priority in a common system without extra consideration.” This reason, coupled with the small size of the irrigation company, led the Utah State Engineer to recommend against construction of pressure irrigation (Hubert C. Lambert to Steed Creek Irrigation Company, March 1, 1962, box 2, fd. 6). This negative assessment did not long delay plans for pipelines. Within only a few years officials approved plans for a pressurized system, though construction did not immediately commence. In 1974 Gallard C. Carr, secretary and treasurer of the company, claimed that “[o]ur present system” had become “obsolete” and nearly “unmanageable,” and he urged swift commencement of pipeline construction (Gallard C. Carr to Aaron Richards, May 16, 1974, box 2, fd. 7).

Correspondence also details conflicts between the Steed Creek Irrigation and Water Company and water users, as was typical in the West. Hattie Devas initiated a case against the company for failure to deliver her share of culinary water from the district. The court ordered the company to ensure that “the culinary water will always be available” and advised that it unclog the “rocks and other debris” constricting the pipe delivering water from the river (Leland S. McCullough, McCullough, Boyce & McCullough, to “Gentlemen,” SCIWC, July 19, 1957, box 2, fd. 5). In 1960, Edward Barrett, writing on behalf of Devas, berated Gallard Carr “over your hypocritical falseness and personal revenge in stopping the flow of water to Mrs. Devas who badly needs irrigating water.” Barrett accused Carr of placing a pipe “in the middle of the creek to dispossess a stockholder in the company” and urged him to follow the letter of the law and not be swayed by “your personal views” (Edward Barnett to Gallard Carr, May 11, 1960, box 2, fd. 6).



Dry Creek Reservoir and Irrigation Company Records, ca. 1951–1988, MSS B 546, 2.5 lin. ft.

These records include account books, company records, correspondence, and stock certificates.



Casto Spring Irrigation Company Records, ca. 1901–1986, 2 lin. ft.

The records of the Casto Spring Irrigation Company was part of the Salt Lake Water Conservancy District. Collection consists of account books, articles of incorpation, bank statements, minute books, stock certificate books, etc.



Irrigation Ditches, Dams and Reservoirs Photograph Collection, n.d., MSS C 785, 1 fd. (12 photographs)



Bonneville Irrigation District Records, 1941–1964, MSS B 17, 0.5 lin. ft.

A unit of the Davis County Irrigation Company, 1920–1959. Minutes and financial records, 1941–1962. Correspondence, 1953–1964. Petitions for dissolution, ballots and tabulation, and quit-claim deeds.



Tooele City-Settlement Canyon Irrigation Company Records, 1873–1972, MSS B 25, 1.5 lin. ft.

Minute books, annual financial reports, certificates, some correspondence.



Oral Histories

Bills, Lenore Johnson, oral history interviews, August 8, 1972 and May 2, 1973, MSS A 2867, 29 leaves, typescript

Discusses management and development of water in Mapleton, Utah.



Gardner, Wallace, oral history interview, August 7, 1972, MSS A 2869, 5 leaves, typescript

Evaluation of the importance of Utah’s first federal reclamation project, Strawberry Valley Project, to Utah County.



Huber, Alma, oral history interview, March 1, 1972, MSS A 2870, 18 leaves, typescript

Discusses water development in Wasatch County.



Taylor, Roy, oral history interview, August 8, 1972, MSS A 2872, 20 pp., typescript

Evaluation of the importance of the Strawberry Valley Project to Utah County.



Sulser, Earl, Mr. and Mrs., oral history interviews, March 1972, MSS A 2873, 9 leaves, typescript

Discusses water development in Midway, Utah.



Wilson, Charles, oral history interview, March 1976, MSS A 2874, 129 pp., typescript

Discusses water development in Salt Lake County.



Jensen, Lincoln, oral history interview, March 7, 1977, MSS A 2871, 25 leaves, typescript

Discusses Weber River water development.



Siddoway, Ralph, oral history interview, December 4, 1978, MSS A 2859, 14 leaves, typescript

Reminiscences of the proposed federal dam at Echo Park.



Colton, Hugh, oral history interview, December 18, 1978, MSS A 2868, 10 leaves, typescript

Recollections of lobbying for the proposed dam at Echo Park.



River Running

Baker, Pearl Biddlecome, Trail on the Water Papers, 1898–1969, MSS B 1634, 0.75 lin. ft.

The collection includes the manuscript and research notes made by Pearl Baker for her biography of Bert Loper, Trail on the Water (ca. 1969). Baker had access to transcriptions of Loper’s diary, which are included in the collection under the series “Diary Transcriptions” and organized chronologically according to diary entry. Also, several sheets of Baker’s handwritten notes are contained under the series “Notes.”



Marston, Otis R., “River Runners: Fast Water Navigation,” MSS A 1044, 24 pp., typewritten.

Includes correspondence.




Bill Schlotthauer Water Resources Collection, 1939–1941, MSS B 614, 1.5 lin. ft.

This miscellaneous collection of water records includes a proclamation for enlarging the Dinosaur National Monument, remarks on geology of various dam sites in Utah, and a report on Great Salt Lake.


Utah State Archives

Water: Series in Utah State Archives

Water and Power Board Minutes, 1958–1967, Series 12314, 1 cubic ft.

Minutes from the meetings held by the Utah Water and Power Board, established in 1947 with the responsibility of promoting the orderly and timely planning, conservation, development, utilization, and protection of Utah’s water resources. Records include financial statements, meeting agenda summaries, project proposals, meeting reports, and transcripts. Of particular interest are meeting discussions concerned with managing the waters of the Colorado River, including construction of Glen Canyon Dam.



Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources Hydrologic Atlas, 1968,Series 2534, 0.5 cubic ft.

The major emphasis of this report prepared by the Department of Natural Resources’s Division of Water Resources was to analyze and combine pertinent data to present a total picture of the time and spacial variations of climate and stream flow of Utah in a manner readily usable by many individuals.



State Planning Board Water Resources Reports, 1912–1941, Series 1180, 1 cubic ft. and 2 microfilm reels

The water resources division of the State Planning Board collected the various reports contained in this series. The State Planning Board actively cooperated with federal, state, and local agencies for the development and conservation of water resources.



School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Colorado River Basin Transcripts, 1928–1931, Series 11926, 1 cubic ft.

This series contains published transcripts of testimony in a dispute between the federal government and the state of Utah before the Supreme Court over the navigability (and thereby the federal oil leases) of the Grand, Green, and Colorado rivers. This series contains published transcripts of testimony in a dispute between the federal government and the state of Utah before the Supreme Court over the navigability (and thereby the federal oil leases) of the Grand, Green, and Colorado rivers. Also present are other miscellaneous court briefs, related publications, and news clippings.



Governor Bamberger Water Rights and Irrigation Records, 1919, Series 185, 0.21 cubic ft. and 1 microfilm reel

This series consists of correspondence to and from the Governor Bamberger’s Water Rights Commission created under Chapter 37 of the Laws of Utah in 1917.



Governor Blood Colorado River Correspondence, 1933–1940, Series 22918, 1 cubic ft. and 2 microfilm reels

This series contains correspondence concerning the Colorado River and the distribution of its water. Utah is one of the four members of the upper basin states.



State Planning Board Water resources flood control hearings, 1934–1940, Series 21002, 0.35 cubic ft. and 1 microfilm reel

Reports prepared and submitted by the Planning Board and Soil Conservation Committee.


Mormon and Federal Indian Policy in the 1850s: A Portfolio of Primary Documents

Transcribed and annotated by Brent M. Rogers

Mowry Map

Mowry Map

Deseret News, June 22, 1854, Page 2, Column 3

Albert Carrington, the editor of the Deseret News, possibly wrote this unattributed article just two months after the LDS church opened its Southern Indian Mission and about eight months after October 1853 LDS general conference, when the Mormons renewed their convictions to preach to the Indians. It informed all missionaries, and all church members reading it, of “The Best Course” to take when interacting with Indians. It suggested that Mormons had the responsibility to obtain influence over and peaceably subject Indians “that we may accomplish the good for them required at our hands.” According to the article, the Mormons’ Indian policy required church members “to feed them when hungry, to clothe them when naked, and to constantly do them all the good in your power, regardless of the immediate, or present remuneration.” This article also subtly diminished the role of the federal government and federal representatives in Utah’s territorial Indian affairs, while highlighting the good Mormon settlers could accomplish if they followed the outlined course.


The Best Course

TO PURSUE WITH THE INDIANS IN UTAH. – We are fully aware that the policy to be adopted in the intercourse between the whites and aborigines has been a vexed question from the first settlement of America, after its discovery by Columbus. Our school children also know that the conduct of the whites towards the natives has been far more varied than their views of the best policy; and thus, between views and conduct so diverse, and failing so often, the best course is still an open question, and one upon which we wish to comment briefly, but shall aim to confine our remarks to the subject as it exists within our own boundaries.

When the whites first began to form regular settlements in Utah, in 1847, they found but few small tribes, widely scattered, and none even temporarily located in Great Salt Lake Valley. The Indians met with were poor, illy clad, and very ignorant. Since the extinction of the buffalo in these mountain valleys, game has been scarce, and difficult to obtain; hence the fare of the red men has been coarse, scanty, and precarious; and they were often compelled to subsist upon crickets and other insects, mice, ground squirrels, and the seeds of weeds.

Trained up in gross ignorance, under the most abject poverty, and in idleness; and taught to look upon their successful thieving as praiseworthy, as well as remunerative, it should not be deemed a matter of surprise that our grain fields, our cattle, our horses, and our provisions were looked upon with longing desires, and depredations committed upon them. The only real ground for surprise is, that many of those who profess to be intelligent and enlightened, indulge such hostile feelings towards a people so destitute, and degraded.

The events that have transpired, since the settlement of 1847, have brought the settlers and Natives of Utah into frequent and extended intercourse under very diverse circumstances; sometimes pleasant, and mutually beneficial—at others quite the reverse. Almost invariably, in the latter case, excitement has run high, and the mode to be adopted has been warmly discussed,—some crying out, “kill them off,” others, “drive them out of the country, &c.;” while fortunately the large majority advocated the forbearing policy, even to the utmost endurance, which has prevailed up to this date. Having had so long, varied, and extended experience in the matter under examination, it does seem high time for all to be able to see, and act alike, and that too upon the best possible plan the circumstances will admit of,—which we will endeavor to present understandingly.

In all your intercourse with the Natives, appreciate their condition, and treat them with the humanity and kindness which your relative position actually demands. This course does not require you to invite them into your houses as equals, to mingle with your family, to lounge about either upon chairs, sofas, or beds, and to sit at the head of your tables; nor to suffer insolence, and abuse to yourself, and family, when you have not courted it by descending to their level, and often, in consideration of the knowledge you possess, far below it. But it does require you to feed them when hungry, to clothe them when naked, and to constantly do them all the good in your power, regardless of the immediate, or present remuneration.

Of those who have not reflected much upon the constant effects, and ultimate result of the above coarse, we ask, do you think it necessary for us to obtain influence over the Indians that we may accomplish the good for them required at our hands? Your answer must be yes. Do you not know that to obtain this influence, the method to most effectually obtain it is thro’ their subjection, and that peaceably? Why yes. Now who does not understand that the most absolute peaceable subjection of one person to another, arises when an individual is clothed, fed, and sustained at another’s expense, without compensation therefor? —This being a known fact, it is obvious that the moment we begin to sustain the Indians in their idleness, they will begin to lean upon us, and in a little while to look up to us, and ere long be ready and willing to listen and attend to our counsels for their benefit; because from us they derive their support. It may be urged that this course is rather slow, trying and expensive; but a fair trial will prove it to be the quickest and cheapest method of attaining the object in view.

Only a small, very small amount of funds have as yet been paid to Utah by the General Government for the sustenance, comfort, and advancement of their red children. For this we should doubtless kindly thank our good friends at Washington, as that course will compel us to learn the lesson of self-reliance, which all are aware is honorable and that we have got to learn it sooner or later, and of course the sooner the better; even at the expense of some inconvenience and privation, for then it will be better remembered, and more apt to be continued in practice.

If you will reflect but slightly, upon the circumstances and conduct which have surrounded and influenced the advancement, or retardation of new colonies, or settlements, in different countries, you will be compelled quickly, and satisfactorily to come to the conclusion, that the earlier they become weaned from their mother’s milk, the more rapid, hardy, and certain has been their growth, and prosperity. In other words, we do not recollect an instance where an individual, community, or nation that has properly learned the lesson of self-reliance, has failed of attaining all the prosperity, and pitch of advancement which Providence saw fit to permit, while on the other hand, under apparently as fair opportunity, a practice of unduly leaning upon others, has resulted in the being shorn of more or less power, wealth, and influence; and when the leaning has been complete; the result has been complete vassalage.

Therefore it follows that, from the nature of the country, the position and habits of its tribes, our position and relationship to them, and the conduct of the General Government thus far, if we desire to accomplish what we know has to be done sooner or later; and to accomplish it in the most satisfactory and effectual manner, we have simply to add a few more degrees in our present skill, industry, and energy, trusting in the integrity of our motives, the soundness of our policy, and above all, in the God of the remnants of Jacob, and cease leaning upon a broken reed which might fail and pierce the hand.



National Era, May 24, 1855

This newspaper article provides an early example of press coverage and American popular opinion on Mormon-Indian relations. In the aftermath of the Gunnison murders and trial of three Pahvant Utes for manslaughter in late March 1855, Brevet Lt. Col. Edward J. Steptoe sent missives to federal officials in Washington, including the commissioner of Indian affairs George Manypenny. Based on his observations and from his interactions with Great Basin Indians during his time in Utah, Steptoe stated that the Indians in the territory had learned “for the first time, what relation they hold to the government,” and, according to the newspaper account here, that the Mormons were “tampering with the Indians” to ally with them against federal authority.[1] In his correspondence to Manypenny, Steptoe asked for the full support of the government to establish federal control over Indian administration in the territory. Steptoe’s letters triggered public fear that Brigham Young and the Mormons had plotted to usurp the authority of federal sovereignty in Utah.[2] This National Era article, and others like the New York Times account mentioned herein, helped influence public perception about the allegedly sinister nature of Mormon-Indian relations as the two groups were thought to be allying together in defiance of the United States.

The Mormon Evil

That evil is before us in connection with these people, we have never doubted; and the events are pressing onward toward it. The daily papers publish full details of the trial of three Indians, for the murder of Captain Gunnison and his companions; and the New York Times remarks upon the subject:

“Our readers will recollect the excitement which pervaded the public mind when news of this bloody and brutal massacre reached this country, as well as the vigorous efforts made by the Government to detect and capture the savage miscreants by whom it was perpetrated. These efforts were successful. The murderers were captured, brought within the jurisdiction of the United States, and tried before the District Court in the Territory of Utah. The testimony was clear and undisputed. The accused parties were proved beyond all possibility of doubt to have been the murderers. No attempt even was made to rebut the evidence. The guilt of the Indians was conceded; and yet the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter only. The facts stated by our correspondent show conclusively that this result is due entirely to the interference of the Mormons, who seem to be in league with the Indians in resisting the authority of the United States. The verdict was rendered by a Mormon jury, acting under the direction of the Mormon leaders.

“But the whole story is not yet told. The sentence of the Court was, that the Indians, for this brutal massacre of eight or ten American citizens and soldiers, should be imprisoned for three years. They were accordingly handed over to the authorities of Utah, (Mormons,) and committed to prison to serve out their terms. But, within less than a week, they were permitted to escape, and are again at large. We learn from our private correspondence that no doubt whatever is entertained by Col. Steptoe and the authorities, that the whole thing has been brought about by the Mormons, for the express purpose of conciliating the Indians, and exasperating them against the Federal authority. For some time past, Mormon missionaries have been maintained among the Indians, and Brigham Young has proposed that intermarriage between the Indians and the Mormons be introduced and encouraged as much as possible.

“These occurrences indicate the commencement of a system of tampering with the Indians, on the part of the Mormon leaders, from which the worst results may be apprehended. We have reason to believe that the United States authorities are fully alive to the extent of the danger, and are prepared to take such precautions as may be needful.”



Sylvester Mowry to Colonel S. Cooper, July 23, 1855, 12, Selected Letters from Sylvester Mowry, 1854–1855, MIC A 106, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City.

Mowry List of Camps and Distances

In the spring of 1855, Brevet Lt. Col. Edward J. Steptoe directed Second Lieutenant Sylvester Mowry to take a detachment of U.S. forces then in Utah Territory to Benicia, California, by the “southern” route (present-day I-15). Steptoe planned to take the remainder of the contingent to Benicia via the northern route. Mowry’s travels took him and his detachment through the small Mormon villages of Fillmore, Parawon, Cedar City, and Harmony. In a letter to U.S. Army adjutant general Col. Samuel Cooper, dated July 23, 1855, from Benicia, Mowry reported on the geographic, topographic, and anthropologic details of the routes, country, and people throughout the journey.

Mowry’s full report reveals the interesting observations of a non-Mormon. Mowry felt no love from the settlers then living in the southern territory. Mormons, he wrote, were “scrupulous” in their quest to make money. On the settlers practice to raise the price of grain, Mowry wrote: “Lest this should seem irrelevant, it is proper for me to say that I mention it to show the feeling that exists every where in the Territory, towards Government agents or employees, – a disposition to annoy and embarrass in every possible way, and to extort the greatest sum of money for the least possible services.” Of interest to some readers may be his glowing description of “Mountain Meadows” where in two short years one of the most atrocious massacres in the West would occur. “This camp is worthy of notice,” he wrote. “Seven or eight thousand feet above the sea, a beautiful level plateau, shut in by mountains, carpeted with luxuriant grass of the best varieties for grazing, and divided by a perennial stream of clear cold water, – it is one of the few places on the route that the traveler remembers with pleasure.”

In a report of sixteen pages, Mowry spent four pages on the subject of “Indians,” which is the excerpt featured here. Mowry, like Garland Hurt and Col. Steptoe, claimed that as a way to curry favor among the Indians, Mormons emphasized to the indigenous groups a difference between themselves and Americans. Though the chain of custody following its arrival in Washington is unclear, it is likely that the adjutant general forwarded Mowry’s report—including a list of camps and distances from Salt Lake City to Fort Tejon, California—to the secretary of war, Jefferson Davis.


The subject of the Indians I have preferred to notice separately, as it appears to me to be a subject of great importance.

Col. Steptoe in his communication with the Department, stated his belief that the Utah Indians inhabiting the Valleys of Salt Lake, Juab and Fillmore had been taught that the Mormons were a superior people to the Americans, and that the Americans were the natural enemies of the Indians, while the Mormons were their friends and allies. During my march, I found on the Santa Clara, Virgin, Muddy and Vegas Rivers several hundred Warriors who had undergone the same tutelage. In each tribe two or more Mormon Missionaries were found, whose object was to impress upon the Indians the belief in the inferiority and hostility of Americans and the superiority and friendship of the Mormons. The Indians on the Santa Clara have been supplied with arms and ammunition to a great extent. More than seventy were counted in and around my camp all armed with good rifles. Two years ago they were armed with nothing but bows and arrows of the poorest description. The first appearance of these Indians was sullen impudent and had they dared they would have been openly hostile. To counteract as far as lay in my power the mischievous impression made upon them by the Mormons I “talked” with all the Chiefs explained to them the true relation existing between Americans and Mormons issued rations to the tribes as far as I could afford to do so, and made the Chiefs some trifling presents of old uniforms, tobacco and shirts.

I have learned from gentlemen who have since passed over the road that the presence of my Command among them had had a beneficial effect.

The enmity of the Mormons went so far in one instance as to induce the Chief of the Pah-Utes [Paiutes] of the Muddy River to believe that my Command was on its way to attack his tribe. The Squaws and children were hurried into the Canons [Canyons], and when I arrived on the Muddy the whole tribe was in “War paint” to receive me. By kindness I so completely changed the opinion of this Chief that he followed the train some miles to “renew the assurances” of his friendship towards all Americans.

I would respectfully suggest that if practicable troops be sent over this route every year, with instructions to the Commanding Officer to seek for opportunities to meet the Indians and secure them by kindness and by presents of the real strength and good intentions of the Government towards them. If some such precaution is not taken I am satisfied they will become formidable allies of the Mormons.

It is a fact perhaps unknown to the Dept that Wah-Kar [Walkara] the late Great Ute Chief was a member of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” that his brother and successor Arrowpine [Arapeen] as well as Ka-noshe [Kanosh] Chief of the Par-vents [Pahvants] and several other Chiefs are members of this same “Church.” Brigham Young styles them Brother Wah-Kar, etc. It is the “counsel” of Brigham and the “Apostles” to the “Brethren” to inter-marry with the Indians. I have heard several members of high standing in the Church express their willingness to take in addition to their already numerous household a few Squaws because Brigham said it was right.

The gentleman who fills so ably the post of Indian Agent in Utah, Garland Hurtt, is well acquainted with these facts, and I am satisfied from personal observation that he will make every effort to destroy this dangerous influence. Forced to confide in Mormon interpreters, to whose treachery Col. Steptoe can bear witness, he can hope at best for only partial success.

There are as I have observed before many places on the route easily defensible against a large force. These are well known to the Indians. As friends of the U.S. or even neutral, the Indians are necessary to a successful march to or from Salt Lake. As enemies they cannot be too much dreaded armed and directed by an intelligence superior to their own. I have no desire to predict an intestine war, but it is in the minds of all intelligent men who have lived among this God forsaken people of Utah only a question of time. I have deemed it my duty to make these suggestions without regarding the value that may be attached to them.

If they should be accepted, a company of Dragoons might leave Fort Tejon descending directly to the Mohave, make an easy march through these tribes, and return in three months. The beneficial effect of their presence can scarcely be overrated.

In concluding my report, I beg leave to express my acknowledgment to Lieut J. G. Chandler 3d Artillery for very great assistance on the march and for the cheerfulness with which he undertook and energy executed the very arduous duties often assigned to him.

I have to honor to request that this communication be laid before the Hon. Secretary of War – and am, Colonel.

With high regard,

Your Obt Servt

Sylvester Mowry

1st Lieut 3d Art

Comdg Det. 1st Dragoons



Correspondence of Garland Hurt

“The Utah Expedition,” 35th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 71 (1857), 176–77.

Garland Hurt, a St. Louis physician, arrived in Utah Territory in February 1855 to serve as an Indian agent, an organizational subordinate of Brigham Young in the office of Indian affairs. His letters and reports to his superiors in Washington helped confirm the image of a subversive Mormon-Indian relationship. Hurt primarily criticized the Mormon missionaries because they taught the Indians their theology and gave gifts in the form of food and clothing, paid for by the U.S. government but attributed to LDS largesse. The Indian agent was so disgusted with Mormon missionary practices that he went over Young’s head to Washington. Hurt reported to Commissioner of Indian Affairs George Manypenny that soon after his arrival in Utah he “became impressed with the fact that the Indians had made a distinction between Mormons and Americans, which was calculated to operate to the prejudice of the interests and policy of government towards them.” It appears that the acting commissioner of Indian affairs, Charles E. Mix, received the letter. Mix found the information contained in Hurt’s letter of such importance that he wrote two letters to Secretary of the Interior Robert McClelland: one on July 10, 1855, with a copy of Hurt’s letter, and a second on August 15, 1855. In his first letter, Mix wrote “the Mormons, at their last semi-annual conference, nominated a large number of missionaries to go among the Indians of Utah Territory for the avowed purpose of preaching to them; that these saints have either accidentally or purposely created a distinction in the minds of the Indians tribes of the Territory between the Mormons and the citizens of the United States … must prove prejudicial to the interest of the latter.” In his August 15 memorandum to McClelland, Mix noted that “The suspicions which the agent throws upon the character of those Mormons engaged as missionaries are such as may make it necessary as a precautionary step to preserve the harmony of our relations with the Indian tribes, to instruct the superintendents, agents, and sub-agents, to scrutinize the conduct of Mormons and all others suspected of having a design to interrupt the peace and tranquility between the Indians and the government.” Hurt’s letter, as well as a number of others reproduced below, were among the forty-six documents on Indian affairs included in the Buchanan Administration’s official report on the “information which gave rise to the military expedition ordered to Utah Territory.”


May 2, 1855.

SIR: Permit me to call your attention to some facts which I do not feel myself altogether at liberty to remain silent upon.

At the last semi-annual conference of the Latter Day Saints, a large number of missionaries were nominated to go and preach to the Indians, or Lamonites, as they are here called. Now, since my arrival in this Territory, I have become satisfied that these saints have, either accidentally or purposely, created a distinction, in the minds of the Indian tribes of this Territory, between the Mormons and the people of the United States, that cannot act otherwise than prejudicial to the interests of the latter. And what, sir, may we expect of these missionaries? There is perhaps not a tribe on the continent that will not be visited by one or more of them. I suspect their first object will be to teach those wretched savages that they are the rightful owners of the American soil, and that it has been wrongfully taken from them by the whites, and that the Great Spirit had sent the Mormons among them to help them recover their rights.

The character of many of those who have been nominated is calculated to confirm this view of the case. They embrace a class of rude and lawless young men, such as might be regarded as a curse to any civilized community. But I do not wish to excite prejudice or encourage feelings of hostility against these people. On the contrary, I think such a course would be unwise and impolitic. They always have and ever will thrive by persecution. They know well the effect it has had upon them, and, consequently, crave to be persecuted. It is due to many of them, however, to say that they are honest in the belief that they are the only Christians on earth, and that God is about to redeem the world from sin and establish His millenium. It is possible, too, that many of them are loyal in their feelings to the United States, but, perhaps, this cannot be said of many of their leaders. But time will convince many of them of their errors; many of their prophecies must come true in a few years, or doubt will take the place of sanguine hope, and will do more to relax their energies and weaken their strength than anything else could do at this time.

My object in writing is to suggest that the attention of all superintendents, agents, and sub-agents, and all other loyal citizens residing or sojourning in the Indian country, be called to this subject, that the conduct of these Mormon missionaries be subjected to the strictest scrutiny, and that the thirteenth and fourteenth sections of the “Act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontiers,” be properly enforced.

Very respectfully, &c.,

                  GARLAND HURT,

Indian Agent for Utah.

Hon. Geo. W. Manypenny,

Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.

P.S. – In proof of the facts before stated, I would say that I have had great difficulty in procuring an interpreter, though there are many persons in the Territory who speak the Indian language, but they were all nominated as missionaries, and I was forced to the humiliating necessity of imploring the clemency of his excellency Brigham Young to permit one of them to remain with me. I never saw any people in my life who were so completely under the influence of one man.

G. H.



The Utah Expedition, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 71 (1857), 179–81.

In the letter featured here, Utah Indian agent Garland Hurt reiterated the point made in his May 2, 1855, letter to Commissioner Manypenny written approximately fifteen months earlier. In that letter, and again here, Hurt informed the commissioner in Washington that the Indians, based on Mormon missionary teachings, made a distinction between Mormons and Americans, which favored the Mormons. Hurt updated Manypenny on the state of Indian affairs in Utah Territory.

                  OFFICE INDIAN AGENT, UTAH,

                  Great Salt Lake City, August 30, 1856.

SIR: As your letter of July 9, and copies of those of November 14 and March 19 were received on the 28th instant, which informed me of the non-acceptance of draft No. 18, I take occasion to make a brief statement of the motives that prompted me to pursue the course which I have.

Soon after my arrival in the Territory, (February, 1855,) I became impressed with the fact that the Indians had made a distinction between Mormons and Americans, which was calculated to operate to the prejudice of the interests and policy of government towards them. I have endeavored to apprise you heretofore of the policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of sending missionaries among these Indians, and of the character of the persons generally chosen. These facts were embodied in a letter to you, (April 28, 1855.) I determined to counteract these impressions if possible, but in attempting to do so, a liberal policy was necessary, otherwise their prejudices towards government, and myself as its agent, might have been confirmed. As the course pursued by his excellency Brigham Young has been a liberal one in making presents to them, I thought it inexpedient to relinquish that policy unless a better and more popular one could have been adopted immediately in its stead. And in fact, I was not authorized to deviate from his policy, for in a letter from your office I had been directed to look to him for all my instructions in the discharge of my official duties. And I have letters of instruction from him authorizing all the expenditures that I have made since entering upon the discharge of the duties of this office. I confess, however, that the policy of introducing manual labor among them was suggested by myself; but even in that I have received his most cordial approbation. Believing this to be the more judicious policy, it has been my chief concern to impress this fact upon your notice through his excellency. Consequently, in all my quarterly communications I have alluded to this subject with the liveliest feelings of interest. Being fully convinced of the propriety and necessity of this policy I applied through him, (for I supposed that the proper channel,) on the 31st of December last for an appropriation to meet my expense in this undertaking. And as necessity required in the progress of this enterprise I drew for money, and as I was not yet advised of any other provision having been made to meet my engagements, I drew upon the fund for incidental expenses. I had used all diligence to have the necessary provision made; my engagements were such that I could not relinquish them. To have done so would have been disastrous in the extreme, blighting at once, and perhaps forever, the growing confidence which was rising in the minds of the Indians towards government and its accredited agents; and it was reasonable to suppose that his excellency, after having encouraged me in every way possible in the policy of farming, would have relinquished in some degree his own peculiar policy, that a larger portion of the funds appropriated might be applied to that of farming, as he was fully advised of the course I expected to pursue and had given his sanction to the same. But, contrary to my expectations, so soon as spring opened I received a note from him, requesting me to make a visit to the valleys of the Humboldt, Carson and Trucky rivers, which he knew would require an absence of near four months from my farms, after I had adopted such measures as rendered it impossible for me to retrace my steps, and when the trip could not be made without the expenditure of some five or six thousand dollars of the funds on hands. But no doubt his excellency saw a necessity for these arrangements, and I confess it does not become me to speak in terms so plain of a superior officer. But I am charged in your letter of the 19th March, with neglecting to consult his excellency and Agent [George W.] Armstrong as to the manner in which the public funds should be taken up. I feel it due to myself to make these explanations; and I will say further, that I called at his office directly after receiving the letter of instructions to visit Carson, and expressed my fears that there would not be funds enough to meet our engagements for farming purposes; that the agency had been expensive during the winter; that I had been purchasing stock and farming implements, breadstuffs, &c., and that I had fears of overrunning the appropriation. His only reply was that he had no doubt but my drafts would all be paid. The policy of giving presents to the Indians is a popular one with them, but its benefits are of a transient character, and leaves them disappointed and dissatisfied, or to remain a burden upon the government and our citizens without any permanent good. Any one conversant with the feelings and prejudices which prevailed for some months after my arrival in the Territory, will bear me out in the opinion that my policy has been the best that could have been pursued under the circumstances, and has in all probability averted some of the most serious calamities that could have arisen between the two races.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Indian Agent, Utah.

Hon. Geo. W. Manypenny,

Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.



The Utah Expedition, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 71 (1857), 181–82.

After spending some twenty months in Utah Territory, Indian agent Garland Hurt continued to perceive and remain disappointed that Mormon missionaries identified themselves to Great Basin Indian peoples and to other Mormons as distinct from Americans. In this letter to Brigham Young, Hurt’s organizational superior, the Indian agent indicated that the Indians had begun to make that distinction. Although Hurt had corresponded regularly with Young, the way this letter was written suggests that this was the first time that Hurt explained his observations about Mormon differentiation to Young, even though he expressed his “views on all suitable occasions, to the people” with whom he encountered in his duties. Hurt had made similar observations and accusations in a letter to Young’s superior, the commissioner of Indian affairs, nearly eighteen months earlier.


October 31, 1856.

SIR: Having just returned from an excursion in the southern settlements, in company with Surveyor General [David H.] Burr and Mr. [T. R.] Peltro, late of the topographical corps, I take the liberty of presenting to your notice a few incidents of rather mysterious and otherwise unpleasant character, which occurred to us during the trip. Travelling by way of the Indian farm in Sanpito [Sanpete] county, we reached Fillmore on the morning of the 23d instant; but learning that Kinosh [Kanosh], the Pah-vante chief, was very sick, we concluded to go on to the Indian farm at Corn creek to see him. But we had not proceeded far till we saw, between us and the base of the mountains, two persons on horseback going in the direction of the Indian lodges at full speed. I supposed them to be Indians, but before we reached the Indian settlement we saw them returning by the same route. When we drew up to the lodges I asked who they were? the Indians said they were Mormon boys, and on inquiring what they had come down in such a hurry for, they answered, Nothing: After some little confusion when we first drove up, the Indians became quiet, and appeared glad to see us. We remained with them until the 25th, when, as the weather was becoming more inclement, we returned to Fillmore, and put up at the house of Mr. Peter Robinson, where we were received and entertained in a hospitable manner. In the evening we were visited by Mr. Edwin Pugh, who invited two young men of our party, R. W. James and James White, to accompany him to his house, which they did; but they had not been there long till some persons began to stone the house, some of the rocks passing through the windows and smashing the lights. Mr. P[ugh]. ran out and asked what they meant? They asked what was doing with those damned Americans about his house? Mr. P[ugh]. said they were not Americans, but Mormons. They replied that they were no better than Americans, or they would not be with them. I state these facts as they were related to us the next morning by the young men. Mr. Pugh also informed us that the young men who went ahead of us in such haste to the Indian camp had been sent by the bishop to tell the Indians that the Americans were coming to their camp to arrest the murderers of Captain Gunnison, and to advise them to look out. As we were about leaving, I did not investigate the matter any further. But as the subject came up again in the evening, after we had camped for the night, I thought to ask Pin-tuts, who had accompanied us from Spanish fork, if he had heard the Pah-vantes say anything about it; he said when he reached their camps, some two or three miles ahead of us, the Pah-vantes were in great confusion, and some of them were running off. They said that the Mormons had sent them word that the Americans were coming to tie them, but he told them that they were fools, for we were not tying captains, but friends, and were coming to give them presents. On the next day some teamsters, whom we met, asked Pin-tuts who we were; they Indian replied that we were Americans. They told him that we were “cots-at,” (not good.) He told them they were fools, and passed on. Now I am satisfied, sir, that you cannot approve of such conduct, and may easily imagine how direful the consequences might have been to our little party, when we, unsuspectingly, drove up to their village and camped for the night, had it not been for the interposition of our faithful friend and guide in behalf of our innocence.

Soon after commencing my labors among the Indians of this territory, I learned that they made a distinction between the Mormons and Americans, which I thought was not altogether compatible with correct policy, believing that it would ultimately operate to the prejudice of one or the other party, and I have not been backward in expressing my views on all suitable occasions, to the people in regard to this matter, and have almost invariably, as my interpreters will certify, took occasion in my intercourse with the Indians, to teach them that there is no distinction between the two classes, but that we were all the Great Father’s people. If they believe me they will accuse the opposite party with lying and attempting to deceive them, and then how easy it will be for men to imagine that I am stirring up prejudices among the Indians against the people, and the foul aspersions of slander will brand me, and I am to be hunted down for crimes of which they, themselves, are the guilty perpetrators.

I am not unmindful of the delicate position I occupy as a mediator between the two races in this Territory, yet I am not unwilling that my official conduct should be subjected to the strictest scrutiny, for I am satisfied that our prospects for success in the policy which has been adopted for the civilization of the Indians in this Territory, depends greatly upon the conduct of those with whom they are daily brought in contract, and it is to be regretted that men will so far forget themselves, and the relations they sustain, both to Indians and to government, as to be guilty of gross misrepresentations so fatal to their own peace and prosperity.

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,


Indian Agent.

His Excellency Brigham Young,

Governor, &c.



Correspondence between Brigham Young and James W. Denver, 1857

The Utah Expedition, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 71 (1857), 183–85.

With the U.S. Army en route to Utah in the late summer of 1857, Brigham Young wrote this letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs James W. Denver. President James Buchanan appointed Denver as commissioner in April 1857, replacing George W. Manypenny in that position. Young, writing on September 12 with vouchers for expenditures on Indian affairs, reported that Indians “along the line of the Oregon and California travel” had taken the lives of many emigrants and a great deal of property. He stated that the reason for the widespread raiding was the abhorrent practice of overland travelers “shooting at every Indian they could see.” Young also requested that the march of the army be stopped and that the army be kept out of Utah. His reason for such a demand was that the presence of troops would attract “the greatest amount of hostile Indians and the least security to persons and property.” (Young probably thought that, with delays in communication from Utah to Washington, this letter would not halt the troops before their arrival in Utah Territory. Only three days after penning the note to Denver, Young issued a martial law proclamation informing Utah’s inhabitants of an invasion “by a hostile force, who are evidently assailing us to accomplish our overthrow and destruction.”[3])

In his response to Young’s September 12 letter, Denver offered a general rebuff. He repeated the claim that the Mormons had sought to impress upon the minds of Indian tribes the differences between Mormons and Americans—“that the former were their friends and the latter their enemies.” As for the presence of troops, he argued that their presence was necessary to secure the peace, and that no “peaceable citizens should object to their presence.” Finally, Denver generally criticized Young’s management of Indian affairs in the territory. The commissioner’s retort demonstrates the power and authority of the president, and by extension the federal government, over territorial matters and Indian affairs.


Great Salt Lake City, September, 12, 1857.

SIR: Enclosed please find abstract, account current, and vouchers, from 1 to 35, inclusive, (also abstract of employés) for the current quarter up to this date, as, owing to the stoppage of the mail, I have deemed it best to avail myself of the opportunity of sending by private conveyance, not knowing when I may have another chance. The expenditure, as you will observe by the papers, amount to $6,411[.]38, for which I have drawn my drafts on the department in favor of Hon. John W. Bernhisel, delegate to Congress from this Territory. You will also observe that a portion of these expenditures accrued prior to this quarter, which may need a word of explanation.

Santa Clara is in Washington county, the extreme southern county of this Territory, and this labor was commenced and partly performed; seeds, grain, &c., furnished prior to the time that Major [George W.] Armstrong visited those parts of the Territory, hence failed to find its way into his reports, and failed being included in mine because the accounts and vouchers were not sooner brought in, and hence not settled until recently. But little has been effected in that part of the Territory at the expense of the government, although much has been done by the citizens in aiding the Indians with tools, teams, and instruction in cultivating the earth. The bands mentioned are part of the Piede tribe of Indians, who are very numerous, but only in part inhabit this territory. These Indians are more easily induced to labor than any others in the Territory, and many of them are now engaged in the common pursuits of civilized life. Their requirements are constant for wagons, ploughs, spades, hoes, teams, and harness, &c., to enable them to work to advantage.

In like manner, the Indians in Cache valley have received but little at the expense of the government, although a sore tax upon the people. West and along the line of the Oregon and California travel they continue to make their contributions, and, I am sorry to add, with considerable loss of life to the travellers. This is what I have always sought by all means in my power to avert, but I find it the most difficult of any portion to control. I have for many years succeeded better than this. I learn by report that many of the lives of emigrants and considerable quantities of property have been taken. This is principally owing to a company of some three or four hundred returning Californians, who travelled those roads last spring to the eastern States, shooting at every Indian they could see—a practice utterly abhorrent to all good people, yet, I regret to say, one which has been indulged in to a great extent by travellers to and from the eastern States and California; hence the Indians regard all white men alike their enemies, and kill and plunder whenever they can do so with impunity, and often the innocent suffer for the deeds of the guilty. This has always been one of the greatest difficulties that I have had to contend with in the administration of Indian affairs in this Territory. It is hard to make an Indian believe that the whites are their friends, and the Great Father wishes to do them good, when, perhaps, the very next party which crosses their path shoots them down like wolves.

This trouble with the Indians only exists along the line of travel west, and beyond the influence of our settlements. The Shoshones are not hostile to travellers, so far as they inhabit in this Territory, except, perhaps, a few called “Snake Diggers,” who inhabit, as before stated, along the line of travel west of the settlements. There have, however, been more or less depredations the present season north, and more within the vicinity of the settlements, owing to the causes above mentioned, and I find it of the utmost difficulty to restrain them. The sound of war quickens the blood and nerves of an Indian. The report that troops were wending their way to this Territory has also had its influence upon them. In one or two instances this was the reason assigned why they made the attacks which they did upon some herds of cattle. They seemed to think it was to be war; they might as well commence and begin to lay in a supply of food when they had a chance. If I am to have the direction of the Indian affairs of this Territory, and am expected to maintain friendly relations with the Indians, there are a few things that I would most respectfully suggest to be done:

First.That travelers omit their infamous practice of shooting them down when they happen to see one. Whenever the citizens of this Territory travels the roads they are in the habit of giving the Indians food, tobacco, and a few other presents, and the Indians expect some such trifling favor, and they are emboldened by this practice to come up to the road with a view of receiving such presents. When, therefore, travellers from the States make their appearance they throw themselves in sight with the same view, and when they are shot at, some of their number killed, as has frequently been the case, we cannot but expect them to wreak their vengeance upon the next train.

Secondly. That the government should make more liberal appropriations to be expended in presents. I have proven that  it is far cheaper to feed and clothe the Indians then to fight them. I find, moreover, that after all, when the fighting is over, it is always followed by extensive presents, which, if properly distributed in the first instance, might have averted the fight. In this case, then, the expense of presents are the same, and it is true in nine-tenths of the cases that have happened.

Thirdly. The troops must be kept away, for it is a prevalent fact that, wherever there are the most of these we may expect to find the greatest amount of hostile Indians and the least security to persons and property.

If these three items could complied with, I have no hesitation in saying that, so far as Utah is concerned, that travellers could go to and from, pass and repass, and no Indian would disturb or molest them or their property.

In regard to my drafts, it appears that the department is indisposed to pay them; for what reason I am at a loss to conjecture. I am aware that Congress separated the office of superintendent of Indian affairs from that of governor; that the salary of governor remained the same for his gubernatorial duties, and that the superintendent’s was fifteen hundred. I do think that, inasmuch as I perform the duties of both offices, that I am entitled to the pay appropriated for it, and trust that you will so consider it.

I have drawn again for the expenditure of this present quarter, as above set forth. Of course you will do as you please about paying, as you have with the drafts for the two last quarters.

The department has often manifested its approval of the management of the Indian affairs in this superintendency, and never its disapproval. Why, then, should I be subjected to such annoyance in regard to obtaining the funds for defraying its expenses? Why should I be denied my salary; why should appropriations made for the benefit of the Indians of this Territory be retained in the treasury and individuals left unpaid? These are questions I leave for you to answer at your leisure, and, meanwhile, submit to such course in relation thereto as you shall see fit to direct.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,


Governor, and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs,

Utah Territory.



Denver to Young, November 11, 1857, Letters Sent, 1824–1886, M21, Records of the Office of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75, National Archives; also in The Utah Expedition, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 71 (1857), 186–88.

Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.

November 11th 1857

Young Brigham, His Excy

Great Salt Lake City

Utah Territory


Your communication of the 12th of last September has been received, and would not require a formal reply were it not for the effort you make to place this office in the wrong, when, in fact, whatever difficulties exist, have resulted from your own conduct. As the superintendent of Indian affairs for Utah Territory, it was your duty to keep a supervisory control over the different agents, and to see that they did not exceed their authority. It was your duty, also, to notify them of all things pertaining to their duties, and especially to keep them, in their expenditures, within the appropriations made for your superintendency. Their reports were made to you, and by you transmitted here. You cannot, therefore, plead ignorance of their transactions. Knowing then the amount of the appropriations, and being fully advised of the affairs of the Agents, and that money could be taken out of the Treasury without an act of Congress, you have allowed the drafts to exceed the appropriation to the amount of $31,380.50 to the close of the fiscal year, ending 30th June, 1857. When the agents were notified that their drafts could not be paid in consequence of the appropriations having been exhausted, and rebuked for exceeding them, they replied that they had no information from you on the subject. These communications passed through your hands, and yet you seem to have passed them by unnoticed. With a full knowledge then of all the facts, you took no steps, so far as this office is informed, to protect the public interests, or to keep your subordinates within the proper sphere of their duties. On the contrary you seem to have been disposed to encourage these things, as is evidenced in your orders to Agent Hurt, sending him to Carson’s valley, at a heavy expense to the government when it was well known that the services of an agent were not required in that quarter; and again when you fitted out an expedition yourself, and conducted it northward out of your superintendency, to give presents to Indians not under your control. From all this it follows that if your drafts are not paid, you have no right to complain, because you knew, at the time, that the appropriations on which they were drawn were exhausted.

But even if the money was in the Treasury ready for the Indian service in Utah, I do not see how it can be applied to the payment of your drafts until they shall have first passed through the strictest scrutiny; for this department has information from reliable sources, that, so far from encouraging amicable relations between the Indians and the people of the United States outside of your own immediate community, you have studiously endeavored to impress on the minds of the Indians that there was a difference between your own sect, usually known as Mormons, and the government and other citizens of the United States – that the former were their friends and the latter their enemies.

In addition to this, you have been denouncing this government and threatening an armed resistance to the authorities sent out by the President. Indeed, unless you and your coadjutors are most grossly misrepresented, and your language misquoted, the appearance of these authorities among you is all that is necessary to prompt you to an overt act of treason. It could never have been intended, when the appropriations were made by Congress, that the money should be used in arousing the savages to war against our own citizens, or to enable a subordinate officer to carry on treasonable practices against his government. The rule of this office is to withhold annuities from the Indians whenever they place themselves in a hostile or antagonistic attitude towards the government, and I know of no reason why the same rule should not be applied to you at this time, but as the appropriation has been exhausted it is not necessary to consider that question now. You say “the troops must be kept away, for it is a prevalent fact that wherever there are the most of these we may expect to find the greatest number of hostile Indians, and the least security for persons and property.” The troops are under the direction of the President, and it is fair to presume that he would not send them to Utah Territory, unless there was a necessity for so doing; and if it be true that wherever the greatest number of troops are, there are to be found the greatest number of hostile Indians, it arises from the fact that the troops are necessary at such places to preserve the peace and to keep the Indians in subjection. There is no reason why persons and property should be any less secure in the neighborhood of the troops; nor is there any reason why peaceable citizens should object to their presence. If it is your intention to preserve peace, the troops will not interfere with you; but if you intend otherwise, then it is necessary that the troops should be on the ground to enforce it.

It is much to be regretted that such a state of affairs should exist, and it is always with great reluctance that we arrive at the conclusion that American citizens should at any time require the strong arm of power to compel obedience to the laws, or that a subordinate officer should so far forget his duty as to use his official position to injure one portion of his fellow citizens, and to alienate another portion from loyalty to their government. But, when convinced of the existence of such facts the chief executive has no alternative left but to crush out rebellion; and for this purpose all the powers of government are placed under his control.

Your claim for double salary cannot be allowed, for even if it did not come in conflict with the general rule which forbids the payment of two salaries at the same time to the same person, yet you could not be entitled to it, for the reason you became superintendent of Indian affairs by virtue of your appointment as governor of the Territory; and although these offices have since been separated, yet you had not, at the date of your communication, been relieved from duties appertaining to them. Your other accounts will be examined into, and whenever it shall be ascertained that the expenditure was properly made it will be paid, should Congress make an appropriation for that purpose.

You say “the department has often manifested its approval of the management of the Indian affairs in this superintendency, and never its disapproval.” The reverse is the fact. This office has often found fault with your conduct, and to prove this is only necessary to quote your own language. One extract from your communication to this office dated “Great Salt Lake City, June 26th 1855”, will suffice. You there say, “for the last two years I have experienced the greatest difficulty in getting my accounts adjusted at the department; and when they have finally been so adjusted, that it has been done by suspending and disallowing a great portion thereof.” Many similar extracts might be given, but this is sufficient to establish the incorrectness of your statement that this office had never manifested its disapproval of your conduct.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,






San Francisco Evening Bulletin, February 16, 1858, Page 1, Column 2

In the early months of 1858, newspaper coverage about the Utah War speculated wildly on the strength of the Indian-Mormon alliance. This short article from the San Francisco Evening Bulletin is one such example. American public discourse continued to propagate the idea of a subversive Mormon-Indian alliance. Some, including California governor John Weller, believed that the Mormons and Indians in Utah Territory were a “heartless monopoly” and a detriment to white western expansion.

Indians and Mormons. – The latest Eastern news says that information was received in St. Louis from Fort Lawrence, through an Indian trader, which tends to throw discredit on the report that the Mormons intend to evacuate Utah in the spring. On the 23d of December, a party of 700 or 800 Camanche and Cheyenne Indians were encountered on their way from Salt Lake City to their homes, about 80 miles from Fort Laramie, accompanied by about twenty Mormon leaders. These Indians, who had been led to believe that the Mormons had 80,000 fighting men well equipped for service, were to be employed in the spring, under Mormon influence, in harassing and cutting off supply trains sent to the relief of Colonel Johnston. It was asserted that the Mormons had no idea of leaving Utah.



Arapeen to Brigham Young, 1858


Box 26, folder 3, CR 1234 1, Brigham Young Papers, LDS Church History Library.

Young’s correspondence with Native American leaders in the Great Basin suggested the possibility of an Indian-initiated Mormon-Indian martial alliance. One such Indian leader who wrote to Young at this time was Jake Arapeen (also known as Chief Yene-wood), a Ute leader who had been baptized into the LDS church in 1850. Arapeen, through an unknown interpreter, expressed a loyalty to Young and “all the good Mormons” and a willingness to form an alliance with the Mormons to fight the approaching U.S. Army. These fascinating letters shed light onto the desires and decisions of Arapeen to act according to what he thought to be his and his people’s best interests in the tumultuous winter of 1857–58. Although Young considered military aggression against the invading army, the intervention of Thomas Kane and the ensuing diplomatic solution to the crisis that occurred in the months after these letters were written made such a response unnecessary. Nevertheless, the presence of the army and new non-Mormon federal officials altered the dynamics of Mormon-Indian-federal relationships in Utah Territory in the years leading to the American Civil War.

Jan 3d 1858

Manti Sanpeete County

President Brigham Young

Dear Brother as brother [Welcome] Chapman has not brought those artcles that I sent to you fore I wish you to send them to Brother George Bradleys at & he will forward them to me Brother Chapman forgot to call at the office & get them & Brother [Ira] Hatch left them in Chapmans care to bring to me. I wish you to send me one s<m>all brass kittle if you can I feel well when I think about you & as I know that you feel well towards me & all good Utahs & I pray to the Great Spirrit to bless you & all the good Mormons.

I do not understand what the Americans can want to come here & fight the Mormons for I do not know where the mormons have don rong that the Americans can be justified in such a corce [course]   I want you to write to them & tell them for me to throw away their guns & be friendly & trade with the Mormons & with the Utahs & ask them whare I have killed any of them or whare the mormons have   I do not know any thing that has ben don bad to them but I k[n]ow that the Mormons treated them well & traded them wheat & Cattle & horses & money for their goods & they have fed them when they ware hungry & it is not good for them to come & fight but to come & trade & be brothers and do right but if they will not hear what you & I say to them & throw away the papers & want to fight tell them that I am not afriad of them   I know how to fight & I under stand all about the mountain tell the Americans that I have got a plenty of Powder & lead Guns & caps & I [k]now how to use them & that they must not come on my Land to shead bllood  tell them that that I am a big Chief & am not afraid to fight   I have ben shot seven times with bullets & not a boan broken twisce with arrows & I am alive still & able to fight & if they will not hear good counsil they will find me & my men a verry formidable fo[.]  Tel Col Johnson [Albert Sidney Johnston] that he is a white man & that he has a good education & aught to set good examples and not come & fight a good people as the mormons are but go away & let them rase wheat & corn & liv in peace  I am not a white man as you are I cannot red nor wright but I know better than to do such things as you are trying to do[.] tell Johnson that the roads to Calafornia has be open so that the American<s> should travail [travel] across my land & not be disturbe<d> & that they could travail in peace & go & get money that they loved so much & why do they come here to fight my brothers you cold go and get money & trade & who sended your people I did not neither did my people nor the Mormons but some of your people Killed some of my brothe[r] Kanoshes men & they kild some of your me[n] in 1 year that was an course swap & why do you keep making a fus about it[.] I do understand when Judg [John F.] Kinney was here & Col Stepto[e] they took 2 Parvants & trid them by the Bo[o]ks and put them in prisson why did they not do the same to the Americans that kild the Indians. Brother Brigham[,] Ammon & Spoods my brothers have ben & seen the Navajo Shief 3 moons ago & he has got a letter that you gave me which I gave to him & he carries it in his boosom & loves a great dea & say his peac is good all the time & he want to see me very much as he loves me very much & wants me to come & trade with him & if the Americans go away & leav us in peace I want you to let me have some Ammunition to trade with them & I will g[o] and see them <the spring> the Elk Mountain Utes are fighting with the Navajoes all the time & I do not like that[.]

I remain your brother




Manti, U.T. Feb. 28th 1858

President Brigham Young Dear Brother

I write to let you know that I am well although I have been very sick with the distemper. My Peace is good I wish to be at peace with all mankind. Still I do not want to give up my home and the home of my father & friends without a strugle.  No I will fight first.  I do not want the Americans to come upon my land. unless for Peace.  Some of the Utahs hang around the american Camp they promise them great Preasants and are trying to hire the Indians to take the Mormon Cattle & Horses in the Spring I talk good to the Utahs and tell them to stay away from them. Bro Benson sent for me to say so I have been with him was at meeting at month – heard him preach. he Blessed me and I felt good under his instructions and council after which I went with him to Ft Ephraim[.] I want a Mormon wife that understands the Books and can make Bread. Butter. And wash and make things comfortable in my house. I am very Poor and in destitute circumstances as regards things for my wives and children. If you could send me a Little tobaco. or any thing Else I should be very thankfull a little whiskey if you please. I want you to write to Bro [George W.] Armstrong and tell him I want some more team and Ploughs on the farm here as the time to put wheat in is close at hand, and I want to have my Boys at work to Learn them to raise wheat. I have been dreaming a good deal lately and dream that peace will soon be made. but if the americans come here and want to drive the Mormons from this land I will geather all the indians from the sorounding mountains and fight them untill they will be glad for peace, why cant they go home and let us alone [p. 1] we dont want to fight they are the ones that dont have good peace and that want to fight when have I ever went the their land to fight never but they have drove you and your people from your homes to my land and I want you to stay and raise cattle horses sheep wheat and build houses and everything else.  I claim this country still it is not mine nor any body else but the Lords, and he dont want Blood to be spilt on it  he loves this country  I want to talk a good deal to you I am full, and my heart is good  where is the american I have killed no or stole any thing from them no. I wont sell this land to them  the Lord says no, no.

May God Bless you and Heber [C. Kimball] and Daniel [H. Wells] and all this people together with me and mine

write to me,




[1] Edward J. Steptoe to George Manypenny, April 5, 1855, Ex. Doc. 71, 178–79.

[2] See Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier, May 22, 1855; New York City Christian Advocate and Journal, July 19, 1855. 

[3] Brigham Young, “Proclamation by the Governor,” September 15, 1857, PAM 14971 c.1, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, Utah.

An Interview with Noel Carmack and Connell O’Donovan on the 1855 murder of Isaac Whitehouse in Parowan, Utah, and the Art of Historical Storytelling

Editors’ Note

Drawing of Parawan Fort

Drawing of Parawan Fort

Earlier this year, Noel Carmack informed UHQ co-editor Holly George that the Journal of Mormon History was planning to publish Connell O’Donovan’s manuscript on the 1855 murder of Isaac Whitehouse in its fall issue. For several years Carmack had worked independently on his own history of the sad affair, slated for publication in our winter 2015 issue. This clearly presented a dilemma. George and Lavina Fielding Anderson, a JMH editor, decided to move up Carmack’s manuscript to the fall issue, so that the two pieces would be published simultaneous. By keeping each journal’s manuscripts confidential, the autonomy of the two journals and the integrity of the process would be maintained.

The resolution of this potentially difficult situation reflects the good judgment of Anderson and George, the gracious accommodation of the authors, and the quality of the two publications. Even more, at UHQ we saw it as an opportunity: what if we arranged to have Carmack and O’Donovan sit down to a taped interview to discuss their experiences uncovering this sordid and twisted tale. Although no historian welcomes the news of another practitioner working on “her” area of research, we felt the simultaneous publication of articles on the same topic afforded an opportunity to explore how two excellent historians, working independently, approached the topic. Thankfully the authors agreed.

Here we present the audio recording and transcript of a conversation between the two authors at the Rio Grande Building in Salt Lake City on August 5, 2014—the first of what we hope becomes a regular series of authors’ interview produced and recorded by Utah Historical Quarterly editors. The dialogue ranges from the details of the Whitehouse murder and its aftermath to the nature of historical storytelling and the reliability of historical sources. Rather than presenting a literal representation of the interview, we offer a lightly edited transcript without extraneous or filler words. We express heartfelt thanks to Carmack and O’Donovan—and to our good friends at JMH— for unearthing this story and for the following delightful exchange.



UHQ: Welcome to the first of what we hope becomes a regular series of author’s interviews. We are pleased to have with us Noel Carmack and Connell O’Donovan, authors of two independently produced articles on the sad case of the Isaac Whitehouse murder.

Noel Carmack is an assistant professor of USU Eastern Price, Utah, and he is author of “The Long Course of the Most Inhuman Cruelty: The Abuse and Murder of Isaac Whitehouse,” published in the Utah Historical Quarterly in its fall 2014 issue. Welcome Noel.

Carmack: Thank you. I’ve had a long held interest in Utah history in Utah and Mormon history and this is a story that I felt really needed to be told as horrific as it is. I’m pleased to be here.

UHQ: Thanks. And joining him is Connell O’Donovan. He’s a professional contract genealogist and independent historian of Mormonism, and he is author of “The 1855 Murder of Isaac Whitehouse in Parowan, Utah,” published in the Journal of Mormon History in its fall 2014 issue. Welcome Connell.

O’Donovan: Thank you very much. I echo Noel’s comments about the importance of having this story told and that it needs not to be forgotten.

UHQ: Well, it is a heart wrenching story of child abuse and murder in early Utah territory. I think today we really don’t want to dwell on the details of the murder so much as the process of historical investigation on how two fine historians approach the subject and the meaning they assign to it. But perhaps we can begin, if you would Noel and Connell, by providing an overview of the case for readers who are not familiar with it?

Carmack: Well, Connell can interject at any moment here. But in October, late October of 1855, the body of a boy was discovered in a ditch in Parowan, which at that time was a fort. And it soon became apparent that his custodians were responsible for this murder, this case of abuse and murder. And subsequent to the discovery of the body they held his custodians and brought them to trial. And if you read the article you’ll discover how it happened. But both Connell and I were interested in how the case came about and of course after the uncle of the child was brought to trial and convicted of the murder. He was shortly thereafter pardoned by Brigham Young. And so it really raised some questions about abuse and murder in early Utah.

O’Donovan: And justice.

Carmack: And justice. Why was he pardoned and how is it that this man could go free and continue on in his evidently his inherent, his personality that was sort of bent on violence.

O’Donovan: And compounding the issue and making it even far more tragic was the fact that 11-year-old Isaac was deaf and mute. And so he was literally unable to let anybody know what was going on and people just mostly ignored it until it was far too late.

UHQ: Now the prologue of the story is one of death and loss on the westward trail, right? So Isaac Whitehouse and his mother were emigrating to the United States from Britain?

Carmack: Correct. His parents – both his parents were.

UHQ: His parents. And so but along the way Isaac’s parents, Jacob and Rebecca – they died while on the trek west and likely from smallpox we understand. Samuel Baker’s wife, anyway –

Carmack: His first wife.

UHQ: His first wife, Sarah, mother to a newborn baby and a small child, she likely died while on the trail as well. So I guess the question would be: How did the strain from these losses contribute if at all to this story of abuse and murder in Parowan, Utah?

O’Donovan: I really struggled with this question and I don’t have a real clear answer on that. From subsequent documentation, especially with what Noel found, it appears that Samuel abused and may have been responsible for the death of his first wife Sarah while on the trail. It’s really complex and there’s not nearly enough documentation for me to even be able to come up with an answer to it.

Carmack: Yeah, there’s such scant documentation for this story and it’s really a miracle that we’re able to even piece it together. But we know that Samuel Baker, the man who took custody of Isaac and his little brother on the trail west, had come from an area of England – Birmingham, as I recall – which was a center for making pearl buttons. It was a manufacturing center for jewelry and other things but in particular we learn from the ship’s roster that that was his occupation – a button maker. And in the course of my research I discovered it takes a certain type of individual to create buttons. And you work in this hard, difficult environment in a factory and one can only surmise perhaps that Samuel Baker had a penchant maybe to some inherent personality that kept his anger sort of pent up and once he had to take over the guardianship of this disabled child that perhaps the stresses of frontier life and the poor economy in Parowan put the pressures on him and caused him to lash out against this defenseless boy.

O’Donovan: The reason why he got custody of the boy was on the trail his first wife had died and then he met Elizabeth Ward who was Isaac’s aunt.

Carmack: Yeah.

O’Donovan: And apparently they married while on the trail. Elizabeth Ward was his second wife. And she had custody of her nephew after the parents died, after Jacob and Rebecca Ward Whitehouse died. Elizabeth got custody of young Isaac and then when she married Samuel Baker, that’s when he became the guardian of the deaf boy.

Carmack: I should mention – Isaac’s age I believe was 10 years old and he had a younger brother. I think his age was three. And so Elizabeth kind of suddenly – because of the death of her sister and brother in law – had to take custody of these two young boys. And concurrent to that was Samuel Baker and Sarah. Sarah died as well and they had as I recall two young children. So these two families, by sort of mutual necessity perhaps, came together on the trail west and of course one of the children was disabled.

UHQ: Right. So we know that Elizabeth married Samuel Baker while on the trail west.

Carmack: Right.

O’Donovan: We don’t know that he married Elizabeth on the trail, but at some point on the trail Sarah, his first wife, died.

Carmack: She is actually listed on the, the ship’s roster – Sarah. The Overland Mortality Index I believe lists Sarah. It doesn’t say where or what the cause was but it does indicate that she died on the trail. And so somewhere between St. Louis and probably Kansas City they were married or we don’t know exactly where or by whom. We can maybe assume it was Daniel Garn who was the –

O’Donovan: Captain.

Carmack: Captain of the company, right.

O’Donovan: And there were several hundred people in his company but we only know the names of 70 I think. So the records on that particular company are not good.  There, they’re quite poor.

UHQ: I see.

O’Donovan: So that’s part of the dilemma in all of this is in trying to reconstruct what happened.

UHQ: Right. We do know that Samuel Baker seems to have – well we know he committed murder against this 10-year-old helpless child but also have evidence that he exhibited other sorts of violent attributes as well, in fact [possibly] against the first wife Sarah . . . and also he slaughtered a cow in the most gruesome way. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Carmack: After, in fact it was over the year, sometime during the year after Samuel was pardoned for the, the abuse and murder of Isaac Whitehouse, a mutilated cow was discovered in the streets of the fort, Fort Parowan. And soon it became evident that Samuel Baker was responsible for the mutilation of this cow. And at first he tried to blame it on someone else, but he eventually confessed to it and was excommunicated for that violent behavior. So it seems that he had this, these violent tendencies.  Again we don’t know why, what the cause or the motivations were for his behavior but we can only kind of deduce or surmise based on the evidence that we found.

UHQ: I was really fascinated in your piece when I got to read it that we find out much later in the story – much, much later in the story of Isaac Whitehouse that Samuel Baker was a cad all the way around, if I could offer some judgment. Can you talk about some of his life in California – and again this is much further in the story.

O’Donovan: Once they moved to California they pretty much whitewashed their experience in Utah, in fact pretty much denied it so there were lies that he was telling people in southern California – he was an early settler of Los Angeles. And no one there knew that they had spent any time in Utah at all. And then he was involved over several decades with multiple real estate scams and actually ended up – a third wife that he married later on had brought children into their, the family so he had these stepchildren by his third wife and he, and upon her death, he scammed those boys out of their inheritance from their mother. And then when they tried to capture him or bring him in court on that he left. And that’s the last record that we have of him in the eight – I think it was the 1890s was him.

UHQ: Yeah.

Carmack: Disappearing.

O’Donovan: Disappearing with his stepson’s money from their inheritance. So he was definitely an immoral, unethical person. And whether that started in England or in Utah we don’t know. [Turning to Carmack] I really – I’m jealous that you found the cow mutilation story. The original story or records of that are in the Parowan Stake minutes, which are at the [LDS] church archives. And I found those minutes and requested to see them. They’re closed to researchers. But I have some in’s, and I tried to pull a few strings and they would not let me see those. But unbeknownst to me there are transcripts of them at –

Carmack: At Southern Utah University. Yeah.

O’Donovan: And as an archivist he knew about them before.

UHQ: This is fascinating.

Carmack: Oh yeah.

O’Donovan: That’s how he was able to find that.

Carmack: In fact, large portions of that record, well – James Henry Martineau was the stake historian and kept those minutes and a large portion of those minutes are kept in the Deseret Alphabet. James Henry Martineau was very proficient in the Deseret Alphabet. And, in fact, some of the earliest examples of frontier Deseret alphabet were by Martineau. And so thanks to LaJean Carruth, she translated those for me or that particular portion of it and I was able to use a little bit of it in this paper.

UHQ: There are so many layers to this story. So we know about a month after the murder, Samuel Baker was found guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced to 10 years in the territorial penitentiary.

O’Donovan: Right.

UHQ: And I guess maybe speak to us on what basis did the court issue this sentence.  Why wasn’t he given the death penalty?

O’Donovan: Do you mind if I take that one?

Carmack: Go ahead.

O’Donovan: So in 1852, the territorial legislature passed an act “an act in relation to crimes and punishment.” And in Sections Four and Five of that act they described that murder is whoever kills any human being with malice of forethought either expressed or implied is guilty of murder, and then such a murder that involved either poisoning or lying in wait or premeditation or committed while also being involved in Arson, rape, robbery, mayhem or burglary – that’s murder in the first degree. Murder in the second degree is and this is from Section Six – “whoever commits murder otherwise that is set forth in the preceding sections is guilty of murder in the second degree.”

So I guess the court when they were looking at these or at the case, Baker couldn’t prove, it couldn’t be proved that there was any premeditation and there wasn’t any poisoning. He didn’t lie in wait to kill Isaac and it didn’t involve arson, rape, robbery, or mayhem – that’s kind of – what is mayhem, you know? Years of abuse? Is that mayhem? I don’t know. I don’t think they could have a really solid case for it to be first degree murder.

UHQ: Hmm.

O’Donovan: And then so they felt it being second degree murder – now within that, the judge, Judge Drummond, a gentile that the Mormons hated, he had the option of anywhere between a life sentence – So or excuse me – Murder in the first degree was mandatory capital punishment. But murder in the second degree was anywhere between life and 10 years in prison. And so Drummond actually gives Samuel Baker the 10 year punishment which is the least allowable by law. So he was pretty charitable already I think with Samuel Baker, which kind of raises my hackles, after what he did to this kid. Only 10 years?

Sugar House Penitentiary

Sugar House Penitentiary

UHQ: Not only that but Hosea Stout who is a lawyer on behalf of Samuel Baker –

O’Donovan: Right.

Carmack: That’s right.

UHQ: He actually notes in his writing in his diary some sympathy for “poor Baker.” In other words, he emerges from this case with a bit of sympathy for Samuel Baker who is the accused.

Carmack: Right, yeah. In fact, Connell and I probably disagree on sort of the reasons for the pardon. I think we would agree that it was a senseless and unthinkable crime, but we sort of question why would Brigham Young pardon this man for such a horrific crime. But as you know, Judge Drummond resigned from his post as associate justice in Utah and part of his resignation had to with or part of his resignation had to do with how Brigham Young was perceived as having influence over the judicial system in the territory. And he wrote a letter to Washington. It was his resignation letter and he actually mentions the Samuel Baker case in that letter. We don’t know if this is true or not but he says that in addition to the fact that or the idea that Brigham was influential over this case for pardoning Baker but he also took him to Sunday meetings the following week, which was kind of a shocking sort of response in the way he treated Baker. Almost like a guest in Salt Lake.

O’Donovan: And then a couple of weeks later, he sealed them because Samuel Baker and Elizabeth Ward had just been married civilly and then after he pardoned Baker he then performs their sealing ceremony in his office. And then a couple of weeks after that they go to Provo and get their patriarchal blessings. And it just – to me it almost looks like they’re being –

Carmack: Rewarded.

O’Donovan: – rewarded for their actions, which I just don’t understand. I know we both searched hard to try to figure out what really motivated Brigham Young to go ahead and sign this pardon and then to treat them so respectfully afterwards. And they clearly had committed the murder – not only was the abuse well known and well documented, she, Elizabeth Ward, immediately confessed to it and went into the house and got the ropes because he was bound. They had kept him tied to a pole and she brought the ropes that they tied him up with and kept him bound, however long they had done that. And she is providing physical evidence of what they had done and to me it’s such a clear case of abuse and murder, and why Brigham [Young] – It doesn’t matter to me that he had this personal beef with a gentile judge [William Drummond]. That shouldn’t override the demands of justice. I find that rather unconscionable. And I know as a historian I am supposed to be objective, but I’ve got agendas all over the place. Or, “agenda.” Agenda is always plural, sorry.

UHQ: We’ve discussed this a little bit. I’ll ask it again. So what do we know about Brigham Young’s pardon of Samuel Baker?

Carmack: It says in the pardon in fact that and Holly it looks like you have a copy of it there.

Official Pardon Page One

Official Pardon. Territorial Penitentiary Wardens’ Administrative Records, Jan. 24, 1856, 2–3, box 2, fd. 10, reel 2, Series 3912, Utah State Archives

Official Pardon Document Page Two












UHQ: I have copies.

Carmack: But that – the reason for it was that a large number of citizens of Parowan had signed a petition because they believed that Samuel Baker had not intended to kill the boy. And yet neither Connell nor I were able to find the actual petition. And so we wonder if that, that petition was –

O’Donovan: even really exists. We’re both suspicious of its actual existence.

Carmack: Right.

O’Donovan: To me it looks like George A. Smith partially orchestrated this as the apostle who lived in Parowan. Did he live in Parowan or in Cedar City?


Carmack: George A. Smith was one of the original founders of Parowan that lived there for I think about a year and then went back to Salt Lake.

O’Donovan: But he still had jurisdiction.

Carmack: Jurisdiction over it or stewardship over that.

O’Donovan: And he’s the one who allegedly comes up with the petition, but I found no independent evidence of there being a petition other than the statement in the pardon that this petition exists. No one talks about it in the correspondence or journal.  Did you find any?

Carmack: No. I never found it.

O’Donovan: Right.

Carmack: So, in fact, the pardon exists in different versions.

O’Donovan: Word for word.

Carmack: And Connell found the original in the warden’s papers.

O’Donovan: Right there in the records.

Carmack: Yeah.  But in none of those collections does the petition exist. In fact, there is a letter from the – let’s see. I’m trying to remember.

O’Donovan: Let’s explain what the petition is.

Carmack: Right.

O’Donovan: The petition allegedly was the members of well certain citizens of Iron County, which in essence would have been the Parowan Stake. At that time the three big cities and pretty much still today in Parowan or in Iron County were the city of Parowan, Paragonah, and Cedar City. And the citizens of Parowan all unanimously voted for their excommunication and helped send them to prison. If a petition was circulated, I doubt that it would have even or anyone in Parowan would have signed it. But to me it seems kind of like a stake versus a ward tension. And George Albert Smith – if the petition exists, I think the main signers of the petition would have been from Cedar City and Paragonah, but not anyone from Parowan.

Carmack: See and I conjectured in the article that perhaps Brigham was out of sort of sympathy or empathy for this mother of at that time I think she still had the four young children.

UHQ: Elizabeth Ward

Carmack: Elizabeth Ward yes. That that perhaps he pardoned Samuel Baker so that he could return and be a supporter, a wage earner or whatever back at home, as opposed to leaving her basically an unmarriageable widow.

O’Donovan: What an awful situation. The situation in Parowan at that time was horrific for everybody. The economy there was terrible. Their harvest that year was awful. What they did harvest the insects ate a lot of it. They had Indians who either just out of fear or the settlers, the white settlers were just fearful of the Indians and if the Indians demanded food they would just give it to them for fear of it causing any violence. It was just a really, really a bad situation in fact. And I bring this up too is that in my article is the fact that the people in Parowan were specifically told you do not share your food with any non-Mormon. If any gentile comes through here looking for pasturage, no.  If any want to buy food, no. Don’t give them anything. Don’t sell them anything. We don’t have enough for ourselves. In kind of giving Samuel a little bit of leeway on why he may have been so violent and abusive – he was under incredible pressure. He was a pearl worker from England. They don’t need pearl buttons in Parowan, Utah. So he was probably trying to be a farmer that he’s never done ever in his life. In a high mountain desert that’s arid and salty.

Carmack: Having to take care of a 10-year-old boy who is deaf mute.

O’Donovan: Deaf mute. There’s no way to communicate with him.

Carmack: He’s not his flesh and blood.

O’Donovan: So, I think those are all contributing factors to the tension in the home. But that is not an excuse.

UHQ: No.

Carmack: Not an excuse, no. It’s not in the least.

UHQ: Elizabeth gives birth right after Samuel is sentenced. It’s just days, isn’t it?

O’Donovan: Not a day. No, it’s the day of sentencing.

Carmack: It’s the day of sentencing, right.

UHQ: I wondered if the whole trial caused her labor – or that’s how I thought of it. But whatever the case –

O’Donovan: It all seems to imply that.

Carmack: I do want to point out that Hosea Stout mentions in his diary, he makes a very poignant comment about Elizabeth bereft of all that she had and then goes into labor and has this child.

O’Donovan: Oh and that leads to the fact that actually Samuel Baker was on trial for two crimes – one is nonpayment of his perpetual immigration fund debt and then the murder was the second charge – so the church was actively pursuing this money from Baker which I think is really interesting.

Carmack: I don’t know if Connell agrees with me but I was thinking.

O’Donovan: No I don’t.

Carmack: But I wondered if the pardon was – that rather than confiscate everything that she had after the sentencing, Brigham pardoned Samuel Baker to go back and become a wage earner to repay the funds and to be a father in his home and so forth. Not that it was the right thing to do or but –

O’Donovan: Yeah and I do disagree in the sense that she could have married somebody else.

Carmack: Yeah.

O’Donovan: Women were desired. This is 1855, ’56, ’57. They were so desperate for wives the women that they are marrying are younger and younger and younger. And so I think she could have been easily married to someone else. So I don’t.

UHQ: Wouldn’t Samuel Baker’s perpetual emigration fund debt then go to Elizabeth? So Elizabeth would have assumed the debt and the debt would have been hers in that sense?

O’Donovan: That’s a good question. I –

UHQ: I guess was the debt Samuel’s or was it Elizabeth’s?

O’Donovan: Well in the one record that I’ve, I’ve noted it’s under Samuel’s name but it’s for the whole family.

Carmack: Right.

O’Donovan: The whole family’s emigration. But

Carmack: She probably came as Sarah.

O’Donovan: Sarah and Samuel.

Carmack: Yeah.

UHQ: Samuel and his two kids so she’s not party to it right?

Carmack: Right. I think she might have come across with her sister and brother in law with PDF fund as well.

O’Donovan: Yeah, yeah.

Carmack: And so she would have probably had a debt to repay as well. So these are all questions that are just difficult if not impossible to answer.

UHQ: Let me ask this other question. It’s one I’ve been thinking about this afternoon. But both of you know it’s really perplexing that the community members on one hand vote to excommunicate Samuel Baker for murder but on the other hand – this is like a month or two later – this petition such as it is, is signed urging his pardon. And it’s the supposed petition it comes from a large number of citizens of Iron County. That’s what we read in the pardon.

O’Donovan: Right.

UHQ: So we don’t know much about what the people of Parowan thought about Samuel’s pardon but you both suggest, I think, that his uneasy reintegration into the community contributed to his family’s decision to leave Utah. So what can you say first I think about this kind of vacillating opinion in the community about the Bakers – and it’s back and forth in the documents – and then on the other hand, what you think about the community’s opinion about them and their decision to leave California, if you have any insight about that.

Carmack: There’s no documentation on how they felt towards Samuel Baker except for the not just one excommunication but two. Remember that they were excommunicated for Samuel’s – or excuse me – for Isaac Whitehouse’s abuse and murder.

UHQ: They were both excommunicated?

Carmack: Yes.

O’Donovan: Yes.

UHQ: Okay right.

Carmack: And then as I don’t remember the specific but they were reintegrated or welcomed back into the fold and then Samuel commits violence against this cow, right.  He, the incident of the cow and he was then cut off. I don’t recall if it was only Samuel or if it was – I suspect it was only Samuel who was cut off for the abuse of the cow. But we can only sort of conjecture about how they felt. I can only imagine then returning to this small community of about 1,200 people.

O’Donovan: Where everybody knows their really dirty laundry.

Carmack: Right yeah.

O’Donovan: And do you know that they tried to escape previously to California but were caught.

UHQ: Oh that’s right.

O’Donovan: Between the murder and the trial they tried to –

Carmack: – to escape.

O’Donovan: They tried to escape.

UHQ: With all of his children.

O’Donovan: Yeah. But they were apprehended and kept in Parowan and then sent to Fillmore.

Carmack: One can only think that they tried, that they left to get away from to avoid the stigma of having been charged and convicted of that murder.

O’Donovan: And excommunicated.

Carmack: And excommunicated.

O’Donovan: They were out of the church and –

Carmack: Yeah.

UHQ: Talk about this letter from Dr. Pendleton, C. C. Pendleton – just what he says about the treatment of Isaac Whitehouse.

Carmack: If I’m remembering correctly, Calvin Pendleton was a member of the stake presidency and was also regarded as the local doctor. In fact he is often referred to as Dr. Pendleton.

O’Donovan: Well his medical training was that.

Carmack: Yeah.

O’Donovan: Virtually – –

Carmack: Yeah there’s Dr. Pendleton and then there’s Priddy Meeks because I think Priddy Meeks was living in Paragonah at the time. But Pendleton was called to look at the postmortem examination of the boy I believe. I know Martineau was there.  But he also witnessed the boy over the course of about a year and when the Baker’s first got to Parowan, he notes in the letter that the Baker’s treatment of the boy was considered improper at that time and he was investigated by the teachers.

O’Donovan: Yeah they sent teachers to the house and they were, and the teachers told them that they needed to improve their treatment of Isaac, little Isaac. And that worked temporarily for a while and then everyone noticed that the abuse then started again and –

Carmack: Right.

O’Donovan: But nobody really did anything about it and I would – in my imagination – when I’m thinking about little pioneer boys in general in Parowan, Utah, they’re probably not clothed well. They’re barefooted. They’re filthy dirty. He probably didn’t look that much different than any other little kid. People didn’t bathe a lot then. I guess as a boy you would want to play in the stream or whatever or you might get clean that way but –

Carmack: Everyone was wanting of food, not just only food but clothing.

O’Donovan: And hygiene.

Carmack: Hygiene – James Martineau writes in his journal about the fact that he had only one pair of trousers and a long sleeve shirt and he had no shoes. There was a period of time when he went barefoot. And Uncle Ben, he said – Benjamin Johnson – gave him a pair of his boots and he said that they were about four inches too long in the front and then they had a high heel in the back. And he said that the heel eventually wore so that the heel stuck out like a rooster’s feet. So it was just an awful kind of existence there.

O’Donovan: Yeah so I can see where if you weren’t paying close attention to Isaac’s physical condition, he could have just seemed to be a regular dirty little kid in the street. But Pendleton does mention well yeah, he’s kind of worse than usual and he says he asked somebody else about it and they kind of said, “oh don’t worry about it,” so he kind of backed off and then –

Carmack: During my research I couldn’t help but to place myself in the shoes of the people of Parowan and how perhaps I observed children in my own community or in my own [LDS] ward. Do we say something to someone?  Do we report what we think might be abuse or neglect?

O’Donovan: When does it become our business?

Carmack: Yeah, what is that quote that Hillary Clinton stated? It takes a village to train a child. And [in] ward families we tend to think of them as very close knit and sometimes perhaps we don’t report things or take note of things as we should.

O’Donovan: No.

Carmack: And this is a good case of that.

O’Donovan: You want to think the best of your fellow brother and your fellow saints.

UHQ: Yeah. Thank you for letting me interject that. I was fascinated by that letter. So let’s talk briefly about – well, I guess we have talked about it – their decision to leave for California and how I guess you feel like the shame contributed to that.

Carmack: Well I’m sure that part of it was motivated for fear of being caught and convicted so they tried to escape. We don’t know how or if it was another wagon train or what, but Martineau I think is the only person who mentions that attempt to escape.  And –

UHQ: Did they live as Latter-day Saints in California?

O’Donovan: No.

UHQ: Yeah, I was curious.

Carmack: Yeah. Connell’s best prepared to answer that.

O’Donovan: By the time they got to the San Bernardino area, which had been a Mormon colony, the Mormons were in the midst of the Mormon War, and so the good Mormons had already left the area and had gone back to Utah. There were still a number of quasi Mormons and I’m sure maybe a few active believing with all the LDS folks there in the area, but the vast majority had left. So, yeah, there’s no record of them participating with whoever may have been left in the area.

UHQ: That’s interesting.

Carmack: I have to say, that’s a real strength of Connell’s article. He takes the Baker family beyond their sojourn in Utah to San Bernardino, and now it’s fascinating to hear what Baker did.

UHQ: I thought the same thing. I wanted to also just mention that.  That your account Connell was excellent because you did draw upon census registry biographical sources and I kind of think that’s from expertise of –

O’Donovan: Genealogy right.

UHQ: – as a genealogist. So maybe talk to us about I think listeners would be quite interested in knowing how those types of sources add another layer of interesting myths to this sort of story. And you talk excessively about their, the Baker’s life in California after their time in Utah. What does that story tell us? What does that add?

O’Donovan: Okay. Well one of my missions – I have several missions in life and one of them is to bring genealogical sources and resources into the world of historical research. It is and people often dismiss it or don’t even think about genealogical sources when doing historical research. And well it always comes to me and actually this was mentioned earlier. Whenever a historian says, we don’t know about this person or whatever, I just think have you even looked? You’ve looked in your own archive but there are a lot of other broader sources out there.

What started me in all of this was researching blacks in the priesthood in 1978 and this was before actually even the revelation [June 1978, granting the privilege of holding the priesthood to all men regardless of racial decent], a couple of months before I started doing research on it. What is going on with this? I guess it just didn’t sit well with me. And I came across I think it was Newell Bringhurst and Armand Mauss. They both said, “we know Walker Lewis this black Mormon held the Mormon priesthood, but we don’t know anything about him,” and that’s it. And I was like well why? Why don’t we know anything about him? At that time I was an employee at the genealogy library when it used to be at the Church Office Building. And so when I read that I thought, well, let me go see. And I went to the 1840 Census of Boston and there’s this black man named Walker Lewis in the census and that started a 15-year project of me researching the life of Walker Lewis.

And I published his biography in the John Whitmer Journal, and it was groundbreaking. Everybody knew that Elijah Abel was a black man who held priesthood but that he was the exception to the rule. And then I came across Walker Lewis and then I was able to publish this huge biography of him using 99 percent of non-Mormon history related documents and it was all genealogy. I was using the genealogy library and finding the records there about this incredible man and his life. And also along with just it went beyond besides using genealogical resources. I see a person. My grandmother would always refer to someone as their people meaning their family but sort of their close knit community. That was their people. And I tend to see especially in small towns of Utah, it’s not just the person, it’s their whole family is involved. And they have a family background so I see genealogy as offering more sort of a holistic viewpoint rather than just an individual. It’s where that individual also fits into the family unit. So that’s part of it. And going back to Walker Lewis, discovering that his uncle had been the person who had sued for his own emancipation in 1789 and had gone to the Massachusetts state supreme court and they agreed with him and he won emancipation for all slaves in Massachusetts. And Walker Lewis was named after him.  So that had to have affected Walker Lewis’s personality, his sense of entitlement and “yeah, I’m equal too.”

So of course my question was often – Why would this black guy want to be a Mormon and participate in a religion that didn’t necessarily want him? And I don’t think he knew that. I just think he was like, ‘I am a man as well.’

UHQ: It’s fascinating.

O’Donovan: There’s an enormous amount of records out there that aren’t at the church archives. They’re not at the state historical department, but there are census records and tax records and criminal court records and newspaper accounts and the list of genealogical resources just goes on and on. Historians I think tend to look at a lot of biographies, journals and correspondence and if it’s not in those sources, it’s unknown and it’s just not true.

UHQ: Yeah.

Carmack: And I think this is a great example of how two historians discover a story that they found independent of each other. Connell brought all these fascinating layers of background to the Baker family and the Whitehouse family through his genealogical expertise. Whereas I perhaps was taking the story in a different direction or was more focused on the Whitehouse abuse and murder in the larger context of Utah. And it’s interesting how we can each take our own sort of lens to it.

O’Donovan: Yeah.

UHQ: Connell, how did you come to this story? I know how you did. You mentioned it.  How did you find it?

O’Donovan: So I am a member of the Parrish family. I’m a member of the William R. Parrish family. He’s my great, great uncle. And he was murdered in Springville – he and his son – by the ward, members of the ward conspired to and killed William R. Parrish and his son William Beeson Parrish in 1856 or February of – excuse me of ’57, February of ’57. And so I’m on a 10, 12 year research project trying to write their story and what happened and thank heavens I solved it. I think many historians have looked at this and have just kind of gone away. We don’t know. And I’ve actually just recently within the past six months it’s just broken open. Anyway, so looking at the ways that Mormon communal violence occurred in early Utah history. And for that I just happened to be reading through Hosea Stout’s journal for 1855 looking for references to the Parrishes and came across this story, this reference to the deaf and dumb boy who gets murdered. I’m like what? So that’s the context that I create it in. I don’t explain that in my paper but my larger research project is about theocracies and cultural violence and how there is this theocracy in violence are so closely tied together, and that it’s a moral lesson that we still need to learn as a human race. Theocracies just don’t function right. They are beneficial to some folks at the top but they’re devastatingly crushing to anybody at the bottom. And the deaf, mute impoverished 11-year-old boy was at the bottom and he literally got killed because of all the imaginations of this theocracy that didn’t want to recognize justice for some in this case, for some reason, whatever it was, and Baker literally got away with murder. He and his wife got away with horrific abuse and murder and paid a very small price. He was in jail how many days?

Carmack: I think it was about a month or six, five or six weeks.

O’Donovan: Six weeks.

Carmack: Yeah.

O’Donovan: For years – well a year and a half – of abuse and then a horrific murder. The condition they found his body in. The description you just – you’re reading it going oh my gosh, this poor kid. He’s covered in his own excrement because he wasn’t allowed to use the restroom to go out anywhere so he just dirtied himself.

Carmack: Yeah.

O’Donovan: Because he is tied to a post. I just –

UHQ: Well let’s continue this theme and Noel let us know how you came to this topic and then we’ll talk about sources and use of sources and the historiographical stuff.

Carmack: Well it was sometime in the fall of 2006, I became more aware of the deposition of the James Henry Martineau journals at the Huntington Library in San Marino. And so I went to Los Angeles and I traveled to the Huntington and looked at the Martineau diary and took notes and it was that fall that I said, ‘you know, I’m going to work on the diary and prepare it for publication.’ And so over the course of the next year or so of course I read the diary and began putting together annotations and I came across the Whitehouse Baker story from that angle and became fascinated with it. I too found information in the Hosea Stout diary. I traveled to Parowan. I went to Cedar City to the Southern Utah University to research the murder. And of course none of the published histories talked about it. Somehow it’s been overlooked all these years. And I discovered as did Connell what scant or sparse documentation there really was. Even the minutes, the official minutes are very sparse of the court case. So yeah I came from that perspective of annotating the Martineau diaries, coming across Martineau’s description, postmortem examination of the boy and the subsequent murder trial in Fillmore.

UHQ: Why doesn’t each of you talk a little bit about the challenge of storytelling when the sources you are using are inadequate and sometimes unreliable? What kind of challenges did you confront?

Carmack: Well Connell, to his credit, did a wonderful job of finding genealogical sources, being able to place the children. That was really my difficulty, placing people and knowing exactly who was where at specific times and so –

O’Donovan: Well you found the child that I didn’t find.

Carmack: Well I did find, yeah.

O’Donovan: You found Franklin.

Carmack: Franklin Edward was the second child of Samuel and Sarah Baker. And he actually lived to adulthood. I think he died as I recall in 1917. But there’s very little to no information. It doesn’t show up in the 1860 Census. It just happened that I came across through someone’s family history and in that online source there was an excerpt from a reminiscence that talks about the Whitehouse family migrating from England to California. There’s no mention of Utah.

O’Donovan: No.

Carmack: Curiously there’s never a mention of Parowan or southern Utah.

O’Donovan: Mormonism.

Carmack: Mormonism. But there is a mention of Franklin Edward in that record. And I did find his death record and grave memorial. But it’s just little pieces of information.  We’re able to put the story together. It’s just a miracle that we were able to even do what we did.

O’Donovan: Yeah. To me our writing history is always speculation and everything is speculation. We, you can’t have all perspectives. You can’t know and document all perspectives of everything that happened. So even the best histories are just the tip of the iceberg of the truth of what happened. So you just go with the clues that you have. I happened to be blessed with a great imagination. And so I take this clue here and this clue here and this clue here and I meditate and I think about it and just kind of hold onto it and I learn by epiphany. I gather data, little odd bits of data, and I just kind of let it rumble around for awhile and then, boom, I get my response, ahh. And that’s what I did in this case.

Carmack: I was telling Connell earlier that’s really almost a charge, it’s a thrill I’m sure. Every historian probably feels that when they find a little tidbit of information or source and it puts maybe a piece together.

O’Donovan: It’s a part of a puzzle certainly because it’s clear.

Carmack: Clear right. And hopefully when, when readers read both our articles, and they rate us saying probably or might have, it’s that conjecture, it’s that speculation based on very scant evidence.

O’Donovan: Yeah.

Carmack: So.

O’Donovan: Historians aren’t supposed to do that.  We’re supposed to be objective and not speculate but to me there is no – there were – the author is not dead so there is no objectivity. You just can’t. I can be as objective as I try to be, but my own agenda picks the topic.

UHQ: Yeah.

O’Donovan: So and then it starts and it goes on from there.

UHQ: Well you mentioned imagination as part of the, maybe the toolset that the historian might use to evaluate the situation. And, along with that, one of the challenges of historical work is assigning motive.  And despite the scant sources in this particular case, what each of you found is fascinating. Each of you uses various contextual clues to establish motive before the abuse and murder of Isaac Whitehouse. So maybe talk to us a little bit about what you concluded from that and maybe consider this: At what point can a historian step back from the evidence and make assertions about motive without any direct evidence? Or is that not possible for a historian to do?

Carmack: Boy, it’s really, it’s a slippery slope but I tend to like to raise questions, maybe not that I am trying to answer them. But I raise the question and let the reader sort of –

O’Donovan: Mull it over.

Carmack: – mull it over and put the pieces together for themselves. So, some of them [might] read my article and say, oh he was saying this and this and this, but if you read very closely I may not actually come to a conclusion, but I raise the question and the reader comes to the conclusion themselves.

O’Donovan: For the first time ever I put questions in an essay, because I didn’t know. So there are question marks my article because I had to raise questions that I couldn’t answer myself. And I think with even direct and corroborating evidence, we still have to theorize and speculate and conclude and impose a sort of our sense of order onto whatever this chaotic evidence might be with our own perceptions. And we call that writing history but –

Carmack: And someone 20, 30, 50 years from now may come and may discover some pocket of information about the Whitehouse murder that we weren’t able to uncover and add more light to this mystery or this investigation.

O’Donovan: Who knows what’s in that dusty old attic.

Carmack: Absolutely.

O’Donovan: There could be the Samuel Baker diary. That would be quite a finding.

Carmack: Yeah, yeah. It was only recently that we found the photographs of Samuel Baker and Elizabeth Ward Baker.

UHQ: Oh yeah. Online.

Carmack: Online, that’s right. So there very well could be more out there.

UHQ: This has a really poignant human dimension to the story. And it’s kind of heart wrenching. A lot of times you read stories from the past but it doesn’t tug on your heartstrings quite so much. This one did for me. I really empathize with this little boy. So I guess I’m wondering how, how did this story resonate or impact you on that very personal human level and then how did you evoke its human dimensions, the human dimensions of this story while at the same time maintaining objectivity? It’s called detachment.

O’Donovan: I don’t maintain objectivity. There’s that in my first draft and this is often what I have to do. In my first draft of writing I let Samuel Baker have it, and I just used every vile adjective I could think of in writing just so I could vent that and let that be out there, because I found him so morally objectionable and his wife. This little boy’s aunt – how could she do that? But so then after I let all that out, then I went back and edited that all out and got rid of all those adjectives. Just that’s part of my process when I find something like that. I want to leave that in there, but I know that other historians would look down on that and say, oh he’s not being objective or he’s being shrill or strident. I have been accused of that. So I’m still trying to pull back a little bit, but I still have to get that blast in and I delete.

Carmack: I have to say it was really difficult for me as well. I went so far as to find his grave site and of course it’s unmarked there in the Parowan cemetery. But it’s just a tragic, tragic story, and I actually delivered this paper in 2008 in the [Utah State] Historical Society meeting. And even delivering the paper, I got choked up. It was really hard for me to finish.

O’Donovan: I cried a lot while I was writing it.

UHQ: I had a hard afternoon after looking at it, yeah.

Carmack: But part of the – one of my own objectives for this paper was to place it within a context of other cases of abuse in Utah, and it’s sad to say that Isaac Whitehouse’s story isn’t the only one. There were other cases of physical abuse that some were recorded and others were not. And sadly and there were no laws on the books to prosecute specifically child abuse and murder at the time. And it was only and over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century that Utah finally put laws on the books to prosecute child abuse.

UHQ: Thank you. Okay. I’d like to ask you gentlemen some questions on the larger significance on this and again it was – it was so fascinating to read both of your articles together. I really enjoyed it.

O’Donovan: Thank you.

Carmack: Thank you.

UHQ: It was, it was really, really good. And so I have a question about how you frame a story in its larger contexts. We’ve got the story of Isaac Whitehouse’s abuse and murder and then the pardon but then both of you go different directions or you go different directions after that. Noel uses this case as a launch pad that you just talked about too. Talk about the prosecution of child abuse and domestic violence in the West. Connell, on the other hand, places this 1855 act as really the most egregious of one of many perpetrated by Samuel Baker and this quote here is fabulous: “The former Mormon child abuser, convicted and pardoned murderer and real estate cheat.” That’s how you describe Samuel Baker.

O’Donovan: Yeah. I did let him have it there a little bit in the writing.

UHQ: Yeah.

O’Donovan: I don’t think there’s anything untrue there.

UHQ: There’s nothing untrue there.

O’Donovan: And I don’t think it’s very shrill but.

UHQ: No. So how did you gentlemen choose what direction to take?

Carmack: I really wanted the reader to read the story and feel the impact I guess – for lack of a better word – of this horrific crime and so I put it right up front. I started out with James Martineau’s description of the boy’s body and how it came to be that they discovered this boy and kind of took it from there. I took it chronologically. So I wanted to capture the reader with that right off the bat and then take them through the whole court case. And then in the second half of the article deals with the territorial wide cases of abuse and murder or domestic violence. Whereas Connell –

O’Donovan: And I kind of took a similar approach to begin with, because I started out with the discovery of the body. In writing biographies or histories, I have kind of developed this formula now where I do all my research and I put it into a chronology. That’s, that’s my – that’s how I do the research. Whatever document I find I then put it in chronological order not when the document was written per se but what it’s about, the story. And then – and once I’ve got my chronology down or most of it, then I pick a single dramatic moment from out of that chronology and I start off with that. And then I’ll do a narrative pretty much unfootnoted, an accounting of that incident. So I come up with this kind of lengthy narrative retelling. I try to make it historically accurate, and I talk about the weather – everything – bring it all together and tell each story of this one incident. Then I go back to my chronology and start at the beginning and then just kind of go through my chronology and tell it all. And so, for me, in trying to understand Samuel Baker and what he did, I still wish I had found the cow mutilation story, because that fit in with where I was going with all of this, that he overall turned out to be an immoral person, unethical in his dealings, and it was a lifelong pattern. When the first I knew of it was the murder, well the abuse of Isaac and then the murder, but then it continued on throughout his life. So to me that was part of the context was just this he was just a bad person through his life.

Carmack: Well, Connell, you probably take a more systematic approach than I do. I do something very similar. I collect all the information and I too want to sort of capture the furor and tension with this significant event in the same way. And I also try to put a lot of context to it. It could be the weather – it might be some other events that are occurring at this same time or something like that. But I try to put as much context in the story as possible and especially so for this story where there’s so little evidence or documentation. We have to use secondary sources or other histories to describe what’s going on.

UHQ: Well that’s perfectly legitimate.

Carmack: Yeah.

UHQ: If you can’t tell us all about one person’s life and one exact thing, you can give the broader context and have it be a little more of the iceberg.

Carmack: Yeah. Well, for instance, Franklin Edward – Connell maybe did not catch Franklin’s –

O’Donovan: Existence.

Carmack: – existence. I found mention of his name, but I have yet to find any more about him even though he lived to adulthood. It’s another avenue that still needs to be pursued.

O’Donovan: Yeah. When we first found out that we were both doing the same thing, we talked and he told me about Franklin Edward and I was like, oh I want to put that in my paper. And I actually had time to, but my sense of what is right – I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t steal his thunder.

Carmack: There’s always – you look back on things you’ve done and wish that you had.

UHQ: You both have been absolute gentlemen about it all in general.

Carmack: Honestly, had I known five years ago or whatever that Connell was going to work on this, I would have loved to have collaborated on something, making it all that of stronger piece. But I like how this is going.

O’Donovan: It’s so unique that we came to the same spot at the same time and we were completely unaware of the other.

Carmack: Yeah we have – readers can, can go read them both and kind of take something from each one.

O’Donovan: Yeah.

Carmack: That’s great.

UHQ: So the last question here. Noel you write that the story of the Whitehouse murder was “effectively washed from collective memory.” And then you conclude your article with this statement: “As the years pass the unspeakable events surrounding Isaac Whitehouse’s death seem to sink deeper in the soil beneath the sod of the Parowan City Cemetery and into oblivion.” But yet these two articles bring a little bit of understanding to the sad story. And what do you gentlemen hope that readers will take away from your work and how do you think it will add to what we already know about the history of early Utah and of Mormonism?

Carmack: Well reading that last statement in my article, one might say, well that’s kind of contradictory, because Connell and I just brought this to light. My reason for writing that is that we tend to sweep hard histories or stories like this under the rug, because it’s such a taboo subject. It’s very difficult to talk about – abuse and murder of a young boy, a disabled boy. This is just one example or one story among countless. And the reason I said that is because we could sort of take it as a challenge to other historians to face these difficult questions head on. We have great historians like Will Bagley, Juanita Brooks, Ardis Parshall, and Polly Aird who are asking these kinds of questions. And perhaps other historians can take a difficult situation or difficult topic like abuse or whatever it is – murder – and ask difficult questions and try to come up with answers. So it’s a bit of a contradiction in the fact that in saying that the story might disappear. Well perhaps it might. Maybe it will just be swept under the rug. We’ll read about it and think how difficult or how horrific this incident was and just sort of forget about it. And my challenge is for us to look and face these difficult stories and ask all the questions.

O’Donovan: Although I am no longer LDS, I grew up LDS here in Utah, and I was as guilty as any body of what I would call pioneer-olitry – adoration and worship of pioneers.  If you were a descendent of a Mormon pioneer in the congregations that I grew up in, that gave you cache. That a convert didn’t have. That if your ancestors got to Utah before the train in 1869, that gives you Mormon street cred. And as a part of that pioneer-olitry, virtually every pioneer biography that I grew up with was hagiography. That the pioneers were full of faith, and they were loyal to the end, and they did what they were told. They did incredible things in colonizing the West. There were a lot of destructive things that they did when you look at what happened with Native Americans, for example. But so for me this is a reminder that the pioneers were human beings too. There’s child abuse going on today. There was child abuse back then. Kids are getting murdered today and kids were getting murdered by their families back then. The pioneers aren’t to be worshipped. That’s not right – that doesn’t do justice to their lives and what they went through. So I hope that this is kind of a reminder of that.

Carmack: I just I have to agree with Connell. We tend to venerate or hold the pioneers up. And yeah they were, for the most part, very stalwart pioneers and path makers and so forth that settled these small communities; but they were all human. Samuel Baker had just arrived, and Elizabeth and the Whitehouse family had come from England and brought with them the various behaviors and beliefs and traditions that they had built up when they were there. And these people are just human like the rest of us. No excuse for their behavior in this instant, but hopefully we can take this example and make some sense out of it.

O’Donovan: I would love to see a tombstone put –

Carmack: Erected down in –

O’Donovan: In the Parowan –

Carmack: Cemetery.

O’Donovan: Acknowledging of Isaac’s existence and life and death somehow, but, you know, [a] plaque or – it would be difficult to – what do we say on it?

Carmack: Right, yeah.

O’Donovan: Murdered horrendously by his aunt and uncle? No. There needs to be something there, something permanent to remind everyone of what he went through.

Carmack: It would be a hard thing for the members of that community to acknowledge that it happened there. That but –

O’Donovan: That they’re not responsible for.

Carmack: No, not at all.

O’Donovan: But I can understand that that could be an issue.

Carmack: Yeah.

UHQ: Well, excellent work to both of you. Both articles are very, very well done, and especially thanks for agreeing to speak to each other like this.

Carmack: The opportunity was – the pleasure was mine.

UHQ: Thanks.

O’Donovan: Thank you.