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Utah Historical Quarterly Current Issue

Volume 83, Number 2 (Spring Issue):

Check out the Spring 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly to learn more about where Utah has been, and how we’ve come to where we are today. Join the Historical Society for your own copy .

Each issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly is accompanied with rich web supplements that introduce readers to sources, photos, interviews, and other engaging material. These “extras” are located at

WEB EXTRAS: See here 



“Zachary Taylor Is Dead and in Hell and I Am Glad of It!”: The Political Intrigues of Almon Babbitt
By Bruce W. Worthen

A Bear and a Bandit
By Steve Siporin

Desert Cold Warriors: Southeastern Utah’s Fight against Communism, 1951-1981
By A. Chase Chamberlain and Robert S. McPherson

The Green River Launch Complex: A Photo Essay


Thumbing through documents, looking at historic images and objects, or even glancing at vital statistics: these actions pique curiosity and prompt us to ask, What happened here? Who were these people? How does this information pertain to the current day? Shaping the scraps and facts of the past into narratives is the joyful, difficult work of archaeologists, folklorists, historians, and many others. How researchers arrive at their conclusions and what stories they decide to tell is a varied and often controversial endeavor. This issue of Utah Historical Quarterly presents four pieces that suggest the depth of experience that can be discovered by digging into the past.

Our anchor article introduces readers to political drama in mid-nineteenth-century Utah. The general outlines are well known: three years after Brigham Young led his people to the eastern edge of the Great Basin, Congress rejected appeals for a State of Deseret, instead creating Utah Territory. What is less known is the political maneuvering and self-interest of the Mormons’ lobbyist in Washington, Almon Babbitt. He had some friends in Congress, including Senator Stephen A. Douglas, but none of the sophistication or perceived noble spirit of John Milton Bernhisel—his rival, who Young ultimately selected over Babbitt as Utah Territory’s delegate to Congress. Babbitt’s partisanship and inside maneuverings hindered Mormon efforts for statehood and contributed to a growing rift between the federal government and the Mormons that would culminate in the Utah War of 1857 and, later, the showdown over plural marriage. This article uses letters, speeches, newspapers, and other sources to recreate the shadowy deals and positioning that ultimately put Utah on the political map.

The second article in this issue examines the many parallels between two incidents that, on the surface, have little resemblance to each other: the killing of Old Ephraim, the famed grizzly bear of Cache Valley, and the killing of Domenico Tiburzi, an Italian bandit. In the hands of a skilled folklorist, the stories of the bear and the bandit reflect unsettling yet celebrated cultural and ecological transformations in northern Utah and central Italy. Old Ephraim and Tiburzi died—and the stories they inspired, born—coinciding with the perceived end of wilderness in both locales. In popular folklore, both became celebrated figures representing “relief and regret” over irreversible changes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This essay blends history and folklore to contextualize and compare powerful stories, illustrating that a common experience and a common humanity can exist between even the most disparate of places.

From Cache Valley and Maremma, Italy, we move to an entirely different subject—how the Cold War played out in San Juan County—with an article that demonstrates how historical research can yield unexpected information. With its sparse population and desert landscape, San Juan County is, perhaps, not the first place one would associate with the U.S. government’s efforts to counter the Soviet Union. However, because of uranium mines and missile tests, the county’s residents had a disproportionately large role in the nation’s Cold War preparations. In addition to the outsized drama of the Cold War, this story has a hometown flavor: missiles fired during high school football games and flirtatious soldiers at the local café.

The spring issue concludes with a photographic essay that substantiates the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words. Of course, a historian might say that pictures need analysis and information—words—to be more fully understood. In this case, we present a set of striking photographs of the now-decommissioned Green River Launch Complex, a site closely associated with the missile tests of our third article. In its current state, the remains of the launch complex might simply appear to be old stuff in the desert. Within the historical setting, however, the role of that stuff in Utah’s rich and complicated past becomes more clear.


Robert S. McPherson, Viewing the Ancestors: Perceptions of the Anaasází, Mokwi ˇc, and Hisatsinom. Reviewed by Farina King

Thayer Tolles and Thomas Brent Smith, The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925Reviewed by James R. Swensen

Ronald K. Wetherington and Frances Levine, eds., Battles and Massacres on the Southwestern Frontier. Reviewed by Brent M. Rogers

Howard M. Bahr, Saints Observed: Studies of Mormon Village Life, 1850-2005.

Howard M. Bahr, Four Classic Mormon Village Studies. Reviewed by Richard Francaviglia

Eric A. Eliason and Tom Mould, eds., Latter-day Lore: Mormon Folklore Studies. Reviewed by Deirdre M. Paulsen

Nathan N. Waite and Reid L. Neilson, eds., A Zion Canyon Reader. Reviewed by Betsy Gaines Quammen


Sue Jensen Weeks, How Desolate Our Home Bereft of Thee: James Tillman Sanford Allred and the Circleville Massacre

Philip R. VanderMeer, Burton Barr: Political Leadership and the Transformation of Arizona

Royce Allen and Gary Willden, Images of America: South Davis County

Robert M. Utley, ed., An Army Doctor on the Western Frontier: Journals and Letters of John Vance Lauderdale, 1864-1890

Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey, Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: A Nisei Youth behind a World War II Fence

David J. Howlett, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space

Daughters of Utah Pioneers, comp., Museum Memories, Vol. 6

2015 Utah State History Conference

Mark your calendars and please join us for a day of history sessions!

The 63rd Annual Utah State History Conference
Deep Roots, Many Voices;  Exploring Utah’s Multicultural Past

Friday, October 2, 2015
at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City.

RSVP for the annual conference now!

A detailed conference schedule will be posted in June.

Nominate a history hero


Utah Historical Quarterly Winter 2015

Volume 83, Number 1 (Winter Issue):

Utah’s history is more diverse than you think! Check out the Winter 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly to learn more about where Utah has been, and how we’ve come to where we are today. Join the Historical Society for your own copy .

Each issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly is accompanied with rich web supplements that introduce readers to sources, photos, interviews, and other engaging material. These “extras” are located at

WEB EXTRAS: See here 



Neither Poet nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah
By Robert E. Parson

Charcoal and Its Role in Utah Mining History
By Douglas H. Page Jr., Sarah E. Page, Thomas J. Straka, and Nathan D. Thomas

The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910
By Kathryn L. MacKay

Tooele, Touch Typing, and the Catholic Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque
By Emma Louise Penrod

Transformation of the Cathedral: An Interview with Gregory Glenn
By Gary Topping

Charcoal burners, “chocolate girls,” Catholic priests, and a champion typist: these are a few of the characters who populate this issue of UtahHistorical Quarterly. That contemporary historians consider such individuals worthy of study stems, in part, from the new social history of the 1960s and beyond. This school of thought challenged the “consensus” history that had emphasized common American values and character over ethnic, racial, and class distinctions. In the words of the historian Alice Kessler-Harris, the new social history documented “social relationships, social structure, everyday life, private life, social solidarities, social conflicts, social classes, and social groups.”[1] In short, over the years, it has provided a more complete view of the past.

S. George Ellsworth, the subject of our first article, was a leading practitioner of this “new” history. Ellsworth obtained graduate training under Herbert Eugene Bolton at the University of California– Berkeley and spent his entire career at Utah State University. A bibliophile, he made important contributions to bolstering USU’s collection of what he called Utahnalia. Unlike the better-known Leonard Arrington, with whom he shared an intimate but at times strained relationship, Ellsworth was not a prolific scholar. Detailed and thoughtful, he labored fifteen years on Utah’s Heritage, a seventh-grade history textbook. Robert Parson guides readers in an intimate introduction to a master teacher and gifted, if at time conflicted, scholar who merits broader recognition for his contributions to Utah history. The other articles in this issue reflect Ellsworth’s dedication to telling lesser-known stories.

With our second article, a team of foresters and archaeologists have set out to remind Utahns of the place of charcoal in their state’s mining history. For many reasons, charcoal was a preferred source of heat in smelting; it was, therefore, critical to the mining industry. From whence, then, did smelters obtain the charcoal they needed to operate? The authors of this article have answered this question by documenting the remains of charcoal production sites throughout the state, as well as sites in Colorado and Wyoming associated with Utah mining. They are careful, too, to remind readers of the devastation caused by the charcoal industry: in the lives of the poorly paid, poorly housed charcoal burners; for the Native Americans whose food source the industry decimated; and, not least, in the forests altered by heavy, careless logging.

The back cover of this issue features a commercial photograph of chocolate boxes from the J. G. McDonald Company. The message presented by these boxes is overwhelmingly one of beauty, elegance, and, above all, femininity. As our third article establishes, such a message belied the realities of life for the young women who worked at McDonald’s confectionery. In 1910, fourteen of those women formed a “Chocolate Dippers’ Union” and struck for higher wages. These women—all of whom were younger than twenty-five and all of whom lost their jobs—acted bravely and with few precedents close at hand. Though only the names of the Chocolate Dippers’ Union’s officers survive, that fragment of history provides a fascinating glimpse into their world: all five of the officers came from the homes of working-class English immigrants, converts to Mormonism.

The last two pieces in this issue remind us of Utah’s deep Catholic roots. Emma Louise Penrod probes into the naming of Tooele’s Saint Marguerite Catholic Church, skeptical that a church in a Utah town with almost no French roots derived its name from the French Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque. She was right. The Marguerite in question was in fact a young Irish American girl, the niece of Frank McGurrin—a celebrated typist who helped popularize the QWERTY keyboard and nurtured the Catholic Church in Tooele. The article segues into a discussion of ethnicity and religion in small mining towns, like those close to Tooele, and the odd connection of the Catholic parish to the origins of modern touch typing. The final piece features a delightful conversation between the historian Gary Topping and Gregory Glenn, the founder and director of the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City.

[1] Alice Kessler-Harris, “Social History,” in The New American History, ed. Eric Foner (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), 232.


David M. Wrobel, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire, and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression. Reviewed by Michael Homer

Claudine Chalmers, Chronicling the West for Harper’s: Coast to Coast with Frenzeny and Tavernier in 1873–1874. Reviewed by Noel A. Carmack

Samuel Holiday and Robert S. McPherson, Under the Eagle: Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker. Reviewed by Robert S. Voyles

Roger L. Nichols, Warrior Nations: The United States and Indian Peoples. Reviewed by Patricia Ann Owens

Norman Rosenblatt, Dance with the Bear: The Joe Rosenblatt Story. Reviewed by Allan Kent Powell

Merina Smith, Revelation, Resistance, and Mormon Polygamy: The Introduction and Implementation of the Principle, 1830–1853. Reviewed by Todd M. Compton


Mike Mackey, Protecting Wyoming’s Share: Frank Emerson and the Colorado River Compact

Aaron McArthur, St. Thomas, Nevada: A History Uncovered

Evelyn I. Funda, Weeds: A Farm Daughter’s Lament