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Category Archives: Programs 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










Carbon County


  • Family Day at the Museum
    Date & Time: May 2nd, 2015
    Location: Prehistoric Museum @ Utah State University Eastern, 155 E. Main Street, Price 84501
    For More Information (contact info):
    Sponsors/Organizers: The Prehistoric Museum thanks the Manti-La Sal National Forest and the Castle Valley Archaeological Society for helping to make this event possible
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:Free admission to the museum from 9-5, children’s activities from 10-2.


Davis County

Syracuse/Antelope Island State Park

  • Junior Ranger program: What did the Native American inhabitants of Antelope Island Eat? 
    Date & Time: May 2, at 1pm
    Location: Fielding Garr Ranch/Antelope Island State Park
    For More Information (contact info): Clay Shelley,
    Sponsors/Organizers: Antelope Island State Park
    Admission Cost: $10 per vehicle park entrance fee
    Event Description:  Come and join us for a fun filled experience learning about how Antelope Island’s Native peoples gathered food at 1:00pm at the historic Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island State Park. Though this informative Junior Ranger program is geared for ages 6-12 people of all ages are welcome. For more information call (801) 649-5742. or (




  • Rochester Petroglyph Site Rehabilitation 
    Date & Time: May 13, 9am to 3pm
    Location: The panel is located 3 miles east of Emery, Utah but is accessed via a graded road coming from a turnoff to the north, near the town of Moore. To get to the panel drive to the turnoff between mile markers 16 and 17 on highway 10 between the towns of Emery and Ferron. Take the paved road heading east to Moore for about half a mile. Turn south onto a well-graded road and drive for about 4 miles, passing a radio tower on the way. From the parking lot an obvious hiking trail of about a half mile leads along the side of a small canyon to the panel.
    For More Information (contact info): Amber Koski,, (435)636-3618
    Sponsors/Organizers: Bureau of Land Management
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  Located in the picturesque Molen Reef, the Rochester Petroglyph panel, also referred to as the “Newspaper Rock of Emery County” depicts rock images that span over a millennium. Volunteers will assist BLM staff, and students with trail and site stabilization. There will be time for conversation and questions after the event.




  • The Ruins of Recapture Canyon: How Ancient Native American Sites Have Entered Into Activist and Extremist Ideologies and Why That’s a Really Bad Thing 
    Date & Time: May 7th, at 6pm
    Location: Moab Information Center
    For More Information (contact info): Marty Thomas,
    Sponsors/Organizers: Moab Information Center, Montgomery Archaeological Consultants
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  Recapture Canyon, located just east of Blanding, Utah, houses hundreds of archaeological sites spanning several millennia of prehistoric and historic occupation.  Pueblos, granaries, small cliff dwellings, and rock art are close to several easily accessible routes into and within the canyon.  The spectacular cultural resources of the canyon have made it a popular attraction for locals’ and visitors’ recreational use for many years with very few problems. However, when unauthorized trail improvements were made and motorized access to the canyon closed indefinitely, Recapture Canyon became a symbol for various interest groups with land use ideologies at opposite ends of the political spectrum. In this presentation, we discuss the prehistory and history of Recapture Canyon and examine the implications of using cultural resources as leverage in the larger land management debate.



Cedar City

  • Archaeology Day at Frontier Homestead State Park
    Date & Time: May 2, 10am to 3pm
    Location: Frontier Homestead State Park, Cedar City, UT
    For More Information (contact info): Todd Prince,, (435)586-9290 or Samantha Kirkley,, (801) 318-9458
    Sponsors/Organizers: Frontier Homestead State Park
    Admission Cost: $1.50 per person
    Event Description:Frontier Homestead State Park welcomes archeologists young and old and their families to participate in its annual Archaeology Day on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in activities involving Native American games, history, crafts and skills, and visit with a variety of demonstrators. Bring your artifacts from home and “Ask an Archaeologist” to give you more information.  Boy Scouts can receive their Indian Lore merit badge. Archeology Day will take place from the hours of 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Cost per person is $1.50 per individual. (


Morgan County

Morgan/East Canyon State Park

  • History Lecture Series
    Date & Time: May 30th,  6-7pm
    Location: East Canyon State Park, North Pavilion
    For More Information (contact info): Chris Haramoto,
    Sponsors/Organizers: East Canyon State Park
    Admission Cost: TBD
    Event Description: Historic trails expert and historian Gar Elison will discuss the Hensley Account and the northern route that became the Salt Lake Cutoff in the 1800s. (


Salt Lake County

Salt Lake City

  • Archaeology and Preservation Month Open House
    Date & Time: May 2nd, 2015, Noon to 3pm
    Location: Salt Lake Community College, South City Campus 
    For More Information (contact info):
    Sponsors/Organizers: Utah Division of State History, and others TBD
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:Come down and enjoy a variety of archaeological and historic preservation activities for kids and adults.




  • Scandinavian Heritage Festival
    Date & Time: Friday and Saturday, May 22-23 (Memorial Day Weekend)
    Location: Center Street in Ephraim 
    For More Information (contact info): Greg Boothe,
    Sponsors/Organizers: Ephraim City
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:Celebrating the Scandinavian Heritage of ancestors that settled Sanpete County..

Spring City

  • Spring City Heritage Day
    Date & Time: Saturday, May 23, 10am-4pm (Memorial Day Weekend)
    Location: City Hall and the Old School
    For More Information (contact info): M’Lisa Paulson, (435) 462-3454
    Sponsors/Organizers: Friends of Historic Spring City
    Admission Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children
    Event Description: A tour of mid-19th Century Pioneer homes, food, fun, an antique auction, an art auction, and other interesting historical activities! Also, renowned architectural historian Tom Carter will be hosting a book signing event for his newest publication “Building ZIon”.



Sevier/Clear Creek Canyon

  • History and Archaeology of the Old Spanish Trail
    Date & Time: Saturday, May 2nd, 2-3pm 
    Location: Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, Sagebrush Gallery
    For More Information (contact info): Fremont Indian State Park, (435)527-4735
    Sponsors/Organizers: Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, Friends of Fremont Indian State Park
    Admission Cost: $6 park use fee only (includes access to museum and hiking trails)
    Event Description: Fishlake National Forest archaeologist Bob Leonard, will regale visitors with the history and archaeology of the Old Spanish Trail and the Fishlake Cutoff of the Old Spanish Trail, which figured prominently in the early exploration of the American West and Sevier County.

  • 25th Annual Rocky Mountain Fur Company’s Mountain Man Rendezvous
    Date & Time: May 15th (Friday) through 17th (Sunday), all day
    Location: Rendezvous Flats, Fremont Indian State Park
    For More Information (contact info): Fremont Indian State Park, (435)527-4735
    Sponsors/Organizers: Rocky Mountain Fur Company, Fremont Indian State Park, Friends of Fremont Indian State Park
    Admission Cost: Free for event, rest of State Park requires payment of $6 use fee
    Event Description: Get a taste of early 1800s fur trapping lifestyle! Highlighted events include candy cannon, musket shooting, tomahawk throwing, traders row (market),period demonstrations, and Atlatl competition. Event is family friendly!

  • Mysteries and Secrets of Clear Creek Canyon ATV Tour
    Date & Time: Saturday, May 30, 9am-2pm (approximately 5 hours)
    Location: Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
    For More Information (contact info): Don Merritt,, (435) 527-4735
    Sponsors/Organizers: Fremont Indian State Park & Museum, Friends of Fremont Indian State Park
    Admission Cost: $15/person, limit of 20 OHV Vehicles (First Come, First Serve)
    Event Description: Fremont Indian State Park Archaeologist and Museum Curator, Don Merritt, will lead a guided 11-mile long OHV/ATV Tour of the Canyon’s amazing rock art, archaeological sites, and historic homesteads. Participants will need to pack their own lunch to enjoy while they explore the State Park. Registration deadline if May 28th, and each of those registered participants will also receive a free gift!



Park City

  • Keeping Park City, Park City: Connecting Tourism Dollars to Authenticity of Place
    Date & Time: Monday May 18th, 530-830pm, Cocktails & Appetizers from 530-630pm, dinner at 7pm
    Location: High West Distillery’s Nelson Cottage; 651 Park Avenue
    For More Information (contact info): Anya Grahn, Historic Preservation Planner, Park City Municipal Corporation at
    Sponsors/Organizers: High West Distillery, Park City Municipal Corporation
    Admission Cost: $25/person and a cash bar
    Event Description:Learn about the challenges of preserving our Mining Era heritage as a worldclass ski resort! Presenters will discuss issues such as: influence of cultural tourism on historic preservation; challenges of preserving Mining Era structures; city’s role in preserving cultural icons; interpreting the stories of our built history; and a tour of the High West Distillery & Livery and Beggs House. Tickets are $25/person and include complimentary appetizers, buffet dinner, and dessert. Cash bar available for High West whiskey tastings, cocktails, beer or wine. This is an age 21 and older event. Purchase tickets online at:

  • Historic Main Street Walking Tour
    Date & Time: May 25th, 2:00pm
    Location: Park City Museum, 528 Main Street, Park City, UT 84060
    For More Information (contact info): Jenette Purdy, (435) 649-7457,
    Sponsors/Organizers: Park City Museum
    Admission Cost: $5/person
    Event Description:Put on your walking shoes and explore Park City’s Historic Main Street! Explore the architecture and stories of Park City’s unique history—from the days as a booming mine town to an emerging ski town. Please arrive 10 minutes early, wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water and wear sun protection. The tour lasts about one hour and fifteen minutes.




  • Public Tour of Danger Cave
    Date & Time: Saturday May 9th
    Location: East Wendover, UT 
    For More Information (contact info): Justina Parsons-Bernstein,
    Sponsors/Organizers: Utah State Parks
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  In conjunction with Archaeology and Heritage Month, Utah State Parks will be holding its annual public tour of Danger Cave on Saturday May 9th, 2015. Danger Cave is one of the most important archaeological sites in the United States. Utah State Parks staff and associated archaeologists will discuss the history of the cave while they conduct the tour.Space is limited for this annual tour and reservations will be on a first emailed/first included basis. IMPORTANT–Please Note–this tour involves some very steep and rugged hiking. Reserve a spot by emailing Utah State Parks Heritage Resources Coordinator Justina Parsons-Bernstein at with “Danger Cave Tour” in the subject line.


  • Historic Tooele County in Photos
    Date & Time: Every Day in May, All Day
    Location: Utah State University Tooele Campus
    For More Information (contact info): Julie Hartley ( or Dani Sloan
    Sponsors/Organizers: Utah State University
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  The Utah State University Tooele Campus plans to help celebrate Utah Archeology and Historic Preservation Month in May by mounting an exhibit of historic photographs of Tooele County.  The photographs were culled from the State Archives by history professor Ted Moore of Salt Lake Community College and will be accompanied by explanatory text. (



Spanish Fork

  • History Hunter at DUP Museum
    Date & Time: Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday 10:30 – 1:30 and Saturday 1  – 4.
    Location: Spanish Fork DUP Museum, 398 N. Main 
    For More Information (contact info): Lana Creer-Harris Director, (801)360-0117 
    Sponsors/Organizers: South Center Company, Daughters Utah Pioneers Museum
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum in cooperation with Play Unplugged will sponsor a History Hunter activity for children. Play Unplugged is a program dedicated to getting children out of the house and involved in their community. Children receive a free Play Unplugged lanyard and activity book at school. They choose activities from the book and after completing them receive badges to hang on the lanyard. DUP museum docents will hand out the History Hunter checklists and review them for accuracy and completion and award the child their History Hunter badge.Children are invited to: “Hunt down artifacts at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum: pick up a check list and seek the antiques on it. Return completed checklist with correct answers and receive your Brag Badge.” (


  • Tour of Hinckley Mounds Site
    Date & Time: Wednesday, May 27 (all day)
    Location: Hinckley Mounds, just east of Provo Airport
    For More Information (contact info): The Museum of Peoples and Cultures, (801) 422-0022
    Sponsors/Organizers: Brigham Young University, Department of Anthropology
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description: The BYU Department of Anthropology will be excavating the Hinckley Mounds, a site occupied by the Fremont Indians almost 1000 years ago, which is located in west Provo. The dig will be led by Dr. Michael Searcy (BYU) and Dr. David Yoder (UVU) where students will be trained in excavation techniques. We will be leading tours all day to showcase the progress of the excavation and what we’ve found.



Santa Clara

  • Swiss Paper Cutting at Santa Clara City Hall with Randell McGee
    Date & Time: May 17th, 7pm.
    Location: Santa Clara City Hall, Santa Clara Dr.  
    For More Information (contact info): Susie Nilsson, (435) 668-7285 
    Sponsors/Organizers: Santa Clara City
    Admission Cost: Free
    Event Description:  Early Swiss settlers of Santa Clara brought with them the art of paper cutting from the old country. Join us for paper cutting and storytelling with Randell McGee at the Santa Clara City Hall. (




  • Union Station Heritage Festival
    Date & Time: Saturday May 9th, 10am to 5pm
    Location: Ogden’s Union Station: 2501 Wall Ave. Ogden, UT 84401 
    For More Information (contact info):  (801)393-9890, 
    Sponsors/Organizers: The Union Station Foundation
    Admission Cost: Regular Museum Admission: Child 3-12=$3, Students with ID=$4, Adult 18-61= $5, Senior 62+= $4, Family Day Pass (up to 2 adults and 8 children)= $15, Museum Members= FREE
    Event Description:  This one day event celebrates Utah Heritage. Activities Include:    (1) A mock archaeology dig in collaboration with Weber State University Anthropology, (2) A rock art painting activity sponsored by Hill Air Force Base Cultural Resources, (3)”Memories of Union Station” area where people can record their stories of the Union Station and the Union Station Archives can scan historical items such as family photos, letters, and other documents that the public would like to contribute to the archives, (4)Classic Car pinewood derby in conjunction with our Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum, (5) The grand opening of the “Working on the Railroad Children’s Discovery Zone” in the Utah State Railroad Museum, (6) Train Rides, (7) Performances by a local Folkloric Dancing Group, (8) and other heritage activities to be added when confirmed with our community partners.

Gallery of Female Imagery in Advertisements

In Kathryn McKay’s “The Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910,” published in the winter 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly, readers see candy boxes and store front windows depicting women and girls dressed in fashionable clothing—all in an attempt to sell chocolate manufactured by the J. G. McDonald Company. These advertisements reflect the emergence of a highly consumptive society and the homogenization of mass culture that sought to cater to female consumers—many of whom had recently entered the work force as wage laborers—and to use female images to sell clothes, appliances, and other products. The following is a sampling of photos at the Utah State Historical Society that represent women and gender in advertisements during the first half of the twentieth century.




Auerbach & Bro. originated with Samuel H. Auerbach, who shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City in 1859 set up “The People’s Store” on Main Street. Eventually, after several relocations, the company settled down in a building on State and Broadway.


Auerbach Bros., Sept. 25, 1908

Auerbach Bros. storefront window display, September 25, 1908




Arthur Frank established a clothing store at Midvale, one of a number of well-established Jewish stores and businesses in Utah in the early twentieth century.



Bonnie Lee Shoppe, located at 53 East and 300 South in Salt Lake City.



Utah Power & Light, established in 1912 as a subsidiary of a larger holding company in New York, consolidated a number of small companies to become the largest electric power provider in Utah. Utah Power & Light worked to interconnect all its companies into an integrated system. By the ?, when these advertisements appeared, electric power was widely available to homes and businesses along the Wasatch Front and elsewhere throughout the state. In advertisements often depicting domestic scenes and the time-saving use of household appliances, the company sought to “promote the sale of electricity,” in the words of the historian John S. McCormick. (“The Beginning of Modern Electric Power Service in Utah, 1912–22,” Utah Historical Quarterly 56 [Winter 1988]: 5–22.)


Utah Power & Light Company advertisement



An advertisement in the Utah Farmer journal, depicting two men and a “farmer’s wife” listening to a political candidate through the medium of radio. By 1925, when this ad appeared, women had finally won the vote.



Audio Recording: “Sounds of the Cathedral”


Gary Topping’s interview with Gregory Glenn, published in winter 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly, highlights the founding of the Madeleine Choir School. This school has offered academic and music instruction to children since 1996. Choristers from the school are also members of the Choir of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which has produced good music for many years.

The Archives of the Catholic Church in Utah recently donated to the Utah Division of State History’s research library a copy of “Sounds of the Cathedral (featuring the Cathedral Choir),” a vinyl LP released in 1960 featuring religious songs of the Choir of the Cathedral. Thanks to the work of Doug Misner of the Utah Division of State History and Tony Castro of the Utah State Archives, we have a digital recording of the album for your enjoyment.


UHQ Interviews: Utah Historiography

Conversation with Gary Topping on Utah Historiography

How have Utah historians plied ttopping-utah-historiographyheir craft over the years? Why don’t historians agree about the past and its meaning? Are historians—and the books they write—products of their times? We met with Gary Topping, author of Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History, among other works, to begin to answer some of these questions. This free-ranging conversation introduces us to the work of Utah historians over the years, beginning with Bancroft and continuing through modern practitioners. Topping entertains us, in a way perhaps only he can, with his reflections on the historian’s quest to tell the story of Utah’s past. We make available the audio and a transcript of the conversation.




S. George Ellsworth: Interview with Robert Parson

EllsworthIn a visit to Utah State University, where Ellsworth taught for many years, we sat down with Robert Parson to discuss Ellsworth and his place among Utah historians. Parson is the author of “Neither Poet nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah,” published in the winter 2015 UHQ. Readers will benefit from Parson’s deep knowledge of Ellsworth’s life and his approach to history. Here we present the text of our conversation.






Accompanying Documents

Ellsworth, “Utah History: Retrospect and Prospect,” Utah Historical Quarterly (Winter 1972).

  • Our conversations with Topping and Parson reference this article, which Ellsworth wrote at the invitation of UHQ editors to assess the state of the field. (After clicking the link above, be sure to select the title of the article in the left-column menu.)

Ellsworth to Dr. Wynne Thorne, 1956, 1961.

  • These letters, located in the S. George Ellsworth Papers at the Utah State University, describe Ellsworth’s progress of his work on a textbook for grade students on Utah history—a project that took him fifteen years to bring to publication.

Excerpt from the diary of Leonard Arrington

  • Located in the Leonard J. Arrington Papers at USU, this diary entry details the founding of the Western Historical Quarterly. Arrington and Ellsworth served as editor and managing editor, respectively.

Ellsworth memorium.

  • At Ellsworth’s passing in December 1997, his longtime associate and friend Everett Cooley remarked that there “has been no greater devotion to history than that displayed by the life of S. George Ellsworth.”

Gallery of Charcoal Kilns

Text and Photos by Douglas H. Page Jr.

While charcoal production technology is estimated to be anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 years old, charcoal produced in “beehive” shaped kilns is a nineteenth-century invention. The parabolic dome design was introduced in 1868 by James C. Cameron in Michigan and quickly became the industry standard. Most Utah kiln sets are of the parabolic dome design. A few sets are the more simple conical design. Both designs are often referred to as “beehive” kilns.

The earliest record of charcoal kiln construction in Utah is at Rush Lake in Tooele County in 1869, while the latest construction of a kiln set in Utah—in Carbon County’s Spring Glen—dates to 1890. Many charcoal kilns continued to produce charcoal into the early twentieth century until the use of charcoal was replaced with coal. Here former forester Doug Page provides photos and captions of kiln sites around the state (and one in Wyoming).

Gold Hill

Gold Hill

On the north end of the Deep Creek Mountains at Gold Hill were once two charcoal kilns with stone bases and ceramic tops. These kilns were unique to Utah due to the ceramic construction material. Only a few kilns anywhere in the United States were constructed using ceramic materials. Few specifics are known about these, except that they were in operation in the 1890s, presumably producing charcoal for the smelter at Gold Hill. This photo, taken by Nell Murbarger and published in her article “Charcoal: The West’s Forgotten Industry” in the June 1956 edition of Desert Magazine, shows the tops still largely intact. Today only one kiln has any ceramic remaining and most of the stone bases of both kilns are gone. Wood harvested for these kilns would have been pinyon pine and juniper.


interior of north kiln

The Gold Hill kilns are located on State Trust Land several hundred feet northwest of the main intersection in the town of Gold Hill. This photo was taken in September 2013 and shows a close-up of the interior of the more intact kiln. The ceramic top and the stone base can be seen. There is also a small lime kiln on the site just downhill (north) of the charcoal kilns.


American Fork Canyon

Forest City

Forest City was the site of fifteen of the twenty-five charcoal kilns built in American Fork Canyon. It was located on U.S. Forest Service land, at the junction of American Fork and Shaffer Fork, 3.5 miles northeast of Tibble Fork Reservoir (where the other ten kilns were located) and eleven miles northeast of the communities of Alpine and Highland. The twenty-five kilns operated from 1872 to 1877, supplying charcoal to the American Fork Canyon and Salt Lake Valley smelters. All that is left now are fifteen piles of rubble at the Forest City site. The remains are quite difficult to see now because of lush forest vegetation. Wood harvested for the kilns would have been Douglas-fir, aspen, spruce, and subalpine fir. Photo taken June 2013.


Spanish Fork Canyon


M&M ca1890-2014 (2)

This paired photo set shows the location of the McCoy and McAllister (M&M) charcoal kilns (Spanish Fork Canyon) in about 1890 (top) and in 2013 (bottom). No evidence remains today of the ten kilns that once occupied this site. A four-lane highway now runs where the kilns once sat. The 1890 photo has some wonderful detail. Workers can be seen in various locations around the nine standing kilns and the one collapsed kiln. The kiln doors are all sealed with props holding the doors shut. What appears to be a bucket of whitewash sits on the rear loading ramp between kilns four and five (counting from the left). Whitewash was used to seal small cracks in the kilns before firing, thus allowing better control of the burn rate. These kilns appear to have had the exterior whitewashed, where at other sites around the state, the interiors were treated. Behind the stacks of wood are the outlines of men working at the site. Photo credits: ca. 1890 by George Edward Anderson; 2013 by Douglas H. Page Jr.



Piedmont, Wyoming

Piedmont, Wyo

Piedmont, Wyoming, was the site of five charcoal kilns built in 1869 and operated until the early twentieth century. The Piedmont site is now maintained and interpreted by Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources. The kilns produced charcoal for Salt Lake City smelters from wood harvested from Utah’s Uinta Mountains. Wood harvested for the kilns would have been lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce, and fir. Wood was delivered to the kilns via sled in winter and, undoubtedly, via rail from Hilliard some 11.5 miles southwest of Piedmont. The thirty-six-mile long Hilliard Flume delivered wood from the mountains for railroad ties and for charcoal production to twenty-nine kilns at Hilliard. It is located in Piedmont—now a ghost town—along the original line of the Union Pacific Railroad (now County Road 173), eighteen miles east-southeast of Evanston (twenty-six driving miles). Piedmont is famous for delaying the train carrying Thomas Durant (vice president of the Union Pacific) to the Golden Spike ceremony until workers received their back-pay from the railroad. The ceremony was scheduled for May 7, 1869, but took place on May 10, 1869, due to the delay. Photo taken April 2013.





The photos that follow are of a number of kiln sets that all supplied charcoal to the Frisco Smelter. We know of eleven sets of kilns (with forty-one kilns) associated with the smelter. There were many more pit kiln sites, but the location is known for only some. The eleven kiln sets are scattered throughout the San Francisco Mountains, primarily on the east side, with two sites located on the east side of the Wah Wah Mountains. Development of the Frisco charcoal industry began in 1877 shortly after discovery of silver at Frisco, and operations continued until 1885, ending after the Horn Silver Mine collapsed and the smelter closed. Each set of kilns was independently owned and operated, with the exception of the five kilns at Frisco that were owned and operated by the mining company.

Kiln sets were spaced far enough apart so that conflicts between operators were minimized. Wood harvest was typically done within an irregular one-mile radius of the kiln site, depending on topography, accessibility, and availability. Wood harvested for the Frisco Smelter was pinyon pine and juniper. Some ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir were also harvested from the local area, used primarily for buildings and structural material.


The five Frisco Kilns are located on private land at the old Frisco town site just north of Highway 21, about fourteen miles northwest of Milford. These kilns are the best-known of the eleven “Frisco” charcoal kiln sets. The Frisco Smelter site is adjacent, but little is left of it. Judging by the residue on the inside of these kilns, they may have been used for both charcoal production and later for producing coke (a product of coal) when coal became available. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers maintain a 1961 interpretive sign containing a short history of Frisco along Highway 21, within view of the kilns. Photo taken March, 2013.


Carbonate Gulch

Carbonate Gulch Kilns, viewed from the north-northeast, February 2014. Built primarily to supply charcoal for the smelter at Frisco (2.1 miles to the south-southwest), two pairs of kilns can be found on BLM land in Carbonate Gulch. The larger pair can be clearly seen in the sagebrush opening; the smaller pair are somewhat hidden some 260 feet to the right (northwest) of the larger and against a small hill in a side drainage. Kilns were often built against hillsides to facilitate loading through the upper doorway, avoiding the need for large ramps. On this site, cutting went one mile west but only 0.1 miles to the east. Slope and unavailability of suitable wood limited the eastern wood harvest and transport. Old harvest roads can still be found in the area.


South larger kiln doorway

Carbonate Gulch Kilns, July 2013. Close-up of the front doorway of one of the larger pair. The kilns were built primarily out of native stone and the doorways of the larger pair were lined with brick. The smoother surface of the brick would have made it easier to seal the door during combustion.


pit kiln

The Carbonate West site is in the head of a small un-named drainage 1.4 miles southeast of the Carbonate Gulch kilns and 1.2 miles northeast of the Frisco kilns. Charcoal from this site would have gone to the Frisco smelter. The site contains the foundations of two kilns, an unidentified straight stone wall/trench with creosote char, and three pit kiln sites. This photo shows one of the pit kiln sites in July 2013. Pit kilns are sometimes associated with constructed charcoal kilns. While they did not produce as high a quality of charcoal, they could be constructed quickly, which may have allowed for the kiln operators to rapidly respond to increased demand for charcoal. The Carbonate West site is not mapped on current USGS topographic maps, unlike most Frisco kiln locations that are.


Copper Gulch

Copper Gulch contains two sets of kilns that were part of the Frisco kilns, supplying charcoal to the smelter at Frisco. Both are on privately owned land behind a locked gate. These are the only known kiln sets on the west slopes of the San Francisco Mountains. This August 2013 photo is of the interior of the one intact kiln and shows the whitewash coating that was being applied over the creosote residue prior to the next burn. That burn never occurred. What appears to be a shadow on the top is not: it is where whitewash had not been applied. Whitewash had been applied below five feet but not yet applied above that. Whitewash coating was used to seal small cracks in the walls so that the rate of burn could be controlled. The Copper Gulch kilns are 2.6 miles northwest of Frisco and 2.1 miles west of Carbonate Gulch. Unlike most Frisco kiln locations that are identified on current USGS topographic maps, the kilns in Copper Gulch are not mapped.


Three Kilns Spring

Three kilns were constructed on a small piece of private land at Three Kilns Spring 8.3 miles northeast of Frisco. Charcoal from this site went primarily to the Frisco smelter. The kilns are located on the eastern edge of the pinyon-juniper woodland, thus wood harvest activities would have been primarily to the north, west, and south of the site. The County Line site, with four kilns, is located 2.25 miles to the west-northwest, and the Sawmill North (Seven Kilns) site is located three miles to the southwest. It is likely that pit kiln sites may be found in between these sites. Photo was taken in September 2011.


Three Kilns Spring

Close-up of one of the kilns at Three Kilns Spring showing both the front and rear doorways. These kilns were built of native stone. After the charcoal production era, one of the kilns was used as a line-shack for livestock and was fitted with a wooden roof and wooden door. Photo was taken in September 2011.


Sawmill North (7 Kilns)

Sawmill North is the best-preserved kiln site in Utah and the most intact of the eleven Frisco kiln sites, with six of the seven kilns virtually intact. The BLM is formulating plans to stabilize and interpret the site. It appears that the top of third kiln, pictured, collapsed during its last use as the stones fell outward and the debris inside consists primarily of a large pile of wood ash with some charcoal and partially burned wood. The site also has the foundations of several stone structures, a lime kiln, and a water well. It is located on BLM land in an unnamed canyon about one mile north of Sawmill Canyon and 5.9 miles northeast of Frisco. Pit kiln sites have been located north, east, and south of this site, all approximately one mile from the site. Photo taken March 2012; the Mineral Mountains, east of Milford, can be seen in the background.


Sawmill North (7 Kilns)

Looking upward inside one of the kilns at the Sawmill North site it can be seen that the top vent was left sealed after the last use. The loosely stacked rocks at the top would have been removed during loading and firing operations then replaced during burning to control the burn. Photo taken March 2012.


Lamerdorf Canyon

The Lamerdorf Canyon site is the most distant of the Frisco kiln sets and is located on BLM land in the Wah Wah Mountains, 18.5 miles to the southwest of Frisco. (Using today’s roads the driving distance is twenty-five miles to the smelter.) This interior photo shows the front door and two rows of vents. The door would have been sealed for firing the load and the vents were used to regulate the burn. Pieces of wood, rock, or brick might have been wedged into the vents to dampen the fire and prevent the burn from becoming too hot. If the fire became too hot, only worthless ash would have been produced instead of charcoal. Photo taken March 2012.



lime kiln

Remains of a lime kiln at the Lamerdorf Canyon site. This lime kiln was approximately eight feet in diameter and eight feet high (inside) and was used to produce lime for mortar used for construction and maintenance of the charcoal kilns. It is common to find a lime kiln at charcoal kiln sites. The glazed coating is characteristic of lime kilns and the color is given by trace minerals in the limestone used, in this case copper. Photo taken March 2012.



Kiln Spring

Kiln Spring site is located on a small parcel of private land in the Wah Wah Mountains, 14.5 miles southwest of Frisco and 6.5 miles north-northeast of the Lamerdorf Canyon site. There were five, small conical-shaped kilns built at Kiln Spring. The kilns here were generally smaller and the construction method was not as refined as at other Frisco kiln sets where Cameron’s parabolic dome design was used. Charcoal went to the Frisco smelter. The San Francisco Mountains (location of nine of the eleven Frisco kiln sets) can be seen in the background. Photo taken April 2012.














Utah Historical Quarterly Current Issue

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

S. George Ellsworth: Interview with Robert Parson

Editors’ Note: The following is a transcript of our interview with Bob Parson, author of the anchor article in the fall 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly. The conversation elaborates on themes addressed in the article, in particular Ellsworth’s career and legacy.

Jedediah Rogers: Welcome to another edition of the Utah Historical Quarterly author’s conversations. My name is Jedediah Rogers. I am one of the managing editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly and I’m really pleased today to be joined by Robert Parson. He is University Archivist at Utah State University. His most recent piece of scholarship is published in the winter 2015 issue of the Quarterly entitled “Neither Poet nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah.” And today I’m sitting down with Robert in Special Collections at Utah State University, and we just want to have a conversation about Ellsworth and his place among Utah historians. First I’d like to hear a little bit about you and your career, and then maybe talk to us about how you got started on this particular research project.

Robert Parson: Okay, thank you, Jed. Call me Bob.Everybody does. Well, I became interested in Ellsworth mostly from the standpoint of the history of this institution and as university archivist.That’s really what my research interests are and my emphasis is, and Ellsworth played a very key role in a lot of things that developed at this institution from 1954 when he got here as a junior faculty member in history until his retirement in, I think, about 1983 or ’84. And he was an integral part of not just the history department but of the library.And so as I research more about his place within that mix I’ve come to really appreciate his contribution building collections—to not necessarily use those collections for his own purposes but to build collections for the benefit of students who would study Utah history.

JR: So, if we may, why don’t we start by characterizing Ellsworth’s legacy as a Utah historian?Where does he fit in among his contemporaries, historians before and since?And maybe begin with this.Why is Ellsworth not very well known as a Utah historian even among historians but certainly among the general public?

RP: Well he did not publish very much in comparison to a lot of other historians whose major contribution was research and writing.I think George’s major publications took place after his retirement. There were things that he worked on for thirty years, but he was a perfectionist and he was a very busy man.He taught a lot of classes.So the consequence I think was he was not as well known as his contemporaries.The obvious one here is Leonard Arrington who wrote dozens and dozens of articles and collaborative books. George was not a collaborator.So I think that’s one reason why he is not as well known. I think he’s very well respected amongst his peers of that time period.He was very well respected.

JR: What would you say is his major legacy or contribution to our state’s history?

RP: Well I think he’s one of those individuals that came along at about the same time period. I won’t say all of them, but a lot of them came out of that Berkeley tradition and were trained at Berkeley. I’m thinking of Everett Cooley for one, George Ellsworth, Richard Poll. History departments by and large at that time were primarily teaching departments.And Ellsworth began at a time at this institution when history departments began to look more into research. The institution began to put modest sums of money into research, into the social sciences and humanities.Before that time at this institution it was a land grant institution and all of the research dollars went towards agriculture. So they had a lot of research funds coming into experiment stations and some were for federal collaborative projects. There was really no money that went into to do social science research and  Ellsworth and Arrington really got that rolling in the 1950s and convinced the institution to begin to put research dollars in. That’s where Ellsworth’s original idea for the book Utah’s Heritage comes from—that modest sum of money that the institution put in to help him with [the textbook]. And so I think that’s really kind of the beginning of where history faculty get a lot of opportunity to do something more than just teach.

The other contribution that he made was in collections.He brought a lot of collections into this library.He begins to go out and to gather things, a lot of microfilm projects and things like that, that really were the beginnings of what we would call today Special Collections. The same thing might could be said about Everett Cooley.He did the same thing at the Historical Society first, but later at the University of Utah.

JR: Well I think we want to touch on each of those contributions in our short conversation.Why don’t we start with Ellsworth’s affinity for bibliography or collecting materials?And my understanding is that he developed a real interest in this perhaps during his graduate student days at Berkeley where he was diving into some of the collections that they had and some of the rich collections that Bancroft had collected in the late nineteenth century pertaining to Utah. Maybe talk to us a little bit about his time at Berkeley and then what skillset he brought to Utah State University and how he began to build up the collections at this institution.

RP: Well his mantra was “no documents, no history.”And I presume that when he got to Berkeley he saw a wealth of primary sources that he really never encountered before and came to understand that a lot of those had not been mined very deeply. Bancroft’s collections were put together to do the book in the 1890s and, of course, that’s the topic of a couple of UHQ articles that [Ellsworth] wrote. And beyond that his affinity for bibliography I think goes to teaching.He puts things together.You make them known. You make them accessible and then you have the opportunity for students to look at these things. At this institution that’s really the beginning of most of the graduate work in history is from Ellsworth’s writing given one or two but Ellsworth chaired a lot of graduate students and directed students towards Utah topics. There are a lot of them that he had gathered from Bancroft and from sources.

JR: What would you say are some of the richest, most interesting materials that he gathered there and are now housed in special collections?

RP: Well, interestingly a lot of those things still haven’t been mined very deeply, but from my perspective the local history stuff that he gathered during the publication of the old History of the Valley book is absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, it’s in a medium now that is not very popular—microfilm.

JR: Microfilm.

RP: Right.And it was a microfilm project that was done in house, so some of it is not that well done.So it makes it difficult to use the other things that are fairly widely available now or things that he convinced the institution to purchase from the Library of Congress or from the National Archives. And I’m always amazed to look at those records that still are not looked at very deeply because they’re hard.It’s difficult research work to look through hours and hours of microfilm, but they’re some of the richest sources.That’s not to discount sources in Ellsworth’s collection itself that came in in the late 1990s.There’s a lot of great stuff there.

JR: In your article in the UHQ, you have a delightful little section where you talk about visiting his second home where much of his material would be housed and noticing that the work area looked chaotic with piles of papers and bundles of notecards everywhere.

RP: Not unlike this table right here.

JR: Not unlike this.Maybe that’s standard for most archivists and historians.

RP: Yeah, yeah.You know, I recognized what was going on at that table immediately when I walked in.And historians’ offices are not particularly tidy most of the time, because they’ve got a lot of things that they’re working on.

JR: You write that he rarely threw anything away.No document was dispensable, no scrap or bit of information was unessential.Both the weighty and the trivial, the eminent and ephemeral—all had significance in documenting the past.” Talk to us about that. Why do you think that was? Was that just a quirk of his personality that he kept every little scrap of information that came his way, or does that reveal his broader approach to doing history?

RP: I think it reveals his bent toward archives. That’s the thing we struggle with the most in the profession—the weeding process.What do you discard?You could have rough guidelines, but it comes down to really the instinct and just making a judgment call and sometimes that judgment call is wrong. You might think something is not worth the effort to keep and come to find out later on that it was.Ellsworth I think skirted that problem by simply not throwing anything away. And it’s in hindsight now the stuff that he kept from committee meetings and from little clubs and things that he was involved with on campus is absolute gold because nobody keeps that kind of stuff. It’s so ordinary, but he did.He kept it all and so the documents are a little niche of the university’s history that otherwise would be lost. So I’m glad he did keep all that stuff.But I think what it does say is that he had an appreciation for documents—and not just how he might use those documents, but how the documents would pass on for somebody else’s interest or for the institution’s necessity to maintain its memory.

JR: Did he also have a role in organizing the materials that he gathered and collected, or did he simply turn them over to other archivists like you?

RP: Well, like I said at the beginning I did not know George until towards the end of his life.I wish I would have.I wish I would have had classes from him.By the time he finally decided to relinquish these materials, he was probably beyond the point of being able to organize them himself. They were well organized to begin with.Now if George would have turned these over ten or fifteen years before, he would have probably been the one that organized his collection.Whether he would have ever got it done in the ten or fifteen years he had left in life is another story. But he was very focused on the arrangement, the organization, and he did have a lot of suggestions as we took stuff out of his second home and brought it up here.He definitely had some suggestions as to how he wanted things organized.

JR: Yeah.Well speaking of ten or fifteen years, his major contribution or one of his major contributions was writing the seventh-grade history of Utah textbook.But for whatever reason—and maybe you can talk to us a little bit about that—it took him so long to complete this project. You mentioned earlier that above all he was a teacher, and so it seems natural that he would write an official school textbook in Utah history. But maybe talk to us a little bit about how he came to that project and why it took him so long to write.

RP: Well his intention was to write [a high school] freshman history text and his hope was to simultaneously write a text that could be used for college level—in other words, dumb it down just enough for ninth graders.And the curriculum committee made the decision to keep Utah history in the seventh grade.That was, I think, a huge blow to his plans, because seventh graders were simply not able to—he couldn’t take the text he had envisioned as a college text and simplify that down to the level of a seventh grader.He found it excruciatingly hard. And so over the years that he worked on that, I think what Ellsworth finally decided was to start to just write a book for seventh-grade level students, and not to try to write the college-level text simultaneously. . . . He was methodical and some may say plodding in his writing, and so it took him a long time to finish it.

JR: Yeah that textbook was published in 1972.Is that correct?

RP: Yes. Interestingly one of the comments that a lot of the teachers made about Utah’s Heritage was that it was still over the head of most seventh graders. They all loved the book, its layout and everything. They hated the binding because it fell apart. But a lot of them felt thought it was still too advanced for seventh graders.

JR: I’ve heard that and I heard that a slightly revised edition published in the mid-1980s was a simplified version of the original ’72 text. Is that correct?

RP: I think they tried to simplify it as much as they could, but he was always very responsive to comments and teachers and went out of his way both he and his publisher to have the books evaluated by social studies teachers.

JR: Can you comment at all on how Ellsworth’s school text compares to other textbooks?

RP: I’m not too familiar with them.I know Ellsworth did not think that they were adequate and so that was his pitch to the office of research here on campus, that there needed to be another book.Most teachers thought so. As I mentioned in the article, he took a lot of direction from Ward Roylance’s, I think, master’s thesis that he wrote at the University of Utah. And he came to the conclusion that teachers needed a new history textbook.

JR: Yeah, yeah.Okay.So in 1972 at the time of the textbook’s publication or around that same time Ellsworth became editor of the Western Historical Quarterly. Can you walk us through that process?How was it that Ellsworth was involved in the process of bringing the Western Historical Quarterly to Logan, Utah—to Utah State University?

RP: Well, I think there was a proposal sent out by the Western History Association looking for a home for the Quarterly and Ellsworth and Leonard Arrington and others on campus were involved in that.Ellsworth took the lead.There was no question about that.And I think this begins in about 1968. And at the time the Chase administration was nearing the end of its tenure here and they were not very receptive to the idea.And so when the new administration comes in of Glen Taggert, they pitch again to Taggert and to Garth Hansen, the provost, and they’re more receptive and agree to support the Quarterly with office space and staff and also to give Ellsworth and Arrington release time from their teaching responsibilities to be editor and coeditor. I think Ellsworth always recognized that he was not as well known as Leonard because he had published so much (even though [Arrington] was not a historian per se—he was an economist—but he had published widely on the economic history in the Mountain West and Utah.) And so he was better known, so Leonard became the editor first until he left [to become LDS Church Historian], and then George moved into that slot.

JR: So by 1969 it was approved that the Quarterly would be housed here in Logan and for several years Arrington was head editor with Ellsworth as associate editor and then he became—

RP: And then he became coeditor.I don’t know exactly how that worked but he was associate editor. But George was really a workaholic.I mean there’s no question about that, and he did the bulk of the work in the Quarterly, the editing and everything.If you go back and look at his papers, you’ll see he was a draftsman as well.And so he was very—I mean he designed the cover, what it would look like and the lettering and I mean he had it all planned out.Planning was his thing. And he kept all that stuff by the way.Every little note that he took on the founding of the Quarterly—he kept all of that stuff.

JR: Interesting.Maybe you can talk to us a little bit about—what I find really interesting in your article and with speaking with others about Ellsworth and reading Leonard Arrington’s autobiography, as well as the biography written by Gary Topping, is this kind of very collegial yet strained relationship between the two men, Ellsworth and Arrington. Of course, they worked together on the Western Historical Quarterly.Can you talk to us a little bit how the two men’s approach to history deferred and maybe coincided?I mean, how did Ellsworth’s approach to scholarship and publishing differ from Arrington’s, for example?

RP: Oh, 359 degrees.George had particular things that he laid claim to and things that he worked on from the time he got here until they were eventually published sometime between about 1987 until his death.The Addison Pratt stuff, Samuel Claridge stuff and not to discount Leonard at all, but Leonard was more scatter gun in his approach to what he researched and wrote and put his name on. And he was also very much involved in getting little chunks of money here and there and putting students to work on projects and usually Leonard’s name went on finished products, along with the student’s name. He was always giving credit where it was due, but he was always out there.He referred to himself as an entrepreneurial historian. Leonard did. He was always out there looking for little projects that he could do and he could put students to work on.He was just very active like that. George, on the other hand, was a loner.That’s how he did [his work].As far as I know, until later on, he did not collaborate much with anyone on his projects.

JR: You provided me a copy of Leonard Arrington’s diary dated March 22, 1973, and in it he talks about sort of the establishing of the WHQ at USU, and he mentions that Arrington was instrumental in helping Ellsworth become full editor of the Quarterly. But Arrington writes that in that change of editorship the only thing that “stung as far as I was concerned was George’s refusal to have me listed as a member of the Board of Editors of the Western Historical Quarterly. Why do you think that was?

RP: That whole episode with the Quarterly’s founding, with Leonard’s selection to be [LDS] Church Historian,I think it fractured the relationship between the two men.I can find no evidence that George ever said anything [about it]. But I think if you read that, you can get the idea that there was an estrangement there at that point in time between the two men. And before that, like you said, they were very close colleagues, and I think that Leonard acknowledges that George really helped him understand the difference between an economist and a historian.

JR: But you feel that that relationship was strained when Arrington was appointed as Church Historian.

RP: I don’t think Ellsworth held that against Leonard at all.I think he was happy for his friend. . . . Like I said, George never said much, you know, or at least he didn’t leave any paper trail. But I think if you look at what went on there [at the editorial office of WHQ], most of the work was done by George and most of the credit was given to Leonard.And so that strained the relationship.

JR: Interesting.You mention in your article this 1972 article published in the Utah Historical Quarterly in which Ellsworth sort of scans and surveys Utah historiography, Utah history. In it, he makes a couple of interesting comments and then talks about what yet needs to be done in the field.And one thing that I found really interesting that Ellsworth does is he decried scholars who rushed to publication, that present half-baked ideas and presents “his one idea in two or three forms and palms those variations off to editors.” Maybe he’s speaking of Arrington there?

RP: Well he could be speaking of two or three of his contemporaries there. But I wouldn’t want to speculate.

JR: Sure.But, you know, what he really seems to be doing in his article is calling for more contemplative, definitive productions. I mean, you’ve sort of mentioned that Ellsworth himself was sort of a perfectionist of sorts. What do you make of that comment of his comment in his article particularly in light of Ellsworth’s reputation as a careful but not particularly productive scholar?

RP: Well I think you could read it two ways.One is that he viewed some of his contemporary’s publications as less than contemplative.The other thing is maybe it’s apologetic for himself not being as productive as he should have been, because he was being careful and making sure everything was right before things were published. I don’t know.It’s hard to speculate, but I think there is some room to read between the lines on that.

JR: Well, another thing he mentions in his article is that “the queen of Utah history” is Juanita Brooks, but then he says “there is no king.”And is that just because there are too many hands, you know, in the honey jar, so to speak, or is he really making a larger comment on . . .

RP: He was gracious in what he said about all historians.But I think George had the idea early in his career that he would write that definitive history. And I think he hoped at the beginning of that would be the concurrent publication of a high school history text and a college history text and that then that research would then go into a major history of Utah. And, of course, it was something that he never did do, he never could do, and so, yeah, there’s no king that Ellsworth would crown.

JR: Well, maybe we can wrap this up by reflecting on Ellsworth’s place among Utah historians, his legacy is his contribution.I mean certainly a lot of years, 40 years has passed since his the seventh grade history textbook and that’s no longer really in use. And by and large he—let’s see he passed away in the ‘90s.

RP: ‘97

JR: ‘97. So it’s been almost twenty years since he passed away.How do you think it would be appropriate for folks to remember Ellsworth?Is he a figure of worth remembering?

RP: Oh yeah.

JR: What kind of a contribution did he make, then, to the state of Utah?

RP: Well I think Ellsworth trained a whole generation of history scholars that worked under him.They worked under Leonard as well.Tom Alexander for one. And I think his major contribution is as a teacher.I really do.And a lot of people that got graduate degrees here went on to do things in the field of history, but they also received a great education.

JR: Are there any Ellsworth stories that you came across in your research that maybe you’d like to share but maybe didn’t make it into your article?

RP: I don’t think I have any that I would like to share.It could be, from what I understand—he had a tendency to shoot from the lip on occasion.But you’ll never find any nasty letters in George’s correspondence. So what he may have said in private to somebody, he would never put that in writing. So, as I said, I did not know the man well.There’s a lot of people that did and a lot of people that I showed this article to before I sent it in to you guys.They told me stories about George, you know.

JR: Yeah.

RP: But he was very gracious when he turned his material over to us.

JR: So all the material or the George Ellsworth Papers are housed here in special collections here at USU?

RP: They are.Some of the primary documents he felt would be better at the LDS Church Archives, but all of those things there are copies in this collection. Some of the journals and the stuff that he worked on are with the church because they dealt with Mormon missionaries and establishing of missions in the South Seas.

JR: Well, thank you for taking the time to—

RP: Well I hope I’ve said something that’s enjoyable.

JR: And thank you, too, for your delightful little piece that’s published in the recent issue of the Quarterly.

RP: You know, I think there’s a lot of historians in Utah that probably deserve a similar little piece that may not have the appeal of a Leonard Arrington or a Juanita Brooks or others that have had major biographies done of them, but they all played a very big role in their institutions themselves. So maybe somebody that knows some of these other people [will] contribute another article on them.

JR: I hope so.

RP: Yeah.

JR: All right, well thank you.

RP: Thank you, appreciate it.

Conversation on Utah Historiography with Gary Topping

Editors’ note: As we seek to understand and find meaning in the past, we would do well to consider the approach, methods, and conclusions of historians that went on before us. Historiography—the study of the methods and writing of historians—is essential to understanding where and how our historical efforts ought to be directed.

Few historians know Utah historiography better than Gary Topping, a prolific author currently working as archivist of the Catholic Roman Diocese of Salt Lake City. Using S. George Ellsworth’s 1972 UHQ article as a starting point, this free-ranging conversation touches on the methods and contributions of early Utah historians, the work of so-called “amateur” historians, understudied state historical topics, and, not least, Topping’s views on the idea of kingship and queenship among Utah historians. We make available the audio and transcript below.



Jedediah Rogers: Well hello, my name is Jedediah Rogers. I am one of the managing editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly and today I am really happy to be joined by Gary Topping who is a longtime valued friend of the Quarterly and State History. Most historians will know a bit about his work. In his early career he was an archivist here at the Utah State Historical Society, and he is currently archivist at the Archives of the Catholic Church in Utah and he is author of numerous books and articles, including Glen Canyon and the San Juan Country, published in 1997; Utah Historians and Reconstruction of Western History, published in 2003; and Leonard J. Arrington: A Historian’s Life, published in 2008. Thank you for joining me.

Gary Topping: My pleasure.

JR: One thing that we hope to do today—we’re going to be talking about Utah historians and Utah historiography, and this really stems from an article that was published in the most recent edition of the UHQ by Robert Parson on the career of S. George Ellsworth and the history of Utah. So we’re going to be using as our starting point a 1972 article that Ellsworth wrote for the Utah Historical Quarterly entitled “Utah History: Retrospect and Prospect.” And one thing that Gary and I commented on before starting the recording is the need for Utah historians to assess the state of the field—to consider the historiography a little bit more often. And, in fact, we need to do articles like Ellsworth’s more often in the Quarterly and elsewhere. So, I don’t know, Gary, why don’t we start off by discussing the importance of Utah historiography for Utah historians and the kind of value and significance that this type of exercise provides.

GT: Sure. In my Utah historians book [Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History] I begin by talking about a kind of inherent risk of self absorption or narcissism in looking at what we do as historians, but I would argue that any field of endeavor whether it’s history or anything else needs a certain degree of introspection. We need to look at what we’re doing. Progress becomes much more difficult if we don’t do that. And the fact that the most recent historiographical article that we could find as a springboard for this was written in 1972 is kind of indicative of the fact that we need to be doing this more often. And Ellsworth begins his article by pointing out how difficult that is. He’s surveying a hundred years of Utah historiography or so, and it’s just a big order. We need to be doing this much more often and we also need to be doing it in much smaller bites than we’re doing today. I’m, as you know, interested in Utah historiography, but I don’t know all of the kind of subfields of Utah history well at all. I know a few of them fairly well but as I was preparing for this interview I really empathized with Ellsworth and his struggle to kind of wrap his mind around the whole field. We shouldn’t be asked to do that. We ought to be doing this in smaller pieces.

So, I am hoping that you, in your position now—I know you’re very interested in Utah historiography—that interviews like this and maybe historiographical articles will start showing up more frequently and the burden will be a little less on our shoulders then.

JR: Well I think that that’s a great idea and it’s something I think that we would want to explore and try to do a little bit more often. And you know, I’m really thankful that you’re here because I can think of no other historian who has written more about Utah historiography and can provide some really insightful things to say about how Utah’s past has been treated over the years. And I know that we’re really skimming the surface here, but I hope that we talk about some interesting points that will perhaps provide a springboard for future scholarship.

GT: Hmm mm.

JR: Maybe if we dive right into Ellsworth’s piece, published in 1972, he characterized five stages of historical writing. And briefly I just want to mention that the first he says is the performing of so-called “great and heroic tasks.” The second stage is the looking back on this period of conquest and pioneering, and the third is the attempt to “identify its heroes and place them in a special patriotic aura.” And the fourth, he says, is the period of debunking the heroes and criticizing past historians. The fifth, the final stage is seeking the “essence” and “real meaning” of the past. And that was Ellsworth’s assessment. So Ellsworth suggested in his article that Utah had not yet entered into the fourth and fifth stages, the stages in which debunking and the essence of the past really is formed. He says, “We have not really had a period of debunking, certainly not with the intensity known to other fields. We have not come to this fifth stage, that of seeking the real meaning, the essence of our history.” So Gary, how would you evaluate this general characterization of Utah history?

GT: Well I would do it in one word: baloney. I hadn’t realized until I began preparing for this interview what a predilection Ellsworth had for what we would call metahistory. Metahistory, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the idea that there are larger patterns in history, generally some kind of cycle of rise and fall, which we empirical historians, with our being confined to the archives and working on our minor little projects, we miss these larger patterns. And I just think that that’s not worth pursuing. I happen to be an empirical historian myself, as you are, and these larger patterns just seem to me to be out there in the ether. I have no idea what literature he is referring to here about the five stages of history, whether it’s state history or any other kind of history. He’s just drawing this out of the ether as far as I can see.

And in the very next paragraph he begins by indicating that this doesn’t really apply very well to Utah history anyway, and, so, why are we wasting our time on this anyway? And we’re talking about the essence. We’re talking about essences. I almost thought I was expecting him to talk about accidents as well, and if he did, I was going to put George Ellsworth aside and pick up St. Thomas Aquinas. Why am I reading Ellsworth when I could be reading St. Thomas to the same effect? You’re talking about essences. You might as well get candles lit, because we’re in the realm of theology here, not history. So, I don’t know exactly what he means by these stages. He should have given us specific examples of some work of history that would typify each of these ages.

Debunking? I would argue that almost any critical history is debunking. I think we’ve been doing that all along. I don’t see that there’s a phase of debunking. So I just think that he’s getting away from empirical history here, which is where we need to be. I just don’t see it useful at all.

JR: That’s an interesting evaluation. My reading of this is that he says the fifth stage is of seeking the essence or real meaning. It is as though the histories we write reveal in some way the true or real meaning of the past. In fact, what we do provides a meaning and an essence. That’s certainly not, I would argue, the real meaning.

GT: Well, I wonder if Ellsworth in his graduate seminars had his students pursuing the essence of Utah history. What kind of seminar would that be anyway? What sources would you use? I can’t imagine what the essence of Utah history might be or the essence of any other kind of history, ancient history or medieval history or modern French history. What’s the essence of Modern French History? I would challenge any French historian to define that. I don’t think they could do it.

JR: Mm mm, well and then he continues. This is really the first or second paragraph in his piece. And then he continues with his empirical history. He doesn’t really address this or expound on this in any further light. But what he does say, he considers the work of Utah’s three distinguished early historians—Tullidge, Bancroft, and Whitney—to be foundational, and I was hoping that you would speak to us, if you would, about Utah’s earliest historians. What contributions did they make and what can we still learn from them?

GT: If you would permit, I would like to expand that just a bit to include not only Tullidge, Bancroft, and Whitney. He doesn’t mention Andrew Jensen, I guess. Does he? I don’t remember that he does.

JR: I think he did mention him.

GT: I certainly would include him in there as well. And I would also like to expand it to include the next generation of historians—Leland Hargrave Creer, Andrew Love Neff, Milton R. Hunter, Levi Edgar Young. I would rank all of these as being kind of the founding fathers of Utah historiography. And so what contributions did they make? They made a huge contribution, because they’re the ones that defined what Utah history is. They’re the ones who kind of gave us our periodization schemes of what are the major periods of Utah history. They were the first ones to identify what sources we have in order to study that history. So I look up to those people with awe. I shudder to think what I would have done if I had been forced to kind of define Utah history just out of the whole cloth. That was a huge task.

On the other hand, what contributions? You ask me, what can we still learn from them? I think not much. And this is not to impugn their greatness at all, because I think what contributions they made have pretty much been absorbed into the literature, into later literature. Ellsworth, I think, holds them in higher esteem than I do in terms of contemporary value. I can’t imagine that Ellsworth was sitting there with Whitney’s four volumes on his desk and consulting him on a daily basis as he did his work. He wouldn’t have done that.

A year or so ago I reviewed a manuscript for a publisher about Utah history, and the author had used Leland Creer as kind of a background for general historical background and Utah history. And I said, why go back to Creer? Why not Tom Alexander or Chas Peterson, someone who’s written a much more recent survey; or Dean May’s little People’s History of Utah?[1] You know, much better, more accurate and based upon a much broader literature than Creer. I have to say that the author persisted in it, and Creer shows up not only once but twice in his bibliography as Leland Hargrave and also as Leland Hargrave Creer.

JR: Ellsworth was a bibliographic guy. So I think he had particular fondness for Bancroft and perhaps, I think, for the collection of records that Bancroft had—you know, Ellsworth’s side of Berkeley. So he was familiar with the Bancroft collection. And he actually makes the claim that “the collection of manuscripts has not been fully exploited by historians” and that “Bancroft’s footnotes are guides to sources and topics still relatively untouched.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with this collection, but is that still true today?

GT: I have to have a disclaimer here that I’ve never used the Bancroft Collection. I’ve never been inside the Bancroft Library. But, with that caveat let me go onto comment that I cannot believe that that is true. Or maybe he’s saying something that’s meaningless. In the first place, what do we mean by the Bancroft collection? Strictly speaking it would mean the records that Hubert Howe Bancroft picked up from Franklin D. Richards as [LDS] Church Historian and took back to Berkeley to become the core of the Bancroft collection. But gee, the Bancroft collection more broadly construed has been growing ever since that time. It is just not limited to those records that Franklin D. Richards gave Bancroft. In fact, Dale Morgan, when he worked at the Bancroft Library, has a wonderful article in a book about western travels in which he talks about how he himself brought in other records to add to that collection.[2]

And so, I’m not sure exactly what Ellsworth, how he’s construing that term, the Bancroft collection. And the idea that even, let’s say even if we limited it to those records that Richards gave to Bancroft, Ellsworth goes on to list this long list of Utah historians that studied at Berkeley and would use the Bancroft collection. And he’s telling me by 1972 that that still hasn’t been fully exploited. I find that to be incredible. Now so there’s that. On the other hand I said, maybe he’s saying something that’s meaningless. If the Bancroft collection has continually grown then it’s never going to be fully exploited. Am I going to tell you that you shouldn’t go up to the Marriott Library, because it’s already been fully exploited—the special collections up there? Of course it hasn’t. What is the Marriott Library’s Special Collections? Well, it’s a moving target. It’s growing day by day. So we will always be using that wonderful collection up there.

That’s about all I can say about the Bancroft Collection.

JR: Okay. Well there’s another book. This is a wonderful book—I admittedly have not really read it more than just skimming—Utah: A Guide to the State published in 1941. Ellsworth says that it was “the very best reference tool on the greater portion of Utah’s history.” And he also makes the comment that the book launched the careers of two of the state’s most influential historians, Juanita Brooks and Dale Morgan. You know, you’ve done a lot of research on these two individuals. Talk to us about their importance in Utah historiography.

GT: I yield to none in my admiration for the Utah state guide, which appeared in 1941. It is a great piece of work, and it is still very much of contemporary value if you just make allowance for the fact that it’s however many years old. It eventually was updated by Ward Roylance in 1976, I think it was, very ineptly. Jack Goodman wrote a scathing review of Roylance’s work so—

JR: That’s too bad because in other ways I really like Roylance. I think he’s a really interesting figure but—

GT: I knew Ward Roylance very, very well. He was a very, very nice guy, kind of like Leonard Arrington, the gentlest of souls and all of that, but he wasn’t a historian and he was a publicity writer, you know. And I think that Goodman was largely right about his revision. But anyway, that is neither here nor there. The Utah state guide launched the careers of Juanita Brooks and Dale Morgan. No it didn’t. Juanita Brooks had nothing to do with writing the state guide. That was Morgan’s work and with his staff of writers. We need to make a distinction here. The WPA had two historical projects going on, the Historical Records Survey and the Writer’s Project. The state guide was produced by the Writer’s Project, which Dale Morgan worked on. The Historical Records Survey was what Juanita Brooks worked on. And, I don’t know, presumably the Writer’s Project used the records, diaries and things like that, autobiographies, things that Juanita was collecting must have fed into the Utah state guide. I’m not sure just how that worked.

But Juanita actually was of course this remarkable person. She had actually started gathering and copying diaries and autobiographies from southern Utah before the Historical Records Survey was ever created. She just kind of piggybacked onto it and was supported by that once it got started so that’s kind of the relationship there. And Dale Morgan of course later went on to become this incredibly prolific and just this iconic Utah historian. And Ellsworth is right that the Utah guide really did launch his career.

JR: Well so Ellsworth called Brooks “the queen of Utah history.” What do you make of that?

GT: Well ask the rest of the question.

JR: Okay. So Ellsworth says Brooks is the queen of Utah history and then he wrote in as kind of as a parenthetical inside, “there is no king.” And so I guess I’m wondering, you know, what do you make of that, one that Brooks was the queen of Utah history, whatever that is supposed to mean, that there is no king. Do you see his comment on kingship as a slight in any way to any of his contemporaries like Leonard Arrington?

GT: Yeah I can almost see you suppressing a smile when you read that, that there is no king because you and I both very well know that is was a slight against one of his contemporaries and the contemporary was Leonard Arrington. I’ll talk about that in just a moment.

First of all though, a general comment about that. Ellsworth is asking us to play a very sterile game here. Do we have kings and queens of history? You know, I wasn’t aware that we were in competition, Jed, you know. Every time you write a book do I get jealous because you’re working to become the king of Utah history and again you’re cutting me out of that or something? No! When you write a book, I rejoice, because it’s adding to our knowledge and you didn’t go to graduate school and I didn’t go to graduate school with the idea of being crowned the king of something. We just do our job, don’t we? So there’s that. Once again he is veering into kind of metahistory, you know. This just isn’t where we live as historians.

Now I do want to talk about Juanita Brooks as the queen of Utah history. In saying that, Ellsworth is telegraphing a Mormon bias of Utah history—and let me explain that. I don’t mean this as a criticism. If you’re going to have a bias in Utah history, and all of us do, then having a Mormon bias I think is probably the best one I think you can have, because of the predominance of Mormons and Mormonism in Utah history and Utah culture. So that’s not a bad thing. But let me just illustrate what I mean here with a personal story.

When I wrote my Utah historians book, the Utah Westerners were kind enough to ask me to come one evening and talk about it. And in the audience and loaded for bear were Mel Smith and Chas Peterson, because I had made some critical comments about Juanita Brooks in that book and they were really taking umbrage at that. So in the question and answer period they really went after me for daring to commit lèse-majesté against Juanita Brooks. And I remember Chas Peterson said, “You didn’t sit through all those Sunday School classes,” meaning those Sunday School classes where those guys were fed a huge diet of Joseph Fielding Smith, who they later came to recognize as being very compromised as a Utah historian. Very defensive of Mormonism and all of that. And the idea that Juanita Brooks came along and started to do truth telling in terms of Mormon and Utah History—[Smith and Peterson] just regarded her as the queen of Utah history. And I’m sure that Ellsworth was in that same group. Ellsworth sat through all those Sunday School classes as well, and when Juanita Brooks came along she had to have been regarded by him as really a heroine. And, of course, she was. And in my criticizing her work, and I should—when those guys were going after her, I came to realize that “look, Topping, you really were the one to write about Juanita Brooks, because if those guys had done it, you didn’t get anything objective at all.”

So I came to Utah with no background in Mormonism, no knowledge of Mormon history, and as I became interested in it then I approached Juanita Brooks just as I approached Dale Morgan or Bernard DeVoto or anybody else, not as a heroine, although I recognized that she was regarded as that, but as just another historian and vulnerable to criticism as well as she was deserving of praise, just as you and I or anybody else are. And so there’s that.

Now I’m sorry that I’m allowing Ellsworth to tempt me to play this sterile game, but I’m afraid if I had to name a queen of Utah history in 1972, I might have named Helen Papanikolos. You know, The Peoples of Utah was still four years in the future—that didn’t come out until 1976.[3] But “Toil and Rage in a New Land,” the first of only two times in the history of the Utah Historical Quarterly one author has been given the entire journal.[4] That appeared in 1970, so Ellsworth was—should have been—well aware of that. And, in fact, he does acknowledge her contribution at a later point, but boy it was Helen Papanikolas in my mind that really opened Utah history up to other than just white Mormon males. You know, I don’t do ethnic history myself, but I was in graduate school when The Peoples of Utah came out, and what a bombshell that was. I remember it very, very well. And several of my classmates, Joe Stipanovich, Phil Notarianni, Vince Mayer, Ron Coleman, all those guys were in graduate school with me, and they all made contributions in that book. And the great contribution of that book was that it indicated that there are other Utahns than just the white Mormon males that I talked about, even though I’m not going to be writing Italian or Greek history, you know. I write Catholic history and that kind of gave me the opening to pursue my own identity as an Utahn.

So, no, as far as there is no king, you’ve talked with Parson a little bit about this, and Bob knows much more about this than I do, but Leonard Arrington, when he came back to Utah and began teaching at Utah State University, had an aspiration to become a historian. His degree was in economics, not in history, and he had an aspiration to become a historian and to write Utah and Mormon history. And recognizing that he had no professional training in it, he took Ellsworth’s seminar and learned to write history from George Ellsworth. Leonard in his autobiography, Adventures of a Church Historian, is quite straightforward in recognizing what he owed Ellsworth as a historical mentor. But this article is in the fall 1972 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly. Earlier that year Leonard Arrington had been named historian of the LDS church and I have to believe that Ellsworth would have thought, “you know, how come him and not me?” So there was bad blood between them. As you and I were talking before we turned the recorders on, I believe that the animosity was all on Ellsworth’s side and Leonard Arrington just would not have had played that game. Actually, I think Bob would tell you that it was mostly on Maria Ellsworth’s side rather than George, and she really had it in for Leonard Arrington. The sorcerer’s apprentice had exceeded the achievement of the sorcerer himself, and there was jealously there.

JR: Well it’s fun to hear some of your stories. And, you know, particularly you were talking about Papanikolas. She is much beloved here in the historical society.

GT: Oh yeah.

JR: Well, you know, it’s interesting that you mentioned that Ellsworth’s Mormon bias. He doesn’t make any mention of several other important historians who have addressed Utah topics. Granted they didn’t have PhDs in history so they may be seen as so-called amateur historians, but these are folks like Wallace Stegner, Bernard DeVoto, Fawn Brodie, I mean, giants in the field. What can you talk to us about one, why they are left off Ellsworth’s list but more important what do you make of their contributions to our understanding of the past?

GT: You’ve read my Utah historians book, you and three other people, and so for the vast majority who didn’t get around to reading it, I’ll just summarize what I have to say about it. I can do it in almost one sentence. My evaluation of those people is that they were great researchers and they were great writers, but they were not good interpreters, and so they made great contributions in terms of advancing our factual knowledge of Utah history but as interpreters they tended to be just really inept. Maybe I shouldn’t use that strong of word, but really deficient in the way they interpreted things.

Bernard DeVoto just had this almost metaphysical view of western history as manifest destiny. He really believed in manifest destiny, that he didn’t believe in God but there was some transcendent force there that was leading the western migration. That was a metaphysical interpretation that he would have scorned in anybody else, but he himself indulged in it.

Stegner was a writer, of course, and his view of history—well, particularly in his biography of Major John Wesley Powell, he sees Powell as representing science as opposed to others representing a myth. And boy I really come down hard on him about that, because Powell didn’t represent science in the least. He had no qualified scientists with him on either of these trips. They were his brother-in-law and his brother and stuff like this and the boats were inaccurate. They were not properly designed, and on and on. So he doesn’t really represent the triumph of science. Eventually he did. Powell grew into the role, and so did others that were in the party, but it wasn’t science as opposed to myth.

And Fawn Brodie—psychology, reading psychology into these people. Brodie, as her biographer as Newell Bringhurst points out, was sexually troubled, and she tended to be attracted to people who had sexual problems of their own. And I don’t know if you can call Joseph Smith as being a sexually troubled person, but he was the originator of Mormon polygamy, and so she was interested in that. Richard Burton, this Victorian libertine, she was attracted to that. Thomas Jefferson and Thaddeus Stevens, she wrote biographies of both of those guys. Both of them had African American mistresses. So there was that kind of thing. She was writing about herself really in writing about those other people. Now that’s not to say that she didn’t do good work. I am still a great admirer of No Man Knows My History. I still would even prefer that to Richard Bushman’s book, even though Bushman’s book is based on much more extensive research. And her biography of Thaddeus Stevens, nobody else has written a better biography of Thaddeus Stevens than that. It’s just the standard work in the field. Her other book, Thomas Jefferson, was much reviled, because she was just speculating about the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. It turns out she was right about that, but as I point out in my book it was a lucky guess. It was only circumstantial evidence. And her biography of Richard Nixon is just vitriol. She just hated everything that Nixon ever stood for, and just can’t be regarded as objective in any way.

Could I go on to talk a little bit about amateur historians in general? Would that be okay?

JR: Absolutely. Given your comment, you know, the lack of analytical, interpretive ability of folks like Stegner and Devoto and—granted I want listeners to understand that certainly there will be those who disagree with these points, and I think we can have an honest disagreement and perhaps conversation about this, but I think it’s worthwhile talking about their so-called amateur status and how that maybe affected their interpretation of the past.

GT: Well I wanted to talk about other amateur historians as well, because I think that, I don’t know, Utah is the only state with the history that I am really familiar with, but it seems to me that the large part of the really good work here on Utah history has been done by people without history degrees. Utah, of course, is the home of genealogy, and genealogists often go on to write family history and to do really good work. I’ve just handed you a book that was given to me, a compilation of all of the military veterans in Piute County alone, and I’m looking at the book here. It’s probably over two inches thick, and here’s Piute County, one of our smallest counties, and the idea that somebody would devote themselves that single-mindedly to researching that one little narrow topic is just remarkable to me.

And we’ve had other people who have done things like that as well. I’m thinking of Stephen Carr’s [book on] Utah’s ghost towns.[5] Stephen Carr was a pediatrician. He wasn’t a trained historian at all. I’m thinking about Harry Campbell. Campbell’s Tokens of Utah, which is just the ultimate study of currency in Utah.[6] Who in the world else is ever going to study something like that. It took this monomaniacal single-minded person who got hooked on tokens. I’m thinking more recent about Brock Cheney’s book about Mormon pioneer food.[7] It’s probably the only book he’s ever going to write, but he has studied that just down to the ground, and it’s just a fascinating little book, which tells us incidentally that we all would like to talk about the Mormon suffering pioneer, but he points out in there that they weren’t suffering all the time. Some of the food they ate was really pretty exotic and pretty interesting. So, anyway, that’s the kind of stuff that Utah amateur historians have done. And we are just really in their debt.

And for all of my criticism of DeVoto, Brodie, Morgan, Stegner, and Juanita Brooks, I criticize them out of great, great admiration. I’m not going to waste my time criticizing a minor historian. Why do that? So, I am trying to evaluate the people who have risen to the top of the profession and hoping that we can rise even farther because of that critical look.

JR: Wonderful, wonderful. Well let’s turn in the time that we have remaining to us to the second half of Ellsworth’s essay in which he really provides kind of an extensive list of topics little studied by historians as of 1972. And of course much has changed since then, four decades of really intensive historical writing. We’re going to make this article available to readers on our website, so you can read Ellsworth’s piece. We can’t, you know, summarize everything for listeners now, but, Gary, why don’t you give us your general impression of Ellsworth’s list of understudied topics.

GT: Okay, and here’s the place where my knowledge is going to fail me pretty quickly, because he mentions a lot of things, and in some cases I wish that he had been a little more specific. When he talks about social history like what things did he want us to study. Political history? What did you want there? So it, that’s all kind of vague. I think we’ve made great strides on virtually everything that he talks about. One of the things that he talks about is kind of sub-regional history like rural Utah—that we don’t know much about large parts of the rural part of the state. He mentions the settlement of the Uintah Basin—and, of course, your grandfather has filled that gap in a very splendid way. He talks about southeastern Utah. Bob McPherson has done a tremendous job in studying southeastern Utah, but there are other parts [of the state that remain understudied]. We have published recently an article about Frank Beckwith in Delta, and, boy, we could use a lot more studies of small communities like that if we have the sources or the historians to go after it.[8] We don’t know much about Box Elder County. We know a lot about Washington County because of Juanita Brooks and Karl Larson and others there.[9] So anyway, that’s still a gap.

I’ll just go through this very quickly. I’ve made a list of some of the things that he talks about that I happen to know a little bit about. He talks about Bolton’s translation of the Escalante diary.[10] That was just great. Well, it wasn’t so great, and in 1976 we had this massive project to study the Escalante expedition. The Escalante diary was retranslated by Fray Angelico Chavez in beautiful—I don’t read Spanish, but they tell me it’s just really nice idiomatic Spanish that was undoubtedly what the friars intended. The route of the Escalante party was studied by several teams of scholars, so we know much more about that. We know a lot more about the—well, there’s been a recent biography of Don Bernardo Miera by John Kessel, the great New Mexican historian, which we know about his artwork, the statues that he carved, also about the Miera map of the Escalante party. Ellsworth wonders about that. And others: Sondra Jones on the Indian slave trade and Joseph Sanchez on the Indian slave trade. We just know a lot more about that Spanish and Mexican phase of Utah history.[11]

We were talking about this before we turned the recorders on. Ellsworth says that the Utah War and the Mountain Meadows Massacre have been well worked over. Well they haven’t been at all. Hadn’t been in 1972. We had Juanita Brooks, and that was just about it. And, boy, since that time in the last decade or so we’ve just been inundated with studies of those issues. I think about Bill MacKinnon’s two volumes about the Utah War; Will Bagley’s book; [Rick] Turley, [Ron] Walker, and [Glen] Leonard and those studies; and there have been other articles as well in the Quarterly and other outlets about the whole general topic of Mormon violence in the nineteenth century.[12] So we’ve got a lot on that.

He talks about the cultural and the national traits of immigrants. Well, just talked about The Peoples of Utah, which was this great bombshell in Utah history, and we talked about “Toil and Rage.” Forrest Cuch’s anthology of articles about Utah Indians has really advanced that subject.[13] And I would talk also about Indians. The founding of the antiquity section here at the historical society in the 1970s really advanced that. Most of what we are ever going to know about Indians we have to know through anthropology, not through history, and so that was a tremendous step forward.

Women. He, I think, mentions Tullidge’s Women of Mormonism, which is this extravagantly written book, but once again a pioneering thing and written, of course, with the background of the polygamy struggle of the 1880s in mind.[14] We have the Utah women’s history anthology edited by Linda Thatcher and Pat [Lyn Scott].[15]

That’s just some of the things that he talks about that I would be able to comment on.

JR: Well, tell us—I mean, yeah, we could discuss any of these particulars in some depth and we unfortunately don’t have the time—but talk to us about, you know, too often historians conflate Utah history solely with Mormon history and I know that’s something that you have maybe commented on even here. Talk to us about how well historians have addressed, for example, religions other than the LDS church.

GT: Okay. Yeah, this relationship between Utah and Mormon history is a very interesting relationship, because Mormonism of course is both larger and smaller. Mormon history is both larger and smaller than Utah history. We’ve had Mormons in other places than in Utah and if you look at Utah we’ve had other people than Mormons around here. And so we need to make and be careful about that distinction.

I think, and this has all been or almost all been since Ellsworth’s article, that we have made some great advances in the history of non-Mormons in Utah. We have Bernice Mooney—The Story of the Cathedral of the Madeleine and then, later, her Salt of the Earth, which is a story of the entire Catholic Diocese and went through three editions.[16] We have Fred Quinn’s history of the Episcopal Diocese.[17] We have a history of the Unitarians by Stan Larson and someone else.[18] There’s a history of the Presbyterians in Utah.[19] There’s still room for more of that, of course. You know, the Catholics—I talk tongue in cheek when I say this—are the largest religious minority in Utah, but they’re so tiny but that’s almost ridiculous to say that. We’ve never been more than nine or perhaps ten percent of Utahns. And so when you figure all of the other groups are smaller than that, you’re really slicing thinner and thinner, but there’s still room for histories of other people. Of Evangelicals—the people who yell at Mormons outside the Conference Center at their semi-annual conference. I suppose those people’s point of view need to be told and so on. I think we’re doing pretty well on that.

JR: Well why don’t you give us a list of those topics you think are especially underrepresented or under-addressed, not just up to 1972 but up to the present. What are the major roles you see in Utah’s historiography?

GT: You know, I’ll tell you, Jed, I’m not really good at that and one of the reasons I’m not very good at that is that I’ve never taught anything other than the lower division courses at Salt Lake Community College. I haven’t been forced to come up with research topics for graduate students, you know, so I generally don’t tend to think in terms of that. I think up topics for myself, and that’s just in the narrow field that I’m interested in. But I in terms of sketching out larger subjects that need to be dealt with, I’m not very good at that.

I did talk about kind of kind of rural regions in the state that those are kind of underrepresented. But on the other hand, we had that bicentennial series of county histories, which have done a lot to fill that gap. And then you and I talked earlier about my own field of interest in historiography, that we need to be doing this—what you and I are doing right now, much more frequently and in much smaller bites. So that would be the, kind of the major recommendation that I would have.

JR: You mentioned the need for these local histories like the Piute County military study. Do you agree with Ellsworth’s contention that historians tend to overdo micro studies, and that the need really is to provide more of a synthesis of what we already know?

GT: If Ellsworth is asking for more thoughtful historical writing, I couldn’t agree more. Of course we need more thoughtful writing. But when he denigrates these people who are doing these micro studies, I would just point out that if you’re going to build a brick house, you have to have bricks. And so those people and especially these so-called amateurs that we’ve been talking about, those people provide the bricks, you know. If we’re going to write about urban history in Utah, we need Stephen Carr’s ghost towns book. Those were urban experiments that didn’t work out, you know, and that part of the story needs to be told.

So yeah we need more thoughtful historical writing. We always do but on the other hand we need the nuts and bolts history, the kind of stuff that I write. I think—I hope I’m doing good work.

JR: Right. Well, you know, I mean going along with that, so Ellsworth ends his piece by paraphrasing John Widtsoe, who once remarked that “when their history came to be written it would be by one who had the mind of a historian, the heart of a poet, and the soul of a prophet.” And then this is what Ellsworth says about this: “Just when we will get a person of such a remarkable combination of talents and virtues, I do not know. I do not see him on the horizon.” What do you make of that comment?

GT: I make of it the same as my initial comment on this interview—baloney. When I read that I’m reminded of one of the critics of the composer Richard Wagner who said that Wagner thought of himself as Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Plato all rolled up into one. Maybe he was that. I don’t know. I’m not a music critic. But are we going to sit around and wait for this magnificent historian in shining armor to come riding up over the horizon? Ellsworth says, “I don’t see him on the horizon.” I don’t either, and I would add I’m not looking for him.

What I’m looking for is some grubby little guys like you and me—I shouldn’t include you in this, but guys willing to lock ourselves up in the archives and take those notes and sit on these hard chairs and do the job of an empirical historian. If the mind of a historian, the heart of a poet, and the soul of a prophet comes out, that’s great. I’ll rejoice in his emergence, or her emergence, just as much as Ellsworth would, but are we going to sidetrack what we’re doing here as historians while waiting for this paragon to come along? I hope not.

JR: Well, what about the larger point I think that’s made here that, you know, to do good history requires both—it’s both an enterprise of the mind but also one of the heart and perhaps of the soul too, although you’re really diving into the metaphysical . . .

GT: Yeah, that’s metahistory there too.

JR: You know, this whole idea that you need more than sort of the analytical, but you also need kind of perhaps passion is what he is referring to. Do you agree with that?

GT: I certainly do, but on the other hand, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, okay. When I do research, I put as much as my limited physical capacity has into chasing down sources, and I put as much into it as my feeble mind can in terms of interpreting this as sagaciously as I can, and once in a while I hope I come up with a lyrical moment in the prose in which I write it all out. But I’m not Beethoven, Plato, and Shakespeare all rolled up into one, and I don’t think you need to be in order to get the job done.

JR: Well you are, as always, very, very fun to talk to and I think there’s some great, great insights that you provide. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

GT: It’s been my pleasure Jed. I’ve enjoyed talking with you too.


[1] Thomas G. Alexander, Utah, The Right Place, revised and updated edition (Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2003); Charles S. Peterson, Utah: A History (New York: Norton, 1977); and Dean L. May, Utah: A People’s History (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987).

[2] Dale Morgan, “Western Travels and Travelers in the Bancroft Library,” in Travelers on the Western Frontier, edited by John E McDermott (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970).

[3] An edited collection of essays published by the Utah State Historical Society.

[4] Volume 38 (Spring 1970).

[5] The Historical Guide to Utah Ghost Towns, updated edition (Western Epics, 1987)

[6] Privately printed by the author in 1980.

[7] Plain but Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2012).

[8] David A. Hales, “The Renaissance Man of Delta: Frank Asahel Beckwith, Millard County Chronicle Publisher, Scientist, and Scholar, 1875–1951,” Utah Historical Quarterly 81, no. 2 (2013).

[9] See, for instance, Juanita Brooks, On the Ragged Edge: The Life and Times of Dudley Leavitt (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1973), and Andrew Karl Larson, “I Was Called to Dixie”: The Virgin River Basin: Unique Experiences in Mormon Pioneering (

[10] Herbert E. Bolton, Pageant in the Wilderness: The Story of the Escalante Expedition to the Interior Basin, 1776 (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1951, 1972).

[11] John L. Kessell, Miera y Pacheco: A Renaissance Spaniard in Eighteenth-Century New Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013); Sondra Jones, The Trial of Don Pedro León Luján: The Attack against Indian Slavery and Mexican Traders in Utah (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000); Joseph P. Sanchez, Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678–1850 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1997).

[12] William P. MacKinnon, ed. At Sword’s Point, Part I: A Documentary History of the Utah War to 1858 (Norman: Arthur H. Clark, 2008); Will Bagley, Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002); Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr., Glen M. Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

[13] Forrest S. Cuch, ed.,  A History of Utah’s American Indians (Salt Lake City: Utah State Division of Indian Affairs / Utah State Division of History, 2003).

[14] Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York, 1877).

[15] Patricia Lyn Scott and Linda Thatcher, eds., Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005).

[16] Bernice Maher Mooney, The Story of the Cathedral of the Madeleine (Salt Lake City: Litho Graphics, 1981), and Salt of the Earth: The History of the Catholic Church in Utah, 1776–2007, 3rd ed.(Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2008).

[17] Frederick Quinn, Building the “Goodly Fellowship of Faith”: A History of the Episcopal Church in Utah, 1867–1996 (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2004).

[18] Stan Larson and Lorille Horne Miller, Unitarianism in Utah: A Gentile Religion in Salt Lake City, 1891–1991 (Salt Lake City: Freethinker Press, 1991).

[19] Frederick G. Burton, Presbyterians in Zion: History of the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) in Utah (New York: Vantage Books, 2010).


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.