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Utah Historical Quarterly Current Issue

Volume 83, Number 3 (Summer Issue):

Published since 1928, the Utah Historical Quarterly is the state’s premier history journal and the source for reliable, engaging Utah history. 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 



The Russian Molokans of Park Valley
By Marshall E. Bowen

The Uncompahgre Reservation and the Hill Creek Extension
By Kathryn L. MacKay

Women Inventors in Utah Territory
By Christine Cooper-Rompato

The Carol Carlisle Summer Wedding Dress Collection
A Photo Essay

Found: Rare First Edition of the Earliest Ute and Shoshone Vocabulary
By Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brent M. Rogers

In 1976, the Utah State Historical Society published The Peoples of Utah, a groundbreaking work edited by Helen Z. Papanikolas. In it, Papanikolas and others conveyed the breadth of Utah’s past by recounting the history of some of the state’s ethnic groups—the “pioneers of many cultural strains.” This year, the historical society is revisiting the question of diversity in Utah with an annual conference focused on the theme of “Deep Roots, Many Voices: Exploring Utah’s Multicultural Past.” The summer 2015 issue of Utah Historical Quarterly is part of that exploration.

The arid, expansive landscape of western Box Elder County was once home to an unlikely group of settlers: members of the Russian nonconformist sect known as the Molokans. Persecuted in their own land, the Molokans scouted for places to live in North America, eventually coming in the thousands to California, Arizona, Mexico, Washington State, and—for a time—Park Valley, Utah. In the mid-1910s, at least twenty-seven Molokan families settled and stayed there for a year or more. The opening article in this issue brings the insights of geography to the account of the Park Valley Molokans and traces the experiences of five families before and after their sojourn in Utah. Though the Molokans might have seemed homogenous to outsiders, Marshall E. Bowen writes that “they did not all worship in the same way,” and they followed “diverse paths” throughout their lives.

In another corner of the state, Ute bands in Utah occupied the Uintah Reservation, created in 1861, while Utes in Colorado were removed to the adjacent Uncompahgre Reservation near the Green and White rivers. Reservation lands represented a fraction of the Northern Utes’ aboriginal territory. Still, no sooner had Congress created the Uncompahgre Reservation for Colorado Utes in 1882 that it also begin to consider dividing reservation lands into private land holdings—allotments—for individual Indians. In 1897, Congress opened unalloted lands of the Uncompahgre Reservation to white entry. Our second article details the twentieth-century struggle of the Ute people to win back lands within the boundaries of the 1882 Uncompahgre Reservation. Although the Hill Creek Extension—passed by the Congress in 1948—did not return to the Utes the full acreage, the addition represented a hard-won victory for Utes and employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs working to undo the damage that opening the reservation had on the tribe and its traditions.

Much of the scholarship about nineteenth-century American women considers their place in the so-called public and private spheres, or, put differently, how society limited the activities of women. The third article adds to the discussion by approaching the past with a specific question: how many women in Utah Territory were granted patents in their own names. It finds that five Utah women successfully patented an invention during this era. The inventions were as individual as their creators, and they serve as evidence that at least some Utah women participated in the world of nineteenth-century business and that a host of people laid the foundations of modern Utah.

The cover of this issue features the wedding dresses of a great-aunt, a mother, and her daughter, material representations of the lives of three women from three disparate moments in the twentieth century. The issue’s fourth piece tells the stories behind these and other dresses that belong to the Carol Carlisle Summer Collection—a group of objects and documents that provides a glimpse into more than one hundred years of history of an extended family.

From material evidence about the lives of women we move to a recently rediscovered artifact of Native-white interactions in territorial Utah. Dimick B. Huntington was a nineteenth-century Mormon missionary with a skill for regional Native languages; in 1853, Huntington prepared and published a Ute and Shoshone vocabulary. For some time, this 1853 edition of the vocabulary was believed to be no longer extant. The final piece in the issue tells the story of how it resurfaced.


Paul T. Nelson, Wrecks of Human Ambition: A History of Utah’s Canyon Country to 1936. Reviewed by Robert S. McPherson

Michael L. Tate, ed. The Great Medicine Road: Narratives of the Oregon, California, and the Mormon Trails. Reviewed by F. Ross Peterson

Julie Debra Neuffer, Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement. Reviewed by Charlotte Hansen Terry

Susan E. Gray and Gayle Gullett, eds. Continent Maps: Rethinking Western Women’s History and the North American West. Reviewed by Stephanie Fuglaar Statz

Michael W. Homer, Joseph’s Temples: The Dynamic Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism. Reviewed by Brady G. Winslow


Gerald R. Clark, Supplying Custer: The Powder River Supply Depot, 1876

Dick Johnston, Won’t Quit: An Escalante Love Story

Norma R. Dalton and Alene Dalton, Images of America: Nine Mile Canyon

Julius C. Birge and Barbara B. Birge, The Awakening of the Desert: An Adventure-Filled Memoir of the Old West

Linda Dunning, Away from the Fold: An Encyclopedia of Utah Performers, vols. 1 and 2



Historic Salt Lake City Apartments of the Early Twentieth Century

Text and Photographs by Lisa-Michele Church

Salt Lake City contains many beautiful examples of early twentieth-century apartment buildings constructed to house a growing urban population. With whimsical names such as Piccadilly, Peter Pan or Waldorf, these buildings beckoned to Utahns interested in a new approach to residential life. Apartments became places of beginnings and endings for the young couple starting out, a single woman with her first job, an immigrant family new to the area, or a widow no longer able to care for her home. Apartments were a stage on which the rest of your life came into view. As one resident put it, “You moved in with a suitcase, and out with a truck.”

The buildings were designed with style and architectural flair. Residents could enjoy amenities such as electric stoves, night watchmen, elegant entryways, and, for some, Murphy “disappearing” beds. Local families, including the Coveys, Downings, and Sampsons, constructed many of the complexes. Monthly rents ranged from $30 to $50. The last of the distinctive buildings was built in the 1930s; after World War II, people preferred cozy bungalows in the suburbs.  But about half of the original 180 apartment houses are still standing as a vivid illustration of the boldness with which Salt Lake City entered the twentieth century.

The following photo gallery features a few of these buildings. Download a self-guided walking tour brochure to see the historic apartments buildings at your own pace.

1 Pauline

Pauline. The Pauline was built at 278 East 100 South in 1904. This is a “walk up” design where each apartment has its own entrance landing and balcony. Note the cut sandstone foundation, iron railing balconies, and brick details.

2 Woodruff

The Woodruff, located at 235 South 200 East, was built in 1908 and contained 51 units. The building advertised to “young men looking for desirable apartments close to their work.” There was a café, The building featured steam heat, hot water, telephone, gas range, a dresser, buffet, and Murphy bed. Tenants had the option of choosing the color of their walls. A night watchman and janitor were assigned to the apartment, and a café was an added amenity to residents.

3 Woodruff detail

Note the lovely lamp posts, now gone, and the bold entrance. Abraham Gross and his wife, Vera, were typical residents in the 1930s, living in unit 60 and raising their young son, Jerome. Abe and Vera were Polish immigrants; he worked as a cattle buyer. When Abe was killed tragically in a 1935 train accident, Vera and Jerome moved out and the apartment stood vacant for two years.

4 Altadena

The Altadena, at 310 South 300 East, was built in 1905 at a cost of $21,000 by the Octavius Sampson family. The Sampsons originally named it Vivian Flats but changed the name a few years later to match that of their baby daughter. Typical residents included sisters, Annette and Martha Rustad, Norwegian immigrants who worked as seamstresses in Salt Lake department stores. They lived at the Altadena for many years; neither ever married.

5 Altadena detail

The entrance doors at the Altadena are especially detailed. Both buildings feature pediments, Tuscan columns, dentillated cornices and accented cornerstones.

6 Sampson

The Sampson building is at 276 East 300 South, around the corner from the Altadena. It contained seven “walk up” units. The Altadena and Sampson Apartments are almost identical plans. Both buildings have red brick, white trim, substantial balconies, and oak doors. One luxury item was an elevator at the back of the building.

7 Elise

The Elise, at 561 East 100 South, features a massive columned entrance with decorative iron railings and balconies.

8 Elise detail

The detail on the Elise columns is striking. The building was built in 1914 and contains eight “walk up” units.

9 Hillcrest

The Hillcrest is located at 155 East First Avenue and was built in 1915. It joined other apartment buildings financed by the Covey family, including the Covey Flats (now LaFrance), Buckingham, Kensington, New Hillcrest, and Covey. All were built by W.C.A. Vissing, a popular apartment contractor of the time and member of the Covey family.

10 Buckingham

The u-shaped court of the Buckingham (241 East South Temple) is echoed in the other Covey-designed buildings. All were carefully landscaped with generous courtyards and flower beds.

11 Ruby

The Ruby, at 435 East 200 South, was built in 1912. It contains 21 “walk up” units and beautiful wood framed doors and windows. The detailed brick work is also remarkable.

12 Ruby too

One resident of the Ruby, Sadie Baldwin, worked as a dressmaker earning $720 per year in 1940. Sadie was a young widow with three children to raise.

13 Embassy

The Embassy was built at 130 South 300 East in 1926. It contains 31 units using a double-loaded corridor plan where each room opens off a central corridor, and few have balconies. This plan type was a particularly efficient use of Salt Lake City’s deep lots, and was common in the buildings built after World War I. It is currently called the Pauline Downs.

14 Embassy detail

Most early apartment buildings used bold signs to attract attention and convey style. The Embassy sign is no exception. The Embassy was built, along with two adjacent apartment buildings, by Bessie P. Downing and her husband, Hardy. Hardy was a famous tandem bike racer and boxing promoter. Bessie lived in this building and managed it until Hardy’s passing.

15 Embassy Arms

The Embassy Arms was a little fancier than the Embassy, with its French door balconies and elaborate stone entrance. It was built by the Downings next to the Embassy, at 120 South 300 East, in 1930. Note the stone “D” over the sign; it was originally named the Downing Deluxe.

16 Embassy Arms too

These French door balconies were unusual in a double loaded corridor plan. Note the brickwork and stone accents.

17 Spencer Stewart

The Spencer Stewart, at 740 East 300 South, was built in 1926 and included 29 units. It was advertised in the 1935 Salt Lake Telegram for its “three rooms, electric refrigerators and ranges, furnished or unfurnished, disappearing beds, nice large rooms, moderate rent.”

18 Stratton

The Stratton was built in 1927 as part of a building boom where at least ten new apartment buildings appeared on the downtown skyline. It is located at 49 South 400 East and features some castellation along the roofline, two balconies, and an imposing entrance.

19 Peter Pan

The Peter Pan is located at 445 East 300 South. It is notable for its tile roofs, brick detailing and lovely sign. The building was built in 1927.

20 Peter Pan detail

The name signs on the early apartment buildings were often neon and included colorful metal designs.

21 Bell Wines

The Bell Wines apartments were built in 1927 by a married couple, Hazel Bell and Stanley Wines, who combined their surnames. It is located at 530 East 100 South. The building is evocative of a southern plantation home, with a center porch and tall columns around a courtyard.

22 Bell Wines too

The building contains 30 units opening off a long hallway. One early resident, Eva Harmer, became engaged to her sweetheart, Blaine Allan, while living here in 1934. She was alarmed when she discovered she had dropped her engagement ring down the apartment’s sink. Fortunately, city water officials blocked off the pipes until the ring could be found.

23 Annie Laurie

The Annie Laurie, located at 326 East 100 South, and its sister building, the Lorna Doone, were both built in 1928 by the Bowers Investment Company at a cost of $80,000 each. The Lorna Doone has 33 units and the Annie Laurie has 30.

25 Lorna Doone

The Lorna Doone, at 320 East 100 South, shared an interior block parking lot with the other nearby apartments. Between the two sister buildings is a landscaped courtyard.

24 Lorna Doone detail

Both buildings feature elaborate gargoyles and ornaments at the entrance and on the roofline.

26 Armista

The Armista, located at 55 East 100 South, is a substantial building of stone and brick with little ornamentation. Its doorway features beautiful lamps. Herrick and Company built it with 30 units in 1927. Its name was later changed to the Waldorf Apartments. A 1927 Salt Lake Tribune ad read: “$40.00 to $42.00. One of the most modernly equipped and conveniently located apartments in the city.”

27 Piccardy

The Piccardy, at 115 South 300 East, was built in 1930. It has 40 units: five one-bedroom and five studios on each floor. It features Jacobethan styling, twisting columns at the entrance and some leaded glass windows.

28 Piccardy detail

Acanthus leaf trim and original light fixtures adorn the Piccardy entrance.

29 Los Gables

The Los Gables is one of the largest apartments of the early period with 80 units. It was built at 135 South 300 East in 1929. Note the imposing stone work and arched doorways.

30 Los Gables detail

The Los Gables also features inset stone pieces and timber accents.

31 Piccadilly

The Piccadilly is a typical double-loaded corridor plan, built in 1929 at 24 South 500 East.

32 Piccadilly detail

The doorway at the Piccadilly features the original light fixture and decorative sign.

33 Bigelow

The Bigelow apartments were built in 1930 at 223 South 400 East, containing 30 units. A 1940 ad read: “2 r[oo]m modern, lots of space, light, all electric, good service, exclusive.”

34 Premier

The Premier was built at 27 South 800 East in 1931 for $50,000. The site features an unusually large front courtyard with lush landscaping. Note the upright metal sign on the roof.

35 Premier detail

The Premier entrances have striking stone work and wrought iron gates.

36 Chateau Normandie

The Chateau Normandie, 63 South 400 East, was built in 1931. It is a rare example of a “walk up” design built at the end of this apartment era. It has stately trees and extensive timber accents.

37 Chateau Normandie detail

The windows at the Chateau Normandie are extensively decorated.

38 Eastcliff Westcliff

The East Cliff and West Cliff buildings sit together on 200 South between 400 East and 500 East. They were built in 1927–28 and originally named the Cummings apartments.

39 Mayflower

The Mayflower, at 1283 East South Temple, is one of the largest and most elegant apartment buildings of the first half of the twentieth century. Built in 1929 from a design by the architect Slack Winburn, each floor has only five 2,600-square-foot units. Arches and ivy adorn the exterior.

40 Knickerbocker

The Knickerbocker apartment building at 1280 East South Temple was built in 1911 by W.C.A. Vissing. It has a large carved cornice and massive columns with iron railing balconies.

41 Castle Heights

The Castle Heights apartment building opened in January, 1931 to great acclaim. A Salt Lake Tribune ad dated January 18, 1931, read: “Every kitchen in this ultra modern apartment house is equipped with a genuine Frigidaire unit.” It still stands at 141 East First Avenue. Note the stone work, arched entrance, and neon sign.



Utah History Podcasts

Check out our collection of audio files from various events and programs of Utah State History.

Utah StateTelephoneOperator_edge History Brown Bag Presentations

Utah State History hosts a collection of Brown Bags every year. We recently began recording these presentations so you can listen and not miss a thing.

Listen to a mix of brown bags presented by a mix of lay and professional historians.


News_WagonUtah Historical Quarterly Web Extras

Early Utah Women Inventors: A Conversation with Christine Cooper-Rompato  – UHQ Summer 2015

Folklore and History: A Conversation with Steve Siporin – UHQ Spring 2015

Sounds of the Cathedral – UHQ Winter 2015

An Interview with Noel Carmack and Connell O’Donovan on the 1855 murder of Isaac Whitehouse in Parowan, Utah, and the Art of Historical Storytelling – UHQ Fall 2014


2015 Annual History Conference Session 4 Abstracts

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Religion and Race: Evaluating Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (Room 101)

  • Panel: Brad Westwood (chair), David Rich Lewis, Martha Bradley-Evans, W. Paul Reeve, and LaShawn Williams-Schultz

Diversity and Sport (Room 102)

  • Joseph Soderberg: Wicket Mormons and Cricket Gentiles: Cultural Imperialism in Utah’s Sporting Past
  • Intermountain Cricket League Exhibition

Religious and Cultural Difference (Room 104)

  • Craig L. Foster and Newell G. Bringhurst: Two Changing Faces of Fundamentalist Mormonism: Rulon and Warren Jeffs

Native-White Interaction in Nineteenth-Century Utah  (Room 105)

  • David Grua (chair)
  • Wendy Simmons Johnson: An Underground Store, the Skull Valley Goshute, and Red Ink:  Contact Period in Rush Valley
  • Hadyn B. Call: Kidnapped and Purchased: Piecing Together the Story of Ruth Piede Call Davids—a Paiute Indian
  • Jim Keyes: Showdown in the canyons: History of interaction between early cattle ranchers and Native Americans in southeastern Utah.

Exploring Utah’s Multicultural Past through Oral History (Suite A)

  • Panel:
    • Jodi Graham (chair)
    • Randy Williams: Cache Valley Refugee Voices
    • Deborah M. George: New Zion Community Advocates, Inc.
    • Sarah Langsdon Singh


Religion and Race: Evaluating Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
Panel Abstract
In Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, Paul Reeve explores nineteenth-century representations of Mormonism as a marginalized group physically different from the white Protestant majority. Reeve additionally chronicles Mormonism’s controversial history of race and blackness. Panelists will take a critical look at Reeve’s arguments within the context of race and religion in Utah and the United States.
Moderator: Brad Westwood, Director of the Utah Division of State History
David Rich Lewis, Professor of History at Utah State University
Martha Evans Bradley, Professor in the College of Architecture + Planning, University of Utah
W. Paul Reeve, Associate Professor of History at University of Utah. His Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness was published by the Oxford University Press.
LaShawn Williams-Schultz teaches African-American culture at Salt Lake Community College

Joseph Soderberg has a bachelor’s degree in history from Utah State University and a Certificate of International Relations. He lived in Wales for a year and studied at the University of Wales at Swansea. Soderberg has worked in the on-demand publishing business and done freelance genealogical and historical research. He has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Guangzhou, China, while teaching English in those locations. He has presented papers on Utah, American, and Mormon history. He is currently working with John Peterson as his research assistant on his forthcoming book “Brigham’s Bastion,” a history of Pipe Spring National Monument.

UHQ Summer 2015 Web Supplements

1_MolokansA Conversation with Marshall E. Bowen on Russian Molokans in Box Elder County, Utah

Marshall E. Bowen, “The Russian Molokans of Park Valley”

In this Q&A we asked Marshall Bowen about the brief tenure of the Molokans in Park Valley and the process of uncovering their history.


2_Hill-CreekThe Hill Creek Extension: A Portfolio of Primary Documents

Kathryn MacKay, “The Uncompahgre Reservation and the Hill Creek Extension”

We offer faithful reproductions of some of the BIA records that MacKay used to detail the Ute Tribe’s long struggle to secure the Hill Creek Extension.


3_women-inventorsEarly Utah Women Inventors: A Conversation with Christine Cooper-Rompato

Christine Cooper-Rompato, “Women Inventors in Utah Territory”

We sat down with Christine Cooper-Rompato to discuss her research on Utah’s nineteenth-century women inventors. Click here for the audio of our conversation. We also provide links to many of the patents filed by these inventors.

4_wedding-dressThe Carol Carlisle Summer Wedding Dress Collection: A Photo Gallery

The Carol Carlisle Summer Wedding Dress Collection: A Photo Essay

Check out beautiful color photos from the wedding dress collection housed at the Utah State Historical Society. Photographs by Anna Oldroyd.


5_indian-vocabulariesUte and Shoshone Vocabularies

Found: Rare First Edition of the Earliest Ute and Shoshone Vocabulary

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of Ute and Shoshone vocabularies were published in Utah. We provide links to the three editions of Dimick Baker Huntington, as well as volumes produced by Joseph A. Gebow, George W. Hill, and Ralph V. Chamberlin. Digitized copies courtesy of the LDS Church History Department.


Early Ute and Shoshone Vocabularies

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of Ute and Shoshone vocabularies were published in Utah. Dimick Baker Huntington prepared and printed the earliest vocabularies beginning in 1853. Others were subsequently written by the Indian interpreter Joseph A. Gebow, the LDS missionary George W. Hill, and the zoologist and ethnographer Ralph V. Chamberlin. Recently, Huntington’s first edition of the earliest Ute and Shoshone vocabulary, thought to be lost, was discovered in two copies—one published, the other unbound galley proofs. Both rare copies are now housed at the LDS Church History Library. For more information about this edition, see the summer 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly.

Thanks go to Brent Rogers, a historian with the Joseph Smith Papers, for his assistance procuring copies of these vocabularies.


Dimick Baker Huntington’s Ute and Shoshone Vocabulary (1853), 1st ed.

5_1853-publishedThis first edition of Dimick Baker Huntington’s Ute and Shoshone vocabulary was originally prepared and printed as a pamphlet published in the fall of 1853. The front and back covers of the volume are missing, but on page three the title reads, “A Few Words in the Utah Dialect Alphabetically Arranged.” The publication consisted of two vocabularies; bound with the Ute portion of the vocabulary was Huntington’s Shoshone vocabulary entitled “A Few Words in the Shoshone or Snake Dialect.” It was not considered to be a first edition until it was compared word-for-word to the original galley sheets. The vocabulary is housed at the LDS Church History Library.

Dimick Baker Huntington’s Ute and Shoshone Vocabulary (1853), 1st ed. galley proofs

5_1853-galleyThis document is believed to be first edition galley proofs of Huntington’s 1853 Ute and Shoshone vocabulary publication. The title on these proofs is “A Few Words in the Utah and Sho-sho-ne Dialects, Alphabetically Arranged.” The copies consist of three uncut sheets and 27 numbered cut sheets. These sheets were donated to the LDS Church History Library by a direct descendant of Thomas Bullock.


Dimick Baker Huntington’s A Few Words in the Utah and Sho-Sho-ne Dialects (1854), 2nd ed.

5_1854In 1854, Huntington published a second edition of his Ute and Shoshone vocabulary. Revised and enlarged, the second edition contains 21 leaves. The original is held at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. A copy is housed at the LDS Church History Library.



Dimick Baker Huntington’s Vocabulary of the Utah and Vocabulary of the Utah and Sho-sho-ne or Snake Dialects (1872), 3d ed.

5_1872Huntington’s third edition of the Ute and Shoshone vocabulary, published as Vocabulary of the Utah and Vocabulary of the Utah and Sho-sho-ne or Snake dialects, with Indian legends and traditions: including a brief account of the life and death of Wah-ker, the Indian land pirate, was published in 1872. The original is held by the LDS Church History Department.


Joseph A. Gebow’s Vocabulary of the Snake or Shoshone Dialect (1859)

5_Gebow-1859The second Indian vocabulary printed in Utah was Joseph A. Gebow’s Vocabulary of the Snake or Shoshone Dialect, published in 1859. As noted in the volume, the non-Mormon Gebow was an Indian interpreter under Superintendent of Indian Affairs Jacob Forney, as well as “an old mountaineer, having been among the Indians and in the mountains for fourteen years; and he resents this little offering as a sample of Rocky Mountain literature of the lone Indian, who is fast passing away, hoping that it will beguile a tedious hour to many, and prove of interest to the trader, the trapper and those who feel an interest in the tongue of the aborigines of the mountains.”

George W. Hill, Vocabulary of the Shoshone Language (1877)

5_1877George W. Hill, a Mormon Indian missionary, had taught Shoshones in their own language at Fort Limhi in 1855. He wrote Vocabulary of the Shoshone Language, published by the Deseret News in 1877, with words “spelled as phonetically as the English alphabet will allow, and with it any person may learn to speak the dialect so that an Indian can understand him.” A copy is held by the LDS Church History Library.


Ralph V. Chamberlin’s “Animal Names and Anatomical Terms of the Goshute Indians” (1908)

5_1908Unlike vocabularies published in the nineteenth century, Ralph V. Chamberlin’s “Animal Names and Anatomical Terms of the Goshute Indians” from the Zoological Laboratory of Brigham Young University has an introductory section and contextual information on terms in the vocabulary. The volume was originally published by the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in April 1908. A copy is housed at the LDS Church History Library.


The Hill Creek Extension: A Portfolio of Primary Documents

In her summer 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly article, Kathryn L. MacKay, a professor of history at Weber State University, details the twentieth-century struggle of the Ute people to win back lands within the boundaries of the 1882 Uncompahgre Reservation. Although the Hill Creek Extension—passed by the Congress in 1948—did not return to the Utes the boundaries of its original reservation, the addition represented a hard-won victory for Utes and employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs working to undo the damage that opening unalloted lands of the Uncompahgre Reservation to white entry had on the tribe and its traditions.

In these records, dated from the 1930s and 1940s, Ute leaders and BIA officials plainly argue that the Utes had occupied and used this land—particularly as grazing lands—for generations. The documents are part of the Kathryn L. MacKay Research Collection, 1849-2001, Mss B 1972 (MacKay Papers), housed at the Utah State Historical Society.

2.a_Hill Creek

John Collier to Secretary of the Interior, June 12, 1933

The new commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, recognized the importance of ranching to the Uncompahgre and recommended that 1.8 million acres of the former reservation be restored to the tribe. He outlines his argument in this letter dated June 12, 1933. A 1933 order of the Interior secretary set aside the grazing lands for Ute and white stockmen.


June 12, 1933

The Honorable
The Secretary of the Interior
My dear Mr. Secretary:
. . .

These particular Uncompahgre Indians are strictly a stock raising people and their livelihood depends on obtaining additional grazing land as their present land holdings do not provide sufficient range for their cattle. To meet this situation and in a strong belief that the lands legally belong to their tribe, the Indians are vigorously urging that their original reservation be returned to them, subject of course to all existing valid rights to lands heretofore disposed of therein.

Section 4 of the Act of March 3, 1927 (44 Stat., 1347), pormits [permits] the temporary withdrawal of lands for Indian purposes but prohibits permanent withdrawal except by act of Congress. Therefore legislation will be required before a withdrawal as proposed herein can be made permanent. However, it is essential that the lands be withdrawn temporarily from disposition under the public land laws pending consideration of the matter by Congress, and also so that the range may not be destroyed by bands of sheep not driven in from Colorado and parts of Utah outside of the land in question.

It is therefore recommended under authority contained in Section 4 of the Act of March 3, 1927, supra, and subject to all existing valid rights, that all vacant, unentered, and undisposed of public lands within the area that was embraced in the Executive Order of January 5, 1868, be temporarily withdrawn from all forms of entry under the public land laws in aid of proposed legislation permanently reserving the lands as a grazing range for the Uncompahgre Ute Indians and for white stockman within the area, with the understanding that pending the enactment of legislation as hereinabove referred to this temporary withdrawal shall not deprive the other Indians or the white stockman of Utah who have been utilizing any of the public lands within the withdrawn area from the continued use of such lands for grazing purposes, under approved permits from the Commission of Indian Affairs.

John Collier

Source: box 1, fd. 1932-33, MacKay Collection

 Ute Leaders to John Collier, August 20, 1934

Although disappointed that they did not receive the entire Uncompahgre Reservation, Ute leaders reminded BIA commissioner John Collier that “in years past” the Ute people had “used considerable of it for winter grazing purposes” and asked for additional acreage for winter and summer grazing ranges. 


Fort Duchesne, Utah
August 20, 1934
Honorable John Collier
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Commissioner:

We, the undersigned, members of the Business Committee, Uintah & Ouray Indian Agency, Utah, feel that approximately 500,000 acres of grazing land requested being set aside as Indian reservation for grazing purposes of the Indians under the jurisdiction of the above-named agency will within the next few years be absolutely necessary for the grazing of Indian stock. It is honestly believed that only land as will serve the purposes of these Indians has been requested as being set aside for our grazing use.

It will be noted that request has been made for a certain portion of high ground for summer grazing and a smaller portion of lower ground for winter grazing. In making these selections, it has been taken into consideration that approximately one and one-half million acres of the old Uncompahgre Reservation is being left as public domain and this is land which during former years has been used to a great extent by local stockmen for winter grazing purposes.

While a great many of our Indians feel that perhaps the land to be set aside for our use should include all lands within the former Uncompahgre Reservation, it is not our desire to prevent the use of all this land by whites; we have, in years past, used considerable of it for winter grazing purposes, and we thoroughly feel that we are being fair in requesting that the land as outlined in a map or plat inclosed with justifications of the Superintendent and his assistants should be given prompt and favorable consideration by the Honorable Secretary of the Interior.

Chauncey Cuch                 Oran Curry, Chairman
John Victor                         Roy Smith
George Redcap                 Fred Mart

Source: box 1, fd. 1934, MacKay Collection

Richard B. Millin to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, November 6, 1934

This letter announced the dates for hearings to create grazing district under the Taylor Grazing Act. Richard B. Millin, an Indian Affairs range supervisor, then outlines “a need for additional grazing lands at the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.” He urged interested parties to meet in Washington to discuss the particulars. Beyond the points noted below, Millin further argued the necessity of designating the land to the Ute.


Uintah & Ouray Agency,

Fort Duchesne, Utah. November 6, 1934.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:
. . .

There is a need for additional grazing lands at the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. It should be met through setting aside the areas asked for as additions to the present reservation.

In this connection I wish to recommend that Superintendent Page, and Oran Curry, Chairman of the Tribal Business Committee, be called to Washington at an early date to confer with the Commissioner and Director of Grazing, Carpenter, in an attempt to get a satisfactory settlement of this matter before it is too late, and that Hugh Colton, attorney for the Vernal stock growers association, be invited to accompany them as a representative of the stockmen interested in this area of land. The trip can be made by auto in a few days and at a minimum of expense for the three.

My reasons for this recommendation are as follows:

  1. Our inability to make clear why it is of the utmost importance to add these lands to the reservation and not allow them to go under the Taylor Act. Our letters have been both numerous and lengthy but as yet we have had no reply that indicated our position and the reasons for it were understood. Apparently it can not be made clear by correspondence but I am sure that a personal interview would make it clear.”
  1. THE STOCKMEN ARE VERY INTENT ON AN IMMEDIATE SETTLEMENT. Through political channels they have been endeavoring to have the withdrawal of the unappropriated lands in the old Uncompahgre Reservation rescinded so that it could go under the Taylor Act. . . .

One reason for this interest is that it is expected that the public domain lands in the rest of the newly organized district will soon be closed to “tramp” outfits from outside its borders and they will have not place to go in eastern Utah except the old Uncompahgre Reservation. This is the winter grazing ground of many of the stockmen in northeastern Utah. With the present feed shortage ruin stares them in the face if many new outfits move into their winter range.

. . . Under these circumstances the remainder of the reservation would pass to the public domain and under the Taylor Act.

  1. THE INDIANS WANT THESE GRAZING LANDS. Many of the older Uncompahgres want the whole reservation back. The Tribal Business Committee however has gone into the situation thoroughly, their representatives have looked over the lands proposed by Mr. Page and favor taking them in place of asking for the whole reservation back. All of them will feel very indignant if they get no lands but only grazing privileges under the Taylor Act.
  1. ACTION MUST BE TAKEN BEFORE THESE LANDS ARE DEFINITELY PLACED UNDER THE TAYLOR ACT. It appears to both Superintendent Page and myself that action must be taken right away. If these lands are placed under the Taylor Act it will be practically impossibly [sic] to ever get them all set aside under the Taylor Act for Indian grazing. This phase will be discussed more in detail later.

This proposed addition to the reservation has the support of the field representatives of the Service, the Indians and the stockmen. We are all still hopeful that the support of the Offices can be obtained. If so then I believe Director of Grazing Carpenter will offer no opposition and the approval of the Secretary would appear to be assured.

. . .

Source: box 1, fd. 1934, MacKay Collection

Oran Curry to John Collier, January 30, 1935

In this letter, Tribal Business Committee chairman Oran Curry once again appealed to John Collier to “do everything in your power to secure lands we desire and have them set aside as reservation,” adding that “[w]e cannot hope to compete with the whites on the public domain under terms of the Taylor Grazing Act.” 


Fort Duchesne, Utah

January 30, 1935

Honorable John Collier
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Commissioner:

The problem which concerns us most at this time and which is most vital to our people has been made the subject of much correspondence from this Agency to the Indian Office and has to do with securing certain portions of the former Uncompahgre Reservation and public domain as well as ceded portions of the Uintah Reservation, not disposed of, and adding game to our present reservation. We would refer you to correspondence submitted by our Superintendent to the Indian Office and particularly to a letter submitted by him dated August 30, 1934, covering this subject. We believe that the letter referred to sets forth very specifically our reasons for wanting this land and also justifies the requests made.

We are writing to ask that you personally look into this matter and do everything in your power to secure lands we desire and have them set aside as reservation. We feel that we are being fair in our request and are only asking for lands which we believe we will have use for. We agree with our Superintendent that the only way we may be assured of adequate grazing and proper management of our grazing land is through the establishment of reservation, as requested. We cannot hope to compete with the whites on the public domain under terms of the Taylor Grazing Act. We are not prepared for it.

Information recently received from the Secretary of the Interior indicates that legislation will be necessary to restore any of the former Uncompahgre Reservation back to tribal ownership and that same cannot be accomplished under terms of the Indian Reorganization Act. This information was, of course, quite disappointing to us as we had figured that the Indian Reorganization Act could take care of the restoration of these lands for us. In view of the fact that legislation will be necessary, it is respectfully requested that we be allowed to send one delegate and our Superintendent to Washington to present our case to the proper persons. It is our belief that such a procedure would render the Office invaluable aid in obtaining our views on the matter, and that through this procedure the Office will receive first-hand knowledge of conditions here and of the desires and wishes of our people.

We do not feel we can add any more by letter to what has already been written to the Office on this subject but we believe that securing these lands will mark the turning point in the lives of our people, start us on the road to an independent livelihood and make us a respected people of whom your administration and the State of Utah will be proud.

I trust that we will receive a reply at an early date to our request that a delegate from our tribe together with our Superintendent be permitted to visit the Office and discuss with you this very important matter.

Thanking you for any personal interest you may take in this matter, I am

Oran Curry
Chairman, Tribal Business Committee

Source: box 1, fd. 1935, MacKay Collection

DOI, OIA, “Statement Concerning the Uncompahgre Grazing Reserve,” February 6, 1943

This report produced by the Office of Indian Affairs details the Ute’s long quest to secure the return of a portion of its original reservation and outlines the way forward for “a Ute Indian grazing reserve.”


Chicago, Illinois

February 6, 1943

Statement Concerning the Uncompahgre Grazing Reserve

There have been before Congress several bills to authorize the establishment of a grazing reserve for the Ute tribes of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah within the boundaries of the former Uncompahgre Reservation which is not largely within the exterior boundaries of Utah Grazing District 8. The latest of these bills was the Robinson Bill, H. R. 7638, which was passed by the House October 19, 1942, but failed of passage again in the Senate.

An order establishing a special grazing reserve for the Ute Indians within Utah Grazing District 8 was signed by the Secretary of the Interior on September 16, 1941, but the promulgation of this order was deferred in order to give the legislation designed to accomplish the same purpose, additional time for adoption by Congress. This legislation, as stated above, failed of passage in the Senate in December 1942, repeating the experience of similar legislation in December 1940 and in preceding sessions of Congress.

The objective of this legislation and of the Secretarial Order was to make available to the Uncompahgre Band of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation the use of the public domain range lands on an area of about 710,000 gross acres in the drainage areas of the White River, Hill and Willow Creeks south of the town of Ouray and east of the Green River. This area had been tentatively delimited in 1935. Within the area thus delimited the Ute Indians with tribal funds and with gratuity funds contributed by the Federal Government under the provisions of the Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat., 984), had acquired practically all of the patented lands and improvements with the exception of the State lands and the Indian allotments. These purchases of the private lands had been made with the understanding that the interested stockmen and the Advisory Board of Utah Grazing District 8 would support legislation to establish the area thus delimited as a Ute Indian grazing reserve.

This in its main outlines and oversimplified is the situation in February 1943. In order to keep faith with the Ute Indians who, relying upon the agreement reached in 1935, allocated almost $200,000 of their tribal funds for the purchase of the privately-owned lands within the delimited area, it is necessary that effect be given immediately to the order signed by the Secretary of the Interior in September 1941 to set up the Ute Indian grazing reserve. This action would not immediately disturb the present use of the area by non-Indians. Through negotiations with the interested parties, the boundaries of the Secretarial grazing reserve could and would be adjusted to eliminate friction and the rectified boundaries of this reserve could then be confirmed by Act of Congress. . . .

Source: box 2, fd. 1943a, MacKay Collection


Early Utah Women Inventors: A Conversation with Christine Cooper-Rompato

In this conversation, Christine Cooper-Rompato, an associate professor in the English Department at Utah State University, introduces us to a couple of remarkable nineteenth-century women in Utah Territory who filed patents for their inventions. We see who these women were, where they came from, and what we know about their inventions—mechanisms for bathing, items for clothing and costumes, a music binder, and a brake for a wagon. Cooper-Rompato provides delightful insights into what these patents tell us about the changing world of nineteenth-century America and the private and public lives of women in Utah. We also get an inside glimpse into how a professor who specializes in medieval literature came to study women inventors in the United States, where she obtained information on these women, and what we can learn about Utah history from the stories of these women and their inventions.

Click on each image below for the full patent:

Jeannette P. Brown’s life preserver for the head, U.S. Patent 531,505.


Carrie Aurelia Munro’s first vapor bath invention, U.S. Patent 151,149.


Rebecca Henshaw’s clothing hook, U.S. Patent 435,827.



Matilda Busby and her associates invented a wagon brake, U.S. Patent 438,491.


Julia Samson’s portable music binder, U.S. Patent 492,238.







Wedding Dresses: A Photo Gallery

These striking, full-color photographs of a multi-generation wedding dress collection are material representations of the women of an extended family spanning more than one hundred years. In 1986, Carol Carlisle Summer donated wedding gowns from five generations of the extended Gordon-Cahoon family to the Utah State Historical Society. These dresses were worn by Mary Ballantyne Gordon, Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon, Mary Cahoon Knudsen, Ethel Cahoon Stewart, Amy Knudsen Carlisle, Margaret Pritchard Young, Patricia Kilker Lettner, and Carol Carlisle Summer, all descendants of Mary Ballantyne Gordon. See the summer 2015 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly for more information about the dresses and the women who owned and wore them.

Annie Sager, Katie Saunders, and Sabrina Sanders prepared the Summer Collection dresses, and Anna Oldroyd photographed them. Nathan Gardner advised with lighting and photography.


Mary Ballantyne Gordon

Mary Ballantyne Gordon was born to John and Janette Ballantyne in Selkirk, Scotland, in 1817. She converted to the LDS church in 1838 and soon immigrated to United States. Ballantyne married James Gordon—who was also a Scottish convert to Mormonism—in Nauvoo, Illinois, on April 4, 1843; he was twenty-four years old and she was twenty-six.[1] According to family tradition, James was a “great friend” of Joseph Smith Jr., and Mary was a servant in the home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith.[2] In Utah, James wed two additional wives: Marion Ellen Park in 1854 and Mary Elizabeth Helm in 1857.[3] Mary herself bore nine children.[4] She died in 1878 of congestive chills at the age sixty-one.[5]

Mary Gordon’s dress is a grey-brown color, made of linsey-woolsey. A sturdy suit appropriate for many occasions, it has pleated edging on the bodice and sleeves and a wide teal border on the hem of the skirt. According to one account, this dress came across the plains from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1848.[6]

[1] Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1848, and Marriages in the Nauvoo Region, 1839–1845, s.v. “Mary Ballantyne,” accessed April 13, 2015,

[2] Marion Vera Carlson Cahoon, “History of Marion Ellen Park Gordon,” November 3, 1939, 2, Summer Collection.

[3] Ancestral File, s.v. “James Gordon,” accessed March 3, 2015,; see also 1870 U.S. Census, Salt Lake County, Mary Gordon.

[4] Cahoon, “History of Marion Ellen Park Gordon,” 2; Ancestral File, s.v. “Mary Ballantyne,” accessed March 3, 2015,

[5] Utah Death Registers, 1847–1966, s.v. “Mary Gordon,” accessed April 13, 2015,

[6] “Cahoons Celebrate Golden Wedding,” Summer Collection.





Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon

Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon was born in April 1856 to James Gordon and Mary Ballantyne Gordon at the family’s home in the Salt Lake Valley. Elizabeth married John Cahoon on May 23, 1877, when they were both twenty-one years old. She bore ten children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. As for her other accomplishments, Elizabeth’s obituary simply remarks that “she lived in Salt Lake all her life and was prominent in social circles”; she died in 1931 at the age of seventy-five.[1]

Elizabeth Cahoon’s wedding dress is two pieces, made of royal purple faille, with silk fringe and velvet figured buttons. In accordance with the style of the late 1870s, the dress featured a large bustle and elaborate trimming. When this striking dress was displayed in 1927, a journalist remarked that it “bore the unmistakable evidence of having clothed a tall and slender bride fifty years ago.”[2]

[1] “Deaths,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 8, 1931.

[2] Olian, Wedding Fashions, 17–19; “Cahoons Celebrate Golden Wedding,” Summer Collection (qtn.).





Mary “Mayme” Cahoon Knudsen

Mary Cahoon Knudsen was the first child of John Cahoon and Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon, born in 1878. She married Frederick C. Knudsen on June 16, 1904, at her parent’s home in Murray. Mary was twenty-six and her groom was twenty-five. Of the event, the Deseret News noted that a “brilliant reception was given to friends and relatives of the couple.”[1] This remark, as well as the beauty and quality of Mary’s dress, are indicative of the family’s social and financial success.

Mary Knudsen’s wedding dress is made of cream-colored crepe de chine; its full, surplice bodice has shirring at the shoulders, a high-boned lace collar and inset, and a cummerbund in contrasting fabric. The sleeves have wide lace cuffs, and four lines of shirring embellish the skirt.

[1] Utah, Select County Marriages, 1887–1937, s.v. “Mary Cahoon,” accessed April 13, 2015,; “Murray Notes,” Deseret Evening News, June 18, 1904, 12 (qtn.).




Ethel Cahoon Stewart

Ethel Cahoon Stewart was born in February 1888 to John Cahoon and Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon. Like her sister, Ethel’s name appeared in the society pages of local newspapers. In March 1909 at the age of twenty-one, Ethel married Blaine S. Stewart, who was then a cashier at the Murray State Bank. After a ceremony in her parent’s home, they traveled “over the Salt Lake Route” to Los Angeles for their honeymoon.[1]

Ethel Stewart’s ivory satin dress has a high collar of Swiss dot netting, the fabric also used for its under sleeves. The upper sleeves, a contrasting bodice panel, and a treatment at the waist are all made of an elaborate lace. A fringe trims the bodice. As with her sister Mary’s dress, Ethel’s fashionable gown indicates the family’s financial well-being.

[1] “Murray,” Salt Lake Herald, March 15, 1909 (qtn.); Utah, Select County Marriages, 1887–1937, s.v. “Ethel Cahoon”; see “Current Events in Salt Lake Society,” Salt Lake Herald, February 21, 1909, 5, for an announcement of the Cahoon-Stewart wedding.





Amy Knudsen Carlisle

Amy Knudsen Carlisle was born in 1917 in Murray to Mary Cahoon Knudsen and Frederick Knudsen. She attended Granite High School and married Marvin T. Carlisle in September 1933. The outline of Amy’s life shows the evolution of women’s lives in the twentieth century and contrasts with that of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother: she bore one child, spent much of her life as a bookkeeper for Western Paper, and actively participated in the Great Salt Lake Retriever Club with her husband. Amy died in Freeland, Washington, in 1991.[1]

Amy Knudsen’s gown consisted of a cream georgette overdress, a cream crepe slip, and a short georgette shoulder cape. The dress is adorned, simply and effectively, with pin tucks sewn on the bias.

[1] “Death: Amy Knudsen Carlisle,” Deseret News, October 16, 1991.




Margaret Pritchard Young

Margaret Pritchard Young, who was born in Murray in 1912, was the daughter of Alfred E. Pritchard and Margaret Cahoon and the granddaughter of John Cahooon and Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon. She married Gardener Young in 1937. In 1940, three years after their marriage, the Youngs lived near downtown Salt Lake City, where Gardener worked as a commercial airplane mechanic and Margaret cashiered in a department store. Margaret died in Albany, California, in 2011.[1]

Margaret Young’s dress is made of a pale blue-green chiffon cut on the bias. It has short, puffed sleeves; dark blue velvet under the bust and at the hem provides contrast. It was worn with a pink crepe hat.

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Murray, Salt Lake County, Utah, p. 7B, dwelling 149, line 78, Margaret Pritchard, digital image; 1940 U.S. Census, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, p. 8A, household 1341, line 14, Margaret P. Young, digital image, accessed April 13, 2015, both at




Margaret-hat (2)

Patricia Kilker Lettner

Patricia Kilker Lettner was the child of Damon Kilker and Vadis Cahoon, the youngest daughter of John Cahoon and Elizabeth Gordon Cahoon. She was born in about 1923 and spent at least some of her childhood in Albany, California, where her father worked for the Post Office and her mother was a beautician.[1] Patricia married Frederick Lettner in the mid-1940s.

Patricia Lettner’s dress is cream-colored satin with a sweetheart neckline, a dropped waist, long sleeves, and a train. The sleeves and neckline are embroidered with a floral design made of seed pearls. Both the bodice back and the wrists have self-covered buttons.

[1] 1940 U.S. Census, Albany, Alameda County, California, p. 10B, household 940, line 47, Patricia Kilker, digital image, accessed April 13, 2015,





Carol Carlisle Summer

Carol Carlisle Summer was born to Amy Knudsen Carlisle and Marvin T. Carlisle in Salt Lake City in 1934. In February 1968, at thirty-three years of age, she married Charles E. Summer in Lausanne, Switzerland. Charles later became a professor at the University of Washington, and Carol collaborated with him on at least one publication. She died in 1988 in Seattle, not long after donating her family’s collection to the Utah State Historical Society.[1]

On her wedding day, Carol Summer wore a mini-length, a-line dress of beige cotton lace over taffeta. It has a high collar, wide sleeves, and an ivory satin cummerbund.

[1] “Births,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 20, 1934; Public Member Tree, s.v., “Carol Carlisle Summer,” accessed April 22, 2015,; Charles E. Summer and Jeremiah J. O’Connell, with Boris Yavitz, Newman S. Peery Jr., and Carol Carlisle Summer, The Managerial Mind: Science and Theory in Policy Decisions (Homewood, IL: R. D. Irwin, 1973).








Russian Molokans in Utah: A Conversation with Marshall Bowen

One of our favorite articles published in the Utah Historical Quarterly this year was Marshall Bowen’s “The Russian Molokans of Park Valley.” A thoughtful and richly textured history, Bowen’s article introduced readers to five Russian families that temporarily settled in rural Park Valley in western Box Elder County, Utah. An emeritus professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Bowen brings to this article the tools and insights of a geographer to demonstrate the spatial dimensions of Park Valley history. In our conversation we asked Bowen about the brief tenure of the Molokans in Park Valley and the process of uncovering their history.


The Russian Molokans in northwestern Utah. How did you come to this obscure subject?

I first became aware that Russians had lived in Park Valley in the summer of 1980, when I was examining a number of dry farming settlements in northeastern Nevada.  I split my time between the Special Collections at Utah State University and field work in Nevada, often spending a few days in Logan and then driving to Elko via Snowville and Park Valley.  Aware of my interest in remote dryland communities and my route back and forth to Nevada, Jeff Simmonds, Director of the Special Collections, asked if I knew about some Russian graves south of Park Valley.  I admitted that I had not, but expressed an interest in seeing them, so Jeff gave me rough directions to the site, adding that he knew little about the people who had erected the graves.

Later that summer I drove down to the vicinity of the graves, but before reaching the site I got my car stuck in the bed of an intermittent stream, and had to walk several miles to the nearest residence, where I was able to call the garage in Park Valley for tow truck assistance.  Conversations with the woman who let me use her phone and with the tow truck operator yielded some information, but I still didn’t have a clear picture of the Russians’ experience in Park Valley.  The next summer, using a more suitable vehicle, I found the graves and a foundation that, as I discovered later, had once supported a school building.

By this time my curiosity was aroused, and I asked myself “I wonder” questions that have often been the foundations of my research.  These included such inquiries as: Who were these people?  Where did they come from?  Why did they come?  What were their lives like when they were in Park Valley?  Why did they leave?  Where did they go?  At the time, I had many other academic commitments, but I resolved that some day I would try to figure it all out.  This time came when I retired from full-time teaching in 2001, and was free to do the digging needed to obtain the answers to my questions.  This paper represents the culmination of that research, whose seeds were planted when I first saw the graves in 1981.

How did the insights and techniques of your discipline (geography) shape this project? What can historians learn from geographers?

A basic component of geography is the spatial approach – that is, analysis of the distributions and flows of tangible things such as people, goods, and plant life, as well as more abstract phenomena such as ideas and political affiliations.  Two of my foundation questions – where did the Molokans come from and where did they go – are clearly spatial in nature.  So, too, is my desire to identify all places where Molokans lived in Park Valley, and to determine the arrangement of their houses, outbuildings, and fields.  Tax records steered me to the three settlement sites, and aerial photographs, taken a half-century after the Molokans left, provided clues about property lines and field alignments, particularly in the vicinity of the Jumper village.  But ultimately it became necessary to get my boots dusty as I explored each site.  I spent countless hours pinpointing the exact location of dwellings, identifying abandoned fields and holes that had once been wells, and discovering artifacts, from a rusty old spoon to pots and pans that had been left behind.  These experiences helped me sense what these remote places must have looked like when the Molokans were there, to absorb some of their flavor, and in turn to share what I have learned with my readers.

Geography and history are closely intertwined, for all human activity happens in certain places at certain times, or occurs from place to place through the passage of time.  Just as geographers should pay more attention to historical processes that have helped shape today’s patterns on the land, historians can make use of geographical approaches to understand past events.  Knowing how certain things or phenomena were distributed in the past, how these patterns changed through time, and portraying them cartographically, can yield insights that might otherwise have escaped notice.  As a corollary, I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of field work.  Being there, getting a feel for a place where certain events occurred, and perhaps discovering remnants of the past, can help historians become sensitive to the nuances of the places where these events occurred.

You have emphasized the diversity of five Molokan families who settled in Park Valley. Why is the variety of the Molokan experience significant?  Does it reflect the broader ethnic experience in Utah?

It is easy for us to assume that all members of a particular social group, no matter how large or small, are about the same.  This is especially true when we are studying unfamiliar groups.  Initially, I made this assumption about the Molokans of Park Valley.  But as I learned more about each family (not just the ones that are the focus of this paper), I discovered that each had its own personality, with all of them living their lives under the umbrella of Molokanism, at least while they were in Park Valley.  The differences may have been subtle, but they were nonetheless real.  This would have been more fully brought out if I had expanded my paper to include the lives of the children of the five families in California.  Some plodded along about as their parents had done, others, most notably the sons of Pete and Fannie Volkoff, got into serious trouble with the law, while still others, notably Jennie Kunakoff, completed their schooling, embarked on successful careers, and in some cases married outside the faith of their parents.  Understanding the variety of the Molokan experience is significant because it enables us to see, at the grassroots level, how the process of Americanization played out, with some people taking tiny steps and others, for better or for worse, making giant strides.

I cannot say with certainty whether the Molokan experience reflected the broader ethnic experience in Utah.  This is something that can only be determined by similar in-depth studies of other groups.  But my gut feeling is that while the details may have differed, the process would have been about the same, with some people gladly embracing what they found in their new country, and others clinging stubbornly to their Old World values.  The gap that developed between these extremes may have been greater among the Molokans than with people who came from northwestern Europe, for example, but I would argue that as time passed, the similarities probably overshadowed the differences.

The emigrants in Park Valley stayed only a short time, a few years at most. Why did they leave, where did they go, and what is their lasting legacy in Box Elder County?

The basic problem was the Molokans’ inability to raise enough crops to feed themselves.  This occurred primarily because of drought, with extraordinarily heavy storms at inappropriate times also taking a toll.  The Constants’ inability to attract more families from their branch of the sect to their little cluster of homes near Rosette also played a role, as did homesickness, with some people concluding that they were now living too far from relatives and friends in California.  But the primary cause, without doubt, was crop failure and the threat of starvation.

As I described in the article, and illustrated in Figure 7, all of the Molokans returned to California, but some families took roundabout ways of getting there.  One family lived for several years in Oregon, others made their homes in Arizona before relocating to Los Angeles, and a half dozen families stayed in Salt Lake City before they, too, moved to Los Angeles.  The Constants tended to settle down in northern California, while the Jumpers were more likely to establish lasting homes in the Los Angeles area and the southern part of the Central Valley.

The Molokans’ legacy in Park Valley is faint.  There are landscape remnants, of course, and local residents remember hearing something, from their parents or grandparents, about the Russians who lived “out there.”  Occasionally, a newspaper article will remind readers of the broad outlines of the Molokans’ brief presence on the land.  But all of these fall into the category of curiosities, glimpses of something unusual that happened long ago and has been nearly forgotten.  Hopefully, my article will rekindle some interest in the Molokan experience in Utah and, more importantly, enable others to understand that even for a small group of people who lived in an out-of-the-way corner of the state, there is a compelling story to be told, with relevance that extends far beyond the boundaries of Box Elder County.

What lessons do you think the story of the Molokans provide for Utah and western historians?

I believe that I have addressed some of these lessons above.   Specifically, Utah and western historians can benefit from utilizing several dimensions of the spatial approach in their research, by determining if the processes of Americanization that I have alluded to in the Park Valley experience have broader applicability, and by intensively analyzing the life histories of individual families to better understand group dynamics.  I am also convinced that field work can yield important insights, and that historians can make fuller use of internet sources.  I know that I would not have succeeded in getting to the root of the Park Valley Molokan story without use of materials on the internet, especially but not exclusively those available through

Was there anything that surprised you while researching this topic?

As an “old school” historical geographer in his seventies who has spent hundreds of hours rooting through archival sources from Washington, DC, to San Francisco, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how much information I could access via the internet.  I am a relative newcomer to the world of computers, and am not very computer savvy, but once I began to get the hang of it, the opportunities proved to be almost limitless.  And the more I probed, the more I found.

I was also surprised that most Molokans were willing to share their memories, and provide copies of various family documents.  I had been warned that many of the older generation in particular would be standoffish and suspicious of my work, and some were, but the vast majority welcomed my interest in their heritage, and were genuinely pleased that I had chosen to examine the Park Valley settlement and its residents.  Their principal concern was that I “got it right,” as one man expressed it.  There may be places in the article where I have misconstrued something, especially of a subtle nature, but I think that on the whole I did get it right.  My heartfelt thanks go to those people who helped me, and trusted me with describing and interpreting a part of their history.