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Piecing Together the Life of David H. Burr

By Sheri Wysong

David H. Burr was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1803—approximately one year before his distant relative, Colonel Aaron Burr, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, on July 11, 1804.

As a young man, David H. studied law, becoming the aide-de-camp to Governor DeWitt Clinton in 1825. Soon thereafter, he was appointed to the job that became the first of his true callings: heading up a road surveying crew, mapping the roads in the state of New York.[1]

Upon completion of the surveys, Burr ventured into his second true calling, cartography. He used the reports and maps from the road surveys to compile an atlas of the state of New York, which he self-published in 1830.[2] Burr then set his sights higher and began work on a world atlas, probably planning to again publish it himself. He was unable to complete the atlas, however, because in the early 1830s, he accepted an appointment as the topographer to the U.S. Post Office and moved his family to Washington, D.C. The engravers of the maps took over the project, and D. S. Stone of New York City completed and published the Universal Atlas in 1835.[3]

All sources state that Burr accepted the Post Office appointment in 1832. However, he does not appear in the 1833 civil service register, indicating that he was not offered the appointment until the latter part of 1833 at the earliest. The source of the 1832 date was probably Burr family genealogist Charles Burr Todd, whose descriptions of Burr’s activities must be read with a discerning eye.

Todd also stated that the House of Representatives employed Burr from 1832 until 1846. However, in examining the civil service registers, I found him listed in that position only from 1839 until sometime before late 1843. One might reasonably conclude that Burr created maps for his atlas until mid to late 1833, then worked for the Post Office from late 1833 or 1834 until 1836, at which time he left its employ to pursue the publication of his American Atlas.

Although David H. Burr does not appear in the civil service registers until September 1839, Henry A. Burr is listed as the topographer to the Post Office in the September 1837 Biennial Register of all Officers and Agents, in the Service of the United States. Todd includes a Henry A. Burr as David H.’s younger brother, born in 1806. In the 1839 registry, David H. Burr is listed as the geographer to the House of Representatives and Henry A. still appears as topographer to the Post Office. According to Todd, Henry A. remained in that position “until his death in March, 1863.” The employment of the two brothers probably explains another incorrect statement by Todd, namely that David H. had held the position of topographer of the Post Office at the same time as he held the appointment of geographer to the House of Representatives.[4]

Sometime before September 30, 1843, Burr appears to have left the employ of the federal government again. According to Todd, upon his 1846 return from England, Burr worked as a deputy surveyor general for Florida then Louisiana until 1852—but again Todd’s narrative of Burr’s timeline is faulty since Burr’s trip to England probably took place 10 years earlier. Contracts were issued for deputy surveyor generals for Florida in 1842, which is consistent with Todd’s statement that Burr went there soon after the end of the Seminole War. It appears that he returned to Washington long enough to produce a map, Texas (1845). Burr then evidently gained federal employment sometime after late 1845, working on a survey in Louisiana, since he turns up in the September 1847 civil service register as a draughtsman there.[5]

Burr’s activities between 1848 and 1853 are difficult to establish; he cannot be found in the 1849 or 1851 civil service registers, so it’s very possible he was working under contracts as a deputy surveyor general like he did in Florida.[6] Another possibility is that he spent time in California pursuing opportunities during the Gold Rush, since the Daily Alta California documents a “D H Burr” departing San Francisco on July 1, 1853, for Panama.[7] Separately, on January 13, 1852, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to hire a draughtsman “to mark and lay down the on the maps, now in the room of the Committee on Public Lands, the state of the surveys” and subsequently appointed Burr to the position.[8] The draughtsman appointment was anticipated to last only three months, yet the 1853 civil service register documents that Burr was in the position on September 30, 1853.[9] Burr’s trip from San Francisco to Panama (then across the isthmus to board another boat for Washington, D.C.) might have been in response to news of the appointment, which would not have occurred a year-and-a-half after the Senate’s resolution.

Burr’s next federal appointment was as surveyor general for Utah Territory, where he arrived in midsummer, 1855. Over the course of the next twenty months, Burr’s relationship with the Mormon settlers in Utah—who disagreed with his surveys—became increasingly difficult. He ultimately fled the territory in April 1857, as tensions in general escalated.[10] Burr returned to Utah after the Utah War had quieted the conflicts. With John M. Hockaday, Burr opened a dry goods store on the corner of First South and East Temple (now Main Street) in Salt Lake City, as documented in a local 1860 almanac. The business did not appear in the next year’s almanac, and Burr’s activities after 1860 are not known.

At that point, Burr was fifty-eight years old and had limited prospects. He returned east at some point before 1870; the census that year verifies he was in Washington, D.C. One source hints that he might have taken up engraving.[11] Charles Todd stated that Burr’s health had suffered from the stress of his ordeals in Utah, but he lived for another fifteen years after he presumably left Utah, dying in Washington, D.C. on December 25, 1875.

[1] Both David H. and Aaron Burr were included in two extensive volumes on the Burr family published by Charles Burr Todd. The first edition, published in 1878, had a nominal entry on David H. Burr; by 1891, however, Todd had expanded on Burr’s life, presumably after being provided more information by Burr’s immediate family members. Charles Burr Todd, A General History of the Burr Family in America, with a Genealogical Record from 1570 to 1878, 1st ed. (New York: E. W. Sackett, 1878), 204, and A General History of the Burr Family, with a Genealogical Record from 1193 to 1891, 2nd ed. (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1891), 199–200.

[2] Walter W. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985), 104.

[3] Ibid., 106.

[4] Todd, A General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200; United States Department of State, Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval in the Service of the United States, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1845. I cannot find Burr’s name in the 1843 or 1849 civil service registers.

[5] Todd, General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200; United States Department of State, Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military and Naval, in the Service of the United States, 1837, 1843, 1847, 1849; David H. Burr, The State of Texas, 1836–1845 (New York: Richard Swainson Fisher, 1845), available at Yale University Library Digital Collections, accessed March 30, 2018,

[6] Contract Surveyors were not Federal employees, and would not appear in the civil service register.

[7] “Passengers,” Daily Alta (San Francisco) California, July 1, 1853, 2.

[8] Todd, A General History of the Burr Family, 182, 200.

[9] Cong. Globe, 32nd Cong., 1st Sess. (1852); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, D.C.: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853).

[10] Florida state historian Joe Knetsch provides an account of Burr’s conflicts in Utah in “The Surveyor General, the Prophet, and a War that Almost Happened,” Professional Surveyor, May 2006, accessed July 19, 2018,

[11] “The D. Griffing Johnson, A. J. Johnson and J. H. Colton Connection,” Geographicus, June 13, 2009, accessed September 24, 2017,


Utah Historical Quarterly Winter 2018

Volume 86, Number 1


The Utah Historical Quarterly has historically seen itself as a state journal that explores Utah history in the regional context of the American West. For all of the focus on Utah history, the UHQ sought to address frameworks and subjects beyond the state’s geopolitical boundaries to those across the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and greater Intermountain West.

Over the last ninety years, the journal has published articles that have variously looked at Utah history as an entity in itself and others that have placed it within a regional context. Both approaches can lead to fine works of history. But we are committed to the idea that to deeply understand Utah, readers must interact with a host of overlapping subjects and geographical contexts, often offered in combination with history’s allied fields (geography, archeology, cultural studies, and others). With this in mind, the editorial team, with approval of the Advisory Board of Editors, revised our editorial statement to affirm our commitment to a regional, interdisciplinary approach to Utah history. This statement will be published in the inside front cover of each issue.

In the twenty-first century, with the wide availability of information, the fracturing and specialization of subject matter, and, even, the loss of faith in a shared body of knowledge, the UHQ aspires as we have done since 1928 to bring you evidentiary, peer-reviewed history that spans across all regions and pertains to all groups and communities that make Utah home. To continue to make that happen, we are pleased to announce the creation of the Miriam B. Murphy / Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow. In partnership with the History Department at the University of Utah and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University, this academic-year award is offered to a deserving candidate enrolled in the University of Utah’s history graduate program. This year the Miriam B. Murphy Editorial Fellow is Alexandria Waltz, and we are currently accepting applications for the Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow to work alongside UHQ staff during the 2018–2019 academic year. For more on the fellowship and its namesakes, see pages 69-71.

We are deeply grateful to the History Department at the University of Utah and to the Redd Center at Brigham Young University for their financial assistance and partnership to make the Fellow award possible. Fundraising in the years to come will be needed, and if the pursuit and publishing of exceptional history interests you, I would be delighted to speak to you about financial contributions to this annual editorial appointment. The Fellow award is but one area of close collaboration between the journal and the state’s institutions of higher learning.

Finally, before I introduce this issue’s articles, I invite each of you to take part in our 2018 annual statewide theme and conference, Transportation and Movement. In recognition of the upcoming commemoration of America’s first transcontinental railroad in May 1869, the Utah State Historical Society aims to highlight this singular national historical event and the centrality of transportation and movement in Utah and western history. Archaeology and Preservation Month in May, with its associated partnership events held across Utah, will center on this theme, as will a host of other events and exhibitions sponsored or supported by the Society. The year culminates with the 66th annual Utah History Conference to be held at the Cultural Celebration Center on September 27–28. There, scholars, academics, public historians, local historians, educators, film documentarians, book dealers, and people interested in history will explore the latest scholarship, writing, and sources on this theme and other aspects of Utah history. I thank all of you for your participation at past conferences and, more broadly, for your love of and interest in what we do at the Society. By attending the conference and lectures, reading the UHQ, and perusing online materials, I hope you see the value that the Society brings to the study and public consumption of history in Utah.

The essays in this issue bring attention to topics that will be intimately familiar to some readers. In the nineteenth century, overland pioneers and travelers to Salt Lake City frequently passed through Mountain Dell, located as it was along the emigrants’ road. Today, it is a fly-by place in Parley’s Canyon along the Interstate 80 corridor where golfers and Nordic skiers go for recreation. Our first essay contextualizes the changes that occurred there, from a way station and village community with a school, post office, and other amenities, to Salt Lake City water works that displaced local residents on behalf of watershed protection.

Some readers may remember, and even possibly participated in, the antiwar protests of the Vietnam era. The second essay centers on Stephen Holbrook, a young Utahan inspired by his participation in the Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi, who led antiwar demonstrations in his home state. The work published here examines the cultural and religious factors that contributed to Holbrook’s world view that emphasized cooperation and collaboration over antagonism and violence. The Utah scene and the movement Holbrook orchestrated, with its relatively few violent disturbances, complicate popular perceptions of protests nationwide.

Our final essays reflect on the local histories that surround us all. In this issue, spurred on by local leader and Manila, Utah, resident RaNae Wilde, we offer reflections on a county and its communities that have traditionally received little love in the historical literature about Utah. The place: Daggett County. The occasion: the county’s centennial commemoration. As the smallest county in the state’s geopolitical configuration, Daggett is sparsely populated and geographically isolated, at least from Utah, since it is more associated with and easily accessible from Wyoming’s Green River basin. Our third essays reflects on the oft-ignored themes associated with Daggett, as well as it historical, cultural, and political position in the Intermountain West. Finally, we publish a review essay that evaluates the work and contribution of one of the most ubiquitous publishers of local history, Arcadia Publishing. From works on local communities by local authors, Arcadia fills a niche for histories that are familiar and reflect the nostalgia of a people.

Brad Westwood


Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains
By Cullen Battle

Reexamining the Radical: Stephen Holbrook and the Utah Strategy for Protesting the Vietnam War
By Scott Thomas

Daggett Count at 100: New Approaches to a Colorful Past
By Clint Pumphrey


“Make Me an Author”: Arcadia Publishing and the “Images of America” Series—A Critique of Selected Utah Titles
By Noel A. Carmack


John L. Kessell, Whither the Waters: Mapping the Great Basin from Bernardo de Miera to John C. Fremont. Reviewed by Paul Nelson

Samuel M. Otterstrom, From California’s Gold Fields to the Mendocino Coast: A Settlement History Across Time and Place. Reviewed by Christopher Herbert

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841-1869. Reviewed by W. Paul Reeve

Robert S. McPherson, Fighting in Canyon Country: Native American Conflict, 500 AD to the 1920s. Reviewed by John D. Barton

Thomas W. Simpson, American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940. Reviewed by Allyson Mower

Mapping the American West

Several of the maps analyzed by Sheri Wysong in “The Mountain Men, the Cartographers, and the Lake” (UHQ, Spring 2018) are available in high resolution online:

Board of State History

Meeting Agenda
Thursday, April 26, 2018, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Rio Grande Depot, 300 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, UT

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

12:15 p.m. – WELCOME – Dina Blaes, Chair

January – March State History Program Accomplishments

Wendy Rex-Atzet – History Day (5 min)
1. Utah History Day on the Hill featured 26 students from Logan, Wellsville, Ogden, Clearfield, Pleasant View, Salt Lake, West Valley, Sandy, Draper, Alpine, Highland, Orem, Price, and Hurricane. Students met with their legislators, shared their history projects with the public, enjoyed a tour of the Capitol, and were recognized in both the House and the Senate for their accomplishments. Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, along with more than 15 lawmakers and other VIPs, spent time with these outstanding students.
2. February kicked-off the History Day regional contests. Nine contests were held in February and March, and nearly 1400 students participated in these contests. The State Competition is Saturday, April 28th.
3. Several K-12 education modules are currently under development.

Roger Roper – Historic Preservation (5 min)
1. Hired a new coordinator, Amber Anderson, for the Tax Credit programs. Amber will be making an extra effort to reach out to assist federal tax credit applicants, especially those with smaller projects and those in rural communities.
2. Completed the restructuring of the existing/”old” historic sites database and cleaned up errors and duplicates so it can be migrated into the new data system, which should be operable in the summer of 2018.
3. Coordinated with the State Library and State Archives to provide technical assistance to the town of Stockton for their historic Town Hall building (former school) that also houses historical records for the community and a potential new library.

Doug Misner – Library and Collections (5 min)
1. Staff conducted 9 tours of the collection spaces in January and February for Governor Herbert, various legislators, and private citizen groups. The tours supported DHA ‘s efforts during the legislative session and helped secure $600,000 to begin working on programming for proposed collection storage facility.
2. Staff provided tours to Chris Jones of Channel 2 News, Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune, and Carter Williams of The tours brought quite a bit of attention to items in the collection and their precarious storage situation.
3. Staff partnered with State Archives to hold “A Night at the Archives” for researchers participating in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Staff also partnered with the Division of Multicultural Affairs on a display of items from our collection for the 2018 Youth Leadership Day.

Elizabeth Hora-Cook – Antiquities (5 min)
1. Archaeology & Presentation Month
2. Public Archaeologist Hire
3. Interns (and staff) presented on their work at the Utah Professional Archaeological Council Annual Meeting
4. We continue to gain friends in other state agencies (e.g. 404 presentation at Div of Drinking Water)
5. We’re still helping out our NGO partners like Smith Preserve and URARA, and with the help of our new Public Archaeologist have opened up relationships with other groups

Jed Rogers, Holly George – Utah Historical Quarterly (5 min)
1. Spring 2018 UHQ
·    Claflin-Emerson Expedition, 1931
·    Nursing School at Provo General Hospital, 1904–1924
·    Cartography on the Utah-Nevada Border
·    Commemorating Topaz and Wendover
·    Voices from Drug Court

2. Public History
·    Daggett County centennial commemoration
·    World War I Commission
·    Conference planning: keynote and plenary, publication awards, fellows/life members

Brad Westwood – Communications (5 min)
1. As seen in the monthly reports, we have steady growth in our websites and social media.
2. State History has hosted “Buffalo Bill,” “Ramona,” “Ramrod,” and “Wagon Master” at the Fort Douglas Post Theater. “Brigham Young” (May 17) and “Westward the Women” (June 21) will conclude the “On the Trail of the West” film series. Join us
3. Three brown bags are being held in April, five in May, and more in September and November.


  1. Approval of the January 25 2018 Board of State History Meeting Minutes – Dina Blaes
    (Board motion required) (3 min)
  2. Possible date change for July 26, 2018 Board Meeting – Alycia Rowley (3 min)
    (Board motion required)
  1. Committee reports – David Rich Lewis, David Richardson, Steve Olsen, Brad Westwood (20 min)

    A) Historic Preservation and Antiquities Committee – David Richardson
    National Register of Historic Places Nominations – Cory Jensen and Elizabeth Hora-Cook (25 min)
    (Board motion required)
    Summaries of National Register of Historic Places Nominations
    a) The Rock Art and Archaeology of Moab’s Colorado River System MPS
    b) Historic Ranching Resources of the Robbers Roost/Under the Ledge areas within Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area MPS
    Chaffin Camp Site
    Cowboy Rock Shelter Site
    c) Edward and Irene Hobbs House
    d) George & Ethalinda Morrill House
    e) Ross Hame

Request for approval to move – Cory Jensen (5 min)
(Board motion required)
a) Clarkston Tithing Granary

Request for removal from National Register – Cory Jensen (5 min)
(No Board motion required)
a) Davis-Ercanbrack House, in Orem

B) Major Planning, Gifts & Awards Committee – Brad Westwood (5 min)

C) Library, Collections & Digitization Committee – Steve Olsen (5 min)
a) Collections Development Policy update
(Board motion required)

D) Utah State Historical Society Committee – David Rich Lewis (5 min)
aAwards Policy update
(Board motion required)
b) USHS Fellows & Honorary Life Members nominations and nomination process update
(Board motion required)


  1. UHQ Sponsored Issue – Jed Rogers (10 min)
  2. Legislative briefing – Brad Westwood (10 min)
    a) Human Remain Program Assistant
    b) Historical License Plate
    c) Adjustments to Cemetery and Burials Statute
    d) Planning Documents for Proposed Collections Management Facility
    e) Transcontinental Railroad Funds
  3. Legislative Communications Executive Order – Brad Westwood (5 min)
  4. Trancontinental Railroad 150th anniversary – Brad Westwood (10 min)




Utah Historical Quarterly Editorial Fellowship






The Utah Historical Quarterly is excited to announce a partnership with the University of Utah History Department and Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University to offer a graduate student fellowship at the Utah Historical Quarterly.

The Fellow will be appointed each academic year, rotating between the Miriam B. Murphy / Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow, named after two individuals who made a substantial contribution to the Utah State Historical Society and the study of Utah history. See here for more biographical information on Murphy and Alexander.

Supported by the UofU History Department and the Redd Center, the editorial fellowship is a competitive award open to University of Utah History Department graduate students who have a demonstrated commitment to historical scholarship and public history. The Fellow will assist the quarterly in its publication, scholarship, and outreach initiatives, and will obtain valuable professional experience.

Miriam B. Murphy Editorial Fellow

Alexandria Waltz is currently serving as our inaugural Miriam B. Murphy Editorial Fellow. Ms. Waltz is a PhD candidate in American history at the University of Utah. Her dissertation focuses on teenage subcultures in Orange County during the 1970s and 1980s. She has been awarded multiple fellowships, including the University of Utah’s Maybelle Burton Graduate Fellowship and the Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship. She works in marketing for the Ken Garff Automotive Group and teaches U.S. history and Latin American history at Westminster College and Salt Lake Community College.


Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow

The Utah State Historical Society is seeking applicants for the Thomas G. Alexander Editorial Fellow during the 2018–2019 academic year.

The award is open to University of Utah History Department graduate students who have a demonstrated commitment to historical scholarship and public history. The fellow will be appointed for the academic year and will assist the quarterly in its publication, scholarship, and outreach initiatives, and will obtain valuable professional experience.

Each fellowship is a nine-month commitment at 20 hours per week beginning at the start of the academic school year. The Fellow will be expected to work at UHQ’s offices in the Rio Grande Depot, Salt Lake City, though exceptions may be granted. The fellowship comes with a generous stipend and, if the applicant is eligible, tuition assistance.

For consideration applicants will be required to submit a letter of interest, writing sample, and curriculum vitae. Submit applications to the Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Utah. Queries about this fellowship can be submitted to Jedediah Rogers at


  • Second-year master’s or doctoral student enrolled in history, focus on American West preferred
  • Demonstrated commitment to historical scholarship and public history
  • Strong writing skills and experience or interest in editing
  • Experience or training in scholarly publishing is desired but not necessary
  • Knowledge of Utah history is preferred
  • Able to pass basic syntax and copyediting test (to be administered by UHQ editors)

Job Duties


  • Learn Editorial Manager and teach to editors
  • Tailor letter templates (see WHQ examples) and upload to Editorial Manager
  • Meet weekly with editors:
    • Weekly update sheet on manuscript status (which editor it’s assigned to; status with review, readers, revision, etc.)
    • Weekly update of book reviews (e.g., these are the ten books that are out; what do you want me to do about them?)
  • Keep statistics on article submissions
    • Number of submissions
    • Subject matter

Book Reviews

  • Suggest book reviewers
  • Check acknowledgments for buddies
  • Ask book reviewers
  • Send books out
  • Send reminder emails
  • Edit book reviews
  • Track which books are reviewed in each UHQ issue
  • Ask presses for books if needed

UHQ Production

  • Spot-check footnotes (can go deeper if needed)
  • Format footnotes
  • Write image captions
  • Index

Charles Redd Center Project

  • Special project TBA

Utah Historical Quarterly Editorial Fellowship


Murphy (left), mid-1950s

MIRIAM B. MURPHY (1933-2013)

Miriam B. Murphy, affectionately called Mims by some of her colleagues at the Utah State Historical Society, was a longtime associate editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly beginning with her hiring as associate editor in spring 1971 to her retirement in fall 1997. Following her retirement, Murphy was appointed to the Advisory Board of Editors where she served until 2000. The Board of State History honored Miriam as an Honorary Life Member in 2007 for her twenty-six years of distinguished work. More recently, UHQ editors have honored Miriam as a namesake of a new editorial fellowship to assist in publication of the journal. The recognition is in appreciation for the substantial contribution she made to the Utah State Historical Society and the study of Utah history.

Miriam attended the University of Utah where she majored in English. During the 1954–1955 academic year she served as associate editor of the university’s Daily Utah Chronicle before being named Editor-in-Chief the following academic year. Her academic major and editorial work on the Chronicle served her well as the associate editor of UHQ.

At the Utah State Historical Society, Miriam performed a wide range of editorial functions. She sized photographs and other illustrated materials. Each year she meticulously prepared the index and table of contents for each journal volume long before the capability of digital word searches. Working with Stanford Layton, managing editor, she proofread each issue of UHQ, reading each word aloud and checking for errors.

Among other assignments as associate editor, Miriam managed a biannual newsletter that the Utah State Historical Society mailed to each of its members, as well as to numerous public and academic libraries and historical organizations. The society launched Beehive History, an annual publication containing short essays written by academic and amateur historians, in 1975, and for most of the publication’s twenty-seven years Miriam served as its editor. Beehive History’s purpose was to introduce the young Utah reader to brief, highly readable essays on history, but the publication also piqued the interest of many adult subscribers to UHQ. Miriam encouraged authors to write articles, wrote many herself, and edited previously published essays and articles by former contributors to UHQ. Among those that she edited or wrote were “The Work of John A. Widtsoe,” “This Natural Clock Tells Time in Centuries,” “Tombstones: Working of Art and Historic Records,” “Making your own Soap,” “The Black Baseball Heroes of ‘09,” and “Helen of Utah, Queen of Athletes.”

Miriam excelled as a writer and researcher and, in addition to editing manuscripts, she produced a few of her own for the Utah Historical Quarterly: “The Working Women of Salt Lake City: A Review of the Utah Gazetteer, 1892–93,” appearing in a special issue on women; “Sarah Elizabeth Carmichael: Poetic Genius of Pioneer Utah”; and the popular “If only I shall have the Right Stuff: Utah Women in World War I.” In commemoration of the Utah centennial, Murphy wrote twenty entries for the Utah History Encyclopedia edited by Allen Kent Powell and published by the University of Utah Press in 1994. Recognizing Miriam’s talent as a fine researcher and writer, the Wayne County Commission commissioned Miriam to write a history of Wayne County as part of the acclaimed twenty-nine county centennial history series. Her scholarship was also later published in The Skeleton in Grandpa’s Barn and other Stores of Growing Up in Utah, edited by Layton and published by Signature Books in 2008. She provided a number of fun Utah history trivia essays in Utah Trivia, co-edited by her colleague at the Utah State Historical Society, Kent Powell. This delightful and quizzical volume was published in Nashville by Rutledge Press in 1997.

Miriam expanded her creative writing talent to poetry, and her collection of poetry That Green Light that Lingers: Poems was first published in 2001. The naming of the Miriam B. Murphy Editorial Fellow by the Utah Historical Quarterly editors is wholly appropriate. Murphy was a consummate professional editor and colleague at the Utah State Historical Society.

Craig Fuller, formerly of the Utah State Historical Society


Thomas G. Alexander was born in Logan and raised in Ogden. He received his associate degree in mechanical engineering from Weber State College in 1955 but gravitated toward history following his return from an LDS mission to Germany. With support from Dello Dayton at Weber, Tom applied to Utah State University, where he worked with George Ellsworth and Leonard Arrington. Ellsworth modeled excellence in the classroom and editorial skill, while Arrington modeled scholarly research and productivity. Tom married Marilyn Johns, a fellow Aggie, in 1959, received his BS in history in 1960, and earned a master’s degree one year later after writing a thesis on conflict in Utah’s territorial court system. Over his career Tom would return repeatedly to the broader thematic focus of his thesis: the relationships of ideologically diverse groups within Utah. Tom continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, completing a dissertation on a topic recommended by Arrington: the interaction between the Interior Department and the territories of Utah, Idaho, and Arizona.

Fortunately for Utahns, Tom turned down an offer to teach California history at Fresno State and instead accepted a faculty appointment in the History Department at Brigham Young University, where he worked over the next four decades. Beginning in 1972 Tom served as Assistant and then Associate Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU and then as Director between 1980 and 1992. From 1992 to 2004 he was the Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. Professor of Western American History. Over his career, Tom has mentored and advised dozens of graduate students and numerous undergraduates. He received BYU’s most prestigious faculty award, the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecture Award, and developed upper-division and graduate courses, including a pioneering course in American environmental history.

Tom served the Utah State Historical Society as member of the Advisory Board of Editors and as a member and chair of the Board of State History. His appointment as a Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society acknowledged and recognized his extensive contributions to the society. Tom’s professional services are legion, including service as president of the Association of Utah Historians; president of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters; president of the Mormon History Association; president of the Pacific Coast Branch-American Historical Association; president of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society; national president of the Sons of Utah Pioneers; chair of the Utah Humanities Council; parliamentarian, council member, and honorary life member of the Western History Association; and member of the Editorial Board of Western Historical Quarterly.

Tom’s publications in Utah, Mormon, and western American history are extensive. He has written, co-authored, or edited twenty-eight books including the official centennial history, Utah, The Right Place, a book that surveyed the history of the state in the twentieth century to a greater degree than any previous work. Other important books include Mormons and Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake City (co-authored with James B. Allen), the award-winning Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930; Things of Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, and a forthcoming biography of Brigham Young. He is the author of over sixty articles in peer-reviewed journals, including twenty-seven in the Utah Historical Quarterly, numerous book chapters and encyclopedia articles, and nearly two hundred book reviews.

Tom is a diplomat, a problem solver, and a consensus builder. Known for his personal and professional honesty, Tom unites and brings out the best in his associates.

Brian Q. Cannon, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies


Utah Historical Quarterly Fall 2017


Utah is often known as the Crossroads of the West, and, however overused that name may
be, it’s an apt term to describe the state’s cultural and geographic position in the American
West. A crossroad is a place of intersection, but it also is “a central meeting place” or “a crucial
point especially where a decision must be made.” For Native peoples in the Great Basin
and the Colorado Plateau, a web of migration and trade routes contributed to an exchange
of people, goods, and ideas. Since Dominguez and Escalante’s expedition in 1776–1777, these
groups had to deal with how the arrival and ambition of Europeans and Americans shifted
the dynamic of power in the region. Missionaries, explorers, trappers, and overland migrants
passed through, and in some cases lingered, on the way to somewhere else. When Latterday
Saints decided on the eastern edge of the Great Basin as the place to plant their settlements,
the land had already been traversed by generations of Native peoples, as well as by
entrepreneurial trappers who relied on indigenous knowledge and who brought concrete
cartographic knowledge of the American Far West. Faint mule trails, wagon ruts, and even
the course of modern transportation corridors constitute evidence etched into the landscape
of generational movement and travels.

The post–Civil War era saw a dramatic rise in transportation technology in the West, as
railroad lines spanned the continent. Railroad men and financiers—not to be outdone by one
another—pushed lines into territories where demand had not yet coalesced. Their large corporations,
which were heavily subsidized by the American people, came to symbolize the
grandeur of the age and American progress itself. Utahns needed railroads in the same way
they needed other technologies like irrigation to move water about the landscape. For Mormons,
the arrival of the transcontinental line in 1869 signaled the loss of political and economic
hegemony in the Great Basin. Other lines soon followed, and no history of the state or region
is complete without following them—a veritable spider web showing prominent nineteenthcentury
destinations. Since railroads needed water and fuel, stations and towns cropped up
in part to provide that service. Other communities serviced the trains, some of which had a
striking impermanence on the landscape. But the threads of connection created by railroads
had a more lasting impact. Transcontinentals and the lines they inspired became part of a
network that helped to connect Utah and the American West with the rest of the country and
the neighboring nations of Canada and Mexico.

If railroads became the major arteries of the West’s nineteenth-century transportation
system, roads provided the connective tissue. Roads follow preexisting routes. Like water,
they tend to follow the easiest path—through valleys, canyons, and low-level mountain
passes—although some Utah routes cross the roughest terrain imaginable. They facilitate
movement, curating how one travels across the landscape just as an exhibition curates historical
information. Most roads are fixtures; others have outlasted their original economic or cultural
purpose and have been reclaimed by the land. Before becoming a physical presence on
the land, roads existed in imagination, revealing much about how generations, then and now,
thought about the land and acted on it. As such, roads, like railroads, are cultural sponges—artifacts
of earlier times. They are similar to what Wallace Stegner wrote of Dinosaur National
Monument in eastern Utah, as “a palimpsest of human history, speculation, rumor, fantasy,
ambition, science, controversy, and conflicting plans for use”—as “marks of human passage.”

Thinking about these “marks of human passage” is the design of this issue, a reprint of four exceptional essays previously published in the Quarterly. We begin with Dale L. Morgan’s lively essay “Utah before the Mormons,” originally delivered as a keynote address at the 1967
annual meeting of the Utah State Historical Society and subsequently published in the January
1968 issue. Morgan plays with time scale “to translate historical time into terms we can individually
find meaningful” by tracing the events prior to the Mormon’s arrival in 1847 by using
1967—the year of his address—as a baseline. We can play the same game: Morgan delivered the
keynote half a century ago, a longer time span than any of the major events he describes between
1805 and 1847. But the first half of the nineteenth century is chronicled here by one
of the West’s accomplished and knowledgeable authorities, who provides a sweeping evaluation
of the people, groups, and ideas that made an imprint on the region that became Utah. That world of explorers, trappers, and overland emigrants was marked by constant movement.

Our next selection comes from the pen of Robert Utley, an acclaimed historian of the
West. “The Dash to Promontory,” published in April 1961, is the product of a different kind of
“dash” in the years leading up to the centennial of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad:
the effort of the National Park Service, with the help of assiduous locals such as Bernice
Gibbs Anderson, to establish the significance of the Golden Spike site for its eventual
inclusion to the National Park System. Utley’s reflection on Promontory is followed by Doris
R. Dant’s “Bridge: A Railroading Community on the Great Salt Lake,” published in winter
1985. Dant, formerly an associate professor of linguistics at Brigham Young University, paints
a rich portrait of life in a town that owed its sole existence to the railroad. Like other forms
of movement, the community’s lifespan on the Great Salt Lake was short lived, and as we see
from Dant’s postscript, the town and its history now exist only in memory.

Another classic essay reprinted here is “Nine Mile: Eastern Utah’s Forgotten Road” by Edward
Geary, published in the winter 1981 issue. His familiarity with the locale and, like Dant,
his considerable literary talents combine to make a pleasurable read: part history, part personal
history, Geary’s article blends the canyon’s regional history with the experiences of
his own grandfather driving the rough canyon road a century earlier. One virtue of the essay
is the sense of place, Geary’s attention to Nine Mile as “one of the most colorful and little-
known areas in Utah” that “does not quite belong to any of the state’s usually recognized
regions.” This canyon, he argues, was central to the region’s development even though modern
infrastructure and memory have obscured that fact.

Our final offering is a new selection on a welcome subject, the archaeology of the transcontinental
railroad grade in Box Elder County, Utah, and especially the evidence of Chinese
rail workers. “Rolling to the 150th” explores the story of Promontory after the driving of the
Golden Spike on May 10, 1869, and the archaeological efforts to reconstruct the area’s past
in anticipation of the sesquicentennial of 1869. In so doing, this article provides a fascinating
coda to Robert Utley’s prelude to the events of May 1869.

The classic articles reprinted in this issue are nearly verbatim reproductions of their originally
published forms, with only minor necessary editorial changes. The major difference is
with images: some are duplicates; others are new, from our collection. We are pleased that
each piece is followed by a postscript either from the authors or, in the case of Dale Morgan’s
essay, from Richard L. Saunders, dean of the library at Southern Utah University and the
foremost scholar of Morgan’s life and work. We thank Bob Utley, Ed Geary, and Doris Dant for
returning to their essays after many years and offering commentary to a new generation of

These essays offer a sampling of the work published in the Quarterly over the years and remind
us of important themes that have graced the journal’s pages. It’s appropriate to return
to them a second time for inspiration, for, as the postscripts suggest, these articles still have
something to offer. From them we have case studies that show how attention to movement
and transportation in Utah history offers a sweep of topography and terrain—the physical
space—and of systems and networks that originated in the nineteenth century. On a more
granular scale, the concept of movement allows us to reflect on experience and memory: from
one man’s experience nearly freezing to death on a freight run through Nine Mile Canyon to a
woman’s memories growing up surrounded by the sights and sounds of diesel engines.

The essays are only a start, a few selections from the region’s nineteenth-century history.
The possibilities inherent in the ideas of movement and transportation potentially force us
to reconsider Utah history. The centrality of movement to exploration, industry, and travel—
major themes in Utah history—is obvious. Less so is the way movement can be seen on a more
conceptual level as a way to evaluate change over space and time: the variation and transformation
of the landscape, the flow of ideas and people into and out of the state, the mobility
of groups and individuals, the development of transportation-related infrastructure, and the
transportation and communication networks connecting the state to regional and national
systems. The flow of ideas and people is now more global than ever before, rendering traditional
boundaries that confined physical movement less operable.

We hope that intimate stories of movement and transportation, combined with attention
to broader trends and analysis, will continue to be shared. This issue marks the Utah State
Historical Society’s commitment to this theme, culminating with the 66th Annual Utah History
Conference to be held September 27–28, 2018. This is both a call for papers and a call
for community recognition of the centrality of transportation and movement to Utah and the
western region.



Utah Before the Mormons (Winter 1968)
By Dale L. Morgan. Postscript: Dale Morgan and the Elements of Utah History, by Richard Saunders

The Dash to Promontory (April 1961)
By Robert M. Utley. Postscript: The Golden Spike and Me, by the author

Nine Mile: Eastern Utah’s Forgotten Road (Winter 1981)
By Edward A. Geary. Postscript: No Longer Forgotten Road, by the author

Bridge: A Railroading Community on the Great Salt Lake (Winter 1985)
By Doris R. Dant. Postscript: Bridge, an Extreme Example of Railroad Control, by the author


Rolling to the 150th: Sesquicentennial of the Transcontinental Railroad
By Christopher W. Merritt, Michael R. Polk, Ken Cannon, Michael Sheehan, Glenn Stelter, and Ray Kelsey


Robert S. McPherson and Susan Rhoades Neel, Mapping the Four Corners: Narrating the Hayden Survey of 1875. Reviewed by John L. Kessell

Laurie J. Bryant, A Modest Homestead: Life in Small Adobe Homes in Salt Lake City, 1850-1897. Reviewed by Robert A. Young

Silvio Manno, Charcoal and Blood: Italian Immigrants in Eureka, Nevada, and the Fish Creek Massacre. Reviewed by Nancy J. Taniguchi

Kerry William Bate, The Women: A Family Story. Reviewed by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel


WWI Commission Resources

WWI infographic, created by Christina Epperson.

1914-1918-online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War

Utah and World War I: special issue of Utah Historical Quarterly

Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience, ed. by Allan Kent Powell: a collection of essays exploring the complexity of WWI and its impact on Utahns.

State Legislature’s Resolution (PDF)

Governor’s Declaration, April 2017 (PDF)

Utah in the World War, by Noble Warrum: published under the auspices of the Utah Council of Defense in 1924.

Harold Rider Morris’s World War I Diary. Harold Rider Morris, a Millard County native, enlisted for the war in 1917. His diary was made available for Utah Valley University to digitize by his daughter Karolyn.

The Great War, from American Experience

National WWI Museum and Memorial

NHD National History Day Teaching World War I: Resource to connect teachers and students to the best sources for the 100th anniversary of WWI. Includes Middle School and High School lesson modules.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission.

History Day 2018 WWI Regional Prize Winners

Documentary –
The Treat of Versailles: A Dictated Peace

Group Performance –
Nurses on the Front Lines in WWI

Individual Exhibits –
Treaty of Versailles: The Uncompromising Compromise

Papers –
The Christmas Truce of 1914

Websites –
A Failed Treaty Caused WWII?
The Christmas Truce: The Legendary Compromise
Mennonites & Makhnovists: Conflict and Compromise in Early 20th Century Ukraine

Archives/Special Collections

LDS Church History Library: (PDF list of WWI related collections)

State Historical Society: (PDF list of Historical Society Collections relating to WWI)

University of Utah: (PDF list of WWI related items/collections held in Special Collections)

Utah State University: (PDF list of WWI related items/collections held in Special Collections)


Events Commemorating WWI

July 30 – November 30, 2018.
The exhibit, Brigham Young University and the Great War, will be on display at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections.
Harold B. Lee Library, level 1, Provo.

September 22, 2018 – January 12, 2019.
Brigham Young University Museum of Art presents, For Home and Country: Posters and Propaganda from the Great War. Admission is free.
BYU MOA North Campus Drive, Provo.

November 15, 2018, 12:00 p.m.
Brown Bag Lecture on Memorial House and other Historic WWI era building in Salt Lake City.
State Archives, 346 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City.

November 15, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Armistice Day Poetry Reading. The Babcock Readers will read WWI War Poets poetry.
Little Theater in the Union Building, University of Utah, 200 S. Central Campus Dr., Salt Lake City.

December 6, 2018, 6:00 p.m.
WSU History and Film Series present the 1930 film, All Quiet on the Western Front, directed by Lewis Milestone. Screening is free and open to the community.
Weber State University Wildcat Theater, Ogden.

January 10, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
WSU History and Film Series present the 1941 film, Sergeant York, directed by Howard Hawks. Screening is free and open to the community.
Weber State University Wildcat Theater, Ogden.

February 7, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
WSU History and Film Series present the 1957 film, Paths of Glory, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Screening is free and open to the community.
Weber State University Wildcat Theater, Ogden.

March 7, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
WSU History and Film Series present the 1971 film, Johnny Got His Gun, directed by Dalton Trumbo. Screening is free and open to the community.
Weber State University Wildcat Theater, Ogden.

April 4, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
WSU History and Film Series present the 1981 film, Gallipoli, directed by Peter Weir. Screening is free and open to the community.
Weber State University Wildcat Theater, Ogden.

June 28, 2019 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Memorial House will hold an Open House allowing visitors to come and learn about this historic building, WWI, and the Treaty of Versailles.
Memory Grove, Salt Lake City.

Event listings will be updated regularly. If you know of a WWI-related event in Utah, email us at