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Category Archives: Programs History

New People, New Work, New Ideas (1885–1920) (Landing Page)


Emigration Canyon Railroad Served SLC Builders’ Needs

The Salt Lake City Railroad Strike of 1890

Utah’s Interurbans: Predecessors to Light Rail

Castle Gate Mine Disaster

Games of the Coal Camp Children

Legendary Mother Jones Came to Help Striking Utah Coal Miners

The Scofield Mine Disaster in 1900 was Utah’s Worst

Copper Mining

The Mountains Held a Treasure Trove of Minerals

Silver in the Beehive State

The Growth of Utah’s Petroleum Industry

“Dinosaur Rush” Created Excitement in Uinta Basin

Attic Papers Reveal Jesse Knight Ventures

Sam Gilson Did Much More Than Promote Gilsonite

Desdemona Stott Beeson Was Determined to Work in Mining

Dream Mine

African American Community and Politics, 1890–1910

The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah’s African Americans Informed

This Radical Salt Lake Native was Interred in the Kremlin Wall

The Shooting of Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator from Utah

Convict Labor Helped to Build Utah’s Road

Soren Hanson’s “House That Eggs Built”

The Pasta King of the Mountain West

Celebrating the New Year in Salt Lake’s Chinatown

Electrifying Utah—Engineer Lucien L. Nunn

A Brewer-Sportsman’s Prairie Style Home in Ogden

Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live

Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair

Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Trainloads of Visitors

A Soldier’s Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900s

Flour Mills

Guano Sifters on Gunnison Island

The Lehi Beet Sugar Factory

The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy

A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century

Jobs in 1900

Explosion of Pleasant Valley Coal Company

The Lucin Cutoff

Southern Utah’s First High School

Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah

Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Rural Utah

The First Large Factory in Utah

The Rise and Fall of Ogden’s Packing Industry

Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown

The Bamberger Electric Railway

The First Cars in Two Small Towns

A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert

Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels

Utah’s Immigrants at the Turn of the Century

Boys’ Potato Growing Clubs

Joe Hill and the I.W.W.

Socialist Women and Joe Hill

A Bit of Polynesia Remains in the Salt Desert

The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland

Klansmen at a Funeral and a Terrible Lynching


World War I Heroine Maud Fitch Lived in Eureka, Utah

Maud Fitch, ambulance driver in World War I

Maud Fitch, ambulance driver in World War I

Miriam B. Murphy
History Blazer, April 1995

Maud Fitch won recognition for her valor near the front lines in France during World War I. A native of Eureka, she was one of many Utah women whose efforts helped the Allies succeed in defeating Kaiser Wilhelm’s war machine. Born in November 1882, Maud was one of five children in the family of Exilda Marcotte and Walter Fitch, Sr., a wealthy mine owner in Juab County’s famous Tintic Mining District.

Eager to serve her country when the United States entered the European conflict in April 1917, Maud became active in the Red Cross. For her and many other women in the United States and Great Britain that was not enough. They wanted to be in Europe where the action was and where the young men of their generation were dying. Most of the Utah women who served with the military during World War I were registered nurses. Maud was not qualified for that specialized work. When she heard that women were driving ambulances in France, however, she immediately determined to do the same no matter what it took. At first she signed on with the Woman’s Motor Unit of Le Bien-etre du Blesse (“well-being of the wounded”). The organization required her to furnish her own ambulance truck and pay in advance for a six-month supply of gas and oil. Fortunately, Walter Fitch was willing to support his daughter financially in her desire to serve. Directed by New York writer and socialite Grace Gallatin Seton, the venture seemed poorly organized to Maud when she arrived in Manhattan in mid-February 1918.

Maud sailed for France and by March 21 was living in a Paris hotel. For almost two months she waited for the Paris office of Le Bien-etre du Blesse to assign her work as an ambulance driver. To fill her time she volunteered in canteens and helped refugees. Her patience with the Seton group’s lack of organization finally wore thin, however, and she tried to find a temporary position driving an ambulance for the Red Cross so that, as she wrote her parents, she could “get into action AT ONCE.” The war seemed like a great epic to her, and any part in it was better than sitting on the sidelines, a view many soldiers shared. Maud’s own words express her sense of being part of a great human drama: “And to think at last I shall get into the very vortex of the greatest conflict in the history of the world….If only I shall have the right stuff in me to benefit by it–to go into it and come out with one’s soul and heart all fire tried!”

Maud Fitch, in France, October 5, 1918

Maud Fitch, in France, October 5, 1918

The Red Cross assignment did not materialize, but on May 15 Maud had exciting news to share with her family: A private British women’s ambulance outfit, the Hackett Lowther Unit, needed a driver. Maud was in the right place at the right time and was taken on. “Toupie” Lowther, a well-known tennis player of the time, was a member of the Earl of Lonsdale’s family; she worked in the field with the unit. The women drivers paid $30.00 a month for their upkeep. The unit was under the control of the French Third Army and supervised by a French lieutenant.

Fitch and her companions drove their ambulances north of Paris in a long convoy of troops headed toward the heart of the German army’s spring offensive. Their first quarters were near Compiegne, an area being shelled by the Germans. Maud vividly described her night rescue of five wounded soldiers on May 30. In a scene of utter confusion, with troops, cavalry, and trucks filling the road, she bribed those directing the traffic with cigarettes to let her ambulance through. Shells had destroyed directional signs in the town square, but she eventually located the hospital. She was back home by 2:30 A.M. and fell instantly to sleep in the back of an ambulance. By 6 A.M. she and her companions were awake. They “breakfasted on nothing and washed some layers of dust off, then strolled about the hills with the guns at the front hammering in our ears.”

Ten days later, on June 9, she accomplished a daring rescue of wounded under heavy fire. She played down the experience in her letters home, but for her bravery she received the French Croix de Guerre. Later, a gold star was added to her medal.

Wounded men were typically taken on stretchers to first aid stations near the front lines. Maud and the other Hackett Lowther drivers picked them up there and took them to the nearest hospital. Maud thrived on this dangerous “frontwork.” Another typical assignment was “back evacuation” from a hospital near the front lines to one farther back–work, Maud wrote, “one prefers not to do unless one’s nerves have begun to get taut from frontwork.” Sometimes the hospitals were so crowded, especially near the fighting, that they would not accept any more patients. Maud worried about the pain her wounded suffered when she had to drive them 40 to 50 kilometers over poor roads to a hospital behind the lines.

Despite many 24-hour shifts and considerable off-duty time spent repairing their vehicles, the women were able to indulge in practical jokes, pillow fights, and swimming in one of the many streams in northwest France to ease the tension. They also enjoyed associating with the French officers and men, sharing food, dancing, and enjoying casual conversation between battles. On one occasion a French artillery crew allowed Maud to fire its 75mm field gun toward a German position. She also drove a French colonel, surprised and delighted by his female chauffeur, to his new assignment on the front lines.

Following the war Maud returned to Eureka, married, and had one son. Years after her death in Los Angeles at age 91 oldtimers in Eureka still recalled her heroism during World War I and her devil-may-care attitude behind the wheel in her later years.

For Maud Fitch, driving an ambulance in the war zone was the experience of a lifetime. Her many detailed letters home constitute a remarkable firsthand account of World War I.

See Miriam B. Murphy, “‘If Only I Shall Have the Right Stuff’: Utah Women in World War I,” Utah Historical Quarterly 58 (1990)


World War I and Utah

World War I poster encouraging the purchasing of Liberty bonds

World War I poster encouraging the purchasing of Liberty bonds

Allan Kent Powell
Utah History Encyclopedia

Known as “The Great War,” until the outbreak of World War II, World War I began on 1 August 1914 and ended with armistice on 11 November 1918. The two warring sides were the Allies—comprised of Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy, United States, Japan, Romania, Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Portugal, and Montenegro; and the Central Powers which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria. During the course of the war, Utahns were affected by the events in many ways. Immigrants followed events in their warring homelands, sent aide, volunteered to return to fight, and encouraged other Utahns to sympathize with the side they favored. Utah’s economy prospered because of the war. New coal mines were opened, metal and copper mining expanded, smelters ran at or near full capacity, and farmers and ranchers received more for their crops and animals than any other time in recent decades.

World War I Cache Valley draftees in front of the State Capitol building in Salt Lake City, UT, with John Henry Barker and Simon Bamberger

World War I Cache Valley draftees in front of the State Capitol building in Salt Lake City, UT, with John Henry Barker and Simon Bamberger

After the United States entered the war on 6 April 1917, many Utahns were directly affected as relatives and friends joined the armed services or were drafted. Approximately 21,000 Utahns saw military service; of these, 665 died and 864 were wounded. Of the 665 deaths, 219 were killed on the battlefield or died from wounds received in action; 32 died of accidental causes; the remaining 414 died from disease and illness. Of the 10 percent (2156) of the Utahns who served were of foreign birth or were members of U.S. ethnic or racial minorities. A number of Utah women, including eighty registered nurses, served during the war as nurses, ambulance drivers, clerical and canteen workers.

In the summer of 1914, most Utahns were little concerned with the rumblings of war in Europe. Most felt that the fight had little to do with United States interests, advocated a strict policy of neutrality, and insisted that the United States not become embroiled in a European conflict. There were exceptions, of course, primarily among the Utah immigrant groups including the South Slavs, Germans, Greeks, Italians whose homelands had been caught up in the Great War. Utah German-Americans openly demonstrated their sympathy for Germany, held rallies, collected money for the German Red Cross, complained of the virulent anti-German propaganda in most English-language newspapers, and, in some cases returned to Germany to fight.

As the war continued, and America’s position as a neutral became continually more difficult, especially with the loss of 124 American lives when the passenger ship Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland in May 1915. After the outcry against Germany over the sinking of the Lusitania, Germany complied with American demands that ships carrying neutral passengers and cargo be allowed to sail without attack. By 1917, German strategists concluded that their best hope for victory was to resume unrestricted submarine warfare to keep essential war material from reaching the French and English, launch an offensive along the Western Front designed to end the nearly three years of stalemate, and to seek a secret alliance with Mexico which would restore to that nation the territory (including Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and California) lost to the United States in 1848. Faced with these events, President Woodrow Wilson saw no other option than to ask Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, which was passed on 6 April 1917.

Even before war was officially declared, Governor Simon Bamberger issued a proclamation on 24 March 1917 calling for Utahns to enlist in the Utah National Guard. Four months after war was declared, the Utah National Guard was drafted into Federal Service on 5 August 1917, sent to California, and then on to Europe where Utahns saw action along in the Argonne Forest, and at Chateau Thierry, Champagne, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Verdun, and other locations on the Western front.

World War I helped bring Utah into the mainstream of American life as much as anything during the first two decades of the twentieth century. As part of the national war effort, Utahns planted “victory gardens,” preserved food, volunteered for work in the beet fields and on Utah’s fruit farms, purchased Liberty Bonds, gave “Four Minute patriotic speeches, collected money for the Red Cross, used meat and sugar substitutes, observed meatless days, knitted socks, afghans, and shoulder wraps, wove rugs for soldiers’ hospitals, made posters, prohibited the teaching of the German language in some schools, and cultivated patriotism at every opportunity.

Utah’s economy prospered as wartime demands for farm and orchard produce, sugar, beef, coal, and copper placed a demand on production far beyond peacetime conditions.

Fort Douglas was an important military facility during the War. Thousands of recruits were trained at the fort and a prison was set up at the fort to house 870 enemy aliens, who had expressed pro-German sentiments or were considered dangerous, and as well as draft resisters from all states west of the Mississippi. An adjacent but separate part of the prison housed 686 German naval prisoners of war, who were sent to Utah after their ships were seized by American forces in Guam and Hawaii.

Veterans' Parade in Ogden, 1919

Veterans’ Parade in Ogden, 1919

Most Utah servicemen returned home early in 1919 to cheering crowds, impressive parades, enthusiastic celebrations, and generous parties even though the influenza epidemic necessitated some precautions. Many joined the American Legion as posts were established in most Utah cities and towns. They were honored when the nation proclaimed 11 November as Armistice Day, a national holiday, and were moved when “Memory Grove,” located along City Creek at the mouth of City Creek Canyon just north of the downtown Salt Lake City, was dedicated on 27 June 1924, as a permanent memorial to the soldiers killed during the war.

Like many other Americans, Utahns became disillusioned with the formal peace treaty ending the war. They were also divided over Woodrow Wilson’s primary objective, the establishment of the League of Nations. Heber J. Grant, who became President of the LDS church in 1918, was an advocate of the League of Nations while Reed Smoot, an LDS apostle and Utah’s senior senator in Washington D.C. was an outspoken critic of the League. The war was something that many seemed to never really understand, a situation that hampered international cooperation and understanding and led to increased tensions and another war within a generation.

See: “Utah and World War I,” Utah Historical Quarterly, (Fall 1990); and Noble Warrum, Utah in the World War (1924).

Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns A Century Ago

Yvette D. Ison
History Blazer, June 1995

Utahns have longed struggled with the question of how to most effectively respond to and prevent juvenile delinquency. Rowdy teenagers were a menace to Salt Lake residents during the early years of the city’s development. During a church meeting on May 14, 1868, a custodian of the Mormon Tabernacle complained of “indecent words being written on the walls and the backs of seats being very much cut up.” The Deseret News recorded on March 2, 1870, that Martin Lenzi had seen teenagers tearing up foot bridges and ripping off mail boxes and throwing them over the fence. Several days later the News reported a similar complaint from Thomas Jones, who said that a group of boys broke people’s windows while they were attending church on Sunday.

In the 1870s youth groups became more defined with their own names and objectives. The Deseret News recorded on December 10, 1873, that the “Bummers Brigade” and “Whittlers’ Squad” had cut a street lamppost in two at the Exchange Buildings corner. On December 17 an article reported that a group of teenagers called the “Squirter’s Squad” spent their time squirting tobacco juice on goods put out for sale along the streets of the city.

Before 1889 youths who committed crimes were prosecuted as adults in district courts. According to law, all children were liable for punishment, regardless of age. But judges treated each case individually. While some delinquents were let off without trial or punishment, others were sentenced to harsh treatment in local prisons. Problems with punishment led to the development of a separate institution for juvenile delinquents. In 1888 the Reform School bill was passed by the legislature through the initiative of James Moyle, Salt Lake City attorney. The measure provided for a reform school in which juveniles could develop new skills and change their previous habits.

Efforts to organize the school began shortly after the bill was passed. In May 1888 a committee investigated fifteen schools throughout the nation to determine which model would be best for Utah. The group reported that they preferred the schools that had “no walls, no heavy frowning buildings with barred windows” but “nice pleasant homes, surrounded with lawns, gardens, trees,…where a boy is held more by a sense of honor than by bolts and bars.” They decided to build the reform school under this model.

The Utah Territorial Reform School was officially opened in Ogden on October 31, 1889. Resident halls were located on the top two floors of the building. During the first ten years, girls and boys lived in the same dormitories. Daily activities, however, were divided according to gender. Boys learned practical skills such as shoe repair, printing, carpentry, typing, and barbering. They also tended a garden in the seven acres of land surrounding the school. Girls spent most of their time in cooking, housekeeping, sewing, hygiene, music, and drama classes. Boys and girls came together on the weekends for dances and entertainment. For daily recreation children participated in basketball and baseball games, boxing, a school band, and theatrical performances.

Discipline was a matter of concern for the school. Even though it was based on the concept of positive support and encouragement, some disciplinary measures were deemed necessary to keep children in line. Among the most severe punishments were solitary confinement, whippings, and the use of handcuffs and chains. Children were often deprived of meals and privileges when they openly disobeyed school authorities.

The school faced a setback on June 24, 1891, when a fire destroyed most of the building. Though the first and second floors were saved, both resident halls were destroyed. The Ogden Military Academy offered the school several vacant buildings until restoration was completed. But the school’s emergency housing soon became permanent. In 1896 the school moved into the site of the old Ogden Military Academy and, with the coming of statehood, officially became the Utah State Industrial School.

The school continued in operation until the early 1970s when government officials decided that overcrowding and a lack of adequate facilities made the institution unsuccessful in creating a positive change in the lives of delinquent youths. Though it ended with the stamp of inefficiency and failure, the initial creation of a school for troublemaking youth marked the beginning of a new approach to the problem of juvenile delinquency in Utah.

See Davis Bitton, “Zion’s Rowdies: Growing up on the Mormon Frontier,” Utah Historical Quarterly 50 (1982); Martha Sonntag Bradley, “Reclamation of Young Citizens: Reform of Utah’s Juvenile Legal System, 1888–1910,” 51 (1983); Milton Hunter, Beneath Ben Lomond’s Peak (Weber County, 1944); Mary Louise Storey, “The Care and Treatment of Delinquent Girls from Salt Lake at the Utah State Industrial School” (Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1931).


Woman’s Home Association Tried to Help the “Fallen”

Jeffrey D. Nichols
History Blazer, February 1995

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed an international campaign to eradicate prostitution, the “social evil.” Locally, the Woman’s Home Association began in Salt Lake City in 1894 as an interdenominational church program to rescue “fallen” women from a life of prostitution. Lack of funding and support from the surrounding community prevented the association from achieving its original goal, but the organization did provide employment for poor women for a number of years.

The association’s president and chief spokesperson, Cornelia Paddock, was well known for her charitable work and her authorship of anti-Mormon novels. The wife of Alonzo G. Paddock, who was engaged in mining, Cornelia had a city directory listing under her own name in the 1890s as an “authoress.” Two of her works, The Fate of Madame La Tour and In the Toils, helped to fuel the national debate of the 1880s over Mormon polygamy and church political control of Utah Territory.

According to Paddock, the Woman’s Home Association spent months attempting to find a suitable location for a “home for erring girls” where they could be reformed. A committee reportedly investigated about thirty suitable homes but could not find an owner willing to rent a building for such purposes. While condemning Salt Lake City’s lack of compassion for “women who are destitute and homeless,” Paddock wryly noted that “there have always been some property owners willing to rent houses to those [women] who do not wish to reform.” Blocked in its effort to change the lives of prostitutes, the association decided to concentrate instead on providing employment training for poor women.

By January 19, 1895, the association had opened offices in the Alexander Block at 372 South Main Street. The WHA operated a free employment agency, receiving applications from women who desired work and from persons wishing to engage them. By the end of the month Paddock could report that between 30 and 40 women had applied for work and that the association had successfully placed many of them, mostly in domestic, laundry, and sewing work.

Paddock continued to plead for donations of food, clothing, and equipment, especially for the WHA’s immediate goal of establishing a sewing room on the premises so that the association could directly employ applicants. By late February the sewing room had been completed, and a number of women were engaged in “plain sewing” jobs for individual customers.

The association continued to live a precarious financial existence, surviving on contributions ranging from fifty cents to twenty-five dollars. Paddock reported in March that while applications and walk-ins continued to pour in, the WHA did not have enough funds to continue beyond the end of the week and still lacked the facilities to provide overnight shelter for the homeless. The association was forced to give up its sewing room, but its first annual report indicated that 139 women and 167 girls had registered for employment.

Paddock persisted in her efforts to aid “fallen women” and reported in 1896 that sixteen had been cared for, including eight who had been sent to the Home for the Friendless in Ogden. She became a familiar figure in Salt Lake City’s Police Court, exhorting women arrested for prostitution to allow the association to help them reform and gain honest employment. After her death in January 1898 Paddock’s associates tried to continue the work, but the association was apparently disbanded by 1901.

Ironically, seven years later, in December 1908, the Salt Lake City Council, then dominated by members of the American party, took the opposite approach to prostitution and welcomed the opening of a red light district called The Stockade on the city’s west side (between 500 and 600 West and 100 and 200 South), operated by the notorious Ogden madam Belle London. Widespread opposition to this officially sanctioned “sin district” forced its closure in September 1911.

Mrs. Dora B. Topham was the head of organized prostitution in Salt Lake City in the early 1900's. She was given the titles of "Belle London" and "Madame of the Stockade."

Mrs. Dora B. Topham was the head of organized prostitution in Salt Lake City in the early 1900’s. She was given the titles of “Belle London” and “Madame of the Stockade.”


Vaccinations in Wasatch County

Jessie L. Embry
The History of Wasatch County

Health care is another area in which government became increasingly involved around the turn of the century. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, residents frequently shared contagious diseases. Lethe Belle Coleman Tatge of Midway described epidemic outbreaks of diphtheria and smallpox. At first the only ways to prevent spreading disease were to keep the sick people home and cancel public meetings. The Heber City Board of Health, established in 1898, set the rules for quarantines for Heber and one mile outside the city limits. The board of health enforced these rules and required the families to pay the city’s expenses of posting signs. The president of the health board could bar all public meetings when there was an epidemic. Even with these measures, disease control continued to be a problem throughout the county. When the local health board canceled public meetings, people still met each other and spread the infection. Communities tried several other methods. In 1902 the Midway Board of Health ruled that children under the age of sixteen could not attend public amusements. The board did not discontinue schools during an epidemic in 1906, arguing that while the students were in class they did not intermix as much with other residents.

At the turn of the century, many Americans believed government overstepped its bounds if it mandated newly developed vaccinations.The Wave editor stated he would favor compulsory vaccinations only if they were absolutely necessary, because he did not feel they were safe. Midway residents felt that requiring vaccinations was “unAmerican,” “unconstitutional,” and would not prevent the spread of the disease. This was a common belief in Utah, and in 1901 the state passed an anti-vaccination law. The Wave applauded the move: “In other words, it robs the tyrant of his power to rob the people of their right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'” In response to a Salt Lake Tribune article asking why allow quarantines and not vaccinations, The Wave said it favored quarantining but questioned the logic of requiring children to have vaccinations when others in public places had not. The debate continued. No final decisions were made, and in January 1901 Heber Central School decided not to bar non-vaccinated children if there were no new cases of smallpox. The next month the schools were opened to all children regardless of whether they had been vaccinated.

By 1909 that opinion had changed. Dr. W. R. Wherritt, a local physician who also worked for several communities, called a public meeting at the Heber Second Ward meetinghouse. He requested money from the school fund to pay for vaccinations, and The Wave applauded the idea. State and county citizens continued to debate the issue, and in 1922 the state board of education encouraged but did not require vaccinations for smallpox.

Sources:  Tatge, 9, LDS Church Archives; Wasatch Wave, 22 April 1898, 2; Midway City Council Minutes, 23 December 1902. Wasatch Wave, 21 December 1900, 2; 13 March 1991, 2B; 1 February 1901, 2; 8 February 1901, 2; 11 January 1901, 3; 8 February 1901, 3. Wasatch Wave, 8 October 1909, 2; 2 March 1922, 5.


Utah in the Spanish American War

Camp Kent on the Fort Douglas Military Reserve, established by Utah Volunteers, 1898

Camp Kent on the Fort Douglas Military Reserve, established by Utah Volunteers, 1898

Battery B in Curatel de Mesiie, 1898

Battery B in Curatel de Mesiie, 1898

Richard C. Roberts
Utah History Encyclopedia

The Spanish American War, which lasted from March to December in 1898, was a short war; but it was significant in bringing the United States into the world arena as a major power. The United States defeated the Spanish forces in naval and land battles in the Philippine Islands, in Cuba, and in Puerto Rico. In many ways, the war was a comedy of errors and a “lark” for Americans, who saw the war as a romantic adventure to save the native Filipinos and Cubans from the oppressive Spanish government and to defend the honor of the United States.

Like other states, Utah became involved in the war when the federal government called for 125,000 volunteers to augment the small regular army of the United States. Utah’s original quota of volunteers was 425, but by the end of the conflict Utah had sent 800 troops. Most Utahns served in units organized within the state which were formerly National Guard units; but because of a technicality in the law, the National Guardsmen were prohibited from serving outside the boundaries of the United States. The states got around this technicality by having the guardsmen resign and then reenlist as members of federal units. The units from Utah that served in this fashion were batteries A and B of the Utah Light Artillery; Troop A, Utah Cavalry (regular cavalry); and Troop I of Torrey’s Roughriders (a special troop of mounted riflemen). Most of the enlistment into the artillery batteries A and B, Utah Volunteers, came from the National Guard of Utah A and B batteries; and Troop A, Utah Cavalry, came mostly from the National Guard Cavalry Troop C. Torrey’s Regiment was designated as special cavalry for the state and was recruited from throughout the state. Company K of Engineers, 2nd Engineer Regiment, U.S. Volunteers, was recruited from Salt Lake City, and another two hundred men from Utah were recruited into the 4th U.S. Cavalry, the 14th U.S. Infantry, and the 11th U.S. Cavalry. In addition, two Afro-American regiments—the 24th Infantry, Regular Army, stationed at Fort Douglas, and the 9th Cavalry, Regular Army, stationed at Fort Duchesne in eastern Utah–left the state to fight in the Cuban and Philippines campaig

The service rendered by each of these units varied: some saw military action; others were stationed in areas of the United States and Hawaii. Batteries A and B, Utah Light Artillery, were mustered in on 9 May 1898 and proceeded to the Manila campaign in the Philippines. The officers appointed to lead these units were Captain Richard W. Young (a West Point graduate, former regular army artilleryman, and a son of Brigham Young), and Captain Frank Grant (who had served in the Utah National Guard as a colonel). In the Philippines, these units fought as the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division. The American campaigns resulted in the capture of Manila and the surrender of the Spanish troops on 14 August 1898.

After the defeat of the Spanish troops, the war moved into the Philippine Insurrection phase, in which the Americans fought against the Filipinos who were trying to gain their independence. American troops, assisted by the Utah Artillery until 1899, continued to fight until the insurrectionists were defeated in 1901. Utah A and B batteries left the Philippines on 24 June 1899, having fought in more than one hundred engagements and suffering casualties of fifteen men killed by fighting or disease and fourteen others wounded.

The other Utah troops to see action were the black units, the 24th Infantry Regiment and the 9th Cavalry Regiment, who were engaged at San Juan Hill in the fight for Santiago, Cuba. These troops left Fort Douglas, Utah, on 20 April and returned to Fort Douglas on 2 September 1898. They were noted for their heroic attack up San Juan Hill and for their humane nursing of yellow fever patients at Siboney Hospital in Cuba. The 24th and 9th regiments returned to Fort Douglas after the Cuban campaign; however, in 1899 members of these units were reassigned to other posts in the United States. The leadership of their commander, General J. Ford Kent, was highly praised during the war.

The other units from Utah did not get opportunity to prove their gallantry in war. Troop I of Torrey’s Roughriders, led by Utah Adjutant General John Q. Cannon, spent the period from 11 May to 24 October 1898 in federal service, most of the time in camp at Panama Park, Jacksonville, Florida. They suffered from the heat and many became sick with malaria and dysentery; some from the regiment died. The First Troop of Utah Cavalry, under the command of Captain Joseph E. Caine, did guard duty in Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant parks in California. Their duty was to patrol the parks to insure that these areas were protected from any threats from herdsmen of Spanish descent who tended sheep and cattle there. Artillery Battery C assumed post duties on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay; and Company K of Engineers spent the war near Diamond Head Mountain on Oahu, Hawaii, constructing permanent military barracks.

As units of the Utah Volunteers began to arrive home, Governor Heber Wells proclaimed the arrival day of Batteries A and B—19 August 1898—a holiday. A special “arch of triumph” was placed at 200 South and Main streets in Salt Lake City; a parade, with almost all of the volunteers represented, marched through Salt Lake City; and festivities and speeches at Liberty Park honored the soldiers.

See: Charles R. Mabey, The Utah Batteries: A History (1900); A. Prentiss, ed., The History of the Utah Volunteers in the Spanish American War and in the Philippine Islands (1900); Michael J. Clark, “Improbable Ambassadors: Black Soldiers at Fort Douglas, 1896-99,” Utah Historical Quarterly 46 (Summer 1978).


Utah State Capitol





Geraldine H. Clayton
Utah History Encyclopedia

The classic simplicity and well-proportioned design of Utah’s State Capitol Building, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, have allowed it to remain as pleasing an architectural symbol of American democracy today as it was when the plans and architect were selected in 1912 in the most important architectural competition ever held in the State. Richard Karl August Kletting’s winning design, along with the nine other entries, falls into the broad category of Beaux Arts-influenced architecture. Kletting was a grand old man in Utah architecture by the time he undertook his design for the competition. He was 52 years old, and this was his last major commission. Kletting’s academic and practical training in his native Europe, coupled with his long and varied professional experience in this country, were complemented by his varied interests in city planning and community affairs.

The pioneers of Utah were anxious to build a statehouse. The first legislative assembly of the territory, which met in 1851, placed the capitol in the center of the territory and appointed a committee to proceed to Millard County immediately to designate the exact location for the new capitol building designed by Truman O. Angell, the primary designer of the Salt Lake Mormon Temple. However, central Utah did not develop as hoped, and only one complete session of the Legislature was held at Fillmore before the governmental offices were moved back north to Salt Lake City. The $20,000 appropriated for the building in Fillmore was considered wasted by Washington, and Congress refused to grant further funds for government buildings in Utah.



The state was divided by a Mormon-Gentile conflict from about 1858 to 1896, when statehood finally was granted to Utah. In 1896 those scars of forty-nine years of conflict were not sufficiently healed for the idea of an architectural symbol of statehood to be addressed. An economic depression in the 1890s caused further delay. It would be ten years until the diverse groups were able to work together to plan a statehouse.

In January 1907 Governor John C. Cutler reminded the legislature that Utah had been in the union for eleven years without a capitol building. In the 1909 session three acts were passed relating to the financing of the building, and the project finally moved ahead with help from a windfall. A. R. Barnes, attorney general for the state, found a state inheritance tax lying inoperative on the books. His enforcement of this law in the estate of E. H. Harriman, railroad magnate, resulted in $798,546.00 revenue. Along with these funds, the legislature passed a bill to provide for and negotiate a loan of $1,000,000.00 and to issue bonds. The Harriman funds provided sufficient money to start the work.

Despite the excellence of the prize-winning building which resulted, the Utah Capitol competition must be considered controversial at best. Its program broke twelve of the fourteen newly announced guidelines of the American Institute of Architects, and thus became a national problem within the profession, with architects, both local and national, urging one another not to compete. Finally, Utah architects did enter the Competition, reversing their group statement that they could not and would not compete under the existing program. Several nationally-known architects also competed, at the risk of disciplinary action by their professional organization.



The architectural symbolism of American democracy had been developing over the previous decades, as statehouses were built. By 1911 the architectural symbols were familiar–the dome, the balanced wings for the divisions of government, and the decorative classical elements indicate the roots of that democracy in Greece and Rome. In Utah, the architect was called upon to design a building of this magnitude for $2,000,000.00. Minnesota’s statehouse, by contrast, had been completed only a few years earlier for approximately $4,500,000.00.

The exterior of Kletting’s capitol design is similar to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D. C. The Utah building perhaps achieves some of its grandeur from the condensation of the same elements—the porticos, pediments, and monumental columns—onto the simple, but carefully proportioned, rectangle. The building is 404 feet long, 240 feet wide, and 285 feet to the top of the dome. The Utah Capitol rests on a raised, rusticated basement with monumental flights of steps leading to doors recessed behind the Corinthian columned porticos. Kletting’s was the only plan that proposed monumental free-standing columns on three sides of the building. The columns, along with the rest of the exterior, are constructed of Utah granite taken from Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County. The dome has been called Walterized Wren, and indeed it bears a strong similarity to the dome of the U. S. Capitol by Thomas U. Walter.

Henry Russell Hitchcock and William Seale in Temples of Democracy appraise Kletting’s building: His plan was the simplest and most dramatic. Wide but not deep, its dome and its continuous range of colossal Corinthian columns echoed the national capitol. There was so little incidental decoration that the general effect was more strictly Classical than Renaissance….The Kentucky Capitol lacks the belated Gilded Age glitter of those of Idaho and Montana; all the same, it is not so grand as Kletting’s far more restrained capitol at Salt Lake City. Surveying the Great Salt Lake and ranges of mountains that fade to pink and violet in the setting sun, the Utah Capitol combines McKim, Mead and White’s simplicity with Gilbert’s taste for the spectacular.”

The plan of the first Utah Capitol selected by Brigham Young and built in Fillmore was as different from other American statehouses being built during that period as Kletting’s winning entry was similar to the then accepted concept of a state capitol building. In 1911–1912 the Utah State Capitol Commission representing both the Mormon and non-Mormon factions demonstrated Utah’s wishes to be an acceptable and cooperating part of the nation.


Saltair bathers

Saltair bathers

[Insert link to Saltair: A Photographic Exhibit, and all photos!]

John S. McCormick
Utah History Encyclopedia

The Great Salt Lake has been a popular recreation site since the earliest days of white settlement, and a number of resorts have been built on its shores since the first two were constructed in 1870. The most popular and the best-remembered resort was the early Saltair. An important cultural symbol, it is deeply imbedded in Utah’s history and has long interested artists, essayists, folklorists, and historians.

In 1893 the Mormon church built Saltair on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, about sixteen miles from downtown Salt Lake City. They also built the railroad connecting the resort with the city. The church owned the resort until 1906, at which time it was sold to a group of private Mormon businessmen. The architect of Saltair was Richard K. A. Kletting, perhaps Utah’s foremost architect at the turn of the century and the designer of the Utah State Capitol building.

In building Saltair the Mormon Church had two major objectives: in the words of Mormon apostle Abraham H. Cannon, they wanted to provide “a wholesome place of recreation” under church control for Mormons and their families; and they also intended that Saltair be a “Coney Island of the West” to help demonstrate that Utah was not a strange place of alien people and customs. This was part of a larger movement toward accommodation with American society that had begun in the early 1890s as church leaders made a conscious decision to bring the church into the mainstream of American life. Saltair was to be both a typical American amusement park and a place that provided a safe environment for Mormon patrons. Those goals were somewhat incompatible, and in less than a decade the second had clearly triumphed at the expense of the first. Nonetheless, initially Saltair signified the Mormon church’s intention to join the world while at the same time trying to minimize its influence and avoid its excesses.

Saltair opened on Memorial Day 1893, and was officially dedicated on 8 June. Its main attractions were always swimming in the Great Salt Lake, where people could bob around like corks, thanks to its 25 percent salt content, and dancing on what was advertised as the world’s largest dance floor; but the resort always had a wide range of other attractions. They included a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel, midway games, bicycle races, touring vaudeville companies, rodeos, bullfights, boat rides on the lake, fireworks displays, and hot-air balloons.

Saltair reached the peak of its popularity in the early 1920s when it was attracting nearly a half-million people a year. However, in April 1925 it burned to the ground. Raymond J. Ashton and Raymond L. Evans designed a new pavilion along the general lines of the original one, and it was built the next year, but the resort never regained its former popularity. During the 1930s it had to battle the effects of the Great Depression; high maintenance costs as winds and salt spray ate away at wood and paint; a $100,000 fire in 1931; and receding lake levels, which in 1933 left it a half mile from the water. Saltair closed down during World War II. It reopened with high hopes after the war but continued to struggle, and it closed for good after the 1958 season. During the 1960s efforts to save it failed, and it stood forlorn and abandoned until fire destroyed it in November 1970.

In 1981 a new pavilion was built near the site of the original. It opened in July 1982, but struggled to survive as the lake first reached its highest level in history by 1984, putting the pavilion’s main floor under five feet of water. In the late 1980s the water began to recede.

In the fall of 1992, the Great Salt Lake Land Company, headed by Salt Lake attorney and real estate developer Walter Plumb, bought the resort. Over the next six months the new owners restored the structure and added a concert stage where they intended to present local and national artists. It opened on 8 June 1993—Saltair’s one hundredth anniversary.

See: Nancy D. McCormick and John S. McCormick, Saltair (1985).


The Beginning of Public Support for Libraries

Max J. Evans and Miriam B. Murphy
History Blazer, July 1996

During 1900–30 private groups and individuals in Utah still attempted to establish and operate public libraries as they had in the 19th century. Gradually they realized that enthusiasm and idealism were not enough. A steady and substantial source of funds was necessary for success. Most private groups could not provide this. As a result, library funding became accepted as a legitimate function of local government. Many of Utah’s present public libraries were established during the period when government support first became important.

The library act of 1896 provided the legal basis for tax-supported libraries in first- and second-class cities. Later, third-class cities received the machinery to establish libraries. Private support did not abruptly cease, however. Clubs, church groups, and library associations continued to establish and maintain public libraries, and many of these groups began to work with public agencies. During 1900–30 many new public libraries were permanently established. For example, in 1903 a book club in Provo started a library. By 1906 the city had appointed a board of trustees and provided the group with space in the courthouse, but the books were furnished by donation and not from tax funds. A group in Tooele also established a public library; the Tooele Lyceum Company purchased the Old Opera House in 1904, in part to house the company’s public library.

By 1915 libraries without tax support operated in at least seven Utah towns, including Moroni, Mount Pleasant, Orangeville, Panguitch, Huntington, Grantsville, and Vernal. By 1918, 16 towns had such libraries. Most would become tax-funded institutions. In Lehi, for example, the Mutual Improvement Association of the LDS church operated the public library until 1910 when the city began to levy a tax for its support. The Brigham City library began in the same way; in 1913 the local “MIA Library and Reading Room” was given to the city. Kanab provides perhaps the best example of a total community effort. Although the Ladies Literary League took the lead, the whole town supported their effort. The Kanab library received money and books from dances, book showers, operettas, and plays. A local bank loaned money to the library, and in 1918 Kanab City assumed total responsibility for the library.

Private groups in Tremonton and American Fork also turned their libraries over to city government in the 1910s, and a women’s group in Spanish Fork operated a public library for four years until the city voted a tax for it in 1925. The local American Legion post in Fillmore sponsored the first library in that city. People in Monroe, Delta, and Park City established libraries without tax support in the 1920s and 1930s. Libraries operated in Sandy, Magna, and Bingham Canyon without tax support until 1939 when the new Salt Lake County Library absorbed them. Even after legal provisions for library support had been made, groups continued to organize public libraries. In the little town of Alton, 40 miles east of Cedar City, a library was established in 1950 as a 4-H project.

One of the most important things done to encourage the library movement was a 1907 act of the legislature establishing a Library-Gymnasium Commission and giving cities the authority to raise taxes for the construction of a library or a library-gymnasium combination. The act also created the post of secretary, whose job it was to travel the state and encourage cities to develop libraries. The first secretary, Howard R. Driggs, was an energetic propagandist for the movement. He envisioned the library-gymnasium as the center of community culture, recreation, and education. He thought it would complement the temperance movement, serve as an alternative for saloons, and create “a home for street boys.” As a result of this legislation, professional help at the state level, and the work of local groups, many towns, including Eureka, Garland, St. George, Cedar City, Tooele, and Vernal, “voted to tax themselves for library purposes.”

In 1911, however, Governor William Spry recommended that the commission’s work be absorbed by the state school board. The legislature agreed. The school board retained Driggs to direct the program and hired Mrs. K. M. Jacobsen as a library organizer; she was succeeded in 1914 by Mary E. Downey. Their job was to encourage and help community libraries. In 1912, for example, the people of Richmond asked Driggs to come and explain the library legislation. An election was then held and a public library approved. A building was constructed and the library opened in the fall of 1914. Mary Downey spent two days in Richmond that spring to help prepare for the opening. By 1920 there were 43 tax-supported libraries in Utah. Still, private efforts remained significant. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie gave Utah communities from Richmond to St. George $255,470 to build 23 libraries during a 17-year period. Unfortunately, some towns had too small a tax base to support a library. Building maintenance often used up most of the annual $1,000 that Carnegie required cities to allocate to their libraries, leaving little or nothing to buy new books. On the whole, however, a Carnegie library benefited most towns that had one. Salt Lake City had its own philanthropist, John Q. Packard, who in 1900 deeded a lot south of the Alta Club to the city and gave some $75,000 to construct a library there. It opened five years later.

The Utah Library Association (ULA) was also founded during these formative years. In 1912 Esther Nelson of the University of Utah Library, Joanna Sprague and Julia T. Lynch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, and Howard Driggs invited librarians from around the state to a meeting. Forty-six responded and formed the ULA “to promote the library interest of the State of Utah” and, more specifically, to establish American Library Association standards.

The period from 1900 to 1930 was an era of expansion in the number of public libraries in Utah. Legislation, which provided legal authority and taxation for libraries, and philanthropy, which provided physical quarters, were responsible for this proliferation. The number of libraries has never since grown so rapidly. Although the ULA was organized during this period, concerted efforts to improve library quality would not occur until the depression and war years, 1930–45.

Source: Max J. Evans, “A History of the Public Library Movement in Utah” (M.S. thesis, Utah State University, 1971), 1980).