Photos of a Visit to Iosepa

By June 23, 2015

A few weeks ago Ben P, Catherine P, and I visited the Iosepa (pronounced, I think: ee-oh-SEP-ah, but, in practice usually closer to: yo-SEP-uh) Cemetery, near Dugway, Utah. Below I’m posting some of the pictures from the trip, mostly without commentary. 

The cemetery is, according to Google, about 56 miles by car from the Salt Lake International Airport and, driving at highway speeds most of the way, the trip from the airport took a little under an hour. We drove West on I-80 W and then took Exit 77 to turn left / South on UT-196 S. There was an Iosepa trail/road marker on the right.


Google told us to go 16.2 miles on UT-196 S and then turn left on Tc02745, but at 15.1 miles we saw the sign below.


The gate was open so we defied the Google Gods and went in. The back of the sign also had figures.


Maybe a kilometer later we arrived at the cemetery and pavillion. The image below shows the approach with the pavillion visible at the center.


In the image below the cemetery proper is to the left of the photograph (note that the previous photograph was pointed South-ish while this one is from the other side of the complex pointed North-ish).


The sign at the left of the image above reads:

“Iosepa Settlement Cemetery”

“Mormon church converts from Polynesia settled in Skull Vally in 1889-1917, working for the Church-owned Iosepa Agriculture and Stock Company.

“Their settlement, located 1/2 miles to the southwest and named Iosepa (Joseph) after Joseph F. Smith, then president of the Church, flourished until 1917. When a Hawaiian temple was constructed most of the Islanders returned to their homeland.

“Many who succumbed to the hardships of the land are buried in this cemetery.”


There are several other markers with paragraph-length descriptions and commemorations (for example, the two below, which I did not transcribe).




Below is the view from the pavillion looking West toward the cemetery proper.



The image below shows the cemetery from the Southeast corner.


I enjoyed the trip very much.

A quick google leads to a few sites that mention Iosepa and the celebrations held at the cemetery: some photos and videoUtah History Encyclopedia, a Church News piece.











Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks, Edje. After reading Kester’s book, I’ve been wanting to go visit.

    Comment by Saskia — June 23, 2015 @ 6:09 am

  2. This is great, Edje. We need more eyes-on-the-ground posts like this.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — June 23, 2015 @ 7:52 am

  3. I second Gary’s comment. These are terrific. Does the settlement still exist, or have remnants, or have markers also?

    Comment by Tona H — June 23, 2015 @ 10:01 am

  4. I should have mentioned that all the photographs were made by Ben P and Catherine P.

    Tona:I am fuzzy on the details but I believe the cemetery is all that is left. we did not, however, walk over to the original site. At the cemetery there is a fire hydrant from the settlement. I think it is the only remnant. The church news link above reports on a speech by an archaeologist who worked at the site.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — June 23, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

  5. I also had an opportunity to visit Iosepa with my family a couple weeks ago. My husband’s great-great-grandfather was one of the settlement officials there, named William King, who adopted a Native Hawaiian son. His son lived in Iosepa as well for sometime. Then, King encouraged his son to return to Hawaii to marry. His son remained in Hawaii, but we are wondering what became of him. My husband’s ancestor had served LDS missions in Hawaii. I would have to check all this information for specific details. Matthew Kester wrote a fascinating study, Remembering Iosepa (I am sure you are all aware of it). Dominic Martinez wrote a review of it on the blog.

    It is really struck me to read of the sacrifices that people made in attempts to sustain a community of faith there. I am also impressed by how a couple recent burials were done there, and there are regular gatherings at Iosepa around Memorial Day. There was also a time capsule that they open about every twenty-five years. One is planned to be opened this August. I wonder what they do with that. It was neat that there were working bathrooms, and you could tell that it serves as a place for reunions and family gatherings because of the playground, stage, basketball court, and other parts of the site.

    Comment by Farina — June 24, 2015 @ 11:19 pm

  6. “Iosepa” is the Polynesian transliteration of “Joseph”. They named their settlement after Joseph Smith the prophet.

    The area contains a few other remnants of the original settlement, mostly bare concrete foundations.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 25, 2015 @ 3:27 pm

  7. Thanks, Edje. This is great.

    And Jim, did you bother reading the post before commenting?

    ?Their settlement, located 1/2 miles to the southwest and named Iosepa (Joseph) after Joseph F. Smith, then president of the Church, flourished until 1917.”

    Comment by Christopher — June 26, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

  8. Indeed, how could I be so astonishingly stupid as to disagree with an authoritative blog post? I must be mad.

    Comment by Jim Cobabe — June 28, 2015 @ 4:07 pm

  9. Huh?

    Comment by Christopher — June 29, 2015 @ 8:37 am


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