The Utah Historical Quarterly, Summer 2009 (77:3)

By July 9, 2009

I recently received the latest Utah Historical Quarterly, and here’s a run down of what you’ll find.

The first article is “Julius F. Taylor and the Broad Ax of Salt Lake City” by Michael S. Sweeney

From the UHQ website (subsequent quotes also from this site):

The Broad Ax, a Salt Lake City newspaper edited by African American Julius F. Taylor, is an important example of how newspapers are an irreplaceable source for history. As our first article demonstrates, the pages of the newspaper published from 1895 to 1899 provides a valuable history of Salt Lake City and its African American community at the end of the nineteenth century that otherwise would not be available.When Taylor left Salt Lake City for Chicago where he continued publishing the Broad Ax in that city for another decade, Utah lost a priceless resource for recording its history.

Let me add that this article was a fascinating read. Sweeny writes, “Julius F. Taylor, who single-handedly produced the four-page, tabloid weekly…from 1895-1899 in Salt Lake City…was a minority voice in a multitude of ways.  He was an iconoclastic Democrat in a state known for its conservative traditions and respect for authority. He was a self-described “heathen” in a land where religion was one of life’s main organizing principles…Furthermore, his black skin not only made him a second-class citizen of the United States…but also ensured he would have to fight particularly hard for status in his territory and state.”  Sweeny discusses Taylor’s relationship with members of the LDS Church hierarchy as well as connecting Taylor’s paper to larger regional and national themes.

Next comes, “Old Lamps for New: The Failed Campaign to Bring Electric Street Lighting to Salt Lake City” by Judson Callaway and Su Richards

While access to morning newspapers is taken for granted, even more so is illumination of our streets, stores, offices, buildings, and homes by electricity. As our second article reveals, this was not always the case. Before electricity lit up the night skies of Salt Lake City, an unsuccessful campaign was waged to replace a gas lighting system that had appeared as a harbinger of progress when it replaced the individual flickering candles, torches, and lanterns and the prevalent darkness of the past. The article records how late nineteenth century political and business leaders responded to what some perceived of as a threat while others saw it as a golden opportunity of new technology.

“The future visited Zion on the 10th and 11th of August, 1880,” write the authors.  Having made it’s American debut only 4 years later, these electric lights found their way to Salt Lake City for an exhibition.  The authors argue that heavy investments in natural gas (and therefore, gas lighting) by the City and the Church kept the City Council from accepting the electric light proposal.  LDS President John Taylor even issued a “manifesto” against the electric light proposal.

The third article is “Sisters of Ogden’s Mount Benedict Monastery” by Kathryn L. MacKay

Our third article chronicles the contribution of a dedicated group of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Mount Benedict Monastery, in providing much needed health care to Ogden and the Weber County area, beginning in the 1940s and continuing to the present.

This article presents a brief history of Catholic health care in Utah and its role in the community.  Why Utah?  Said one hospital administrator, “Well, I tell them, the choice was either a government hospital or the sisters; so they chose what they thought was the lesser of two evils.”

The last article is, “Regulator Johnson, The Man Behind the Legend” by Charles L. Keller

Utahns and visitors from all over the world have first encountered Regulator Johnson as the name for a popular expert ski run at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon east of Salt Lake City. Until now the origin of the name has been forgotten, if, in fact, it was ever known. Nineteen-year-old John S. Johnson immigrated to the United States from his native Norway in 1863 and by 1870 was living at the mining town of Alta. He spent the rest of his life prospecting and mining in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The story of how he became known as Regulator Johnson and his tragic life is the subject for our final article for this Summer issue.

This pretty much says it.

There are also a number of book reviews.

William Thomas Allison and Susan J. Matt, eds. Dreams, Myths, and Reality: Utah and the American West
Reviewed by Brandon Johnson

The book is a compilation of lectures at Weber State University. Authors include, Dean May, Thomas Alexander, Ron Walker, David Bitton, Leonard Arrington, and Valeen Avery among others. Johnson finds that each lecture contributes to the understanding of Utah’s past.

Fanny Stenhouse. Linda Wilcox DeSimone, ed. Exposé of Polygamy: A Lady?s Life among the Mormons
Reviewed by Gary James Bergera

Bergera writes that, “It is difficult to know for certain precisely how representative Stenhouse’s experiences were of those of Mormon plural wives in general, but her account sheds important light on the experiences of plural wives whose lives in polygamy were far from positive…Stenhouse is engaging if also sometimes melodramatic…”

Jesse G. Petersen. A Route for the Overland Stage: James H. Simpson?s 1859 Trail Across the Great Basin
Reviewed by Jay A. Aldous

Petersen logged about 30,000 driven miles as well as about 280 miles walked in order to trace the route of James H. Simpson’s 1859 trek across the Great Basin.  Using GPS to map the trek with precision, original documents, and photos, Petersen “could well set a new standard for the presentation of trail information.”

Gordon Morris Bakken. The Mining Law of 1872: Past, Politics, and Prospects
Reviewed by William T. Parry

Parry presents a comprehensive look at Montana mining law.

Will Bagley. Always a Cowboy: Judge Wilson McCarthy and the Rescue of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad
Reviewed by Charles S. Peterson

McCarthy apparently led a fascinating life, and “Will Bagley can hardly resist a good story.” Peterson also writes that, “Not surprisingly, McCarthy’s biography has much relevance at this time of financial crisis.  Taken altogether, it is a story most valuable for its insights into the social and cultural inner workings of twentieth century Utah as it developed in the American union of states.”

Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp and Reid L. Nielson, eds. Proclamation to the People: Nineteenth-Century Mormonism and the Pacific Basin Frontier
Reviewed by M. Guy Bishop

Bishop gives a glowing review to this compilation of essays on “the wide vistas of nineteenth-century Mormonism and the Pacific Basin frontier.”  With authors like Laurie Mffly-Kipp, Reid Nielson, Matt Grow, Leo Lyman, and Carol Cornwall Madsen, how can you go wrong?

W. Dean Frischknecht. Old Deseret Live Stock Company: A Stockman?s Memoir
Reviewed Richard H. Jackson

Jackson writes a positive review of this book and postulates that “Until some historian researches the twentieth century LDS church and Utah economic activities similar to what Leonard Arrington did for nineteenth century LDS/Utah economic activities, this memoir, in the meantime, will fill an important role in helping others to understand Utah ranch life in the mid-twentieth century.”

Duane A. Smith. Rocky Mountain Heartland: Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming in the Twentieth Century
Reviewed by Ann Chambers Noble

Simply put, this tri-state overview history helps expand understanding of the role of these three states in the American experience in the twentieth century.

Reginald Horsman. Feast or Famine: Food and Drink in American Westward Expansion
Reviewed by Patricia Ann Owens

Owens writes that there will be no glazed eyes while reading this fascinating study of food in the time of westward expansion.  Using a variety of manuscript materials, Horsman sheds new light on an often overlooked aspect of Western life.

Donald G. Godfrey and Rebecca S. Martineau-McCarty, eds. An Uncommon Common Pioneer: The Journals of James Henry Martineau, 1829-1918
Reviewed by J. Kyle Nielsen

Nielsen observes that the journals of James H. Martineau “read at times more like a novel tahn a collection of daily entries in a diary.”  Nielsen praises the journals’ content as well as the work of the editors in footnoting and contextualizing the material.

Book notices follow.  Some relevant notices include:

Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West by Annette Scott.  Scott includes cemetaries in Brigham City, Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake City, focusing on “who carved or made the sculptures and headboards and how these cultural artifacts convey something about the people buried, and how pioneer communities memorialized the dead.”

Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment. Photographs by Todd Stewart, Essays by Natasha Egan adn Karen J. Leong. “The historic photographs record the life and vitality of the camps in contrast with the stark abandonment of the camps, which are captured in color more than sixty years later…” Includes camps in California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Arkansas.

Wallace Stegner’s West. Edited by Page Stegner.  A selection of works from Stegner’s twenty seven major publications.

A Memoir of Polygamy: In My Father’s House by Dorthy Allred Solomon. In this reprint of her previous 1984 book, Allred reveals the real names of the figures she portrayed earlier with pseudonyms and has corrected errors and clarified details.

A Remarkable Curiosity: Dispatches from a New York City Journalist’s 1873 Railroad Trip Across the American West. By Amos J. Cummings, compiled and edited by Jerald T. Milanich.  This is “an interesting glimpse into eastern perceptions of western lifestyles during the late nineteenth century.” It also contains a number of interesting tales from Utah, where Cummings spent a significant amount of time.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks, Jared. The Sweeney article looks especially interesting.

    Comment by David G. — July 9, 2009 @ 8:06 am

  2. Thanks for the summary. Ditto David on Sweeney.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 9, 2009 @ 8:57 am

  3. Thanks, Jared. This is a great service.

    Comment by Christopher — July 9, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

  4. Chris, no problem. That’s what we are, right? A useful institution. 🙂

    Comment by Jared T — July 9, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  5. Thanks for the summary, Jared –

    The discussion of Salt Lake City street lighting jogged my memory, and I found the following old listing on my website . . .

    [Salt Lake City] Mather, J. C. LETTER to one “David,” on stationery of the Continental Hotel (“Strictly First Class, Pleasantly Situated, J. H. Van Horn & Co., Proprs.”), Salt Lake City, September 12, 1888.

    10¾ X 8½ inches. 4 pages on two sheets of the nicely-printed Salt Lake City hotel stationery. Very good; folds from mailing. Cover not present.

    Mather appears to be an affluent investor who may stay the winter. No mention of Mormons, but a nice sampling of Salt Lake City life. Personal gas lanterns needed in order to walk the streets late at night after the electric lamps are turned off; daily swims in the Great Salt Lake; good accommodations; rushing to get a lady on the train; street traffic, Pullman car rates, etc.

    Comment by Rick Grunder — July 9, 2009 @ 8:24 pm


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