Category Archives: Millard

Utah’s First Capitol

Published / by Benjamin Bartholomew / Leave a Comment

Utah Historical Site Marker

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 7

GPS Coordinates: 38.9676° N, 112.3251° W

Historical Marker Text (1):

Erected Aug. 3, 1935

Utah’s First Capitol

Creating Fillmore City and Millard County, the Territorial Legislature of Utah, selected Pauvan Valley as the capitol site Oct. 29, 1851. This spot was selected by Gov. Brigham Young. Construction work began in 1852. Truman O. Angell, Architect, and Anson Call, Supervisor. This South Wing was used by the 5th Territorial Legislature Oct. 10, 1856. In 1856 the seat of government was moved to Salt Lake City. Later used as Court House and County Headquarters. Restored in 1928 and dedicated as state museum July 24, 1930

Custodians: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Millard County Company

National Register Marker

 Historical Marker Text (2):

The National Register of Historic Places

Utah Historic Site

Territorial Capitol

Built: 1852-1855

Architect: Truman O. Angell

Used by 5th (1855), 6th (1856),

and 8th (1858) State Legislatures

Division of State History N-9

Extended Research:

Establishing Fillmore:

Governor Young

The Compromise of 1850 admitted California into the Union as a free state and established New Mexico and Utah as territories. U.S. President Millard Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as the first Governor of Utah, and requested a capital city be established. To accomplish this, Young recruited a man by the name of Anson Call. Call joined the Mormon Church in 1843, and immigrated with his family in 1848 to Bountiful, Utah. At 41 years-old, Call received a “calling,” or religiously appointed duty, from Brigham Young to explore central Utah.

In May of 1851, Call waited in Parowan to receive word from Young as to where he should go next. Young sent a letter to Call saying “to go a distance of about one hundred miles north and explore Pah-Van Valley”  and directed him to find “a suitable place to make a settlement.”[1]

Anson Call

After exploring, Call concluded that the area near Chalk Creek would be the best spot to settle. Young then requested Call to gather fifty families and to establish a colony. From multiple records, it appears that the families Call recruited were generally poor and new immigrants from England.

Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, the territorial legislature met to decide on a location for the capital city. Legislators concluded that it should be placed at the geographic center of Utah Territory. Following their decision, Young assembled his own wagon company and then headed south to officially dedicate the site as the capital.  The Deseret News reported that on October 21, 1851, Young and other leaders left Great Salt Lake City for the purpose of locating the site for the seat of government.[2]

Samuel P. Hoyt

Bishop Bartholomew

One week later, on October 28th, Brigham Young arrived in what he then named Fillmore, and placed his cane to the earth declaring it the cornerstone of the new territorial statehouse. On October 29, 1851, Jesse W. Fox began surveying the city after Joseph Smith’s “city of God” method.  Young later described the events this way:

“We found an excellent situation near the ford of Chalk Creek and selected the site for the State House on the south side of that creek on the heights about 3/4 of a Mile up it.  Exceedingly beautiful are the numerous cedars in that vicinity which are included in the city plot. . . . The location of the seat of Government at that point will unquestionably prove highly satisfactory to the People of the Territory having a more central position than Great Salt Lake County and the most susceptible of maintaining a large and dense population of any other valley intervening. . . .”[3]

Building the Statehouse:

Replicas of what houses in the Fort looked like.

During the Winter of 1851 the population of Fillmore grew and settlers continued to build Fort Fillmore. They additionally began preparations to build the statehouse. In the Spring of 1852, LDS Bishop Noah Bartholomew sent multiple letters indicating that the population was growing as builders began to arrive. Brigham Young then appointed his brother in law, Truman O. Angell, to be the architect of the project. He assigned Samuel P. Hoyt as the foreman responsible for reporting updates to LDS leader, George A. Smith.

Settlers at Fillmore established a trade based economy as they struggled to build a community and provide the labor necessary to construct the new state house. In 1853 and 1854, tensions between Mormons and Ute Indians erupted into the Walker War which frequently interrupted or halted altogether construction on the building. At the end of the Walker War, Chief Kanosh was able to strike peace, and even settled his band near Fillmore in hopes of learning advanced agriculture. Despite these disruptions, workers completed the south wing of the state house in 1855.

Fillmore as a Capital:

The Statehouse

After completion of the south wing, the State Legislature convened in the House of Representatives’ Chamber. The United States District Court and Territorial Probate Courts were also able to utilize the second floor which also housed the Governor’s Office. The Deseret News used the basement of the new building as its headquarters.

The Statehouse after 1858:

By 1858, legislators complained that Fillmore was too small and too sparse in resources to continue as the capital city. Thus, they moved the capital to Salt Lake City for convenience and because Utah’s main population lived along the Wasatch Front. The statehouse at Fillmore was abandoned with only the south wing ever constructed. The south wing’s white trimmings and empty halls stand as the only remnant of the old capital at Fillmore. After the legislature vacated the city, the building was used as both a music hall and a schoolhouse. This lasted until 1930 when it was then made into a museum. The building was dedicated as a historic site in 1935.

References

[1] Brigham Young, 1851 in “Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” as cited in A History of Millard County, by Edward Leo Lyman and Linda King Newell (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society), 39-40.

[2] “President’s Visit South,” Deseret News, 29 November 1851.

[3]Brigham Young to Jedediah M. Grant, 26 November 1851, Brigham Young Collection, DR1234/1, box 16, folder 22 (reel 25), Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Primary Sources

Brigham Young to Jedediah M. Grant, 26 November 1851, Brigham Young Collection, DR1234/1, box 16, folder 22 (reel 25), Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

LDS Church Historians Office Journal, 8 January 1856, LDS Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“President’s Visit South, Deseret News, 29 November 1851.

Secondary Sources

Day, Stella H. , ed.  Milestones of Millard: A Century of History of Millard County, 1851-1951.  Springville, UT: Art City Publishing Co., 1951.

Lyman, Edward Leo, and Linda King Newell, A History of Millard County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.