Category Archives: Holladay

1853 Holladay Fort

Published / by Ben Hopes / Leave a Comment

By Ben Hopes, Masters of Education Graduate Student

GPS Coordinates: 40˚ 37’ 4.84” N, 111˚ 49’ 36.21”

Holladay Historical Marker

Extended Research About Holladay:

In July of 1847, Holladay became the first village established independent of Salt Lake City. At the time, Latter Day Saints Prophet Brigham Young sent out members of his congregation to colonize different parts of Utah, particularly areas rich in natural resources. Led by John Brown, the pioneers of the Mississippi Company founded the village, flourishing with an abundance of natural resources. A free flowing stream fed through the Holladay area, and provided the rich and fertile lands for farming and planting[1]. The area was known as Cottonwood or the Mississippi Ward, but would be named Holladay after a particularly influential bishop, John D. Holladay. The settlement would grow to include schools, churches, and the creation of a fort in 1853, intended as protection against Native American raids but instead became a place for the settlers to gather.

Marker at Approximate Location of Southeast Corner of Holladay Fort

The Mississippi Company itself had known hardship; they had existed in the Southern States Mission, where they were often met with vitriol and physical harm[2]. They had moved west nearly a full year before the Mormon exodus of 1847, wintering at Pueblo, Colorado. Many of its members volunteered to join the Mormon Battalion, formed to aid the United States’ incursion into Mexico: The men and their families knew sacrifice. The struggles that they encountered in trying to fulfill their Prophet’s, and ultimately their God’s, vision created in them a firm belief that they were truly a chosen people destined for eternal greatness. According to various accounts, the Saints of this era met each challenge with the strength of their convictions and the willingness to work together, united in their goals[3]. Pioneers saw obstacles, such as hunger or physical hardship on the trail, as trials to be conquered with the aid of an almighty God. The Mississippi Company acted admirably in much the same way.

The Mormon colonization efforts were remarkable. Because of their strong, central leadership and the complete cooperation of their congregations, a community infrastructure could be quickly established that led to economically competent planning, ensuring a town’s immediate survival. One can see the precision of the Mormon colonization machine in the fact that Holladay was founded only a month after the Brigham Young’s famous incursion into the Salt Lake Valley. The tenacity of their efforts would further be reflected in the founding of the San Bernadino Mission in California (1851) by some of the members of the Mississippi Company.

Six years after the Mormon migration of 1847, Chief Walker of the Ute tribe declared war on the Mormons in the valley, in immediate retaliation for the death of a Ute Indian in a small conflict in Utah Valley, and for the larger reason that the Mormon people had encroached on his tribe’s lands and did not seem to have any intention of letting up in their colonization efforts. While this is called the Walker War, there was not much conflict: it was mainly a series of Indian raids and small Mormon reprisals. There were no great battles and a peace would be declared in May of 1854, with few conciliatory negotiations to resolve the ideological conflicts between the two groups.[4]

About the Holladay Fort:

However, the fear of Indian attacks led to the creation of the Holladay Fort in 1853 (it is very likely that it was never completely finished). Built from adobe mud and straw, it provided some protection but the Indian threat (the attacks were focused mainly in central Utah) was not enough to convince Holladay’s 161 inhabitants to move in. A house within its walls would serve as the meeting place for school and church functions in the area, until a new school/church would be built on the fort grounds in 1861.

In 1873, a new church, separate from the school, was built on the grounds. This church would serve LDS needs until 1972. In 1876, a new school was constructed on the fort site, accommodating school children until 1893, when another school was constructed just south. This 2-story, 4-room school would become a gymnasium for the 3-story, newly renamed Irving Junior High School, created in 1905. Irving Junior High was built to the west of the 1893 building (the gymnasium) and would be renamed Olympus Junior High in 1943.

Approximate Location of the 1853 Holladay Fort (Now a Field for Olympus Junior High)

Olympus Junior High would be torn down in 2002 to make way for a new school, moved slightly to the west of the original site. Today the grounds of the fort roughly encompass the entirety of the field used by the school, in addition to a small business and the LDS seminary building that Olympus Junior students regularly attend. Despite resistance to the westward move[5], the new building has become a community landmark and important facet of family life in Holladay itself.

The creation of the Holladay Fort in 1853, while not initially significant, set aside an area that would become culturally and socially important to the community for nearly the next 100 years. Out of regional fears, the fort was designed to keep raiding Utes out and yet it proved to be a joyful place where the community gathered to celebrate their own culture and to continually devote themselves to their religion. By housing the educational and spiritual centers of Holladay, the fort provided the means for Mormon culture to survive and grow, fed by Spring Creek in the shadow of Mount Olympus.

Marker Placed by: The City of Holladay, Jay M. Todd (constructed in July 1996), surveyed by Kate Wacker (Utah State Historical Society)

 Secondary Sources:

  • Arrington, Leonard J. “The Mississippi Mormons.” Ensign June 1977: N.p. Web. 29 Mar. 2017
  • Bigler, David L., and Bagley, Will.Army of Israel: Mormon Battalion Narratives. 2000. Print. Kingdom in the West ; v. 4.
  • Christy, Howard A.The Walker War: Defense and Conciliation as Strategy.  Print.
  • Parrish, William E. “The Mississippi Saints.”Historian 4 (1988): 489-506.
  • Van Leer, Twila. “School Construction Gets F From Residents.” Deseret News, 23 Aug. 2002. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
  • “City of Holladay.” City of Holladay. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

Primary Sources:

  • Bullock, Thomas.The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock. Vol. 1. Arthur H Clark, 1997. Print.
  • Olsen, Alice M., Olsen, R. L, and Lewis, Ira Allen. Mount Olympus & Holladay, Early Years (1920-30) : Featuring the Photographic Art Taken 1920-1930+ by Ira Allen Lewis (b. 1877 Holladay, Utah-d. 1948 Holladay, Utah), Some of the Old Homes of Holladay, Mount Olympus, Cottonwood Creek & Holladay (photographed from 1940-2010 by Alice McDonald Olsen). Print.

[1] “City of Holladay.” City of Holladay. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

[2] Arrington, Leonard J. “The Mississippi Mormons.” Ensign June 1977: N.p. Web. 29 Mar. 2017

[3] Bullock, Thomas. The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock. Vol. 1. Arthur H Clark, 1997.

[4] Christy, Howard A. The Walker War : Defense and Conciliation as Strategy. 1979. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

[5] Van Leer, Twila. “School Construction Gets F From Residents.” Deseret News, 23 Aug. 2002. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

First Settlers of Holladay

Published / by Scott Shields / 1 Comment on First Settlers of Holladay

Write-up by Scott Shields

Placed by:  Holladay Chapter, National Society Sons of Utah Pioneers, No. 65

GPS Coordinates: 40 ° 39”56” N 111 ° 49’17” W

Historical Marker Text:

John. D. Holladay, a leader of the Mississippi Company of Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 29, 1947.

John Holladay’s group explored the valley of the Great Salt Lake and its tributary canyons with an eye towards irrigation, wild hay for their animals, and water power for mills.  Most of the Mississippi Company stayed together and by fall had planned their farms and community in the area of a free-flowing, spring-fed stream issuing from the base of Mt. Olympus.  Thus the village of Spring Creek, as the stream was then called, was the first to be established away from Great Salt Lake City itself.

As soon as John Holladay was named the Branch President, the village took upon itself the name of Holladay’s settlement or Holladay’s Burgh.

In February of 1849 the first surveyed plots of land were issued to the settlers.

Historical Marker Text (2): Original Land Owners

Historical Marker Text (3):  Original Lot locations


 Historical Marker Address:  4778 Holladay Boulevard (west side)

Extended Research:

Sometime in the spring of 1848, the very first Holladay settlers-to-be came to this area and established a community. The location was soon called Holladay’s Burgh after its founding pioneer captain, John D. Holladay.   The name was later shortened to Holladay.  One member of the original group of settlers was William Decatur Kartchner, born in Pennsylvania and later a resident of Illinois.  He wrote in his journal: “Spring arrived; we were to farm as we had traveled, by tens, fifties, and hundreds. The land our ten drew was on a high bench six miles southeast of the city and our captain, John Holladay Sr. He asked permission from his captain to locate three miles further south at a large spring. It was granted, and soon we moved out there, built a row of small houses and fenced a field.”  1 These “ten” that William referred to were members of the Mississippi Company of Pioneers that had traveled together to Salt Lake City.

For these new settlers, life in this area was hard in those early years.  Despite mental toughness, hard work and cleverness, hunger was common.  William Kartchner wrote what it was like that first 1848 spring and summer in Holladay:  “During this time our breadstuff gave out. We had our last ox killed, an old favorite of mine. I could not kill it myself, it would be like killing one of my family.”2   His neighbor took pity on him and killed it for him but it was “poor beef” and William had to boil it with thistle roots to make it better.

Sharing food was a way of life in order for the group to survive.  William only brought a “few kernels of corn” with him across the plains so he waited until May to plant them.  He planted Spanish corn kernels which sprouted, grew and produced enough corn to make enough flour for “sufficient bread for three families.”  He also planted wheat which grew and he was able to share with the group captain and his family.   When Brother Holladay came to William and asked ‘Brother William, what under heavens are we to do for bread?   William pointed to his ripening wheat and replied “there is bread”.  Hunger served to remind William of how critical farming became in this desert environment.  He wrote:  “At that time I had not tasted of bread or any substance of grain for nearly two months.”3

Despite the hard won survival of the first few years, most of these original settlers did not stay long.  It was not because they did not like the area but because of another call for settlers to move to California.  In order to spread out and create new settlements, LDS church leadership asked for church members to establish a community in California.  The promise of a warmer climate interested many Southerners – including John D. Holladay.  So in the spring of 1851, just three years after arriving in Holladay, many of the original Mississippi group of ten and others packed up and traveled 700 miles to San Bernardino. 4

About these Mississippi Mormons who were the first settlers of Holladay, The historian Leonard Arrington offered this assessment :  “Intelligent and resourceful, [the] southern women accomplished miracles in establishing homes and rearing their families. . . . Mostly small landowners, stockmen, and frontiersmen, [the men]…became Brigham Young’s trusted associates in managing men and resources for the development of Mormon settlements”. 5

Primary Source:

  1. William Kartchner, Journal in Kate B. Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, vol 2  (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Utah Printing Company, 1959), 443.
  2. Carter, Our Pioneer, 444.
  3. Ibid.

Secondary Sources:

  2. Leonard J. Arrington, “Mississippi Mormons,”  Ensign, June 1977, 46.

Holladay Historical Commission Papers, Official minutes, correspondence, and other papers from the work of the Commission, Includes information on historical sites and landmarks 2000-2001, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Elizabeth Newman Hutchinson, Holladay, Salt Lake County, Utah, 1971, Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

For further reference:

  1. Journal History, July 29, 1847, LDS Church Historical Department.
  2. “Manuscript History of the Big Cottonwood Ward,” LDS Church Historical Department.
  3. William E. Parrish, “The Mississippi Saints, In The Historian: A Journal of History, 50:489, August 1988.