Category Archives: Mining

Early Magna Settlements

Published / by Malcolm Harrison / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Malcolm Harrison

Photo Credit Malcolm Harrison

Placed by: Sons of the Utah Pioneers, Site Number 28

GPS Coordinates: 40.6833 N, -112.0915 W

Photo Credit Malcolm Harrison

Historical Marker Text: 

“Early Magna Settlements

In commemoration of the First Communities Established on the West Side of Salt Lake Valley and the First Major Industry of Utah

In 1853, Abraham Coon, an early Mormon pioneer, explored a canyon in the Oquirrh Mountains on the west side of Salt Lake Valley. He found an abundance of timber suitable for lumber and also a variety of oak tree the bark of which was useful in tanning leather. There was ample water to power a sawmill and a tan-bark processing plant. Abraham Coon obtained permission to open the canyon for these purposes, established a toll fee for access to the canyon, and used the revenue for the construction and maintenance of the road. The canyon was officially named Coon Canyon.

Abraham Coon and his family settled at the mouth of the canyon, and started a farming community that became known as Coonville. This was the first settlement on the west side of Salt Lake Valley and it covered a one-square-mile area south of this marker. The Coon, Deardon, Hardman, Shafer, Thomas, Sadler, Ek, Jenkins, and Larson families settled in the area. The 47th District School House was built here to house first- through eighth-grade classes and also church functions. 

In the 1860s, settlers from Salt Lake City were attracted to the fertile soil in this part of the valley, and the farming community of Pleasant Green grew up on the two-square-mile area north of Coonville. Early family names in Pleasant Green included Spencer, Reid, Taylor, Cockrell, Jacobs, Lecheminant, Breeze, Perkins, Sutton, Mellen, Hirst, Brown, Bouck, Bertoch, Hartley, Lambert, Whipple, Shields, Adamson, Drury, Featherstone, and Wolstenholme.

In 1906, Daniel C. Jackling brought the Utah Copper Company into operation by commencing open-pit mining in Bingham Canyon. Over the next forty years the mine, smelting, and milling operations were expanded and the company became known as Kennecott. The open-pit mine is truly one of the wonders of the world. The modernization of the mine and processing plants has gone forward, and in 1992 this remains one of the great copper producing centers of the world.

With the advent of the copper industry, Coonville and Pleasant Green merged into the unincorporated city of Magna. “Magna” means “magnificent” or “great,” a proud reference to the role played by the city and its people in the development of the copper industry. The name became official with the opening of the first Magna Post Office in 1917.”

Extended Research:

Many people believe that the Pioneers settled the Salt Lake Valley from East to West as the Saints arrived down through the Wasatch Mountains and expanded steadily towards the Oquirrh Mountains. As early as the mid-19th century, however, small groups and families spread out to settle areas west of Salt Lake City into modern-day West Jordan, Tooele, West Valley, and Magna. As the first settlement at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains, Magna has this secluded monument dedicated to preserving the story of how it was settled and cultivated. The legacy of this place is really the story of a town that has known many names.

Between 1851 and 1853 Abraham Coon and his family were the first of eight families to establish their homes and farms near the mouth of a small canyon called Coon’s Canyon. Natural resources could be found surrounding the canyon such as water flowing from natural springs and a mountain creek.[1] They called their new settlement Coonville, but this corner of the valley was called many different names over the years. According to A History of Salt Lake County, it was called “Mill Stone Point for its smooth stones suitable for grinding grain, stagecoach drivers then called it Point of West Mountain…Then the clutter of shanties and tents for migrant workers prompted the nickname Ragtown or Dinkeyville.”[2]

The history of the Early Magna Settlements and its various names has been quietly preserved through maps. In 1849 Colonel J. J. Abert ordered a map of the Salt Lake Valley to be surveyed.[3] At this time there was nothing noteworthy on the map west of the Jordan River aside from an irrigation ditch and a few sinks (places where flowing water disappears into the ground).

Stansbury, Howard, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map.

Just 40 years later in 1890, Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. produced another map of the Salt Lake Valley.[4] By this point, there were plenty of family farms and roads and two school districts. Abraham Coon lived to see all of this develop as he died only 5 years prior to the map’s completion. However, Coonville was not the official name on the map; by this time the town was known as Pleasant Green. A few years earlier on July 21, 1874, Judge Elias Smith had established the Pleasant Green Precinct. The name likely came from the reputation of the farms which produced bountiful crops, despite the arid climate, thanks to the natural mountain springs. It wasn’t until the arrival of Utah Copper Co. that the name Pleasant Green changed.

Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map.

While knowledge of the rich mineral deposits in the Oquirrh Mountains was known since the early days of the pioneer’s arrival into the valley, no claims were officially staked until a decade after Abraham Coon and his family settled the area. Brigham Young, the first governor of Utah and simultaneously president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged all of the pioneers to put their time and effort into agriculture rather than mining. While it was not expressly forbidden to go prospecting or dig up minerals it was not considered a priority. Brigham Young himself said, “Gold is good in its place— it is good in the hands of a good man to do good with, but in the hands of a wicked man it often proves a curse instead of a blessing.”[5] With the passage of time and a strong push from outsiders like Colonel Patrick E. Connor, now known as the father of Utah mining, soon mining ventures opened up all over the state with one of the largest in the Oquirrh Mountains around the turn of the century.

Daniel C. Jackling created the Utah Copper Co. in 1906 which would later become Kennecott Copper Corporation. The company began constructing a mill in the area and Jackling decided to call it Magna, from the Latin word meaning “superior” or “great”.[6] The town post office also adopted the name Magna, which was not uncommon at the time. Many towns, especially small ones, were called one name and had another name for the post office. The town grew from a rural farm town and became known as a bustling mining town. The profitable mines attracted immigrants from all around the world including places like Greece, China, Italy, Serbia, Mexico, and more. Pleasant Green was slowly forgotten as the green farms were replaced with the roads and buildings of industrialization and urbanization.

Although initially settled by only a handful of families, by 1950 the population reached 3,502 and as of 2020, it has climbed to almost 30,000 residents.[7] Many people call this town home, but few know the history of the settling of where they now live. Not many know the stories of why the land where neighborhoods and shopping centers now stand used to be called Coonville, Millstone Point, Point of West Mountain, Ragtown, and Dinkyville. Today the Township of Magna is what appears on our maps, but there is certainly more than meets the eye to this small town with a rich history.

[1] Robert Goble, “Pleasant Green: The Town That Had Forgotten Its Name — Episode One.” YouTube, December 24, 2018.

[2] Linda Sillitoe, A History of Salt Lake County, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT, 1996, 153.

[3] Howard Stansbury, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map.

[4] Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map.

[5] Brigham Young, The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star. Volume XII. 1850, 245. BYU Library Digital Collections.

[6] L. Stewart Radmall and Mark E. Walker. “Pioneer Monuments of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.” Internet Archive. Sons of Utah Pioneers, January 2, 2021.

[7] U.S. Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Magna Metro Township, Utah.” United States Census Bureau Quickfacts, May 3, 2022.

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources

Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map. 

Stansbury, Howard, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map. 

Secondary Sources

Goble, Robert. “Pleasant Green: The Town That Had Forgotten Its Name — Episode One.” YouTube. YouTube, December 24, 2018.  

Radmall, L. Stewart, and Mark E. Walker. “Pioneer Monuments of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.” Internet Archive. Sons of Utah Pioneers, January 2, 2021.  

Sillitoe, Linda. A History of Salt Lake County, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT, 1996, p. 153.  

Sadler, Richard W. “The Impact of Mining on Salt Lake City.” Utah Historical Quarterly 47, no. 3 (1979).  

U.S. Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Magna Metro Township, Utah.” United States Census Bureau Quickfacts, May 3, 2022.

Young, Brigham. The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star. Volume XII. 1850, p. 245. BYU Library Digital Collections.  

Pioneers of Antimony

Published / by Eric Montague / 13 Comments on Pioneers of Antimony

Pioneers of Antimony

Write-up: Eric Cecil Montague

Placed By: Daughters of Utah Pioneers Forrest Camp · · · Garfield County (1949)

G.P.S. Coordinates: 38° 6.907′ N, 111° 59.8′ W

Historical Marker Text:

In 1873, Albert Guiser and others located in a fertile meadow, which they named Grass Valley. Surveyors camped on a stream, lassoed a young coyote and called the place Coyote Creek. The first L.D.S. settlers were Isaac Riddle and family, who took up land on the east fork of the Sevier River. Later, a school house was built, and the Marion Ward organized with Culbert King as bishop. In 1920 the name was officially changed to Antimony after the antimony mines east of the valley.

A picture on the day of the dedication of the marker with Antimony townswomen – Amber Riddle and Maude Wiley on the left and Esther Mathews and Ethel Savage on the right. (Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office – Antimony, Utah)

Extended Research:

The history of Antimony is a story of diverse groups making a home in a beautiful valley. Much like the story of Utah at large, these groups consisted of Native Americans, early settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S.), and miners. The fertile valley of Antimony has been known by several names over the years: Clover Flat[1], Grass Valley[2], Coyote[3], and after 1920, Antimony. The latest name was chosen because of the abundant antimony mines in the canyons that surround Antimony and the mining industry that the mineral supported. This valley is covered in lush grass that is naturally irrigated by Otter Creek and the East Fork of the Sevier River.

The primary native people of the valley were Southern Paiute Native Americans. Previously, approximately 10,000 years ago, early native peoples, including the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan peoples, inhabited Southern Utah.[4] Twenty-seven miles south of Antimony, at the ranch of Jeff Rex, archaeologists found ruins known as the North Creek Shelter Site. These ruins provide insight into the lives of the native peoples that inhabited the area before European settlement. The site, used as temporary shelter by many generations of hunters and travelers, contains artifacts from the Paiutes and earlier native peoples. Artifacts found at North Creek include stone tools, farming equipment, projectiles for hunting, pottery, and other common native objects.[5] The item from the North Creek site that received the most acclaim was a wild potato; this is the earliest documented use of potatoes in North America.[6]

North Creek Shelter Site

The more recent peoples of the region are linguistic relatives of the Utes, known as the Kaiparowits Band of the Southern Paiute.[7] Shoshone bands also occupied the area. Both groups used the substance now known as antimony (a very brittle, bluish-white metallic substance),[8] which they extracted from the canyons around Grass Valley,[9] for tools and weaponry. This Southern Paiute band engaged with Europeans (Mormon settlers and the U.S. Army) during the Black Hawk War (1865–1872), and Europeans settled permanently in the region shortly thereafter. The small Southern Pauite band that lived in Grass Valley called themselves the Paw Goosawd Uhmpuhtseng or Water Clover People.[10]

The earliest Anglo-European contact with the region occurred as a result of the Spanish Trail and the John C. Fremont explorations. A trading path off the Old Spanish Trail called the Gunnison trail was used during the 1830s and 1840s. The trail split at the summit of Salt Creek in Salina Canyon. From there, the path passed through Seven Mile Canyon and Fish Lake, descended along Otter Creek, and continued along the Sevier to the Pahvant Mountains.[11] Trading caravans used this path to supply two economies: goods and slaves. The most prominent trade goods were furs, buckskin, and dried buffalo meat. In addition, the Ute people sold captured Southern Paiutes as slaves to the Spanish traders.[12] Later, in the winter of 1853–1854, Captain John C. Fremont made his fifth and final expedition to the Western territories. During this expedition, Fremont encountered harsh weather and searched for safety. After a long trip through the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef, and the Awapa Plateau, Fremont and his group followed Otter Creek into Grass Valley, and there found shelter and recuperated.[13] The party later continued to Parowan for further recovery. In a letter to his sister about his trials, Fremont wrote that “the Mormons saved me and mine from death and starvation.”[14]

During the Black Hawk War, Mormon settler Captain James Andrus received orders from Brigadier General Erastus Snow to conduct a reconnaissance mission throughout Southern Utah to ascertain the strength of Native American communities in the region. This group passed through Grass Valley on September 4, 1866. In Grass Valley, the soldiers found the most “extensive” defense works they had ever encountered, erected by the Southern Paiutes.[15]

Brigham Young, then president of the L.D.S. Church, organized the first Mormon exploration party into Grass Valley in 1873, following the end of the Black Hawk War. The group included Albert K. Therber, William Jex, Abraham Holladay, General William Pace, George Bean, and George Evans. Throughout Southern Utah, Chief Tabiona of the Shoshone tribe served as their guide. During their exploration of Southern Utah, on June 18, 1873, they camped at what is known today as Antimony Bench. That evening, they recorded in their journal that “We were just going to camp for the night when we saw an old coyote with three young ones. We gave chase and caught the little ones, cut their ears off short, tied a paper collar around one’s neck and turned them loose. We named the stream Coyote.”[16] Thus, Grass Valley was renamed Coyote.

In 1873, the first European settler arrived in the valley: Albert Guiser. Guiser and his family owned mines in Oregon, namely the Bonanza, the Brazos, the Pyx, and the Worley mines. He likely came to Utah as a mining speculator because of the propaganda surrounding Utah during the national mining fervor and its promised mineral riches. Guiser established a cattle operation in the valley as well, yet did not establish a permanent settlement or buildings in Coyote, only visiting during summer.[17]

To understand the account of Antimony’s first permanent settlers, one must be acquainted with the practice by the adherents of the Mormon faith known as the United Order. The United Order, established by Brigham Young, was an economic concept based on cooperative and communitarian ideals. In the Order, all property was held in common, whereby its participants’ goal was to become self-sufficient from the external world. Most United Order communities only lasted a few years before dissolving.[18] Two Order communities that had lasting effects on Antimony were Kingston and Circleville. John Rice King, son of the leader of the Order in Kingston, purchased the Antimony Guiser cattle operation as part of the Order.[19] Two prominent future leaders of Antimony came from United Order communities: Isaac Riddle and Culbert King, from Kingston and Circleville, respectively. Riddle used Grass Valley to graze the Order’s cooperative beef herd. The Order from Kingston built a dairy beside Riddle’s ranch in Antimony.[20] After the dissolution of the Order in 1878, Isaac, Culbert, and others came to Grass Valley.

Isaac Riddle was the first permanent settler in Coyote. Riddle was born in Boone County, Kentucky, where his family converted to the Mormon faith and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. He enjoyed his time making shingles for the Nauvoo temple. Riddle spoke of the challenges that he encountered from the “mobbers of Illinois,” who persecuted the Mormons. He also described the troubles of 1844 that the Mormons encountered in Nauvoo at the murder of the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. Notably, he wrote a description of Smith’s death, stating that “he cannot tell how we felt.” For the next six years, while migrating to Utah, Riddle endured numerous trials. His three-year journey to Winter Quarters in Omaha resulted in his “destitute condition.” To add further challenges, Riddle’s father left him in charge of the family in Omaha for two years when he was only 17 years old. After his arrival in Utah, Brigham Young called on Riddle and Jacob Hamblin to go on a mission to Southern Utah to improve relations with the native people.[21] Riddle’s exploration of Utah resulted in his acquisition of a vast estate throughout Southern Utah. In 1875, Riddle and his son, Isaac Jr., built ranches on the east fork of the Sevier River in Grass Valley.[22] Isaac and his son had explored the area the year before and assessed it to be perfect for cattle because of its abundant water and natural meadows. In addition to Riddle, John Hunt, Joseph Hunt, Gideon Murdock, and Walter Hyatt all used Antimony for cattle grazing.[23] Riddle was a shrewd businessman. To this end, he allotted a part of his ranches as a stopover for travelers on their way to Hole-In-The-Rock.[24] Riddle’s financial interests not only included ranches, but he also established many grist mills and sawmills throughout the region. After the dissolution of the United Order, Riddle owned thousands of cattle, sheep, and horses. He was also a polygamist with multiple wives, which resulted in his incarceration, along with George Q. Cannon, an apostle of the L.D.S. Church, from September 1887 to February 1888 for polygamy under the Edmunds Tucker Act. Riddle died on September 1, 1906.

Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle in Prison for Polygamy with George Q. Cannon (L.D.S. Apostle) Riddle is the in the second row, first person on left side

In 1878, around the Riddle Ranch, the town of Antimony began when thirty-three Mormon families—some of whom were friends of the Riddles—moved into the valley. The most noteworthy among the settlers were the Eliza Esther McCullough, Elizabeth Ann Callister, Sarah Elizabeth Pratt, Lydia Ann Webb, and Culbert King families; the Eliza Syrett and Volney King family; the Helen Maria Webb and John King family; the Mary Theodocia Savage and John Dingman Wilcox family; the Esther Clarinda King and George Black family; the Polly Ann Ross and Culbert Levi King family; the Christina Brown and Mortimer W. Warner family; the Charles E. Rowen family; the Knute Peterson family; the Peter Neilson family; and the James Huff family.[25]

Antimony Post Office 1896

Of the first settlers in Antimony, one prominent member of the community, Culbert King, became the spiritual leader of the early Mormon settlers. King was born on January 31, 1836, in the state of New York. His parents joined the L.D.S. Church and moved to Illinois. In Nauvoo, the King family became acquainted with the religious leader, Joseph Smith. Following Smith’s murder they joined the migration of the Saints in 1846, arriving in Utah in 1851. Shortly after their arrival, Brigham Young sent the Kings to Fillmore, Millard County, where they erected the first house in the area. King served as a soldier during both the Walker and Black Hawk wars. Afterward, he became a friend to the Southern Paiutes and became somewhat proficient in speaking their language. After staying for 15 years in Kanosh, he moved to Circleville, Piute County, where he lived in the United Order for several years and served as a member of the ecclesiastical leadership there until the Order dissolved. He then relocated to Grass Valley and, in 1882, became bishop of the L.D.S. ward. From December 1885 to June 1886, he was imprisoned for polygamy. He continued to serve as bishop until 1901 when he was released and ordained a patriarch by Apostle Francis M. Lyman. He died on October 29, 1909. He and his wives were all buried in Antimony.[26]

Culbert King

Culbert King with Primary Assocation

The most prominent non-Mormon settler and early miner in Antimony was Archibald Munchie Hunter. After emigrating from Scotland to the United States through Boston in 1851, Hunter’s career took him across the nation. In 1874, he arrived in Utah and resided in Sevier County as a breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. In 1879, he joined the settlers in Antimony. That he felt at home in Antimony is no surprise, given the communitarian beliefs of the town founders and Hunter’s prominence as a socialist. He spent the rest of his life there, supporting himself by providing supplies to various mining speculations, running a hotel, and raising and exporting his horses to Scotland. The successful mining efforts of Hunter and others gave the town its current name—Antimony—after the mineral that he and others mined in the canyons above the town. When he moved to Antimony in 1879, Hunter became chairman of the school board, and residents who experienced financial difficulties testified to Hunter’s generosity. Hunter cared for his sister, Jane Talbot, and her five children in his home, which he also ran as a hotel. He died in Antimony in 1931 and was buried in Salt Lake City.[27]

Archibald M. Hunter

Archibald Hunter with Family in front of his hotel

Archibald, as a school board trustee and benefactor, is significant to another group of Antimony pioneers: its earliest women. Female pioneers in Antimony influenced the town substantially, most notably as teachers and nurses. Carrie Henry, Lydia Tebbs Winters, and Esther Clarinda Black were the first teachers in Coyote. In 1882, at the home of George Black, the first schoolhouse was built, and in 1885, the school found its more permanent residence in the newly built church, until a dedicated school building was built in 1916. The school’s most remembered teacher was Esther Clarinda Black. One of her students, Lillian McGillvra Abbott, remembered her as having a “pleasant disposition.”[28] Black’s daughter, Esther Black Matthews, revered her mother. She recalled that Black began to teach out of necessity to provide for her family while her husband, George Black, served a mission for the L.D.S. Church in England.[29] Black’s impact on the community cannot be understated due to her effect on the town’s children. Black served for 23 years as the town leader of the youth organization of the L.D.S. Church, named the Primary Association, thus influencing the education and spiritual lives of the town’s children.[30]

Lydia Tebbs Winters with Antimony School Children

In addition to teaching, Esther was also a midwife. Midwifery and nursing were vital to the health of the young town. The first baby born in Antimony was Forrest King, son of John R. and Helen King, on April 1, 1879.[31] Some of the most esteemed nurses were Catherine Wilcox Webb and her two daughters, Helen Matilda Webb King and Lydia Webb Huntley,[32] among whom Catherine’s history is remarkable. Her first husband was Eber Wilcox, a member of Zion’s Camp, a Mormon militia organized by Joseph Smith to reclaim property stolen from members of the faith by Missourians. Wilcox died of cholera while on the Zion’s Camp expedition at Fishing River.[33] Joseph Smith officiated over Catherine’s marriage to her second husband, John Webb, in Kirtland, Ohio.[34] Catherine and her family came to Utah as original overland pioneers with the James Pace Company in 1850[35] and settled in Fillmore. After Catherine’s husband was killed guarding the fort at Fillmore during the Black Hawk War,[36] she joined her children in Coyote. She and her daughters were excellent nurses. Upon Catherine’s death, her obituary said of her that “her sphere of usefulness was unbounded as she assisted at the birth of many and at the bedside of the sick. She knew her profession well and was extensively known and well-beloved by all her acquaintances.”[37]

Catherine Wilcox Webb

From its humble pioneer beginnings, the town now known as Antimony made its mark on the Utah history in both the 19th and 20th centuries. The infamous Butch Cassidy and his group of criminal outlaws often frequented the area when it was known as Coyote and one-time marshal George Black encountered the gang there.[38] The telephone line arrived in Antimony in 1912, permanently connecting the town to the outside world.[39] That same decade, Antimony contributed in two ways to World War I. First, it sent eight of its young men to serve: Alonzo Black, Nelo Brindley, Loril Carpenter, Glen Crabb, Wilford Davis, Gus Lambson, David Nicholes, and Arnold Smoot. All eight returned home with honorable discharges. In addition to its soldiers, two antimony mines shipped ore to ammunition plants as part of the war effort. Following the war, the global influenza pandemic claimed four of Antimony’s residents: George Jolley, Arella Smoot, Thomas Ricketts, and Nephi Black.[40]

The official incorporation of Antimony as a town occurred in 1934, during the peak of its population. The 1880 census counted the town’s population as 125, and it rose in the 1920s and 1930s to its all-time peak of 290. It then precipitously declined until it began to rise again in 2000 and is just over 130 today. In 1938, The Works Progress Administration of the New Deal brought culinary water to Antimony.[41] Its population decline over the 20th century is a result of the difficulties of farming and mining in the region. The antimony mines closed after World War I. Without mining, Antimony had to rely solely on its agriculture. Antimony has always been a farming community, with the potato as its most common crop. The former importance of potato farming is demonstrated all over Antimony today in the potato cellar derelicts that dot the highway and roads throughout town.

Antimony Potato Cellar

While World War II was raging half a world away, L.D.S. Apostle Marion G. Romney spoke at the dedication of the newly built Antimony Ward chapel on April 23, 1944. In his dedicatory prayer, Romney prayed for those from Antimony and the rest of the U.S. who were serving overseas. He said, “Bless our boys and girls in the armed services who are spread out upon the earth in this great war.”[42] Antimony sent the following young men to battle in World War II: Lark Allen, Wayne Allen, Burns Black, Noel Black, Dean Crabb, Keith Crabb, Keith Gates, Robert Gates, Dahl Gleave, Marthell Gleave, George Jolley, R.J. Jolley, Arthell King, Darral King, Eugene King, Fount Lambson, Boyd Lindquist, Verl McInelly, Alton Mathews, Dasel Mathews, Gerald Mathews, Calvin Montague, Cecil Montague, Arden Nay, Clinton Nay, Harvey Nay, Merrill Nay, Guyle Riddle, Ted Riddle, James Sandberg, Lynn Savage, LaMaun Sorenson, Harmon Steed, Robert Steed, Arther Twitchell, Clarence Twitchell, Ephrium Twitchell, Grant Warner, Robert O. Warner, Warren Wildon, Carling Young, and Verl Young. All of these men returned home, except for three who were killed in action: Lark Allen, Ted Riddle, and Arther Twitchell. On Friday, May 30, 1947, the town held a service in honor of its war veterans. It was presided over by the president of the Panguitch L.D.S. Stake, Douglas Q. Cannon, and the bishop of the L.D.S. ward, Chester Allen, who had lost his son, Lark.

Antimony War Veterans Plaque – WWI & WWII

Dedicatory Services for Bronze Plaque Program Cover

Dedicatory Services for Bronze Plaque Program Inside

In 1946, electricity arrived in Antimony. The first home in which the Garkane Power Company installed its service was that of Avera and Ivan Montague.[43] Throughout the first half of the 20th century, dances were held in one of the canyons leading out of Antimony at the Purple Haze dance hall. When it opened, for 50 cents, people from towns around Antimony came to hear the live orchestra and dance late into the night as the sunset cast a purple haze over the canyon. The dance hall closed in the 1960s as the popularity of social dancing subsided.[44]

Throughout the last half of the 20th century, Antimony’s population dwindled, even dipping below 100 residents in 1990. One reason for this was the declining potato crop industry and other farming struggles.[45] Another reason was the pull factor that drew the younger generations of Antimony into larger cities. Population decline usually has a negative economic effect on rural towns. The impact of this is evident in the median income of Antimony households dropping to $22,500 in 2010, as reported by the 2010 census. However, since its lowest population point, Antimony is rebounding, largely due to its tourism and recreational significance, as the town is on the route to Bryce Canyon, a U.S. National Park. Antimony also has the advantage of being part of the American Discovery Trail, a non-motorized trail that one can use to travel across middle America. The trail is “a new breed of national trail—part city, part small town, part forest, part mountains, part desert—all in one trail. Its 6,800+ miles of continuous, multi-use trail stretches from Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware, to Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California.”[46] Furthermore, Mayor Shannon Allen has brought popularity to Antimony with a fireworks display every Independence Day. Antimony is home to many highly popular attractions: the Antimony Mercantile, Otter Creek Reservoir, and the Rockin’ R Ranch. The “Merc” is well-known for its half-pound Antimony Burger, the Rockin’ R for its dude ranch experience, and Otter Creek for its unprecedented trout fishing. As its citizens attest, Antimony owns a special place in Utah’s history.


Primary Sources

Abbott, Lillian McGilvra. My Life Story. No Date.

Deseret News (July 1884): 16.

Garfield County News (April 1923): 6.

The Engineering and Mining Journal (1896).

The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals 1 (1832–1839).

Fremont, Capt. J. C. Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 and to Oregon and North California in the years 1843-44. Washington: Gales and Seaton, printers, 1845.

King, Culbert Biographical Sketch of Culbert Levi King. No Date.

Mathews, Esther Black. A Short Sketch of My Life: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. 1947.

Riddle, Isaac. “Autobiography of Isaac Riddle.” In The Descendants of John Riddle, edited by Chauncey Cazier Riddle, 2003.

Utah Department of Heritage & Arts. “Archibald Murchie Hunter Papers.” No date.

Utah Digital Newspapers. ” Salt Lake Tribune | 1885-12-13 | The Second District Court.” No date.

Wallace, John Hankins. Wallace’s Monthly 9 (1883).

Secondary Sources


Biography of Catherine Narrowmore. Fillmore, Utah: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. No Date.

Brown, Harlow F. Grass Valley History. Ogden: FamilySearch International, 1937.

Chidester, Ida, and Eleanor Bruhn. Golden Nuggets of Pioneer Days: A History of Garfield County. Panguitch, Utah: The Garfield County News, 1949.

Crampton, C. Gregory. “Military Reconnaissance in Southern Utah, 1866.” Utah Historical Quarterly 32, no. 2 (1866): 145–161.

Gottfredson, Peter, Indian Depredations in Utah. Salt Lake City: Press of Skelton Publishing Co., 1919.

Gunnerson, James H. The Fremont Culture: A Study in Culture Dynamics on the Northern Anasazi Frontier, Papers of the Peabody Museum, vol. 59, No. 2. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1920.

Janetski, Joel C., Mark L. Bodily, Bradley A. Newbold, and David T. Yoder. “Deep Human History in Escalante Valley and Southern Utah.” Utah Historical Quarterly 79, no. 3 (2001): 5–24.

Jensen, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Press of Skelton Publishing Co., 1941.

Kelly, Isabel T. Southern Paiute Ethnography. Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964.

Louderback, Lisbeth A., Bruce M. Pavlik “Ancient potato use in North America.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 29 (July 2017): 201705540.

Mormon Historic. “North America & Hawaii.” No date.

Newell, Linda King, and Vivian Linford Talbot. A History of Garflied County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998.

Newell, Linda King. A History of Piute County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1999.

Nielsen, Mabel Woodard, and Audrie Cuyler Ford. Johns Valley: The Way We Saw It. Springville: Art City Publishing Co., 1971.

Periodic Table of the Elements. “Antimony.”

Probasco, Christian. Highway 12 – Hoodoo Lands and the Rim Red and Bryce Canyons, the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Salt Lake City: Utah State University Press, 2005.

Reeve, W. Paul, and Ardis Parshall. Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2010.

“Catherine Webb.” Overland Travel Pioneer Database, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Warner, M. Lane. Antimony, Utah – Its History and Its People 1873-2004, 2nd ed. Provo, Utah 2004.

[1] John Hankins Wallace, Wallace’s Monthly 9 (1883): 625.

[2] Andrew Jensen, Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Press of Skelton Publishing Co., 1941), 4.

[3] Lane M. Warner, Antimony, Utah – Its History and Its People 1873-2004, 2nd ed. (Provo, Utah, 2004), 5.

[4] James H. Gunnerson, The Fremont Culture: A Study in Culture Dynamics on the Northern Anasazi Frontier, Papers of the Peabody Museum, vol. 59, No. 2 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1920).

[5] Joel C., Janetski et al. “Deep Human History in Escalante Valley and Southern Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 79, no. 3 (2001): 5–24.

[6] Lisbeth A. Louderback and Pavlik M. Bruce, “Ancient potato use in North America,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 29. (July 2017): 201705540.

[7] Isabel Kelly, “Southern Paiute Ethnography,” Anthropological Papers No. 69, Glen Canyon Series No. 21 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964)

[8] Periodic Table of the Elements, “Antimony,”

[9] Warner, Antimony, Utah, 4.

[10] Linda King Newell and Vivian Linford Talbot, A History of Garflied County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 62.

[11] Harlow F. Brown, Grass Valley History, (Ogden: FamilySearch International, 1937), 2.

[12] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 43.

[13] Brown, Grass Valley History, 2.

[14] Capt. J. C. Fremont, Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 and to Oregon and North California in the years 1843-44 (Washington: Gales and Seaton, printers, 1845).

[15] Gregory C. Crampton, “Military Reconnaissance in Southern Utah, 1866,” Utah Historical Quarterly 32, no. 2 (1866): 159.

[16] Peter Gottfredson, Indian Depredations in Utah (Salt Lake City: Press of Skelton Publishing Co., 1919): 324-330.

[17] The Engineering and Mining Journal (1896): 383.

[18] W. Paul Reeve and Ardis Parshall, Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2010), 287.

[19] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 119.

[20] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 127.

[21] Riddle, Isaac. 2003. Autobiography of Isaac Riddle in The Descendants of John Riddle. Edited by Chauncey Cazier Riddle.

[22] Jensen, Andrew. 1941. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Deseret News. 4.

[23] Nielsen, Mabel Woodard, and Audrie Cuyler Ford. 1971. Johns Valley: The Way We Saw It. Springville, UT: Art City Publishing Co. 196.

[24] Probasco, Christian. 2005. Highway 12 – Hoodoo Lands and the Rim Red and Bryce Canyons, the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Utah State University Press. 33.

[25] Chidester, Ida, and Eleanor Bruhn. 1949. Golden Nuggets of Pioneer Days – A History of Garfield County. Panguitch, Utah: The Garfield County News. 124.

[26] Jensen, Andrew. 1941. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Deseret News. 185

[27] Archibald Murchie Hunter Papers, 1871-1933.  MSS B 68. Utah State Historical Society Archive, Salt Lake City, Utah

[28] Mathews, Esther Black. 1947. A Short Sketch of My Life: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

[29] Abbott, Lillian McGillvra. My Life Story

[30] Garfield County News. 1923. April 20: 6.

[31] Linda King Newell, A History of Piute County (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1999), 129.

[32] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 120.


[34] The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, vol. 1 1832-1839.


[36] Biography of Catherine Narrowmore. Fillmore, Utah: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

[37] Deseret News. 1884. July 30: 16.

[38] Warner, Antimony, Utah ,96.

[39] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 222.

[40] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 258.

[41] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 294.

[42] Warner, Antimony, Utah, 71.

[43] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 300.

[44] Warner, Antimony, Utah, 77.

[45] Newell and Talbot, A History of Garflied County, 337.


Antimony Mining Company Stock Certificate

Bogan Boarding House

Published / by Peter Lewis / Leave a Comment

write-up by Peter G. Lewis

GPS Coordinates:

            Latitude: 40.6410322

            Longitude: -111.49453919999999

Marker Text (Placed by the Division of State History for the National Register of Historic Places):

“The Bogan Boarding House, built in 1904, was established as a boarding house for miners after the passage of the mine boarding house bill in 1901. Prior to 1901, single miners were required to live in the company owned boarding houses close to the mines. After passage of the bill, finer accommodations such as this boarding house were allowed to be built in Park City proper to accommodate the influx of single miners. None of the boarding houses that were built close to the mines have survived and this is one of only four existing boarding houses in the entire Park City area to have survived to the present. Known for many years as the Imperial Hotel, this building served primarily as a boarding house for miners, but during the 1918 flu epidemic it was used as an emergency hospital.  Marker placed in 1985.”

Picture of the historical marker itself. Captured 1/19/2019.
The structure in present day. Captured 1/19/2019.

Extended Research:

Publication of The Boarding House Law in the Park Record, 3/30/1901.

In 1901, a law was passed in Summit County that would improve the living conditions of Park City miners.  Prior to 1901, miners could be forced by their employers to live in boarding houses near the mines if they were not married or had no family living in town. Employers could even force their workers to do business exclusively at shops that they owned. Around March 30th, 1901, the Boarding House Law was put into action in order to prevent mine owners from putting a stranglehold on miners’ lives outside of the mines.  The Boarding House Law (displayed on the right) made it so that if an employer were to intimidate or coerce an employee to board at any particular boarding house or do business at any particular store, that employer would be charged with a misdemeanor.[1]

By the start of 1904, living conditions in Park City had greatly improved for miners.[2] Around January 2nd of that year, John and Anna Bogan had their old company boarding house torn down after the Bogan Mining Company was absorbed into Silver King Consolidated Mine.[3] In its place, a more convenient boarding house was built for them on Main Street in Park City: The Bogan Boarding House.

John Bogan came to Utah from Illinois in 1877 to work in the mines at Alta and Dry Fork. Park City became his home in 1879. He died in 1907 at age 62 and his wife Anna passed in 1919. The Utah Historical Society claims that their sons, John T. and James F. Bogan, retained ownership of the Bogan Boarding House until 1925[4]; however, an article from the September 22nd, 1916 issue of the Park Record states that Stevens Brothers purchased the Bogan Boarding House that year.[5] Stevens Brothers was a Park City store that acquired various other businesses in town that year, including St. Louis Bakery[6] and a cigar and candy shop named Stanley Rolley.[7]  Stevens Brothers ended up returning the property to the Bogan family at some point.  Evidence of this transfer of ownership is found in a classified ad that appeared in the July 1st, 1921 Park Record wherein James F. Bogan listed the Bogan Boarding House for sale at $2,500. The same ad appeared weekly in the Park Record through August 19th, 1921.[8]

The outbreak of influenza in the state of Utah in 1918 caused Park City to shut down. School and church services were cancelled and social gatherings were prohibited.[9] Park City would not let outsiders into the town without a signed certificate from a doctor stating that they showed no signs of flu symptoms.[10]  With no influx of people needing a place to stay in Park City, it’s no wonder that the Bogan Boarding House was used as an emergency hospital during this time.

Park Record obituary of Bernard Larzaro, former owner of the Imperial Hotel. Published 3/4/1937.

At some point, the Bogan Boarding House was renamed the Imperial Hotel.  This was done somewhere between 1925, when John T. and James F. Bogan last had it, and 1937.  An obituary in the Park Record on March 4th, 1937 lists the most recent owner of the Imperial Hotel as Bernard Larzaro, a Spanish man who came to Park City the same year as John Bogan.[11]  Larzaro may have purchased the Bogan Boarding house from James F. Bogan and he may have been the one to rename it the Imperial Hotel. Larzaro’s obituary is the first time the structure is referred to as the Imperial Hotel in the Park Record.

Imperial Hotel ca. 1968. Credit Park City Magazine.

In January of 1940, a fire caused damage to the Imperial Hotel, claiming the entirety of the original roof.[12] The structure was restored and used as an apartment building in October of 1940.[13] Pictured on the right is the building circa 1968. In the fall of 2015, the building was yet again repurposed and renamed. That fall, it was dubbed Riverhorse Provisions and it continues to hold that name to this day.  Inside Riverhorse Provisions is a coffee shop and a small food market (pictured below).[14]

Interior shot of Riverhorse Provisions, currently located in the building. Credit

The Bogan Boarding House is a landmark that stands as a testament to the personal advancement of miners and other residents in Summit County. It was built by a miner to help improve the quality of life for other miners. John Bogan went from mine worker to mine owner to boarding house owner and, thusly, a caretaker for miners. Surely Mr. Bogan wanted other miners such as he had been to have more comfort than he had. Today his former boarding house still operates within the field of hospitality, continuing to serve both locals and visitors in Park City over 100 years after John Bogan did so.

[1] “The Boarding House Law,” Park Record, March 30, 1901, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[2] “Resume of 1903,” Park Record, January 2, 1904, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[3] “Mining Matters,” Park Record, May 11, 1907, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[4] Utah State Historical Society, “Structure/Site Information Form,” May 29, 1984.

[5] “News About Town,” Park Record, September 22, 1916, 2, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[6] “New of the City during the Week,” Park Record, August 18, 1916, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[7] “News About Town,” Park Record, September 29, 1916, 1, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[8] Park Record, July 1 – August 19, 1921, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[9] “To Ward Off Epidemic of Influenza,” Park Record, October 11, 1918, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[10] Twila Van Leer, “Flu Epidemic Hit Utah Hard in 1918, 1919,” Desert News, March 28, 1995.

[11] “Bernard Larzaro Dies,” Park Record, March 4, 1937, 3, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[12] “Hotel Destroyed by Fire,” Park Record, January 25, 1940, 5, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[13] Park Record, October 10, 1940, 4, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[14] Melissa Fields, “Dine with a Ghost at Riverhorse Provisions,” Park City Magazine, December 14, 2016.

Primary Sources:

“Bernard Larzaro Dies.” Park Record, March 4, 1937. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“The Boarding House Law.” Park Record, March 30, 1901. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Hotel Destroyed by Fire.” Park Record, January 25, 1940. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Mining Matters.” Park Record, May 11, 1907. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“News About Town.” Park Record, September 22, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“News About Town.” Park Record, September 29, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“New of the City during the Week.” Park Record, August 18, 1916. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Park Record, July 1 – August 19, 1921. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Park Record, October 10, 1940. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“Resume of 1903.” Park Record, January 2, 1904. Utah Digital Newspapers.

“To Ward Off Epidemic of Influenza.” Park Record, October 11, 1918. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Secondary Sources:

Fields, Melissa. “Dine with a Ghost at Riverhorse Provisions.” Park City Magazine, December 14, 2016.

Utah State Historical Society. “Structure/Site Information Form.” May 29, 1984.

Van Leer, Twila. “Flu Epidemic Hit Utah Hard in 1918, 1919.” Desert News, March 28, 1995.

Murray Smelting

Published / by Greg Murray / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Gregory Murray 

Placed by: Murray Chapter of the Utah Sons of the Pioneers 

GPS Coordinates: 40°39’25” N 111°52’36” W 

Historical Marker Text: 

Gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc were found at Alta, Park City and Tintic in the years 1834 to 1869. Since no smelting was done in the state or the surrounding area, smelters had to be built. Billy Moran built the first smelter at 5189 South State Street on American Hill in 1869. The Woodhall Brothers built the first furnace on State Street by Big Cottonwood Creek June 1870. In 1871 the Germania Refinery & Wasatch Smelter were erected west of State Street on opposite sides of Little Cottonwood Creek. The Hanauer Smelter was built in 1872. The Horn Silver Smelter at 200 West 4800 South and the Highland Boy Plant 800 West Bullion came on stream 1880-1886. American Smelting and Refining Company took over the Germania Plant operations and later built a plant at 5200 South State St. which began operations in 1902. 

Smelting and ore refining grew from 0 tons to thousands of tons of ore per day. The need for smelting eventually decreased and in November 1950, the great smelting operation at Murray faded into History. Smelting in Murray had directly employed 10,000 people and indirectly thousands more, many of these people were pioneers who settled in the Murray community prior to the coming of the railroad. 

Extended Research: 

   The smelting industry developed in Murray, Utah, to extract metals from the ores produced by the mines of the Utah Territory. The arrival of the railroad in Utah greatly facilitated the development of smelting in Murray, which enabled miners to ship ore from mines such as Bingham Canyon and Camp Floyd to smelters in Murray. After the ore had been smelted into bars of metal, the smelters could ship the finished bars out on the transcontinental railroad. In the 1870’s and 1880’s, industrialists built several smelters in Murray, including the American Hill, Woodhull Brothers, Germania, Wasatch, Franklyn, and the Hanauer smelters.[1] Many of these smelters were very unprofitable in the early years. In a report to the federal government, U.S. Commissioner of Mining Rossiter W. Raymond, commented on the smelters in Murray, when he wrote, “fortunes were there lost in slags, dust, and matte.” However, technological improvements were soon able to increase the efficiency and profitability of the smelters.[2] American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) bought many of Murray’s smelters as part of its efforts to consolidate the smelting industry in Murray.[3] ASARCO built its own smelter in Murray in 1902, which became the largest and most modern lead smelter in the State of Utah and became a major landmark in the city of Murray.[4] The ASARCO smelter could handle 1200 tons of ore per day through its eight blast furnaces and employed nearly one thousand five hundred people.[5]

    The ASARCO smelter attracted many immigrant workers from Southern and Eastern Europe to Murray. Many of these immigrant workers lived in slum-like dwellings near the railroads and around the smelter. Most of these homes lacked running water, and indoor toilets.[6] ASARCO tried to alleviate this housing problem in 1911 by building houses for some workers, and some Greek immigrants built boarding houses for the many workers employed at the smelters.[7] Smelter workers in Murray unionized in 1900 as part of the Western Federation of Miners and went on strike three times, in 1900, 1909, and 1912.[8] The 1912 strike in particular wracked the city with intense violence as some rogue strikers attempted to dynamite the smelter and assassinate one of the company supervisors.[9] These strikes generally failed to win the workers’ demands, and after the 1912 strike, the Murray local of the Western Federation of Miners disbanded.[10]

    The smelters also made an environmental impact on the valley. In the early twentieth century, critics of the smelters, mainly farmers, complained that pollution from the smelters was damaging their crops. In October 1904, farmers met in Murray to decide whether to take legal action against the smelters. One local farmer named George Gardner stated, “If we do not fight the smelters, they will impoverish us and kill us off. This valley will be desolated if the smelter smoke is not stopped. I believe we should go into court and fight them to the last ditch.”[11] The farmers won several court cases against the smelters which resulted in the closure of the Bingham Consolidated Smelter in 1907 and the Highland Boy smelter in 1908, but the ASARCO smelter was able to continue operations after paying a $60,000 fine. [12]

   From 1902 to 1931 the ASARCO smelter in Murray operated at near peak capacity, but as the Bingham, Park City, and Tintic mines began to run out of ore, the smelter in Murray declined. In 1931 the smelter shut down for seven months as a result of a shortage of ore. During the Great Depression, the smelter experienced many more temporary shutdowns. Production picked up during World War II, but in 1949, ASARCO announced the impending closure of the smelter, which was closed completely by November 1950.[13] The giant smokestacks of the smelter continued to stand in Murray for another half century. After voters rejected a $3.4 million bond to preserve the stacks in 1998, the city of Murray approved the demolition of the smokestacks of the smelter in August 2000.[14] The site of the old ASARCO smelter is now occupied by Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Medical Center. 

[1] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” in The History of Murray City, Utah, ed. Edna Mae Wilkinson (Murray, Utah: Murray City Corporation, 1976), 251-253.

[2] Thomas G. Alexander, “Generating Wealth from the Earth 1847-2000,” in From the Ground Up: The History of Mining in Utah, ed. Colleen Whitley (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2006), 41.

[3]  David L. Schirer, The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization: Murray City, Utah, 1897-1919 (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, 1991), 81-84.

[4] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” 254.

[5] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” 255, 257.

[6] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” 255.

[7] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” 255.

David L. Schirer, The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization, 203.

[8] David L. Schirer, The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization, 91.

[9] “Bullets and Dynamiting in Murray Strike,” Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), May 5, 1912.

[10] David L. Schirer, The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization, 95.

[11]  “Farmers Will Fight Smelters,” Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), Oct. 21, 1904.

[12] David L. Schirer, The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization, 67.

[13] Brian P. Winterowd, “Murray Smelters,” 257.

[14] Amy Joi Bryson, “Murray’s landmark smokestacks finally fall,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), Aug. 6, 2000.

 For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources: 

“Bullets and Dynamiting in Murray Strike.” Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), May 5, 1912. 

Bryson, Amy Joi, “Murray’s landmark smokestacks finally fall.” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), Aug., 2000. 

“Farmers Will Fight Smelters.” Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, UT), Oct. 21, 1904. 

Secondary Sources: 

Schirer, David L. The Cultural Dynamics of Urbanization: Murray City, Utah, 1897-1919. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, 1991. 

Alexander, Thomas G. “Generating Wealth from the Earth 1847-2000.” In From the Ground Up: The History of Mining in Utah, edited by Colleen Whitley, 37-57. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2006.

Winterowd, Brian P. “Murray Smelters.” in The History of Murray City, Utah, ed. Edna Mae Wilkinson. Murray, Utah: Murray City Corporation, 1976. 

The Immigrants

Published / by Cathy Gilmore / 1 Comment on The Immigrants

write-up by Cathy Gilmore

Placed By: Carbon County Historical Society

GPS Coordinates: N 39° 35.964 W 110° 48.509

Historical Marker Text:

This monument is dedicated to Carbon County’s proud immigrant heritage. In the early part of this century, Thirty Two nationalities lived in Carbon County. Most of them came here to mine the coal. Carbon County is Utah’s melting pot. Because of its polyglot population, refined and tempered in the melting process, the religious, social, and cultural life of Carbon County has a broader, more tolerant, cosmopolitan type of lifestyle that sets it apart from the rest of Utah. These immigrants, together with the Native Americans, have left their imprint as part of this rough, often cruel, yet proud heritage.

Extended Research

“The Biggest Little City on Earth”

In the fall of 1914, contractors working for Italian immigrants Charles Bonomo and Frank Viglia broke ground on a large, two-story building on Main Street in Price, Utah.[1] Large enough for their own grocery store and several tenants, the Viglia-Bonomo building symbolized a tangible and permanent presence for the former miners. For Charles, who spent his first thirteen years in America in the shallow, back-breaking coal fields of Kankakee, Illinois, it must have been satisfying to see another man swinging a shovel instead of him.

Near an Italian bakery, a Greek saloon, a Russian mercantile, and a French farm store, the Viglia-Bonomo building was home to a multitude of religious, ethnic, and national identities that earned Price the title of “the biggest little city on earth.”[2]  Called “Utah’s Ellis Island” by historian Philip F. Notarianni, Carbon County was the gathering point for not just the Bonomo and Viglia families, but the gateway through which thirty-two different nationalities entered.[3] A jewel of diversity amidst the largely homogeneous landscape of Utah’s pioneer settlements, Carbon County’s distinct immigrant identity reveals a history that is both exemplary and cautionary. The experiences of the Viglia and Bonomo families are illustrative of both the trials and triumphs experienced by immigrants of Carbon County in the early 20th century; their photos and records—generously provided by the descendants of Charles Bonomo—will be shared in this essay.[4]

Margaret Corigliano with Charles Bonomo in 1901

The First Immigrants

In 1882, rail workers searching for a route from Denver to Salt Lake City discovered coal in what is now Carbon County, transforming the sparsely-settled Price river from a scenic canyon into a worldwide labor destination. Immigrants, eager to fill the demand for cheap mine labor, poured in from Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. By 1900 Castle Gate became a floodgate, with immigrants from fourteen countries laboring in coal camps in Winter Quarters, Castle Gate, Sunnyside, and Clear Creek.

Bound together by cultural, social, and economic ties, immigrants initially lived and worked in communities that reflected their countries of origin. Slovenians initially arrived as railroad workers, then switched to coal mining to fill in the labor gap. South Slavs moved to Helper to grow their business ventures, and Finnish immigrants settled Pleasant Valley in the 1890s to work the mines in Winter Quarters and Clear Creek. At the same time, Northern Italians worked the Castle Gate mine, after which the Greeks immigrated in 1904 to replace the striking Italians. French from the Hautes-Alpes and Pyrenees prospered as sheep and goat herders. Japanese laborers, who initially arrived to work the railroads, also found success as coal miners and farmers.

The earliest of Carbon County’s mining immigrants were most vulnerable to poverty, discrimination, and poor working conditions. Language and cultural barriers inhibited immigrants from effectively advocating for improved conditions and fair labor practice. Desperate for shelter, some miners converted rail cars into homes and built hastily constructed enclosures made of tar and paper. Italians lived in “Rag Town,” a tent community in Sunnyside, and until 1915, most mining camps lacked water and electricity.

Most early immigrants to Carbon County arrived as recruits of labor agents seeking workers within their home countries. Many families of these first immigrants eventually followed, creating a ragged chain of relocation that spanned many years. Other paths to Carbon County, like those of Charles Bonomo and Greek immigrant Yoryis Zisimopoulos, took a more circuitous route. Their paths convey the often fluid, transient nature of immigrant life that many experienced before finally calling Carbon County their home.

Corigliano family with Charles Bonomo (front right)

“Pleased with Price”

When the coal seam in Kankakee, Illinois ran out in 1900, Charles migrated west to the mines in Las Animas County, Colorado, where he married Trinidad resident Margaret Corigliano. Over the ensuing years, Charles abandoned mining and entered the saloon business in Rock Springs, Wyoming where his mother and siblings immigrated. In 1908, Margaret separated from Charles and moved to Price, Utah. Charles, now the owner of a successful saloon on Front Street, sought further investments and like many in the intermountain region, he had his eye on Price, Utah.[5]

Frank Viglia with wife Anna Bernardi on July 14, 1914

In early 1914, two Italian businessmen drove from Rock Springs to Price, Utah on an entrepreneurial mission.[6] Price residents and first-generation Italian merchants Frank Grosso and Frank Viglia hosted the visitors, and procured the help of Lars Anderson, a local contractor, to chauffeur the visitors around Price. The businessmen returned to Rock Springs with favorable reports, and a short time later, Charles Bonomo moved to Price and established a partnership with Frank Viglia, a relative through marriage and a former resident of Rock Springs. With his move to Price, Charles was also reunified with his wife and daughter Mary. It was a triumphant, if not tenuous, fresh start.

Greek immigrant Yoryis Zisimopoulos (George Zeese) held fifteen jobs in over ten locales across the U.S. before settling in Helper, Utah. Photo courtesy of Ancestry.

The story of Greek immigrant Yoryis Zisimopoulos is likewise a series of dead ends and new beginnings.[7] After unknowingly taking a job as a strikebreaker in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, he quit and moved to Oklahoma City, then to Pueblo to work for Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. After several miners were killed, and with more Italians, Greeks, and Slavs ready to take their place, Yoryis, now calling himself George Zeese, crisscrossed the nation over the next several years working in mines, farms, railroads and coffeehouses. Suffering from corrupt labor agents, lack of work, and bad luck, he had yet to find lasting success. Ten years and fifteen jobs later, he finally found a home for his wife and growing family in Helper, Utah, where he and his business partner purchased the first of eleven Success Markets. Carbon County, at last, was the right place.

A Connected Journey

The paths of immigrants like Charles Bonomo and Yoryis Zisimopoulos suggest the interconnected nature of the broader intermountain region that relied heavily on family and social networks. Many immigrants entered Carbon County not as fresh-faced coal miners, but as seasoned entrepreneurs who opened restaurants, purchased property, or managed stores. As Elliott Barkan suggests, “the fact that many persons were migrating not only from outside the region but also crisscrossing and resettling within the West suggest that such persons could well have established bonds that threaded the different parts of the region together, along with the many economic connections that were materializing.”[8]

For enterprising immigrants in Carbon County, family and social ties were vital in generating opportunities for collaboration and business partnerships. Postcards from Hiawatha, cards from New Mexico, and photos from Trinidad and Rock Springs that survive from the Bonomo family give evidence of strong immigrant family networks of which Carbon County was a part.

Identity and Integration

Beyond family ties, immigrants in Carbon County found strength and unity in forming fraternal organizations, labor unions, bands, and sports teams that identified with their home countries. These groups functioned to foster national pride, ensure security, and ensure cultural maintenance.[9] Gathering places like coffeehouses, restaurants, pool houses, saloons, and saunas, strengthened social ties both within and beyond their national identities. The relocation of religion to houses of worship was especially vital to the Italian and Greek communities in reestablishing ritual as a public, communal event.[10]

Frank Vigia with his brothers, wife, and children in 1914, a few years after they left the camp town of Sunnyside where Frank worked as a delivery man for a dry goods store. This portrait was taken on 15 July 1914, the same month Frank Viglia and Charles Bonomo purchased the lot for their new grocery building. Rear left to right: Frank, Peter, Alex, and Sam Viglia. Front left to right: Lotta, Anna Bernardi Viglia, Albert, and Mary Viglia. From the Viglia-Bonomo Papers.

While language barriers confined many immigrants to their own neighborhoods, school, social events, and even funerals encouraged intermingling beyond their immediate communities. Some immigrant children attended Mormon Primary classes despite their religion or nationality, while other immigrant adults preferred the familiarity of their own religions. Most mining camps welcomed regular visits from Catholic and Greek priests who performed ad hoc mass services in amusement halls. Castle Gate built their own Catholic church and Sunnyside welcomed a Catholic mission.

Despite these advances, mining work—and the society that came with it—often undercut immigrants’ ability to be recognized as first-class citizens. Long-time residents were concerned about the outflow of money to foreign countries, and the foreign influences that were flowing in. While many were welcomed, many residents resented the instability that the labor agents and mine owners generated.

Mine owners themselves contributed to this tension by showing a preference for unorganized, uneducated labor and willingness to exploit nationalities and regions against one another. With the help of private employment agencies or independent labor contractors, a steady stream of cheap, unorganized migrant labor could always be ensured. As Frank Van Nuys explains, “agents [were not] averse to exploiting inter- and intraethnic antagonisms on behalf of management, for instance when a labor contractor imported mainland Greeks to break a Carbon County, Utah copper strike led by islanders from Crete in 1912. The influx of different groups, in Utah for example, frequently began with strike-breaking: Finns, Italians, and Slavs for English, Welsh, Irish, and Americans in the 1890s, Greeks for the Italians and Yugoslavians in 1903, and Mexicans for the Greeks in 1922.”[11] For many immigrants like Charles Bonomo and George Zeese, the answer was to leave mining behind and integrate themselves into the business community.

The Grocer Next Door

The respect and acceptance Carbon County immigrants could not obtain through coal became achievable with brick and mortar. The arrival of women to establish households, the growth of second-generation immigrants, and the abandonment of mine labor all contributed to greater integration of immigrants within their communities. The town of Helper was especially welcoming to immigrant merchants. In 1903, the Helper Gazetteer listed five foreign merchants, but by 1919, that number had grown to thirty-five—over half of all businesses listed.[12] Compelled to engage with all residents of Carbon County through business transactions, immigrants transformed from the temporary foreign worker to the grocer next door.

Not every business was welcome, however. The same year Charles Bonomo moved to Price, E.A. Horsley, President of the Carbon County Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decried the influence of saloons in Helper and Price, saying, “I saw men [in Helper] on the Sabbath Day lying around in a drunken condition…Conditions in Price may not be of the best, but in the language of the street Helper ‘had us skinned seven blocks’ …So much unfavorable notoriety has been published from this town that when I go into Salt Lake and people ask me where I am from and I say Price, they exclaim, ‘Oh, for Lord’s sake!’”[13] In the end, Horsley was not successful in convincing Carbon County to become “dry”.

Charles Bonomo’s in-laws in the saloon business in Trinidad, Colorado. The Corigliano brothers c1910.

Becoming “American”

Stuck between maintaining cultural ties and adapting to their American environment, immigrants in Carbon County struggled to identify and achieve what was becoming the moving target of Americanism. As Philip Notorianni explains,

“The desire for cultural maintenance was natural, but the realities of the new environment often produced irony in the attempt. In trying to maintain and foster cultural ties, immigrants altered or adapted to new conditions, customs, traditions, and beliefs; thus their practices were assuming new meaning and form. Gradual change occurred as immigrants came into contact with American institutions and ideas, but those who favored 100 percent “Americanization” of the new immigrants sought to expedite the process by the abrupt stripping away of cultural differences.”[14]

The Greeks and Italians were especially nationalistic and saw themselves as emissaries of their native culture. Mark I. Choate explains the nature of Italian emigration as an expansion of Italy itself: “For the Italian state, emigration represented not just physical movement beyond the Italian peninsula, but a cultural and economic enlargement of Italy worldwide….At the high point of Italian migration from 1880 to World War I, the Italian state viewed migration as a form of colonialism…”.[15] This competing nationalism suggests that the Italians not only wanted to become American, they sought to make America more Italian. With each passing generation, however, immigrant families inevitably adapted while their native identities diminished over time.

Through the lens of clothing and aesthetics, the following photos from the Viglia Bonomo Papers suggest a hybrid of both Italian and American identities.

The Price Boys

Despite significant strides by many immigrants in Carbon County, many still received criticism for not being “American” enough. The advent of World War I further amplified this rhetoric as concerns over loyalty emerged. By 1917, the move toward Americanization merged with the war effort, amplifying expectations that immigrants should display their loyalty to America through war service. As nativist sentiment grew across America, the pressure of war emphasized the responsibility of the foreign-born to do all of the melting in the melting pot.[16]

Immigrant enlistment in World War I was one avenue that instantly silenced calls for immigrant Americanization. Brothers Sam and Alex Viglia were among many Carbon County residents to enlist, earning them credibility and admiration among Price’s citizens. Carbon County newspapers gave updates on their war service, including family members in Price who shared postcards and letters with the local papers.

Following World War I, nativist sentiment increased dramatically, resulting in a more restrictive immigration policy, mandated “Americanization” classes, and greater hostility toward minority groups—especially southern European immigrants. For many immigrants of Carbon County, it was a time of contingency. By the 1920’s Charles Bonomo was a successful merchant and real estate investor. His family chose to remain in Price. Following some legal challenges related to the Viglia-Bonomo building, Frank Viglia and his family moved to San Francisco in 1924. Two of Frank’s brothers returned to Italy, married, and raised families. Another branch of the Viglia family moved to Mexico to escape the discrimination they faced in the New Mexico mines.  

Charles Bonomo’s path to Carbon County was not a  simple one: the currents that guided him to settle in Price were a mix of family dynamics, economic opportunity geography, and connectedness to their Italian relations and friends. His story—like stories of most Carbon County immigrants—has elements both unique and typical to the immigrant experience. In the end, Carbon County largely embraced immigrants like Charles and gave space to the complex and diverse identities that exist today. Historian Sarka B. Hrbkova acknowledges this complexity, writing, “It is indeed a problem to make Americans of these surging, ebbing, responsive, sullen, singing, cursing, sorrowing, carousing, harmonious, disputatious elements, some coming from lands of liberal thought, others from age-old autocracies—all of them with dreams of a more or less realizable Utopia, which the magic word ‘America’ spells to them.”[17] The tolerant and progressive nature found in Carbon County was that sort of Utopia for many, setting it apart from the rest of Utah in its broad embrace of what it means to be a Utahn.


[1] The Carbon County News, “City and County,”  November 11, 1914.

[2] Carbon County News, “Why You Should Invest Your Money in and Live in Price, Utah” November 11 1913, 8.  The phrase “biggest little city on the earth” began to appear in Carbon County newspapers in 1913, and was added to the masthead of the Eastern Utah Advocate on 3 July 1913 when the newspaper came under new ownership.

[3] Philip F. Notarianni, “Utah’s Ellis Island: The Difficult Americanization of Carbon County,” Utah Historical Quarterly Vol 47, no. 2 (Spring 1979), 178-192.

[4] Except where noted, all images are from the Viglia-Bonomo Archive, Kindex, Original owner, Kay Cafarelli, granddaughter of Charles Bonomo. Original papers in possession of family friend Christina Mickleson. Digitized and archived by Cathy Gilmore, owner Kindex LLC. For further information on these families see their family tree on Ancestry:

[5] Carbon County News, “Our Reasons Why You Should Invest Your Money in and Live in Price, Utah”. The article touts its progressive citizens, schools and religious institutions, business savvy, and rich natural resources as reasons to invest in Carbon County.

[6] The Carbon County News, “Pleased with Price”, April 9 1914,

[7] Elliott Barkan, From All Points: America’s Immigrant West, 1870s-1952, (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2007), 39-40.

[8] Elliott Barkan, From All Points, 115

[9] Notarianni, “Utah’s Ellis Island”, 7

[10] Elaine M. Bapis, In the Hands of Women: Home Alter Tradition in Utah’s Greek Orthodox Homes, Utah Historical Quarterly, 65, (Fall: 1997), 312-334

[11] Frank Van Nuys, Americanizing the West: Race, Immigrants, and Citizenship, 1890-1930. (Lawrence, University Press of Kansas, 2002), 71.

[12] Ronald G. Watt, A History of Carbon County, (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1997) 212.

[13] Eastern Utah Advocate, “President Horsely Wants a Closed Town,” March 12 1914,

[14] Notarianni, “Utah’s Ellis Island”, 8.

[15] Mark I. Choate, “The Frontier Thesis in Transnational Migration: The U.S. West in the Making of Italy Abroad” in Immigrants of the Far West: Historical Identities and Experiences, Ed. by Jessie L. Embry and Brian Q. Cannon. (Salt Lake City:  University of Utah Press,  2015), 365.

[16] Van Nuys, Americanizing the West, 68.

[17] Van Nuys, Americanizing the West, 60-61.

For further reference:

Primary sources

Viglia-Bonomo Papers, private collection of Kay Cafarelli, loaned by Christina Micklesen, Salt Lake City, Utah. Digital images hosted courtesy of Kindex at

Secondary Sources

Alexander, Thomas G. “From Dearth to Deluge, Utah’s Coal Industry,” Utah Historical Quarterly 31 (1963).

Bapis, Elaine M. “In the Hands of Women: Home Altar Tradition in Utah’s Greek Orthodox Homes.” Utah Historical Quarterly 65 (1997): 312-34.

Barkan, Elliot. From All Points: America’s Immigrant West, 1870s–1952. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2007.

Carbon County Commission Company. “Our Reasons Why You Should Invest Your Money in and Live in Price, Utah.” Carbon County News. November 11 1913.

Choate, Mark I. “The Frontier Thesis in Transnational Migration: The U.S. West in the Making of Italy Abroad” in Immigrants of the Far West: Historical Identities and Experiences, edited by Jessie L. Embry and Brian Q. Cannon. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015.

“City and County.” The Carbon County News. October 1 1914.

Eastern Utah Advocate. “President Horsley Wants Closed Town.” March 12 1914. Accessed April 26, 2019.

Guglielmo, Thomas A. White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Notarianni. Philip F. “Italianita in Utah: The Immigrant Experience,” in Helen Papanikolas, The Peoples of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1976.

Notarianni, Philip F. “Utah’s Ellis Island: The Difficult Americanization of Carbon County.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Winter 1979.

Orsi, Robert Anthony. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

“Pleased with Price.” The Carbon County News. April 9 1914.

Van Nuys, Frank. Americanizing the West: Race, Immigrants, and Citizenship, 1890-1930. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

Vecali, Rudolph J. “European Americans: From Immigrants to Ethnics,” in William H. Cartwright and Richard L. Watson, Jr., eds., The Reinterpretation of American History and Culture. Washington, D.C: National Council for the Social Studies, 1973.

Watt, Ronald G. A History of Carbon County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1997.

Connor Statue at Historic Park

Published / by Zach Vayo / Leave a Comment

Connor Statue at Historic Park

Write-up by Zach Vayo

GPS Coordinates: 40.764399°N, 111.832891°W

Historical Marker Text:


Born in County Kerry, Ireland. Emigrated as a child to the United States. Enlisted in the army at age 19. Attained rank of Captain in the Mexican War. As Colonel, commanding the Volunteers, established Camp Douglas on Oct. 26, 1862. A soldier-statesman of great energy and vision, he was the “father of Utah mining”, published the first daily newspaper in Utah Territory, and founded Stockton, Utah. * * * * This park presented to the United States Army by the Fort Douglas Museum Association on the 124th Anniversary of the founding of Fort Douglas. Oct 26, 1986.”

Extended Research:

Aside from Brigham Young, perhaps no individual played a larger role in shaping nineteenth century Utah than Patrick Connor. Indeed, prominent Utah historian Dean May has hailed these men as the two founding fathers of modern Utah.[1] Today, Connor’s statue in Fort Douglas quietly rivals Young’s much grander memorialization across Salt Lake in Temple Square – a silent reenactment of what was in its day a bitter public rivalry between these two men and their competing visions. Young sought to establish Utah as the Kingdom of God on Earth according to the unique sensibilities of the LDS Church. Connor, meanwhile, aimed to bring Utah into the American mainstream by conquering the land’s indigenous peoples and opening the door for white settlers like himself, looking to make their fortunes out West. Intensely distrustful of Utah’s Mormon population, Connor was himself an immigrant who, having undergone a process of Americanization, now sought to “Americanize” Utah along the same lines as the rest of the West. Portrayed as everything from hero to murderous plunderer, Connor has been sweepingly characterized as “the archetypal nineteenth century man”, who was “representative of all that was good and bad in that age.”[2]

The man who would come to identify himself as P. Edward Connor was born Patrick Edward (“Paddy”) O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. Very little information exists on Connor’s early life; he claimed to have been born on St. Patrick’s Day, 1820.[3] Economic stagnation in Ireland drove his family to emigrate to New York when he was perhaps sixteen. Connor spent several years working odd jobs as a laborer before beginning his military career by volunteering for the First Dragoons in 1839. It is possible the young Irishman viewed military service as a useful means to “Americanize” himself in an era animated by nativism and anti-Catholicism.[4]

Connor’s five year tour with the Dragoons took him to the lands in and around the newly-created Iowa Territory to maintain relations with the region’s native peoples. This fledgling military presence in the trans-Mississippi West, with the US fresh off the Jacksonian ethnic cleansing of native peoples in the East, would foreshadow atrocious military violence against the indigenous peoples of the West during and after the Civil War, in which Connor himself was to play a leading role.

While relatively uneventful, Connor’s tour with the Dragoons gave him valuable experience as a soldier. More importantly, he appeared to become enamored with the West, where he would spend almost all of the remainder of his life. Following the end of his tour of duty, he returned to New York for several years, engaging in “mercantile business” and becoming a naturalized citizen (a process no doubt made easier by his military record).[5] Also around this time, he removed some of the conspicuous Irish-ness from his name by dropping the O’ in his surname and shortening Patrick to an initial, becoming P. Edward Connor. With the outbreak of war with Mexico in 1846, Connor headed west again, joining a company of Texas Volunteers. He participated in the US victory at the Battle of Buena Vista, receiving praise for his bravery.[6]

Connor ca. 1860s

The war resulted in the US seizure of a vast swath of land claimed by Mexico. Connor was among many who viewed these lands as a place to make it big, travelling to California in 1850 on the heels of the Gold Rush. After an ill-fated attempt to establish a community on the Trinity River, he settled in Stockton. Over the next decade, his numerous entrepreneurial ventures, particularly a gravel quarry on his property, resulted in Connor accumulating a degree of wealth. He emerged as a leading citizen of Stockton and came to head its militia, the Stockton Blues. In 1854, he married Johanna Connor, another emigrant from Kerry County.[7] The couple would raise five children to adulthood, enduring the loss of two sons who died in childhood.

This relatively peaceful period of Connor’s life came to an end in 1861 with the outbreak of the Civil War. Eager to serve his adopted country once more, he took the lead in recruiting several companies of California Volunteers to serve under his command. In spite of his (and his troops’) desire to fight the Confederacy in the East, he found himself assigned to protect overland mail routes in Utah, as the Lincoln administration sought to preserve California’s tenuous connection to the Union.[8] In Utah, Connor’s troops were to serve as an occupying force to both native peoples such as the Shoshone and to the territory’s Mormon population, practitioners of an enigmatic and fanatical religion in the eyes of many, whose loyalty to the country seemed particularly dubious, particularly in light of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre.

During the journey across Nevada, Connor began to hone his reputation as an Indian fighter, launching attacks that killed several dozen Shoshones. Reaching Salt Lake City in 1862, Connor remarked with disgust on the apparent un-Americanness of the Mormons, calling them “a community of traitors, murderers, fanatics, and whores,” claiming “the people publicly rejoice at reverses to our arms,” and “Brigham Young rules with despotic sway.”[9] For their part, the Mormons had good reason to fear federal troops due to the “Utah War” of 1856-58. As such, they were none too happy when Connor, despairing of the state of the old Camp Crittenden (Camp Floyd) in Utah Valley, planted his troops directly above their capital, establishing Camp Douglas on an eastern bench of the Salt Lake Valley on October 26, 1862. Connor cited this new location as all the better to “say to the Saints of Utah, enough of your treason.”[10] Connor’s troops thus became the most visible symbol of “Gentile” (non-Mormon) presence in the territory, sparking a war of words between the two groups lasting for decades.

Camp Douglas (later Fort Douglas) ca. 1865. Connor named the fort for Lincoln’s great political rival, Stephen Douglas.

The year 1863 was a critical one for Connor. Denied the chance to fight in the East, he seized on a chance to “chastise” the Northwestern Shoshone instead. Increased Anglo-American incursions into what is today southern Idaho had strained relationships with the Shoshone, producing intermittent fighting and claims of kidnapping. In the bitter cold of January, Connor marched his troops from Camp Douglas to a Shoshone encampment on the Bear River. One California newspaper offered a telling insight into the attitudes of the day by publishing a gleeful letter from a Salt Lake correspondent, stating that “before [Connor’s troops] quit the entertainment Mr. Redskin is to be well thrashed, and, if possible, ‘wiped out.’”[11]

Arriving at the encampment, Connor’s troops launched an attack on the 29th of January. What began as a battle became a bloodbath as Connor’s troops flanked the Shoshones, trapping them in a ravine. The troops proceeded to massacre anyone within reach, including women and children. The death toll may well have exceeded four hundred, making it the largest massacre in the history of the American West. Connor’s troops destroyed homes and food supplies, murdering dozens more women who refused to submit to rape by the soldiers.[12] His actions would make him one of the most despised figures in Shoshone memory, with one survivor, Sagwitch, later recalling the bitter irony of “that merciless battle, when women and suckling babes met their death at the hands of civilization.”[13] Those same actions, however, made Connor a hero to white colonizers in the West, and earned him a promotion to brigadier-general.

Bear River Massacre site.

Back in Salt Lake, Connor became fixated on the notion of publicizing Utah’s mineral wealth so as to draw non-Mormons into the territory, contending that “inducements … to the teeming population of the East and West, seeking new fields of exploration and prosperity” would spell political and social doom for the Mormonism that he saw as “not only subversive of morals, in conflict with the civilization of the present age, and oppressive on the people, but also deeply and boldly in contravention of the laws and best interests of the nation.”[14] To that end, he founded the Daily Union Vedette, a staunchly non-Mormon newspaper that wrote extensively on the wealth to be had in Utah. Connor helped to establish and personally invested in numerous mining districts, including what would become Bingham Canyon, earning the honorific “father of Utah mining.” In 1863, Connor also established the town of Stockton, near Tooele, named for his former home in California. Connor intended Stockton as a hub for non-Mormon settlement, though his grand visions could never elevate it beyond a minor settlement on the fringes of Brigham Young’s Mormon kingdom. Of course, Young and his disciples were none too happy to see these capitalistic incursions into their Zion. After Young petitioned unsuccessfully to have Connor and his troops removed from Utah,[15] he was spared of the general for a time when Connor was sent to present Wyoming for the Powder River expedition in 1865.

Connor thus departed Utah to crush resistance from the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho in response to a mining boom that had drawn a wave of white colonizers into Montana. While Connor’s campaigns failed to win any “victories” as decisive as that at Bear River, he nonetheless killed several hundred indigenous persons in a series of battles and skirmishes such as Tongue River (at times fighting alongside indigenous allies such as the Omaha). Such militancy undermined the capacity of indigenous communities to sustain themselves, leaving little recourse to federal economic dependency and reservations (with poverty ironically reinforcing white perceptions of indigenous nations as primitive and backwards). The Powder River endeavor was largely regarded as a failure, in part due to negative publicity surrounding another event to the south: namely, the army’s 1864 Sand Creek Massacre against the Cheyenne and Arapaho, which had soured the nation for a time on war with native nations.[16] Reflecting this shift in attitude, the Salt Lake Tribune expressed desire for “some sensible plan” regarding “the poor Indian race.”[17]Nonetheless, the expedition cemented Connor’s status as to hero to white colonizers in the West. This would be Connor’s last major military mission, as he resigned his commission in 1866.

After a brief return to Utah (and a trip to Washington DC to testify against the evils of the Mormons), Connor returned to California with his family. By 1869, however, the looming completion of the transcontinental railroad brought him back to Utah. This time, his family stayed in California, establishing a permanent residence in Redwood City. Over the next decades, Connor would become increasingly estranged from his family as he bounced between various mining and railroad endeavors in Utah and Nevada in largely unsuccessful attempts to amass his fortune, made all the more difficult by the market instabilities laid bare in the Panic of 1873. Johanna Connor would eventually die in 1889, making no mention of her oft-absent husband in her will.

In Utah, the railroad spelled doom for Brigham Young’s bucolic conception of an economically isolated Zion. Anticipating an economic and demographic influx to the territory, Connor took an interest in the town of Corinne, near the mouth of the Bear River, which emerged in the wake of the railroad’s completion as Utah’s leading non-Mormon community. His assessment of this emerging landscape proved somewhat overly optimistic, with his vision of a steamboat service across the Great Salt Lake connecting Corinne to Stockton never truly materializing. As the most esteemed non-Mormon in the territory, Connor became the symbolic leader of Utah’s anti-Mormon Liberal Party, which denounced polygamy and sought to block statehood for fear of losing federal leverage against the dominant religion. Speaking at an 1880 Liberal rally, Connor declared his intention of “taking up the fight with renewed vigor,” and “helping forward the good work of regulating and Americanizing Utah.”[18] This symbolic leadership notwithstanding, Connor proved unsuccessful in parlaying his notoriety into political office, losing a bid even for the modest office of Salt Lake County Recorder. He died in Salt Lake in 1891 with much prestige and little wealth, and was buried in the Fort Douglas Cemetery.[19]

Connor with President Hayes during the latter’s visit to Fort Douglas, 1880.

The decades after his death saw Patrick Connor’s vision of an Americanized Utah come to fruition to a remarkable degree. Booming mining industries throughout the new state in regions such as Carbon County and Bingham Canyon attracted waves of non-Mormon immigration from countries including Greece and Italy, and, to a lesser extent, Japan and China. Mining in particular signified Utah’s increasing integration into the national economy; while providing economic opportunity, this new colonial economy also spawned appalling working conditions and environmental degradation. Connor would no doubt also have been pleased to see the LDS church, the object of his perpetual contempt, take a firmer stance against polygamy and recede from the political sphere in the first decades of the twentieth century (though the latter change did not prove permanent). Furthermore, the twentieth century also saw emphasis on Brigham Young’s model of economic cooperation decline as many Mormons made their peace with Connor’s capitalist vision. Indeed, while not abandoning their distinct identities, Mormon communities have undergone a noteworthy degree of Americanization since Connor’s time.[20] Connor himself practiced what he preached with regards to Americanization: the Irish-born immigrant epitomized the self-made man of fame and fortune. While this rugged, romantic image has become iconic in conceptions of the West, Connor’s case also illustrates its shortcomings. Never truly successful in making his fortune later in life, his obsessive quest for wealth resulted in considerable alienation from his family. Underpinning all of this is Connor’s darkest legacy (and one that is conspicuously absent from his historical marker): the brutalization of indigenous nations, on whose dispossessed land the processes of “Americanization” played out. Particularly for the Northwestern Shoshones, the impacts and bitter memories of Colonel Connor’s atrocious actions on the Bear River echo into the twenty-first century.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

P. Edward Connor, Official Report on the Bear River Massacre, February 6, 1863.

Secondary Sources:

Madsen, Brigham. Glory Hunter: A Biography of Patrick Edward Connor. Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, 1990.

May, Dean. Utah: A People’s History. Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, 1987.

Varley, James. Brigham and the Brigadier: General Patrick Connor and His California Volunteers in Utah and Along the Overland Trail. . Tucson: Westernlore Press, 1989.

[1] Dean L. May, Utah: A People’s History (Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, 1987), 194.

[2] James Varley, Brigham and the Brigadier: General Patrick Connor and His California Volunteers in Utah and Along the Overland Trail. (Tucson: Westernlore Press, 1989), x.

[3] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter: A Biography of Patrick Edward Connor (Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, 1990), 3-5.

[4] James Varley, Brigham and the Brigadier, 2.

[5] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter, 18-19.

[6] James Varley, Brigham and the Brigadier, 4.

[7] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter, 30.

[8] Ibid, 48.

[9] P. Edward Connor, letter to Major R. C. Drum, September 14, 1862.

[10] Ibid.

[11] “A Big Expedition – Connor and the Volunteers after the Indians,” Sacramento Daily Union (Sacramento, CA), Feb. 7, 1863

[12] Scott Christensen, Sagwitch: Shoshone Chieftain, Mormon Elder, 1822-1887 (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1999), 52.

[13] F.W. Warner (Sagwitch), “Sagwitch Writes The Citizen About New Monument,” Franklin County Citizen (Preston, ID), Jul. 11, 1918.

[14] P. Edward Connor, letter to Major E. McGarry, October 26, 1863.

[15] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter, 114.

[16] Ibid, 121.

[17] James Varley, Brigham and the Brigadier, 258.

[18] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter, 237.

[19] Brigham Madsen, Glory Hunter, 271.

[20] Dean L. May, Utah: A People’s History, 190, 194-198.