Category Archives: Politics

Thomas Kearns Mansion and Carriage House

Published / by Brooklyn Lancaster / Leave a Comment

Write up by: Brooklyn Lancaster

Marker placed by: The National Registry of Historic Places

Coordinates: 40.7698° N, 111.8741° W
603 E. South Temple St., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84102


Marker Transcript:
Utah Historic Site
Thomas Kearns Mansion and Carriage House
Built 1900-1902 of Sanpete Limestone.
Architect Carl M. Neuhausen.
Governor’s Mansion 1937-1957.
Division of State History N-1

National Register Plaque

Extended Research:
Thomas Kearns was born in Canada in l862. His family then moved to a farm in Nebraska in 1870. Thomas didn’t grow up with a lot of money. When he was 17 years old, he left his family’s farm to look for a job. He ended up working different mines in South Dakota as well as Arizona. He then heard about Park City while riding on a train. He decided to head to Park City in 1883 hoping to make it big.

While mining in Park City Thomas discovered that there was an untapped silver vein in a mine called the Mayflower. He decided to lease the Mayflower with the help of two of his friends, David Keith and John Judge. On April 15, l889, they struck “gold,” or in this case silver. Over the next few years, Thomas and his partners bought several nearby mines, including the Silver King. The Silver King was one of the greatest silver mines in the world. It soon made Thomas and his partners very wealthy.

Once the railroad made its way to Utah in 1869, people from all over the world came to Utah hoping to make it rich in Utah’s mines. While this worked for some, others made money off of supplying goods for the miners. The people who struck it rich started to build impressive homes on the most desirable street in Salt Lake City at the time–South Temple. Even Brigham Young, an important local church leader, had several homes on the street. Other important pioneer leaders also built houses on the street.

By 1899, Thomas Kearns’s partners had both built mansions on South Temple which led Thomas to follow their example and buy some land to build his own mansion. After buying land Thomas hired architect Carl Neuhausen to design his home for him. The building of the mansion took from 1900 to 1902.

Thomas wanted his home to be the most modern and up to date, including the latest technology. He had electric lights, steam-heated radiators, a call board, and dumb waiters all installed in his home. Thomas even had one of the first indoor showers in Utah. The mansion also had a bowling alley, though all the pins had to be placed by hand. Jennie Kearns, Thomas’ wife, went all the way to Europe with their children to find art and furniture to decorate the mansion. They wanted the best of the best when it came to their home.

The Front of the Kearns Mansion

Architect Carl Neuhausen wanted the Kearns Mansion to look like a French castle. Each side of the mansion is designed differently. The mansion also has turrets on three of the four corners. The walls are made of limestone and have carvings around the windows and doors. Besides the mansion, the Kearns family also had a carriage house. Thomas was a great horse lover and had eight carriages. Once cars became more popular, the Kearns family stored their cars in the carriage house instead. Thomas Kearns was one of the first people to buy a car in Utah. However, he never actually learned to drive it.

The Carriage House

In 1938 the Kearns Mansion was renovated to become the Utah’s Governor’s Mansion. Governor Henry Blood and his family were the first governor’s family to live in the Kearns Mansion. It was then used as the home of the governor until 1959 when George D. Clyde became governor. He refused to live in the mansion. Subsequently, a new home was then built for the then governor. Besides Governor Clyde, Governor Calvin Rampton, was the only other governor to not live in the Kearns Mansion after it became the official residence of the governor. [1]

With the Governor moving out, the Utah State Historical Society decided to move in. Sadly, they didn’t have the funds to truly keep the mansion in good shape. The mansion became more and more run down over the subsequent years. It wasn’t until 1976, when Governor Scott Matheson was elected, that the mansion was given an update and repaired. The Governor then decided to move his family into the mansion in 1980. 

The mansion was used as the Governor of Utah’s residence all the way up to December of 1993. That was when Governor Mike Leavitt’s family Christmas tree caught fire in the Grand Hall.[2] The fire spread quickly. Luckily everyone was able to get out of the building without injury but much of the house was destroyed. Priceless woodwork, hand-carved and painted decorations, art, fabric, and furniture were charred and gone. During the restoration of the Kearns Mansion officials decided to return the home to its 1900s roots. While still updating the electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating they tried to make it look like it did when the Kearns family lived in the home. 

During the life of the Kearns Mansion it has been a family home, a Governor’s residence, as well as an office for the Utah State Historical Society. It has been nearly burned to the ground and then fully restored. It is still standing after over a hundred years, sharing the history of the Kearns family, Salt Lake City, and Utah with everyone who visits. In 2020, it is still in use as the governor’s mansion for Utah governor Gary Herbert.

[1] The Governor’s decision to vacate the Kearns’ Mansion was a controversial one because of the fact that the Kearns’ family had donated the mansion for that use.

[2] While the Governor was not at home at the time of the fire his family was.  

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:
“Fire, Smoke and Repairs.” Governor Seal. Accessed January 30, 2020. https://governor.utah.gov/mansion/mansion_firesmoke/.

“Historic Utah Governor’s Mansion Reopens”, press release and program. Accessed January 30, 2020. http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/PD/ms122b1996bf00617.pdf.

Secondary Sources:
“Fire, Smoke and Repairs.” Governor Seal. Accessed January 30, 2020.https://governor.utah.gov/mansion/mansion_firesmoke/.

Kued. “The Governor’s Mansion – PBS Utah Productions.” PBSUtah.org, February 1, 2019. https://www.pbsutah.org/whatson/kued-productions/the-governors-mansion.

“KEARNS, THOMAS.” Utah History Encyclopedia. Accessed March 18, 2020. https://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/k/KEARNS_THOMAS.shtml.

Wilson, Martin and Susan Holt, Rob Pett, Ellie Sonntag, “The Governor’s Mansion: Ready for Utah’s Second Century,” Utah Preservation, Vol. 1, 1997: 10-19. Issuu. Accessed March 18, 2020. https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/utahpreservation_volume1.

Utah State History. “Utah Preservation Restoration, Volume 2, 1980.” Issuu. Accessed March 20, 2020. https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/utahpreservationrestoration_volume2.

Tooele County Town Hall and Courthouse

Published / by Michael Anderson-McEwan / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Michael Anderson-McEwan

Placed by: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 84, Utah American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and Tooele City Corporation, and The National Register of Historic Places

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 40.530757  Longitude: -112.297398

Photo Credit: picryl.com (Accessed 3.14.19)

Historical Marker Text (1):

Erected in 1867 as a county court house. Active in construction were James Hammond, William Broad, Isaac Lee, W.C. Collaher, John Gillespie, George Atkin and john Gordon. The building was used for court house, city hall and amusement center, until 1941, when the new city hall on Main Street was completed. Later the building was turned over to the daughters of Utah pioneers for use as an amusement and meeting hall. Rock used in building was taken from settlement canyon in Tooele County.

Historical Marker Text (2):

Dedicated to the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the United States of America and sponsored by the Utah American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and Tooele City Corporation. Built in 1867 as a meeting hall, this building also served as County Courthouse and City Hall, with a jail in the rear. In 1941, the building was given to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers who have maintained it as a museum. They and Tooele City have renovated the building.

 

Historical Marker Text (3):

This Greek Revival temple-form building was constructed in 1867 using local stone. The belfry, added sometime after 1874, is picturesque in style and has lathe-turned posts accentuated by scroll brackets, a distinctive spindle band, and a slightly bellcast pyramid roof. The hall was built, according to a newspaper article of the time, by the citizens of Tooele “for a dancing hall, for dramatic representations and other social and intellectual purposes.” It was leased to William C. Foster and Thomas Craft but was also used for holding court and other city and country business. Live entertainment, however, proved financially unsuccessful, and by 1871 the hall was utilized primarily as a courthouse. In 1899 a new courthouse was constructed, and the building became solely the city hall. In 1942, with the construction of a new city hall, it was authorized for use as a museum by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Marker placed in 1991.

Extended research:

The Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall was constructed in 1867 thanks to the combined efforts and planning of James Hammond, William Broad, Isaac Lee, W.C. Collaher, John Gillespie, George Atkin, and John Gordon (Atkin and Gillespie would later serve on one of Tooele City’s first city councils; see image). Using stone sourced from nearby Settlement Canyon, they constructed the only extant temple-form city hall in Utah (and the oldest known to date)¹ with the total cost for the initial construction and furnishing of the hall adding up to $600² ($10,884.91 adjusted for the 2018 inflation rate).³

Tooele City council featuring George Atkin and John Gillespie (3rd and 6th from the right) (Photo credit: Utah State Historical Society)

The hall was meant to be used as both a social and governmental space, but due to the lack of money in the territory⁴, few Tooele residents were able to scrape together the necessary $400 to rent out the building. The hall’s managers soon found themselves unable to make ends meet and they were forced to use the building and its furnishings as collateral to pay off overdue rent to the city, in April of 1871. From then on, it was used predominantly as the county’s city hall, jail, and courthouse⁵ and was used as such until the county built a new courthouse in 1899 and a new city hall in 1941.⁶

After city officials moved to the new city hall in 1942, they granted the Daughters of Utah Pioneers a 50-year lease on the property, which they converted into a museum of local history.⁷ An addition to the building in 1975 connected it to the adjacent Sons of Utah Pioneers Museum (formerly Carnegie library), creating what is today known as Pioneer Plaza. These two museums possess a wide array of artifacts from local history, including an entire log cabin (originally built in 1855) which occupies the lot next door to the courthouse where a fire station formerly stood.⁸

[1]National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form page 2

[2]Information from an interview I conducted on site with one of the Hall’s current docents, Judy Schneider

[3]“The Inflation Calculator,” Morgan Friedman, accessed March 15, 2019

[4]George W. Tripp, Early Tooele A Documented Chronology 1867-1874. Vol. II, 5, Accessed April 5, 2019.

[5]NRHP nomination form page 4

[6]Ouida Nuhn Blanthorn, A History of Tooele County (Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1998), 86-87, accessed March 14, 2019.

[7]NRHP Nomination form page 6

[8]Interview with Judy Schneider

For Further reference:

Primary sources:

Tooele City Council. 1850-1870. Utah State Historical Society Classified Photo Collection, Utah State Historical Society, Tooele. In Tooele City Council. UT: Utah State Historical Society, 2013. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Secondary sources:

Blanthorn, Ouida Nuhn. A History of Tooele County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1998. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Friedman, Morgan. The Inflation Calculator. Accessed March 15, 2019.

Schneider, Judy. “On the History of Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall.” Interview by author. March 1, 2019.

Tripp, George W. Early Tooele A Documented Chronology 1867-1874. Vol. II. Accessed April 5, 2019.

United States. United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Tooele County Courthouse and City Hall. By UDSH Staff. National Park Service. 1-6. Accessed March 14, 2019.

Beehive House

Published / by Daniel Wahlquiest / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Daniel Wahlquist

Placed by:

Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations and Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association

GPS Coordinates:

40°46’9” N 111°53’23”W

Transcript of marker:

No 50 June 9, 1935 The Bee-Hive House Erected about 1852 by President Brigham Young as the official residence of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and occupied by him from the time it was completed until his death in 1877. From 1852 to 1855 it also served as the executive mansion of Governor Brigham Young of the Territory of Utah. It was also the home of Presidents Lorenzo Snow (1898-1901) and Joseph F. Smith (1901-1918), both of whom died here. The bee-hive is the state emblem signifying industry.

Extended Research:

The Beehive House was built in 1854 as the primary residence of Brigham Young as the first territorial governor of Utah and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City at the intersection of State Street and South Temple (during the time of the home’s construction it was called Brigham Street).[1]  It is a two-story building with cement coating, large wrap-around porches, and topped with a large gilded beehive which inspired its official name: the Beehive House.[2]  

Figure 1: Beehive House and Eagle Gate (“Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.”
Figure 2: Truman Osborn Angell (Courtesy of Temple Square Hospitality, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.”)

The LDS architect of the Beehive House was Truman Osborn Angell. He was the LDS church’s resident architect and designed many of the prominent buildings in Utah Territory. His projects included but are not limited to the Salt Lake and St. George Temples; The Council House; the Social Hall; the Old Tabernacle; several meeting houses; the Utah Territorial Statehouse located in Fillmore; Brigham Young’s first grand residence, the White House; and the later addition to the Beehive house, the Lion House. Angell was a finish carpenter by trade and gained valuable experience working on various projects for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples. He was called on a European mission and in addition to preaching the LDS gospel, Angell was assigned to study architecture. While Angell had close relationships with many church leaders throughout his life, the most influential was Brigham Young who married his sister Mary Ann. He enjoyed a close relationship with Brigham Young and looked up to him as a father figure.[3]

Figure 3: Interior Room of Beehive House by Michael McConkie, (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints).

The primary function of the Beehive House was to serve as an official residence of Brigham Young in his role as both President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as the territorial governor.  It housed a small number of his family, out of town visitors, and provided a place to entertain visiting dignitaries and celebrities. Notable visitors included President Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Horace Greely, and Tom Thumb.[4]

Figure 4: Brigham Young’s homes, Salt Lake City (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.)

Brigham Young had several residences in the Salt Lake Valley as well as throughout the Utah Territory. In 1856, two years after the Beehive House was complete, he constructed the Lion House that served as housing for several of his wives and children.[5] The Beehive House however, was home to second wife (nonplural at marriage), Mary Ann Angell.  She lived in the Beehive house on and off until 1860 when she moved into what was referred to as the White House (or Mansion House), a few blocks away.[6] She tended to enjoy a more secluded life and the hustle and bustle of the Beehive House did not suit her. Upon Mary Ann’s relocation, Lucy Decker, Brigham’s third wife moved in with her seven children and assumed the role of managing the home.  Near this time, Brigham deeded the Beehive House to Decker.[7] She lived there until she sold it to John W. Young, a son of Brigham and Mary Ann Young.[8]

Figure 5: Beehive House (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.)

Brigham Young wore many figurative hats. He was a business man, provider and patriarch to twenty-seven wives (although sealed to fifty-six, only twenty-seven were a part of his households) and fifty-seven children, politician and religious leader.[9] It was his style to be all of these at all times. It was common for Brigham Young to bring up secular matters in religious sermons and vice versa. He would preach to his children and discuss politics with various family members. His finances were similarly difficult to separate. Young trusted his bookkeeper to keep clear books, but his various accounts would borrow from one another.[10] This resulted in a level of uncertainty about who actually owned his various properties. For example, who was the owner of the Beehive House? Was it Brigham Young’s family home, an official state home, or was it church property where the president resided? The answer was that it was all of these. Since Brigham Young deeded it to Lucy Decker, it can be assumed he saw it as a personal family home. This issue however did cause some disagreements after Young’s death in 1877.

Figure 6: Beehive House and Eagle Gate with Cobblestone Wall (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.)

Living in the home was a communal experience. Despite the fact that the Beehive House served as the official residence of only a single family, it was also considered a home of last resort for newly arriving young people from Europe that had no family or friends to stay with. Young men were given jobs and young women, much to Lucy’s chagrin became students of the art of domesticity.[11] Nearly every morning Brigham Young would eat breakfast at the Beehive House with Lucy and her children. He would then go to the office located between the Lion and Beehive Houses. He would eat dinner with nearly fifty family members at the Lion House in the evenings followed by a family prayer. This tradition was faithfully observed regardless of what was on his agenda. He would frequently put meetings on hold and join his family.[12]

Figure 7: Deseret New Clipping January 20, 1893

During the time Brigham Young lived there, the Beehive House also served as a form of refuge and security from unfriendly forces. Several times when a flag was raised above the Beehive on top of the house, hundreds of men would come and surround the house to protect Brother Brigham. To further protect the residential compound, a nine-foot cobblestone wall was built. In addition to protecting his family, it provided work for the aforementioned young men arriving from abroad.[13]

In 1888, John W. Young purchased the property from Lucy Decker.  During the period of his ownership the home underwent major renovations and nearly doubled in size. In 1893, Young lost the home to pay off debts incurred in a lawsuit. The home was auctioned off and purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It then served as the official residence of the President of the Church.[14] In 1900, LDS President Lorenzo Snow moved into the Beehive House and lived there until his death. His successor Joseph F. Smith lived there until is death in 1918.  Heber J. Grant, Smith’s successor, chose not to reside in the Beehive House. The home remained vacant for a couple of years and underwent some minor renovations.

Figure 8: David A. Smith on porch of Beehive House (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.)
Figure 9: President Joseph F. Smith in automobile in front of Beehive House (Courtesy of the Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.)

In 1920, following trends set in other cities, the Church decided to transform the Beehive House into a boarding home of sorts for women working or attending school in the city. Most young women living in the Beehive House either worked at the Church Office Building or attended LDS University. This use continued into the late 1950s. 

In 1959, the Church decided to restore the Beehive House to what it was like in its original form. A group was created, mostly comprised of Brigham Young’s descendants, to discover the original structure, assemble original furniture and furnishing and design a layout using a variety of written descriptions. In 1970, The Beehive House became a part of the National Register of Historic Places.  Since that time, it has been open to the public for tours.[15]


[1] Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses. (Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 169.

[2] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 170.

[3] Paul L. Anderson, “Truman O. Angell” Architect and Saint,” Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 133–73.

[4] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 329; National Register of Historic Places, Beehive House, Salt Lake County, Utah, National Register #702439002.

[5] R. Scott Lloyd, “Lecture at Church History Symposium discusses the Beehive House, the Lion House and the young women of the Church”, Deseret News, 10 March 2016.

[6] John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), 236.

[7] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 329.

[8] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 329; John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, 236.

[9] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 420-421; Jeffery Ogden Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Autumn 1987):57-70.

[10] Leonard J. Arrington and Ronald K. Esplin, “Building a Commonwealth: The Secular Leadership of Brigham Young,” Utah Historical Quarterly 45, no. 3 (1977): 216-232; Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 178-182.

[11] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 330.

[12] Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, 329; John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, 236.

[13] National Register of Historic Places, Beehive House, Salt Lake County, Utah, National Register #702439002; John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, 298.

[14] National Register of Historic Places, Beehive House, Salt Lake County, Utah, National Register #702439002.; “The Beehive House Sold,” Deseret News, January 20, 1893.

[15] National Register of Historic Places, Beehive House, Salt Lake County, Utah, National Register #702439002; Lloyd, “Lecture at Church History Symposium”.

For Further Reference

Primary Sources

Photograph Citations:

Figure 1

F.I. Monsen and Company (Photography Studio). Beehive House and Eagle Gate.

Figure 2

Tammy Reque, “Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About the Salt Lake Temple,” Temple Square Blog, July 20, 2018.

Figure 3

Lion and Beehive houses, 1983.

Figure 4

Brigham Young’s homes, Salt Lake City.

Figure 5

Horrocks, Samuel 1873-1927. Photographs of historical buildings in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Figure 6

“The Beehive House Sold,” Deseret News, January 20, 1893.

Figure 7

Charles W. Carter glass negative collection, circa 1860-1900; Items 121-135; Salt Lake City, Beehive House and Eagle Gate; Church History Library.

Figure 8

Beehive House, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1918 January 17.

Figure 9

Beehive House family photographs, circa 1896-1917; Beehive House Family Photographs; One of the first automobiles in Salt Lake City; Church History Library.

National Register of Historic Places, Beehive House, Salt Lake County, Utah, National Register #702439002. 

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Paul L. “Truman O. Angell” Architect and Saint,” Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons. Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985.

Arrington, Leonard J., Brigham Young: American Moses. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1985.

Arrington, Leonard J.  and Ronald K. Esplin, “Building a Commonwealth: The Secular Leadership of Brigham Young”, Utah Historical Quarterly 45, no. 3 (1977): 216-232.

Johnson, Jeffery Ogden. “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Autumn 1987):57-70.

Lloyd, R. Scott. “Lecture at Church History Symposium discusses the Beehive House, the Lion House and the young women of the Church”, Deseret News, 10 March 2016.

Turner, John G. Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012.

Utah’s First Capitol

Published / by Benjamin Bartholomew / Leave a Comment

Utah Historical Site Marker

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

GPS Coordinates: 38.9676° N, 112.3251° W

Historical Marker Text (1):

Erected Aug. 3, 1935

Utah’s First Capitol

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

Custodians: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Millard County Company

National Register Marker

 Historical Marker Text (2):

The National Register of Historic Places

Utah Historic Site

Territorial Capitol

Built: 1852-1855

Architect: Truman O. Angell

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

and 8th (1858) State Legislatures

Division of State History N-9

Extended Research:

Establishing Fillmore:

Governor Young

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

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

Anson Call

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

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

Samuel P. Hoyt

Bishop Bartholomew

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

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

Building the Statehouse:

Replicas of what houses in the Fort looked like.

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

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

Fillmore as a Capital:

The Statehouse

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

The Statehouse after 1858:

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

References

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

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

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

Primary Sources

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

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

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

Secondary Sources

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

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