The Band Between the Seas


In 1869, a momentous event occurred in Utah history, the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah. What the union of these two lines would mean for the state was uncertain, but certainly inspired a lot of excitement, conflict, and hope. The primary means through which Utah residents learned about the construction of the line, and the implications of its completion, was through the LDS church-run Deseret News. The manner in which The Deseret News as well as local authorities presented the construction of the railroad was of paramount importance in terms of the lasting effect that the construction itself would have. The conflict between the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad companies, details about the construction and its dangers, as well as the threat of outside influences were newsworthy issues that were regularly reported in The Deseret News. Through the use of these editorials and articles, the LDS church was able to establish an economic policy that solidified their culture and secured their settlements in Utah.

The construction and completion of the railroad offered many things to the areas that it passed through. Among these were increased exposure, increased opportunities for commerce, boosts in tourism, and definitely the opportunity for expanded communication within the United States. In addition to the changes that the completion of the railroad would bring, the actual construction itself brought a lot of shifts and presented many issues, too. The Mormons in Utah, especially the Salt Lake Valley, were a relatively cloistered group, whose isolation from outsiders was critical for maintaining their kingdom of heaven on earth. (Arrington, 144) Church leaders were fully aware of the threat to their culture that a massive influx of outsiders would bring. As a means of combatting what they feared would dilute their culture of local industry, and inter-church commerce, The Deseret News published a series of editorials preparing the public for what the coming railroad could bring. Church leaders knew that the railroad would either make or break their settlement, and they aimed for the former. “The railroad will not be an unmixed benefit to us unless we prepare for it. It will not put an abundance of money in circulation unless we lay the foundation of branches of business that will bring it to us.” (“Changes It Will Produce” )

Prior to the emergence of the railroad, Utah’s economy relied heavily on agriculture. (Bolino, 409) As Utah is situated in the middle of a desert, the water needed to support this economy came at a high cost. Church leader Brigham Young knew that with the incoming railroad, crops that were grown here at a fairly high cost could now be imported at half the price, eliminating agriculture as a viable primary source of income for Utah’s economy. The next obvious option was mining. (Bolino, 410)

In regards to mining, church policy was based on the idea that the building of their utopian society, or heaven on earth, required a regimented, balanced development of area resources by a unified people for the support of a permanent society. (Arrington, 146) The threat that large-scale mining posed to the valley and the state in terms of economy and culture was substantial. The Mormons had come here with the idea that this was their promised land and would be their home for years to come, a dream that would not be realized if it became a ghost town after all of the mining was exhausted. To maintain economic control, and to ensure that the development that had happened here was not in vain, Brigham Young enforced policies that prevented too much of the mined material from being exported. A substantial amount of rock and ore extracted from the valley had to be put toward building up local industry and the city itself. If the city could become strong and well established, it was sure to survive. (Bolino, 410)

Construction of the railroad instilled fear in local residents, fear of the dangers of the construction, and of the people who would come with it. In a June 1868 letter to an associate abroad, Salt Lake City local George Q. Reynolds wrote:

It is not the men actually working on the line that I should fear so much, though no doubt they would cause some trouble, and raise a muss occasionally, but it would the bummers, gamblers, saloon and hurdy-gurdy keepers, border ruffians, and desperadoes generally, who prey upon laborers, whom I should fear the most. (Quoted in Arrington, 149)

Reynolds’ fear was not unfounded, as upwards of 25,000 Chinese workers were employed by the Union Pacific railroad company, and around 10,000 Irish by the Central Pacific Railroad Company. The presence of outside workers did in fact lead to the opening of several of Utah’s earliest whiskey stops and dance halls. (Bolino, 410) From a numbers perspective, it is not difficult to imagine what a scene the construction site would have been. Descriptions of the work as viewed from afar likened the scene to that of a great army, as there were tents, people, and a cloud of dust as far as the eye could see. (“By Telegraph”)

The construction of a hand-made track between the seas spanning all sorts of terrain is a veritable engineering feat by any standard, even today. This notion was the primary focus of most other accounts of the railroad construction as published in local papers. (“End of Track U.P.R.R.”; “Work on the Railroad”; “The Pacific Railroad Bill”) What was happening all around these people, from the masses of workers, to the triggering of explosive charges was not commonplace anywhere. They were living in the midst of something great, and they knew it.

“Never before has this continent disclosed anything bearing comparison with it,” observed one account. (“The Proceedings at Promontory Summit”) One man recalled dining at a friend’s house and being shown a 400-pound boulder that had been fully buried in the ground just 20 paces from his kitchen window, after it had been thrown half a mile by an explosion. With good humor, he elaborated on the dangerous nature of the work,“Fun is fun, but standing a straddle of four or five kegs of powder and working it into the rocks with a crowbar is a particular kind of sport that the most of men wouldn’t relish.” (“Correspondence: Promontory”)

The dangerous nature of the work was aggravated by the serious competition between the Central, and Union Pacific, railroad companies. The companies were working from opposite directions, and where they were to meet was yet to be determined. The companies owning the railroads profited off of the use of their rails, and as such more rail meant more money. (“Work on the railroad”) Each company pushed its workers to superhuman speeds, sometimes laying a mile of track in only one hour, in hopes of owning  more of the track. (“Correspondence: Promontory”) The competition was so fierce that the two companies actually began sabotaging each other’s work, endangering many workers. Toward the end of construction, they were building in very close proximity to each other, and would sometimes set off charges without warning the other company, or they would go as far as actually removing track that had been lain by their competitor. (“Correspondence: Promontory”)

The completion of the railroad put months of planning to the test, in terms of how strong of a society the Mormon Church had built in Utah. The School Of Prophets was formed in response to all of the issues promoted by the railroad, both pre- and post-construction. The school (essentially an upright citizens brigade) worked closely with Brigham Young in developing economic policies that would keep the settlement growing. (Arrington, 146)

Young stressed the importance of importing raw materials for the production of consumer goods, rather than exporting raw materials to be processed outside the settlements. Adherence to these policies guaranteed that an individual and their family would be taken care of by the church, as was the nature of their community, and straying from them could mean excommunication. (Arrington, 147) Young forbid church members from trading with, or purchasing goods from non-Mormons. Young said, “We are going to draw the reins so tight as to not let a Latter-day saint trade with an outsider.” (Quoted in Arrington, 147) Policies like this were fairly effective in maintaining their society in which what is good for the whole was good for the individual.

On May 10, 1869, the line was completed. The proceedings at Promontory were a highly publicized event, with more than twenty newspapers represented. (Bowman, 97) While coverage of the proceedings was great, much of it was speculation, as it is believed that fewer than twenty people were actually able to see the spike driven or hear the addresses spoken. (Bowman, 97-98) However, much of the ceremony was actually seen by the reporter from The Deseret News, whose description of the events was nothing short of beautiful. “The meridian hour has come and on the expansive and lofty plateau, at the summit of the Promontory, a scene is disclosed in the conception of which every exultant element of humanity is revivified.” (The Proceedings at Promontory Summit”) Whatever reservations about the railroad the church may have had, they presented its completion with only the most optimistic of coverage.

In terms of facing the potential threat that the construction and completion of the transcontinental railroad posed, no tool was more useful to the Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints than their newspaper, The Deseret News. Through their use of the paper, the Church was able to inform members of general news about the construction, and the way in which they should deal with issues that were bound to arise with the population change that the construction would bring. Through their editorials and articles, church leaders were able to have their people benefit from the construction, yet remain somewhat insulated from outside influence. These early Mormon economic policies changed the way that Utah’s economy developed, the effects of which are still visible today, in how many local industries remain throughout the state.


Editor, “End of Track, U.P.R.R.” Daily Deseret News, April 23, 1869.

“The Proceedings at Promontory Summit,” Daily Deseret News, May 16, 1869.

Editor, “Work on the Railroad,” Deseret News, November 17, 1868.

Saxey, “Correspondence: Promontory, near Cedar City,” Deseret Evening News, March 25, 1869.

“The Pacific Railroad Bill.” Deseret News, April 28, 1869, 6.

By Telegraph,” Deseret Evening News, May 12, 1869.

Editor, “The Railroad — Changes It Will Produce,” Deseret News, August 10, 1868.


Leonard J. Arrington. “The Transcontinental Railroad and Mormon Economic Policy.” The Pacific Historical Review 20, no. 2 (1951): 143-57.

J.N. Bowman. “Driving The Last Spike: At Promontory, 1869.” California Historical Society Quarterly 36, no. 22 (1957): 97-106.

Martin Mitchell. “Gentile Impressions of Salt Lake City, Utah, 1849-1870.” Geographical Review 87, no. 3 (1997): 334-52.

August C. Bolino. “Mormon Philosophy and Practical Railroad Building.” The Business History Review 32, no. 4 (1958): 407-22.

The Completion and Dedication of The Cathedral of The Madeleine, 1909

Entry and photo by CARLY KUNZ

Photo by Carly Kunz, April 21, 2010.

The Cathedral of The Madeleine was dedicated on August 15, 1909. It took ten years for its completion and the completion was in part due to the devotion of Bishop Lawrence Scanlan. Bishop Scanlan came to Salt Lake City on August 14, 1873. He came with the aspiration to teach Catholicism in Salt Lake City and allow the religion to flourish. Upon his arrival, he created Catholic schools and hospitals. With the Catholic community beginning to thrive, Scanlan approached his next dream. He dreamed of creating a cathedral “that would look out across Salt Lake Valley from the heart of the city all the way to where the mountains push up against the sky.” (Mooney, 12)

On February 25, 1890, Bishop Scanlan purchased the land for the Cathedral for $35,000. That land is located on what we know today as B Street and South Temple. Mooney credits Bishop Scanlan with drawing the final plans for the Cathedral “over a period of eight years from the time of the purchase of the site.” (Mooney, 16)

The groundbreaking for the Cathedral occurred on Independence Day of 1899; however, it wouldn’t be finished until 1909. The overall construction ended up costing $344,000. The construction was delayed for the reason that Bishop Scanlan felt it was better to delay the process rather than accumulate further debts. (Mooney, 17)

Nonetheless, Bishop Scanlan was able to see through his dream. On August 14, 1909, The Intermountain Catholic reported:

Yes, Bishop Scanlan is a wonderful man, but don’t let him hear you say it. If you want to get into his good graces, just say: ‘Bishop, you have a wonderful, a good people.’ He will assure you then, with a warm handshake, that they are the best of the best, and that these institutions, which today are the glory of the diocese, are all due to their generosity. And the Cathedral itself, the crowning glory of the Bishop’s life, looks out proudly and boldly to the mountains of Utah, and it whispers: ‘I am the temple of the Living God, I stand guard at the gates of the West, and my pinnacles, as they soar up and point to Heaven, remind men that as they dig and delve for gold there is another digging to be done, a digging and delving on the great road to God.’

The completion and the dedication of the cathedral were not only substantial accomplishments for Bishop Scanlan, but for the Catholic community in the Salt Lake Valley as well. The Intermountain Catholic was a publication within the Salt Lake Valley that provided news and reports on Catholicism. With the dedication of the cathedral just a week away the anticipation in the community was high. The Intermountain Catholic on August 7, 1909, reported, “Right Reverend Bishop Scanlan accompanied by Very Reverend Dean Harris, went to Pocatello Thursday night to meet Cardinal Gibbons, who is going to the national park before he visits Salt Lake.” The newspaper also warned (in this same issue), “Those who have not yet rented seats or pews for the dedication should see or phone Reverend W.K. Ryan, who has the charge of the seating. The desirable seats are nearly all gone.” The article added: “Owing to the fact that there are 7,500 Catholic people in Salt Lake and that seats for only 1,200 can be provided it has been determined to make the admission solely by ticket for both the morning and evening service.”

The day before the dedication The Intermountain Catholic quoted the “History of the Catholic Church in Utah” by Very Reverend Dean Harris: “The Cathedral of Salt Lake is without exception, architecturally, the finest ecclesiastical structure west of the Missouri. Resting on an imperishable foundation of massive blocks of granite, the great building occupies a commanding site in one of the finest quarters of the city, and imparts to the surrounding neighborhood a tone of quiet solemnity and impressive dignity.” (Mooney, 22)

According to Mooney and Dwyer,

The dedication on August 15, 1909, proved to be one of the most brilliant assemblies of American Church dignitaries the Far West had even seen …. The actual ceremony of dedication was performed by the Right Reverend Denis O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, and preceded the Mass. In the sanctuary were present His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, undoubtedly the outstanding man in contemporary American Hierarchy; the Most Revered John J. Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis (and later a Cardinal)…; the Most Revered J. Dappenwill, Archbishop of Vancouver; the Right Reverend Richard Scannel, Bishop of Omaha …; the Right Reverend J.J. Keane, Reverend A.J. Glorieux, Bishop of Boise … and the Right Reverend John J. Carroll, Bishop of Helena. (Mooney, 22)

The next publication of The Intermountain Catholic came out on August 21, 1909. This publication featured articles such as, “Cardinal Gibbons Delivers Address, A Great Orator.” A Great Orator” offered a quote from The Evening Telegram, in which Judge Goodwin said:

The exercises in the cathedral yesterday were most impressive. The authorities of the great church were present in full force — priests, bishops, archbishops and the cardinal: the music was filled with solemn splendor; the cathedral itself is both majestic and beautiful and those who heard the dedicatory sermon were charmed. The speaker has some of the rarest gifts of the orator. There was not a trace of the theatrical in his manner, but there was a sincerity and power in his arguments which showed clearly that what concerned him was not how he should speak, but what he was to say and here and there was a simple sentence which apparently unstudied, was as filled with stateliness and splendor as a great anthem. It was a great day for our Catholic friends.

Overall, the dedication was very well perceived. People were impressed with the stunning architecture of The Cathedral of the Madeleine. Utah Historical Quarterly observed in 1981 that with the exception of the “decoration of the interior,” the architecture and design of the cathedral has remained the same since its dedication in 1909. Not only has the architecture remained substantial, but its importance to the Catholic community in the Salt Lake Valley has also remained the same. Bishop Scanlan created a truly beautiful work of architecture, but more importantly a place of worship that will continue to bring the Catholic community of the Salt Lake Valley together.

Carly Kunz is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication and will be graduating in August 2010.


“Bishop Scanlan And St. Mary’s Cathedral,” The Salt Lake Herald, July 20, 1907.

“Dedication Of The Cathedral,” The Intermountain Catholic, August 7, 1909.

“A Great Orator,” The Intermountain Catholic, August 21, 1909.

Rev. W.R. Harris, “The Catholic Church In Utah: Parishes And Missions,” The Intermountain Catholic, 1909.

Bernice M. Mooney. “The Cathedral of the Madeleine: The Building and Embellishment of a Historic Place.” Utah Historical Quarterly 49 (1981): 110-32.

Bernice Maher Mooney. The Story of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Salt Lake City, Utah: Litho Grafics, 1981.

Sacerdos, “The Bishop of Salt Lake Communicated,” The Intermountain Catholic, August 14, 1909.

“St. Mary Magdalene’s Cathedral,” The Intermountain Catholic, August 14, 1909.

This Is the Place: The Building of the Salt Lake Temple


Shortly after inhabiting the great Salt Lake Valley, a place was soon chosen where the Salt Lake City temple would be built. On February 14, 1853, there was not only a dedication and groundbreaking of this magnificent building, but a commencing of something being built of biblical proportions.

After members of the Latter-day Saints were persecuted and driven out of both Kirkland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois, they started their long and treacherous journey west. Temples were built in both of these locations because temples and work done in them are a very important part of the Mormon religion. The Saints knew they would end up in the West and they knew they would want another temple there as well.

They arrived July 28, 1847, in the Great Salt Lake Valley. Just four short days later, Brigham Young, then president of the church, declared where the temple was to be built. On February 19, 1853, the Deseret News reported about Young: “Only as he had learned by dreams and visions, and revelations, that there was a good place for the saints in the mountains, and that when he arrived on the spot where he then was, he declared that the place for a temple.” Mormons believe in revelations from God to guide them in the right direction. President Young was sure when he said that this is “the place.” Since most of the inhabitants of the Salt Lake Valley were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they were thrilled at the prospect of having yet another temple in their midst. Since their arrival in 1847, only six years had gone by until they commenced the building of the Salt Lake Temple.

The groundbreaking for the temple was held February 14, 1853. Prayers were said, hymns were sung, and the first shovel was dug in the ground. The spot where the temple was going to be built was dedicated as well. Many people showed up for this. As far as the eye could see there were Saints there to bear witness to the beginning of construction and to hear the voice of their Prophet.

In a book titled, The Salt Lake Temple: an Architectural Monograph, written by Charles Hamilton, it was said that the groundbreaking and the site of the temple was monumental because “President Young required the city be laid out from the temple plot.” (Hamilton, 33) Young wanted the temple to be the focal point of the valley. Because of this thought and plans for city plans, Salt Lake City is on a grid system, with the temple being at the center of everything. The temple plot is a total of ten acres. On this includes the temple, the tabernacle, the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, and two visitor centers. Hamilton also suggests that the Salt Lake Temple design was very influential of other temples. He says that “symbolically and ecclesiastically the [Salt Lake Temple was the] most important of the temples.” (Hamilton, 152) This temple certainly is the most widely known. Many tourists visit the temple and temple square daily. According to a Deseret News story by Aaron Falk, Temple Square receives about five million visitors per year, which actually makes it number 16 out of 25 for most visited sites in the United States.

Building this humongous temple was a feat to be had. It took 40 years to complete the development. It was a hard, seemingly impossible endeavor. Granite was brought in from Little Cottonwood Canyon, which was about 30 miles away, and tithing was used to pay for the temple, which wasn’t very easy for the people. On April 16, 1853, the Deseret News encouraged readers to “bring up to the Tithing House of the Lord your tithings and your consecrations; pay up what you owe ….” A lot of sweat, hard work, and sacrifices were made for this House of the Lord. It was very important to the members of the church that this temple be built and they were willing to do whatever it took for the completion of this great building. Talk of the building of this great temple was widespread. Harper’s Weekly even wrote a long story about the temple in its newspaper in the July 11, 1857, edition. There was a lot of information about the temple and even a picture of what it was to look like when completed. The temple was big news all over the country.

Upon completion in April 1893, the Deseret News published an article titled, “Word of Warning.” The article observed, “During … the temple dedication services, many hundreds of Latter-day Saints will visit this city for the first time, and many more who are not accustomed to the ways of the world as exhibited by those who are not of this faith.” The completion was a huge deal around the country. The temple’s completion was so newsworthy, the Deseret News felt it needed to warn people about the influx of tourists.

Twice a year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a General Conference going over certain religious topics and spreading word of the church’s work. On April 8, 1893, the Deseret News wrote about the completion and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple. In the article, titled “House of the Lord,” it makes mention of a speech by then President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff. During that speech, President Woodruff acknowledged the completion of the temple and how great it was now that they had it in their presence. In a Deseret News article titled “The Interior,” the reporter described the temple saying, “It amazes by its massive solidity and charms with its exquisite beauty; by the ingenuity and completeness of its appointments it delights the most practical, and in its perfection of taste and harmony it dazzles the most artistic and refined.”

America was aware of the atrocities the Mormons had endured before reaching the Salt Lake in 1847. The Salt Lake Temple was the sixth temple to be erected. It is however, one of the more popular temples to people around the world, whether they are members of the Mormon Church or not. To this day, the temple is still well talked about. Mormons are very religious people who are willing and waiting to do what God asks of them. The building of the Salt Lake Temple was just one of those things.

Diane Holbrook is a junior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication.


“A Word of Warning,” Deseret News, April 8, 1893, 6.

Deseret News, February 19, 1853.

Deseret News, April 16, 1853.

Charles Hamilton. The Salt Lake Temple: an Architectural Monograph. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1979.

“New Temple to be built in Salt Lake City,” Harper’s Weekly, July 11, 1857.

Aaron Falk, “Temple Square Ranks 16th in Visitors,” Deseret News, March 11, 2009.

“The House of the Lord,” Deseret News, April 8, 1893, 19.

“The Interior,” Deseret News, April 8, 1893, 20.

The Mormon-Black Hawk War


The “Black Hawk War” that took place in Utah and started roughly around April 9, 1865, was the longest and most destructive war between pioneer immigrants and Native Americans in Utah history. It was a war between the Ute Native Americans and the Mormon settlers.

It all started when a handful of Ute Indians and Mormon settlers gathered in Manti, Utah, to settle a dispute over some cattle and livestock that were killed and eaten by some hungry Utes. The Mormons attempted to reason with the Indians, saying they had the right to take possession of their land because the Indians were heathens and non-Christians who didn’t believe in the Bible or Jesus, or the Messiah. (

One thing led to another and a Mormon settler insulted a Ute Indian as well as a Ute named Black Hawk. But Black Hawk was not his name; his real Ute name was Nooch, a name sacred to the Ute Indians in honor of the Noochew people. Black Hawk was the name that Brigham Young gave him. That is when the Indians promised retaliation, and retaliation is exactly what happened. Over the next couple of days the Indians followed through with their promises and stole hundreds of the Mormon settlers’ cattle as well as killed five men, then escaped into the mountains. Black Hawk was given the title of War Chief after his stand up to the settlers. Historian Will Bagley wrote, “It was a matter of who would own the land and who would survive.  It was a battle over resources that led to a brutal bloody conflict between the Mormon settlers and the Ute.” (

Militiamen mostly fought the war in the northern states, and few Indians were given credit for anything. Miss Doris Duke said, “If a white person would of grown up the way an Indian did, the white person would think the same way, there is no right or wrong, it was just the circumstances.” (Miss Doris Duke)

Over the next year Black Hawk continued with this stealing of cattle and challenging the Mormons. Black Hawk was not supported by everyone in his tribe, though. He had gained the support of only a handful of people, but he also had gained some support from other tribes in the area, such as the Paiute and Navajo. Their task was simple: it was to make life difficult for the Mormons through that area of land. Their goal was to steal as much cattle as they could, as well as taunt and hassle people who were traveling through the area. (Gottfredson)

In the small town of Circleville in the year of 1866 it was said that there occurred “the largest massacre of Indians in Utah’s history.”  (Winkler) The Circleville Massacre was a key event in the Black Hawk War and lives up to every bit of its title. On September 18, 1865, Major Warren S. Snow and a hundred men who were out hunting Indians stopped in the town of Circleville for the night. The next morning they took off, eventually to meet up with some Indians to fight in Wayne County. The Utes heard of this and started their move toward Circleville.  The townspeople saw the Utes all around the mountains just watching them, waiting to make a move. One day after the Utes came to the town and stole some more of their cattle, the townspeople took cover in the meetinghouse with only a few militiamen guarding the town. (Winkler)  After the first raid the people did not want to chance any more Indian attacks so they went to the neighboring tribe to their town where the Paiute Indians were and took sixteen men captive and some women and children, as a precautionary measure against any further raids. They were placed in the meetinghouse under arrest with guards and the women and children were placed in the cellar. That night when the guards were waiting for orders on what to do with the captives, the Paiute men freed themselves and sprung on their captors. In a panic all of the sixteen men were shot and killed in the struggle. Since they did not want the word to get out about the killings they brought up the women one at a time and shot them, and then shot the children one at a time. (Winkler)

Throughout the next couple of years the Mormons decided enough was enough and decided to stand their ground. Historian Robert Carter said, “When the Ute failed to assimilate into Mormon culture, the answer was to exterminate them.” ( The Mormons got hundreds of militiamen and chased the Utes through the wilderness and mountains but did not have much success since that was the Indians’ homeland. But that didn’t stop some of the men who were upset with what was happening to their land and their cattle from killing some innocent Utes, including women and children. Mormons decided to go another route and called upon federal troops to step in and help them out with the growing problem, but their support was not answered for a while. After much fighting and constant little battles, Black Hawk and the Mormons made peace with each other in 1867. A treaty was signed in 1868.

Before Black Hawk died in 1870, from a bullet wound a year earlier that made him sick, he traveled to the Mormon village to apologize for the pain and suffering that the war had caused. He asked for settlers’ forgiveness and asked them to do the same and stop all the bloodshed. ( But even after the treaty was signed, many Native Americans were still being killed, even after Black Hawk apologized to them.

White expansion brought a problem to the Indians. Mormons and Europeans brought in new diseases and their settlement in some areas hurt the natural eco-system, and scared away wildlife, which led to the starvation of many Indians.  All of the events were not uncommon in the western states at this time but the Black Hawk War was different because of the animosity between the United States government and the LDS Church. The war ended without any incident when federal troops were ordered to engage the Indians in 1872. (Lowry)

Chad Manis is a senior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication and plans to graduate in fall 2010. He grew up in Long Beach, California, but now lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Casey.


Albert Winkler, “The  Circleville Massacre: A Brutal Incident in Utah’s Black Hawk War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 55 (1987).

Peter Gottfredson. Indian Depredations in Utah (1919), Legislative Assembly Of Utah Territory.

Kate B. Carter. Our Pioneer Heritage, vol 9. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958.

The American Indian Oral History Project, Miss Doris Duke, MS 417. Legend Translated by Alvina Quam 1968, Manuscript Division, J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The John Lowry, Sr., and John Lowry, Jr., Papers , MS 306. J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sketch Of The Life Of John Lowry 1799-1867, Manuscript Division, J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Secondary Sources

Carlton Culmsee. Utah’s Black Hawk War. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1973.

Black Hawk Indian War: Utah’s Forgotten Tragedy.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lecture in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on May 11, 1923


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for creating Sherlock Holmes, became a fervent Spiritualist during the latter part of his life. He strove to prove the existence of spirits through psychic photography and exposed fraudulent psychics. According to an interview he gave to the Deseret Evening News on May 11, 1923, he became interested in spiritualism about 35 years before, or around 1888, when A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel, was published. After his son and his brother died in World War I, Conan Doyle turned his attention towards Spiritualism, the Daily Utah Chronicle reported on May 9, 1923. This was his second academic tour of the United States and his first time visiting Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both of which had been featured prominently in A Study in Scarlet, the latter unflatteringly so. With some arrangements from the extension division of the University of Utah, Conan Doyle headed to Salt Lake City.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle arrived in Salt Lake City on May 11, 1923, around 12:50 p.m. He was accompanied by his wife, Lady Jean Elizabeth Conan Doyle, his three children, Denis, 14, Malcolm, 12, and Miss Jean, 10, his business manager Wallace Erskine, and the children’s governess, Miss French. Conan Doyle was immediately impressed with the Salt Lake Valley that he was seeing for the first time. According to a May 11, 1923, Deseret Evening News article, he described the valley as “very lovely and so well cultivated and neatly done. It is quite inspiring.” The same article neglected to mention that not only did he have one more son who died in World War I, but he also had two other daughters, one of whom was traveling with him. The Salt Lake Tribune and The Salt Lake Telegram both mention that Conan Doyle was traveling with his three children, but the Deseret Evening News either forgot about his daughter, or chose to omit her altogether. It’s possible that they didn’t feel the need to mention her because she was a girl.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was scheduled to lecture in the Tabernacle at 8:15 in the evening. Tickets were priced from $0.50 to $2.00, and all 5,000 seats were sold out, according to the May 12, 1923, Salt Lake Telegram article. His topic, “Recent Psychic Evidence,” sparked great interest. A May 11 Salt Lake Tribune article attributed the unprecedented popularity of Conan Doyle’s lecture to the fact that he could answer the question of what might lie beyond the grave. The other reason was that he was the creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The Salt Lake Tribune expected the crowd to consist of “pastors of many churches, attorneys, doctors, men of science, students of literature, bankers, merchants, mechanics, salesmen, railroad men, from executive down to the clerical force; women, from social leaders down to house servants – representatives of every type and station.” All came to see the exciting psychic photographs or to meet the author of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories.

The most popular feature of Conan Doyle’s visit were his photographs proving the existence of spirits. The Salt Lake Telegram published several stories on Conan Doyle’s work in Spiritualism in the weeks before his arrival. One of these pictures was described in detail in The Salt Lake Tribune on May 9, 1923. It described the scene of a crowd around a soldier’s tomb, with the presence of spirit faces amongst the living. It was to this photograph that women reacted so emotionally. On the same day, The Salt Lake Telegram described a photograph of a paraffin glove created by a spirit during a séance. Conan Doyle explained that only a spirit could have made the glove of wax because the thin layers were unbroken.

In order to show these photographs, a special screen was erected in the Tabernacle. On May 9, 1923, the Deseret Evening News asked for “an expert slide operator and a machine with an adjustable carrier since the slides which Sir Conan will use are of English manufacture and a little different in style from the American make.” According to an article in The Salt Lake Telegram on May 11, Russell E. Enger was put in charge of the visuals so that everyone could see the slides. Levi Edgar Young was chosen to introduce Conan Doyle’s lecture. He was also the toastmaster at a luncheon given at the Alta club, where Conan Doyle and his wife were guests of honor.

A May 13, 1923, article in The Salt Lake Telegram detailed the luncheon given by F. W. Reynolds, director of the extension division of the University of Utah. It was through his arrangements that Conan Doyle was able to lecture at the Tabernacle. During his stay, Conan Doyle was able to visit a pioneer museum and compared the items to those he had seen in South Africa after the Boer War.

The Deseret Evening News seemed hesitant to print anything about Conan Doyle’s psychic endeavors. The paper focused on what Conan Doyle had to say about Salt Lake City and on the literary achievements of his 12-year-old son, but had little to say about Conan Doyle’s photographs. On May 12, 1923, a summary of his lecture gave the overall impression that spiritualism was an optimistic religion that promoted tolerance. It hardly mentioned the photographs that were supposed to be the main feature. Like Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle kept his lecture free of “the uncanny” and explained the difference between the tricks used by swindlers and real psychic phenomena.

The Salt Lake Tribune took a different stance to covering Conan Doyle’s lecture. On May 12, 1923, it described the process for photographing spirits, how the spirits were able to become visible for brief periods, and what kind of life one should expect beyond the grave. It took as clear and calculated a tone as Conan Doyle was likely to have taken with his lecture. The Salt Lake Tribune took Conan Doyle’s methods seriously, but with a grain of salt and didn’t take his theories to be fact.

The Salt Lake Telegram was possibly the most “spellbound” of the papers to summarize Conan Doyle’s lecture on May 12, 1923. It was impressed by Conan Doyle’s conversations with his dead brother and mother, and explained how his view of Spiritualism depended on the Bible and Christianity. It is the only paper to put some doubt in his lecture: “It was when he grew argumentative that his logic at times appeared to be far from invulnerable.” It also brought up an argument against Conan Doyle’s claim that life is mostly unhappy, reminding readers about the joy of childhood.

Most of the credibility of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s claims comes from Sherlock Holmes. Even though Conan Doyle was trying to shift his readers’ attention from his popular Sherlock Holmes novels to his more serious, historical works, the great detective still comes back into play. The public believed that someone who could create as analytical and clever a character as Sherlock Holmes must himself be a man of science and understanding. In The Salt Lake Tribune May 11, 1923, article, Conan Doyle’s sincerity and integrity was placed next to the mention of Sherlock Holmes. On the same day, The Salt Lake Telegram ran a story on Conan Doyle with a sub-head of, “Man Known to World as Sherlock Holmes Will Exhibit Photos Showing Evidence of Ectoplasm.” The mystery of what lay beyond the grave was akin to one of Holmes’ cases, and would be solved just as easily. Were it not for Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle wouldn’t have nearly as much credibility, and the articles about his “spirit” photographs or the sighting of spirits around a soldier’s tomb would not have been run in The Salt Lake Tribune on May 7 and 9 respectively.

Valerie Johnson is a junior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication and minoring in creative writing. She has also been a Sherlock Holmes fanatic for six years and is an aspiring Sherlock Holmes expert.


Primary Sources:

“Sir Conan Doyle is Accompanied by Family,” Deseret Evening News, May 9, 1923, sec. 1, 5.

“Doyle Delighted With First Visit to Western U.S.,” Deseret Evening News, May 11, 1923, sec. 2, 1.

“Most of Mankind Deserves Reward Says Sir Conan,” Deseret Evening News, May 12, 1923, sec. 2, 8.

“A. Conan Doyle to Lecture on Psychic Proofs,” Daily Utah Chronicle, May 9, 1923, 1.

“Doyle Will Exhibit ‘Sprit’ Photographs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 7, 1923, 7.

“Doyle Will Arrive in City Friday Noon,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 8, 1923, 11.

“Doyle Film Pictures Dead Around Tomb,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 9, 1923, 7.

“Doyle Awakens Much Interest,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 11, 1923, 11.

“Spirit Proofs are Advanced,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1923, 18.

“Recent Psychic Evidence” (advert for Conan Doyle’s Lecture), The Salt Lake Telegram, May 7, 1923, 10.

“Conan Doyle Comes Friday,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 9, 1923, 5.

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Salt Lake Visitor: Noted Author Will Tell of Spirit Research,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 11, 1923, 2.

“5000 Attend Conan Doyle Spirit Lecture,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 12, 1923, 3.

“Conan Doyle is Entertained at Luncheon Here,” The Salt Lake Telegram, May 13, 1923, 3.

Secondary Source:

Michael W. Homer, “‘Recent Psychic Evidence’: The Visit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Utah in 1923,” The Journal of The Arthur Conan Doyle Society 6 (1995): 160-168.