Category Archives: History

Police Evidence of Extortion in Ogden

Letter to Mrs Eccles

Letter from J. H. Martin to Mrs. David Eccles demanding a "small donation of $1000". (Click on image to see full size)

Writing Sample

Sample of Martin's handwriting on Police Department letterhead. (Click on image to see full size)


Recently, as the Archives staff was working with Ogden City to review historic records from Ogden held in the Archives, we ran across some mysterious records. The records were in the format of 24 large glass negatives, 11” x 14”. They had been identified simply as documents from the Ogden City Police Department. In order to determine more exactly what the documents were on these glass negatives, the Archives staff made digital images of the negatives and transcribed the handwritten documents. It soon became clear that the documents were from a criminal investigation.

They date from 1911-1913 and include letters from a dark anonymous figure who signed one of them with the title “The Tall and Short Man”. The letters were addressed to members of some of Ogden’s leading families and included demands for money, arrangements for late-night meetings, and threats of harm. In addition to letters, there were handwriting samples comparing writing from the anonymous letters to known writing of a man named Joseph Henry Martin.

Further investigation into court records, prison records, and newspapers revealed the broader story. Joseph Henry Martin was the apparent ring leader of a gang that targeted wealthy Ogdenites (especially widows), stealing and ransoming expensive jewelry and eventually extorting money with threats of violence. At one point, when the gang felt their demands had not been met adequately, they planted explosives at the house of a member of the Eccles family.

Utah State Prison Photo of Joseph Henry Martin (Click on image to see full size)

At one of the late-night meetings, police and a Pinkerton detective showed up. A gun battle ensued and the detective and Martin were both shot. Martin escaped, but his injuries gave him away and he was arrested. The police gathered known examples of his writing to compare with the extortion letters. Handwriting experts from out-of-state were called in to testify. In the end, Martin was convicted of assault for the shooting of the Pinkerton detective and sentenced to 5 years in the State Prison. In a second trial he was convicted for robbery and given a life sentence. Despite the life sentence and having escaped from the prison for a time, Martin was paroled in 1920 and he eventually left the state for California.

While much of the story is revealed in newspaper reports of the time, the documents found on the glass negatives are perhaps the most interesting evidence of the events. The letters allow us to hear the voice of Joseph Henry Martin and give us the clearest window into his schemes and the workings of a criminal mind in the early 20th century.


Utah State Constitution Online

The Utah State Archives is pleased to announce that the 116-year-old Utah State Constitution is now available with a full text search on its web site. The Utah State Archives is also the custodian of the record which now may be viewed along side a typescript taken from the 1898 Revised Statutes of Utah at archives.utah.gov.

The “engrossed” copy of the Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention following completion by the Engrossing Clerk Joseph A. Smith “without blot, erasure or interlineation, on parchment sheets, 11 x 17″ on May 8, 1895. Voters in Utah approved the new Constitution in November of the same year, and final approval from President Grover Cleveland came on January 4, 1896, when Utah officially became the 45th state in the Union. A complete archival description of the original record will also be available.

“The State Constitution is an important historical record. It is the original document of citizen’s rights in Utah,” comments the State Archivist, Patricia Smith-Mansfield. “Having online access provides the public a wonderful opportunity to see the original State Constitution.”

UPDATE: The Deseret News has published an article, “Original Utah Constitution documents posted online


Beginnings and Endings: The Family of Frank and Iku Arima

The birth certificates of three different children from one set of parents in one year is liable to catch one’s attention. It turned out that in July 1905, when Frank and Iku Arima filed for birth certificates for twins Estella and Orville born July 18, 1905, they also filed for their first son, Clarence, born February 8, 1904.

Birth Certificate for Estella Arima (Utah State Archives Series 81443)

Birth Certificate for Orville Arima (Utah State Archives Series 81443)

Birth Certificate for Clarence Arima (Utah State Archives Series 81443)

Further research revealed more about this family. According to documents available on Ancestry.com, Frank Arima immigrated from Japan in 1891 (Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Rexburg, Madison, Idaho) while his wife Iku is listed on the ship Indrapura in Portland, Oregon arriving December 30, 1902. (Oregon Passenger and Crew Lists, 1888-1957).

Frank is listed in the Salt Lake City R.L. Polk Directories as a cook at Harry Murata (1903) and Fort Douglas (1904).

Sadly, the family would be interacting with the Office of Vital Records and Statistics once again, but this time to register the deaths of the twins born in 1905. On September 29, 1905 Estella died of cholera and on December 30, 1905 Orville (written as Orbear) died of “convulsions,” two and five months old, respectively. They are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Death Certificate for Estella Arima (Utah State Archives Series 81448)

Death Certificate for Orbear (Orville) Arima (Utah State Archives Series 81448)

Clarence Arima would go on to apply for a U.S. passport in 1925 while a student for a trip to Japan. The application even includes a presumed photograph of Frank and Iku’s remaining son.

Clarence Arima (Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925)

Iku Arima died in Los Angeles, California in November 1967 (Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index).

How did this family exemplify the Japanese immigrant experience? Perhaps Estella and Orville were, as speculated in the article “Japanese Life in Utah” the first Nisei born in Utah.  These documents provide a bit more to that story, but there is always more to learn about people in the past.


Mysterious 1880 U.S. Census records solved

List of Persons

List of Persons Cover

List of Persons

List of Persons, Page 1

A researcher recently requested to look at an obscure record series described simply as “Census records, 1880” (Series 5269).  After retrieving the records, Archives staff became curious and set about trying to figure out what the records really were.  The records include five booklets that were clearly standard forms (form 7-392) printed for the 1880 Federal Census and have notes indicating that they had been filed with the Weber County Clerk.  They are titled “List of Persons” and each booklet lists the names, color, sex, and age of all the inhabitants of a given census enumeration district in Weber County, including Ogden 2nd and 3rd (municipal) Wards, Huntsville, Mound Fort, Lynne, Marriott, Riverdale, and Uintah.  Archives staff searched available published sources for some reference to these forms, but couldn’t find any information. So what was their purpose, why were they filed with the county clerk, and why did only five booklets survive?

Archives staff next contacted the National Archives to see what information they might have.  Initially National Archives staff members were both puzzled and excited.  They had never seen an example of this kind of record before, but soon they responded with an answer. Apparently, for earlier censuses enumerators were required to submit a full second copy of their population schedules in order to receive payment for their work.  By 1880 the process was simplified somewhat.  According to The History and Growth of the United States Census (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900):

the enumerator was directed to forward the original schedules, duly certified, to the supervisor of his district, but before doing this, he was required, under the terms of section 6 of the act of April 20, 1880, to make and file in the office of the clerk of the county court or in the office of the court or board administering the affairs of the county to which his district belongs, a list of the names, with age, sex, and color, of all persons enumerated by him, which he shall certify to be true, and for which he shall be paid at the rate of 10 cents for each 100 names.

These lists apparently served as a type of invoice for services and made it possible for the census enumerators to get paid for their work. Because the records were probably not of much use to the county clerk once payment had been made, most of them would have been discarded. Somehow these five booklets from Weber County survived as rare evidence of how the census was conducted in 1880.

Related records:

United States. Department of the Interior


Top Baby Names in Utah 1905 Edition

According to the Social Security Administration, the most popular baby names in Utah now are Ethan and Olivia. Thanks to a forthcoming index of birth certificates issued in 1905, we may now know the most popular names from over a century ago.

Girls

  • Mary
  • Ruth
  • Alice
  • Thelma
  • Helen
  • Florence
  • Elizabeth
  • Margaret
  • Edna
  • Hazel

Boys

  • John
  • William
  • George
  • James
  • Joseph
  • Charles
  • Clarence
  • Thomas
  • Arthur
  • Robert

How Not to Record the Birth of Twins

The certificate below popped up in the index as “Myrtle and/or Murray” and further investigation revealed twins on a single birth certificate. It is further complicated by different dates caused by being born around midnight between July 9th and 10th.

Myrtle and Murray Mathis, Twins

In this the first year of both birth and death certificates, perhaps everyone was still figuring things out!


Thanksgiving

Member of Salt Lake City Volunteer Fire Department

Member of Salt Lake Volunteer Fire Department "Careful cooking those turkeys"

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

The Utah State Law Library provides a short history of the holiday:

The first presidential proclamation about Thanksgiving was made by George Washington in 1789. He declared the 26th of November as the date of celebration. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday in November was a national holiday. Finally, in 1941 Congress and President Truman proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November the legal holiday that it is today.

The Research Center will be closed Thursday, November 25, 2009 for Thanksgiving. Normal hours will resume Monday, November 30, 2009.


Irish Ancestry

Collage of Irish Americans courtesy of Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Collage of Irish Americans courtesy of Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

As some cool Celtic musicians once said, “Everyone is 1/365th Irish.” You know, because of St. Patrick’s Day!

However, if you have some real Emerald Isle blood in you (like 12% of Americans), and your ancestors landed in Utah (and maybe stayed awhile), there is a chance the Utah State Archives Research Center has some records about them.

Naturalization records were created as immigrants started and completed the process to become American citizens. The process was a tad harder to track prior to 1906 when the predecessor to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services standardized the forms and procedures. For example, before 1906 an individual could become naturalized in any court in the land, regardless of where they lived (or passing through). If you can untangle the likely courts and jurisdictions to look through, there may be a variety of aids like indexes (either online or more likely in the actual record books) and inventories of holdings.

In addition there are birth records for that next generation, death records, military records, court records and more!


Inauguration of a Governor

On January 5, 2009 Jon M. Huntsman was sworn in for a second term as the Governor of Utah. It was a smaller ceremony than in the past, as befits more difficult economic times. Records from these past inaugurations are available for many governors in the collections of the Utah State Archives, including:

  • Governor Maw Scrapbooks, 1940-1946.
  • Governor Rampton Inaugural records, 1961-1973.
  • Governor Rampton Photographs, 1965-1973. (with photo from 1969)
  • Governor Matheson Photographs, 1977-1984. (with photos from 1977)
  • Governor Bangerter Speeches and official statements, 1984-1992. (with address from 1985)
  • Governor Bangerter First lady’s subject files, 1984-1989. (with related notes)
  • Governor Leavitt Press office records, 1993-2003. (with addresses from 1992 and 1997)
  • Governor Leavitt Photographs, 1993-2003. (with photos from 2001)
  • Governor Leavitt Time capsule records, 2000-2001. (placed on January 4, 2001)
"Inauguration & Governor's Speech, Jan 2001"

"Inauguration & Governor's Speech, Jan 2001"

Remember too what can also be found in the collections of Utah State History, which shares a research center with the Archives. Like for example a pamphlet concerning the Inaugural Ball for Governor Mabey in 1921 (PAM 3235). Also, many inaugural addresses were published separately from papers and records kept by the Governor (and so likely preserved in the Archives) in the time before widespread broadcasting. Compare the message of that other tough economic time with Governor Blood’s addresses from 1933 (PAM 3052) and 1937 (PAM 3055).

And these are only ones found through an search for inclusion of the word ‘inauguration,’ there could be more!


Olympics, 100 years ago

Following the Summer Olympics in Beijing? It may be interesting to see news coverage from 100 years ago in the Deseret News, posted at the Library of Congress Chronicling America site. The newspaper image is courtesy of the University of Utah, which of course hosts many historical newspapers from Utah at digitalnewspapers.org.


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