Category: News

Turning Point: 100-Year-Old Records Give Evidence of Revolution in Utah Medical Regulation

Guest post by Wendy Brimhall The Utah State Archives recently posted digital images of an interesting set of records from Weber County. Around the turn of the 20th century, the State Legislature began creating laws requiring dentists and optometrists to receive Board of Examiner certificates in … Continue reading Turning Point: 100-Year-Old Records Give Evidence of Revolution in Utah Medical Regulation

1875-1876 John D. Lee Case File Online

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John D. Lee (seated) awaiting his execution at Mountain Meadows on March 28, 1877 (source Wikimedia Commons)

The Utah State Archives is pleased to announce that the historic Territorial Second District Court case file pertaining to the trial and conviction of John D. Lee for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre has been digitized and posted online on the Digital Archives.

The records in this case file cover Lee’s first trial that began in July 1875 and ended in a hung jury, as well as the subsequent second trial where blame for the massacre was placed squarely on Lee, which led to his conviction and a sentence of death by firing squad.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred in September 1857. The Baker-Fancher emigrant party, traveling through Utah on their way to California (from Arkansas), was attacked by members of the local Iron County Militia and some local Paiute Indians. The emigrants fought back and a five day siege ensued. On the fifth day members of the wagon train were lured out under a banner of truce and massacred under orders from local militia leaders. All told one hundred and twenty men, women, and children over the age of seven were slaughtered. Seventeen infants and young children were spared and taken into the homes of local Mormon families (before eventually being united with extended family members outside of Utah).

For nearly two decades no one was brought to justice for the crimes committed at Mountain Meadows. The official story from Mormon officials became that the massacre was conducted solely by local Paiute Indians. Prior to the massacre John D. Lee had been a prominent pioneer in building up the Mormon communities of Southern Utah, but after a federal judge began investigating the massacre in 1858 he went into hiding.

By 1870 pressure was mounting on Federal officials to bring those responsible for the massacre to justice. At this time Lee was officially excommunicated from the LDS Church and given instruction by Brigham Young to make himself scarce in Northern Arizona.

With passage of the Poland Act in 1874, Mormon control over the Territorial justice system was loosened. John D. Lee was arrested and brought to trial in the Second Territorial District Court in Beaver.

The case records that are now online from series 24291 trace the procedural history of the Lee trials. During the first trial the prosecution attempted to pin blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre largely on the Mormon hierarchy, with Brigham Young as a central figure. In spite of the defense offering an often incoherent narrative of the massacre, the jury of eight Mormon’s, one former Mormon, and three non-Mormon’s ended up hung (with all but the three non-Mormon’s voting to acquit).

The second trial of John D. Lee was radically different from the first. The prosecution pinned blame for the events at Mountain Meadows squarely on Lee, and contended that Lee was the driving force behind planning and carrying out the execution. Resigned to the fact that he was being made a scapegoat for the massacre at Mountain Meadows, Lee requested that no defense be made on his behalf. He was ultimately found guilty of first degree murder by an all-Mormon jury. On March 28, 1877, John D. Lee was taken to Mountain Meadows where he was executed by firing squad. His body was then taken to Panguitch, Utah for burial.

Newly Processed: August 2016

Untitled-1All public records at the Utah State Archives are accessible through the Research Center. However, once processed the records are easier to use with proper storage and descriptions, including online series inventories. The following list includes record series that were processed by archivists during the month of August 2016:

SLC School Children’s Constitution and Flag Monument Books Now Available Online

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Just in time for back to school season, the Utah State Archives is pleased to make available a fascinating collection of student-created records through our online Digital Archives. These 1932-1952 school children’s Constitution and Flag Monument books were compiled by the Salt Lake City School District to document and commemorate the erection of the School Children’s Constitution and Flag Monument on the west side of Washington Square (in front of the Salt Lake City and County Building). The monument was completed in 1937 and included a flag pole with a sculpture of two children with the United States Constitution standing at the base, and one of the children pointing up toward the flag. School children donated money to fund the monument and local children acted as models for the sculpture.

In 1936 each school in the city compiled a list of students and what occupation each aspired to when they grew up. These lists were sealed in a time capsule in the monument when it was dedicated in 1937. The books in this series were compiled after the time capsule was opened in 1952. They include copies of newspaper articles about the erection of the monument and photographs of the dedication in 1937 and the opening of the time capsule in 1952. They also contain documentation of efforts to erect a flag pole not only at the City and County Building, but at each school in the district as well.

Newly Processed: July 2016

All public records at the Utah State Archives are accessible through the Research Center. However, once processed the records are easier to use with proper storage and fuller descriptions, including online series inventories. The following list includes record series that were processed during the month of July 2016:

Newly Processed: May 2016

All public records at the Utah State Archives are accessible through the Research Center. However, once processed the records are easier to use with proper storage and fuller descriptions, including online series inventories. The following list includes record series that were processed during the month of May 2016:

More Salt Lake City Tax Assessment Books Online

Tax Assessment book from Salt Lake City. The "duplicate" is an entirely handwritten copy of the year's assessment.
Tax Assessment book from Salt Lake City. The “duplicate” is an entirely handwritten copy of the year’s assessment.

Additional books for Salt Lake City tax assessment from 1879 to 1892, after which this function moved to county offices, are now online. These volumes record the assessment of real and personal property Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. They were used for taxing purposes. Individual city assessors assessed and collected property taxes within municipal boundaries, often recording the details such as the number of horses owned.

Previously, books from 1856 to 1878 were digitized by FamilySearch.

If you are interested in volunteering to help complete a name index of these books, please contact Gina Strack.

Call for Volunteers: Court Index Transcription

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The Utah State Archives is looking for volunteers to transcribe typed and some handwritten court indexes to add to the main Name Indexes. Work may be done at the Archives or at home. May include civil cases, criminal cases, or probate for various counties since 1850.

Visit Project for Court Indexes for more information!

Territorial Militia Card Index Online

A card from the Territorial militia records index.
A card from the Territorial militia records index.

The Utah Territorial Militia Records document the administration and activities of various segments of the territorial militia, also known as the Nauvoo Legion. They were brought together by archives staff in the late 1950s and early 1960s in an effort to collect all documents about Utah veterans from any source and to serve as a state repository for those documents.

The Military Records Center acquired the documents from the late 1950s into the early 1960s, rearranging and grouping them by document type, date, and/or military district. Indexes were prepared for most of the correspondence, but plans to index all documents were never completed. These card indexes were later microfilmed and provided one of the primary ways to access these records, even with partial coverage. That microfilm has now been digitized and posted online with full text searching of the typed name information.

Death Certificates for 1965 Indexed by Name

1965 death certificate books 150ppiResearchers may now search for death certificates by name for 1965. Thanks to our volunteers and staff, one may look for a death record by name, date, or county.

The death certificate collection was first released online in December 2006, covering 1904-1956 through a partnership with FamilySearch.  Since then, the Utah State Archives has added more years when they become public 50 years after the date of death. This may be done initially with browsing by county and date, similar to traditional research on microfilm. The final goal is always to be able to search by name and retrieve for free a digital copy of the death certificate record. The Archives updates the index continually based on comments and suggestions from users, ensuring that it is complete and accurate.