January Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Buffalo Bill: A Life in the Wild West”

Steve Friesen

Steve Friesen retired in October 2017 after working in the museum field for forty years, including serving as Director for the past 22 years of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden Colorado, a facility owned and operated by the City and County of Denver.

Friesen has written numerous articles on life in the American West and is the author of three books: A Modest Mennonite Home; Lakota Performers in Europe: Their Culture and the Artifacts They Left Behind; and Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary. He has an MA in American Folk Culture from the State University of New York and received his BA from Bethel College in Newton, Kansas, a town once referred to by Buffalo Bill as the wildest and wickedest town in the West.

Friesen’s presentation “Buffalo Bill: A Life in the Wild West” will be based on his book and ongoing research into William F. Cody’s life and times. In addition to providing an illustrated overview of his life including his visits to Salt Lake City, it will examine some of the controversies surrounding Cody’s life and death.


January 7, 2018 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

December Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Notes from a Fish Lover:  Things I’ve Learned about

Mankind as a Result of Writing Columns for Thirty Years

Ann Cannon

We are delighted to have Ann Cannon as our December speaker.  Ann is a columnist and features writer for the Salt Lake Tribune.  Currently she gives Tribune readers advice, not unlike Doctor Laura (only not as mean) and Ann Landers (only not as dead).  She is also the award-winning author of many books for young readers, including CHARLOTTE’S ROSE, a novel written for a national audience about the migration of a Mormon handcart company composed primarily of Welsh church members. In addition to writing columns and books, Ann works as a bookseller at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.

 Ann and her husband, Ken, have five sons, four daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.  Her interests include gardening, knitting, traveling, reading murder mysteries, watching baseball and football, and collecting antique dolls.  She and Ken husband are also the caretakers of three dogs, two cats, and a talking parrot who will outlive them all.

Ann will discuss what she has learned about mankind as a result of writing columns since the publication of her first column in PARENT EXPRESS over thirty years ago.

December 13, 2017 at 11:02 am 2 comments

November Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Salt Lake City’s Magnificent Knutsford Hotel


Walter Jones

“Salt Lake City’s Magnificent Knutsford Hotel: How an Opulent Building’s History Reflects the Ongoing Transformation of a Farm village into a Sophisticated Urban Center.”  In this talk Walter Jones will present five features of the hotel’s history:  Its role in changes in land use in SLC; its reflecting the development of a increasingly beautiful architectural landscape; how the hotel’s management represented many newcomers who became attracted to the city more and more for economic rather than religious reasons; the manner in which the hotel became a center for social activities; and, finally, what happened to the Knutsford property after the closure of the hotel.  The presentation will feature a PowerPoint selection of slides that illustrate the Knutsford’s eminence in the city’s history.

Walter Jones is from Casper, Wyoming and once wrote a history of that city’s early 20th century red light district, titled History of the Sand Bar, 1888 – 1977 In 1967, he graduated from the University of Wyoming after which he immediately joined the United States Army and became a Korean language interpreter, translator, voice-intercept operator, and interrogator.  Following his four years of active duty experience, he attended Brigham Young University where he constantly felt pressure to visit barbershops in order to avoid the scrutiny of standards-committee representatives who enforced short-hair rules and regulations.  

In 1973, Walter married Helen Walker and started a 42 year career of being a librarian, 33 years of which were at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library.  While working in libraries, he joined the Army National Guard and worked his way up the enlisted ranks to become a command sergeant major, first for the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, then the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, and finally the 144th Combat Support Hospital.  After retiring from the military, Walter began a part-time career of teaching Utah and American history at Salt Lake Community College.

             During all the years from the time he graduated from BYU, he has done research and has written about local history subjects such as Casper’s red-light district, the oil fields of southwestern Wyoming, and various Utah subjects that include the Chinese of Salt Lake City and a history of Salt Lake’s Knutsford Hotel of which you are about to witness the results of his most recent historic project. Currently, Walter and Helen have two children and five grandchildren.

November 13, 2017 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

October Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Alf Engen – Snapshot of a Sports Icon


Alan Engen

Over the course of the 20th Century, many athletes have been honored for the contributions they made to Utah’s sports history.   Names such as Jack Dempsey, Gene Fullmer, Alma Richards, Herman Franks, Merlin Olsen, Missy Marlowe, and Karl Malone are just a few examples of individuals who have demonstrated athletic excellence in various sports.  However, there is only one person who was named the overall Utah “Athlete of the Century” in December 1999. He was ski legend, Alf Engen.

Please join Utah Westerner, Alan Engen, for a presentation on his famous father by looking back on Alf’s life from a very humble beginning in Norway to becoming one of the greatest all-around skiers to ever grace the sport.  Viewing a selection of Alan’s personal historical ski photos, he will present a first hand account of his father’s life, including the many contributions and honors he received up until his passing in July 1997, at age 88.

At the conclusion of Alan’s presentation, he plans to show a fifteen-minute DVD on his father which was presented by Alan at the prestigious MOUNTAINFILM Festival in Telluride, Colorado during May 1997.  According to Jim Petegrew, Telluride Event Coordinator, “The film was given top billing at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House on the opening night of the MOUNTAINFILM festival, playing to a packed house.  When the film was completed, it left the audience spellbound and resulted in a standing ovation for Alan’s film which he scripted, narrated, and produced.”

This particular dinner presentation, provides a unique opportunity to look behind the scenes of this ski sport icon by a person who participated with Alf in a number of activities highlighted.   It is anticipated that this presentation will be both entertaining and of historical interest…and will be videotaped by members of the Alta Historical Society.

Alan K. Engen has been a member of the Utah Westerners since 1999.  He is a nationally respected ski historian, author, and has played an important role in helping to promote and record Utah’s rich ski history.  Although currently retired, he was Alta’s Director of Skiing up until April 2011 and has been honored in several halls of fame organizations… including the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, located in Ishpeming, Michigan.  He and his wife, Barbara, have been married 55 years and have two sons and four grand-daughters.

November 13, 2017 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

September Announcement for the Utah Westerners


“The Southern Utes of Colorado, San Juan County Utah and the Bears Ears: How San Juan County, Utah Almost Became the Permanent Southern Ute Reservation, 1879-1899”
Gregory C. Thompson, PhD

This is a story of Colorado’s attempt to have the Southern Utes of southwest Colorado removal from Colorado to southeast Utah. They came with in a vote in the House of Representatives in making this shift happen. Our discussion today on the Bears Ears National Monument and 20th century history of San Juan County would be of a very different nature.

Gregory C. Thompson, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library for Special Collections and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University (1965), Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Lewis College (1967), and his Master of Science (1971) and Doctoral (1981) degrees from the University of Utah. From 1967 to 1983, Greg, a historian of the American West, served on the staff of the University of Utah’s American West Center. During this time, he worked with and helped to develop tribal histories, tribal archives and oral history collections for fifteen tribes across the Western United States. His own research focused on the Ute tribes of Colorado and Utah and he served as a consultant to the San Juan County School District (Utah) and the Southern Ute Tribe of Ignacio, Colorado. Dr. Thompson has published several monographs on the Ute tribe including Southern Ute Lands, 1848-1899: The Creation of a Reservation (1972); The Southern Utes: A Tribal History (1972); and edited, with Floyd A. O’Neil, A History of the Indians of the United States: A Syllabus (1979).

In the 1980’s Greg co-founded, with the late Sue Raemer, the Marriott Library’s Utah Ski Archives Program. He grew up in Durango, Colorado and as a youngster skied and competed in Colorado and New Mexico. An original member of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees, Greg has been involved with skiing since the early 1950s as a participant and historian. He has lectured widely and published numerous articles on the history of skiing in the Intermountain area. His latest publication, with Alan K. Engen, First Tracks: A Century of Skiing (2001) focuses on the history of skiing in Utah. Greg is also the general editor for the Tanner Trust Publication Series, Utah, The Mormons, and the West. The latest publication in the series is David Bigler’s book, Confessions of a Revisionist Historian (2015). Greg and his wife, Karen, live in Salt Lake City with their two children, Anna and Patrick.

October 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

August Announcement for the Utah Westerners

“An Architectural Travel Guide to Utah”


Martha Bradley-Evans

The common ground we have as Westerners is a love for the landscape and history of this place.  If you’re like me, you love driving the state and coming upon a rural town or even an isolated homestead miles from the nearest neighborhood.  One of the lens we can use to better understand Utah’s history is architecture.  Buildings, towns and other elements of the built landscape help us imagine what life was like in the past.  What men and women choose to build tells us volumes about their ethnic history, their relative socio-economic status, what they valued and held dear.  I will be talking about my project:  “An Architectural Travel Guide to Utah” which will be published by University of Utah Press but more importantly, I will recommend some themes you might look for in the landscape of this state.

Martha Bradley-Evans is the Senior Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah where she teaches a class called “City as Text” to Honors students.  She is the proud mother of six children and four step-children and thirteen grand-children.  Her publications include:  The Four Zinas: Mothers and Daughters on the Frontier and Pedestals and Podiums:  Utah Women, Religious Authority and Equal Rights.  She is a Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society and was one of the first women to join Utah Westerners.

August 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

July Announcement for the Utah Westerners

An Evening in Park City, Utah

Hosted by Sandra Morrison, Executive Director

and the Park City Museum

Discover Park City’s history at the Park City Museum on Historic Main Street. Prospectors discovered silver in 1868 in the area that became Park City.  While mine owners made fortunes, thousands of miners simply made a living.  After silver prices declined, Park City reinvented itself as a ski resort town.   This history is displayed in the Park City Museum.  Permanent galleries include “From Around the World” which tells about the early settlers and their journey to Park City; “Mega Mine and the Days of Ore” includes a scale model of the late 19th century Mega Mine and the mining equipment used.  “Muckers and Millionaires” is an exhibit on the great economic divide between the miners and mine owners; “Living in Park City” shows what it was like to live in Park City 100 years ago; “The Great Fire” discusses the fire which tore through the heart of Park City the morning of June 19, 1898. The fire led to over $1 million dollars in damage and the displacement of 500 local citizens.  Other exhibits to see include the territorial jail; a bar and a 1926 fire truck and much much more.  Playing in the Subway Theater is a film which explains the transition of Park City from mining to skiing Town. 

After dinner at Flanagans located three doors from the Museum we will hear a presentation by Sandra Morrison on the “History of Park City.”

July 11, 2017 at 6:37 pm Leave a comment

May Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Day of Infamy: The Sand Creek Massacre and the Creation of the Sand Creek National

Historic Site by Dr. David Halaas

There were many atrocities in the American West, but the slaughter at Sand Creek stands out because of the impact it had at the time and the way it has been remembered. Or rather, lost and then rediscovered. Sand Creek was the My Lai of its day, a war crime exposed by soldiers and condemned by the U.S. government. It fueled decades of war on the Great Plains. And yet, over time, the massacre receded from white memory, to the point where even locals were unaware of what had happened in their own backyard.
On November 7, 2000, the United States Congress authorized the establishment of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site so that the impacts of this pivotal episode in America’s history may be understood and never forgotten.

Dr. Halaas retired from Pittsburgh’s Senator John Heinz History Center (in Association with the Smithsonian Institution), and holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Colorado. Former historian/curator at the Library of Congress and Colorado State Historian, he is author of over sixty articles, and has written six books, including Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story of George Bent; and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers: A Ledgerbook History of Coups and Combat. Currently consultant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Dr. Halaas has testified on the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre before committees of the United States Senate. In 1998, he was invited to the White House Oval Office to witness President Bill Clinton sign the landmark legislation leading to the creation of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

July 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm Leave a comment

April Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Alma Richards: Olympian

Larry Gerlach

In 2016 the University of Utah Press published Alma Richards: Olympian by Larry Gerlach, our speaker for April.  Larry’s compelling biography recounts and interprets the life of Alma Richards, who in 1912 became the first and only Utahn and Mormon to win an Olympic gold medal in the 20th century.  Instead of recounting the particulars of Alma’s life, however, Larry will talk about more general topics–why he wrote the book, the nature of biography, what impressed him most about Alma and, finally, what he learned from the project. This will be a fascinating presentation by one of the outstanding historians of Utah and sport.

Larry Gerlach is Professor Emeritus of History, University of Utah.  His eclectic teaching and research interests—early America, especially the Revolution; the history of sport in America, notably baseball; the Olympic Games; and Utah history—are reflected in his publications, which include Blazing Crosses in Zion: The Ku Klux Klan in Utah, The Men in Blue: Conversations with Umpires, and The Winter Olympics: From Chamonix to Salt Lake City.  Larry has received numerous awards for his writing, research, and teaching.

July 11, 2017 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

March Announcement for the Utah Westerners

“The Long Memory:

Tales from the Utah Westerners’ First Fifty Years”

On our fiftieth anniversary, some of our long-standing “Old Westerners” will recall their long memories of the Utah Westerners. They invite the audience to pitch in as Greg Thompson, Floyd O’Neil, Oscar Olson, Gibbs Smith, and Verne Gorzitze (with Will Bagley moderating) share their combined 236 years of recollections about a few of our outfit’s most revered traditions, best laughs, colorful characters (such as Hal, Nate, Bud, Jerry, and many Daves), perilous adventures, and the long battle to accept women members.

The panel will be moderated by Will Bagley (1987)* who has written more than twenty books on overland emigration, frontier violence, railroads, mining, the invention of digital search technology, and the Mormons. Born in Utah, he attended Brigham Young University and was a President’s Scholar at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he studied writing with Page Stegner and history with John Dizikes.  Most may not know that he has rafted down the Mississippi River, performed country music from Wyoming to Nevada, and in 1979 recorded an album, “The Legend of Jesse James.” Between 2000 and 2004, the Sunday Salt Lake Tribune published more than 200 of his columns and articles. For his many books he has won many major awards.

Gibbs Smith (1974) was invited to speak to the Westerners on Joe Hill, and shortly thereafter, joined. Gibbs is a historian by training, attending both at the University of Utah, and the University of California Santa Barbara. He said: “I have learned a lot from Utah Westerner members by sitting by them at dinner and visiting during our fieldtrips.”

Gregory C. Thompson (1970) is the Associate Dean of the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library for Special Collections and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History. He received his BS from Colorado State University, BA from Fort Lewis College, and his MS and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Utah. Greg served on the staff of the University of Utah’s American West Center where his research focused on the Ute tribes of Colorado and Utah and he served as a consultant to the San Juan County School District (Utah) and the Southern Ute Tribe of Ignacio, Colorado. Greg has published several monographs on the Ute tribe including Southern Ute Lands, 1848-1899: The Creation of a Reservation; The Southern Utes: A Tribal History; and edited, with Floyd A. O’Neil, A History of the Indians of the United States: A Syllabus.

Oscar Olson (1980) has a passion for southern Utah and its history which began with a float trip down the Glen Canyon in 1962 before Lake Powell was formed. He saw firsthand where John Wesley Powell and his men journeyed down the Colorado, the Dominguez-Escalante Trail, where miners had worked, and the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail. Thus began his lifetime of exploring the many trails and running the rivers of southern Utah.  He has explored probably 98% of the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail by boat, air, and foot.   Oscar knows us well, as he was the driver on the first three Utah Westerners field trips in the 1960s and has been on 29+ field trips, probably half of them as the driver. He has spent virtually his entire lifetime reading about and exploring the American West.

Floyd O’Neil (1969) spent his childhood in the Uintah Basin. He attended Carbon College before moving on to the University of Utah, where he was awarded a B.S. in History and a Ph.D. in History.  He served as director of the American West Center from 1986 to 1996, and is currently Director Emeritus of that organization.

Vern Gorzitze (1970) was born in Salt Lake City, to German emigrant parents. He graduated from West High School and the University of Utah with a BA in Modern Languages (German Literature).  He was drafted into the Army and discharged after two years and was stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado and Ft. Lewis, Washington. His schooling was interrupted, by being called to “Sell an intangible product” – “door to door” in West Germany. His career was in construction related areas doing Contract Bid Estimating for a multitude of Interior Finishes.  Most recently Vern was granted Emeritus status by Utah Westerners.

*Year joined Utah Westerners.

March 15, 2017 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

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