Archive for March, 2013

March Announcement for the Utah Westerners





The story of Frank J. Cannon, up to the time he published Under the Prophet in Utah: The National Menace of a Political Priestcraft as a book in 1911, is well known by Utah history buffs. Frank was the talented son of George Q. Cannon, prominent Mormon Church, political, and business leader. Controversy surrounded Frank from an early age—he was first jailed for leading a group of Cannon sons and cousins in mugging federal prosecutor, William Dickson, who had reportedly treated one of George Q.’s wives impolitely. Frank was a binge drinker with a penchant for visiting prostitutes while under the influence and even fathered an illegitimate son. And yet, the LDS Church’s First Presidency still utilized Frank’s extraordinary abilities by having him serve as their agent in political and financial matters for most of the 1890s. He was elected as one of Utah’s first two U. S. Senators, but was not re-elected amid controversy over his opposition to the Dingley tariff bill and changing political parties. After his father’s death in 1901, Frank’s festering feud with Church president, Joseph F. Smith, erupted into full-scale war. Cannon attacked Smith from the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune and Smith had Cannon excommunicated from the Mormon Church in early 1905.

Sometime after moving to Denver, Cannon became managing editor of the Rocky Mountain News. While there, he met Harvey J. O’Higgins, a talented New York muckraker, and the two collaborated on Under the Prophet in Utah. This launched Frank into a successful career as a Chataqua and Lyceum lecturer during which he frightened well over a million Americans with stories of the evils of the Mormons and their Prophet in his lecture entitled “The Modern Mormon Kingdom.” He was certainly the most eloquent and likely the most effective anti-Mormon agitator in LDSChurch history. It is this portion of Frank Cannon’s colorful life that Ken Cannon will discuss.

Utah Westerner, Ken Cannon, a Salt Lake City attorney with three degrees from BYU, served for several years as Adjunct Faculty at BYU and is currently in a similar position at the University of Utah’s law school. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles (including some which won awards) published in a variety of academic journals including the Utah Historical Quarterly, BYU Studies, Journal of Mormon History, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Several have focused on Frank J. Cannon and other members of the Cannon family. One, which bears the same title as that of this presentation, appeared in the Journal of Mormon History in 2011.


March 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

February Announcement for the Utah Westerners



Friday, May 9, 1969 was proclaimed “J. C. Penney Day” by Utah’s governor, Calvin R. Rampton. Penney was “not just passing through;” he had established and maintained his Utah connections for the past sixty years. After graduating from high school, James Cash Penney worked in a dry goods store in Hamilton, Missouri, but moved to Colorado in 1897 for health reasons. He became involved with the Golden Rule Mercantile Company and within a decade he had acquired ownership of the company. In 1909 he moved to Salt Lake City to set up a corporate headquarters and lived there for six years before relocating to New York. In 1913, all his stores were consolidated under the J. C. Penney banner.


Utah Westerner, Linda Thatcher, will discuss Penney’s family, including his first wife, Berta A. Hess, who is buried in Salt Lake’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery and his second wife, Mary H. Kimball, who was born in Salt Lake City. She will also illustrate his community involvement; for example, he was a member of Wasatch Lodge #1 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Utah and often participated in their meetings. Thatcher will also talk about the larger J. C. Penney Company, which incorporated in Utah, and the opening of Penney stores throughout Utah and the role they played in the local communities.

Linda Thatcher earned a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree from Utah State University as well as a master’s from BYU in Library Science. She worked for Utah State History from 1975 to 2007 as the Collection Manager. She has written several articles and co-edited two books: Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History and Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? Since retiring from the Historical Society, she served as the co-director of a private history organization for three years and is currently a volunteer at the Utah State Archives. She became interested in J. C. Penney (an Avenues resident) when she was writing a monthly historical article for the Avenues Newsletter.

March 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

January Announcement for the Utah Westerners




In their recently published book, A History of Utah Radicalism: Startling, Socialistic, and Decidedly Revolutionary, (published by Utah State University Press, winner of the Utah State Historical Society’s  Best Book Award in 2012), McCormick and Sillito explore Utah radicalism since the late 19th century, focusing on those movements on the Left “that have challenged the fundamental principles on which society has been established and have offered alternative visions of how to live and organize life.” Especially important is the Socialist Party of America which sunk deep roots in Utah, electing over 100 men and women to office in the early 20th century, and gaining significant support among various segments of the Utah population. McCormick and Sillito will discuss this little-known but fascinating story they think is worth a closer look.

John S. McCormick earned a Ph.D. in intellectual history from the University of Iowa. He is currently dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Salt Lake Community College. He has published numerous books and articles in a number of areas, including political history, urban history, and historic preservation. His books include The Gathering Place: An Illustrated History of Salt Lake City and A World We Thought We Knew: Readings in Utah History (with John Sillito).

Utah Westerner, John R. Sillito is Emeritus Professor of Libraries at Weber State University and currently teaches in Weber’s History Department. He is currently a member of the board of editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly. Sillito has degrees in history and political science from the University of Utah. He is the editor of History’s Apprentice: The Diaries of B. H. Roberts, 1880-9, which won the MHA Best Documentary Award in 2004. Sillito’s writings have appeared in several journals including the Utah Historical Quarterly, Sunstone, and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

March 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Utah Westerners blog

Welcome to our cyberspace homestead. You are welcome to post any announcements or thoughts related to history, our events, our organization, or our members. Get email announcements about the blog by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE link below. Want to become a blog author? Contact Kent Tschanz

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14 other followers