November Announcement for the Utah Westerners



Bill MacKinnon will speak about the Utah War and his recently published work: ‘At Sword’s Point, Part 2,’ the concluding book of his two-volume documentary history of the Utah War of 1857-1859.

Bill’s Part 2 picks up the war’s action in January 1858 and takes the reader through Thomas L. Kane’s gratuitous trip west to try to end further bloodshed, U. S. Army Capt. Randolph B. Marcy’s epic trek from Fort Bridger to New Mexico to remount the Utah Expedition, Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives’ ascent of the Colorado River in search of an invasion route into southern Utah, President Buchanan’s plans to open a second front from the Pacific Coast while planning a related incursion into northern Mexico and the acquisition of Spanish Cuba, Gen. Winfield Scott’s bizarre attempt to supersede Albert Sidney Johnston, Brigham Young’s  quixotic efforts to raise a whole new force (the Standing Army of Israel) for a spring assault on Forts Bridger and Laramie, the massive Move South toward Sonora of 30,000 Mormon refugees, and Buchanan’s surprise dispatch of peace commissioners armed with stiff terms and a blanket presidential pardon to end the military phase of the war.

MacKinnon will focus on the war’s regional and even international sprawl as well as the truth and errors of its enduring mythology while sharing his conclusions about who started the war, its winners and losers, leader accountabilities, the impact of the war on individual participants, and the societal forces unleashed by the conflict that changed Utah, the West, and America forever. Attendees are urged to come prepared with the questions they have always wanted to ask about our country’s greatest and most expensive military adventure between the Mexican-American and Civil wars.

Bill MacKinnon is an independent historian living in Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California, who has researched, and written about Utah’s turbulent territorial period since 1958. He has been a member of the Utah State Historical Society since 1963 and is now both a fellow and honorary life member of that organization as well as a member of OCTA’s Crossroads (Utah) Chapter. He is a past president of the Mormon History Association and former sheriff of the Santa Barbara Corral of the Westerners. In his other careers as a business manager and community volunteer, he has been a vice president of General Motors Corporation, president of his own consulting firm, chairman of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and a trustee of public and private educational, philanthropic, and health care organizations. He is an alumnus or veteran of Yale, Harvard, and the U. S. Air Force.

January 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

October Announcement for the Utah Westerners

Utah, Nels Anderson, and the World War I Experience
Kent Powell

With the Centennial Anniversary of the United States entry into World War I less than six months away, we have asked Kent Powell to talk about two recent University of Utah Press books which he has edited on Utahns and World War I. The first book, Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience is a collection of seventeen articles that look at military involvement, the impact on communities, women, Native Americans, German-Americans and other immigrants, conscientious objectors, flu epidemic victims, and the battle over the League of Nations. The second book, Nels Anderson’s World War I Diary, is a remarkable contemporary account of military service on the Western Front in France and during the American occupation of Germany after the war. An adopted Utahn, Nels Anderson became an internationally recognized sociologist. He is known to students of Utah history for his path breaking book, Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah published by the University of Chicago Press in 1942 and his influence on prominent Utah historians Juanita Brooks and Dale Morgan.

Allan Kent Powell grew up in Huntington, Emery County, Utah, and earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Utah. In 2013 he retired as managing editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly and as senior state historian at the Utah State Historical Society where he was employed for forty-four years. His most recent book, Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience, was just published by the University of Utah Press. He edited Nels Anderson’s World War I Diary, which received the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award for 2013. Other edited books include: A German Odyssey: Helmut Horner the Journal of a German Prisoner of War, Utah Remembers World War II, the Utah History Encyclopedia and the twenty-nine volume Utah Centennial County History Series. He has authored numerous articles and several books including The Next Time We Strike: Labor in the Eastern Utah Coal Fields and Splinters of a Nation: German Prisoners of War in Utah. He has been a member of the Utah Westerners since 2004 and in 2014 was made a Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society.

October 10, 2016 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

September Announcement for the Utah Westerners

John M. Browning:  American Inventor and Gun Maker

Presented by Lenny Rees

Historian, Browning and Winchester

John Moses Browning (1855-1926) was born in Ogden, Utah.  He was a firearms designer who developed military and civilian firearms, cartridges and gun mechanisms.  He started at age thirteen working in the gun shop of his father, Jonathan Browning (1805-1879).   He also developed automatic and semi-automatic firearms and had 128 gun patents.  He was awarded his first patent at the age of twenty-four.  Other significant contributions include: development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms; improvements to single-shot, lever-action and slide-action rifles and shotguns; development of the first autoloading pistols; development of the first gas-operated machine gun; as well as contributions to the development of automatic cannons.   Many of his guns were copied and are still manufactured.  Lenny Rees will be speaking on John M. Browning’s history, the company that he founded and his work in the firearm industry.

Lenny Rees retired from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in December, 2007.  He started working for Browning as customer service agent in January, 2008.  In the spring of 2015 he accepted the position as historian for Browning and Winchester, where he enjoyed working in “dusty books and microfiche records.”  Rees lives in Roy, Utah and with his wife Sonja.  He has five daughters, fifteen grandchildren and seven grandchildren.


September 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

August Announcement for the Utah Westerners

The Mountain Meadows Tumuli: Reassessing the Massacre Landscape

Everett Bassett

Relying on the earliest reports and sources, in 2014 Everett Bassett successfully identified two of the graves U.S. Army soldiers used in 1859 to inter the scattered remains of the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre.

Everett Bassett has 35 years-experience in archaeology and has directed archeological projects in Great Britain, Australia, Egypt, Sudan, and throughout North America. He currently lives in San Francisco where he is a co-owner of Transcon Environmental, an environmental engineering concern. Everett has conducted extensive research in Utah and the American West. His projects have included: researching and recording over 3,000 historic mines for the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, Abandoned Mines program; researching and excavating the Salt Lake City Block 49, Tooele, and Midvale pioneer cemeteries; recording and excavating the community of Hamblin, UT; and identifying and recording the Gila Trail in Arizona. In 2015 he successfully identified the Mountain Meadows massacre locations and the two mass graves constructed by the U.S. Army in 1859.

September 7, 2016 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

July Announcement for the Utah Westerners

“An Evening in Historic Corinne, Utah”

lodgeEvening will include:

Presentation on bus ride to Corinne: Ken Cannon: “The Corinnethians: Corinne’s Territorial Championship Baseball Club, 1870.” 

Tours of:  Corinne Masonic Lodge No. 5 F. & A. M. and Corinne Methodist Episcopal Church Oldest Existing Protestant Church building in Utah Dedicated September 20, 1870.

Presentation on the history of Corinne by: Dr. Richard W. Sadler Professor of History Past Dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Weber State University.


June 27, 2016 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

May Announcement for the Utah Westerners

“Vigilante Justice: Fact, Myth and Modern Legacy”

Ellen Baumler

Montana’s early history is violent and controversial. Historians disagree over the motives of the Vigilance Committee that formed in December, 1863. That controversy will probably never be resolved, but there are historical documents and photographs that help us better understand the events of the early territorial period and their outcomes.

In preparation for the upcoming Montana adventure, historian Ellen Baumler will share some of the earliest photographs of Bannack, Virginia City and Helena and discuss the dynamics of these early gold camps.  Central to the program is the important Masonic connection that stretches all the way back to Lewis and Clark, the theories behind the vigilante warning 3-7-77 (which appears on the modern badge of the Montana State Highway Patrol), and how Montana’s past has shaped its present.

Ellen Baumler received her PhD from the University of Kansas in medieval studies in English, classics and history. She has been an author, educator, and interpretive historian at the Montana Historical Society since 1992. She has composed hundreds of signs for Montana’s historic places, developed historic walking tours, and written National Register nominations. Ellen is an award winning author of eleven books and dozens of articles on many historical topics, hostess of the popular long-running radio show “History on the Go,” and a 2011 recipient of the Governor’s Award for the Humanities.

May 9, 2016 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

April Announcement for the Utah Westerners


In 1933, Marie M. Ogden left the East Coast and drove full-throttle to Monticello, Utah, establishing her small spiritual commune on the rugged plains near Church Rock in San Juan County. Directed by a vision, Marie ventured out alone and settled on the arid desert plateau of Monticello at the height of the Great Depression, when the desert was a wild, parched place. With a small band of followers from New Jersey and Idaho, Marie built dwellings arranged in a series of “portals”, and named her settlement The Home of Truth. Despite the relative isolation of the group, Marie took a modern-pragmatic approach to proselytizing, purchasing the town’s only newspaper to become its editor-in-chief. The industrial print-press played an integral role in establishing and expanding The Home of Truth, and Marie’s writings preserve her legacy amidst the rich history of female spiritualists in the U.S.

Marie is a fascinating, stalwart individual, yet surprisingly, the Home of Truth is largely overlooked by histories of Depression-era metaphysical movements. This presentation reveals that Marie and her Home provide an ideal case study for examining the intersections of rural traditionalism and turn-of-the-century developments in science, medicine, and hermeneutics. With Marie at the forefront of this story, we uncover a riveting and modern tale of female transgression through radical spiritualism, and the ways in which language, through the act of writing, can hold the complexities of metaphysical thought and material practice.

Emma Kemp is a writer and video-artist from London, U.K., currently based in Los Angeles where she serves as faculty in Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts. Her current research interests include the slime mold Physarum polycephalum; the phenomena of falling; the aesthetics of death; and proto-New Age communities of the West and Southwest. Her work has been exhibited across the U.S. and U.K., including at Sotheby’s and Tate Modern, London.

April 9, 2016 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

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