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Salt Lake City, Utah letters 

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Mary Glen's planned transcontinental train trip   All I've seen of Utah is from the Salt Lake City airport or an airplane.  I look forward to spending some time there.

“If I were placed on a cannibal island and given a task of civilizing its people,” Brigham is said to have remarked, “I should straightway build a theatre.”
 And, very plainly, history and his actions bear him out on that claim.  Soon after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, the Latter-day Saints erected a temporary shelter made from tree boughs on a frame structure that came to be called “The Bowery.”  It stood on the southeast corner of what we now know as Temple Square.  The forerunner of the Tabernacle, it was used for religious services — but also for concerts, plays, and dances.  Dan Peterson, Brigham Young, the Theater and Moral Uplift, 2018  

previous letter
Sacramento Sept 7, 1886  
 1886  1888   1890  1896  
Salt Lake Theaters

One press note about the Zavistowski sisters impressing the Mormon Prophet Brigham Young in Utah [on their return from Australia in Jan. 1873] made it into the papers and nought was heard again, according to Allister Hardiman


The Walker House 
Salt Lake City Utah
Septr 14th 1886

My dear Son,

Last night we opened to a crowded house and that means something here, for the auditorium of the Mormon Theatre is pretty well as large as the Grand Opera House, NY Saints & Sinners never went better.  Tonight Jim the Penman gives me a rest.  Tomorrow Our Society.

Thursday we leave at  11:30 AM for Pueblo to play there on Friday night.  Sat night Colorado Springs.  Spend Sunday there.  Monday morning, go to Denver about four hours ride.  Remain there one week.  7 Saints and Sinners go to Kansas City for three nights & Matinee, St Jo on Thursday, Omaha Friday and Saturday.  

Went this morning by invitation of the Mormons to hear the big organ in the Tabernacle.  It is fine!  This place seems to be doing well.  Mr. LeMoyne has a brother here in some Commercial business office where there are one hundred clerks employed.  It is the place you know where they can tell the financial business standing of all the men in the state or territory.

Chief Justice Waite is here.  He was in Frisco while we were there, said he now could understand the Chinese question.  Now I suppose he will understand the Mormon question.  There is one thing he will find - the Mormons are very polite people.  With love and Kisses I remain your loving Mother

Chief Justice Waite Morrison Remick Waite (1816 -1888) Seventh Supreme Court Justice 1874-1888  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morrison_Waite  Waite is known for his 1878 Reynold's anti-polygamy decision. The Supreme Court did not finalize the Chinese exclusion Act until after Waite had died.

Walker House Four Walker brothers came to Utah in  1852 from Yorkshire “By 1860 the brothers had opened their business in "Draft's Old Store" in Salt Lake City. When the army auctioned off the assets at Camp Floyd the next year, the brothers were among those who benefitted by buying up the goods and freighting them to Salt Lake. However, their growing economic success troubled LDS church president Brigham Young, who felt the brothers' financial support of the church was not what it could be. The brothers had regularly contributed to the Perpetual Emigration Fund but refused to pay the ten percent tithing which church leaders began accessing members in 1860. The brothers asked to be removed from the church. Not only were the brothers excommunicated, but Young issued a proclamation that all "good" Mormons were to spurn the firm of Walker Brothers and Company. But the Civil War years were good for business and the brothers continued to prosper. .. In 1870 the Walker brothers joined with non-Mormons and William Godbe, another merchant who had been excommunicated from the LDS Church, to establish the Utah Liberal Party. This party worked for the next decades to end Mormon political control of the territory. The brothers continued to prosper. They built a group of lavish homes on the block between Fourth and Fifth South and Main, invested in horse breeding, created insurance companies, built the Walker House Hotel and the Walker Opera House (1881-1904), which became the important cultural center of the city. But it was the banking business that continued at the center of the Walkers ventures.”  Walker Brothers Photo David, Joseph, Samuel and Matthew Walker http://utahstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/David-Joseph-Samuel-and-Matthew-Walker.jpg    https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=208486

Grand Opera House, NY See letter of  May 19, 1889, Boston .

The Walker House
Salt Lake City,  Utah
Sept 15th 1886

My dear Son,

You will be thinking "Mother is traveling today" but it is not so.  Yesterday it was decided to play here another night instead of going to Pueblo.  While it is easier work for me, I am not playing tonight and should have played tomorrow night had we stopped in Pueblo, still that much of the journey would have been over and done with.

I do not know how they are going to reconcile the theatre people in Pueblo for our nonappearance.  Probably the rent is not very high and they will pay that, and the Pueblo manager will be satisfied.  For three nights here the business has been very large and a big house is expected tonight for Sealed Instructions.

Then we leave tomorrow 11:30 AM en route to Colorado Springs where we, if on time, are due at 6:50 PM on Saturday - scarcely time to go to hotel before going to theatre to play Saints & Sinners,  Monday AM go to Denver.  I shall not play more than four times in Denver, twice in S[aints] & S[inners] and twice in Our Society, but the last week I shall have to play every night in S[aints] & S[inners].

[Walden] Ramsey is ill - and is going back to San F'co.  He is suffering from the effects of what I warned him against seven years ago.  RUM.  He said then it would not hurt him, but he knows better now.  I am very sorry for him.  He goes back to Frisco because he has a doctor there who will take care of him, and he has a home with Mrs. Eberle.  Now that his Mother is dead, there in no one in New York who cares for him, and he does not want to go there.  All this is nervousness, but he will not listen to anything anyone says to him.  Well dear I have no further news so with love and Kisses I remain your loving Mother

San Francisco, Aug, 23,1888
  Our trip down from Los Angeles to Salt Lake will be very tiresome.  Leaving Los Angeles Sunday morning, we do not reach Salt Lake  until Wednesday noon.  Three nights on the train.  We are to open in Los Angeles on the 17th [crossed out] well! 17th there now! 

S.C. Ewing, Proprietor   Rates $3.00 per day
Opened Oct 1st, 1887       Centrally located 
Salt Lake City,  Utah
Septr 28th 1888 

My dear Son 

Today have been to the Lake by special train.  Have had a very pleasant time.  Mr. [AM] Palmer, [James H] Stoddart, [EM]  Holland[Clarence] Handysides, Mr. & Mrs. [Louis F] Massen, Mr. & Mrs. [Eugene W] Presbrey, Mrs. [Frederic] Robinson, Miss [Virginia] Buchanan.  Misses [Clara] Lipman & the two [Gertie (8 yrs old) and her mother?] Homans, Miss [May] Brookyn, [Jessie] Millward, [Harry] Woodruff, [Alessandro] Salvini, [AC] Hilsdorf & self of the [Madison Square] Company and several ladies and gentlemen of the City.  All went in to bathe, excepting Mr. Stoddart, Mrs. Robinson & self.  

We had lunch and I have just returned.  The lake was lovely. The bathing accommodations are much improved since I was there four years ago. 

We leave here after performance tomorrow night.  Expect to reach Denver early Monday morning.  We go to Ogden thence on the Union Pacific to  Cheyenne  & down to Denver  by the  Burlington &  Denver road. 

My love to Neppie, her aunt and family.  Next week Denver, following week, 8th, 9th, & 10th Kansas City, 11th St Josephs, 12th & 13th Omaha.  Sunday on train to Chicago . 15th  Chicago for two weeks.  Address, "Chicago Opera House".  Love and Kisses from your loving Mother 

I wrote Utah State History to ask about possible special trains to the Great Salt Lake.  They emailed back "A railroad your great-great grandmother might have used was the Utah and Nevada Railroad which ran excursion trains to the lake during the time period she was in Utah." and recommended this article. "The Utah Western-Utah and Nevada  which shall be referred to in this section as the Western, was the only Utah railroad, outside of city street car lines to show a larger income from passenger service than from freight during much of its operation  This was because of the extensive passenger business it carried between Salt Lake City and the beaches of the Great Salt Lake. 

In the spring of 1875, as track laying was being completed to Lake Point on the Western, John W. Young purchased the lake steamer "City of Corinne" for the railroad and renamed it the "General Garfield." He then advertised excursions by Utah Western Railroad to Lake Point and return and a three-hour lake trip on the General Garfield, all for only $1.50.[63] Large numbers of people took advantage of this trip during the next few years, including many nationally and internationally known people. Many others took advantage of evening bathing trains that offered the would-be bather a ride to Lake Point and return, with a two- or three-hour layover, for a fare ranging from fifty cents to one dollar. ...  A classic description of an excursion to the Great Salt Lake is found on the pages of the Ogden Daily Junction of July 14, 1875: Yesterday morning, by invitation, we took a ride on the Utah Western railroad, in company with the editorial excursion party which has been "doing" Salt Lake and the surrounding region. Starting from Salt Lake City at 7 a.m. we moved along, smoothly and pleasantly, in the handsome cars of the U.W. westward for a distance of twenty-one miles, which brought us to Lake Point on the southern shore of the "Dead sea of America."  History of Utah's Railroads 1869-1883 Clarence A Reeder Jr, Chapter VII Rails West from Salt Lake City http://utahrails.net/reeder/reeder-chap7.php#utah-and-nevada 

In answer to my question about were there other places besides Lake Point which people went to bathe? Alan Barnett from the Reference Staff of the  Research Center of the Utah State Archives & Utah State History responded "I have checked in the book "The Great Salt Lake" by Dale Morgan and it looks as if the most likely places your great great grandmother might have visited would have been Black Rock Beach or Garfield Beach at the southern end of the Great Salt Lake and would have been reached from Salt Lake City via the Utah and Nevada. Garfield Beach was the larger of these resorts and a large new pavilion was just built in 1887. This author suggests that by the mid-1880s the Lake Point resort had "been squeezed out", which I assume means that it was not operating any longer. The other major lake resort at the time was the Lake Park Resort, located on the eastern side of the lake between Salt Lake City and Ogden. It was reached via a branch of the Denver & Rio Grande RR. You can see photos of Garfield Beach and Lake Park Resort by searching under those names at http://heritage.utah.gov/dha/dha-featured/digital-photos "  The photographs show wonderful Victorian buildings. 

Photo captions Lake Park seems a somewhat more likely EJ Phillips destination.  Neither resort remains today.
Lake Park Bathing Resort. On the shores of the Great Salt Lake west of Farmington. First resort built on the Lake. By George O. Chase and Mike Garn. (Built about 1885).
The D&RGW Railroad built an ornate bathing pavilion and beach facilities at Lake Park, a point midway between Salt Lake City and Ogden, where the tracks passed close to the Great Salt Lake. It proved an attraction -and provided trainloads of patrons-for a number of years. http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/USHS_Class&CISOPTR=15277&CISOBOX=1&REC=3
Lake Park Bathing Resort. West of Farmington, Utah. Built about 1885. The lake came up and ruined it about ten or fifteen years later. From S.W. Darke & Co. Salt Lake City, Illustrated. 1887. 

Garfield Beach Resort Near Black Rock. Was opened on June 28, 1887, and was named for the steamer the "General Garfield", which was anchored nearby. The beach was served by the Utah and Nevada Railroad, (later incorporated into the Los Angeles and Salt Lake, and now the Union Pacific RR). The beach had a bowery, shooting gallery, race track, ball grounds and boating facilities, in addition to 300 houses. This boat was originally to be used as a freighter. It had three decks and was seventy feet long. The redwood from which it was constructed came from California; the engines from Chicago. It was patterned after the Mississippi stern wheel boats. When the railroad came through in 1869 the boat was brought into service to carry passengers and freight to the southeastern shores of Great Salt Lake. The project didn't pay and it was abandoned. For a short time the craft was used as an excursion boat, making short trips from Garfield Beach. When resorts on the beach became popular the old boat was anchored permanently and a bathing resort was built around it. In 1876 a bathing resort was built on the southwest shore of the lake. It was called Lake Point. George O. Chase and Ephraim Garn built a resort between Centerville and Farmington in 1878 and called it Lake Shore Resort. This enterprise had a bicycle track and became famous in the territory for its races. The bicycles used were the "high wheels" with a large front wheel and a small one at the rear. About 1880 Alonzo Hyde and David John Taylor built a fashionable bathing resort at Black Rocks.  http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/USHS_Class&CISOPTR=15129&CISOBOX=1&REC=3
Black Rock, with ruins of old Garfield Resort (pilings at right), c. 1933. 

1890 next: Chicago Oct. 1890  previous Los Angeles 1890
Culllen Hotel photo http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/USHS_Shipler&CISOPTR=894

  T H E  C U L L E N 
               S.C.  Ewing, Proprietor 
                Strictly First Class 
                  Gast St NY&SF  
           Salt Lake City  August 22nd, 1890

My dear daughters

No use writing two letters when you are under the same roof.  The only trouble is, who will answer this?  And that you will have to fight out between you. 

Sorry [pregnant] Neppie does not always feel first rate but such is the nature of her case - be all right by and bye.  You will please give my love to Mrs. Walton and tell her she shall have a photograph.  I am only too pleased to know she wants one.  The only request I have in return is that she will take good care of Neppie in October. 

I think Alice [Zavistowski Webb] ought to have known my address.  That is an easy excuse for not writing.  "Tabor Opera House",  Denver, Col. will reach me for the next two weeks but "Theatre" is quite sufficient when AMP Dramatic Co is put on the envelope.  He [AM Palmer] is the Star. 

Glad you had such a nice trip on the Republic and that my grandson enjoyed it.  Also that he sings "Annie Rooney" in the same style I do -- words and music to suit ourselves.  I heard it so often at DeYoungs that I cannot get the air out of my head - all other airs come instead of it - yet all to the words of little Annie Rooney.  I told Maud [ Harrison] in the dressing room the other night that if I was annoying her just to mention it, for I was not conscious of the noise I made, and if she asked me to stop I would remember it. 

I think we leave here early Saturday Morning to take the same train we arrived at Ogden [Utah] by this Morning.  It is called the Overland Flyer.  We go to Cheyenne [Wyoming] by that and then down to Denver.  

Do not see the Rio Grande road this time.  We shall have the same "Buffet" car we have rode in from Los Angeles.  It waited for us in Sacramento and will wait here, and be switched off at Cheyenne to take us down to Denver.  Same porter and waiter all the way -- both pleasant and convenient.  

Salt Lake is growing.  I mean the City.  Several of the Company took train at 1:45 PM to go to the Lake.  They will not get back until 6 PM  Maud [Harrison] was not feeling first rate so she is asleep on the sofa.  We have parlor and bedroom together with bathroom and sofa bed in parlor, quite snug for two nights. 

At Ogden this Morning I read that it was 894 miles and a 7th to San Francisco so I am that much nearer to you all.  At Denver I shall be 1000 miles nearer.  From Ogden to Omaha is 1084 miles and a 7th.  

Hattie's birthday is Sunday.  I shall celebrate it by travelling towards her - the best I can do,    With love and Kisses to my dear children.  God bless you all your  loving Mother 

Neppie was expecting Edward Phillips Nickinson in Oct. 1890.

next: Denver Aug. 1890

Los Angeles, Sept. 7, 1896 
The ride to Salt Lake City from Seattle will be a long hot one, two nights on the road.  Also from Salt  Lake to  Kansas will be hard, but it will be getting cooler by that time. 

Portland, Sept. 15, 1896  On Saturday by boat to Vancouver, back by boat to Seattle for Monday and Tuesday next -- and from there to Salt Lake another two nights on train.  From there to Kansas City which will take two, if not three on train.  But then the hardest part of the travel will be over, but by that time it will have been pretty severe.  And I imagine rather exhaustive to the treasury.  But we have our salaries up to date and have no right to criticise our management. 

previous: Seattle

T H E   K N U T S F O R D 
                      G.S. Holmes 
                      Salt Lake City
                      Salt Lake City Sept 26th 1896

My dear daughter Neppie, 

On Sunday Morning in Vancouver, BC Mr. [Daniel] Frohman invited me with three others of the company to take a drive in  Forest Park, and a more beautiful drive I never enjoyed.  The grand old trees & the water views were beautiful.  We were driven by the same man who had taken Li-Hung-Chang through the City and Park five days before.  We were a little too late to see the great man -- who was royally received in  Vancouver. 

It is four thousand miles from Vancouver to New York.  Perhaps you didn't know I had been so far away.  Last night Mr. [Gustave] Frohman came behind the scenes very much elated over a letter he had rec'd from his brother Charles [Frohman] saying that in May next he was going to send Gay Parisians and Too Much Johnson to Australia.  The Company would start out from New York in May and be back in November.  Did not exactly ask me to go, but was doing all he could to get my ideas about it.  I do not see much money in it for myself.  There would be ten weeks at least going and returning, without any salary and under heavy expenses all the time.  I think in the end I would be paying for the privilege of playing.  And it would pay better for me to watch Albert's garden "sass" [home garden] grow and help to eat it when it was ready next summer. 

I find some changes here in the way of new buildings.  This hotel is new and very nice.  The Mormon Temple is finished and has been "consecrated and dedicated".  Now no one but a baptised Mormon can enter the building.  They consider it "The Holy of Holies".  It looks very handsome from the outside. 

I hear of no change in the route, but go on just as you have it.  Beginning with Decatur,   Ill on the 12th and one night stands to follow until Omaha,  Neb where we play three nights beginning on 22nd of Octr.  Your loving Mother 


Too Much Johnson by Maurice Ordomean (adapted by Wm. Hooker Gillette) Dec 1894

Li Hung Chang toured  Europe and the  US as part his journey to the coronation of the Czar.  Though he is described as a senior Chinese diplomat this was not an official state visit (though it received extensive press coverage).

Utah did not become a state until Jan 4 1896. Amtrak runs buses to Ogden now, but it is no longer served by a train.

next:  Kansas City 1896

Salt Lake City Theatre
Shortly after the Mormon's arrival in Salt Lake they built a small playhouse and Brigham Young was determined to construct a first class theatre.  Construction began in July 1861 and the formal opening was in March 1862.   In 1870 the railroad connected Salt Lake City to both coasts and "during the next fifth years practically every notable actor of the American stage" appeared there and was the favorite of many "not only because of the enthusiasm of its audiences, but also because of the atmosphere and character of the house".  History American Theatre

Few nineteenth-century Utah structures tell as important a story as the Salt Lake Theatre. Built in 1861 on the northeast corner of State Street and First South Street in Salt Lake City, it survived two-thirds of a century before it was razed in 1928 Ronald W Walker Salt Lake Theatre https://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/s/SALT_LAKE_THEATRE.shtml

The Salt Lake Theatre, finished in March 1862, was the largest structure yet built by the Saints and cost $100,000. William H. Folsom was the architect of the exterior, which was Doric in style. E.L.T. Harrison, an architect from London and recent convert, modeled much of the interior after the London Drury Lane Theatre. Building supplies came from the now-disbanding Camp Floyd and the wreckage of government wagons on the trail.  The theater was dedicated with a prayer by Daniel H. Wells, and an address by Brigham Young. Over 1,500 people crowded the theater for the opening, and many continued to come for later performances. Dubbed the "Cathedral in the Desert," the theater became a neutral ground for Mormons and non-Mormons, although it was controlled by the Mormons. 

With the coming of the railroad, Utah was placed on the national theatrical circuit, and the Salt Lake Theatre became increasingly secularized as New York booking agencies virtually controlled its attractions. Church leaders became uneasy with the loss of local standards and control. The theatre kept up with the latest technological advancements, though they were costly. Some 385 oil lamps lit the theater until 1872 when they were replaced by gas. Then, with the coming of electricity, the Railway Company furnished the theater with six lamps on each side of the building. For a time, the Salt Lake Theatre's prominence was challenged by the Walker Opera House. Built in 1882, it was located on the south side of 200 South Street between Main and West Temple streets. To settle the dispute between the two theaters, the New York booking agencies agreed to divide bookings evenly. In 1891 the Walker Opera House burned down.  Theater in Utah, Utah History Encyclopedia  

Visitors to Salt Lake City can still see what the Salt Lake Theatre actually looked like. Both the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum (located at 300 North Main Street) and Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus (located at 1395 Presidents Circle) in Salt Lake City are patterned after the original Salt Lake Theatre. https://rsc.byu.edu/salt-lake-city-place-which-god-prepared/salt-lake-theatre

Salt Lake Theatre http://www.byujourneys.org/blog/salt-lake-theater/  Built  1861-62. Razed 1928, Replica built on the University of Utah campus 1962

Utah Trains
The first Ogden train station, a small wooden building on mud flats was built in 1869.  A second, larger brick Romanesque station opened in 1889.  This burned in 1923.  A replacement station, still standing opened in 1924.  Wikipedia Union Station (Ogden)  
Ogden, Utah http://www.utah.com/culture/ogden.htm  Ogden is about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Railroads in Utah http://utahstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/David-Joseph-Samuel-and-Matthew-Walker.jpg
Union Station Museum http://www.utah.com/museums/union_station.htm  The Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich railroad heritage of Utah from the original joining of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
Ogden Union Station https://www.ogdencity.com/1562/Union-Station    
more on Railroads

Mrs. Frank Leslie, California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate, April, May, June, 1877  http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/calbk.115
Chapter VII -Chapter IX Salt Lake City 

Salt Lake Historic Landmark Commission
http://www.slcgov.com/bc/boards-and-commissions-historic-landmark-commission  digitized historic photographs
Salt Lake City History, http://www.utah.com/cities/slc_history.htm 
Salt Lake Theatre https://www.pioneertheatre.org/about-us/history/the-salt-lake-theatre/
Guide to the Salt Lake City, Utah photograph collection 1850s-1980s, University of Utah http://nwda.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv68270/op=fstyle.aspx?t=a&k1=&k2=&k3=&t1=0&t2=0&t3=0&o1=0&o2=0&s=0&i=34Utah State Historical Society http://history.utah.gov/
Walker Brothers
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Salt_Lake#History
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Salt_Lake_City#Early_years  1847-1896

1884 8   summer? Salt Lake City UT   1888 letters refers to much improved bathing accommodations
1886 9 13   Salt Lake City UT   Mormon Tabernacle to hear organ
1886 9 13 2 nights Salt Lake City UT Sealed Instructions Saints & Sinners Jim the Penman Our Society
1888 9 26 to Sep 29 Salt Lake City UT   Jim the Penman Saints &Sinners?
1890 8 22 2 nights Salt Lake City UT   Jim the Penman Captain Swift
1896 9 25   Salt Lake City UT Gay Parisians 

Last revised august 27, 2020

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