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Revised 27 December 2010


The earliest known inhabitants of Utah were the Anasazi people (about 700 A.D.), the Pueblo builders. They were founded by the Shoshone tribes, who were scattered through the area. (1600) In 1776 Sivestre VĂ©lez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Dominguez, explored Utah. Although Fathers Escalante and Dominguez supposedly passed through here in the early days, there was no sign left of their journey. When the Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first came to Utah, the land was barren and desolate.

The Mormon families, led by Brigham Young, sought a promised land that would give them the place to live in peace and follow their religious beliefs without persecution. No matter where it went, people disapproved their practices of polygamy and their communal way of life. Nauvoo, Illinois, was no exception to this. Everywhere they went, they were driven out.

Brigham Young is said to have declared, "If there is a place on earth that nobody else wants, that's the place I am hunting for." They headed west towards his Promised Land and found it in Utah. On July 24, 1847, the wagons arrived in northwest Utah. Although sick with mountain fever, Young identified this as place where they would begin again. The first group included 143 men, three women and two boys.

They plowed the earth and dammed a stream to provide water for more than 100 acres, creating the first modern irrigation system in North America. By 1850, the population of the basin was over 11,000 people. It truly seemed that they had found their place of freedom, but when the U. S. Government incorporated the Utah Territory in 1850, all this changed. In 1857, when Federal troops tried unsuccessfully to revoke Brigham Young's governorship. It is said that a group of Mormons, aided by a group of Paiute Indians, massacred a group of immigrants from Arkansas and Missouri. The first transcontinental telegraph service was completed in 1861, allowing communication to flow freely through the state. Again in 1862, Federal troops were sent into Utah commanded by Col. Patrick Edward Conner, who sent his soldiers into the nearby mountains to look for precious metals. Silver was discovered in Park City and copper was found in the Oquirrh Mountains. In 1869, the first golden spike was driven in Promontory Utah, completing the first continental railroads and bringing a new nation of non-Mormon settlers, and the interferrence of the Federal authorities. On 4 January 1896 Utah became our 45th state. Polygamy was discontinued in 1890 and is now outlawed.

Most of the early Utah settlers came from New England, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Canada. They came from Europe from England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Holland, Wales, and Scotland, from the Piedmont district of Italy and from Czechoslovakia.

The great Salt Lake is noteworthy because of its great size, and the fact it is indeed an inland body of salt water. In Salt Lake City is housed one of the finest genealogy collections in the world. Anyone can research in their libraries regardless of religious affiliation. If you ever go there, plan to spend several days. You will find them always welcome to assist with your research and it is well worth the visit. Be aware that there are some days which are set aside for religious holidays. You may want to check in advance to make sure they are open.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Beaver 1856 Iron, Millard Beaver
Box Elder 1856 Unorganized Territory Brigham City
Cache 1856 Unorganized Territory Logan
Carbon 1894 Sanpete Price
Daggett 1917 Uintah Manila
Davis 1850 Salt Lake Farmington
Duchesne 1914 Wasatch Duchesne
Emery 1880 Sanpete, Sevier Castle Dale
Garfield 1864 Iron, Sevier, Kane Panguitch
Grand 1892 Emery, Uintah Moab
Iron 1852 Unorganized Territory Parowan
Juab 1849 Original County Nephi
Kane 1864 Washington, Unorganized Territory Kanab
Millard 1852 Juab Fillmore
Morgan 1862 Davis, Summit Morgan
Piute 1866 Sevier Junction
Rich 1864 Formerly Richland Randolph
Salt Lake 1849 Original County (Great Salt Lake) Salt Lake City
San Juan 1880 Kane Monticello
Sanpete 1849 Original County Manti
Sevier 1864 Sanpete Richfield
Summit 1854 Salt Lake Coalville
Tooele 1949 Original County Tooele
Uintah 1880 Wasatch Vernal
Utah 1849 Original County Provo
Wasatch 1862 Summit Heber
Washington 1852 Unorganized Territory St. George
Wayne 1864 Piute Loa
Weber 1849 Original County Ogden