As I’m sure most of the states do, but we heard some fascinating tales to go along with the scenery and terrain that kept us constantly awe-struck.
One of the first questions that came to our minds was, ‘why is Utah called the Beehive State?’ So – here’s what I found when I did a Google search:
“Beehive State” The beehive became the official state emblem on March 4, 1959. Utahans relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance. The beehive was chosen as the emblem for the provisional State of Deseret in 1848 and was maintained on the seal of the State of Utah when Utah became a state in 1896.
Okay, so now we know. And understand why the state police proudly display a beehive logo on their vehicles.
In 1776, a group led by Catholic priests, seeking a route to the California coast, encountered native residents at Utah Lake. The next known non-native people to explore Utah were fur trappers in the early 1800’s. The ill-fated Donner party crossed Utah in 1846, the year before the Mormons arrived.
In 1847, when the Mormons came to the area because of religious persecution in other states, the future state of Utah was part of Mexican territories that had been captured by the U.S., and became official U.S. territory in 1848. Neither the Mormons, nor the U.S. recognized any aboriginal title to the land, and no treaty has ever been established. Brigham Young, then leader of the Mormons, encouraged his followers to settle throughout the territory. Petition for statehood was registered in 1849-50, but was denied until 1896.
During the days that we had set aside for visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, we stayed at a town called Panguitch.
Panguitch itself has an interesting history. It was originally settled in 1864 by Mormons, then abandoned during the Black Hawk war (against Indians 1865-72). In 1871 people returned and as the settlement grew a brick factory was built, which paid their workers in bricks. Not sure how they managed to buy flour with that! But it meant the people were enabled to build the brick buildings and homes, many of which still stand today.
But that first winter in Panguitch was a tough one. Those original settlers didn’t realize how early the frost would arrive at these elevations, and were unable to harvest before the freeze. As winter settled in, and they knew food supplies would be needed to be able to survive, seven men set out to cross the mountains (at least 10,000 feet high) to go to Parowan 40 miles away. Their oxen and carts could not get through the snow and had to be abandoned. But the men couldn’t walk through the waist-high drifts either and came up with the most unique solution I’ve ever heard. They pulled quilts out of their wagons, and lay them down in front of themselves, walking to the end and laying down another, picking up the previous one to continue their ‘quilt walk’ to make it through – and back – to save the lives of the town-folk. A monument has been erected:
And benches in the little park tell the individual stories of each of these seven brave and imaginative men. Now that’s the most unique use of quilts I’ve ever heard! Every year in June Panguitch celebrates the Quilt Walk with a festival, that includes quilt shows and classes. How I’d love to return for that.
In 1857, a wagon train of well-to-do pioneer settlers was making its way through Utah when it was attacked and looted. Everybody over the age of 6 years was killed. This raid became known as the Mountain Meadow Massacre. At first it was thought Indians were the culprits (judged by the clothing of the raiders), but it was later learned that it was Mormons who had committed the crime. Pressure was put on Brigham Young to bring the perpetrators to justice, and eventually a man named John D Lee was the only person to admit to any part in the raid. But Mr. Lee didn’t live at the time in Utah territory. He was, however, a practicing Mormon with several wives and families in various areas, one of whom lived in Panguitch. When Mr. Lee came to Panguitch to visit his wife, he was immediately arrested, taken to Cedar City for trial, conviction and execution by firing squad. His wife from Panguitch collected his body, and had him buried there. His tomb still stands in the local cemetery, but as it was a rainy day when we were exploring the area, we chose to forego a cemetery crawl, so I have no pictures.
And speaking of polygamy – the Mormon church, Latter Day Saints, yielded to the political pressure and complied with the law of the United States, and officially dropped its approval of polygamy in 1890, and thus were able to gain acceptance as a state in its next petition in 1895. Statehood was officially granted January 4, 1896.
That’s just a little bit of the history of this beautiful state. Hope you’ve enjoyed these stories.
On to Montana! Blessings, Peg