Dreams, Myths, and Reality
Utah and the American West
The Critchlow Lectures at Weber State University
William Thomas Allison and Susan J. Matt, editors
Paperback / 318 pages / 1-56085-174-0 / $29.95
During the settlement of the West, through the Civil War and Gold Rush periods, the average Anglo household consisted of two or three bachelor farmers or miners. The nuclear Ingalls family from Little House of the Prairie was less typical than Bonanza’s Cartwright family with three boys, a father, and a male cook.
There were exceptions. The Willamette Valley in Oregon was settled by traditional families who carved out a middle-class existence on small farms. In Utah Territory, less fertile soil and more fertile polygamous fathers produced families who struggled against poverty and isolation.
The first Americans out West gravitated to existing pockets of Spanish culture in New Mexico and along the California coast—so much so that in 1860 the U.S. census takers could not locate a single town in Idaho or Montana. They found only twenty-three settlements in present-day Nevada. These areas were still the domain of frontiersmen, soon to be replaced by prospectors and dirt farmers.
In this anthology, some of the most prominent historians of the American West consider Utah’s place in the context of broad settlement patterns. In addition to the displacement of war and the lure of precious metals, immigration was influenced by a persistent idyllic dream of a new beginning in religion, social structures, and multi-culturalism.
Contributors to this volume include David Haward Bain of Middlebury College, Wayne Carver of Carleton College, James P. Ronda of the University of Tulsa, and eleven others.
William Thomas Allison is chair of the Department of History at Georgia Southern University, formerly a Professor of History at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He is the author of Military Justice in Vietnam: The Rule of Law in an American War, The Tet Offensive; and Witness to Revolution: The Russian Diary and Letters of J. Butler Wright.
Susan J. Matt is a Professor of History and Endowed Professor of Behavioral Sciences at Weber State University. She is the author of Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society, 1890-1930 and a forthcoming book on homesickness in America. She earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1996 and joined the Weber State faculty in 1999.