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Jedediah Rogers UHQ Blog, Utah Historical Society

Summer 2021 Utah Historical Quarterly

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The struggle to vote is a dominant thread in American—and Utah—history. Last year we paused to commemorate a celebrated centennial benchmark in that struggle: passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, extending suffrage to women. At last fall’s 68th annual Utah State Historical Society conference, Dr. Lisa Tetrault, who studies gender, race, and American democracy, made a surprising case for what the amendment actually does and what it means to us today in the continuum of voting progress. Our lead article is a heavily revised version of Tetrault’s remarks.

The next two pieces make unique contributions to a traditional staple of UHQ: nineteenth-century geographical knowledge and exploration. Good history builds on earlier scholarship, as each generation reexamines established interpretations in light of recently surfaced sources—and such is the case here. Sheri Wysong enters the figurative maze of place names and their origins by questioning and revising conventional wisdom concerning the toponymy of the Green, Sevier, and Virgin Rivers. She finds that the rivers’ names did not derive from Spanish sources, as was previously believed, and are only discerned by unraveling a tangled web of sometimes contradictory sources. By the same token, Michael Kane and Nathan Waite reexamine what river historians have assumed about an early voyage down the Green River, as recorded in William Manly’s 1894 publication Death Valley in ’49. California bound, Manly on a whim decided at the Green River trail’s crossing that it would be easier to reach his destination via the river rather than overland. Although Manly wrote his account well after the fact, and it is somewhat vague and certainly embellished, enough clues remain to conclude that his river journey was longer than previously believed. Our third article, then, is a corrective to the historical record—and an engaging adventure tale to boot.

On the theme of travel, our next essay—written by the geologist Rasoul Sorkhabi—introduces readers to the renowned Scottish geologist Archibald Geikie’s visit to the American West in 1879. Having corresponded with some of the great American geologists, including Clarence King and John Wesley Powell, Geikie wanted to see the West for himself. His observations of geologic formations in the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains, as well as in Wyoming’s Yellowstone, enabled Geikie to solve some intractable questions that had long perplexed him concerning the erosional power of rivers and glaciers and the origins of volcanic rocks.

Our final article is Cody Patton’s “heady” history of beer and brewing in a state long stereotyped as incurably dry. That the featured Becker beer company, headquartered in Ogden with a regional reach, continued to operate after passage of the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the production and sale of alcohol, and then flourished during the onslaught of national brewing companies turning a steep profit in the state, speaks not only to the entrepreneurship and innovation of the Becker family but to the economics of alcohol and the drinking habits of Utahns.