UTAH MOSAIC: THE STATE HAS REACHED ITS CENTENNIAL WITH A RICH BLEND OF ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND PRIDE.
Emigrants from England, Scotland and Wales (predominantly Catholic Irish came later to work Utah's mines) brought essential skills to the pioneer communities of Utah Territory. They were crafts-men, educators, professional people, farmers, dairymen, architects, businessmen and seafarers whose skills could be turned to the needs of frontier living.
Church leaders, through missionaries to Britain, asked converts to come to Utah prepared to work, and they did.
Although church members were advised against involvement in mining, it was a Londoner, William S. Godbe, who contributed significantly to the industry. He also caused a schism within the church, giving his name to a splinter group.
The presence of the British influenced Utah laws and its government structure. Many from the islands sat in the highest church and government councils. In 1879, a visitor found that 13 of 29 bishops in the Salt Lake Stake could trace their roots back to Britain. The first non-Mormon clergy, however, also were of British stock.
These immigrants lacked the nationalism that caused some other ethnic groups difficulty in assimilating into Utah's population, and over several decades of "gathering," they continued to contribute a strong strain to the territory's cultural mix. Their contributions to the arts, education and other niceties of civilized life made many of Utah's frontier communities atypical for the time.
No precise count was kept of Jewish immigrants to Utah Territory in the first decades, and it is likely that for the first 20 or 30 years, few were here. But before LDS pioneers came, Solomon Nunes Carvalho had traversed the territory in the exploration companies of John Fremont. He was an artist and daguerrotypist who made valuable contributions to the Fremont assessments of the West. For a time, he lived in Utah Territory, returning to the East where he wrote a narrative of the expeditions that became one of the most readable accounts of the explorations.
But a Hungarian revolution that coincided with the settlement of the American West was sending tens of thousands of Jewish exiles to the New Country and eventually some of them made their way to Utah. The first known were Julius Gerson Brooks and his wife, Isabell (Fanny). Silesian emigrants, they lived first in Illinois, then headed for Oregon. When they got to Utah Territory, they decided to stay, and he became a traveling merchant in the far-flung Western communities, while she operated a millinery shop and bakery.
As the territory expanded and the "Gentile" presence became more entrenched, Jewish merchants began to supply essentials.
One such merchant, Nicholas Siegfried Ransohoff, paid $30,000 to get rid of the supply of "unclean" pork at Camp Floyd when it closed.
Samuel H. Auerbach and his brother, Frederick, became prominent Jewish merchants, arriving with a wagonload of general merchandise, which was offered for sale in The People's Store, a Main Street adobe building. Frederick eventually went into railroading while Samuel continued to expand his mercantile business. He weathered an edict by LDS Church leaders that church members should trade only with LDS businessmen and eventually had one of the largest stores in the community.
Lacking a synagogue, Jews met where they could, but maintaining Jewish dietary standards was a virtual impossibility. A rabbi from Elko, Nev., performed essential rites for a time. On Sept. 30, 1883, the first Jewish synagogue in the territory was dedicated.
Among Jews who contributed significantly to the state were mining magnate Samuel Newhouse, Gov. Simon Bamberger, merchant Maurice Warshaw, KDYL founder Sid Fox and Salt Lake motion picture pioneer and mayor Louis Marcus.
(German, Dutch, French, Swiss)
As LDS missionaries expanded their efforts beyond the British Isles and Scandinavia, a new wave of emigration from the European continent added to Utah's ethnic richness.
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