A personal genealogy project started by Lonnie and Annette Holt of South Jordan has grown into a community effort and resulted in a three-volume history of South Jordan.
"It has become a community service project that we have done largely to keep us from going crazy," said Holt.Both Holts were seriously injured in an automobile wreck two years ago that killed Mrs. Holt's brother-in-law. The injuries resulted in permanent disabilities that have kept both from seeking employment. With time on their hands, the Holts felt it was time to begin working on their genealogy.
For Holt, who was born and raised in South Jordan and whose ancestry dates back to the early settlement of the area by Mormon pioneers, the project quickly became more than a quest for his personal lineage. Early research showed that his heritage was closely tied to that of the city and that no one had ever compiled a historical record of the city other than a 15-page essay completed several years ago.
Shy by nature, the Holts were initially reluctant to approach strangers to get information on the city's early history. But curiosity won out over shyness and within weeks, the two were busily making contacts with older residents of the city, collecting photos and written diaries and looking everywhere they could think of for information.
Because the pioneers began settling the area in 1850, there were more than 130 years of documentation to be sought and compiled.
"The way things have worked out it looks like it is going to be a never-ending project," laughed Holt. "The whole town has become excited about the project and we get calls all the time from people who want their family included in the project."
Three volumes, which sell for $60 per set or $20 each, have been compiled. Holt said the project is non-profit and the charge is to cover the costs of reproduction. The Holts have about 35 volumes remaining of the original printing. "I wouldn't feel right about trying to make money off this because this is part of my heritage."
Volume 1 contains information about city landmarks, early settlers in the area and reproductions of photographs and documents related to the city's early heritage. Holt said the area was originally called Gale, named for the strong winds that blow through the area, and a U.S. post office for Gale was located in the city's mercantile store until 1910. At that time the post office moved to Sandy and South Jordan has been without a post office of its own ever since.
"Everyone said it would be hard to get photographs of the area," said Mrs. Holt, "but when people saw what we were doing and that we were serious, they started dusting off the family albums and we had all the pictures we could handle."
Volume 2 focuses on some 30 pioneer families from the area. Holt said early settlers moved into mud dugouts along the Jordan River from about 90th South out to the Point of the Mountain. This volume includes writings taken directly from early diaries, including that of Robert T. Thomas, who recorded his journey across the plains from Illinois and settlement in the Salt Lake valley.
Volume 3 is a history of the South Jordan Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Holt said he felt this was needed because in the early days, the "ward was the town." He said some of the information is drawn from the original ward minutes kept from 1859 through 1955.
Volume 4, currently in production, will focus on other pioneer families and will trace the generations of those families up to current residents. Holt said he is excited about this volume because it will contain the names of people now living in the area and not just those who have passed on. "People will be able to look in the book and say `wow, that's me!' "
Holt and they will keep the project going as long as people are willing to share new information with them. They encourage calls to their home at 254-2513 or people can mail information to them at 10630 S. 1155 West.
"The community has been incredibly hospitable and we've really enjoyed putting this history together."