Settlement of a controversy over who was the first territorial prison warden may result in changing the plaque on a recently dedicated monument in Sugarhouse Park.
At issue is whether Daniel Carn (Garn) or Albert Perry Rockwood was the first warden of the prison that was located on the present site of Sugarhouse Park until the facility was demolished following construction of Utah State Prison at Point of the Mountain.A monument dedicated in June gives Rockwood credit for being the first warden, but members of the Garn Family Organization maintain that Daniel Carn was first and they have submitted documentation to the Sons of the Utah Pioneers to back their contention.
The monument of two brick walls 6 feet tall and 13 feet long is made from the old bricks of the penitentiary. The walls are separated by a 12-inch space. Each
ontains a plaque containing historical information about the first prison and how the name "Sugar House" came into common usage. The monument was sponsored by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, the Sugarhouse Community Council, the Utah Peace Officers Association and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Philip G. Garn, who heads the Garn Family Organization, has submitted documents showing that Daniel Carn was named the first warden in January 1855. Garn said the Garn family used several spellings of the family name, including Carn, Kern and Gern, before 1880 when the current spelling of Garn was adopted by most of the family. A report to the Territorial Legislature dated Jan. 6, 1864, and signed by Rockwood states that Daniel Carn was the first warden and that he, Rockwood, was actually the fourth warden, serving from Jan. 31, 1862, through Dec. 1 of the same year.
While Carn was identified as the first warden, Rockwood was one of three inspectors appointed to oversee operations and management of the new penitentiary. The law establishing the prison required that the warden be elected by a legislative committee and that the term of office be for two years. Under this provision, Carn served two terms, leaving the post at the end of 1859.
Everett H. Call, SUP president, said the documentation submitted by Garn is being reviewed by the organization's monument committee. He said if the information is verified, there is little option other than to change the plaque.
"We want things to be historically correct," Call said. "We don't want to promote anything that is not correct."
Call said the information on the plaque was submitted to the state Historical Society and the LDS Church historian for verification before the bronze plaques were cast. "It does appear that maybe we were wrong. If that is so, I think we must make the change."
Several options, including a separate plaque with corrected information, will be looked at if the committee recommends a change, Call said.
Robert Doidge, chairman of the Sugarhouse Park Authority board, agreed that the markers must be accurate. "When we were first approached by the group we cautioned it to be sure that the information was accurate," Doidge said.
Doidge said the simplest solution might be to remove all names from the plaques. He said the intent of the monument was to recognize the historical role of the prison and not to honor any single individual.
Thomas C. Rockwood, a great-great grandson of Albert Perry Rockwood, said he has no objections to making the change if the information proves to be valid. He suggested one solution might be to name the first four or five wardens to satisfy all involved.