The Sons of the Utah Pioneers is concerned with accuracy and hopes to find a way to resolve a controversy over who should be listed as the first Utah prison warden on a plaque placed at Sugar House Park in 1988, says Everett Call, past president of the organization.
At issue is a plaque on one of two monuments erected last summer to commemorate the Utah Territorial Prison, which was on the park site until it was torn down in 1953 following completion of the current prison near Point of the Mountain.The monuments, two 6-foot-high walls constructed of bricks from the old prison walls, were erected by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Plaques containing a historical summary concerning the original prison and identifying the first prison warden were imbedded in the walls.
The plaque naming the prison warden has generated a controversy. The plaque says Albert Parry Rockwood was the first warden but relatives of Daniel Carn (the present-day family spelling has changed to Garn) say he was the first warden and have submitted evidence to support that claim.
Call said he is concerned over the publicity the controversy has generated and would like to find an amicable solution without having to dismantle the monument itself. One possibility is adding a small marker to the monuments correcting the error. Call said this would be considerably cheaper than dismantling the monument, a cost estimated at about $3,000.
Call also expressed concern over negative correspondence that may be fueling the controversy unnecessarily.
Recently, monument committee members Hope A. Hilton and Merrill Croft sent a letter to Phil G. Garn, head of the family organization. The letter states, "Even if someone collected the $3,000 to tear down the present west side of the monument and replace one of the plaques that you seem overly upset about, there would never be a place on the plaque for the name of your ancestor Daniel Garn.
"If you raise the $3,000 needed, the only change on the new plaque would be the word first (changed) to fourth when speaking of Albert Parry Rockwood's quote.
"If you are willing to pay the $3,000 please remit it at once. There is absolutely no plan or effort being made to raise money or to change the monument. All of the (petition) signatures in the world, without money, are meaningless."
Garn said that Hilton and Croft are missing the most important point: The information on the plaque is inaccurate.
"Personally I don't care if the Garn name is on the plaque, although I do know that some family members feel otherwise," Garn said. "My greatest concern is that the information is inaccurate and puts a fine organization like the Sons of the Utah Pioneers in a bad light.
"We have never demanded anything. We have only respectfully requested that the plaque be changed for the sake of accuracy," Garn said.
Call said he plans to send his own letter to Garn proposing a joint effort to find a sensible solution to the controversy. "We (the SUP) are innocent bystanders in this. It is not our intent to get in the middle of a war," Call said.
The SUP is concerned with historical accuracy, Call said, and the organization makes great efforts to be correct. But, he said, the SUP is not infallible and honest mistakes can occur. He said correcting the mistake is important, but time is needed to look at options and find a satisfactory solution, if possible, short of tearing down the existing monument.