Cartography and the Founding of Salt Lake City
Cartography and the Founding of Salt Lake City
The Founding Document of the Mormon West
With one exception, no major city can trace its origin to its first hour of existence and to a single individual. That exception is Salt Lake City. Brigham Young founded the capital of Utah at five o’clock on the afternoon of July 28, 1847. The beginnings of the city can be dated from that moment, and after more than 150 years in seclusion, the plat map that was used to lay out the city has been discovered. Henry Garlick Sherwood’s “plat of the Great City of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake” carried out Young’s instructions to survey the designated earth in conformity with Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s vision for his City of Zion. Drafted in ink on a piece of sheepskin and mounted on a rudimentary wooden roller, the plan for the “First Survey” was acquired by the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress in 2017 (fig. 1). 1
In the annals of Mormon history, nothing is more Homeric than the Latter-day Saints’ overland trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Four days after Brigham Young arrived in the valley, he selected the place that would forever mark the geographical and spiritual center of Mormonism. According to Thomas Bullock, Young’s “clerk of the camp,” “President Young waived his hands and said, ‘Here is the forty acres for the Temple lot.’” He then instructed Orson Pratt, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, to “tell Father Sherwood how many degrees of variation of compass there is at this spot, so that the City may be laid out perfectly Square North & South, East & West.” 2 Today that spot is located on the southeast corner of Temple Square where a plaque spells out in bronze letters: “FIXED BY ORSON PRATT ASSISTED BY HENRY G. SHERWOOD, AUGUST 3, 1847, WHEN BEGINNING THE ORIGINAL SURVEY OF ‘GREAT SALT LAKE CITY,’ AROUND THE ‘MORMON’ TEMPLE SITE DESIGNATED BY BRIGHAM YOUNG JULY 28, 1847” (figs. 2 & 3). 3
Brigham Young knew intuitively that Sherwood (1785–1867) was the only man for the job. In a word, he was the most experienced surveyor among the first wave of settlers. Sherwood had converted to the LDS church in 1832, but on July 22, 1839, he was hovering near death in Commerce, Illinois, the hamlet on the Mississippi River the Latter-day Saints purchased in 1839 and renamed Nauvoo. According to Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Smith commanded him “in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and come out of his tent,” and before long Sherwood made an astonishing recovery. 4 Many of the twenty-eight remaining years of his life were devoted to church affairs. Smith employed Sherwood to survey his properties, and others in Nauvoo also called upon him to carry out these tasks. 5 After “the dark clouds of sorrow” gathered above Nauvoo, forcing the abandonment of most of the city, the surveyor became the oldest member of the vanguard company to settle the corner of Mexican territory on the eastern edge of the Great Basin. 6
Sherwood was a jack-of-all-trades whose “great importance” in the cartography of Salt Lake City has only recently been recognized. “While Sherwood was a very prominent citizen of Nauvoo,” wrote the historian Michael Homer, “his profile in Salt Lake City was less apparent until [the discovery of his plat of Salt Lake City. T]he plat is not only a foundational artifact, but the narrative of its creation is a significant contribution to Utah’s history.” Before the plat’s reappearance in 2014, the surveyor named on the plaque at Temple Square had become so obscure that Richard Francaviglia makes no mention of him in his 272-page The Mapmakers of New Zion (2015). 7
The first days of Utah history are vividly chronicled in Thomas Bullock’s diary. Church leaders “approved the building of the temple on the square, the laying out of wide streets (eight rods), spacious lots (each one acre and a quarter), and sidewalks twenty feet wide, and mandated that houses be located far enough from neighboring homes to prevent fire from spreading house to house.” 8 The perfect squares were thus separated by streets that were 132 feet wide, making the embryonic city “[b]y far the largest grid in the nation (and probably in the world) . . . with -foot-square blocks—ten acres!” 9 “Upon every alternate block,” wrote Pratt in 1850, “four houses were to be built on the east, and four on the west sides of the square, but none on the north and south sides. . . . In this plan there will be no houses fronting each other on the opposite sides of streets.” 10 Young is often credited with originality here, yet, as David Bigler noted, the geometrical design, including its famous streets wide enough for a wagon and team to turn around easily, “is almost a carbon copy of plans for an earlier Mormon city, ‘New Jerusalem, City of Zion,’ designed by Joseph Smith” (fig. 4) 11
“We have commenced the survey of a city this morning,” Young wrote to Charles C. Rich on August 2, 1847. 12 Henry Sherwood and Orson Pratt, who served as scientific observer on the trail west, began to take the measure of the holy city as a warm breeze blew from the northwest, but the work was cut short when their measuring rods proved inadequate for running city lines. The surveyors had to wait “until the chain could be tested by a standard pole, which had to be brought from the mountains.” The apostle Heber C. Kimball was dispatched to the nearby mountains, returning towards evening “with some good house logs and poles for measuring.” 13 With reliable rods in hand, Pratt and Sherwood were back on the Temple block on Tuesday, August 3. So little had been accomplished on August 2 that some sources, such as the plaque on Temple Square, cite August 3 as the first day of the survey. From the beginning, Brigham Young took fervent interest in every aspect of the process, according to Bullock, who makes clear that Sherwood was firmly in charge. When help was needed, Young called on volunteers “to assist Father Sherwood in surveying the city.” 14
They encountered problems along the way. When “[t]he Surveyors run a line on the NW & NE Corner of Temple Block,” its dimensions overwhelmed them. 15 Just circumambulating the forty acres with their surveying apparatus was cumbersome. The ideal city—as conceived by Joseph Smith—encompassed twenty-four temples in its central blocks. However, once Sherwood and Pratt began working, the size of the square became impractical. At first, church leaders talked of diminishing the acreage by one-half; on Wednesday, August 4, they had further reduced the square by three-quarters: “the Twelve [Apostles] held council again . . . when they gave as their natural opinions that they could not do justice to forty acres; hence ten acres was decided for the Temple Block.” 16
By August 7, the apostles in residence were ready “to select their inheritances. President Young claimed a block east of the Temple, and running southeast, to settle his friends around him.” 17 Later he would add contiguous land to this property. The seedlings of the city were planted that Saturday, and nine days later, Young, Pratt and three other apostles gathered in a tent to establish a system for naming streets and numbering lots. “An alteration was also made in the order of numbering lots in the alternate blocks,” reported Bullock on August 16, “so as to have all uniformly beginning at the SE Corner of the Block.” 18 Whether a block was four lots wide, or instead four lots tall, the southeastern lot would always be Lot No. 1, with numbers progressing in a clock-wise direction.
“Wednesday 11 August 1847—Clear Sky, Pleasant morning,” began Bullock’s official record on the day Brigham Young approved the plan: “President Young reported Father Sherwood’s Survey of City runs 15 Blocks North & South by 9 East & West.” 19 This announcement, carefully entered in Bullock’s journal, is the earliest reference to the 15 by 9 block configuration that organized the central blocks of Salt Lake City. While the grounds continued to be measured for another nine days, Sherwood’s obligation to Young had been honored, and he was at liberty to go on “an exploring expedition to Cache Valley,” eighty miles northeast of the Salt Lake Valley. The date of his departure is not recorded, but he returned on August 20 from a trip that would normally take five or six days to complete. 20
While Sherwood was traveling, Thomas Bullock made a truncated pencil diagram of the middle blocks of the proposed city and dated it August 16, 1847. This map was actually the second of several derivatives Bullock would make of Sherwood’s plat. 21 His first was begun just as the Pratt and Sherwood survey was getting underway. “I also Make a plot of the City,” he wrote on August 3, “when President Young came into the tent & orders me to rest, and take care of myself.” If Young had had confidence in Bullock’s acumen as a surveyor or mapmaker, he might have turned to him on July 28, instead of to Orson Pratt, and instructed his clerk to execute the survey. In fact, Young seemed to be discouraging Bullock’s mapmaking aspirations when, on the day he was drafting his map, the church leader urged him not to “worry [him]self so much about the business, but preserve [his] health for future usefulness.” 22 Bullock’s journal then falls silent on the subject of cartography, picking up six days later when “all of the Council meet in Tent, examine map which I finished while they were present. Marked out the Blocks for the Council.” 23
On August 16, Bullock “made another new map.” 24 Drawn in pencil, that second work— which survives in the Bullock Papers at the Church History Library—must have superseded his earlier one, which was then no longer needed. The earlier map disappeared, and nothing further seems to be known about it. A purpose of the later map was to record or update lots claimed by the leaders present in the valley at the time. 25 Since none had picked the less-desirable lots on the outskirts of the city, Bullock had no need, or indeed space on his 11” x 9” piece of paper, to delineate the lower three rows of blocks (numbers 1–27) or the uppermost rows (numbers 127–135).
The Sherwood and Bullock plats had been inaccessible and virtually unknown to historians for decades when Will Bagley came across Bullock’s in the Thomas Bullock papers and described it in The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock (1997). The scholars who examined the map could plainly see that not only was it dated “16 Augt. 47,” but that the mapmaker had written on the verso “original Plat G S L City.” Because of the docket—and the absence of the Sherwood plat (its discovery would not be announced until 2016)—Bullock’s plat has been cited in recent years as the first of Salt Lake City. Before the city “could take form,” wrote Francaviglia, “a plat map was needed. That task fell to Thomas Bullock. . . . Prepared on or before August 16, the map served as a blueprint for development.” 26
If this map had been such a blueprint, Bullock’s name would be engraved on the plaque on Temple Square, and Salt Lake City would look different today. For one thing, the core of the city would consist of 36 fewer blocks. Bullock’s map delineated 11 blocks North and South and 9 blocks East and West, not the 15 by 9 configuration Brigham Young had approved on August 11. Secondly, the public squares would be in different locations because Bullock mistakenly assigned all three to the wrong blocks. 27 One of these misplaced blocks helps us to understand the chronology of the early diagrams of Salt Lake City.
On the morning of August 3, Pratt and Sherwood were already on the ground marking the boundaries where the pioneers were planning to construct an adobe fort for safety and shelter. “The Surveyors,” recorded Bullock, “. . . run out the chain to the Dobie Square which is 3 blocks South by 3 West from Temple Square.” Bullock recorded its coordinates precisely that day, but on his August 16 diagram, he assigned the square to the wrong block. While such a fundamental error betrays Bullock’s inadequacies as a cartographer, it helps us understand the sequence of creation.
“Bullock’s map,” Francaviglia wrote in an email on June 6, 2016, “is regarded as a prototype for [the early maps of Salt Lake City] and I cannot disagree with that assertion.” 28 If the August 16, 1847, map had been the prototype for the city, then Pratt and Sherwood’s plat would follow the cartography of the Bullock map and would also have Dobie Square on the wrong block (rather than where the fort was instead constructed on what is now Pioneer Park). But Young’s designated surveyors had the squares in the correct blocks and they placed them there before Bullock delineated a single line on his first “plot.” 29 Bagley called Bullock’s map “a rough plat of the city,” and later he contrasted it with Sherwood’s: “The discovery of this amazing article [i.e., the Sherwood plat], gave me new appreciation of the importance of early Mormon Utah surveys, which I had assumed were pretty Mickey Mouse.” 30
The most minute trivia is faithfully recorded in Bullock’s journal alongside events of momentous import: Brigham Young’s voice was “very hoarse” at 10:00 p.m. and “hunted for the cow and got very tired.” Had Bullock been charged with the design of the western Zion, the assignment would have received at least as much attention in his journal as the report that “the first four chickens in the ‘Great Salt Lake City’ were hatched.” His calling was as a clerk and diarist, and he fulfilled those roles admirably— generations of historians revere his journal. However, the plats he made were little more than ad-hoc creations executed after the fact to help church leaders organize and locate their land assignments. If he placed public squares in the wrong places, the error did not matter because that was not his assignment. The fact that he marked block 62 for the “dobie” fort, instead of block 48 where it was already under construction, suggests that his knowledge for the plan of Salt Lake City must have come from others and not from field work. His maps record second-hand information. 31
We made every effort to identify references to the Sherwood survey—and Bullock’s map as well—in letters, journals and other records at the LDS Church History Library and elsewhere. The first appeared in 1849, the year the settlers proposed the State of Deseret. Though not recognized beyond the Mormon faith, that interim administration established an office of surveyor general, and its first appointee was Henry Sherwood. He held the post until the United States government founded Utah Territory as part of the Compromise of 1850—he then became surveyor general of Utah Territory. 32 Brigham Young had specified in the Deseret ordinance that “all surveys in the territory should be made to correspond with the original survey of Salt Lake City.” 33 The ordinance further stipulated that any Sherwood plat had to be handed down to his successor. 34 When Jesse W. Fox replaced Sherwood as surveyor general in 1852, he took possession of the signed sheepskin and retained it as he discharged his surveying duties throughout Utah Territory. Fox may have carried Sherwood’s plat with him as he followed Young’s directive to replicate its distinctive framework in such places as Ogden, Provo, Logan, and Manti. He may also have had it with him when he surveyed the Salt Lake City Temple site in 1853.
The next reference occurs in 1863 when a property line was called into question. Sherwood, though no longer living in Salt Lake City, maintained his authority on the geography of the city in absentia after he had moved to San Bernardino, California. The lot in dispute belonged to none other than Jesse Fox, and Bullock had needed Sherwood’s expertise to determine its “true boundaries.” In his reply, Sherwood made direct reference to his grid as he admonished his successor’s inability to “rightly judge of a good survey—such was mine of the city.” 35
The Sherwood plat had been forgotten by all but a few in the spring of 1893 when the Mormon temple, forty years under construction, was about to be dedicated. As Salt Lake City prepared to celebrate, Jesse Fox decided to bring his proudest possession out of hiding. He took the Sherwood plat to the office of the church newspaper, edited by the son of George Q. Cannon. Cannon (1827–1901) and Fox had known one another in Nauvoo, Illinois, and remained friends after each had moved west. In Salt Lake City, Cannon advanced through the ranks of the church, eventually becoming so prominent that he was known as “the Mormon Richelieu.” He “was a schoolteacher,” Cannon would recall at Fox’s funeral in 1894, “and I happened to be thrown very closely with him at that time, and the acquaintance has been a continuous one from that day until the day of his death.” 36
“General Jesse W. Fox, the veteran surveyor of this Territory,” proclaimed an article in the Deseret Evening News on March 23, 1893, “yesterday exhibited in the News office the original plat of this city, made in the year 1847 by H. G. Sherwood.” It continued: “In those early days— the first year of Utah’s settlement—drawing paper was not to be had; so a bit of sheepskin was pressed into use; . . . The relic bears lightly and well its burden of forty-six years, during forty of which it has been in the possession of the present owner.” 37 Cannon was so impressed with his old friend’s treasure that he re-ran the same article, “SALT LAKE’S FIRST SUR- VEY,” in his own weekly column of the Deseret Weekly. 38 Of course, Cannon had known all of the principals personally—Sherwood, Fox, and Bullock—so he retailed the story of the “original plat of this city” with first-hand familiarity.
When Fox died the next year, the map started down a slow and reclusive path of inheritance through generations of the Fox family. Like geological strata, the plat accumulated layers of unbroken provenance from Sherwood to Jesse Fox to Fox’s descendants. Each generation revered it as a cherished heirloom. Jesse Fox’s great, great, great grandson described how, at family gatherings in the 1980s, his grandfather “would leave the room, soon returning holding this leather scroll as if it were the Hope Diamond. He would then proceed to talk about this relic which he held in his hands.” 39
In the Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia (1936), church historian Andrew Jenson wrote that Sherwood “made the drawing of the first survey of Salt Lake City. Having no paper of suitable size, this important document was drawn on a prepared sheep’s skin.” 40 The lack of drafting paper was not the only reason for the sheepskin. The surveyors required a material durable enough to carry in sweating hands for two weeks in August. They also knew that they were creating a document of enduring significance and wanted it on a surface more substantial and permanent than paper, perhaps so that the plat could later be put to use again in the field and elsewhere. Leather had been employed by the Mormons for a city map at least once before. A plat for Far West in Missouri was also accomplished on sheepskin (fig. 5). 41
The centennial of the founding of Salt Lake City in 1947 occupied its residents for most of that year. The “pageantry, dedication, and entertainment” inspired a member of the Board of Trustees of the Utah State Historical Society to produce a map in commemoration of the jubilee. 42 Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan Sr.’s “Pioneer Map, Great Salt Lake City,” published in the early 1950s, measures 39” x 32” and lays out the original 15 by 9 block configuration “Based upon the Pratt-Sherwood survey of 1847.” Unaware that the actual Sherwood survey still existed, the Utah lawyer relied on “the earliest plat-map in the Salt Lake County files,” a derivative that had been “prepared in accordance with the original survey made by Orson Pratt, Henry G. Sherwood and assistants.” The lots for 674 Pioneers were located on this official map from the early 1850s; Morgan identified the owners of 190 additional lots. 43
In the summer of 2014, Rick Grunder, a dealer in Mormon books and papers, received an unsolicited message. “I have a historical/religious artifact that I’m hoping you can give me some more information about,” began the email. “It is the original survey plat A for Salt Lake City. The authentic first survey done by Orson Pratt and HG Sherwood as ordered by Brigham Young in July of 1847. . . . It was held in the office of the Surveyor General,” continued the matter-of-fact communication. “Forgive me for this condensed version of Mormon history, but from what I understand, Brigham Young reached the Salt Lake Valley following an illness of some sort. He reached an area, proclaiming that this was the spot spoken to him from God to build the temple and lay out the new City of Zion. Young then directed Pratt and Sherwood to draw up this first plat of the city based on the Joseph Smith model. What I have here is the direct result.” 44
Grunder is well-informed on Mormon history, but he had never come across a reference to the Pratt and Sherwood plat. Nor had several of his contacts working in Mormon, Utah, and western American history. Unconvinced that such a significant document could vanish without leaving a single trace, Grunder began a pursuit of sources. Two-and-a-half weeks of arduous searching finally produced the article describing Jesse Fox’s visit to the Deseret Evening News office in 1893. With this reference to the sheepskin map, Grunder purchased the plat. When it was in hand, he was struck by the utilitarian nature of the undated document. The sheepskin was not fancy vellum intended for show, but supple working material—sturdy but hardly amenable to elegant writing. It was nailed to an unadorned wooden roller. 45
Soon thereafter, his colleague Paul Cohen acquired an interest in it. Cohen, a dealer in rare books and antique maps, was exhibiting at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair in 2016, and he and Grunder decided that the fair would be the place to introduce the long-lost object. “Historic Map Showing Brigham Young’s vision for Salt Lake City surfaces after 168 years,” announced the Salt Lake City Fox News headline on April 7, 2016. The plat went on exhibition that night and received additional coverage in the Salt Lake City newspapers. The Associated Press picked up the story and disseminated it around the globe. It is not certain how the citizens of Nigeria and Sri Lanka reacted to the news, but newspapers in those countries also reported the remarkable discovery. 46
As a result of the coverage, Cohen returned the sheepskin to Utah where he showed it to historians and librarians at meetings held at the Utah State Historical Society, the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, and the LDS Church History Library. At the Church History Library, archivists prepared for Cohen’s visit by spreading over a conference table all of the early maps of Salt Lake City they possessed, including Thomas Bullock’s August 16, 1847 plat. Of course, it was interesting to see the rough extract based on the Sherwood configuration, but that was not the most intriguing item on the table. Among the maps lay a small sheepskin-bound manuscript. Unknown to Grunder or Cohen, Sherwood had kept a notebook to record property owners. This list of city lots had become separated from the plat itself and was now in the library’s Thomas Bullock Collection. Sherwood’s signature is written across the cover, and below his name it is possible to decipher two words of faded calligraphy: “Old plat.” The ink has bled into the leather, but a few other letters can also be made out: “Account City lots” and “G. S. L. City.” The library catalog described it as “Henry G. Sherwood’s plat book, circa 1850–1852.” 47 But it is earlier than this as some of the entries predate 1850. It credits, for example, a payment by landowner William Coray, who arrived in the valley on September 6, 1848, and died March 7, 1849— as well as a payment by William Dayton, who was accidently killed by cannon fire on August 31, 1849. 48
An exhilarating moment at the Church History Library occurred when the notebook and the plat were placed side by side for the first time in a century and a half. The two relics from the earliest days of the Mormon experience in the West were briefly juxtaposed, perhaps for the last time. Both bore the distinctive signature of “H. G. Sherwood” with similar identifying inscriptions. While they were on the table, Christy Best, an LDS church archivist, noticed that the numbering of land divisions on the plat did not seem to match Sherwood’s handwriting. Bullock had noted in his journal that the system for numbering city lots was not determined until August 16, a day when Sherwood was on his Cache Valley trip. Once the Council decided on a system, a scribe must have filled in numbers where Sherwood had left blank spaces.
The recording of property owners is a function of many plat maps, and Sherwood clearly began his plat book to be in readiness for the distribution of lots. According to the Church History Library website, this little volume “Records owners of lots in the original plat of Great Salt Lake City (blocks 1–139) as registered by city surveyor Henry G. Sherwood and continued by Thomas Bullock.” When Young described Sherwood’s original plat on August 11, 1847, he stated that it consisted of 135 blocks—not 139 blocks. 49 The companion notebook was so early that it, too, was initially designed to itemize the lots of 135 blocks, with entries for three blocks on each page. The surveyor had counted out just enough pages to record all of the landowners. He tied the leaves together and then affixed them to a sheepskin backing that matched that of the plat. Not one leaf of the paper was wasted.
The parade of landowners began with block one on the inside front cover and continued to the bottom of the final page. The only blank sheet was on the inside back cover. When Sherwood added four crudely delineated blocks to the top of his plat, he had to find a place in his notebook for their lot assignments, but he could fit only three more blocks on that inside cover. He solved the problem by gluing a fold-down flap of blue paper at the bottom of that cover and used this sheet for the final, fourth block, number 139. There can be no doubt that the words “Old plat” on the front of the notebook, with its own 135 + 4 blocks, refer to the sheepskin plat.
The committee for providing the nascent community with an official name had not yet settled on an appellation when Sherwood signed and identified the “plat of the Great City of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.” Before August 9, there was only a promised city with this description on the plat. On August 9, 1847, the desolate locality had a new name: “Salt Lake City, Great Basin, North America.” Then, on August 22, a “Conference” unanimously designated it “‘The Great Salt Lake City’ of the Great Basin North America” on the motion of Brigham Young, seconded by Daniel B. Huntington. 50 Sherwood’s plat was made before the city was officially named; Bullock, on the other hand, used nomenclature that was not decided until August 22 on the plat he dated August 16. This discrepancy suggests that he wrote this date on his map after August 22, 1847.
The notebook had more to tell. It records fees paid directly to Sherwood for surveying individual properties. He charged one dollar per lot and noted each payment in the book. Even Bullock had to pay Sherwood to have his land surveyed (block 69, lot 5): “Thomas Bullock p[ai]d [me] by recording lots.” 51 When Sherwood moved to California, he authorized Bullock “to collect my fees on all my surveys in Great Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah Territory and dispose of such City Lots whereon the fees have not been paid to me or receipted by you, and [I] hereby ratify all your actions in regard to the same as if I was present in person.” 52 Bullock’s own plats on full-size drafting paper were no doubt created to aid him as he carried out duties he had assumed when he returned to the Salt Lake Valley after spending the winter of 1848 near present-day Omaha. 53 Bullock continued to record lots in the notebook for Jesse Fox. 54
The evolving content of the Sherwood plat indicates a work-in-progress. On July 28, 1847, Young had instructed Pratt to have Sherwood lay out the proposed new settlement “perfectly square” like Joseph Smith’s 1833 plat for the city of Zion. But this was not Missouri, and the Wasatch mountains rose precipitously nearby, starting with foothills that loomed stubbornly as an obstacle to any uniform quadrangle large enough to encompass a “Great City.” The sheepskin plat reveals that this problem was resolved by creating an oblong rectangle running further to the unencumbered south than east and west between the uneven topography. 55
By August 16 or later, when the lots were numbered, it had become evident that no one would be able to build houses in the northeastern segments. Fifteen blocks were therefore off limit for development—a loss of 150 acres of valuable city property. 56 As settlers began to establish their personal lots in the valley, Sherwood gradually corrected the plat in his notebook, sequestering even more hilly blocks than were left blank on his sheepskin grid. To the original blocks deemed unsuitable for development, Sherwood eventually added four more (fig. 11). 57 Bullock’s 1848 (and later) large-paper property diagrams agree, though lots on some of these blocks were again offered for sale, conceivably to settlers willing to make allowances for the irregularity of the land. 58
It takes tremendous faith to lay out an ideal city in dust and sagebrush before it even has a name. Furthermore, it takes unwavering conviction to camp out in tents and wagons until streets can be permanently laid out, within inches of where they are now located. 59 The exact block where the pioneers would spend their first winter was delineated on the sheepskin plat with the same precision as the location for a temple that would not have spires for decades. To this day, the stately Salt Lake City and County Building (finished in 1894) stands on a public block prescribed unerringly on that rectangle of leather by Henry Sherwood.
For all its expansiveness, however, the plat also discloses inconveniences of its time—inevitable exigencies and distractions to be expected when trying to make a new place function. Since 1847, some of the one-inch blocks have shrunk along with the leather they are drawn on, and more intentional changes were put into effect. The extra blocks, for example, which Sherwood added so roughly to the top left of his perimeter suggest an expansion before the next addition of blocks was envisioned. The owners of the lots of those four blocks are entered in Sherwood’s notebook, but they were not included in subsequent plats by Bullock.
Outside of the perimeter along the lower right side appear numbers added still later to identify conterminous blocks for an eventual “Plat D” addition, suggesting that someone—probably Jesse Fox himself—was still working with Sherwood’s plat into the mid-1850s. 60 The sheepskin, in other words, was the master model to guide surveys in the field—its form and substance supporting the earliest Mormon resolve to establish order and permanence in the West.
In 2008, William P. MacKinnon predicted “the continued discovery of documents that would illuminate Utah’s tumultuous territorial period.” More recently, writing in the Utah Historical Quarterly, he singled out the Sherwood plat as giving substance to that prediction. Dr. Thomas Alexander, author of Mormons & Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake City (1984), applauded the discovery of the plat and seconded MacKinnon when he made the following direct statement: “It seems to me that the map you have is the first survey map of the city. The evidence seems to indicate that your map predates Bullock’s map.” 61 The plat, however, has not won acceptance in all quarters. The Utah State Board of Education, for example, still advances the premise that Bullock drafted the “first platte [sic] of the city” and continues to circulate this information on its website. Others have also withheld their endorsement of the Sherwood plat. 62
In the years leading up to the discovery of Sherwood’s plat, Bullock’s diagram had been accruing stature. Richard Francaviglia gave him full credit for surveying Salt Lake City and making the city’s first map. “Bullock’s map of the city was beautifully drawn,” he wrote in The Mapmakers of New Zion, “with a simplicity and restraint revealing the steady hand of a competent surveyor and cartographer.” 63 Francaviglia has since allowed for the possibility that Sherwood’s map might precede Bullock’s, “but lacking more concrete evidence I cannot support that assertion at this time. The lack of dates is particularly troubling to me.” Jeffrey L. Anderson, an archivist in the LDS Church History Department, is also unconvinced that Sherwood’s map (which Young accepted on August 11, 1847) preceded Bullock’s (dated August 16, 1847). He felt that further research is needed to determine the indisputable chronology of the two maps, and pointed to “letters, journals, and other records in our collection that may help better understand the history of the maps.” 64
Most important cities are so old as to preclude the existence of their earliest maps. However, foundation maps do exist for two major American cities. Both Washington, D.C., the world’s first planned capital, and Salt Lake City were laid out before a single street or building was constructed. Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s original manuscript of the nation’s capital is one of the prize holdings of the Library of Congress. When the nation’s library purchased Sherwood’s sheepskin in 2017, it took possession of a map, according to its cataloging record, “believed to be the first map of Salt Lake City.” It would also be the only other original manuscript of a major American city. Salt Lake City “was planned to be great from the beginning,” wrote Richard Francaviglia, “and it quickly began to develop on what many observers called a ‘magnificent’ scale.” 65 The first days of the city set the stage for the enduring presence of the Mormons in the American West. If the sheepskin plat is the first of the city, it is nothing less than the first implemented plan for Joseph Smith’s City of God. It would be the founding document of Utah and of Western Mormonism.
Contextualizing Early Mormon Maps A Cautionary Response
In 2016, I received a phone call from Paul Cohen, who was enthusiastic about a map that a colleague had located (fig. 1). Paraphrasing the conversation, Cohen described a sheepskin map that was purportedly made by Henry Sherwood. Cohen was certain that the map was authentic and claimed that it was the very first map of Salt Lake City, predating Thomas Bullock’s maps drafted in mid-August 1847. If authentic, properly dated to early August of that year, and actually done by Sherwood, the sheepskin map would be truly significant find.
Having read my book The Mapmakers of New Zion, Cohen was hoping to enlist my support in endorsing the map’s authenticity. However, without seeing the map, and subjecting it to very careful scrutiny—including a thorough examination of its provenance—I was hesitant. My hesitancy was based on an awareness that maps purported to be authentic might be outright fakes or very clever imitations. Cartographic history has its share of questionable early maps, including the controversial Vinland Map and the Liu Gang map, so extra caution is advised when a “first” or “missing link” surfaces. Recalling that the collectors’ market concerning things Mormon was no stranger to fraudulent documents, I urged Cohen to conduct additional research to be certain that the map in question was the genuine article. I was particularly troubled by two things. First, the map bore no date, which seemed unusual given the propensity for many compilers of important documents to record such information. Second, given the map’s potential significance, its having surfaced after a public absence of 168 years seemed somewhat troubling. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to say the least.
During our subsequent phone calls, Cohen said he and colleague Rick Grunder were writing an article about the sheepskin map for the Utah Historical Quarterly. The article promised to be a breakthrough that definitively proved the map in question was indeed the earliest cartographic effort in Salt Lake City’s history. In their favor, Cohen mentioned that Will Bagley supported their claim. I wholeheartedly supported the publication of such an article, provided that the authors carefully document the evidence, and moreover that others familiar with this period in early Utah and Mormon history could weigh in on the subject. I thought an issue of the Quarterly covering the topic would be worthwhile. Upon calling the coeditor Jed Rogers, I was delighted to learn that he was thinking along those same lines. I was overjoyed that a subject that I had covered in only a couple of pages in Mapmakers could now be expanded into a forum that would not only shed light on the earliest mapping of the city, but could also enable readers to see how the process of contextualization and verification of a document—in this case a map— actually works. Happily, the forum you are now reading eventually materialized.
At this point, I would like to step back to clarify my coverage of Salt Lake City’s early mapping, which the authors critique in their article. In Mapmakers, I tried to capture some of the vision and excitement surrounding the city’s early mapping. An entry in the recently published Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History (which I referenced in my book) had mentioned “1847 Plat A, consisting of 135 blocks, is [sic] surveyed by Orson Pratt and Henry Sherwood,” and so in Mapmakers I hoped to shed light on others involved in the process. 1 Like Cohen and Grunder, I was aware of the historical marker mentioning Sherwood and Pratt as early surveyors (fig. 2), but was more concerned with the earliest extant maps that resulted from those surveys. And like virtually everyone researching Utah and LDS history, I was unaware that a sheepskin map purportedly by Sherwood was about to come to light. When Cohen first contacted me, I stated that I certainly would have mentioned and likely even illustrated it in my book, even though it had not been authenticated, much less actually dated to 1847. I should also note that I did not think that sheepskin maps were as rare as Cohen had implied; in Mapmakers I refer to some substitutes for paper used in the early pioneer era. That said, I am well aware that the public finds maps drafted on animal skins to be intriguing, despite (as the authors note) their tendency to be dimensionally unstable, that is, subject to shrinkage and expansion. However, what makes this sheepskin map so important is its date. The authors claim that it dates from the very first surveys in early August of 1847, which is to say about two weeks before Bullock’s map(s) of the city.
As it turns out, dates are indeed an issue to the subject at hand because they too should be carefully documented. I must admit that I accepted the “1850” catalog entry date for certain material in the LDS Church History Library pertaining to the Sherwood (and other) surveys, as have many other scholars. Grunder and Cohen’s claim that the sheepskin map actually dates from August 2 (or 3), 1847, if correct, is important indeed because it may have influenced Bullock’s mapping of the city. The lesson for historians is to scrutinize your sources—to trust but verify, to paraphrase the old Russian proverb. Archivists do their best at dating material but are not infallible. If the Sherwood map can be definitively dated as claimed, then it is indeed an important document. Their claims that it matches earlier descriptions and jibes with early property maps would seem to confirm its importance, though not necessarily its authenticity. Similarly, an 1893 newspaper story may or may not be accurate in its reporting of events about half a century earlier, and for that matter may or may not be describing a particular map—in this case the sheepskin map that recently surfaced. Jesse Fox’s reported involvement in this document’s provenance is among the more compelling of the authors’ claims.
Grunder and Cohen’s article does include several very strong endorsements by experts, all of whom I respect. However, it is noteworthy that some of this expert opinion is qualified. For example, as the authors themselves state, Thomas Alexander uses the phrases “It seems to me” and “The evidence seems to indicate” when referring to the map’s authenticity. “Seems” is the operative word here in that it leaves some room for uncertainty. Moreover even the catalog entry for the Sherwood map in the Library of Congress leaves some room for more research, if not doubt, stating “This manuscript plat map is believed to be the first map of Salt Lake City, Utah.” 2 I find the wording “is believed to be” both prudent and revealing, for belief is dependent on faith, and leaves some room for doubt by skeptics. Ultimately, of course, authenticity is determined objectively, not by opinion. In other words, truth-seeking is not a democratic process and requires irrefutable evidence. The authors’ case would be even more compelling if it were based on scientific evidence, such as comparative DNA (from the sheepskin and others), a chemical analysis of ink from its lines and lettering, and comparative handwriting analyses—all of which could more definitively authenticate it.
Hopefully, the Library of Congress will scientifically analyze the sheepskin map in light of others with verified dates, and conduct a full investigation into all aspects of this document’s properties, content, and provenance. For their part, the authors have done a fine job of getting that process started. Their argument that this plat map may have served as a model to guide future field surveys is clearly based on their premise that it is the earliest map of the city. If correct and proven true, then this certainly is a very visionary as well as technically proficient map indeed. I use the term “visionary” here in two ways, one implying forethought and the other pertaining to it as a visual or graphic document as opposed to narrative wording. In that context, I think that Michael Homer’s characterization of the sheepskin map as “a foundational artifact” of the Mormon West is apt. Even here, though, note that Homer says “a” foundational rather than “the” foundational document, despite the authors’ use of the superlative. That said, the authors’ article makes a significant contribution to scholarship pertaining to Utah and Mormon history, especially when supplemented by the related essays in this issue.
Although I highly commend the authors for shedding new light on the earliest surveying, especially their detailed comparison of the content of early property maps, I suspect their enthusiasm for Sherwood—and for that matter Salt Lake City—overlooks a couple of issues pertaining to the mapmaker and the city. Regarding the latter, despite the fact that Salt Lake City is a majestic place, it is not universally considered to be “the geographical and spiritual center of Mormonism” as the authors assert. True, the city’s role in the nineteenth-century “Gathering” is undeniable, but other locales (including Hill Cumorah) have long been involved in the very complicated phenomenon we know as the Mormon sense of place. While on this subject of early surveys of that city, I feel that more research needs to be done to determine how and why the earliest plat(s) were not actually surveyed “in conformity with Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s vision for his City of Zion,” despite Grunder and Cohen’s claims. As for the authors’ support of David Bigler’s claim that Salt Lake City’s plat “is almost a carbon copy of plans for an earlier Mormon city, ‘New Jerusalem, City of Zion’ designed by Joseph Smith” (fig. 4), the deviations are significant and have been long discussed and refuted. As succinctly—and correctly—stated in Mapping Mormonism, “the City of Zion Plat was never canonized as a revelation from the Prophet and was never implemented exactly as drawn.” 3 Moreover, Grunder and Cohen’s claims about the scarcity of paper (hence the use of sheepskin) and the earliest use of the appellation “Great” in the city’s name seems compelling but not to me conclusive.
As regards Sherwood himself, I think the authors do a fine job of bringing from relative obscurity this talented and peripatetic pioneer settler and mapmaker. However, in the process, they seem to have become overly dismissive of Bullock’s efforts and talents. For example, I am not convinced that the authors’ conjectural reading of Brigham Young’s comments about Bullock to not “worry [him]self so much about the business” of mapmaking were meant to belittle his cartographic skills—certainly not without corroboration by someone else who had been present to record the nuances and significance of those conversations. After all, it was Bullock who helped convert the early survey sketches into maps that were useful indeed, reportedly in the subsequent development of the city and certainly in showcasing its impressive design and grand scale. I am reluctant to dismiss Bullock’s maps from mid-August (1847), as they are an important dated visual record of Salt Lake City.
Bullock’s words, too, were seminal: his early journal entries proclaimed, “on this place we can lay out a City two miles East and West, and as large as we have a mind to North & South.” Note that Bullock says “we” and does not claim to be the sole source of the information on his own maps. In Mapmakers, I confirmed this involvement by “other church leaders” and stated that Bullock’s mapping of Salt Lake City “was a team effort” involving “several players.” 4 Although I did not individually name them—and should have—that team’s effort serves as a reminder that maps are almost always collaborative efforts, not the result of a single genius. For the record, I also illustrate additional (later) Bullock maps of other parts on the West that cast doubt on the suggestion that Brigham Young was dismissive of his mapmaking efforts. 5
As to the accuracy of Bullock’s maps, which the authors find wanting, I should note that all maps contain errors. Some are easier to spot than others, but any cartographer who puts pen to paper (or sheepskin) is making the transition from narrative to illustration—and hence subjecting their work to scrutiny and criticism. Why? Because maps concretely position standalone features (boundaries, towns, lots, etc.) in relation to each other, and those positions can be checked as to direction and distance. Many mapmakers discover to their chagrin that errors are part of mapmaking. From a philosophical but also practical perspective, by that process maps become more accurate through time as revisions are made. A related but sobering observation: although it is easy to find fault with maps, making one takes more skill than critics often realize—especially those who have never made a map themselves.
One of the real mysteries to me remains why Bullock would draw what some claim to be a less accurate map than Sherwood’s supposedly earlier—according to Grunder and Cohen, the very earliest—map of the city. After all, if Sherwood’s map was already available, why not simply copy it? Moreover, why Bullock’s supposedly inferior maps were used in the city building process and archived for posterity poses interesting questions. With the diligent work by the authors, we are being encouraged to reexamine key source materials but by no means have the definitive answers. For my part, the sheepskin map in question seems so well prepared one could speculate that there may have been other maps that preceded it—sketch maps made on-site that may not have survived. In other words, as maps go, rather than being the first such document, the sheepskin map attributed to Sherwood could be one of the first. Something about this sheepskin map, including the confidence with which it was drawn, could impress a cartographic historian as being a bit too refined, even polished, for a very first try. Interestingly, Cohen and Grunder seem to downplay the visual impact of this sheepskin map, for when unrolled it makes a dramatic statement about how the city was seemingly ordained to expand in that vertical (north-south) direction. Rather than suggesting frugality, the map’s tightly cropped borders bearing the compass directions enhance its visual impact. We will likely never know the cartographer’s intent in drafting and mounting this map attributed to Sherwood, but so presented, it is truly impressive.
Ultimately, however, Bullock’s comprehensive plat maps enabled the Latter-day Saints to envision, and then market, Great Salt Lake City as a premier destination in the American West. As a shrewd delegator, Brigham Young was well aware of the role played by Bullock’s maps. The British explorer Sir Richard F. Burton used a later version of Bullock’s map of Salt Lake City in compiling his classic travel narrative The City of the Saints: Among the Mormons and Across the Rocky Mountains to California (1860). It was also Burton who wrote something that all researchers may appreciate: “One of my favourite places of visiting was the Historian and Recorder’s Office” which “contained a small collection of volumes, together with papers, official and private, plans, designs, and other requisites”—presumably among them Bullock’s plat. 6
That quote leads me to make one parting observation. If the sheepskin map described in the authors’ essay is indeed the genuine article, then some might claim that the Latter-day Saints missed a great opportunity to purchase it for their archives a couple of years ago. I have been told that they were offered the opportunity to buy it, but their offer was evidently too low and was rejected. On the other hand, there may be more to this story as I have also heard that the low bid might suggest that doubts existed, not only about the map’s authenticity but also whether in fact it could really be considered “the founding document of the Mormon West” when earlier written documents have long been part of their collections. In other words, we have come to value maps more highly today for their aesthetic value than ever before, while to early Mormons they were regarded far more pragmatically. That said, there is no denying the appeal of this map as an object of antiquarian interest. Alas, although one can now scrutinize the original in the nation’s capital, the experience would be so much more palpable if one were consulting it while sitting in the same blocks that were platted, with the towering Wasatch as a backdrop, back in August of 1847. Seen another way, though, one can view the purchase of this document by the Library of Congress as proof that the Mormons have achieved a goal they hoped for in the 1840s—to become a lasting part of the national consciousness.
Salt Lake City as Cultural Symbol
The principal article in this roundtable discussion makes a plausible argument that the Henry Sherwood plat of Salt Lake City was the initial design of this new Latter-day Saint homeland as directed by Brigham Young shortly after the vanguard pioneer company set up camp in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847 (fig. 1). Its authors claim that plats by Bullock and other pioneers based their design and function on Sherwood’s. The recent reemergence of the Sherwood plat is especially noteworthy for all who are interested in the history of the city that Chauncy Harris referred to as a “regional capitol” and of Latter-day Saint settlement generally. 1 While the plat is undoubtedly of great historical significance, as manifest by its purchase in 2017 by the Library of Congress, the question of its primacy is another matter. Historians, archivists, city planners, and collectors may never completely agree on which plat of Salt Lake City was, in fact, the first. More to the point of this article is the question of why primacy in this case matters so much. I am not aware of a lively scholarly debate over which plat was first for Denver, St. Louis, or other major American cities. Why should the founding of Salt Lake City be different? Given the fact that several plats of Salt Lake City were drafted in relative proximity with only slight variations, why should anyone care which was the first? To this point, “first” has two quite different connotations that are relevant to the hypothesis advanced by Grunder and Cohen. It could mean either “prior to all others” or “foremost”—that is, first in sequence or first in importance. 2 The former connotation invokes primarily a historical question, that is, ordering the facts in the way that they actually happened as documented by reliable records. The latter connotation invokes largely a cultural question—determining the most influential or meaningful element in a complex process. Grunder and Cohen claim that the Sherwood plat became the official plat of Salt Lake City, hence its primacy in the founding of the Latter-day Saint homeland in the American West. If their claims are accurate, the Sherwood plat is one of the most significant documents, not just in Mormon history but also in the history of the American West, given the strength and size of the culture region that it eventually defined. 3
I hope that the issue of the primacy of the Sherwood plat engages lively debate for years to come. Even if the question is never definitively settled, the explorations will increase our understanding and appreciation of Mormon settlement from a variety of diverse professional and academic perspectives. In the reflections that follow, I attempt to add to this understanding by addressing a cultural question: what does the Sherwood plat and the larger social practice it represents say about the initial, intended identity of the city that it helped to define? This question is implied but not directly addressed in Grunder and Cohen’s article.
The considerable significance of Salt Lake City’s design for the urban history of North America was indirectly acknowledged in 1996 by the American Planning Association, which gave its Planning Landmark Award to Joseph Smith’s Plat of Zion, the formal antecedent of the plan for Salt Lake City, citing that the plan for Zion’s “center place” was “one of the most significant accomplishments in the history of American city development.” Following suit in 2015, Urban Design Utah honored the Plat of Zion with its Legacy Award. 4 From 1831 to the first decades of the twentieth century, more than seven hundred communities located throughout the American Midwest and West, southern Canada and northern Mexico, and even the Pacific islands were settled by Mormon pioneers, most under the direction of church leaders but many at the initiative of small groups of Latter-day Saints seeking better places to live.
The Plat of Zion, with its cardinally oriented orthogonal grid, central public square, and consolidated residential neighborhoods, became the standard design for most of these settlements (fig. 4). The layout was of considerable practical value, facilitating a social order and community lifestyle that were efficiently and economically replicated, consistent with Latter-day Saint values, and adaptable to a variety of landscapes and ecologies. Cooperation was essential to accommodate tens of thousands of Latter-day Saint converts from North America, Europe, and elsewhere to “gather to Zion”—as they referred to their religious utopia—and to create a sustainable and symbiotic society worthy of the blessings of heaven.
The ultimate reference point for this ambitious utopian plan was an urban society, called “City of Holiness,” that was founded by the ancient patriarch Enoch and that eventually became worthy to be translated from its mundane setting on earth into heaven, where God branded it “mine abode forever” but which would return to earth at the end of time. 5 Perceiving that he was called of God to fulfill Enoch’s legacy, Joseph Smith defined his prophetic mission, in large part, to unite earthly and heavenly Zion, thereby establishing God’s millennial kingdom on earth. 6
Thus, settlement for the Latter-day Saints was a profoundly spiritual as well as practical enterprise, engaging much of their combined energy, devotion, skills, and resources to fulfill this comprehensive spiritual mission. Ordering the landscape and stewarding its resources were essential to this enterprise. Consolidating residences around a central public square focused their attention on the religious functions of the buildings that usually occupied the town’s central square and reinforced the community’s sense of their sacred covenants with one another and with God. The orthogonal shape of lots, blocks, and towns gave a profound sense of order to their lives and surroundings. 7 Orienting the wide city streets to the cardinal compass directions reinforced the foundations of their spatial consciousness, which encompassed not only the surrounding countryside but also Latter-day Saints communities located elsewhere, the territorial environment generally, and even the imagined God-centered universe. 8 In short, the layout of “cities of Zion” defined the essence of a sacred Latter-day Saint worldview. Intrapersonal, interpersonal, and existential dimensions of their reality were unified and made meaningful by the city as a core symbol of Latter-day Saint identity and an ideal, heaven-centered existence. 9
From this perspective, the founding of Salt Lake City was a matter of great spiritual significance. The Latter-day Saints had just come from a phase of “gathering Israel” and “establishing Zion” that was characterized at once by remarkable charismatic ecstasies and tragic, seemingly catastrophic, agonies. From 1820 to 1846, Latter-day Saint history was a study in contrasts between an abundance of revelations, visions, angelic appearances, spiritual gifts, miracles, and other heavenly manifestations, on the one hand, and devastating persecutions, incarcerations, violent conflicts, and assassinations, on the other. Under the direction of Brigham Young, the Latter-day Saints managed an existential paradox: attempting to realize the promise of religious freedom initially beyond the boundaries of the country whose constitution explicitly guaranteed religious freedom for all and, conversely, to fulfill biblical prophecy of establishing “the Lord’s house” in the “tops of the mountains” in “the last days” (see Isaiah 2:2).
Their new beginnings in the “utmost bound of the everlasting hills” (Gen. 49:26) affirmed at once a commitment to the miraculous founding of the faith and the anticipated glorious fulfillment of its ambitious millennial mission. During his arduous travels to the new homeland of the Saints, Brigham Young personally safeguarded Joseph Smith’s Plat of Zion and sketch for its model temple, which he took to be sacred marching orders from his beloved, but martyred prophet. Although Young followed neither model to the letter, he realized a variation of Smith’s utopian vision to a much grander degree than Mormonism’s founder ever did.
The occasion of arriving in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in July 1847 was marked by a series of paradigmatic events: irrigating the ground and cultivating fields, worshipping together and confirming by revelation the divine approval of this settlement location, dedicating the land by priesthood authority and ritually purifying through re-baptism many of the vanguard pioneer company, laying out the new “City of the Saints” in the image of Zion’s “center place” and locating a site for the temple at its center, distributing residential lots in an orderly fashion and cooperatively building family dwellings, searching for additional places to settle, and receiving instructions on proper personal conduct in their new homeland. 10
As his followers began to occupy their new homeland, Brigham Young authorized a survey of the Great Basin, beginning from the southeast corner of Temple Square. 11 Latter-day Saints thus had two primary spatial reference points: the central square of their respective communities and Temple Square, the spiritual center of their collective lives. Complementing the ordering purposes of the survey, a delegation of church officials under Brigham Young’s direction proposed that the federal government create a new State of Deseret, thereby defining the boundaries of what the historian Leonard Arrington called the “Great Basin Kingdom” and providing its inhabitants with a measure of political and legal protection. In addition, Latter-day Saints gave names to major features of their physical environment—among them Mount Nebo and Jordan River—that reminded them of their covenant connection with biblical Israel.
In settling a new homeland in the American West, Latter-day Saints were not simply searching for refuge to live out their lives in freedom and relative security. They were not simply trying to establish pragmatic and sustainable lives. They were not simply seeking to realize the “American dream” of peace and prosperity in a setting free from want and oppression. From their perspective, they were also, and perhaps more importantly, preparing the earth and its inhabitants for the millennial reign of Jesus Christ by implementing a sacred worldview to link God and man, heaven and earth, and eternity and time, thereby fulfilling what they believed to be God’s purposes.
The plat of Salt Lake City by Henry Sherwood contributes immeasurably to this profoundly religious enterprise. The fact that multiple, roughly identical plats of Salt Lake City were drafted in the early months of settlement reinforces the cultural imperative of its cardinal and orthogonal design. As a historical document, the Sherwood plat is worthy of its recent attention from scholars, archivist, and collectors and may eventually prove to be the Ur text of this major American metropolis. As a microcosm of the Latter-day Saint mission to establish Zion in the latter days, the Sherwood plat is a symbol of one of the most distinctive and successful settlement traditions in the history of North America.
Another Gridded Street Plan?
What is so special about a city plan with another gridded street pattern? There are many examples in the United States of city and town plans using a square or rectangular grid as the basis for their street pattern and lot sales. A review of the geographical and temporal context of the use of this ubiquitous town plan pattern will help explain the significance of the 1847 plat of Salt Lake City, the subject of this roundtable discussion (fig. 1).
Historically, the grid pattern for planned towns and cities was introduced into the North American British colonies by William Penn when he planned and laid out Philadelphia in the early 1680s, followed by the rapid spread of similar town plans to county seats in southeastern Pennsylvania, such as Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, and York. Charleston, South Carolina, as expanded in the 1730s, and Savanah, Georgia, as laid out in the same decade, also exhibited grid patterns, although the latter was more elaborate with evenly spaced squares reserved for public use, much like the Salt Lake City plan. 1
As towns began to develop in Tidewater Virginia during the first half of the eighteenth century, many including Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Alexandria used grid patterns. In fact, the original manuscript plans for these three towns still exist in county and state archival collections. In addition, there is a second manuscript version of the Alexandria plan that has been reproduced many times and is better known than the original plan, which is buried in county records. The second plan held by the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress was prepared by George Washington at age seventeen as documentation for lots purchased by his brother Lawrence. 2
What is noteworthy about these seventeenth- and eighteenth-century examples is that the norm for cadastral surveys at this time was metes and bounds or irregular surveys. The boundaries of most property surveys formed multisided polygons encompassing a select choice of land and bordered by rivers, streams, and artificial boundary lines that were identified by prominent trees or piles of rocks. In fact, some of the earliest towns, such as New York City (originally known as New Amsterdam), Boston, and other New England towns, displayed very irregular street patterns that conformed to the local topography or adjacent shorelines. However, as some of these cities expanded, especially New York City, developers started to prepare for more orderly growth by instituting rectangular street patterns. Even Boston, which probably has the most irregular street pattern of any U.S. city, integrated grid patterns into selected areas such as Back Bay when that area was infilled in the mid-nineteenth century. 3
During the 1780s and 1790s, as the new federal government was taking shape, basic concepts of town planning and cadastral surveying changed radically. The nation’s new capital, Washington, D.C., was designed to be a grand and ceremonial city. The base of Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan was a gridded structure of streets, encompassing a much larger area than any other American city had been planned up to this time. What made this plan so unique was the addition of a baroque overlay of diagonal avenues connecting circles and squares, providing for grand vistas and ceremonial celebrations. Besides providing an orderly plan of urban growth and lot sales, this unique design helped promote a sense of nationalism. 4
At the same time, Congress passed the Land Ordinances of 1784 and 1785, which provided for the orderly development of the newly acquired public domain west of the Appalachian Mountains. This legislation not only outlined the procedure by which new states would be admitted to the union, but also established an orderly process for surveying and disposing of these public lands (ignoring the fact that these lands were already occupied by numerous Native peoples). After experimenting with a number of surveying systems in the new territory of Ohio, the basic pattern that developed was a grid of square townships measuring six miles on each side and divided into thirty-six square sections. These grids were oriented along a north-south, east-west axis, identified as various meridians and base lines. Initially lands were sold as fractions of a section, usually quarter sections or quarter-quarter sections. This survey pattern strongly influenced the development of the cultural landscape or settlement patterns, especially in areas with relatively level topography, as was encountered in much of the Midwest and Great Plains. Property boundaries, fields, fences lines, and roads tended to conform to the gridded pattern, providing a checkerboard appearance that is still visible as one flies over these areas. 5
This cadastral survey pattern also provided a strong influence on how towns and cities were planned and laid out within the public lands west of the Appalachians. Many towns established during the nineteenth century conformed to the township and section lines. Such towns include Indianapolis (Indiana), Omaha and Lincoln (Nebraska), Lawrence and Leavenworth (Kansas), Oklahoma City and Guthrie (Oklahoma), and Chicago. The latter is a good example of how the original town was laid out within the confines of one section and how its continued growth throughout the nineteenth century was guided by the surrounding township surveys. Founded in 1830, an early town plan (1834) shows the town had already been extended over two and a half sections (fig. 12). The grid pattern could have been oriented to focus on the Chicago River or the Lake Michigan shoreline, but since the township surveys had already been completed in this area, the grid was laid out along a north-south, east-west axis. An 1863 map illustrates that the city’s subdivisions and street patterns continued to follow the earlier township surveys (fig. 13). 6
By the last half of the nineteenth century, the grid pattern had become so much a part of the city planning process that towns used them even if they did not conform to the township surveys. Many towns that were established as river ports or railroad stations employed grid patterns, but they were oriented parallel to a shoreline or a rail line, rather than along strict cardinal directions. For example, the street pattern for the original part of Topeka, laid out in 1854, parallels the Kansas River, while newer additions follow the township surveys. Similarly, Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was plotted in 1867, was surveyed as a grid pattern town, but the original plan was oriented along the rail line which ran on a northeast to southwest diagonal. Other large cities, such as San Francisco and Denver display a number of grid patterns juxtaposed at incongruent angles, representing different shoreline orientations or the addition of separately developed communities or subdivisions. 7
In the historical context of the spread of the rectangular township surveys across the country, one might surmise that Salt Lake City’s grid pattern conformed to the township surveys, especially since the Salt Lake meridian and base line intersect at the southeast corner of Temple Square, which already marked the religious center of town. However, Salt Lake City was founded and laid out in 1847, a year before the United States acquired the Mexican Cession as a result of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War.
Utah was not formally recognized as a territory until 1850, and the General Land Office, the federal agency responsible for surveying and disposing of the public lands, did not establish a Surveyor General Office in Utah until 1855, and then with much opposition from the local population. In that year, David Burr, a government cartographer, was appointed as the surveyor general. Despite his present-day reputation as a well-respected map maker and publisher, his short two-year tenure in this position was fraught with controversy and claims of fraudulent surveys. According to his first annual report, his team of deputy surveyors, some of whom were his sons, surveyed approximately 2.5 million acres. 8 Despite the questionable quality of these surveys, the fundamental contribution of Burr’s surveying activity for assessing the importance of the 1847 manuscript town plan was the establishment of the base line and meridian from which General Land Office surveys in Utah originated. Most likely because the town’s center point had already been established during the 1847 surveys, Burr also chose the southeast corner of Temple Square as the beginning point for the township surveys. Not only were streets and house lots within Salt Lake City numbered from this beginning point, all the township surveys throughout Utah would focus on this most important unifying geographical feature for the Mormon religion. Because of the coincident beginning point for both surveys, it could be hypothesized that the town plan would coincide with the township surveys. However, that is not case.
Although the General Land Office started township surveys in 1855, the relationship between Utahns and this federal agency was very tenuous until 1869, when the first land office was actually established for selling public lands within the territory. 9 By that time, Salt Lake City had grown to a population of almost 12,000 and had a well-established street pattern, based on the original 1847 town plan which called for well-defined blocks of ten acres each and spacious streets and side walls of prescribed width.
An examination of the early township survey plats representing the first surveys conducted both in 1855 by Burr’s team and the resurveys conducted in 1869 shows that the streets as outlined on the Sherwood plat and as laid out did not conform perfectly to section and township lines as specified by standard General Land Office surveys. Since the starting point for township surveys was located at the “center” of the town, its footprint extended into four townships. 10 Fortunately, these early township survey plats show physical and cultural features that were encountered during the course of the survey. Salt Lake City’s street pattern appears on three of the four 1855 and 1869 plats. It is readily apparent that the primary east-west street (South Temple Street) and the primary north-south street (Main Street) coincide with the Salt Lake base line and meridian. But, for example, the western boundary of section 36 in township T1N, R1W, does not coincide with the street that would be identified as North 600 West, nor does the corresponding street in section 6, T1S, R1E (figs. 14 &15). What is the conclusion? The township surveys did not predetermine the street pattern as in Chicago. Rather, Salt Lake City’s street pattern predated the township surveys and provided the foundational structure for the General Land Office surveys in Utah.
Based on this overview, it becomes apparent that this 1847 manuscript street plan provided the original spatial structure for a town that was much more than another gridded street pattern, especially a typical nineteenth-century town that was influenced by the General Land Office township surveys. Yes, it was a gridded pattern, but one that was based on the theology and culture of the Mormon religion. It was a City of Zion, as envisioned by Joseph Smith and implemented by Brigham Young. 11 While a gridded street pattern was a fairly common feature of North American town plans, it was the size and arrangement of blocks and lots that made Salt Lake City different from a typical western city. It was distinguished by blocks that were ten acres in size, subdivided into eight lots, each of which was a little more than an acre in size. In addition, the orientation of lots in alternating
Notes to Grunder and Cohen
We are grateful to people who have encouraged and aided our research on the Sherwood plat. Almost from the beginning, Brad Westwood, Michael W. Homer and William P. MacKinnon lent crucial unflagging interest and support. Will Bagley and Thomas Alexander responded with authoritative details and insights that few other specialists could have provided. And as the work continued, we benefited from contributions and suggestions from, among others, Jeff Anderson, Christy Best, Richard Francaviglia, Karen Fox, Mike Marquardt, Joan Nay, Steve Olsen, Jed Rogers, and Greg Thompson.
1. “Salt Lake’s First Survey,” Deseret Evening News, March 23, 1893, 4, presumably written by John Q. Cannon. It was reprinted verbatim under the same title in George Q. Cannon’s column “Saturday Talk, By an Ex-Editor” in the Deseret Weekly, April 1, 1893, 461. The article describes the sheepskin plat in detail, matching the present artifact described in this paper in some dozen points of comparison.
2. Thomas Bullock, entry for Wednesday, July 28, 1847, in The Pioneer Camp of the Saints: The 1846 and 1847 Mormon Trail Journals of Thomas Bullock, ed. Will Bagley, Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier, vol. 1 (Spokane, WA: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1997), 241. Young reportedly uttered these words immediately after pointing out the forty acres for the temple site. At Winter Quarters on April 12, Young had specifically designated that Bullock should accompany the vanguard company “to keep history, and come back with the Twelve in the Fall” (Bullock, 120). On April 17, while camped along the Platte River about sixty miles west of Winter Quarters, the pioneers organized themselves further, and “Thomas Bullock was installed as clerk of the camp.” Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (January 1890): 11.
3. Also at the southeast corner of Temple Square is a pink sandstone Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian monument, a reproduction of stone taken from the quarry from which the original monument came. The original monument stood at the site from 1855 until the 1980s and is now preserved by the LDS Church History Museum. See “The Center of the City,” Church of Jesus Christ blocks of either an east-west orientation or a north-south orientation provided for a low-density settlement, in contrast to the highly congested and densely settled cities of the eastern United States. Certainly, Salt Lake City, designed as a “City of Zion,” exhibited a plan that was more than a simple grid providing for an orderly sale and settlement of lots. It was a plan based on spiritually based ideals. In addition to uniquely defining a religious or utopian center, the 1847 plat is a special artifact as the earliest known plan for Salt Lake City, drawn on a sheep skin, a format rarely used for nineteenth-century maps. of Latter-day Saints (website), accessed August 7, 2018, history.lds.org/article/museum-treasures-meridian -marker?lang=eng.
4. Jenson, The Historical Record 7 (January 1888): 471, quoting Wilford Woodruff.
5. For examples, see Sherwood’s “Survey, 6 June 1843” diagram for John and Dorothy Fawlks, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed July 11, 2019, josephsmithpapers .org/paper-summary/survey-6-june-1843/1; debit notations for Sherwood’s services in January-June 1843 surveying four properties for Joseph Smith and one each for Charles Kinsey and E[zra] Oakley in “Henry G. Sherwood record book, circa 1838–1844,” MS 6117, LDS Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter CHL); and Sherwood’s diagram of a “Survey of Pleasant Grove Iowa Territory, 1846 May 1,” MS 16883, CHL.
6. Brigham Young used the phrase “dark clouds of sorrow” in a letter to his brother, as quoted in Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Brigham Young; or, Utah and her Founders (New York, 1876), 37. For the roster of the vanguard company, see Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 345.
7. Michael W. Homer, email to Rick Grunder, April 13, 2017. Homer served as chair of the Utah Board of State History (2003–2014) and is a fellow of the Utah State Historical Society. Richard Francaviglia, The Mapmakers of New Zion: A Cartographic History of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015).
8. Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 79, citing Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 241–43.
9. Gerard T. Koeppel, City on a Grid: How New York Became New York (Boston: De Capo Press, 2015), 7, originally saying “600-foot” blocks. Even longtime residents of Salt Lake City can be confused by the dimensions, which work out technically to 6 2/3 blocks per mile after adding the width of the streets: 5,280 feet divided by (660 + 132).
10. “Interesting items concerning the journeying of the Latter-day Saints from the City of Nauvoo, until their location in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. (Extracted from the Private Journal of Orson Pratt.),” in Latter- Day Saints’ Millennial Star 12 (June 15, 1850), 180.
11. George Shepard, “‘O Wickedness, Where Is Thy Boundary?’: The 1850 California Gold Rush Diary of George Shepard,” Overland Journal 10 (Winter 1992), 28n32.
12. Brigham Young to General Charles C. Rich and the Presidents and Officers of the Emigrating Company, Pioneer Camp, Valley of the Great Salt Lake, August 2, 1847, in Orson Whitney, History of Utah (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., Publishers, 1892), 1:347. Thomas Bullock provided the fullest report on the survey, with additional accounts appearing in the Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, CR 100, 137, CHL (hereafter Journal History), the scrapbook of newspaper clippings and diary entries maintained in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. The survey was conducted by Sherwood and Pratt, according to Bullock’s entry for Monday, August 2, 1847 in Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 247, and Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (May 1890): 86 (entry for Monday, August 2, 1847).
13. Bullock’s weather notes were sometimes updated during the day, as in this instance, “Warm day, NW breeze.” Both passages regarding the poles from Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (May 1890): 86.
14. Sermon of Brigham Young, August 8, 1847, in Howard Egan, Pioneering the West 1846 to 1878: Major Howard Egan’s Diary, edited by Howard R. Egan (Richmond, UT: Howard R. Egan Estate, 1917), 118–19.
15. Bullock, entry for Wednesday, August 4, 1847, in Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 248.
16. Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (May 1890): 86.
17. Journal History, August 7, 1847, 1.
18. Bullock, entry for Monday, August 16, 1847, in Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 257–58.
19. Bullock, entry for Wednesday, August 11, 1847, in Bagley, 255.
20. Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (June 1890): 97.
21. Fd. 1, MS 9118, CHL.
22. Bullock, entry for Tuesday, August 3, 1847, in Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 248. In addition, Bullock initially drafted an abbreviated sketch of three sample blocks on the July 28, 1847, page of his journal. See Bagley, 242.
23. Bullock, entry for Monday, August 9, 1847, in Bagley, 254. Bullock does not define “the Council” precisely in his journal entries. During this period, he seems to mean primarily the apostles who were present in the Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young was then president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles but did not become President of the Church until December 1847.
24. Bullock, entry for Monday, August 16, 1847, in Bagley, 258.
25. Although Bullock labels his map “original Plat,” he seems to mean his own, earliest-surviving, personally drawn diagram. He could not have meant that this is the earliest of all city plans, at least, because in his own journal, he had already recorded Brigham Young’s description of Sherwood’s plat five days earlier, on August 11. It is important to note that while Young reported that “Father Sherwood’s Survey of City” ran 15x9 blocks by August 11 (Bagley, 255 [emphasis added]), Young had to have seen and referred there to Sherwood’s physical diagram—the sheepskin plat—because the actual survey work was still in progress and would not be completed for another nine days, on August 20. In addition, Bullock’s docket was probably a later note made while organizing his personal papers, because the name he abbreviates so familiarly, “G[reat] S[alt] L[ake] City,” did not exist on August 16, but was first proposed by Brigham Young on August 22, shortly before Young and Bullock left the valley to return to Winter Quarters (Bullock, entry for Sunday, August 22, 1847, in Bagley, 263). Bullock no doubt derived the August 16 date from his journal, but forgot that the name for the place at that time, established on August 9, had been “Salt Lake City”; he merely wrote the name “Great Salt Lake City,” with which he was familiar afterward.
26. Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 79–81.
27. Fd. 1, MS 9118, CHL. Bullock placed what is now the City-County Building square on block 53 instead of the correct block 38, what is now Pioneer Park on block 62 instead of the correct block 48, and what is now West High School on block 115 instead of the correct block 102.
28. Richard Francaviglia, email to Paul Cohen and Jedediah Rogers, June 6, 2016.
29. Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 247–48.
30. Bagley, 352, also 258n49; Will Bagley, email to Rick Grunder, April 11, 2017, adding thoughtfully, “It is often impossible to foretell the impact of anyone’s hard work on the Mormon Kingdom, where many of the best and most important additions often seem cast out in the wilderness.”
31. Pratt and Sherwood were measuring west from the southeast corner of Temple Square (not its west edge). That places the fort in the right place in relation to Bullock’s written description in the journal, which Bullock may have heard from Sherwood, but misinterpreted. The Dobie Square’s northeast corner was at the intersection of Third South and Third West Streets, thus three blocks south, but only two blocks west of Temple Square (because the west edge of Temple Square, West Temple Street, is technically also First West Street, being a block west of Pratt’s base and meridian point of beginning). In 1878, John Jacques corrected Bullock’s manuscript carefully in red ink by designating the true block number for the fort, 48, with the word “Dobie.” Later, Assistant Church Historian Andrew Jenson would mark that same, corrected block in pencil, “Now Pioneer Square.” On Bullock’s mistaken block 62 (which was actually residential), one can still see vestiges of Bullock’s incorrect pencil designation, “Public.” Bullock placed the Dobie Square one block too far west, which is explained easily enough, above. But he also got it one block too far north (on block 62). How was that possible? Hearing the location for the fort from Sherwood or Young no later than August 3, Bullock may instead have calculated the placement on his eventual diagram based upon the larger, 40-acre Temple Square that was in effect that day. Assuming the primacy of the southeast corner of temples and sacred sites (seen throughout early Mormon history), the original Temple Square may have extended two blocks west and two blocks north from Pratt’s Base and Meridian (thus adding blocks 86, 94 and 95 to the present temple block 87). If Bullock then placed his finger on that four-block area and counted to the third block south and the third block west (his possible interpretation of his August 3 journal description of the site, “3 Blocks South by 3 West from the Temple Square”), it would have landed him on block 62 which we find marked public on his “new” map of August 16. Other explanations may be possible, and we are still faced with the task of explaining why Bullock also got the other public squares wrong as late as August 16, at a time when the survey work was almost completed.
32. Feramorz Y. Fox, “The Life of Jesse W. Fox, Sr.” ca. 1950s, 25–26, unpublished typescript-format mimeograph in possession of Rick Grunder. A similar photocopy is described by CHL, call number M270.1 F792f 1967: Feramorz Young Fox, The Life of Jesse W. Fox, Sr. ([Salt Lake City]: James M. Fox, ). Note that my copy of “The Life of Jesse W. Fox, Sr.,” cited, comes from a descendant and appears to originate quite separately from the one described at the Church History Library. Mine does not mention James M. Fox and appears to me to be earlier than the Church copy. I presume that the contents are nearly identical, however. I mention this to explain the differences between estimated dates of the two copies.
33. “Original Land Titles in Utah Territory,” Utah Division of Archives and Records Service (website), accessed October 1, 2017, archives.utah.gov/research/guides /land-original-title.htm; Fox, “Jesse W. Fox, Sr.,” 23, 26.
34. Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials [. . .] of the Territory of Utah [. . .] (G. S. L. City, U[tah]. T[erritory].: Brigham H. Young, Printer, 1852), 96. The statute does not mention the sheepskin plat specifically, but mandates that all such documents be transmitted to the surveyor general’s “successor in office.” By the time Jesse Fox’s long service ended in 1884, that office had ceased to exist, and there was no successor to inherit the plat. Fox and his contemporaries, including George and John Q. Cannon, came to consider the relic as Fox’s personal property over the years, “during forty of which it has been in the possession of the present owner. It is of course greatly prized by Brother Fox, and as the years roll on it will increase in value.” (“Salt Lake’s First Survey,” 4.) This prophecy was echoed more than a century afterward by Christie’s, which eagerly accepted the plat to feature as the secondhighest estimated piece in its rich sale of “Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts” on December 14, 2016, in New York City, with an image of the plat occupying the entire back cover of the glossy color catalog. The bidding did not reach the reserve, however, and the item was later sold privately to the Library of Congress.
35. Henry G. Sherwood to Thomas Bullock, San Bernardino, California, June 18, 1863, fd. 17, box 3, MS 27307, CHL.
36. Fox, “Jesse W. Fox, Sr.,” 88 (typographical errors corrected).
37. “Salt Lake’s First Survey,” 4.
38. “Salt Lake’s First Survey,” Deseret Weekly, April 1, 1893, 461.
39. Statement of provenance accompanying the artifact. See note 44 below.
40. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Memorial Association, 1936), 4:717–18.
41. Described by Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library website thus: “This historic document shows that Far West, Missouri was to be patterned after the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ‘City of Zion’ concept. This plat was drawn with black ink on sheepskin. It was discovered by Mr. J. B. West of Cameron, Missouri in the attic of his grandfather’s vacant farmhouse around 1975.” Photograph credited to LDS Church Archives, accessed August 7, 2018, contentdm.lib.byu .edu/cdm/ref/collection/RelEd/id/4364.
42. Marc Haddock, “Celebrating Pioneer Day in 1947,” Deseret News, July 20, 2009, deseretnews.com/article /705378292/Celebrating-Pioneer-Day-in-1947.html.
43. CHL catalogs at least two versions of this map, including one under call number 917.9225 M849p 195-?. Precise bibliographic identification of either Morgan’s map or the early 1850s “map of Plat ‘A’” he used has proven to be difficult. For Morgan’s map, CHL says only “[Place of publication not identified]: [publisher not identified], [195-?],” giving its dimensions as “81 x 100 cm.” A large fold-out illustration of an early manuscript plat diagram appears between pages 338–39 of Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake County Company, Tales of a Triumphant People: A History of Salt Lake County, 1847–1900 (Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1947), stating in the modern printed caption: “Plat A of ‘Great Salt Lake City’ is the earliest plat-map we have in our Salt Lake County files.” The title shown on that manuscript is in the hand of Thomas Bullock, saying “Plot A. G.S.L. City.”
44. Email from a great, great, great grandson of Jesse Williams Fox Sr. to Rick Grunder, July 26, 2014. Fox Sr.’s descendant’s signed, notarized letter of provenance dated August 25, 2014, and his signed letter affirming his sole ownership and right to sell dated August 26, 2014, eventually accompanied the artifact to the Library of Congress in a discrete file created to protect the seller’s privacy as requested. With the artifact and documentation above, Grunder also purchased an engineering book once owned by Jesse Fox and hundreds of original letters written by Jesse’s grandson Feramorz Y. Fox and related family members.
45. If the roller, mentioned in the 1893 newspaper articles, were possibly a replacement of some earlier roller, such a consideration would have no bearing on the originality or dating of the plat itself.
46. Lauren Steinbrecher, “Historic Map Showing Brigham Young’s Vision for Salt Lake City Surfaces after 168 Years,” Fox13 News, April 7, 2016, accessed August 7, 2018, fox13now.com/2016/04/07/historic-map-showing -brigham-youngs-vision-for-salt-lake-city-surfaces-after -168-years/.
47. Henry G. Sherwood’s plat book, circa 1850–1852, fd. 16, box 3, MS 27307, CHL. The collection register for the plat book dated the item to “circa 1848–1852.” See register under Business and Financial Papers, Great Salt Lake City land business records, Henry G. Sherwood’s plat book, at eadview.lds.org/findingaid/002368442/.
48. Sherwood plat book entries for block 62, lot 2 and block 66, lot 4, respectively, in MS 27307, CHL. For dates of early pioneer births, deaths, and arrivals in the Salt Lake Valley, see “Pioneer Database, 1847–1868,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (website), accessed May 9, 2016, history.lds.org/overlandtravels/search.
49. 15x9=135. “President Young reported Father Sherwood’s Survey of City runs 15 Blocks North & South by 9 East & West,” recorded in Bullock journal entry for August 11, 1847, in Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 255. The actual survey work on the ground was not completed until August 20; see Jenson, The Historical Record 9 (June 1890): 97. Thus, Young’s reference here must have been to the plat drawing itself. The terms “survey” and “plat” were again used interchangeably in the 1893 Deseret News description of Sherwood’s plat artifact, cited further above.
50. Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 254 (August 9) and 263 (August 22).
51. Henry G. Sherwood plat book, entry for block 69, lot 5, CHL. Bullock marks that same lot as his personal property on all three of his diagrams of Salt Lake City; see fds. 1–3, MS 9118, CHL. Another example of Bullock paying Sherwood for a survey (either in a personal or some public capacity) occurs in Bullock’s account book entry for February 8, 1849, fd. 11, box 3, MS 27307, CHL: “Henry G. Sherwood Surveying lot [$]1–.”
52. The document is dated “G[rea]t. Salt Lake City, Sept. 22nd 1852,” fd. 17, box 3, MS 27307, CHL.
53. Sherwood, meanwhile, remained the first winter in the valley as a governing member of the High Council. See Jenson, The Historical Record 6 (December 1887): 277. Bullock spent little more than a month in the valley in 1847 (July 22–August 26), leaving in company with Brigham Young for Winter Quarters near present-day Omaha. See Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 232, 267. Bullock would not see Salt Lake City again until the latter half of September 1848 (again, in Young’s company; see “Brigham Young Company (1848),” in “Pioneer Database, 1847–1868,” accessed September 29, 2017, history.lds.org/overlandtravel/companies/4 /brigham-young-company-1848), after which he “was elected recorder of Salt Lake county, a position which he held until he left on a mission to Great Britain in 1856”; see Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1914), 2:599.
54. Fox was not only surveyor general of the territory, but had also become Salt Lake City surveyor (1851–76). Fox, “Jesse W. Fox, Sr.,” 68.
55. The Cannons noticed this when they saw the artifact in 1893, writing in “Salt Lake’s First Survey” that “What we know as Plat A comprises the whole of Father Sherwood’s survey, though in order to give symmetry to the upper right hand corner of his map he added a few blocks in what is now known as Plat E.” Francaviglia adds further insight regarding the space limitations along the west side of the city: “According to Bullock, Young stated: ‘On this place we can lay out a City two miles East & West, and as large as we have a mind to North & South.’ Young knew well that although the Great Salt Lake would effectively limit the city’s growth westward, its location on gently sloping land fronting the north-south-trending Wasatch Mountains offered the prospect of almost unlimited development along that axis. In what appears to be the first reference to stewardship in the development of a city in the American West, Young quickly added, ‘I want the grass on the bottoms to be left for our cattle.’” See Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 79, citing Bagley, Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 241, entry for July 28, 1847; the latter quote reads in its entirety: “I want the rushes and grass on the bottoms to be left for our cattle.”
56. These were blocks 90–92, 106–11, and 124–29, including where the Utah State Capitol building stands today.
57. Blocks 112, 123, and 130–31 were left unassigned in his notebook register of lots surveyed for individual landowners (in addition to the fifteen blocks enumerated above). In his original sheepskin plat, Sherwood did not hold back blocks 112, 123, 130, or 131 from development. He was thus more optimistic at first regarding the number of usable blocks than he would be when he got down to surveying individual lots for owners recorded in his plat notebook. The “plat of the Great City” which is now at hand was the earlier, idealistic template, clearly the “Old plat” referred to on the cover of the notebook.
58. Bullock’s property diagrams are located in MS 9118, CHL. In Bullock’s diagram 3, for example, details appear somewhat incomplete but seem consistent in chronology. Bullock’s blocks 123, 130, and 131 were not restricted from development, and fourteen of those total twenty-four lots were marked with owner names of people who arrived in the valley after 1847 but no later than 1858 (including William Cooper who arrived in 1855 or later, and John Binley who arrived in 1858). None of those fourteen names seem to be clearly identified on other lots available in Sherwood’s plat book or on Bullock’s later Plat A dated from the early 1850s and credited to the Salt Lake County Archives.
59. Despite primitive conditions and the makeshift rods freshly cut in the mountains, variance was slight. According to Andro Linklater, “excavations for new sidewalks undertaken in Salt Lake City in 2001 revealed that the corner posts were set 4 inches farther out than they should have been, suggesting that Pratt had not followed the practice of public lands surveyors and calibrated his chain precisely before starting work.” See Linklater, Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy (New York: Walker & Company, 2002), 182–83.
60. Dating of the creation of initial blocks of Plat D seems inconclusive but is generally ascribed to the early 1850s, though that plat was not formally recorded until 1857. Korral Broschinsky, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for “Avenues Historic District (amended)” (Taylorsville, Utah: Preservation Documentation Resource; prepared for Salt Lake City Corporation, March 15, 2013), 6; pdf copy on file; see also: livingplaces.com/UT/Salt_Lake_County/Salt_Lake _City/Avenues_Historic_District.html (accessed August 13, 2018).
61. “Uninvited, Unwelcome, and Uncomfortable: Utah Assignments of Colonels E. J. Steptoe and C. F. Smith. Review Essay by William P. MacKinnon,” Utah Historical Quarterly 85, no. 2 (Spring 2017): 186; Thomas G. Alexander, email to Paul Cohen, June 13, 2016. Alexander kindly followed up with a second email to Cohen on June 17, 2016, reaffirming his conclusion: “It seems to me as I said before in the absence of contradictory evidence which I have not seen, the Sherwood map was most likely the first plat of Salt Lake City.”
62. “Pioneer 1847 Companies,” Heritage Getaways (website), accessed March 29, 2019, heritage.uen.org/companies /Wc46e27c2eca7d.shtml. 63. Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 81. 64. Richard Francaviglia, email to Paul Cohen and Jedediah Rogers, June 6, 2016; Jeffery L. Anderson, email to Paul Cohen, May 24, 2016. 65. Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 79.
Notes to Francaviglia
I thank the authors for reaching out to me originally and the editors of the Quarterly for inviting my comments here.
1. Brandon S. Plewe, S. Kent Brown, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard H. Jackson, eds., Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2012), 84.
2. [Plat of the Great City of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake], Library of Congress, Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2019, loc.gov/maps/?fa=location%3Autah%7C subject%3Amaps%7Csubject%3Asalt+lake+city&dates =1800–1899&st=list&c=25&all=true.
3. Plewe, et al., Mapping Mormonism, 44.
4. Francaviglia, The Mapmakers of New Zion: A Cartographic History of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015), 81.
5. Francaviglia, 112, 113, and 116–18.
6. Francaviglia, 304.
Notes to Olsen
1. Chauncy D. Harris, “Salt Lake City, A Regional Capitol” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1940). The literature on Latter-day Saint settlement of the American West is rich and varied. Pathbreaking studies include Milton R. Hunter, Brigham Young, the Colonizer (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1940); Lowry Nelson, The Mormon Village: A Pattern and Technique of Land Settlement (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1952); Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958); D. W. Meinig, “The Mormon Culture Region: Strategies and Patterns in the Geography of the American West, 1947–1964,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 55 (June 1965): 191–220; Leonard J. Arrington, Feramorz Y. Fox, and Dean L. May, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation among the Mormons (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); John W. Reps, Cities of the American West: A History of Frontier Urban Planning (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979); Richard Francaviglia, The Mapmakers of New Zion: A Cartographic History of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015); and Thomas Carter, Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
2. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), 250, 251.
3. Raymond D. Gastil, Culture Regions of the United States (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975).
4. See “1833 ‘Plat of Zion’ Wins National Honor,” Church News, May 25, 1996, accessed February 13, 2019, ldschurch news.com/archive/1996–05–25/1833-plat-of-zion-wins -national-honor-10335; “Plat of Zion Recognized,” Transform/Place, accessed February 13, 2019, transform place.wordpress.com/plat-of-zion-recognized/.
5. Pearl of Great Price, A Selection from the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), Moses 6–7.
6. For Latter-day Saints, “exalt,” “exalted,” and “exaltation” are specialized synonyms of eternal life. See R. Gary Shapiro, comp., An Exhaustive Concordance of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Hawkes Publishing, 1977), s.v. “exalt,” “exalted,” “exaltation.”
7. “Order” is a profound religious objective of the Latterday Saints. In their Standard Works, especially the Doctrine and Covenants, “order” defines the essence of God’s kingdom, priesthood, and many other central aspects of their religion. See Shapiro, Concordance, s.v, “order.”
8. Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, Primitive Classification, trans. Rodney Needham (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963) is a classic comparative study of the relationship in traditional cultures between their formal ordering of the empirical environment and their metaphysical worldview. Cardinality was one such ordering principle. Cardinality is ubiquitous in European and Classical traditions, but with very different purpose and meaning. Rather than restricting its use to mundane physical orientation as most European traditions do, Joseph Smith gave cardinality a profoundly spiritual significance, as a dominant design element for his millennial utopia, Zion.
9. Classic studies of this phenomenon in other traditional cultures include Numa Denis Fustel de Counanges, The Ancient City: A Classic Study of the Religious and Civil Institutions of Ancient Greece and Rome, trans. Willard Small (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, n.d.); Mircea Eliade, Myth of the Eternal Return, or Cosmos and History, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974); Paul Wheatley, The City as Symbol (Edinburgh: T. & A. Constable, 1969), and The Pivot of the Four Quarters: A Preliminary Enquiry into the Origins and Character of the Ancient Chinese City (Chicago: Aldine, 1971); R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, “Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions,” Jaarbericht Ex Orient Lux 23 (1973–1974): 1–15; Joseph Rykvert, The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976); and John M. Lundquist, The Temple: Meeting Place of Heaven and Earth (London: Thames & Hudson, 1993). A systematic examination of the origins of this phenomenon among the Latter-day Saints is Steven L. Olsen, “The Mormon Ideology of Place: Cosmic Symbolism of the City of Zion, 1830–1846” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1985).
10. Classic accounts of this auspicious time include Wallace Stegner, The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, American Trails Series (New York: Mc- Graw-Hill, 1964); B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century One (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 3:232–84; Richard E. Bennett, We’ll Find the Place: The Mormon Exodus, 1846–1848 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997). The term “The City of the Saints” comes from Richard F. Burton, The City of the Saints, and Across the Rocky Mountains to California (1862; reprint, Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado, 1990).
11. Hunter, Brigham Young, 28–85; Francaviglia, Mapmakers, 78–127.
Notes to Grim
1. John W. Reps, Town Planning in Frontier America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971), 204–60; Martin P. Snyder, City of Independence: Views of Philadelphia before 1800 (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1975), 15–25.
2. Reps, Frontier America, 106–44; John W. Reps, Tidewater Towns: City Planning in Colonial Virginia and Maryland (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA, 1972), 194–231.
3. Reps, Frontier America, 145–83, 184–203; Paul E. Cohen and Robert T. Augustyn, Manhattan in Maps, 1527–1995 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1997), 90–109; Alex Krieger and David Cobb, eds., Mapping Boston (Boston: MIT Press for Muriel G. and Norman B. Leventhal Family Foundation, 1999), 119–228; Paul E. Cohen, “New York,” and Ronald E. Grim and Roni Pick, “Boston,” in American Cities: Historic Maps and Views, ed. Paul E. Cohen and Henry G. Taliaferro (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2005), 17–40, 81–100.
4. Reps, Frontier America, 304–43; Iris Miller, Washington in Maps, 1606–2000 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2002), 34–53; Ralph E. Ehrenberg, “Washington,” in Cohen and Taliaferro, American Cities, 61–79.
5. Ronald E. Grim, “Maps of the Township and Range System,” in From Sea Charts to Satellite Images: Interpreting North American History through Maps, ed. David Buisseret (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 89–109; Grim, “How Old Land Surveys Shaped Today’s Landscape,” in Our American Land: 1987 Yearbook of Agriculture, ed. William Whyte (Washington, D.C.: Department of Agriculture, 1987), 43–47; C. Albert White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Land Management, 1982), 18–112; Paul W. Gates, History of Public Land Law Development (Washington, DC: Public Land Law Review Commission, 1969), 59–74.
6. John W. Reps, The Forgotten Frontier: Urban Planning in the American West (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1981), 66–76; Michael P. Conzen and Diane Dillon, Mapping Manifest Destiny: Chicago and the American West (Chicago: The Newberry Library, 2007), 68–71; Gerald Danzer, “City Maps and Plans,” in Buisseret, From Sea Charts to Satellite Images, 98–99, 174–5; Robert A. Holland, “Chicago,” in Cohen and Taliaferro, American Cities, 181–200.
7. Patricia Molen Van Ee, “San Francisco,” and Wesley A. Brown, “Denver,” in Cohen and Taliaferro, American Cities, 101–40; Reps, The Forgotten Frontier, 61–66, 76– 121.
8. Thomas G. Alexander, “Conflict and Fraud: Utah Public Land Surveys in the 1850s, the Subsequent Investigation, and Problems with the Land Disposal System,” Utah Historical Quarterly 80, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 108–31.
10. These are T1N, R1E; T1S, R1E; T1N, R1W, and T1S, R1W. Survey Plats and Fields Notes for Utah can be searched online at General Land Office Records, accessed April 3, 2019, glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx.
11. Reps, Frontier America, 410–21.