Genealogy Trails History Group

Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town

Utah Territory

Formerly a part of California, and the "Deseret" of the Mormons, is situated between 37° and 42° north latitude, and 106° and 120° longitude west from Greenwich; and is bounded on the north by the territory of Oregon; on the east by the Indian territory and New Mexico (from which it is separated by the crest of the Rocky mountains); on the south by New Mexico, and on the west by California.  Its superficial area is 188,000 square miles

Physical Aspect-- Utah is one of the most singular countries in the world.  It occupies the northern portion of the great basin between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky mountains.  The basin is some 500 miles in diameter every way, and comprises an area of 393,601 square miles.  It is between 4,000 and 5,000 feet above the level of the sea, shut in all around by mountains, with its own system of lakes and rivers, and without any direct connection with the ocean.  Partly arid and thinly inhabited, its general character is that of a desert, but with great exceptions -- there being many parts of it very fit for residence of a civilized people; and of these the Mormons have established themselves in one of the largest and best.  Mountain is the predominating structure of the interior of the basin, with plains between; the mountains wooded and watered -- the plains arid and sterile.

Mountains-- As mentioned above, the Rocky mountains extend along the eastern border of this territory, and the Sierra Nevada along the west.  Two other ranges cross the territory, one named the Wahsatch River mountains, and the other the Humboldt's River or Timpanogos mountains.

Rivers and Lakes-- The principal rivers in Utah are, the Colorado, which, rising among the Rocky mountains in Oregon, empties into the gulf of California; and Humboldt's river, rising in the mountains to which it has given a name, and, after a long and solitary course, emptying into Humboldt lake.  Other rivers are, Bear, Utah, Timpanogos, Nicollet, Salmon-Trout, Carson, Walker's and Owens' rivers.  The most important lake in Utah is the Great Salt lake.  The waters of this sheet are shallow, so far as explored, and are intensely salt, more so than those of the ocean -- three gallons making one gallon of the purest, whitest, and finest salt.  The shape of this lake is irregular, and its encloses numerous islands.  It is supposed to be about 70 miles long.  The lake has no known outlet.  Utah lake is of fresh water, 35 miles long, and receives numerous fresh water streams from the mountains.  This lake abounds in fish. Utah lake is about 100 feet above the level of the Salt lake, and is connected with it by a straight about 35 miles in length, called by the Mormons the river of Jordan.  There are several other smaller lakes in Utah, but, little is known of them beyond their locality.

Climate--  The climate of Utah does not present the rigorous winter which its mountain structure would seem to call for.  The temperature is little lower than that incident to the latitude, and summer is scarcely gone before November.

Productive Resources-- Wheat, oats and barley, yield abundantly in the Great Valley. Melons and all the vines grow in perfection, as also do vegetables; while hopeful efforts are making to raise the olive, orange, lemon, pineapple, tea, coffee,&c.  The valley below produces tropical fruits, while the beech land, or old lake shore, at the altitude of three or four hundred feet, brings forth all the productions of the temperate zones; and still higher up, the cedar, pine, juniper, and other evergreens of a northern clime flourish.  The pasturage on the plains, as well as on the beech land and side hills, is luxuriant (the verdure reaching to the mountain tops), equal for fattening qualities to that of California.  Utah abounds in minerals.  A geographical survey has brought to light an inexhaustible bed of stone coal, equaling that of Newcastle; iron ore, with a vein of silver running through it, which latter alone would pay for working; gold, in small quantities, and platina, are found; and traces of copper and zinc have been discovered.  Its mineral springs are famous, little as they have been tried, and their analysis shows them to be equal to those most resorted to at the east.

Population-- According to the census of 1850, there were 11,380 inhabitants in this territory.

Government-- Under the act of Congress organizing the territory of Utah, a legislative assembly is provided for, elected annually by the people, consisting of a council and house of representatives.  All laws passed by the legislature require the approval of Congress to be valid.  The governor and secretary of state are appointed by the president for four years.  The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, district and probate courts, the judges of which are appointed by the president.  The right of suffrage and eligibility to office are secured to every white male inhabitant, who was a resident of the territory at its organization, but the qualifications at subsequent elections are prescribed by the territorial legislature.

History--  That portion of Alta California, now designated as the territory of Utah, was never settled by the Spaniards, nor was it ever more than a nominal dependency of that nation, or of the Mexican republic.  Previous to the Mexican war, indeed, few white men, except those engaged in scientific explorations, had entered the country.  About the period when the war broke out, the Mormons were driven from their city of Nauvoo, in Illinois, by mob violence; and shortly afterward, a portion of them, under the leadership of Strang, removed to Beaver island, in Lake Michigan; while the main body of the sect, directed by Brigham Young (who was regarded as their true "prophet" after the death of their founder, Joseph Smith, and in opposition to the "infidel" leader, Strang), migrated to the borders of the Great Salt lake.  Their settlements became prosperous and populous, and within two years after the first pioneers had entered the country their numbers had increased to about 10,000.  After peace had been ratified, they found themselves without a civil government, and without protection for their persons or property.  To remedy this anomalous condition of things, they organized a temporary government under the style of the "State of Deseret."  Under its sanction they elected officers to manage the affairs of the commonwealth, and made application to Congress to be admitted into the Union as a sovereign state.  But Congress did not deem that this new settlement had arrived at that state of maturity which would justify its erection into a state, and passed a law authorizing its organization as a territory.  Congress reserved the right with Utah, as also with New Mexico, to divide it into two or more territories, or to attach portions of it to any state or territory in such manner and at such times as it may deem convenient and proper.

Utah Territory

1850 Counties 

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Davis no description blank blank blank
Iron no description blank Centre Creek blank
Ogden no description blank Brownsville not listed
Salt Lake north part blank Salt Lake City not listed
Utah no description blank Utah Lake  

1850 Towns

Name What County Pop Other
Brookville PO Ogden    
Centre Creek PO Iron    
Manti PO San Pete    
Miller's Creek PO Davis    
Salt Lake City PT St Lake   founded & inhabited mainly by Mormans
San Pete PO not given    
Utah Lake PO Utah    


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