News from Salt Lake, 1847-1849


church history, Salt Lake, newspapers


On July 8, 1849, while on his way to the California gold fields, John B. Hazlip wrote a letter from the valley of the Great Salt Lake to a friend in Missouri. After receiving the letter, Hazlip's friend turned it over to the editor of the Missouri Whig, whose decision to publish it in the October 4, 1849, issue of the paper provided his readers with a contemporary first-hand description of the valley and its Mormon inhabitants. Hazlip found the Mormon's city to be "laid off in very handsome style," and the five thousand residents to be "very accommodating" and hospitable, though almost desperate for such basics as "sugar, coffee, tea and flour." Hazlip also noted the region's natural resources–springs, salt, and saleratus, for example–as well as the fort the Mormons had built and the fifty thousand acres of wheat they had under cultivation. Hazlip's letter was one of many written from the valley that year, some of which were published and some of which were not. Similar letters from the Salt Lake area followed in subsequent years, many like Hazlip's eventually finding their way into print. Beginning in 1850, readers in the United States and England could also learn about the Mormons could also learn about the Mormons in Salt Lake in longer published accounts by travelers, government employees, and military men, and by the end of the decade a significant body of information on the topic–as well as about the physical features, mineral resources, climate, Indians, and natural history of the region–had been generated by non-Mormons for public consumption. During the same period of time, dozens of visitors to the area had included detailed descriptions of the region and its residents in their personal diaries and journals.

Original Publication Citation

Andrew H. Hedges, “News from Salt Lake, 1847-1849,” Utah Historical Quarterly 84/3 (Summer 2016): 216-235.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Utah Historical Quarterly




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor