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Collection on Utah Expedition

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2379

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the original and typescript of "The Echo Canon War," probably written by William Stowell, and a typed document regarding the Weber Military District and the Utah War, beginning with Chapter 3 [no author].


  • 1857-1858


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Papers, Utah War must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical / Historical

William Rufus Rogers Stowell was born in Solon, Oneida County, New York on 23 September 1822, son of Augustus Oliver Artemis Stowell and Mary Stephens Holmes. He did not join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family in 1831 but waited until 1834 to do so. His father later fell away from the Church and prohibited his family from associating with Mormons and for many years, William had no contact with the Church. In 1843, he left for Nauvoo by himself and had not remained long before serving a political mission to New York in May 1844 and then a mission to Iowa in 1846. He arrived in Utah in 1850 and settled in Provo. In 1853, he moved his family to Fillmore to help protect the Saints from the Indians, and then he moved again in 1855 to Ogden. He later served as an Adjutant to Major Joseph Taylor in 1857 during the Utah War and was sent to patrol Echo Canyon. He and Joseph Taylor were captured in October 1857 and were interrogated and poisoned by federal troops. He was released in June 1858 and spoke with the peace commissioners from Washington D.C. He returned to his family and lived in Weber County until relocating to Colonia Juarez, Mexico due to persecution of polygamy. He died there on 30 May 1901.

Biographical / Historical

The Utah War, 1857-1858, was a costly and unnecessary confrontation between the Mormon people in Utah Territory and the government and army of the United States. When President James Buchanan took office, he moved quickly to find a non-Mormon governor for Utah Territory. Misunderstandings and rumors that the Mormons would resist the replacement of Governor Brigham Young influenced President Buchanan, without investigation, to cancel the contract for mail service to Utah and to send a 2,500-man military force, led by Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, to accompany Governor Alfred Cumming to Salt Lake City. Governor Young and other Mormon leaders interpreted the coming of the army as religious persecution and immediately martial law was declared and the local militia, the Nauvoo Legion, was deployed to delay the troops. No actual fighting ensued; however, the Mormons harassed the army which included burning three supply trains and driving hundreds of government cattle to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Furthermore, Echo Canyon, the only feasible entry into Salt Lake City from the east, was blocked off which frustrated the army from entering Salt Lake City. The war lasted for several months and ended when Thomas L. Kane and Governor Cumming came to Salt Lake City in early April to speak with Governor Young. Governor Young immediately surrendered the gubernatorial title and soon established a comfortable working relationship with his successor. An amnesty was sent from President Buchanon and arrived in early June 1858. All prisoners were released at the time and all past offenses were forgiven in exchange for accepting Governor Cumming and the establishment of an army garrison in the territory. The war ended at this time.


3 folders (0.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

These items came in a box of Maureen Ursenbach Beecher's old files received in May 2002.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Maureen Ursenbach Beecher; 2002.


19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts.


Associated Materials: Biography of William Rufus Rogers Stowell (MSS 506).

Register of Collection on Utah Expedition
In Progress
Rose Frank
7 March 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States