While processing the Salt Lake County Attorney’s correspondence, 1933-1982, we came across a file folder full of FBI wanted posters. The County Attorney was on the FBI’s mailing list and received and saved wanted posters during the 1930s. While all of the posters contained compelling information, those that caught our eye featured wanted couples.  We looked into the stories behind a few of these aspiring Bonnie and Clydes, and the first story we’ll share is that of Charles and Barbara Bird.

Salt Lake County Attorney's Correspondence, Salt Lake County Archives.

Salt Lake County Attorney’s Correspondence, series AD-006. Salt Lake County Archives.

Charles and Barbara Bird were wanted for bank robbery and for violating the Federal Escape Act. The Federal Grand Jury at Cleveland indicted Charles Bird, James Widmer, and Frank Bird with three charges of bank robbery; they allegedly robbed three banks in Cleveland, Ohio in 1937. Charles’ wife, Barbara Seiber Bird, was charged with aiding their escape from the Cuyahoga County Jail and with being an accessory after the fact to the bank robberies.

After escaping from jail, Bird and his wife fled Ohio and traveled around the country until they were apprehended in August 1938. Their trek took them from Ohio to the west coast, then cross country to the eastern seaboard where they were finally caught. The New York Sun described the capture: “(the) last of his gang to be caught, the dark-haired twenty-six-year-old robber and his twenty-four-year-old blond wife, Barbara Seiber Bird, were trapped by detectives last night… they had arranged so that the couple had to park between two planted cars. A third squad car hemmed in the green sedan and three detectives with drawn revolvers approached it. They said that although both Bird and his wife carried pistols they surrendered without a struggle. They quoted Bird as saying to his wife: ‘What’s the use? It looks like it’s all over, babe.’”

According to newspapers, the “Bird Gang” was responsible for more robberies than the FBI’s wanted poster mentioned. He confessed to seven robberies and had planned six more. Bird also tried to protect his wife. He told police that even though she was the getaway driver, she didn’t know what he was doing inside the banks and businesses. He tried (and failed) to shield her from a prison sentence because they had a young son he hoped she’d be able to care for while he was in prison.

While they were on the run other members of the gang were caught, tried, and sent to prison. James Widmer was captured in Philadelphia in October 1937. And Frank Bird, Charles Bird’s brother, and his wife Sylvia were taken in Cleveland also in October 1937. Both Widmer and Frank Bird were serving life terms in Alcatraz Federal prison for murder. They too had successfully escaped from a prison, the Missouri State prison, before being sent to Alcatraz. They were also with Charles when he escaped from the county jail in Cleveland (which could be why they were sent to the supposedly “escape-proof” Alcatraz). That escape in Ohio was aided by Barbara Bird, who smuggled in pistols to the men. The murder charges seemed to stem from this escape as a woman was killed in the automobile chase through downtown Cleveland.

After their capture Barbara Bird’s parents, who were caring for the Bird baby who had been abandoned with them when Barbara fled with her fugitive husband, expressed relief when they were caught. Mr. Sieber said “I’m glad there won’t be any more anxious nights.”

While Frank Bird served his sentence on the West Coast, Charles did his on the East Coast, in Maryland. Barbara Bird was sentenced to four years in a federal reformatory in Milan, Michigan where she joined Frank’s wife Sylvia, already serving time for the same offense. Barbara Bird was pregnant when she started her sentence.

Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith,  Archivist,  Salt Lake County Archives.


“Desperado and Wife Captured,” The New York Sun, August 9, 1938, 9.

“Midwest Gang Leader Nabbed,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 9, 1938, 4. 

“Wife Sentenced for Helping Two in Jailbreak,” Chicago Daily Tribune, September 21, 1938, 9.

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Days Gone By: Remembering Scott’s Drive-In

If you ever went to Granger, Utah, you would definitely have tales of the famous Scott’s Drive-In. It was a landmark for over four decades. The building was unique and the food was wonderful. People from all over would drive to 3325 West 3500 South to Scott’s.

Image courtesy of Sheri Kimball Biesinger.

Image courtesy of Sheri Kimball Biesinger.

My favorite was the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich with a Mushroom Thing and an Orange Freeze, and they had the best red sauce!

Scott’s breaded their own fish and chips and dipped fresh onions for their famous onion rings daily. Their “Mushroom Thing” was famous.  The “KaySaDeA” was a rectangle hamburger with special red sauce on a tortilla, and it was legendary. A perfect burger would be the “Great Scott” which had 2 meat patties, bacon, cheese, onion and Scott’s famous spices.

The owners of Scott’s, Buzz & Carolyn Burt, were longtime Granger residents and community activists. Carolynn was on the West Valley City Council & elected & re-elected District 1 councilwoman in West Valley City, serving for 13 years.

Image courtesy of Sheri Kimball Biesinger.

Scott’s Drive-In.  Image courtesy of Sheri Kimball Biesinger.

The poem in Scott’s window says:
“All us who cook, and do the dishes
Should be granted these three wishes:
1. A grateful mate 2. Well kissed cheeks
3. Dinner at Scott’s at least once a week!”

Happy Valentine’s! Entry contributed by guest blogger Sheri Kimball Biesinger.  

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Days Gone By: Hygeia Ice Company

Hygeia Ice Company, circa 1937. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 13-3035.

Hygeia Ice Company, circa 1937. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 13-3035.

When I say “Hygeia,” what memories come to mind?

Did you buy ice, or maybe even dry ice to make root beer, there?

Did you have a rented meat locker at Hygeia?

Did you swim in the Olympic-sized heated pool?

Did you ice skate or played hockey on what most said was the “best ice in Utah?”

Maybe some of you were fortunate enough to get to use Hygeia’s  roller-skate cement pad, or play on the miniature golf course while those were available at Hygeia.

Hygeia Ice plot plan drawing, 1977. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards, parcel 16-20-229-002.

Hygeia Ice Company plot plan drawing, 1977. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards, parcel 16-20-229-002.

Hygeia Iceland/ Swimland/ Skate rink was located at 1208 East 2100 South in the heart of Sugarhouse.  Hygeia’s sister company, the Carbo Chemical Plant, was located at 1246 East 2100 South and supplied carbonation for soda pop as well as other products.

Carbo Chemical Plant, circa 1948. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, parcel 16-20-229-006.

Carbo Chemical Plant, circa 1948. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, parcel 16-20-229-006.

If there is a place that you loved in “days gone by,” make an appointment to come see what information the Salt Lake County Archives  has about it.

For more about Hygeia, check out this article.

Entry contributed by guest blogger Sheri Kimball Biesinger

Posted in Guest blog, History from the ground up, Salt Lake history | 1 Comment

The Jordan Queen

The Jordan Queen in 1985. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, Salt Lake County Archives.

The Jordan Queen in 1985. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, Salt Lake County Archives.

This is Sheri Biesinger, and I am a guest blogger for the Salt Lake County Archives. I have to tell you about one the most exciting things that I have discovered at the Archives.

Many of you may remember James Sorenson. He was known as one of Utah’s richest men, with a worth estimated to be $4.5 billion. He was a pioneer in the medical field, and owned medical companies, restaurants, communications companies, clothing lines, had many real estate ventures, and also worked in genetics.

Sorenson was also a philanthropist, giving away millions of dollars to charitable causes. In 2006-7, he made a one million dollar donation to Medicaid to benefit Utah’s poor. He was also a major contributor to the Sorenson Multi Cultural Center. This center was named after him and to this day benefits families in Salt Lake City. But, many of you may not have realized that in 1984, James Sorenson built the Jordan Queen, formerly located at 4393 Riverboat Road in Murray.  Many may remember The Jordan Queen, also known as the Jordan Riverboat, or the Riverboat.  It was a restaurant and conference center, and sat right on the banks of the Jordan River with water actually surrounding the boat.

The Riverboat in 1992. Salt Lake County Planning and Development photographs, Salt Lake County Archives.

The Riverboat in 1992. Salt Lake County Planning and Development Photographs, Salt Lake County Archives.

There were very few restaurants as beautiful, ornate, and unique as The Jordan Queen.  It was built as a replica of a stern-wheeler paddle boat.  I know it was a spectacular place to hold special dinners, anniversary celebrations, wedding receptions, school proms, showers, and corporate lunches. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere was outstanding.  Most of the people that went to the Jordan Queen would never forget their experience there.

From the collection of Sheri Biesinger.

From the collection of Sheri Biesinger.

The Jordan Queen was built on a permanent foundation, and the finishing of both the interior and exterior were done to duplicate a river boat and were of fantastic quality.

Some of the interesting facts about The Jordan Queen:
Originally built in 1984 on a 5 1/2 acres site;
It contained a total of 22,000 square feet ;
It had 4 floors: the 1st floor 8,100 square feet;
The main floor was 8,100 square feet;
The 3rd floor 4,400 square feet and
The 4th floor was 1,300 square feet.

The Jordan Queen plot plan drawings. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards, Salt Lake County Archives.

The Jordan Queen plot plan drawings. Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Cards, Salt Lake County Archives.

The Jordan Queen was torn down in the 1990s and I have spent over a decade looking for  pictures of it. My journey to find more information about the Jordan Queen started when I made an appointment with the Salt Lake County Archives. They pulled the Jordan Queen files for me, and I was able to not only see the pictures posted with this blog but the specs for the building itself. It is something I have waited decades to find.

Sometimes are memories aren’t enough. We need to see pictures of the past.
Make your appointment today, and maybe I’ll see you at the archives!

~Entry contributed by guest blogger Sheri Biesinger

Posted in Guest blog, History from the ground up, Salt Lake history | 3 Comments

Welcome, Guest Blogger!

In our last blog entry, we highlighted the “Remembering Granger, Utah” Christmas tree that was created by a regular researcher at the Salt Lake County Archives.  Sheri Biesinger used images from the County Tax Appraisal Photographs as ornaments to decorate this unique tree.

Sheri has graciously agreed to become a community guest blogger (and volunteer) for the County Archives, and we would like to have her introduce herself to you.  Please stay tuned for upcoming guest blogs from Sheri, where she will introduce you to places you never knew existed, or perhaps allow you to revisit a long gone favorite hangout.

Sheri Biesinger, our new guest blogger, receiving an award from Utah governor.

Sheri Biesinger, our new guest blogger, receiving an award from Utah Governor Leavitt.  

My name is Sheri Kimball Biesinger. I have lived in West Valley City, Utah for most of my life.  I have 4 things I absolutely love to do:

The 1st is accounting. I have been an accountant/ bookkeeper for over 30 years.

My 2nd love is my community involvement. I have been honored by governors and 2 United States presidents for my community service.  For almost 25 years, I have had a non-profit company that serves people in dire circumstances. During December, I served almost 2,000 needy children/youth by providing Christmas wishes. The rest of the year I manage the non-profit group called www.TheSharingTeam.com, which provides new beds, clothing, shoes, books and school items to very deserving children in Salt Lake County and the surrounding area.

My 3rd love is my 3 wonderful children. My daughter lives in Beverly Hills and has her own business. My 2 sons attend Monticello Academy in West Valley.

My 4th love is History, especially the history of West Valley City. I have been thrilled to find so many wonderful pictures and facts about Granger, Chesterfield, & Hunter Utah (the three combine to make West Valley City) at the Salt Lake County Archives.

I look forward to being a guest blogger and can’t wait to share some wonderful parts of our past with you.

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Tree of Diversity

A regular researcher at the Salt Lake County Archives and member of the West Valley Historical Society has been invited to share on this blog some of the stories that she has uncovered during her journey in to the history of her community.  Sheri Kimball Biesinger (who you will be more formally introduced to in an upcoming blog entry) created a Christmas tree for the “Tree of Diversity” exhibit at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center using images from Salt Lake County’s Tax Appraisal Cards and Photographs.

Introducing the “Remembering Granger, Utah” tree, in Sheri’s own words:

Granger, Utah Christmas tree

“Remembering Granger” Christmas tree with ornament images from Salt Lake County Archives.

West Valley City hosts an annual Tree of Diversity display at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.

This year I was able to use the wonderful pictures and information about Granger that I found at the Salt Lake County Archives to adorn one of the trees.

The Christmas tree is entitled “Remembering Granger, Utah”.  The tree has more than 300 pictures of both homes and businesses that were a familiar sight from 1865-1983. All of the pictures on the tree brought back a flood of wonderful memories for those that lived in or visited Granger, Utah during those years.

On the wall are displayed larger pictures as well as lists of businesses that served the Granger area from 1900-1983.

Most of the population of Granger didn’t think to take pictures of their favorite restaurant, barbershop, hometown department store or the local grocery store. But thanks to the Salt Lake County Assessor, pictures were taken of all commercial and residential building beginning in the 1930s.

“Remembering Granger” tree with wall exhibit.

Make sure you come and see my tree and call the Salt Lake County Archives to make an appointment so that you can find pictures and information of those much beloved buildings from your past.

Entry contributed by guest blogger Sheri Kimball Biesinger.

Happy holidays from Salt Lake County Records Management and Archives! 

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Florence Kimball Woodruff

P.H. Lannan, recent subject of one of our blog posts, purchased the Commerce Building on the corner of Second Street and West Temple in 1901 for around $90,000. We also recently featured a piece on Henry H. Lawrence, one of the owners who sold the building to Lannan. Lawrence’s niece, Florence Kimball Woodruff, was another of the owners. We were not able to find as much information on her as the two men, but she seems like a fascinating woman.

She was born in Utah in the early 1860s and passed away in October of 1924. She was married to Russell C. Woodruff in 1892 and was widowed just 5 years later (we have her wedding license here at Salt Lake County Archives, and an image of it is included below). The wedding announcement in the Salt Lake Herald describe Woodruff as a comparative stranger, but went on to say he was a “sterling business man.” Meanwhile, the description of Florence was glowing: “Miss Kimball, who has lived always in Salt Lake, is universally popular for her intelligence and many noble and womanly attributes. Her indefatigable interest and activity in behalf of the poor have endeared her to all alike.”

Florence and Woodruff had two children, Russell and Adelaide. They would have been three and one respectively when they lost their father. Russell would go on to marry Margaret Mcintyre in 1917 and have at least four children. Adelaide married a New York stockbroker, had two children, and passed away in 1930.

The Woodruffs were regularly featured in the society pages; Adelaide’s picture graced the Salt Lake Telegram’s pages at least twice. Florence and Adelaide were both involved in charitable work and traveled extensively. They spent a great deal of time on the East Coast and made more than one lengthy trip to Europe. Florence also went to the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the Holy Land. She even made it to Alaska. However, not all of her trips went smoothly. She was injured in an auto crash while in Los Angeles, California and suffered a broken arm. The woman she was with fared worse, likely because she, Mrs. Sarah McChrystal, saw the crash coming and tried to jump out of the car, even though she was 71 years old. She landed on the other car involved, was knocked out and ended up with three broken ribs and several cuts and abrasions.

In addition to her charity work, Florence was involved in women’s clubs, particularly the Ladies’ Literary Club. She also loved art and was part of that scene as well, including involvement in planning an exhibit for Utah artists. In 1907, she also tried to make things easier for working women by contributing to improvements to the YWCA, so that women would have a safe comfortable place to rest, eat, and socialize while passing through Salt Lake or those who had business in the city but who lived too far out to go home for lunch. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “This step is designed to meet a long felt need in this city, and the venture is certainly one deserving highest commendation and most hearty support.” Salt Lake wasn’t the only city that benefited from Woodruff’s generosity. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that she “was one of those rendering valuable assistance to the refugees,” of the deadly 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Florence Kimball Woodruff passed away on October 9th, 1924 after a short illness. Her obituary mentioned that she came “from old pioneer stock” and that she was an important and active member of the Ladies Literary Club as well as other clubs in Salt Lake. She was survived by her two children.

Marriage License, Salt Lake County Archives.

Marriage License for Russell Woodruff and Julia Florence Kimball, 25 April 1892.  Marriage Applications and Licenses, License #2688. Salt Lake County Archives.

Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith,  Archivist,  Salt Lake County Archives.


“The Close of Lent,” Salt Lake Herald, April 17, 1892, 14.

“Former S. L. Woman Dies in New Jersey,” Salt Lake Telegram, January 10, 1930, 17.

“Popular Members of Young Society Set Learn How to Cook and Manage a House,” Salt Lake Telegram, March 26, 1916, 3.

“Miss Adelaide Woodruff,” Salt Lake Telegram, June 27, 1915, 14.

“Society,” Salt Lake Herald, August 16, 1908, 8.

“Salt Lake Women Hurt in Auto Crash on Coast,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 20, 1915, 1.

“Woman’s Club Notes,” Salt Lake Herald, January 26, 1902, 10.

“Utah Artists Exhibit,” Ogden Standard, December 7, 1904, 6.

“New Headquarters for Women Workers,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 20, 1907, 10.

“All Newspapers were Wrecked,” Salt Lake Tribune, April 27, 1906, 1.

“Death Claims Mrs. Woodruff,” Salt Lake Telegram, October 10, 1924, 2.

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