A Look Back at Commissioners and Selectmen

In 2013, Salt Lake County government will see a number of changes, including welcoming a new mayor, a new administration, and changes to the council.  We would like to look back at the previous form of County government with a brief history and chronological listings of the commissioners and the Territorial selectmen.

Excerpt from County Court Minutes, March 1852.

Excerpt from the first meeting of Great Salt Lake County. County Court Minutes, March 15, 1852.

The first formal meeting of Salt Lake County government occurred on March 15, 1852—eighteen months after the Utah Territory was established by the United States Congress.

Probate judges and county selectmen functioned in what was known as the County Court. The duties of the County Court included both judicial and executive powers for the administration of county government. They managed claims against the County; controlled timber and water privileges; granted mill sites; created schools, roads, and election districts; and levied taxes.

They authorized payment of bills and wages; laid out roads, irrigation canals and dams; and appointed county officials such as the fruit tree inspector and coroner.

Over time, more duties were added including granting business licenses, most of which were liquor licenses, and approving the incorporation of towns.

With statehood in 1896, a county commission was created. At this time, County government had a County Auditor, Assessor, Attorney, Clerk, Recorder, Sheriff, Surveyor, and Treasurer – the same independent offices that exist today.

Salt Lake County Commissioners, a chronological listing

Territorial Selectmen of Salt Lake County, a chronological listing

To read more about Salt Lake County history, visit our website

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