One of our archivists, Michaele Smith, has had an article published in the latest Utah Historical Quarterly!  The article is based upon a chapter of her PhD dissertation, and is an examination of rape cases in Utah during World War II and the years preceding it to explore the difficulties women faced when reporting rape.

Michaele received her PhD in American Studies from the College of William and Mary in 2013, and has authored many of the entries for this blog.

Check out the article’s Web Extra on the Utah Historical Quarterly’s website, and read the entire article in the Summer 2017 (volume 85, number 3) issue recently released.

A cartoon from “The Wolf,” a syndicated comic. Printed in the “Hillfielder,” a Hill Air Force Base newspaper, in 1945. The cartoon implied that women could defend unwanted advances if they really wanted to.

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Holiday Closure

“The day after”

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Please note that we will be CLOSED November 23 and 24 for the holiday.


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More Than Just Pickles: Update

Utah Pickle Company in 1977.  Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 1-383.

Two years ago, we posted an entry highlighting the history of the Utah Pickle Company building, located at 741 West 400 South.  Its future was in doubt, but we now have an update on the plans for this building.

A grant was awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, through their Partners in Preservation program, to restore and redesign this building and an adjacent building.  They will became a “1.5-acre epicenter (to) serve creative minds, independent artists, and inspired locals looking for a space to gather, work, and celebrate.”  See the announcement by clicking this link.  Congratulations, Utah Pickle Company building!

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“Utah Friends of Sunshine”

Did you know that a group called the “Utah Friends of Sunshine” tried to establish a nudist colony in Utah in 1941? They did, and Salt Lake County officials were quick to put a stop to it. The sheriff approached the County Attorney Harold Wallace, asking for advice on how to handle the possibility of a nudist colony. Wallace told him the colony would be in violation of the statute prohibiting lewdness. Wallace further suggested that new legislation be enacted to strengthen existing laws.

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

















                                                     Happy Friday!

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

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For several months we’ve been processing the correspondence of the County Attorney, mostly that of Harold Wallace who held that position in the 1930s and 1940s. We’ve found Arrest Reports mixed in with the other correspondence. Today’s blog shares the details of one of the more entertaining reports.

On July 17, 1937 at about 12:45 am, Edwin Bishop got into his Chevrolet Coach and left his job with Utah Construction in Bingham Canyon. He gave a ride to an acquaintance named George Demich. Demich was in Bingham Canyon looking for work and had gotten rides from Bishop before. They headed to downtown Salt Lake City. On the way they picked up a hitch-hiker near the Standard Garage. The hitch-hiker was 32-year-old Lawrence Walker. He agreed to be dropped off around 5th South State Street, near Bishop’s home, but when they got there he refused to get out of the car and pulled a gun on the other two men. Demich later said the gun was a black long-barreled six-shooter. Walker then demanded that they drive to Route 91 and head north; he would tell them where to stop.

Demich and Bishop did as they were told. Bishop stopped near Ogden and tried to convince Walker to get out of the car, but he refused and they continued north. At some point Walker asked the two men to give him their money. Bishop didn’t have any, but Demich gave him $1.80. Walker rambled on about being unemployed and discussed his job search. He was clearly intoxicated, he later told arresting officers that he didn’t remember anything after getting in the car and that he didn’t recognize the gun. He also tried to claim that the car was his and told police that he only got into legal trouble when he had been drinking and that when he got drunk he would “go nuts and usually stay drunk for a week at a time.”

During the drive, Walker also told his captives that he planned to kick them out of the car so he could take it, but he never got around to it. When they reached Brigham City at about 4am, Bishop and Demich realized that Walker had been quiet for a long time. They turned and looked into the back seat, where Walker was soundly asleep, the gun still sitting in his lap.

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

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

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Wanted Again

This is the third and final installment in our series on Wanted Posters featuring couples. As you may recall, we came across the Wanted Posters in the County Attorney’s correspondence. Harold Wallace, the Salt Lake County Attorney in the 1930s and 1940s, was on the FBI’s mailing list during the Public Enemy Era. The last couple has what I think is the most surprising ending.

This poster, released February 8, 1938, features Maurice Denning and Evelyn Bert. The poster lists multiple aliases for both. According to the poster, Denning was wanted for “the robbery of the following National banks: First National Bank, Hawarden, Iowa, October 15, 1934; First National Bank, Dell Rapids, South Dakota, November 7, 1934; Security National Bank, Superior, Nebraska, November 22, 1934; First National Bank, Smith Center, Kansas, February 1, 1935; First National Bank, Hudson, South Dakota, January 5, 1935. He is likewise wanted for participation in the robbery of seven State banks.” Adding those up- that’s 12 bank robberies!

Evelyn Burt does not appear to have directly aided in the robberies; she was only wanted for harboring Denning.

Denning was an Iowa farmer by trade, but he ran afoul of the law when he got caught using stolen license plates. His next offense was more serious: he got involved in bootlegging. While serving his bootlegging sentence he became friends with hardened criminals William “Billy” Pabst and his partner in crime Earl Keeling, both convicted bank robbers. Once they were all out of prison they formed a gang including a box-car bandit, Thomas Limerick, and Pabst’s nephew, Francis Harper, an escaped convict. They became known as the Denning-Limerick Gang.

They began their crime spree in August 1934 and by November were recognized as the top public enemies in the Midwest.  Unlike earlier blog subjects Ben and Stella Mae, the Denning-Limerick gang treated their hostages more harshly, including when they were accused of torturing a farmer so he’d reveal where he had money hidden. However, they used the same technique as Ben when fleeing, they too took hostages and made them stand on the get-away car’s running boards as human shields until they got out of town. This practice had also been used by the Dillinger gang, which likely gave both Ben and Denning the idea.

The Denning-Limerick Gang realized they needed a hide-out/base of operations and choose a house in Kinney, Nebraska. Kinney was a boom/bust railroad town that was on its way to becoming a ghost town, so it served their purposes well. However, it wasn’t long before law enforcement figured out where they were and a task force of several agencies surrounded the house. Unfortunately for the task force, only two members of the gang were actually there at the time. The two fugitives pretended to surrender, but then made a break for it, fleeing on foot. The officers opened fire. Earl Keeling, one of Denning’s prison companions, was hit almost immediately. A sheriff’s deputy shot him in the back, the bullet exited through his abdomen. He managed to keep running another half mile before collapsing. He survived until the next morning when he passed away at the hospital. Frances Harper, the other man in the house when law enforcement showed up, fared a little better. He had some minor wounds, but managed to steal a car and made it all the way to Kentucky before his capture. He ended up in Alcatraz and was listed as an escape risk.

Meanwhile back in Nebraska, Denning and Limerick returned to the Kinney hide-out in a stolen car the night of the raid. Police had arrested the four women in the house, including Denning and Limerick’s wives, Alice Denning and Catherine Limerick. All of the women were charged with harboring fugitives. You’ll notice that Evelyn Bert was not there; it’s unclear when she became involved with Denning. At least one newspaper blamed her for Denning’s entry into serious crime because he was trying to impress her. When Denning and Limerick arrived at the house they realized that something was wrong so they kept driving. Police fired on them, but they were able to get away and soon after ditched the bullet-ridden car.

Law enforcement finally caught up with Limerick in a nightclub in Missouri in May of 1935. He was arrested because of his involvement in a fight. He confessed to the bank robberies and was given a life sentence, first going to Leavenworth then to Alcatraz. On May 23, 1938, Limerick attempted escape, but was killed by a guard.

Denning disappeared. In July 1936 the FBI upgraded him to Public Enemy Number One. He was “the most successful Public Enemy” and was never captured.

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

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


Chris Dunker, Beatrice Daily Sun, July 22, 2009

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Happy Birthday, Government Center!

Artist’s rendering of the planned Salt Lake County Government Center. Shown in light tan are the planned North and South buildings and parking garage. The already existing senior housing buildings are in dark brown.

2017 marks the 30th birthday of the Salt Lake County Government Center. Located on State Street at 2001 South, the Government Center consists of the North and South buildings and houses most of the agencies within the County.  In December 1986, the North building was officially opened, and later in 1987 the South building was finished and opened for business, completing the construction of the new Government Center.

Salt Lake County had previously jointly occupied the Salt Lake City and County Building at 451 South State Street with the Salt Lake City government.  Many Salt Lake County agencies (including Human Resources, Facilities, and Real Estate) were also housed in the old County Hospital complex buildings, and other programs were scattered throughout the valley.  The property at 2001 South State Street had been owned by Salt Lake County since 1885, with a poor farm, infirmary, hospital, nurses school, and other medical and indigent services buildings occupying this site through the years.  When the University of Utah took over the hospital services from Salt Lake County, many county agencies moved in to the empty building spaces, even making office space within the room previously used as the hospital morgue.

As the old hospital buildings continued to deteriorate, a new Government Center was planned.  This center would gather most county agencies and services within one location, and provide safe and healthy spaces for county employees and Salt Lake County citizens to conduct business.  Commissioners Bart Barker, Tom Shimizu, and Michael Stewart were instrumental in the realization of the Government Center.

Demolition of Salt Lake County Hospital building in preparation for building the new Government Center.

Salt Lake County Hospital building (on right) prior to demolition, with the North Building of the new Government Center completed (on left).

Official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Government Center. Photograph courtesy of Bart Barker.

To mark this 30th birthday, the Archives created a small exhibit of images and records highlighting the history of the Government Center, and Mayor Ben McAdams interviewed Records Management and Archives Director Maren Slaugh about this exhibit and the archives program.

The exhibit of County Government Center history on view in the South Building. July 18, 2017.

For additional information about Salt Lake County history or the Government Center, also check out these pages on our website.

Left to right: former Commissioner Shimizu, Mayor McAdams, former Commissioner Barker at the opening of the history exhibit. July 18, 2017.


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