Guide to the Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 2. Utah Synod subject files

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 2. Utah Synod subject files
Dates: 1871-1979 (inclusive)
Collection Number: MSS-003B
Summary: This collection consists of the subject files of the Utah Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The materials, dating from 1871-1979, include articles, clippings, correspondence, histories, postcards, publications, reports, resolutions and speeches.
Repository: Westminster College, Giovale Library
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Phone: (801) 832-2250

Collection Inventory +/-

box 1, folder 1: Board of Home Missions (1913)
box 1, folder 2: History (1969, 1979, undated)
box 1, folder 3: Map allotment (1930)
box 1, folder 4: Minutes (1913-1914)
box 1, folder 5: Publications (1906, 1914, undated)
box 1, folder 6: Reports (1871-1881)
box 1, folder 7: Reports (1883-1916)
box 1, folder 8: Resolutions and speeches (1921-1925)
box 2, folder 1: Reports

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

The first Utah Presbyterian congregation was officially organized on July 14, 1870 by Edward Bayliss, at Corinne (Box Elder County) in northern Utah. A year later, the second congregation was organized in Salt Lake City by Rev. Josiah Welch. In 1873, the third congregation was organized by J.P. Schell in the mining city of Alta. A school was opened in this church building within the following months (this school was the first Presbyterian attempt at improving the quality of education). The Alta church burnt down in 1879, and was never rebuilt. The Synod of Utah was created in October 1908, composed of the Ogden, Southern Utah, and Salt Lake City presbyteries.

Undeniably, the area where the Presbyterians particularly excelled was in education. The decrepit condition of Utah's school system spurred many Presbyterian ventures into the arena of private elementary education. Though the Presbyterians were only one of several non-Mormon groups to begin Utah schools in the latter half of the 19th century, they would produce the only two surviving schools of the forty-one established beginning in 1873, namely Wasatch Academy of Mt. Pleasant and Westminster College of Salt Lake City.

An example of this dedication to education (and the beginning of Wasatch Academy) can be found within the history of missionary Duncan J. McMillan. McMillan arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, by the request of the Presbyterian Regional Superintendent Sheldon Jackson, in 1875. Upon his arrival, he and Jackson arranged for the purchase of Liberal Hall, a building constructed by disenfranchised Scandinavian ex-Mormons. Wasatch Academy, as McMillan named it, would soon have an enrollment of 54 students for its first year.

Wasatch Academy and McMillan were dealt a potentially ruinous blow that year by LDS President Brigham Young. Young called for McMillan's immediate expulsion from the area. Ironically, McMillan had no intention of leaving (though Young's order caused three-quarters of McMillan's students to withdraw). The information about McMillan that was generated as a result of Young's displeasure only served to promote McMillan as an educator; people from around the state appealed to McMillan to start schools in their towns. McMillan's further involvement also helped spread Presbyterian influence: the construction of a Presbyterian church typically followed the construction of a McMillan school in the area.

It could be said that the Presbyterian Church's second greatest asset was its missionaries. These people were the backbone of the church, and they were the keepers of order throughout the widespread Utah Synod. Though all missionaries played an integral role in the perpetuation of the Presbyterian Church in the state of Utah, a handful of missionaries stand out among the rest. These missionaries were stewards of the Church like George W. Martin, anti-polygamy crusaders like W.M Paden, and educators like J.M. Coyner. Without people like them, the Presbyterian agenda in the State of Deseret would have ended in failure.

Source of information for this biographical/historical note:

Content Description +/-

This collection consists of the subject files of the Utah Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The materials, dating from 1871-1979, include articles, clippings, correspondence, histories, postcards, publications, reports, resolutions and speeches.

Board of Home Missions (Box 1, Folder 1): This file includes several letters from Thomas C. Moffett, Superintendent of the Department of Indian Missions (Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., New York), dated January and March, 1913, and a blank application form for "Indian Churches and Missions Estimate of Aid" to be submitted by Presbyteries seeking funding.

History (Box 1, Folder 2): This file includes a handwritten copy by Westminster College President Herbert W. Reherd, titled "The History of Presbyterianism in Utah." and covers the period 1864-1883. It offers a few general details about the history of the Utah Synod; two postcards of First Presbyterian Church, a souvenir of the dedication of the First Congregational Church, Salt Lake City; a 2-page typed history of the building of First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City (1871-1903) by an unknown author; a photocopy of a newspaper clipping (dated 1969) details activities planned by the Presbyterians for their Utah Centennial celebration, accompanied by a brief, general history. The most recent item in the file is a description by Graham W. Strong, dated 1979, of "The Presbyterian tour of historical sites" in Utah, a 350-mile journey by bus made on May 26 by 37 members of First Presbyterian Church. Dr. Jack Smith of the Utah State Historical Society provided commentary along the route which included Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant), Manti, Gunnison, Salina (Crosby Memorial Presbyterian Church and School), Monroe, Valley Community Presbyterian Church (oldest continuously operating church in Sevier County), and finally Nephi before returning to Salt Lake City.

Map allotment (Box 1, Folder 3): Contained in the file is a typewritten document entitled "Notes for A Map of Allotment and Occupation in Utah" that provides a list of counties in Utah and describes the Presbyterian/Methodist presence. It is dated October 16, 1930 and signed W. M. P. (almost certainly William M. Paden).

Minutes (Box 1, Folder 4): Contained in the file are two handwritten unsigned documents, one regarding "Action of the ecclesiastical body 'The Synod of Utah' taken at Mt. Pleasant, Utah, Oct. 8-11, 1913. The second dated September 1st, 1914, Salt Lake City, Utah, "At a meeting of the Directors of 'The Presbytery of Utah', a corporation duly called, at which meeting were present G.W. Martin, Director and President, E.B. Critchlow, Director and Secretary, and Josiah McClain, Director".

Publications (Box 1, Folder 5): The publications include an "Annual Report of the Synodical Society of the Synod of Utah" dated 1906, and "Synod of Utah" (minutes of the 6th annual session) published 1914, Salt Lake City (with cover images of Westminster College campus and Wasatch Academy), detailing a variety variety of areas, Foreign Missions, Ministerial Education, Young Peoples' Work, and the University of Utah. A full issue of The Assembly Herald, dated October, 1907 and published monthly by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. includes on p. 441-455 the Board of Home Missions focus on "The Mormons". There is an obituary for George Fletcher McAfee, "Action of Utah Presbyterian", articles by Rev. Josiah McClain and Hans P Freece on Utah (with an image of the Indian Chapel, Shem, Utah), "Mormonism--its iron rule" authored "By Some Who Know", and a "Smoot in the Senate" article. Also in the file are the "Standing rules of Synod of Utah", and "A message from the Presbyterian Women of Utah".

Reports (Box 1, Folders 6-7; Box 2, Folder 1): The reports provide summaries of missionary work, during the following years: 1871–1881, and 1883–1893. These reports include a roll of the ministers, and detail what work they accomplished. Also included is a 1916 Synod report to the Church Extension Committee. It is a narrative report authored by William M. Paden describing his visit throughout the Presbyterian “tent” communities where he visited and preached. It provides his assessment of the state of these missions. This report is organized into two parts, both titled “Report to Church Extension Committee for Synod” and are dated 1916. The second part of the report gives a specific date of 1 September. A financial report is attached.

Resolutions and speeches (Box 1, Folder 8): "The Content of Education in a Christian College", dated 1924, discusses curriculum needs in various areas of a Christian education. It is unsigned but may have been written by Rev. Wildman Murphy, a Presbyterian minister and teacher in Payson, Utah. A second document in the file is a resolution, adopted September 2, 1921 by the Synod of Utah, that Westminster College be recognized as much more than a mission school, but rather a unique Presbyterian college in the Mormon state of Utah, "a peculiarly strategic institution requiring a special policy of help by the Presbyterian General Board of Education", signed Wildman Murphy, Stated Clerk. The final item in the file is entitled "Notes of an Address Made in Honor of Fred C. Jensen" is undated and unsigned. Jensen is described in the speech as "a banker and a sheepman" which goes on to refer to "your academy". Frederick C. Jensen, a staunch Presbyterian, gifted his home (at 2nd West and 2nd South, Mt. Pleasant, Utah) to the Wasatch Academy, where this address was likely delivered in 1925, the year Jensen died.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.

Restrictions on Use:

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.

Preferred Citation:

Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 2. Utah Synod subject files, 1871-1979, MSS-003B, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Administrative Information +/-


Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Processing Note:

Note on processing of the full set of the Presbyterian Church in Utah collections (MSS-003A to MSS-003C): This collection was processed by Josh Ivie in April 2005. Both its origin and original order are unknown. While it is assumed that the records were collected by George W. Martin and William M. Paden, it cannot be confirmed. There is also a possibility that some of these records were collected by Westminster College Emeritus President Herbert W. Reherd during the 1940s and early 1950s while he was writing histories of the Presbyterian Church in Utah and a history of Westminster College. Later records were added by others (probably College Archivist Emil Nyman) in the 1970s. This collection was originally accessioned as ACC-009, later reassigned as ACC-025A-C, and in 2009 as MSS-003A-C.

A decision was made in 2015 to split the Presbyterian Church in Utah collection into three collections (one for each series) in line with the historical treatment of other multi-series collections held by the Giovale Library Archives. The resulting set of collections are:

  • Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 1. Utah Synod church and mission records, 1877-1978 (MSS-003A)
  • Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 2. Utah Synod subject files, 1871-1979 (MSS-003B)
  • Presbyterian Church in Utah collection. Series 3. Utah Presbyterian missionary records, 1871-1969 (MSS-003C)


Collection materials are in English.


0.2 linear foot

Language of the Finding Aid:


Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written April 2005 by Josh Ivie and expanded October 2015 by Sarah Shaw.

EAD Creation Date:

2015 October 15 by Sarah Shaw


Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)



Related Material:

Related collections in Giovale Library Archives:

Related photographs in Giovale Library Archives:

The Giovale Library has many additional photographs and texts on the history of Presbyterianism in Utah and the Intermountain West available to researchers.

Related images held by Utah State Historical Society:

Subjects +/-

Corporate Names:

Indian Chapel (Shem, Utah)--History--Sources
First Presbyterian Church (Salt Lake City, Utah)--History--Sources
First Congregational Church (Salt Lake City, Utah)--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Presbytery of Utah--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Home Missions--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Utah--History--Sources
Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)--History--Sources
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--History--Sources

Subject Terms:

Presbyterian Church--Idaho--History--Sources
Presbyterian Church--Utah--History--Sources
Utah--Church history--19th century
Utah--Church history--20th century

Form or Genre Terms:

Application forms
Clippings (information artifacts)
Histories (literature genre)
Lists (document genres)
Minutes (administrative records)
Resolutions (administrative records)
Speeches (documents)

Personal Names:

Freece, Hans P. (Hans Peter), 1879-
Jensen, Frederick C. (Frederick Christian), 1858-1925
McAfee, George Fletcher, 1841-1907
McClain, Josiah
Moffett, Thomas C. (Thomas Clinton), 1869-1945
Paden, William Mitchell, 1854-1931
Reherd, Herbert Ware, 1869-1952
Smoot, Reed, 1862-1941
Strong, Graham W.
Wildman, Murphy

Geographical Names: