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Utah Genealogy

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Utah Territory
Created: September 9, 1850
Statehood: January 4, 1896

Utah's majestic mountains, lakes, and deserts were first beheld by man some 12,000 years ago. Through the millennia that followed, these Paleoindian big-game hunters were succeeded by a number of other early culture groups including the Desert Archaic, Anasazi, and Fremont. About a thousand years ago, such Numic-speaking hunter-gatherers as the Shoshones, Utes, Southern Paiutes, and Goshutes began moving into Utah, and they were joined by an Athapaskan group, the Navajos.

White men came along much later. Their first significant incursion came in 1776 as a party of Spanish explorers traveled much of the length of present-day Utah. Led by Franciscan friars Dominguez and Escalante, these intrepid men were scouting a northern route from Santa Fe to Monterey and seeking to promote Christianity among the Indians. On numerous occasions Escalante noted in his diary the natural beauty of Utah's pristine landscape.

Nearly fifty years would elapse before the next group of whites came to Utah. These were the mountain men searching for beaver. Such colorful characters as Jim Bridger, Etienne Provost, Miles Goodyear, and Jedediah Smith explored, trapped, mingled with the Indians, and gave dozens of place names to the area's distinctive geographical features.

Then came the Mormons in 1847, questing for a religious sanctuary in the remote West. Immigrating in large numbers, they laid out communities, built homes and churches, established farms supported by an irrigation system, skirmished with the native people, achieved territorial status in 1850, and generally prospered. Non-Mormons came too, especially after precious metals were discovered in the 1860s, and they added diversification to Utah's society. By the time of statehood in 1896, the total population approached a quarter of a million people.

Utah Counties


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County Organization Dates
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Governors History
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Native American History
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State Facts and Trivia Tall Tales

Defunct Counties

Carson County - established in 1854 and named for the Carson River, a 150-mile (240 km) river in Nevada and California that originates from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Cedar County - established in 1856 and named for the numerous cedar trees growing in the area (which are actually juniper trees).

Desert County - established in 1852 and named for the surrounding desert.

Greasewood County - established in 1856 and named for the greasewood plant growing in the area.

Green River County - established in 1852 and named for the greasewood plant growing in the area.

Humboldt County - established in 1856 and named for the Humboldt River, a 300-mile (480 km) river in Nevada and longest river in the Great Basin.

Malad County - established in 1856 and named for the Malad River, the name being French for "sickly".

Rio Virgin County - established in 1869 and named for the Virgin River, a 160 miles (260 km) long tributary of the Colorado River located in southern Utah and Nevada.

St. Mary's County - established in 1856 and named after the Mary's River, which was later renamed to the Humboldt River.

Shambip County - established in 1856 and named after the Goshute Native American Tribe word for Rush Lake.

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Utah Genealogy Trails, part of the Genealogy Trails History Group, is an Independent volunteer organization dedicated to providing free access to Historical and Genealogical Records

Utah Genealogy Trails History Group
 Sandra Davis - State Coordinator


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