26 July 2020

Hate Crime in Murray in 1922: Jim Bing

4863 South State, Desert Star Playhouse, constructed in 1930.
This building replaced the one at which this incident occurred.
On the night of March 30, 1922, a group of White men terrorized the only Black man living in Murray, Jim Bing. The ordeal started at the location that is now the Desert Star Playhouse..
This is one of the stories documented in the book Blazing Crosses in Zion.

In 1922 the Ku Klux Klan had started to publicly recruit for members in SLC and the surrounding communities. The aura of mystery around the KKK prompted several local incidents that were never tied to official KKK activities.

Jim Bing was an honorably discharged veteran of WWI who had just moved to Murray from the Pacific Coast and started working as a bootblack (shoe shiner) for Joseph Chivrell at his store, Champion Shoe Repair, at 4863 South State Street.

Three Murray men, George B. Studham (1896-1949), J. Eugene Bringhurst (1901-1961), and Amos Jensen (1900-1948), “rigged themselves up in ghostly attire” and burst in upon Mr. Bing while he was sleeping in the rear of the store.

Bing initially fled but was captured, “severely beaten,” and then taken by automobile (probably Studham’s car since he had one and was a chauffeur) to Murray City Cemetery where he was further tormented by being forced to “offer up prayers for his ancestors” while “kneeling upon a grave with his hands clasped around a tombstone.” The men also threated Bing with a coat of tar and feathers if he reported the incident.

The next morning Bing’s face showed signs of a beating and his neck was so swollen that he could not swallow. Two days later, on April 2, Bing disappeared leaving all his belongings in the back of Chivrell’s shop.

On the complaint of Bing’s employer, Joseph Chivrell, the three men were arrested and charged with assault and battery. But without Mr. Bing to testify against them the charges were ultimately dropped.

Sources: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry Gerlach p34-35; SL Trib 1922-04-15; SL Telegram 1922-04-14 & 1922-05-02

Note: I looked for Jim Bing in the historic records but could not find any other info on him. Unfortunately I am not convinced the local papers that reported the incident even got his name correct (they misspelled nearly everyone else's involved as well). I could not find a Jim Bing WWI vet that was a Black man that ever left the South. His name could have easily been King or Binge or something else just one letter off. I do hope he made it out if town alive.

24 July 2020

Did masks work to stop the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic?

A Red Cross nurse in 1918 with a medical gauze mask.
Credit: Paul Thompson/FPG via Getty Images
Did masks work to stop the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic? The answer to that is “It’s Complicated!”

Contemporary and historical sources have conflicting information about the mask question. The best summary I have found is titled “Did Masks Work? — The 1918 Flu Pandemic and the Meaning of Layered Interventions” published by the Berkeley Library Update May 23 2020.

Here is the summary of that article:

Even in 1918 public health leaders were skeptical of the effectiveness of masks and thought that their use by the public was minimally effective mostly because masks were not used properly.

The recommended mask was to be made of multiple layers of medical gauze, which had a tighter weave than what most people understood as gauze. Many people did not have access to medical gauze and cheese cloth was often substituted, with poor outcomes. It was also necessary that the mask be changed and sanitized several times per day, again something that was often not done. Still others only wore a mask outside and removed it when they went indoors, in close quarters with others and with poor circulation.

Mask wearing in and of itself was not enough. “This was not simply a question of ‘mask or no mask,’ but of design, construction, supply, and use.”

A 2007 study commissioned by the Pentagon found that there was a “layered effect of protection by using multiple techniques together: school closure, bans on public gathering, isolation and quarantine of the infected, limited closure of businesses, transportation restrictions, public risk communications, hygiene education, and wearing of masks.”

During the Spanish Flu, masks were not used widely and well enough to make much of a difference, but most health workers tended to believe in their effectiveness enough to be used for front line workers.

It was the combination of interventions that worked together in 1918-1919 and which are working now.

22 July 2020

Whiskey Prescriptions During the Spanish Flu

Confiscated whiskey from a box car, January 10 1919.
From UDSH. Colorization by ColorSurprise
In 1918, a common medical treatment of the Spanish Flu in was the prescription of whiskey by doctors.

When the Spanish Flu hit Utah in 1918, it was already a dry state and had become the 24th state to adopt statewide prohibition in 1917. But that did not mean that liquor was hard to come by in SLC as there was a continuous stream of bootleggers bringing it in from Nevada and Wyoming. Consequently, there was quite a bit of confiscated booze in the custody of the SLC police.

By 1918, the medical community was divided on whether whiskey was beneficial for influenza or any other medical condition. Alcohol had been dropped from the list of standards by the U.S. Pharmacopeia in 1916 and the American Medical Association (AMA) discouraged the use of alcohol as a medicine.

Even by 1922 when the AMA surveyed its members 51% believed whiskey to be a necessary therapeutic agent believing alcohol helped stimulate the heart and respiratory system while others believed the sedative effects made the patient more comfortable.

So, it is not surprising that in Nov 1918 SLC physician Dr. T. O. Duckworth and other members of the medical community convinced Utah Governor Simon Bamberger, SLC Public Safety Commissioner Karl A. Scheid, and SLC Chief of Police J. Parley White to issue an emergency order to distribute confiscated whiskey to the ill for the duration of the Spanish Flu pandemic.

The 3,276 gallons of confiscated whiskey that was originally set to be poured down the drain was now going to be used to combat the pandemic of influenza.

In order to ensure only those infected with influenza received the whiskey a prescription from a doctor was required. Usually a ½ pint would be issued per person and patients must bring their own containers. Doctors could not charge a fee for writing a liquor prescription. Those receiving the prescription were required to sign a ledger. Whiskey would be distributed by the head nurse from the emergency influenza hospital that had been set up at the old Judge Mercy Hospital (located where Judge Memorial High School is now).

According to a SL Trib newspaper article, numerous attempts to obtain liquor were made by those who were not entitled to it using every conceivable variety of excuses. Presumably, most were turned away unless they had a valid prescription.

Sources: SL Trib 1918-11-30, 1918-12-01. And “Amid 1918 Pandemic, Bootleg Whiskey Became a Respectable Medicine” from History.com.

16 July 2020

Dr Beatty Pleads to Mask Up During the Spanish Flu

Dr. T. B. Beatty ca. 1895.
 from Marriott Library, Univ of Utah.
During the fall of 1918 the second wave of the Spanish Flu hit Utah.

Here are the words of Dr. Theodore B. Beatty (1862-1948), the first state of Utah Health Commissioner who lead the department from 1899 to 1935.

He was addressing a meeting in Ogden with the mayor, city commissioners, city board of health, and representatives of business, churches, and schools.

“There is no attempt being made malignantly, unwisely, to hurt any man’s business, nor any child’s education, nor any person’s amusement, nor any one’s religious exercises. It is a question of the long versus the short view. We can put our heads like ostriches in the sand. We can say that the disease is not here. That will not alter the fact that it is here, and the longer we neglect its appearance the more terrible will it be. What we are attempting to do is to SAVE HUMAN LIVES. Human lives will be saved, the epidemic will be overcome, if with willing cheerfulness, the whole community gets together and links up with the city board of health and determines to rule its own life individually for the public good. Let people crowd down town; let them go into picture shows, let the schools be open, let everything go its own way just as it might do in normal times, and we will be paralyzed by this epidemic.” (Emphasis original)

Source: Ogden Daily Standard 1918-11-22 Head of State Board of Health Gives his Views

14 July 2020

These two houses at 833 S 800 East SLC are likely to be demolished soon

833 S. 800 East, front house.
833 S. 800 East, rear house.

These two houses at 833 S. 800 East SLC are likely to be demolished soon in preparation for the Telegraph Exchange Lofts development (see previous post).

Two houses are on this lot with one located behind the other. The front house was built ca 1891 while the rear was built ca 1896. Both houses appear to have been built for Mrs. Hannah Holdsworth Deming Askew.

Hannah Holdsworth was an early Mormon pioneer from England, arriving in SLC without family in 1854. The following year at the age of 24 she married 52-year-old widower Moses Deming. Moses had been married twice and had 4 children, all of whom had previously died.

Moses and Hannah settled in the 1st ward of SLC, the area bounded by 600 to 900 South and 600 East to the foothills. Moses died in 1871 leaving Hannah her 6 children to raise. Hannah soon remarried another widower, George Askew. By 1879 they were listed in the SLC directory as living at this section of 800 East.

Hannah and George may have had some marital problems because by 1892 Hannah had built the front house at 833 S 800 East and had abandoned her married name of Askew in lieu of her older married name Deming. And George was not listed with her in the SLC Directory at the 800 East home. She was 58 at the time and her 3 surviving children were grown: Granville, Franklin, and Miles.

About 1896 Hannah built and moved into the house in the rear and then rented out the front house. She continued this arrangement until her death in 1913. Hannah’s obituary stated she was well known in the 1st ward for her charitable works and as a friend of the sick and needy.

Of note, the house that was directly to the north (829 S. 800 East) of Hannah’s houses and was demolished in 2016 (and replaced with a modern style home) was the house of her son, Miles Deming.

Hannah Deming Askew, from ancestry user RobertJohnT46.

09 July 2020

Hyland Exchange Building, 847 S 800 East

Hyland Exchange Building in 2014
This is the Hyland Exchange Building located in the 9th and 9th neighborhood of SLC.

Yesterday (July 8 2020) the SLC Planning Commission approved zoning amendments that will allow for the development the Telegraph Exchange Lofts: 6 residential lofts within this building and 17 additional new units to be built after the demolition of 3 adjacent buildings (including 2 homes to the north built in the 1890s).

Located at 847 S. 800 East SLC, the building was constructed between 1911-1912 by the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co (MST&T).

The Hyland Exchange building debuted in 1912 as a 2.5 story building with the half-story being a rooftop garden for use by the female operators when they were off duty. Later, in 1916 this rooftop garden was enclosed and made into rest quarters. In 1926, a large rear addition was added.

By 1939, SLC telephone infrastructure was largely outdated handling over 325K calls per day making SLC one of the largest hand-operated exchanges in the world, mostly because other cities had already converted to automated dialing.

In response, MST&T constructed a new $3M initiative to automate SLC telephone dialing which included several new specialized buildings and replacing operators with automated switching equipment.

In Oct 1949, the LDS Church purchased the building and used it for a Regional Bishops’ Storehouse. In 1988 the building was still in use as the LDS Church Deseret Soap Co.

Several years ago, the property was purchased by ClearWater homes.

The Hyland Exchange building is within a National Historic District so rehab of the building will qualify for tax credits.

But, the building is not part of a local SLC Historic District and it is not a Local Historic Landmark building so there is no legal requirement for the current owners to preserve or reuse this or any other building in their new housing project.

Hyland Exchange Building in 2020

Hyland Exchange Building in 1912. From UDSH.

 Interior with women operating switchboard in 1927. From UDSH.

04 July 2020

July 4th Holiday was Often Deadly in the 1900s

Loretta Gillespie, from
Salt Lake Herald July 9 1909

Following the 4th of July holiday, the local SLC newspapers of the 1900s printed a list fires, injuries, and people who died of mishaps. 

The year 1909 was an especially tragic year in which two little girls died of massive burns caused by fireworks at home.

Pictured here is Loretta Gillespie. She was 8 years old when she attended a children’s 4th of July party in the Liberty Wells neighborhood. During the party, some children lit a couple sparklers (inside the house!) and her dress caught fire. 

The host of the party rushed to her aid but when he arrived, she “was a pillar of fire, the flames rising two feet above her head.” He seized her and rolled her on the ground, extinguishing the flames. Two doctors quickly arrived, and she was taken to LDS Hospital, where she died four days later.

Another tragic death of the 1909 4th of July was 5-year-old Mary E. Saville who lived in the Avenues. A firecracker was thrown at her by a nearby boy and it ignited Mary’s clothing. Her father, J. Maurice Saville, was also burned while he attempted to smother the flames. Mary died the next day.

Five-year-old C. Geneva Frost of the Marmalade neighborhood was also the victim of boy with a sparkler, who, according to family history, intentionally set Geneva’s dress on fire. Geneva was badly burned from her neck down to her knees, but she survived. Geneva lived until the age of 96.

Many other burns, eye injuries, hand injuries, and building fires throughout SLC were also reported following the 1909 4th of July.

Sources: SL Herald July 6 1909 & July 9 1909; SL Trib July 6 1909; Frost family history.

The Salt Lake Herald July 9 1909

The Broad Ax

July 4 1896 Edition of the Broad Ax 
Happy 4th of July!

This image was featured in the July 4 1896 edition of the Broad Ax newspaper of SLC.

Published between 1895 and 1899, the Broad Ax was a Black-owned newspaper, one of four Black newspapers in SLC at the time.

Published and edited by Julius F. Taylor (1853-1934) and his wife, Anna Emogne Taylor (1857-1932), the Broad Ax focused on politics and race relations.

Julius endeavored to promote the virtues of the Democratic Party to the Black population at a time when the majority supported the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln.

In this edition of the Broad Ax, Julius endorsed Democrat William Jennings Bryan for President, one of the earliest newspapers in the country to do so. Julius believed that Bryan would fight for the working man against the wealthy.

Julius F. Taylor was born into slavery in Virginia. After the Civil War he lived in several cities including Philadelphia, St. Paul, Fargo, and Chicago.

In 1895 the Taylors moved to SLC for the dry climate which would better suit Emogene’s health. Julius immediately started publishing the Broad Ax and Emogene set up an art studio in their home at 710 S Main SLC.

The Broad Ax was never a profitable endeavor in SLC and Julius’s outspoken nature eventually wore on many advertisers.

In July 1899 the Taylors moved back to Chicago, which had a much larger Black population; Julius continued to publish the Broad Ax in Chicago where he found a more receptive audience to his writings.

Source: “Julius F. Taylor and the Broad Ax of SLC” by Michael S. Sweeney, UHQ V77 N3.