30 August 2020

SLC Was Once the Source of 75% of Miso in the US

Richard Sugasawara mixes ingredients to
make miso, SL Trib Aug 14 1949
The Fujimoto family of SLC once produced 75% of miso manufactured in the US.

In 1945 Edward K. Fujimoto and his wife Rae re-established the Fujimoto & Co in SLC at 302 S 500 West, just behind the Rio Grande Depot.

Originally, Edward’s father Genpei Fujimoto started the company in 1917 in San Francisco- it was the first and largest miso company in the continental US. Edward inherited the company when Genpei died in 1929. Operations continued in San Francisco until the US entry into WWII.

Edward, who immigrated to the US in 1916, was soon arrested for being a foreign-born Japanese of prominence and was sent to Camp Livingston in Louisiana.

Rae, immediately took over operations of the business. Anticipating the upcoming forced relocation, she put some of the equipment in storage, sold other equipment, and haggled for the best price of their miso in the warehouse.

A few months after Edward’s arrest, his wife Rae, teenage daughter Grace, and mother Tsuya were all forcibly placed in Topaz Relocation Center, near Delta, Utah (Grace and Rae were both US Citizens).

By 1944 Edward has been paroled to Topaz and was reunited with his family. He and Rae immediately began planning for the reestablishment of their miso business, this time in SLC.

In 1944, from inside the walls of Topaz, Rae wrote to the SLC Council and obtained a business license. By early 1945, Edward and Rae had established their new miso manufacturing factory at 302 S 500 West SLC. Soon, daughter Grace joined them to help with the bookkeeping.

They made the Kanemasa brand of miso using the old methods and without the use of modern machinery. The business provided jobs to many recently released internees.

In 1956 Edward drowned while on a fishing trip in Idaho. Rae continued operations of the business until her retirement in 1976. Fujimoto & Co was acquired by Miyako Oriental Foods in the 1970s and they still manufacture miso under the Kanemasa brand. Rae died in 1997, Grace died in 2017.

Note: The University of Utah Marriot Library has an oral history of Grace Fujimoto Oshito in which she describes the traditional process of making miso (and her time in Topaz). The process is too long for me to post here but it is an interesting read.  

Fujimoto & Co, 1954 at 302 S 500 W, from Japanese Americans in Utah

Mrs. Rae Fujimoto, SL Trib Nov 12 1962

26 August 2020

Car Bombing of a Japanese Household in 1955

920 S. Gale St as it appears today.

This abandoned house at 920 S. Gale Street SLC is on the demolition list; it is located across the street from the triplex I posted about yesterday.

It may not look like much now but it does have an interesting past.

The house was built in 1897 by Ared H. White (1851-1920), a SLC policeman who dabbled in mining. He built a barn and planted several fruit trees for his wife and two sons.

By 1912 Ared and his family moved to Portland. The house had several occupants after Ared indicating it may have been used as a rental.

During the first half of the 1900s, the Gale Street area was home to a high percentage of immigrants, mostly from European countries such as Germany, Sweden, England, Switzerland, Denmark, and Russia.

Soon after WWII, a Japanese family moved into the home. Richard and Dorothy Sugasawara were both born in California, married in 1940, and were sent to the Manzanar Japanese Relocation Camp during the war. By 1948 they had moved into this house in SLC where their 2nd daughter was born.

Just before 10:30 pm on May 19 1955, a homemade bomb was placed on the gas tank cap of the Sugasawara family car which then exploded. The force of the blast ripped through the trunk of the car, blew in two front windows of the house, and cracked a wall in the house. None of the Sugasawara family were seriously injured in the blast.

Several other people in SLC were victims of similar bombings and the reporting in the local newspapers does not indicate that the Sugasawara family was specifically targeted. The police thought that the perpetrators were juveniles but even after a $500 reward was offered no one was ever caught for the crimes.

The Sugasawara family soon left SLC and by 1956 they were living back in California.

The last record I could find of the house being occupied was 1995. Currently the roof of the house has collapsed and the current owner wishes to demolish it and “hold the land for future development.”

Sources: multiple news articles but especially SL Trib May 19 1955.

Ared H. White, original owner, image from findagrave.
Remains of the Sugasawara family car after the bombing, from SL Trib 05-19-1955.

25 August 2020

Demotion of the Triplex at 915-919 S. Gale Street

Triplex at 915-919 S Gale Street in Aug 2020, before demolition.

This triplex located at 915-919 S. Gale St (340 West) will likely soon be demolished to make way for a parking lot for the Big O Tires, located to the east.

The triplex was built by Jesse R. Pettit (1886-1949), son of Edwin Pettit who was a prominent Mormon pioneer and was said to be a bodyguard of Brigham Young. Edwin had 14 children by his second wife, many of whom (including Jesse) owned numerous plots of land in the SLC 5th Ward (300-700 West and 600 -1000 South).

In the first half of the 20th Century, the SLC 5th Ward was home to many immigrants, especially those from Western Europe.

Jesse Pettit built the triplex in 1909 at the age of 22 and started raising his family. Jesse and his wife, Phyllis, lived in the southernmost apartment and rented out the other two. He was active in the community serving as a Mormon Bishop; he presided over many weddings and funerals and participated in the laying of the cornerstone for the new 5th Ward Meetinghouse at 740 S 300 West.

Jesse was a plumber and co-owned a plumbing and heating company. He also dabbled in real-estate development buying and building several properties in the neighborhood and renting them out. He and his family eventually moved to Bountiful in 1919.

The other major owner of the triplex was Mrs. Eva James (1894-1984). She purchased the triplex in 1938 and lived there until 1975. Eva was a widow and lived in the southernmost apartment with her youngest child, a teenage son. She also rented out the other apartments and seemed to live a quiet life. She retired to Tooele in 1977.

This building is within the SLC Warehouse National Historic District which makes it eligible for historic rehab tax credits but because it is not within a Local (SLC) Historic District there are no mandatory preservation requirements for the current owner.

Triplex at 915-919 S Gale Street in Aug 2020, before demolition.

Triplex at 915-919 S Gale Street in Aug 2020, before demolition.

Triplex ca. 1915 with Jesse Pettit and kids, from Gaye Goff on ancestry.

23 August 2020

SLC KKK Set Crosses Ablaze on Ensign Peak

Ensign Peak ca 1940, gift of Charles Kelly
(who was briefly in the SLC KKK) From UDSH.
The SLC Ku Klux Klan lit blazing crosses on Ensign Peak on several occasions during the 1920s.

The first time a blazing cross appeared on Ensign Peak was Feb 23 1925, just before 9 pm as a kick-off to a KKK parade that wound through downtown SLC in celebration of George Washington’s birthday.

The KKK also lit a cross on Ensign Peak on June 1 1927 to welcome a national KKK leader to SLC.

By far the most spectacular cross lighting occurred on the night of Monday April 6 1925, as part of the first Utah KKK Konklave (statewide meeting).

Ensign Peak was aglow with several fiery crosses that burned so bright they could be seen in almost every part of the Salt Lake Valley.

On a shoreline just below the peak, the hooded and robed Klansmen formed a circular guard line nearly a mile in diameter around the peak. Within the circle, the KKK held an initiation ceremony for new members from across the state. Two alters were used- one for men and one for women.

Automobiles of KKK members were parked within the circle to avoid identification. The massive demonstration also included flag displays and martial music.

The event drew thousands of participants and spectators. Of note, none of the SLC daily newspapers reported the event.

Sources: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry R. Gerlach, pgs 105-108; SL Telegram 1927-06-02.

11 August 2020

The SLC KKK Publicly Recruits Members in 1920s

Heath’s Auto Tourist Camp, 995 S. State. From flickr user firstearta

The mid 1920s were the height of membership and activity in SLC for the Ku Klux Klan. After the failure of Alex Christensen’s membership campaign (see previous post) the KKK began a public recruitment effort with much greater success.

When Klan representatives arrived in SLC in summer 1924 they found the SLC KKK on the verge of extinction. The local Klan had relinquished its charter and had ceased operations.

On Sept 16 1924 the KKK formally announced the beginning of its membership campaign in SLC. Local newspapers ads invited the entire public to “come hear the truth about this great American movement.”

An estimated 4K people including nearly 100 Klansmen in regalia gathered at Heath’s Auto Tourist Camp at 995 S. State St to hear Klan members speak about the principles of the KKK. Many of the men in the crowd stepped forward to get membership applications. Klan officials reported that their supply of 250 membership cards was exhausted and that many others handed in their names of slips of paper.

Several more open-air meetings were held at Heaths throughout the autumn of 1925. On one occasion, more than 50 new members were initiated at a single meeting.

By Nov 1924 Klan organizational efforts had met with considerable success. The strategy calling for public rallies to promote credibility had worked. Active chapters of both the Knights of the KKK and the Women of the KKK had been established and were holding regular meetings in SLC.

Within 6 months the KKK had become pervasive throughout the larger cities of Utah. Harry Sawyer, head of the Ogden Klan, was appointed King Kleagle of Utah.

The KKK membership drive provoked forceful opposition from municipal officials, newspaper publishers, immigrant residents, and from the LDS church. Consequently, most of Utah’s KKK disbanded or went underground; only the KKK in Carbon County and SLC remained active in early 1925.

Source: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry R. Gerlach, Ch 3.

Deseret News May 28 1927

Salt Lake Telegram Oct 17 1924

Profile of SLC Klansman: Alex Christensen

Alex Christensen, SL Trib Oct 5 1921
Alexander W. Christensen (1874-1929) was the first King Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan of SLC. Under his leadership between 1921-1922 the SLC Klan failed to establish any significant numbers of membership and ultimately disbanded by Oct 1922 (soon to be reborn, however).

Alex was born in Brigham City to Danish and Scottish immigrants. He moved to SLC as a child after the death of his prominent and civic-minded father.

Author Larry R. Gerlach describes Alex as a professional white-collar drifter who sought employment as an insurance agent or as a manager of small business. He usually did not remain in a job for more than a year and from 1905-1918 he held 12 different positions.

Alex was no more successful as a Klan organizer than he had been a businessman.

Alex conducted a clandestine recruitment effort, mostly through trying to recruit his associates at the Mt Moriah Masonic Lodge where he served as Master. He would talk up the Klan without revealing his membership; as a result, recruiting efforts were slow and in a report to the Imperial Wizard Alex stated he had secured only 9 members by Feb 1922.

Lack of success in recruiting coupled with infighting led to the disintegration of the SLC KKK in Oct 1922. The state charter was surrendered in summer of 1923.

According to Gerlach, the KKK was initially organized by a group of SLC Gentile businessmen, including Alex Christensen, who saw the KKK as, among other things, an economic combine to challenge Mormon mercantile power. This appears to be an unusual and unique aspect of the SLC KKK as Klansmen in other states feared identification would adversely affect cash receipts.

Alex Christensen, the most publicly visible Klansman in the state, apparently paid a heavy price for his association with the Klan. After the SLC newspapers ran articles in Sept 1923 identifying him as a former King Kleagle, he and his wife left SLC and moved to Provo.

Source: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry R. Gerlach, pgs 25-38.

Advertisement for Alex Christensen and his campaign
for City Commissioner. From SL Trib Oct 5 1921

10 August 2020

Charlie Chaplin Secretly Edited and Sold "The Kid" While Residing at the Hotel Utah

Poster for “The Kid” from
Wikimedia commons
100 years ago, Charlie Chaplin sought legal refuge in SLC and secretly edited and sold his film “The Kid” while residing at the Hotel Utah.

Charlie Chaplin arrived in Salt Lake City on Saturday Aug 7 1920, although his presence was not discovered by the press until two days later. He had fled Los Angeles and the divorce proceedings of his first wife, Mildred Harris, who sought to stop him from selling his first feature length film “The Kid” and who considered it a marital asset.

A Utah law prevented Charlie Chaplin from being served the legal restraining papers which sought to stop the sale of the film. So, he took the first print and film negatives (reportedly stowed in coffee cans) and set up short-term residence in the Hotel Utah, located at 15 E South Temple (now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building), where he edited the film.

This was rather dangerous, and illegal, as the nitrate film stock was highly flammable and was not allowed in public buildings.

While in SLC, Chaplin successfully dodged the process servers and a continuance of the divorce case was made necessary.

Chaplin screened the film “The Kid” for the first time to a private audience at the SLC American Theatre at 241 S Main St. Once he successfully negotiated the sale of the film Chaplin left SLC, around the first week of Sept 1920. His divorce was granted the following month.

 Hotel Utah, 1911, From UDSH

Original Hotel Utah lobby prior to the 1974-1976 renovation, from UDSH.

Hotel Utah President’s Suite 1911, Did Chaplin sleep here? From UDSH.

08 August 2020

The First Appearance of the KKK in Utah

Utah Klansman at the funeral of
Gordon Stuart, SL Telegram 1922-04-20.
The first public evidence of the Ku Klux Klan in Utah came in the form of a newspaper advertisement on March 6 1922, and then a public demonstration at the funeral of a Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff on April 19 1922.

The initial effort to establish a chapter of the KKK in Utah began in SLC during the latter half of 1921. A national organizer for the KKK, E. T. Cain (probably an alias), arrived to assist with preliminary set up.

By early 1922 the KKK had established a formal Klavern and had obtained an official charter from Imperial Headquarters. Cain soon passed off management to SLC resident Alexander W. Christensen (more on him later).

Cain and Christensen made little progress in recruiting for the KKK. By Feb 1922 only 9 men were members.

In an effort to boost membership they placed a public advertisement in the Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake Telegram on March 6 1922, which was largely ignored. A couple months later they made their first public appearance… at a funeral.

Gordon Stuart was a 26-year-old Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff who was killed when he went to serve civil papers on a farmer and to confiscate his livestock.

The nearly 500 mourners were dumbfounded when near the end the graveside service at Sandy City Cemetery, 8 or 9 masked men in full regalia suddenly appeared.

Forming a human cross, they marched silently in their white robes with a small red cross in a circle over the right breast and tall hooded caps tipped with red tassels.

The leader placed a cross of lilies with a banner inscribed “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Salt Lake Chapter No. 1.” The Klansmen then turned to the west, raised their left hands toward the sun, and departed in two curtained and unmarked cars.

Although the Klan’s visit was carefully prearranged it is unclear their specific motivation.

Source: Blazing Crosses in Zion by Larry R. Gerlach, pgs 25-28.

SL County Deputy Sherriff Gordon Stuart, SL Telegram 1922-04-18.

First advertisement of the KKK in Utah, from SL Trib 1922-03-06.

04 August 2020

Dinosaur Caravan at the University of Utah in 1924

From University of Utah "articles by Earl Douglass 1924 p3

On Sept 17 1924 a dinosaur caravan arrived at the University of Utah bringing the fossil remains of 5 dinosaurs from the Carnegie Quarry in what is now Dinosaur National Monument. 

Automobiles were quite common by 1924 and the people of SLC were surprised to see anything, let alone dinosaur fossils, being transported by wagons. The reason wagons were chosen was because there were no railroads into the Uinta Basin and in many places the roads were impassible for automobile trucks so the old-fashioned method of transportation was resorted to.

The trek from the dinosaur quarry took 9 days and 19 two-horse teams. They arrived in SLC greeted by the SLC Mayor and a mounted police escort. The dinosaur caravan proceeded north on Main Street and then east on South Temple to the U of U.

The wagons held 141,457 pounds of fossils encased in plaster of paris jackets. The species included Brontosaurus, Diplodocus, Ceratosaurus, Allosaurus, and an unidentified species. They were excavated by Dr. Earl Douglass and arranged to be brought to the University by Dr. Frederick J. Pack of the Geology Department.

The drivers camped behind the Park Building on President’s Circle during the 2 days it took to unload the crates. The wagons were then loaded up with supplies from SLC and headed back to Vernal.

The fossils were on display for a while at the University of Utah’s Geological Museum (now integrated into the Natural History Museum of Utah). Most of the collection was transferred back to Dinosaur National Monument in the early 1980s.

Sources: multiple newspaper articles but especially SL Telegram 1924-09-17

The dinosaur caravan arriving at the U of U. From University of Utah Collections

The dinosaur caravan arriving at the U of U. From University of Utah Collections

The caravan on Main Street of SLC. From University of Utah Collections