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Book review: 'Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country' shares slices of Utah's history

"Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country" is edited by Monte Bona.
"Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country" is edited by Monte Bona.
Arcadia Press

"LEGENDS, LORE AND TRUE TALES IN MORMON COUNTRY," edited by Monte Bona, The History Press, $21.99, 144 pages (nf)

The writers of “Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country” take a look back into Utah’s history and highlight slices of it through people and events from Sanpete County south to the Arizona border. As that area, known as the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, was largely settled by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of the stories include interactions or roots with the Mormons.

The book opens with Christian Probasco's story of the persistent Hole-in-the-Rock Mormon pioneers, who widened the trail through the rough terrain of southern Utah to the San Juan River, and it is probably one of the most well-known stories in the book.

While many of the stories highlight Mormons, they include those of other faiths, too, including Eileen Hallet Stone’s contribution about Clarion, a Jewish back-to-the-soil movement; and Jason Friedman’s description of Presbyterian teacher Duncan McMillan’s interactions in the area.

Others highlighted include author Zane Grey, as Ed Meyer looks at two of Grey’s books and what places and people may have inspired them; and theater actress Maude Adams, as James Nelson tries to find out if she performed at any of the theaters in the area.

Each author lists his or her sources and notes when information may not exist, along with his or her efforts to track down a particular fact. A few of the authors share their personal connections to the stories they share, too.

Jack C. Billings explores how there were rumors that Hiram Bebee, who was tried for killing a marshal, might have been the Sundance Kid and how Billings’ mother knew Bebee.

Jack Monnett shares a brief biography of Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr., a blind Mormon pioneer from Switzerland who is in Monnett’s family tree.

And Steven J. Clark looks into the legends of lost treasures and where they might be, including one passed through his family and another with Aztec Indian origins.

Shirley Bahlmann’s chapter titled “Frontier Justice” shares several stories from when the pioneers first settled the area and how various disputes were settled.

In all, “Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country,” which is part of The History Press’ American Legends series, gives an interesting look into some aspects of Utah’s history.

The book contains no swearing, the sexual content doesn’t go beyond mentioning those who broke the law of chastity and how they were punished, and there is some generally described violence.

If you go ...

What: Monte Bona, Shirley Bahlmann, Jason Friedman and Eileen Hallet Stone book signing

When: Saturday, June 27, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com, Twitter: CTRappleye