Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky

John Grant Luce, 1847

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When I moved to Salt Lake City in 1977 one of the first things I did on a day off was walk over to the Pioneer Monument on Main Street and South Temple. I wanted to see if there were any Luces on the list of the pioneers. The list is short, just the very first pioneers. No Luces. I was deeply disappointed. I was sure there was a Luce who should be there.

There is a funny thing about this statue, I can’t resist mentioning. A bit of irreverent local doggerel says, “There stands brother Brigham, like a bird on a perch, with his hand to the bank, and his ass to the church.” I was more than a little scandalized the first time I heard it, but later I decided to take it in good humor. As an ironical nod, I opened an account at that particular branch of Zions Bank. And as a reward, I felt like I was part of the web of old Salt Lake every time I went there.

It was many years before I found out I was right. John Grant Luce‘s name should appear on the monument. The fact it doesn’t is due to a (now) well-known mistake. John Grant Luce was confused with Franklin G. Losee.

Where did I get the idea one of the Luces arrived with the first company? I don’t know. All these years and I’ve never found any note to show that I had heard something like that. As far as I can find, the mistake wasn’t actually discovered until 2015. Probably I was just wrong about what was known at that time.

More Information

  • David Lyle Wood. “Utah’s Forgotten Pioneer of 1847.” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 41, No. 2 (April 2015), pp. 227-258 at JSTOR <jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jmormhist.41.2.227>. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  • John Grant Luce.” Overland Travel Database <history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/>. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2019.
  • Thomas Bullock Journal.” Overland Travel Database <history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/>. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2019.

Edited May 27, 2020 to repair link.

Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky
Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom

Made in America. Retired attorney. Bookseller at Shining Lotus. No Nazis in Valhalla. He/him.

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