Summarized by Kent Larsen
Little-known Parley P. Pratt Expedition Subject Of Book
Salt Lake Tribune 7May00 A4
By Martin Napersteck: Special to the Tribune
Over the Rim
Edited by William B. Smart and Donna T. Smart; Utah State University Press; $37.95 hardcover, $19.95 softcover
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Parley P. Pratt was sent by Brigham Young in
1849 to survey Southern Utah and identify possible locations for
settlements. In a letter to Pratt, Young wrote that the idea was "to
explore the valleys three hundred miles south and also the country as
far as the Gulf of California with a view to settlement and to
acquiring a seaport." Pratt's party left in late November 1849,
returning in late March 1850.
The book Over the Rim includes Pratt's official report of the
expedition, and the journals of four members of the expedition, along
with notes and explanations written by the Smarts, which take up well
over half the book. It cover's the expedition, which only reached as
far as St. George, Utah, but in retrospect had a significant impact
on Utah and LDS history, as the expediction identified sites for
settlement that later became the towns of Spanish Fork, Payson,
Nephi, Salina, Richfield, Marysvale, Paragonah, Parowan, Cedar City,
Toquerville and St. George.
Tribune reviewer Naperstack says that while the nature of the
journals and reports threatens a dry book, the Smarts have managed to
avoid the problem. They frequently digress from the narrative,
providing interesting tidbits that help the book. By way of
digression, the book tells about the brewery started by frontiersman
Orrin Porter Rockwell and the story of Indian interpreter Elijah
Barnet Ward, who got himself killed during the Black Hawk War. The
Smarts also include an account of the 11-year-long project to build
an 8-mile long canal at the town of Hurricane.
The Smarts have included 50 mini-biographies at the end of the book,
one for each of the expedition members. Members included Isaac
Haight, later one of the Mormon leaders at the Mountain Meadows
Massacre and Thomas E. Ricks, who founded what later became Ricks
College in 1888.
Naparsteck concludes saying that the journals included in Over the
Rim make it an important primary source, but that its digressions
make it a good read also. William B. Smart was an editor of the
Deseret News, and his wife Donna, has edited several Mormon
documents, including the 1864-1888 Diaries of Patty Barlett Sessions.