Troubled Times: Provo, Utah 1855-1856
by D. Robert Carter
Provo City, 2015. 252 pgs. Nonfiction
This well-research and nicely written history of early Provo is the third volume of the author’s detailed history of Provo. The first was Founding Fort Utah, followed by From Fort to Village. Troubled Times chronicles the difficulties the early settlers encountered during the mid-1850s, including troubles with the Indians, grasshoppers destroying crops, and the ill-effects of the drought. Hunger and starvation threatened the lives of many pioneers along the Wasatch Front after crops failed. Herds of cattle died. One upbeat episode in all of this is the discovery of a miraculous, short-lived source of sugar that led to the creation of confections for several weeks in the summer of 1855. (What was this mysterious substance?).
It seems that Provo residents were not well thought of by their Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City. They were constantly admonished to build their city more: construct the first tabernacle (took them 17 years), build a wall around the city (to protect from Indians), improve the roads, build fences to keep the cattle under control, and construct outhouses (it was a problem). Carter explains how the Mormon reformation came to Provo and tells of the role that Provo played in the rescue of the Willie & Martin handcart companies, stranded and starving out in the Wyoming wilderness.
This history is meticulously researched and well documented in numerous footnotes to each chapter. Illustrated with 90 photos and drawings and featuring a useful index, this volume will stand with Carter’s others as a fine resource for Provo history for many years to come.