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Dreams, Myth, and Reality: Utah and the American West
History Faculty Bookshelf
  • William T. Allison, Georgia Southern University
  • Susan J. Matt, Weber State University

Georgia Southern University faculty member William T. Allison co-edited Dreams, Myth, and Reality: Utah and the American West alongside non-faculty member Sarah J. Matt.

Book Summary: During the settlement of the West, through the Civil War and Gold Rush periods, the average Anglo household consisted of two or three bachelor farmers or miners. The nuclear Ingalls family from Little House of the Prairie was less typical than Bonanza’s Cartwright family with three boys, a father, and a male cook.

There were exceptions. The Willamette Valley in Oregon was settled by traditional families who carved out a middle-class existence on small farms. In Utah Territory, less fertile soil and more fertile polygamous fathers produced families who struggled against poverty and isolation.

The first Americans out West gravitated to existing pockets of Spanish culture in New Mexico and along the California coast—so much so that in 1860 the U.S. census takers could not locate a single town in Idaho or Montana. They found only twenty-three settlements in present-day Nevada. These areas were still the domain of frontiersmen, soon to be replaced by prospectors and dirt farmers.

In this anthology, some of the most prominent historians of the American West consider Utah’s place in the context of broad settlement patterns. In addition to the displacement of war and the lure of precious metals, immigration was influenced by a persistent idyllic dream of a new beginning in religion, social structures, and multi-culturalism.

Publication Date
Signature Books
Citation Information
William T. Allison and Susan J. Matt. Dreams, Myth, and Reality: Utah and the American West. 1st EditionSalt Lake City, UT(2008) p. 1 - 318
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