A Gentile Account of Life in Utah’s Dixie, 1872–73: Elizabeth Kane’s St. George Journal

Elizabeth Wood Kane’s recently discovered St. George journal is a companion piece to her previously edited journal, Twelve Mormon Homes Visited in Succession on a Journey through Utah to Arizona, published in 1973. The St. George journal records the events of her stay in St. George during the winter of 1872–73. Unknown to the editors of Twelve Mormon Homes, the St. George journal was among the Thomas L. Kane family papers donated by Kent Kane, Elizabeth Kane’s grandson to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. A Gentile Account of Life in Utah’s Dixie is the fourteenth volume in the series Utah, the Mormons, and the West published by the Tanner Trust Fund. Norman R. Bowen, who also edited Lowell Thomas, the Stranger Everyone Knows, was a former journalism teacher at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, a city editor of the Deseret News, and a correspondent for several national publications. He completed most of the editing for Kane’s journal before his unexpected death in 1992. A short sketch of the life of Elizabeth Kane, written by Bowen’s daughter Mary Karen Bowen Solomon, precedes the text of the journal.

Elizabeth Wood, a native of Liverpool, England, was born in 1836. Soon after her family emigrated to New York, Elizabeth, age sixteen, married her cousin Thomas Leiper Kane. Of the Kane’s four children, the younger two, Evan and William, accompanied their parents on their journey to Utah in 1872. Thomas Kane’s admiration of Brigham Young and association with the Mormons distressed the religious Elizabeth, who did not consider Mormons to be Christians, primarily because of their embrace of polygamy. Thomas Kane’s assistance to the Mormons during their exodus from Nauvoo and his intervention when Johnston’s Army descended on Utah in 1857 were trials for Elizabeth. The couple’s long separations, including the time Kane served in the Civil War, however, led not only to her studies of literature, medicine, history, and even Mormonism, but also to her lifelong journal writing.

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