Utah War fiction by Susa Young Gates: “John Stevens’ Courtship”

Recently released on PG, John Stevens’ Courtship: A Story of the Echo Canyon War was published in 1909 and written by Susa Young Gates. Gates was the daughter of Brigham Young, wrote nine books, and was an advocate for women’s rights. Her novel is set in Salt Lake City during the years 1857-1858 and follows several young Mormon characters as they deal with the excitement and hardships surrounding the Echo Canyon War—more commonly known today as the Utah War. Although there were no major battles and very few casualties, the war disrupted life in Salt Lake City considerably, particularly in the transfer of governorship from Brigham Young to the non-Mormon Alfred Cumming, the evacuation of the Saints from Salt Lake City and the entrance of the U.S. Army into the Utah territory.

In the preface, Gates states her goal in writing John Stevens’ Courtship: “An avowed purpose of this book is to show that there is plenty of romance and color in every-day life—if the eye be not life-colorblind. . . . The pioneer days were days of beauty and rich emotions. That their memory should be perpetuated is the author’s chief justification for the writing of this book.”

John Stevens’ Courtship offers an interesting glimpse at pioneer life in Salt Lake City during the late 1850s and recounts an important episode in Mormon history from a unique perspective.

Thanks to McKayla Hansen, one of our past MTP interns, for proofing and producing John Stevens’ Courtship and contributing to this blog post. Renah Holmes, one of our volunteers, also deserves thanks for doing the first round of proofreading.

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