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Veterans Day Harkens To Union Station’s Critical War Role

Soldiers stand around Union Station during World War II. Pictures of the station during the war are scarce because security restrictions prohibited them. This appears to be taken from a hotel across the street.

Soldiers stand around Union Station during World War II. Pictures of the station during the war are scarce because security restrictions prohibited them. This appears to be taken from a hotel across the street.

I spent Saturday taking pictures of the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Ogden — the parade was revived in 2006 and has become a fixture in the city ever since.

Union Station didn’t play a role in this year’s parade — but that’s how it works. You help win the war, you move on, you become part of history.

Union Station now, of course, helps preserve that history. In 2018 it will host a huge exhibition about World War II in Utah and Weber County, now being assembled by our staff, Weber State University’s special collections, and other museums around the state. It will be a huge reminder of how we all worked together to win the war.

So here’s some images of this year’s parade — shot using a vintage lens and camera to try to capture some of the spirit of these old warriors as they, very sadly, fade away. There are fewer every year, and their diminished numbers always break my heart.








Ogden’s finest.


The flag from a different angle.


Patriot Riders and other vets — Vietnam Vets really took to motorcycles when they got home.


“Kilroy was here” was a popular WWII note that GIs left everywhere.


A popular sentiment of the day.


Dennis Howland, left, a Vietnam Vet and the guy who, in 2006, revived the Vet’s Day Parade in Ogden. The gentleman with him is Robert Porter, who organized this year’s parade.


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Displaying a very old love affair with a Hudson

Alan Stockland was 15 when he met his first love, an older woman, 20, glistening and shiny.

It was an on-and-off relationship. He had her for a while, then let her go, then got her back. And now he has her on display here at Union Station, so he can come and see her any time he wants.

She’s a car, of course. Whatd’ja think?

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-04-25-pmStockland, who has been a resident of Ogden since 1970, recently loaned Union Station’s Browning-Kimball Car Museum his 1935 Hudson, a completely restored throwback to the day when cars were lined with plush fabric, cushioned seats and hard unyielding dashboards that dashed your brains out in an accident. Everything on it looks new, from the suicide doors and plush seats, to the glass windshield that cranks open to let in the air.

The amazing thing is that this is the same car he bought, for $100, in 1956. He’d tried to buy it the year before, when he was 15, he said, but couldn’t afford the then-asking price of $200. When the owners came down to $100.

Yes, $100 sounds pretty cheap, but that is equal to more than $1,000 in today’s money, and he was buying a 20-year old car. Would you pay more than $2,000 for a 20-year-old car today? No, although if you do, and hang onto it for another 50 years, it too will be a valuable classic.

He said he bought the car and drove it while he went to college at the University of Nebraska. “I had the second oldest car at college,” he said, bested by someone with a Model-T. A few years later, needing money, he sold it again, getting $200 and thinking he’d done pretty well by himself.screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-04-02-pm

Life went on, he did well in life and started playing around with old cars. After a while he started thinking about that ’35 Hudson, his first car, and thought it would be fun to find another one. So he put an ad in the Hudson Essex Terraplane magazine and got a phone call from a guy in Texas.

“We got to talking and he described a few things on the car, and it turned out it was that car,” he said. So, of course, he bought it back, this time “for a few thousand dollars,” and home to Utah it came.

Mice had gotten at the upholstery, so he had that re-done. The engine, with only 35,000 miles, was still virtually new. It did need to be repainted, but other than that it’s pretty much still original.

Stockland admits he’s got “quite an emotional attachment” to the car, since it was his first, and since history seemed to conspire so strongly for him to have it back. As he’s aged and started thinking of thinning out his belongings, cars are an easy thing to let go, but not this one.screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-04-49-pm

For some time he’s had it on loan to Union Station, and recently made the decision to go ahead and donate it. He could sell it for a lot of money, but then it would go somewhere else and “I kind of want to be able to come see it,” he said.

So here it will stay, and Union Station is extremely grateful for his screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-04-12-pmkindness.

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Old Ads are More Fun than Old News

By Annie Roe

Union Station Blogger

Today’s archival treasure is newspaper clippings from the 1920s! The newspapers are documenting Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight, but that’s not the first thing I noticed.

Flipping through these papers, the ads immediately stood out. For starters, they are everywherep1150744. I mean, there are ads in today’s papers, but they are still manageable and you can read the stories without getting interrupted.

Not in 1927. There are ads everywhere, which I guess makes sense. Newspapers would have been one of the only ways to advertise products. They couldn’t advertise on TV, so there was a bit of an ad overload.

The other thing that struck me as funny was the kind of things the advertisements were selling. All kinds of stuff you’ve never heard of, like Fizz Cola. Don’t all sodas fizz?

One of them was for Wally Caps.

After a little research, I decided that the hats were named after Wally Pipps, a baseball player for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and Cincinnati Reds. He is most famous for losing his starting position to Lou Gehrig.

p1150745I wouldn’t mind losing my starting position if I got a hat named after me. Silver lining, right?

Another ad boasted low prices for the Union Dental Company (and some strange looking teeth.) Their examinations and advice are free. The prices seem like a killer deal. $1 for a filling? Sign me up! Of course, then I remp1150743ember that $1 is really $12.50 and I change my mind.

Even though I can’t travel back in time and experience these companies or wear a brand new Wally Cap, I think these ads are a pretty good representation of the types of products from that time and they are incredibly fascinating.

Fascinating enough to steal the spotlight from Charles Lindbergh, anyways.

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The long and wide reach of Matthew S. Browning

Recently the Standard-Examiner ran a story about a local historic home for sale that might be — the sellers weren’t sure — connected to the Browning family?

Sure enough: Carolyn Rich Rasmussen, a descendent of Matthew Sandefur Browning, wrote the paper, giving the entire lineage: Her uncle, John Franklin Ellis, who was married to Matthew’s daughter Telitha, built the house at 2529 Jackson Ave. Telitha’s sister, Blanche, and her husband, Dr. Junior Edward Rich, lived in it eight years. Carolyn, of course, is descended from Dr. Rich.s-e-10-2-2016

Sorry for the genealogical listing: Who was related to whom gets intricate fast, especially when you are discussing the Browning Family. Jonathon Browning, the patriarch of the family, had several wives, they all had children, and they’re all still, many of them, around the Ogden area.

There are a lot of Browning homes, Browning descendants and Browning relatives. That they show up in such odd places and times is a testament to how intricately woven into the fabric of Ogden’s history the whole family is.

No, I am not going to try to list them all here. We are looking, today, only at Matthew S.


Matthew S. Browning

And well we should. The Browning Arms Museum at Union Station very rightly celebrates John Moses Browning, who invented the guns that still bear the family name, but not as many remember the his kid brother who really, no kidding, made it all possible.

Inventors invent, and inventions are often innovative, but it takes a shrewd businessman to turn the invention into a steady income, let alone a business empire.

In that regard, Matthew S. Browning was very shrewd indeed.

Matthew was the man who built and managed the Browning Brothers Arms business, parlayed the family’s business success into an industrial giant, branched out and developed a bevy of new businesses in Ogden and around Utah, and even ran the city as mayor for two years.

Matthew was the second son of Jonathan and Elizabeth Browning, born in 1859 in Utah Territory. He was four years younger than John M., but the two were always close. They learned the gun trade together, went hunting and fishing together, and built their first guns together, although John was always the innovator.

Matthew took the business side in hand early on. According to a biography at a web site about Matthew, assembled by Ogden

John, left, and Matthew S. Browning, hunting together.

John, left, and Matthew S. Browning, hunting together.

resident Steven Lindquist, one of Matthew’s descendants, Matthew managed things while John served a Mission for the LDS Church and while John went back east and to Belgium to supervise setting up assembly lines and manufacturing of the various guns they had licensed to those companies.

Licensing was their secret. Matthew and John started out making and selling guns. They had their own sporting goods shop in Ogden, selling their own guns, other sporting goods and supplies, and even bicycles. They quickly learned that the real money was in inventing them and then letting someone else build and market them. Winchester and Colt in this country, and Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, all produced guns that John designed.

Matthew took his time in the shop too. Guns were the family business, after all, and Matthew was as interested in how they worked as his brother. Matthew’s name is on 24 Browning Brothers patents, eight of which were manufactured.

Matthew was with his brother, John on that fateful day in 1890 when they were hunting amid some reeds and bullrushes north of Ogden. John noticed the blast from the gun pushed the reeds apart and a lightbulb lit. Both brothers went back to the shop, and three days later a working model of the world’s first gas-operated machine gun emerged.

Marriner Browning, Matthew’s son, wrote of seeing his father and John working together on a prototype of the Auto 5 shotgun, experimenting together to make the mechanism work best.


Matthew Browning inaugurating the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad, which he was a director.

While John concentrated on guns, Matthew invested the family money and branched out. He served on the boards of a number of a wide range of local businesses, including the Utah National bank of Ogden, the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad, the Lion Coal Company, KWFA radio station, the Ogden Transit Company, Utah Power and Light, Deseret National Bank and on and on. The Browning Brothers even set up the Browning Brothers Overland automobile company.

He wasn’t all business, though. Matthew was one of the four B’s, of Ogden — expert marksmen trap shooters (along with John Browning, Gus Becker and A.P. Bigelow). 

In 1890 he teamed up with John and David Eccles and local businessman Joseph Clark to build the Grand Opera House in Ogden. This later became the Orpheum Theater in Ogden.

Matthew was heavily involved in civic matters.

He was a regular at the Weber Club, a meeting place on the top floor of the Eccles Building where the city’s power elite met and steered the city’s future. M.S. Browning hung out with with such luminaries as David C. Eccles, Thomas D. Dee, Albert Scowcroft, Abe Glasmann, Gus Becker and others.They formed committees to guard the city’s interest in the  building of the Lucin Cutoff, encourage people to buy Liberty Bonds, and much more.

He was in the volunteer fire department at one time. In 1900 he was elected Mayor of Ogden, serving a single 2-year term. He

Matthew Browning poses on a ladder with Ogden's volunteer fire department.

Matthew Browning poses on a ladder with Ogden’s volunteer fire department.

was president of the city school board, and in 1912 served on a committee to design and fund the Utah State Capitol building. He was even asked to run for governor, but declined because his wife didn’t want to move to Salt Lake City.

He traveled and enjoyed life. A 1916 article in the Ogden Evening Standard has him returning from a tour of the east, including New York City. On the night of the presidential election in 1916 he was in the New Astor Hotel in that city, along with GOP candidate Charles Evans Hughes.

Early in the evening, Browning later told the Standard, “the New York Times, a Democratic paper, conceded the election of Mr. Hughes. Pandemonium reigned in the streets.”

Pandemonium indeed. Hughes hadn’t expected to win, and he really hadn’t. Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat, had actually won.

“Mr. Browning laughed heartily in telling of the sad awakening of the Republicans next morning.” the paper reported.  “Enormous sums of money were wagered in Wall Street,” the Standard said.screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-3-42-53-pm

Matthew S. Browning, comfortable.

Matthew S. Browning, comfortable.

Matthew went on to discuss the attitude of easterners to Utahns, which he said was not good. He said the New York “Globe,” a daily paper, “published a bitter diatribe against the people of Utah following the election,” which Browning called “a scandalous and outrageous attack.”

The vitriol was because Utah, apparently, was one of 30 states backing Wilson. Browning said “the people of the east know nothing of the unconquerable spirit of the progressive west, nor of the conditions west of the Rockies. The west is like a sealed and mysterious volume to them.”

Browning died June 29, 1923, of an apparent heart attack while visiting his attorney’s office in the Eccles Building, 24th and Washington. His funeral was attended by the current mayor of Ogden and six previous mayors, the current and former governor of Utah, and Heber J. Grant, president of the LDS Church. The list of pall bearers, and honorary pall bearers, was a list of the high and powerful of Ogden and Utah.

All those people turned out, of course, hoping that he wouldn’t be forgotten. Here in Union Station’s Archive we’re trying hard to keep that from happening too.

Our thanks to Steven Lindquist. His web site on Matthew Browning has a full list of his patents, pictures and much else. Check it out at

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Station Cars Kick Automotive Butt at Peach Days Show

One of the hardest working volunteers at Union Station is Steve Sherwood, who maintains our Browning-Kimball Car Museum collection of classic wheels.screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-2-06-04-pm

It is a labor of love, but also a lot of work. It is not uncommon to find Steve struggling with an old fuel pump or radiator because, despite their classic states, and despite the fact they don’t get used much, the cars need constant maintenance.

Part of it is normal aging, part of it is that the cars don’t get used much. You’d think a car that just sits would always be ready to go, and you’d be wrong. Cars, like any other machine, are made to be used, and when they aren’t, they deteriorate.

So it’s nice to see Steve’s work recognized at times, and this year he was. He drove two of our cars to the annual car show at Peach Days in Brigham City, sitting alongside more than 700 entries. One of them, the 1932 Lincoln, took best in show of its category, “30s and 40s Original.”screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-2-06-20-pm

Cars from the 1930s and 1940s in original condition are rare already, and one as clean and lovely, not to mention as cool, as our ’32 Lincoln is unique. The reward doesn’t represent rareness, however. It recognizes all the work Steve has done keeping it up and running and lovely.

You can see this car, and many more, in our museum, daily. If you’re here Thursday, Tuesday and Saturday, you can also see Steve.



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Meet Annie Roe, Our New Blogger

Hello Ogden! My name is Annie Roe, and I’m going to start writing articles on the Union Station blog.
Why? For practice, experience, and fun. Here’s a little background about me.

Annie Roe, new Union Station Foundation blogger.

Annie Roe, new Union Station Foundation blogger.

I’m 13 and I have lived in Ogden my whole life. I love writing and I want to be an author. I’m fairly new to blogging, but I’ve been writing for 6 years, and in June 2015 I went to Washington D.C. for the national level of National History Day for a paper I wrote about Jane Austen.
In addition to writing blog posts, I also get to explore the archives and research Ogden’s past. On the historical side of things, I don’t have much experience except that I just love learning and history has always been interesting to me. I am very excited about this opportunity I have.
I’ve only been a volunteer for a short time, but I can say that it is really cool. I spent several hours browsing the archives and it is incredible. There’s a lot more than you’d except from a first glance. It’s not just old papers and photos. I learned about things I didn’t even know existed in just a short amount of time. I’m glad that I live in a place that has these records about the past.
One of my favorite things to learn about is the stories of the people that lived through history. Sure, facts help you know more, but they can only take you so far. The stories are what really make history rich and entertaining to learn.
I also really enjoy family history, and besides just finding names, I love to read life sketches and see pictures of my ancestors. In Union Station, I’ve already read stories of people and seen the faces of those in Ogden’s past that I’ve only heard names of before. I hope that through this experience, I’ll be able to make the stories more accessible to the people that live here.
Where else in Ogden can you find so much about this city’s past? There is information about the railroad, World War II, Ogden High, and lots more. It is possible to glance into the lives of people who lived years ago and to experience a different time. There’s a lot that I haven’t seen yet and I’m looking forward to not only learning more about the place I live, but also being able to share it with the citizens of Ogden.

Annie visits our Railroad Museum's new Riding in Style exhibit.

Annie visits our Railroad Museum’s new Riding in Style exhibit.

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Saving Irene Woodhouse

Found a fun news clip about Irene Woodhouse today. Or, more accurately, by Irene.

Irene was a historian in Ogden who, for many years, wrote a regular column in the Standard-Examiner called “Ogden Anecdotes.” They were stories about the past, as seen from the 60s and 70. We do stories about the “good old days” of the 60s and 70s, now, and in 30 years they’ll be about those crazy teens of the 21st Century.

Irene's book, published in 1983

Irene’s book, published in 1983

This particular clip is interesting because in it, Irene talks to Clix Swaner, who was also a historical artifact. Clix was born, if my memory serves, about 1899 and died when he was about 102. He saw Ogden go from horses and buggies to jet planes.

Clix ran a gas station at the corner of 27th and Grant, and the building is still there. Irene is talking to him about the Binford-Kimball Motor Company, where Clix worked in the 1920s.

Pumping gasoline back there meant you really did, Clix said. The gasoline pump had a tank on top that you would pump full of gasoline, then allow to drain down into your car.

“The most gas you could pump was five gallons,” he told her. “If someone wanted eight, or something like that, you pumped  five and delivered it, then pumped three more.”

Gradually things improved, he told her. Canopies appeared over the pumps to keep the sun off. Station buildings, at first small, were enlarged and stored supplies for sale and to service cars.

And each oil company had its own line of stations. Irene said she saw an old news clip referring to oil company executives complaining of overbuilding. “He cited Utah as having too many stations, one for every about 18 automobiles.”


Irene’s columns were collected into a book which, apparently, you can still find for sale. Try here on Amazon. (click!)

For more on Clix, click here  (click!).

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Riding in Style: Nobody Lives Like This Any More

I had the incredible pleasure of showing Ann Roe, niece of one of our employees, around our new “Riding In Style” exhibit in the Utah State Railroad Museum.

Ann Roe in our "Riding in Style" exhibit's selfie booth.

Ann Roe in our “Riding in Style” exhibit’s selfie booth.

Ann wants to learn to write, so she’ll be doing some blogging for us. I wanted to show her the new exhibit because it is a good example of how history both shows us how life used to be, and also how it is linked to the present, giving us both lessons and meaning.

A big thrust of the the exhibit is the history of African Americans in Ogden. Black people from around the nation were hired by the railroads to be porters, waiters, cooks and other service jobs. The Pullman Corporation, which made sleeping cars, hired former slaves in the 1870s because they were used to working horrible hours in bad condition. Pullman’s interesting hiring practices led to the formation of labor unions, because even former slaves know that they’re being abused.

Cream jug from the Pullman company.

Cream jug from the Pullman company.

So there’s that. But there’s also the extreme elegance of service to customers on the railroad. Blacks may have worked in bad conditions for low pay and horrible hours, but the customers who rode the trains were treated to the best.

You can see it in the tableware on display in the exhibit. Ann is sitting at a table in front of a picture taken in a typical railroad dining car of the 1950s. The picture is a publicity shot, but people really did dress up for dinner back then, and the tables in dining cars really were laid with linen table cloths, real china dishes and crystal classes.

(Important note: The table she is sitting at is set up for folks to shoot selfies. It is not laid with real Union Pacific china. We made fake stuff because we know it is going to get bumped and broken. The real stuff is locked up in the display cases.)

Real UP dishes. We keep these locked up.

Real UP dishes. We keep these locked up.

What fascinated me was not just the glassware, but some menus from railroad dining cars our archive recently acquired.

The menus, and prices, are from the World War II era, and it is hard to describe how different the world they mirror is. This is food on a train, folks. Food prepared in a narrow crowded galley and served on a swaying metal box rolling along the rails, and I’d like to have you show me a premium first class five star ride on any airline in the world today that could match it.

Never mind that: Show me a restaurant anywhere in Utah that even comes close. Maybe Lamb’s in Salt Lake, and a few places I never even dream of affording.

But look at the choice facing any Joe Schmo who sat down for dinner on the Great Northern’s “Empire Builder,” which ran between Chicago and Seattle (and still does, now via Amtrak.) The Number One “Table D’Hote Dinner” offers a choice of fresh fish, bake ham, roast turkey with dressing, grilled pork chops with fried apples, roast prime rib or oysters saute on toast. A side of potatoes O’Brien, fresh green vegetables, salad, tea biscuits or cold bread, cream cheese or crab apple jelly, and apple pie or ice cream and cake for dessert.

Coffee, tea or milk, included, of course! And all for a dollar (which, to be fair, is about the same as $15 in today’s money.)

Typical scene in a 1950s dining car.

Typical scene in a 1950s dining car.

And check out the asterisk: Seconds are free!

Why such great food? Back before airlines and interstate highways stole all their business, railroads offered the best and fastest way to get across the country. A number of competing railroads fought for passenger business. Better service meant more business.

A UP bib.

A UP bib.

The menus show more than just food, however. There’s hints of world affairs. A banner down the side of one urges rail passengers to “Be Sure And Buy Victory Bonds.” World war II was on, the public was helping finance it by loaning the government money.

A note on the bottom of one, from 1943, also hints at wartime controls:  “All prices are our ceiling prices,” it notes, as set by the federal Office Of Price Administration in Washington D.C. The federal government was pumping money into the economy like crazy during the war. To avoid runaway inflation, and control domestic consumption that would have taken away from the war effort, it slapped wage and price controls on everything. Saved up money from buying bonds, and pent-up demand, is what led to the economic boom of the 1950s and rapid growth of the American middle class everyone today wishes would come back.

But that life, and the life or railroading, is gone forever. Try not to think about it, too hard, the next time you get on an airplane, shoe-horned into a tiny seat, expected to survive your cross-country trip on a couple of dry crackers and water or what passes for coffee.

This is lunch. Lunch!

This is lunch. Lunch!


Your dinner selections

Your dinner selections


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Telitha Lindquist Greiner carried on her family’s legacy

I read, with great sadness and a bit of loss, the obituary of Telitha Lindquist Greiner in the Standard-Examiner recently. (Click here.)

Sadness because I know her husband well. Jon Greiner was former Ogden Police Chief, a former Utah State Senator, and heck of a nice guy, now running Ogden’s Airport.

You hurt for a guy whose love dies far too young.

Telitha Lindquist Greiner

Telitha Lindquist Greiner

But loss, too,  because Telitha seems to be one of the few people in Ogden I cannot remember ever interviewing, or even meeting, in my time at the local newspaper.  After I read her obituary I knew I should have. Her list of accomplishments, involvements and organizations is very long, all intertwined in efforts to make my city a better place.

Telitha is the third woman in her family to bear that name and the fourth is her and Jon’s daughter. Her mother,Telitha Lindquist, was the wife of John Lindquist, of Lindquist Funeral Homes. Her grandmother, Telitha Browning, was the daughter of Matthew S. Browning, who is someone you should know, although he seems to have faded into the background.

So, Telitha Greiner’s lineage directly links her to one of the key founders of Ogden’s industrial base 100 years ago, one of the buildes of Ogden, a  man who doesn’t get anywhere near the notice he should. She carried on his legacy, also quietly.

John M. (left) and Matthew S. Browning in the doorway of their new business.

John M. (left) and Matthew S. Browning in the doorway of their new business.

Quietly seems to be the watch-word here. Matthew was the guy who stood in the shadows while his brother, John M. Browning, got all the accolades as a gun inventor, but a lot of folks forget that it was Matthew’s business smarts that made the family gun business a success.

You can be the smartest inventor in the world — and John may well have been — but if the bills don’t get paid, the profits don’t get invested, your genius is lost. Matthew made sure the bills got paid.


The Lindquist family has a lovely web site on Matthew (click here!) but here are some highlights:

In 1879 Matthew and John bought their father’s gun shop, setting up Browning Brothers Company and the J.M. and M.S. Browning Arms company.

While John stayed in the shop, inventing guns, Matthew S. used the extensive revenue generated by the gun business to branch out. The brothers were involved with the Bar B. Ranch,which ran thousands of head of cattle. They formed the Utah State Bank, with Matthew as president. He later merged with the Eccles family to form First Security Bank, now owned by Wells Fargo.

The list of other businesses he was involved in is extensive: Railroads, rapid transit companies, banks and industries too numerous to mention. There was even a Browning Brothers Overland Automobile Dealership (which is a foreshadowing of the Browning-Kimball Car Museum here at Union Station.)

Matthew didn’t just sit around and count his and John’s money. He spent his own time in the gun shop, getting his name on 25 patents along with John. But as the family web site makes clear, he also worked hard to build his community.

Matthew S. on fire department ladder, late 1800s.

Matthew S. on fire department ladder, late 1800s.

“Matthew’s political and civic involvements included two years as mayor of Ogden in 1900 and 1901; he served as president of the Weber Club, a member of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce, and president of the city school board. In 1912, Matthew served at the request of the governor on a committee to design and fund the Utah State Capital building. He was also asked to run for governor of Utah but declined because Mary Ann didn’t want to move to Salt Lake City.”

He was even involved with the volunteer fire department.

Matthew S. Browning died of a heart attack on June 29, 1923, collapsing in his office in the Eccles Building. His funeral was attended by the president of the LDS Church, the governor of the state of Utah, the previous governor of the state of Utah, and seven former or current mayors of Ogden.


Matthew S. Browning

Matthew S. Browning

People knew they’d lost a huge contributor to the community. This week we’ve lost another, but our community is better because of their work.



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Harm Peery — Ogden’s lovable rogue revealed.

The Standard-Examiner had a wonderful story about Mayor Harm Peery the other day (click here!) that looked at his role in

Harm leads the 1934 Pioneer Days Parade.

Harm leads the 1934 Pioneer Days Parade.

starting the Pioneer Days Rodeo.

Which, yes, he did do. In an era when the Great Depression was on, Harm was a business man who knew that he needed to juice up the economy, to get things moving. With Utah’s unemployment edging up to 25 percent, banks closing and malaise spreading, he also knew folks were hungry for some fun.

And Harm, whose family had a long history in local politics (his father had been mayor) and business, was just the guy to do it.

Harm was a showman. He built Peery’s Egyptian Theater on Washington Boulevard in 1924, and opened up other theaters around the west. The first story in the Standard-Examiner’s extensive file on him is not about politics, it’s about him opening a new Orpheum Theater in Evanston, Wyo.

Peery’s bombastic ways as mayor reflected his life in general. As early as 1911 he was getting speeding tickets for driving one of the first cars in Weber County too fast. In one case he was fined $20 for speeding around the corner of 24th and Grant in Ogden. $20, in 1911, was a lot of money, similar to $500 today. Probably he was just showing how good his cars were — in 1910 he opened the Hupmobile dealership in Ogden.

The old copies of the S-E show him getting zinged several times for automotive offenses — speeding and parking tickets plagued him even while mayor.

He always, very publicly, paid the fines.

Being the kind of guy he was, how could he not be popular? He was elected to three successive 2-year terms staring with 1934.

Harm Peery, right, and Police Chief L. M. Hilton, get their beards tweaked during Pioneer Days.

Harm Peery, right, and Police Chief L. M. Hilton, get their beards tweaked during Pioneer Days.

He was defeated in 1939, probably because of a financial scandal surrounding his signature event, the Pioneer Days.

In March of 1939,  L.C. Smith, a retired superintendent of the Ogden Union Railway and Depot Corporation, which ran Union Station for the railroads, filed a lawsuit against Peery, his cronies, and Pioneer Days. His suit alleged that, while ostensibly founded for the benefit of Ogden, Pioneer Days was really a scheme by Peery and his pals to run rodeos and other amusements for their own benefit.

Says the suit, “not withstanding the fact that all of the money that came into the possession of said Ogden Pioneer Days, Inc., was the money of said Ogden City and public money, that nevertheless the said individual defendants had taken and used large and divers sums and amounts of the money coming into their hands as officers of the Ogden Pioneer Days, Inc., for their own personal use and benefit.”

The suit was long and drawn out, but Smith won. Peery and pals had to pay back $17,000, which would be like writing a check for $300,000 today.

Yeah: Ouch.

Peery's plaintive cry for mercy -- and it worked!

Peery’s plaintive cry for mercy — and it worked!

Harm Peery in the 1950s.

Harm Peery in the 1950s.

So Peery lost that year, but never changed. He kept running his bar and dance hall, the Old Mill, and kept flouting the law. He had pinball machines and slot machines. He stayed open after hours. He kept parking illegally. As recently as 1960 he was getting busted for selling beer to minors. “I’m just trying to run a poor man’s club,” he told the jury after that one, and they bought it.

People, apparently, would buy a lot when Harm was selling. In 1947 he got so sick of folks harassing him over it all that he ran for mayor again, and he was blunt about his intention: He was doing so to flout the law.




This is made clear in a marvelous piece of journalism, published in the S-E in October of that year by none other than Abe Glasmann, son of the newspaper’s founder and the publisher for many, many years.

It is clear Abe had no love for Harm, and Harm had none for Abe, but there was respect there. On Oct. 26 Harm published the following, which I have to assume is a reasonably accurate rendition of the police but biting conversation the two men had, keeping in mind that Abe was doing the writing. You can almost hear him chuckling as he’s typing away, too:


Two days after the primary election, both candidates for mayor dropped into the Standard-Examiner offices and were officially interviewed.

Harman Peery came in first.

“”Lo, Abe,” said Mr. Glasmann.

“‘Lo, Harman.” 

“How about some articles in the paper, Abe?” said Harman.

“What kind of articles, Harman?”

“Why, articles to support me,” Harman replied.

“No can do, Harman. We don’t see things alike.”

Harman: I can’t understand your not supporting me, Abe; our interests are the same. You are a big taxpayer. We got to get taxes down.

Glasmann: I don’t mind the increases in taxes, Harm. On our business property our rents, like those of the Peery estate, have increased faster than the taxes. We’re happy about that. On our homes it is the only increase in the cost of living that is reasonable. All other costs of buying clothes, food, repairs and so forth have more than doubled. City and County employes have had their salaries increased. I’m really surprised that the tax increases are so moderate.

Harman: Well, we can cut them by having gambling. I don’t mean big gambling, but little gambling — slot machines, pin balls like they have in other parts of the country.

Glasmann: But Harman, that’s against the law.

Harman: Those laws are damfool laws, like midnight closing. I don’t believe in them. Let’s have some gambling. Let the people have some fun. Let the business men make some money.

Glasmann: Harman, I’ve always said that personally I do not think you took any of the graft collected in your administration, that you were personally honest.

Harman: Thanks, Abe.

Glasmann: But Harman, as a public official you were both corrupt and dishonest. I believe, Harman, that you have a right to advocate any kinds of laws or conditions, open gambling, prostitution or what not, but as a public official you should uphold the laws of the land.

Harman: Those laws are foolish laws like the twelve o’clock closing. I can’t make a living at the Old Mill and close at midnight. Why, last summer a couple of cops came in and saw some slot machines. “We ought to take those machines,” they said. “We wish somebody were playing them. We’ll be back later when there are more people around.” I told them that i had my cards  printed announcing for mayor, but that if they would quit persecuting me I wouldn’t run for mayor. All I wanted was to be left alone.

Glasmann: In other words, you agreed if you could run the Old Mill after twelve o’clock and run slot machines you wouldn’t run for mayor.

Peery busted for "contributing."

Peery busted for “contributing.”

Harman: That’s right. If they would leave me alone. Abe, let’s get together, cut taxes and have gambling, not big gambling but little gambling, the kind that doesn’t do any harm, then lets let the people have some fun and let the business man make some money and let the taverns stay open after midnight. They can’t make any money with a midnight closing.

Glasmann: Harman, said I said before, we don’t see alike. You have been arrested and convicted more than 20 times

for open violation of the law. I think your being mayor has always been bad for Ogden — bad influence and bad publicity. We have tried to keep the newspaper out of local politics. If we take any stand in this election it will be against you.

Harman: Sorry about that, because I think we should work together.

“‘Bye, Harm.’

“Bye, Abe.”


Pretty brutal, huh? But Harm still won.

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