26 Southern Utah, Indians and Art 1852

                                                           William Warner Major


Jill C. Major, Author

Visit to the Utah Settlements

William promised Benjamin Hudson in a letter dated March 31, 1852 that "I intend to Visit Sant Peete as soon as Possible."1 William arranged to travel to Sanpete County, leaving on April 23.2Attached to an exploration party, headed by Brigham Young, William was once again assigned the duty of artist. On the 27th of April William Clayton wrote the following to Dr. Willard Richards from Canal Creek (Spring City)3, Sanpete County:

Dear Brother Richards: We have arrived at this point safe and in good spirits. This creek is 116 miles from G.S.L. City, as measured by the odometer and is said to be 14 miles from Manti City, which point we expect tomorrow by noon. We have had pleasant weather since Saturday last, and have traveled as fast as could be anticipated. The camp is all enjoying excellent health, and a more cheerful, peaceful happy company I never saw travel together before.

Last evening we camped at Nephi City which is 89 1/3 miles from G.S.L. City at which place the camp was organized by appointing the following officers, viz:

Brigham Young, President of Camp

Heber C. Kimball, 1st Counsellor.

Daniel H. Wells, Captain of Camp

James Ferguson, Captain of Guard

William Clayton, Historian for Camp

S.M. Blair and John Kay, Chaplains

William Pitt, Captain of Martial Music

W.M. Andrews, Surgeon

O. Pratt and A. Carrington, Topographical Engineer

Jacob F. Hutchinson, Dancing Master

Elijah B. Ward and Miles Weaver, Interpreters

George S. Clark and J.L. Robinson, Bishops

W.W. Major, Artist

Samuel L. Sprague & Ezra G. Williams, Botanists

Geo A. Smith, Orson Pratt, Albert Carrington,

A. Snow and Morgan Phelps, Geologists and Mineralogists

Wilford Woodruff, Phonographic Reporter.


The camp numbers 64 men, 3 boys, 11 women, 1 girl. Thirty wagons, 67 horses, and 12 mules.4

5April 28th and 29th was spent in Manti. There William would have gathered thd person effects of his deceased friend, John Hudson.

Fillmore by W.W. Major


On May 2nd the exploration party arrived in Fillmore, the Capitol of Utah from 1851-1856. On that day, William Clayton described the new State Capitol:

Fillmore City is built on the West Banks of [] or Chalk creek a stream about 12 feet wide with very swift current. There is abundance of large Cedar growing almost in every direction through the upper side of the valley, and apparently plenty of Pine Timber in the mountains. This is very extensive valley far larger than any other we have seen. It is named "Pauvan" or as the Indians have it "Pawante", and will evidently afford facilities for a heavy settlement, not only here, but in various parts of the valley. 6

At Fillmore, William painted a pastoral scene. Indians mounted on horses survey cattle and sheep in the distance.

Konosh by W.W. Major



 Peabody Museum of

May 4th was a day spent communicating with the local Indian Chiefs. Chief Kanosh was given a certificate by Brigham Young stating:


 To whom it may concern.

This may certify that we have had a talk with Canosha [Kanosh], the chief of the Parvante Indians, and we find him and his Band friendly to white people. They have invariably manifested a friendly and peaceable disposition towards those friendly and peaceable disposition towards those who have located in Parvan valley, and are anxious to cultivate the kind feelings of all who settle in their neighborhood. I therefore recommend him to the sympathies and charitable feelings of all to whom he may present this certificante.

Filmore City Brigham Young

May 4th 1852

On that day, Wilford Woodruff wrote, "Brother Major our Artist took the likeness of an Indian Chief."7 This notation refers to a portrait of Kanosh which is now housed at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. 


Chief of Corn Creek by W.W. Major

Parishort or Leap of Elk, Chief of Corn Creek, May 1852.

Description: 8 ½" x 6", Watercolor. Signature on the lower right side in the fold of the blank reads, "SKETCH BY W.W. MAJOR 1852."

Location: Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah  Springville Museum of Art

At this same time, the portrait of the Chief of Corncreek (shown above) was created. The Springville Museum of Art displays a portrait in which William scrawled at the bottom, "Rocky Mountains, Parishort or Leap of Elk of Parvaun, Chief of Corn Creek. Near Filmore". The fact that the sketch was made "Near Filmore" is significant, since Corn Creek was 11 ½ miles from the State Capitol. The exploration company rode to Corn Creek on May 4th , but no mention is made in available journals of any contact that afternoon or evening with Indians at Corn Creek.

On May 15th, the exploration party returned to Corn Creek and camped for an evening. William Clayton described this encounter: "A number of Pauvan Indians were here to beg, and wanted to trade a female child for gun and two blankets, but none of the brethren appeared disposed to give as much." It’s possible that William sketched Parishort at this time. In any case, the paper in Parishort’s hand is likely a certificate similar to the one presented to Kanosh on May 4th. The signature in the right fold of the Parishort’s blanket reads, "sketch by W.W. Major 1852."


Parowan by W.W. Major

Description: 11 x 18 Oil on board

Location: Brigham Young's Office, Beehive House

History: In 1881 The Contributor related the history of Utah in 1851: "During the month of January the settlement of Parowan was enclosed as a fort; the foundation of the council house was laid. A view of the fort was painted by W. Majors, representing the settlement, and Little Salt Lake in the distance; this painting was presented in 1870 by President Brigham Young to the Deseret Museum."48


On May 7, 1852 the exploration party arrived in Parowan. William Clayton described the fort:

This City or Fort is 296 ½ miles from G.S.L. City by way of San Pete. It is located on a pleasant elevation above half a mile from the foot of the mountains on the East side of the Valley. It is well picketed around the Fort, and each lot is divided off and enclosed by a good board fence. All the ltos are adorned with young firs and other varieties of trees and shrubbery. There is a general carrol in the centre of the Fort, and each family have a small carrol attached to the larger one. The houses generally look neat and clean, and the whole place has a pleasant appearance. The citizens appear very hospital and kind.8

In 1870, this painting was presented to the Deseret Museum by President Brigham Young.9

It was part of the Church collection.

 Wash'echick, Chief of the Shoshomas Tribe, by W.W. Major


Wash'echick, Chief of the Shoshomas Tribe, 1852

Description: Watercolor 7 1/2" X 5 1/2"

Location: Springville Museum, Springville, Utah Springville Museum of Art

History: The Shoshone Indians, under Washakie met the Mormons soon after their arrival in Utah. This sketch may have been made at any time between 1848-1853.49 It is included in with the 1852 art work, because it was discovered with the Parishort watercolor in a New York City used book store. Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York in 1853, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel.50