restricted access 7. Facing Off, 1910–1919
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148 7 Facing Off, 1910–1919 I had a little reckless spirit of adventure yet . . . so that night we went . . . to a recruiting station and joined the Army. . . . They shipped me to New York . . . and there was His Majesty’s steamship the Baltic, White Star Liner, transformed into a troop carrier. . . . I asked how many they had aboard, and they said 5,000, and I said, Gee whiz, the whole town of Price could get on this ship.1 —Rolla West, carpenter and World War I veteran World War I, also called the Great War (for its size, not its glory), eventually brought an end to America’s Progressive Era optimism. Before the reform spirit died on bloody, distant battlefields, Castle Valley developed the national hallmarks of progressivism: town-building boosterism; anti-vice crusades in warring newspapers; and, most of all, political reform as commercial rivalry between the railroad mines and independents soon came to a head in politics. In his introduction to The Progressive Movement, historian Richard Hofstadter spoke of a diversity of “issues, and the diversity of social classes and social interests that were at play in the political system.” He added, “This promise of social progress was not to be realized by sitting and praying, but by using the active powers—by the exposure of evils through the spreading of information and the exhortation of the citizenry; by using the possibilities inherent in the ballot to find new and vigorous popular leaders; in short, the revivification of democracy.”2 Put less elegantly , as civic-minded citizens and crusading journalists exposed abuses, more people voted for leaders who could clean up the mess. Women, long involved in combating abuse, wanted to be part of this reforming electorate. In Utah, where women already had the vote, they actively sought elective office. For example, plural wife Kathinka Wilberg Anderson was elected Emery County Recorder in 1900, the first woman to hold Castle Valley office in her own right. English immigrant and Demo- Facing Off, 1910–1919 149 crat Sarah Ann Stevenson Fullmer stayed busy in politics after pioneering Orangeville alone with her children while her husband, John Solomon Fullmer, remained in Sanpete County with his other two wives. Sarah Fullmer served as a Democratic Party delegate, and was twice elected school trustee. She also became president of the Women’s Suffrage Association of Emery County in an attempt to help win the vote for other women nationwide .3 With the same goal in mind, members of LDS Relief Societies in 1909 passed around a “Woman Suffrage Petition to Congress.” Clear instructions included a requirement that each signatory give his or her own full name so the gender of the signer could be readily determined. Each signer also had to enter an occupation, and women who received wages for housework in the homes of others were directed to sign as “housekeepers as distinguished from homemakers,” their non-salaried counterparts.4 All of the petitions from Utah—where, of course, women had voted for years—were pasted together , then joined to others from each state to form a monster petition with over 404,000 names. President of the National American Woman Suffrage Union, Carrie Chapman Catt of New York, formally presented it to Congress in the spring of 1910, arguing that, if the nation’s women could vote, they would help clean up the political mess. Fearing just exactly that, Congressmen —many of them elected by corrupt political machines—took no action.5 Nationally, votes for women would have to wait another decade. Despite this setback, a host of other reforms swept Castle Valley in the Progressive Era. As Price resident W. Frank Olson later wrote, “Disraeli once said that there is no gambling like politics. . . . Yet there is something about a political fight that exhilarates, and I could not keep away.” Elected as Price mayor in 1910 (beating Tobe Whitmore by a mere fifteen votes), Olson started instituting improvements. He organized a county band (building on a long tradition) that won first place in the state-wide competition. Price had no electric lights, so he pushed a bond election to pay for them. When Whitmore called him into his office to confer on the bond proposal, Olson expected a verbal thrashing. “’Olson, I admire your enthusiasm, and your spirit of progress, and I think Price is ready for electric lights. I am for you and we’ll put it over,’” said Tobe. The bond passed, and...


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