Unveiling of Fremont/Carvalho kiosks
The Emery County Historical Society met in Goblin Valley and unveiled an interpretive marker honoring John C. Fremont and Solomon Nun Carvalho on April 26. This interpretive marker is placed near the entrance to Goblin Valley and at the base of Wild Horse Butte. A photograph of Wild Horse Butte is one of the few surviving photos made by Carvalho on the trip in 1853 and 1854 with Fremont. Carvalho's other photos were destroyed in a warehouse fire.
The Historical Society group traveled from Mayors Park in Ferron by caravan to Goblin Valley. They were led there by Edward Geary. When the group arrived at the road junction to Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon they were met by historian Wade Allinson and Jerry Klinger President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. At this junction now stands the newly erected Fremont and Carvalho interpretive marker.
Wade Allinson introduced Klinger who is from Maryland and who had learned of this project from Allinson. Klinger said he has participated in installing historical sites in 25 states and four countries.
Allinson told the group he first contacted the Utah State Parks Department eight years ago requesting permission to install an interpretive marker with the history of a trip by Fremont and Carvalho through Utah. The interpretive marker is situated on Utah State Parks property. After getting permission from the Utah State Parks, Wade said, he then had to find funding for the project and one of the main contributors was The Jewish American Society for Historical Preservation.
The placement of this interpretive marker was the culmination of the efforts by Allinson, Klinger and several others in bringing public attention to, John C. Fremont and Solomon Carvalho, early explorers in Utah.
Klinger said the story of John Fremont and Solomon Carvalho is an adventure story. When Carvalho joined Fremont he had never ridden a horse. But, when he heard of the opportunity he went for it. This turned out to be one of the most momentous experiences of Carvalho's life and had an impact upon American Society. He then mentioned the commonality of the American experience. In the early days of settling this country. They did not ask where you were from, if you were from one country or another or what religion you were.
They asked what could you do, could you contribute, could you add to what we are trying to do. Everyone was in this together. The Jewish American story goes back before Columbus. In 1654 an organized Jewish community arrived on the shores of this continent from Brazil. They were refugees from an inquisition. When they arrived in New Amsterdam Peter Stuvyesant the Governor said I do not want them here. I want them gone. He wrote to the people in Amsterdam. The people in Amsterdam said they could stay but they would not be part of the community. The people of New Amsterdam had a problem. They had to build for the common defense. They had to man the stockade walls. Stuvyesant was as bigoted as you could get. He said I will put a tax on them and not permit them to do any of this. They have to pay a tax and they won't man the walls. The Jewish community had been soldiers where they came from and said we aren't paying any tax. We will man the walls and defend this area. This is our home. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with our Christian friends and brothers to defend our new home together. That has really been the story of the American experience. We stand together to build this one country.
Suddenly a rapid hail storm with rain interrupted Jerry Klinger's discussion and the Historical Society retired to the Goblin Valley Pavilion for shelter. There they found Shirley and Joe Begay preparing a lunch of Navajo Tacos for the Emery County Historical Society. After the lunch Jerry continued the story of Fremont, Carvalho and some American history.
The following part of this article was contributed by Jerry Klinger President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. Col. John C. Fremont expedition to the West 1853-1854 and Solomon Nunes Carvalho Jerry Klinger - www.JASHP.org
The John C. Fremont interpretive marker at Wild Horse Butte was a collaborative effort lead by Wade Allinson, and of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, www.JASHP.org, the Sage Riders Motorcycle Club, Utah State Parks and Recreation, Emery County Sheriff's Office, the Emery County Historical Society and Emery County.
I thank everyone involved for the privilege to join together in commonality to make the marker and Wade's vision a reality.
Colonel John C. Fremont grew up the hard way. He was born in 1813, the illegitimate child of a woman prominent in Virginia society. His father was a poor refugee from France. To rise above the facts of his birth, Fremont had to be ambitious. The nature and character of the American West gave him the opportunity to rise to whatever golden ring he could reach for. It was Fremont's missions of exploration of the West that gave him the name that he would forever be known by, The Great Pathfinder.
Perhaps because of Fremont's background, but more so because of the demands of the frontier, Fremont did not look to a man's religion, culture, or history to select who would join his expeditions of discovery. Fremont chose who would be best for the job.
Solomon Nunes Carvalho was a young man of Jewish Portuguese descent originally from Charleston, South Carolina. Carvalho was recognized as a pioneer in the developing science of daguerreotype - photography. Carvalho was also a painter and later a writer. Fremont needed a skilled man who would be tasked with recording his fourth mission of exploration to the West. Fremont was in search of a viable transcontinental rail line along the 38th parallel.
Fremont chose Carvalho. It did not matter that Carvalho was Jewish. It only mattered that he was skilled. He was an American like Fremont willing to go West.
The first Jews came to North America as refugees from Brazil fleeing the inquisition. Twenty-three desperate souls landed in New Amsterdam, (New York) September of 1654. Governor Peter Stuyvesant, deeply anti-Semitic, did his utmost to get rid of them. The tiny colony was surrounded by a wooden stockade defending against Indian attacks. Every man had to stand his turn at manning the walls. Stuyvesant refused to let the Jews stand guard. Instead, he taxed them. The Jews refused to pay the tax. They demanded the right to stand guard, to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Christian neighbors and fellow colonists to risk their lives to defend their mutual homes and new homeland together. Stuyvesant backed down.
The American frontier and its demands did not have room for the ignorance and bigotry that sailed across the Atlantic from Europe. The frontier demanded that a person be judged on what they were and what they could do not who their parents were, their religion or their race. The American frontier was a radical new experience for American Jews and many others. Yet prejudice did not die that easily.
Fifty years after the American Revolution ended, in Maryland, a vestige of the Colonial era's religious bigotry would not let go.
The State's Constitution was written deliberately to exclude Jews from holding elected office. Thomas Kennedy, a new immigrant from Scotland, settled in Western Maryland in 1816. He had never met a Jew but he was a committed Jeffersonian Republican and found the State's test oath repugnant to all Americans. He began a horrific 10 year struggle to successfully change Maryland's Constitution to permit all Marylanders, of whatever faith, to have equal rights.
The struggle for religious freedom, that was typified by Maryland's experience, was completely alien as new Western States entered the Union.
Religious test oaths and other exclusionary devices to deny rights peeled away as the frontier moved westward. One of the great myths that are still taught in American schools is that freedom flowed from the East to the West. The reality was it flowed from the West to the East.
The first openly Jewish governor in American history was Moses Alexander from Idaho. The second was Simon Bamberger, the fourth governor of Utah. The first Jewish female to become a member of Congress was Florence Prag Kahn from California. Mrs. Kahn was born in Salt Lake City. The first female Rabbi was Ray Frank, born in San Francisco.
There even was a Jewish Indian Chief, Solomon Bibo of the Acoma Indians of New Mexico. The Indians of Acoma chose Bibo to be their "Governor", or "Chief", because they knew he would be the best person to represent and protect their rights.
Bibo and his wife Juana later settled in San Francisco.
Their son, Leroy, was bar mitsvahed at San Francisco's Bush Street synagogue. Afterwards, Leroy was sent to Acoma for the Indian ritual of manhood.
The Bibos are buried in the Jewish cemetery in Colma, California. A few rows away is buried another famous Westerner and his wife. Her name was Sarah Marcus. His name was Wyatt Earp.
The historic marker at Wild Horse Butte is an important interpretive point of American history. It is also, on a different level, a symbolic statement of what it means to be an American. America was built not by any single group, religion, culture or race.
It was built by all of us, together. The frontier shaped that change.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz said, "I commend Wade Allinson for his extensive work to bring to life the vibrant history of the 1853 Fremont expedition. This little-known story will now enhance visitors' appreciation of Wild Horse Butte and their enjoyment of some of the American West's most stunning scenery."