Featured CollectionsPioneers and Prominent Men of Utah

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah

Featured Collections

Published in 1913, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah is a compilation of thousands of photographs and brief life sketches of “pioneers” and other “prominent men” who settled in Utah prior to the book’s publication. In the context of the volume, pioneers are “those men and women who came to Utah by wagon, hand cart or afoot … before the railroad” (i.e. from 1847 to 1868), and prominent men are “stake presidents, ward bishops, governors, members of the bench, etc., who came to Utah after the coming of the railroad”1 and prior to the book’s publication.

At over 1,300 pages long, it contains nearly 6,000 photographs and many thousands of short biographies, which often focus on genealogical (i.e., vital and family) information. Included in the volume are lists of the members of the Brigham Young Vanguard Company of 1847, the Mormon Battalion, and a yearly chronology of events in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The names, photographs, and other information for this compilation were gathered over several years by Frank Esshom, a Salt Lake City journalist and publisher. After working on the book for a year, Esshom and his committee enlisted the help of Francis M. Lyman, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. With Lyman’s assistance, they concluded that the best way to gather information about the Church’s prominent men was to personally visit the bishops of every Latter-day Saint congregation from northern Oregon and Yellowstone National Park in the north to St. George in the south.2 The bishops were asked to furnish names of male pioneers who were then living or had died in their ward as well as names of pioneers’ male descendants.

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah was financed by preorders called “subscriptions” from people whose family members would appear in the book. However, Esshom stated that he did not exclude photographs and information on individuals whose families were unable to pay for a copy.

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah is available online through the Church History Catalog, the Internet Archive, and FamilySearch. The versions hosted at the Internet Archive and FamilySearch are text searchable.

An index to the portraits is found in the front section of the book:

The biographical and genealogical sketches start on page 707 (after the photograph section) and are arranged alphabetically.

FamilySearch also has an online index of Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah that can be used to search by name, birthplace, birth date, and similar information.

You will notice that the search results differ widely between Internet Archive and FamilySearch. For example, when searching for “Joseph Egbert,” the Internet Archive only shows three results, while FamilySearch, using the same search criteria, returns over 900. This is because Internet Archive automatically groups your search terms together, while FamilySearch treats them as both separate and combined terms. Both can be effective, but it is important to keep those differences in mind.

Most entries are short but are filled with information that emphasize genealogy. For example:

EGBERT, SAMUEL (son of John Egbert, born 1776. Staten Island, N. Y., and Susanna Kahn, born Aug. 10, 1770, Staten Island, N. Y., both of South Cottonwood, Utah). He was born March 24, 1814, Breckinridge county, Ky. Came to Utah Oct. 15, 1849, Allen Taylor company.
Married Margrett Mariah Beckstead 1839 in Illinois (daughter of Alexander Beckstead and Catherine Lince of West Jordan, Utah, pioneers 1848). She was born Dec. 9, 1823. Their children: William Henry b. 1840. died; John Alexander b. March 28, 1842 [marriages below]; Martha Ann b. March 1, 1844, m. Isaac Wardell; Andrew Jackson b. Feb. 4, 1846, died; Susannah b. Feb. 14, 1848, m. Mr. Vannetten, m. Daniel Jerman; Catherine Mann b. Sept. 21, 1860, m. Henry Byrum Beckstead; Samuel Wesley b. Aug. 26. 1852, m. Ann Gardner, m. Lucinda Beckstead; Harriet b. Sept. 18, 1854, m. Samuel Bateman; Amanda Jane b. Jan. 6. 1857, m. Henry Byrum Beckstead; Joseph Smith b. Jan. 10, 1859, m. Sarah Pierce; Hyrum Smith b. Dec. 30, 1860, m. Annie McGhie; Mary Ellen b. Feb. 21, 1863, m. Hyrum Steadman; George A. Smith b. Nov. 18, 1865, died; David Alonzo b. Aug.4, 1868, m. Hannah Aylett. Family home West Jordan, Utah. Married Louisa Minerva Pettie at Salt Lake City (daughter of Robert C. Pettie and Margret J. Wells, pioneers 1848). She was born Dec. 22, 1839, Benton county, Tenn. Their children: Margret b. Aug. 8, 1858; Polly Ann b. April 21, 1860, m. Samuel Boyd; Galletta b. May 18, 1862; Robert C. b. Sept. 4, 1864, m. Clara Bradford; Henry Lewis b. Dec. 12, 1866, m. Sarah Farmer; Emily b. Nov. 6, 1869, m. Isaac Wardell; Louisa b. Feb. 22, 1872, m. Joseph Allsop; William Lafayette b. Nov. 22, 1876, m. Clara Farmer. Family home West Jordan, Utah.
School teacher. West Jordan. Indian war veteran. Farmer and stockraiser. Died Dec. 11, 1888

Here, it is easy to see how Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah can be helpful for genealogists and family historians. There is also information on an individual’s pioneer company (if applicable), as well as birth and death dates.

It should be noted that, given the information’s age and method of collection, it is wise to verify the facts from Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah against other sources when possible. Additionally, information on a person’s occupation and Church callings is often rudimentary. Nevertheless, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah can be a good starting point for those interested in researching the men who played a role in early Utah history.


1. Pg. 1. It should be noted that no biographies or genealogies of women appear in the volume, even though they are mentioned in Esshom’s definition of “pioneers.”

2. The western and eastern boundaries of Esshom’s research are unclear.