Utah Occupation and Business Records

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

See United States Business Records

The genealogical researcher would do well to remember that European settlement of Utah essentially began in 1847 with the arrival of the first Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. But businesses were established from this point forward. Another important date to remember is the arrival of the railroad in 1868-9, marking the end of the pioneer era. Many early Utah settlers or their children worked for the railroads or depended on the railroad for their businesses. Utah governments are no different than any others and have issued permits and licenses to allow businesses to operate. Also from pioneer times there have guilds and trade unions governing the activities of their members and keeping records. Many businesses have also produced biographical collections of the company's officers and employees. In the United States and in Utah, publicly owned companies often produce an annual report in printed form. Cities have produced city directories listing all of the businesses in the city and included, in many cases, all of the residents. It is also important not to overlook advertisements in Utah newspapers which may contain information about the owners or operators of a business.

Mortuary or Funeral Home records[edit | edit source]

Mortuaries keep records of their internments independent of the cemeteries and state death records. Some of the funeral homes and mortuaries date back to pioneer times and are still in business.

Farming and Agricultural Records[edit | edit source]

Agricultural business organizations have played a huge part in the rural affairs of Utah. The number of organizations is significant and many of these organizations date back to the earliest days of settlement. As is the case with most business records, finding the records can be a challenge. It is best to contact each business and organization directly.

Slaves, Apprentices and Indentured Servants[edit | edit source]

Some of the Utah immigrants and pioneers were from slave states and brought their slaves to Utah. Although the numbers were never large, there was a significant influx of African Americans. Apprentices were also common but indentured servants were far less so.

Insurance records[edit | edit source]

From fire insurance maps to databases of historical insurance policies, there are companies that date back into the 1700s providing farm, life, fire and marine insurance. Applicants for policies were asked to provide information about their beneficiaries (usually family members), their lifestyle, health, age, residence and other topics. Most of the insurance records that are currently available are still held by the individual companies, with some records dating back to the creation of the companies. Few companies provide search services but some do allow proven descendants to search the records to look for information about an ancestor. See also

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

As is shown by the Utah Digital Newspaper Project, See Utah Newspapers, there were quite a few newspapers in the state. Just as any other business, the newspapers had owners and employees and kept records of their activities and the business records may go back over 100 years for some of the older, still operating, newspapers. Search for newspaper records the same as you would any other business type or entity.

Be sure to check the larger collections of newspapers both nationally and in adjoining states. See United States Newspapers

Employment and Union records[edit | edit source]

Family stories and traditions may have preserved knowledge of the occupation or employment of an ancestor. In addition, U.S. Census records for years after 1850 commonly list the employment of household members. Searching for these records may require some imagination and initiative because they may be maintained by the business entities that originally employed your ancestor.

Mining records[edit | edit source]

Utah mining activities began very early after the first settlement in 1847. There are extensive mining records in the Utah Department of Administrative Services, Division of Archives & Records Service. Do a search for mining records; there are over 1200 records. You should search mining records if you see from a U.S. Census record that your ancestor worked as a miner.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Search in Ancestry.com $$ for Utah and mining records in the Card Catalog.

The Park Record from 1881 to 1970. The Park Mining Record began publication February 8, 1880. The name was shortened to The Park Record in 1884.

See "A Brief History of Mining in Utah," by Burt B. Brewster, E.M. Editor and Publisher of The Mining and Contracting Review.

History of Mining in Utah, Treasure House Relics Project. In addition see the collection of Utah corporate stock certificates.

Inventory of the Utah coal mining history records, University of Utah, Special Collections.

Search in the U.S. National Archives for Mines and Mining. See Records of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

See also the Arthur Lakes Library, Colorado School of Mines, Historic Mines and Mining Companies. This website has links to additional Utah sources for mining information.

Business formation records[edit | edit source]

At the time a business is formed, there are both public and private records created. The private records about the formation of the business may be preserved by the business entity or successor businesses. Public governmental records may also be available. Check in the State Archives for records that may have been preserved.

Churches[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the largest religious groups in Utah were The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Methodists, and Presbyterians.[1]

See Utah Church Records

In addition to records about the members of the churches, the churches themselves are business organizations with employees, officers and directors. For information about the churches as businesses, look for business records for corporations and other entities.

Railroads[edit | edit source]

The first transcontinental railroad went through Utah and beginning in March of 1969 and in some cases before that time, many of the people in Utah Territory were hired by the railroads. The railroads have continued as a major source of employment for people in Utah since that time. It is only logical to search railroad employment records for information about your ancestors, especially if the U.S. Census records show that they worked for the railroad. Also check the FamilySearch Library Catalog for further records.

Shipping and other transportation records[edit | edit source]

Shipping and transportation records are similar to any other category of business record, they may be difficult to find unless the business is still operating. In Utah, charges for transportation or freight billed to customers for the cost of shipping the finished product to the customer are not taxable if separately stated on the invoice. However, charges for "freight-in" are taxable. "Freight-in" is defined as shipping, freight or transportation charges billed to the seller as part of the seller's cost of tangible personal property, product transferred electronically, or services sold. These charges are part of the purchase and sales price and are taxable. See the definition of sales price in the Utah Code 59-12-102. As a result, researching the tax records in the Utah State Archives may have valuable information.

Business licenses and bonds[edit | edit source]

Business licenses and bonds are official government records and are maintained on a municipal as well as state basis. Older records can be found in the Utah State Archives. Do a search on business licenses. The following passages were from the Davis County (Utah) County Commission Minutes beginning in 1852 in the Utah State Archives Series 84227.

"Following the formation of territorial government, the legislature in 1852 passed acts relating to the formation and government of counties. There were no county commissions, but the probate judge in conjunction with the county selectmen were invested "with the usual powers and jurisdiction of County Commissioners" and as such were known as the county court. The probate court clerk (also known as the county clerk) was to keep the records of the court."

"The court was authorized to manage all county business and county property. This included auditing all claims against the county and payments by the treasurer. The court controlled all timber and water privileges and could grant mill sites and herd grounds. Court members created election precincts, road districts, and school districts and appointed superintendents of such districts. They located sites and oversaw the erection of public buildings. The selectmen in conjunction with the court were to provide for the maintenance of the poor, insane, and orphans. They levied property taxes for county purposes. They were also responsible for any litigation involving the county."

In 1884 the legislature mandated that business licenses in general be obtained from the county courts for operation in unincorporated county areas; most applications were for liquor licenses."

"Business licensing information includes name, type of business, business location, and action taken on applications. Where the county had a more direct interest, detailed contracts are recorded, as in the cases of utility franchises, county leases of property or services, and cooperative agreements made with governmental agencies or private corporations. Cooperative agreements assume a major role by the 1970s, dealing with emergency services, transportation, social services, weather modification, etc."

Professional licenses[edit | edit source]

Surviving professional license information is most like found in the Utah State Archives. See Department of Registration Professional licenses and certificates register. Dates: 1893-1929 and other publications.

Do a search in the Utah State Archives for "Professional licenses."

Medical and Dental office records[edit | edit source]

Medical and dental office records are similar to any other private business records. They may be found in businesses that have been in operation for a long period of time and, in some cases, could have been passed from one business to another.

Photography businesses[edit | edit source]

For historical information about early photographers, see Palmquist, Peter E., and Thomas R. Kailbourn. Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press, 2000.

Business and other types of directories[edit | edit source]

Directories are alphabetical lists of names and addresses. These often list all the adult residents of a city or an area. They are similar to modern telephone books. Beside addresses and occupations, they may also give locations of streets and voting districts which will help you locate other records. In addition, directories may list all of the businesses as well as the households. Directories of heads of households have been published for major cities in Utah. Some directories cover several cities.

Utility records[edit | edit source]

See the Utah State Archives, Utah State Tax Commission, Property Tax Division, Public Utilities Assessment Records. See also the following categories of records in the Utah State Archives:

  • Minute books from the Utah State Tax Commission, Series 2170, record disputes of assessments which account for some of the changes made here.
  • Minute books from the Board of Equalization and Assessment, Series 2429, record disputes of assessments which account for some of the changes made here.
  • Public utilities property tax returns from the Utah State Tax Commission. Property Tax Division, Series 2480, show the property holdings and valuations submitted by the companies which account for much of the information noted here.
  • Property tax assessment system from the Utah State Tax Commission. Property Tax Division, Series 9955, 4119, Public utility records, is the record of assessment information, 9955, is the assessment system.*
  • Public utility and natural resources recapitulations from the Utah State Tax Commission. Property Tax Division, Series 14252, records total valuations and includes a guide to the codes used to specify tax districts.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. William Chamberlin Hunt and United States Bureau of the Census, Religious Bodies: 1906 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), Vol. 1:364. Digital version at Google Books.