Local history buffs have a wonderful winter gift with the release of two new histories of the area.
Faye Muhlestein has released the second in her comprehensive, three-part history of Monticello. Monticello Journal II documents the history of the little town at the base of the Blue Mountains from 1938 to 1970. In addition to spending time on Facebook this winter, many local residents are delving into the 512-page depths of “Faye’s book”.
“The people who did things in this town ought to have some credit. Their work shouldn’t be forgotten,” said Faye. “If it isn’t written, it will go away.”
The book includes more treasures than can be described in a brief article. Muhlestein has interviewed scores of area residents and combines them with information gleaned from a host of source materials, including the San Juan Record.
The result is more than 500 pages of remarkable history. The book represents an incalculable investment in time and effort by Muhlestein.
Faye and her husband, Harold, wrote the first book, which was published in 1988 in conjunction with the Monticello Centennial celebration. It focused on the settlement of the community from 1887 to 1937. The book was well received and quickly sold out. Owners of copies of the first book carefully watch their rare copies.
In the subsequent 22 years, Muhlestein continued to research and interview and comb through historic records. Much of the work was completed while Faye was caring for her husband through his lingering illness and after his death in 2003. Harold Muhlestein was a history teacher at Monticello High School and the two made the history of Monticello a part of their life’s work.
Faye relied on her children to help in the project, including son Daniel, daughter Janie and grandson Dennis. While the first book relied heavily on historical documents, including the journals of early pioneer Francis Hammond, the newest book relies heavily on interviews with community residents.
Book Two is likely to become as hard to find as the first. Muhlestein plans to release the third and final portion of her trilogy as soon as the majority of the second books are sold.
The third book will total more than 700 pages, documenting events in Monticello from 1971 to 2000. Faye explains that the research is complete and the third book is set to print.
A second book recently released is simply titled Jane. It documents the life of early pioneer Jane Walton, who was killed in a tragic shooting at a Pioneer Day dance in Monticello in 1891.
Jane was written by Mike King, a direct descendant of Walton, who grew up hearing stories about his famous great-great grandmother.
King relies on the stories of his youth, plus a copy of the journal of Jane’s husband, Charles Walton, to recount the life of this early Monticello pioneer.
King brings an interesting set of skills to the task of writing about the death of his great-great grandmother. The former chief of staff of Utah Attorney General Jan Graham had a successful career as an investigator and profiler.
King teamed with former FBI agent Greg Cooper to create a series of documentaries for the Discovery Channel and A&E’s Histories Mysteries. They investigate ancient crime scenes in an attempt to bring new light to old mysteries. A documentary about the death of King Tut earned the team an Emmy award in 2002.
The circumstances of Jane’s death culminates the book and King brings many of his professional skills to the table. Soon after Walton’s death, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Tom Roach, a local cowboy. King uses evidence, including the written words of the grieving Charles Walton the day after the tragedy, to suggest that the still outstanding warrant should have been rescinded.
The book provides a number of new insights into a familiar local story.