Peter Gottfredson 1836 - 1934
The book Indian Depredations in Utah is one of the oldest first-hand accounts of the Black Hawk War in Utah.
2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Peter Gottfredson's classic account of the Black Hawk War between Mormon colonists and the Timpanogos Tribe from 1847 to 1873. Culturally important, Peter's book was First published in 1919 by Skelton Publishing CO. Salt Lake City, Utah when only 100 copies were printed.
Hi, this is Phillip B Gottfredson and It gives me great pleasure to announce that my great-grandfathers book Indian Depredations in Utah is back in print as of Aug. 1, 2020.
Peter Gottfredson at the tender age of eleven journeyed with his parents and two siblings from Denmark to America in 1855. Previously he was separated from his parents at the age of six to be raised by his grandparents on a farm in a remote area of Denmark.
When Peter came to America in 1855, he became a passionate journalist, story teller, and author. He was aware of living in a historic time he had a genuine motivation to record for posterity his personal experiences and compiled numerous firsthand accounts of those trying times in one book he titled Indian Depredations in Utah. From the time he left his home, and throughout his life, he would live in a violent and dangerous world. The violence and human suffering he witnessed made him what he was. It was his environment that defined him.
I am grateful that great-grandfather's book has been held in such high regard by scholars, historians, and history buffs though, Peter would be pleased as it was his wish that his book would have its place in Utah's history.
History of the book Indian Depredations in Utah
Peter passed over in 1934 when his long-time friend Taylar Thurber wrote in his eulogy to Peter"And so I speak of Peter Gottfredson with what he has done. He has spent 20 years of his life, the best years of his life, in compiling an authentic history of the Indian Depredations in the State of Utah. It is a book that will go down through the ages because of the close contacts he has made. Just think of man without an education to undertake and write a book! It must have been a tremendous impulse behind this man. He had no wealth, he was one of the last of the pioneers. It was a gigantic task, and there must have been a will to do a thing of that sort. And there is no more pleasant record—it is one that his sons and daughters would be pleased to read and dwell upon."
Peter spent much of his time living among the Timpanogos Tribe during the Black Hawk War years in the 1860's. The Timpanogos of the Wasatch was the ruling tribe at the time when Mormon colonists arrived in 1847. He enjoyed playing with their children and helping them gather food. The "Sheep Captain" they called him as he was often seen herding sheep which he did for a living.
My father Merrill lived with his grandfather Peter for many years in his teens and told me, "I can still see Peter get on his horse and ride off to get just one more story for his book. Grandpa was invited into the camp of Timpanogos Chief Black Hawk on numerous occasions," Merrill said. Later in life Peter became a Mormon bishop in Glendale, Utah for twenty years. Still he found himself in the company of Native people, the Koosharem who had a great respect for Peter.
Peter Gottfredson with Koosharem Tribe circa 1930
Folks you might like to read Peter's autobiography, it's a facinating account of journey from Denmark to his days in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.
To the honor of Peter Gottfredson, researchers, journalists, and scholars cite his work in countless publications and articles underscoring the importance of this time-honored classic account.
In 2002 Historian Will Bagley wrote an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about Peter's book "A product of its time, Indian Depredations is bitterly racist: the Utes and Paiutes are “skulking savages,” “murderous marauders,” “Mr. Redskin” and “the sleepless foe.” But the book reports any number of white depredations that would otherwise be unknown, and like the Iliad, the losers are often more courageous and noble than the victors" he wrote.
Indeed "Indian Depredations in Utah" is "racist" as Bagley points out. But no more than those who wrote the stories Peter published in his book. We forget the book is a compilation of firsthand accounts Peter obtained from those who acually took part in the war.
Out of respect for Peter and the Gottfredson family, I feel it is duty to honor our ancestor's legacy and preserve the dignity of his work that Peter Gottfredson so much deserves with this official first edition of Indian Depredations In Utah, which is an exact facsimile of the book Peter gave to my father Merrill Gottfredson in 1919. It is the first of two printings of Peter's book by Skelton Publishing.
Meanwhile, I hope you will lend your support to the preservation of Peter's time-honored work by purchasing our official republication of Peter Gottfredson's first edition of Indian Depredations in Utah. People put great value on this book, and I think you will too. 5 star reviews!
Wait... there's more I want to share with you:
Peter's book was always on the shelf of our home library as I was growing up. Father encouraged me to read it, but I found it to be too depressing when of a young age. When father passed in 1989 he willed the book to my brother David, who intern gave it to me. That's when I finally sat down and read it cover to cover. And I will admit, I wept for I had no idea of the suffering that Native peoples in Utah had experienced. Moreover, it was like letting a genie out of a bottle. Therafter, I wanted to have a better understanding of what it was like for Peter to live among the Native people. It was like magic that led to a serendipitous twenty-year journey of my own into the world of Native Americans throughtout North and South America, and that forever change my life. And like Peter, I eventualy fell into the company of the Timpanogos. Now I understand why he spent so much of his time with them.
Two decades later I wrote and published a companion book to Peter's titled My Journey To Understand... Black Hawk's Mission of Peace. Mary Meyer Chief Executive of the Timpanogos Tribe and the Tribe's Council collaborated with me on the book.
Thank you, for letting me share with you, I hope you will enjoy reading Indian Depredations in Utah and Black Hawk's Mission of Peace.
- Phillip B Gottfredson
Peter Gottfredson's original version of Indian Depredations in Utah:
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