Opening the Tooele City “Valuable” Box!

Lauren Katz History, News and Events

Last month, Heidi and Alan (members of our Local Government team) found an unusual box labeled “valuable” when they were in Tooele City. Since there was interest in the contents of this mystery box, Heidi made an extra effort to inventory it quickly so we could share a little of what was inside. Let’s dig in!

The underside of the lid looks like it had a cutout at one point that was later enclosed, suggesting that it may have been used as a ballot box. 

The box contained mostly receipts and official bonds, like this one for Samuel Lee who was elected Mayor of Tooele City in 1891. An official bond acted like an insurance policy: if the elected official were unable to perform their duties, and for any reason the city were to suffer a financial loss because of it, the bond would have covered them up to a certain amount.

Official bonds before statehood also included an oath that the office holder had to sign stating that they were not practicing polygamy, and included a space for them to state the name of their one lawful wife.

Next Heidi found a mock up for a ballot for the city’s 1898 election. A voter would have voted for an entire party ticket, and would not have been able to choose individual candidates from different parties. 

As you can see in this close up, there is a space for the Democratic ticket logo to go. It states “Emblem Rooster in Defiant Attitude”. 

This cutout from the Salt Lake Herald shows the rooster logo and an example of how someone would have used the ballot, simply marking an X in the circle. 

This thin narrow book contains sexton receipts, which the sexton would have turned into the city to be paid for individual grave digging. It cost the city $3.75 for him to dig one grave in 1923. 

This specific receipt was for the digging of Mrs. O’Rourike’s grave. A record like this would not be considered permanent today, but these ones from the 1900s will be kept for their historical value.

One of the oldest records found in the box is the Day Book of Richard Warburton, City Recorder. The book includes an account of city expenses from 1861-1869. This particular page shows accounting from 1864. 

Finally, Heidi found this inventory/bill of the brass instruments purchased by the city for the Tooele City Brass Band. It wasn’t uncommon for cities in Utah to have a city sponsored brass band that would perform at town functions. 

This was a fun project for our Archivists to explore. You truly never know what you might find in the records!