John Jarvie of Brown's Park
BLM Cultural Resources Series (Utah: No. 7)
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Until this writing, no biography of John Jarvie had ever been attempted. His life has been reconstructed using two major sources: public records and interviews with people who knew him. Facts were gathered from courthouse records in the counties of Uintah and Daggett in Utah, Routt and Moffat in Colorado, and Sweetwater in Wyoming. Minnie Crouse Rasmussen of Prescott, Arizona, who knew Jarvie when she was a young lady, provided a wealth of information as did Jess Taylor of Rock Springs, Wyoming, who worked for Jarvie as a boy. Federal Government documents, newspapers, and contemporary manuscripts also provided much information which was previously unconsolidated and, in large part, forgotten.

Several books have been written about the Brown's Park area in general and about the outlaw era in particular. Being informal in nature, none have been seriously documented. Much of what has been written is highly romanticized and deals with the heroic, dramatic, and eccentric usually relying on local folklore for the facts. To a large degree, this work will be no different since often the heroic, dramatic, and eccentric are the only elements which survive the passage of time and folklore can provide valuable historical insight. An attempt has been made, however, to document the facts using primary sources wherever available. Public records, journals, oral histories, written histories, and unpublished manuscripts are the major sources of information. New findings have disproved some points while substantiating others. Endnotes provide the reader with the opportunity to further research the subject if desired and to evaluate the source.

Much of Brown's Park history has been handed down orally for several generations and in many cases conflicting opinions exist. Even members of the same family often disagree on particular interpretations of events. Often there are no right or wrong answers and there are as many versions of a story as there are storytellers. Where conflicts occur, endnotes are used to explain the issue and the various sources of information are given enabling the reader to decide which version he prefers or which source he trusts the most.

William L. Tennent

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Last Updated: 21-Nov-2008