The Moab Camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) is inviting the public to come and visit on Friday evenings.
Their building, a historic Mormon church set behind the Moab Sun Court on Center Street, is open from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each Friday during the summer months.
“It’s a museum and we keep some artifacts there,” said Hallie Tibbitts, a long-time member of the DUP. “In the summer months we have it open for the public with hopes that someone will come in and see it.”
The building was the first church in town. The main room was built in 1898. The secondary room was built a year later in 1899. Today it houses artifacts from Moab’s history collected by the women of the DUP. Moab pioneers – with last names like Taylor, Holyoak, Hammond, Stewart, Shafer, Westwood, Foy, Wilson and Walker – are featured in portraits along the walls in the front room.
Tibbitts remembers when the building was used for second grade classrooms during the Uranium Boom in 1955. Her son, Cap Tibbitts, was in second grade at the time.
Due to overcrowding, creative scheduling was put into place to accommodate five second grade classes in the small building. One second grade class was held during regular school hours in the main room. Four additional second grade classes used the secondary room, with two classes held in the morning beginning at 7 a.m.; the second two held in the afternoon after lunch was served.
There was no restroom in the building and the children had to run to the main schoolhouse, where City Hall now resides, for relief.
Today second graders from Helen M. Knight Elementary visit the DUP building each year during an annual field trip.
“We have a day assigned where they can come in and see the artifacts,” Tibbitts said. “They get to ring the bell before they leave.”
The women meet at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays from September to May, excepting the month they take off after Christmas. They share lessons about different pioneers provided by the International Society of Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, make quilts, organize the Christmas bazaar and enjoy refreshments.
To be a DUP member, a woman needs to have ancestor to travel through Utah before the railroads were built in 1869.
“You don’t have to be a member to come to meetings,” Tibbitts said.
Each meeting lasts about an hour and a half.
“People are welcome to come visit during our meeting time,” Inalyn Meador said.
Tibbitts grew up in Blanding with the maiden name Young. She was a decendent of Lorenzo Dow Young, a brother of the Mormon church prophet Brigham Young. She moved moved to Moab when she was a teenager and graduated from Grand County High School in 1943.
She appreciates how the DUP preserves stories from the past.
“It’s a love for history, for the pioneers and what they’ve gone through,” Tibbitts said. “What a neat little town this was to grow up in.”
The Moab Camp of the DUP has collected and published stories in the book Grand Memories and pamphlets that share recollections from Moab’s pioneers.
Tibbitts related one of the stories preserved in the pioneer family pamphlets about community dances. She said the women wrapped up their babies in shawls to sleep in a separate room. As the women danced, a teenaged boy switched the shawls on the babies. The mothers didn’t know and took home their neighbors babies instead of their own.
“Back then it wasn’t like you could call up on the phone and drive to your neighbors house,” Tibbitts said. “It was an all-day affair. They had to hitch up wagons to get to one another.”
Beginning at noon on the first Friday in December the ladies hold their annual bazaar at the DUP building, a tradition that dates back to the late 1960s.
“I helped my mom with the bazaar a time or two before I ever started selling,” Tibbitts said.
When they first started having the bazaar, children attending the school, where City Hall is now, would come over to buy their lunch. They would have chili to eat. Essie White, who ran White’s Ranch on the Colorado River where Red Cliffs Lodge now resides, would make rolls and chicken salad.
“She would fill the rolls with the chicken salad,” said Joan Harrison, one of the DUP’s member. “I always looked forward to the bazaars. They had things I wanted and were reasonably priced.”
Tibbitts said they don’t make crafty things for the bazaar.
“People want embroidered pillowcases, quilts and baked good,” she said. “We make most of our money on baked goods.”
Each year they have a raffle for one of the quilts made by the DUP members. The money raised goes toward maintenance of the building, as well as the log cabin built in 1881 by Moab’s first Mormon bishop Randolph Stewart for his third plural wife. The log cabin originally resided on 100 East, but was moved to be preserved and cared for by the DUP.
Donna Reid recently served as the Moab camp’s DUP president. Her grandmother, Naomi Bronson, was the woman who started the DUP camp in Moab. The current president is Helen Tranter.