porterrockwell

Every individual has a “Shadow”, and families have them too. Today is the birthday of one of my more infamous and shadowy relations great-great-uncle Orrin Porter Spo. I’ve written about him before. He keeps popping up from time to time no matter what I try to lose him.

The LDS church heralds him as a sort-of saint, for he was Brigham Young’s right hand man. My family knows better – or at least the Shadow parts of Uncle O.P. Spo.  He was (by anyone’s account) more than a little nuts.  Even my great Aunt Peg could not white wash him. I would inquire into the family books and wonder who the devil was this crazy-looking man. “Oh,” (she would say) we don’t talk about him much. He wasn’t quite right.”  Father Spo was more blunt about him: “He was crazier than an outhouse rat” he once summarized about O.P. Spo.

In a way I am glad he can’t be scrubbed quite clean despite the well intentions of the LDS and folks like my Aunt Peg.  Back before they changed their minds, The LDS, through the city council, regulated, licensed, and taxed distilleries and breweries into the 1850s. Orrin Porter Spo established his own roadhouse in Bluffdale, Utah. His Hot Springs Brewery Hotel took advantage of the springs along the Jordan Narrows to brew some beer. His establishment let out rooms and served meals – and beer and liquor.  Scandalous but jolly, no?

Next month I go to Utah for the very first time. When Brother #4 was in Salt Lake City he was frequently asked if he and Orin were related. I hope I am asked. I can’t wait to tell them yes we are related – and here is Someone who is Mrs. Spo. We are here to locate his brewery and have ‘snort’.

I hope we are not ejected from the state.

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