Published in the Richfield Reaper, November 15, 1906.
Lura J. Stark was elected Piute County recorder and Emily Bertelsen was elected Superintendent of Schools in 1906, likely the first women to hold office in Piute County. Stark received more votes than any of the successful candidates for other county offices.
Alta Johnson Howard
Richfield High girls basketball team, 1912. Courtesy of Elaine Wayland.
Alta Johnson was born in Circleville, Utah in 1894. Family history states that she was friends with Butch Cassidy’s younger sister before her family moved to Richfield when Alta was school-aged. In high school, Alta was a member of the debate and girls basketball teams. Her 1914 class was the first class to graduate from the newly constructed Richfield High School.
Alta (L) with missionary companion Gertrude Phelps in 1914. Courtesy of Elaine Wayland.
After graduating, Alta served an LDS mission to the Eastern States. She was married to Joseph Erickson in 1916 and soon had her hands full with 3 daughters. When Alta’s marriage ended in divorce, her sister helped pay her tuition to cosmetology school so Alta could become a beautician to support her young family. She opened beauty parlors in Richfield, Roosevelt, and Price, where she worked for 13 years as the sole provider for her family. Alta later opened the Stylart Beauty Salon on the mezzanine level of the Hotel Utah, which remained open until the hotel closed in the 1980’s.
Interior of the Stylart Beauty Salon in 1937. Courtesy of Elaine Wayland.
In 1938, Alta married Gordon Howard and the couple moved to Bountiful, Utah. In addition to her business, Alta was civically engaged as well. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters, The Women’s Legislative Council, and The American Legion. When her husband passed away in 1979, Alta returned to live in Richfield, Utah. She experienced life in 3 centuries; born in 1894 when women could not vote in most of the country, she lived the entirety of the 1900’s and passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 105. She grew up with first-hand experience of the national suffrage movement, and knew the importance of voting and of women holding leadership roles in government and in local communities. She faithfully voted every year once being eligible to do so, arriving at the polls the last few years of her life in a wheelchair. Her tenacity, work ethic, and civic engagement influenced the lives of many. She left behind a great example of working toward the future with experience from the past.
Thank you to Elaine Wayland for sharing her grandmother’s story.