Antique desk donated to Uinta County museum

EVANSTON — An antique oak roll-top desk was recently donated to the Uinta County Museum. The original owner of the desk was Clarence D. Clark (1851-1930), Wyoming’s first congressman and longtime senator (elected in 1890). Sen. Clark was a delegate to the Wyoming State Constitutional Convention in 1889. The desk was used in his law office in Evanston, where he served as Uinta County Attorney in addition to representing the Union Pacific Railroad prior to his years in Congress.

The large desk is unique in that the detachable top half fits on to the base with wooden pegs. The desk was manufactured by the Chicago Desk Mfg. Co. Illinois and is similar to many desks made between the 1880s and 1920s that were offered in the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs. It has a flat refinished writing top and four drawers on each side flanking a center drawer. According to the donors, the key to lock the desk has been missing for many years.  

The desk has an interesting and well-traveled history. When Sen. Clark retired, the desk was given to his son-in-law, Dr. J. H. Holland (1880-1961). Dr. Holland was a popular physician in Evanston and was known for delivering most of the babies in the town. When Dr. Holland moved his family to California for a time in the 1950s the desk remained at the office he had shared with a dentist, Dr. L. A. Cheese.

When Dr. Cheese closed the office, he gave the desk to Luella Sims (1899-1984), who had been Dr. Holland’s nurse. When Sims opened the Sims Hotel the desk was kept in a storage room in the hotel basement. In 1975, Sims gave the desk to her nephew, Dr. David Taggart.

Dr. Taggart was an Evanston native and went on to graduate from Brigham Young University. His career as a teacher, a counselor and an administrator took him to many states. The desk traveled with him to Greeley, Colorado, the Midwest, Casper, Worland, Denver and Loveland, Colorado. Taggart and his family felt strongly that the desk should now belong to the Uinta County Museum.

Dr. Taggart’s daughter, Mary Taggart Jensen, brought the desk to Evanston where it now sits beside a display of Sen. Clarence D. Clark’s memorabilia. Sen. Clark was responsible for securing the funding and support from Andrew Carnegie for the library building that is now the Uinta County Museum — a fitting resting place for the desk in the building that Sen. Clark helped to see built.

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