Followers of Marie Ogden created a unique religious community just outside of Monticello.
In 1933, the followers of Marie Ogden arrived in San Juan County's Dry Valley and began to create their version of God's kingdom. Ogden had dabbled in the occult and lectured on spiritual subjects around Boise, Idaho, before making the shocking announcement that she had established a direct link to heaven through her typewriter. She claimed the typewriter, under God's direct control, had commanded her to move to the wild lands of southeastern Utah and take a small band of eager disciples with her. Followers who made the move to Dry Valley had to renounce all worldly goods, become semi-vegetarian, and swear allegiance to the supposedly divine word that came from Ogden's typewriter.
At first Ogden and her followers were mainly treated as a curiosity by the San Juan County locals. But then, in 1935, an Ogdenite by the name of Edith Peshak died of cancer at the religious settlement believers called the Home of Truth. Ogden, however, claimed Peshak wasn't dead at all and was only in a state of spiritual purification and would eventually return to life. People from the Home of Truth bathed the body in salt brine three times a day and even fed it. When health officials investigated they found the body in a perfect state of preservation.
Soon, however, followers of Ogden began leaving the community, perhaps because their leader's predictions about a resurrected Edith Peshak never panned out. When it was discovered that Ogden ordered a follower to burn Peshak's body on the sly, what little credibility she had left evaporated and she drifted from public notice. Years later, the contents of Ogden's office, presumably including her typewriter, were sold at auction.
Image: Marie Ogden. Ogden as a young woman at her typewriter. Photo taken prior to her arrival in Utah. Courtesy of the San Juan Historical Commission.
See the April 1995 collection of the History Blazer, a joint project of the Utah State Historical Society and the Utah State Centennial Commission. The History Blazer can be found on the Utah History Suite CD available from the Utah State Historical Society.