Agency History #1119


Chapter 106 of the Laws of Utah 1919, the Utah Soldier Settlement Act, created the Board of Soldier Settlement. On March 13, 1919, the thirteenth Legislature passed the law and on February 19, 1929 Chapter 11 of the Laws of Utah repealed it. The Board's responsibility was to secure employment and rural homes for the soldiers honorably returning from World War I. The Board was given the power to "acquire in the name of the state by purchase, gift, or the exercise of the power of eminent domain, all lands and other property needed for the purposes hereof . . ."


The Utah State Soldier Settlement Board worked in cooperation with the United States in the reclamation of State and public lands to provide homes and employment for soldiers, sailors, marines and others who served with the armed forces of the United States. The benefits were also available for citizens of the United States but soldiers received priority. The Board held the power to work with other State agencies and the Federal government to drain, irrigate, fertilize and do what was necessary to provide suitable land. Throughout its existence, the Board collected information on various potential reclamation projects in the state and waited for the necessary legislation, which based on their records did not come.


The Soldier Settlement Board consisted of three members: the president of the State Agricultural College (now Utah State University), the State Engineer, and an appointee of the Governor who was designated as the "Soldier Settlement Commissioner." According to the Laws of Utah, the Commissioner held his office for five years, or until a successor was appointed and qualified. O. J. Grimes was nominated and appointed as the secretary in the first meeting. The secretary was paid a salary and was responsible for the typical office duties but was not a member of the Board. The members of the Board served without compensation but were reimbursed for expenses incurred through their work.

Although the act creating the Soldier Settlement Board was not repealed until 1929, and the five-year term of the Commissioner should have been up, the sparse records of the Board do not show a change in membership. The last record of the Board is from January 1921. Their activity, if any, after that date is unknown. It is possible that the Board aligned with the Western States Reclamation Association.


W. R. Wallace, Soldier Settlement Commissioner

Dr. E. G. Peterson (Utah Agricultural College)

G. F. McGonagle (State Engineer)

COMPILED BY: Wendy Checketts, June 1999


Legislature. Laws of Utah, Chapter 106, 1919, (Series 83155).

Legislature. Laws of Utah, Chapter 11, 1929, (Series 83155).

Soldier Settlement Board Report, (Series 1196).

Soldier Settlement Board Minutes, (Series 2384).

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.