History of Chief Wanship, Utah

Chief Wanship (good man) was a tall, dark, thin Ute. He wore a long buffalo robe over his shoulder, gathered around his waist in folds like a Scotsman. He spoke the native tongue of the Shoshone. He is known for his friendship and compassion toward a slowly starving group of settlers in the area of what is today called the town of Wanship. He shared valuable information about edible plants and where to find game. A trade system was also set up between the two groups. The relationship was of such importance to the people that they named their town after him.

Chief Wanship may have solved the problem of how the buffalo got onto Antelope Island. Osbourne Russell reported that in 1841 Chief Wanship lived in the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley where he remembers seeing bison migrate from the mainland to Antelope Island without swimming. Wanship himself may have lived on the island. His son and his family are known to have lived there when the Fremont expedition was exploring the Great Salt Lake in 1845.

G. William Wiersdorf

See: Summit County; Pendleton House, Utah.ed; Bison in Northern Utah, Davis County Travel Convention; Trivia

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