Bluffdale May Get 'Porter Rockwell Boulevard'

Bluffdale May Get 'Porter Rockwell Boulevard'

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BLUFFDALE, Utah (AP) -- City officials are thinking of naming a future street as Porter Rockwell Boulevard after the controversial Mormon pioneer dubbed the "destroying angel."

Orrin Porter Rockwell, who purportedly was associated with the Danites, an alleged secret, violent group of Mormons organized about 1838 for the defense of fellow church members, was believed to have once had a home in what is now Bluffdale, where he also ran a stagecoach inn that sold whiskey.

"He was a colorful character," Mayor Wayne Mortimer said.

"That's a historical identity, good or evil," Mortimer said. "He's part of the past, and he played an important role, not only in Bluffdale but also in this part of the state."

The city recently spent $120,000 to study the corridor for the road's possible alignment. A decision is expected within the next few months.

Rockwell served as a bodyguard for Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and for Mormon pioneer leader Brigham Young.

Rockwell was accused of the attempted assassination of Missouri Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs. The assassination charges didn't stick, but a jury did sentence Rockwell to a term of "five minutes confinement in the County Jail" for two unsuccessful escape attempts, according to the late Harold Schindler's book, "Orrin Porter Rockwell, Man of God, Son of Thunder."

After arriving in Utah with the Mormon pioneers, Rockwell became one of the territory's earliest lawmen. Rockwell was picked to be part of a Mormon band that harassed U.S. troops sent to unseat Young.

Rockwell was indicted on charged of attacking a half-dozen Californians known as the Aiken Party in 1857, but died in 1878 before the trial was to start.

Legend has it that he may have killed 100 men.

Another story goes that he wore his hair long because Smith told him that no bullet or blade would harm him so long as he didn't cut it.

City engineer Shane Jones says naming a street after Rockwell is not about creating a bad-boy or tough-town image.

"It kind of like conjures up feelings and ideas of the pioneering heritage ... early Mormon roots, Pony Express riders," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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