Thursday, November 25, 2010


As we celebrate this 389th Thanksgiving, I thought it would fun to remember, celebrate and share the role the Shurtleff family played in the beginning of our wonderful and blessed Nation.

As you know, the Puritans wanted to separate themselves from the Church of England to worship according to their free will and closer (or more “pure”) to the original Church of Jesus Christ as based on scripture. They began to call themselves Separatists. A branch of these Separatist Puritans removed to the north of England, and began gathering in the town of Scrooby in Yorkshire. They later felt the need to separate themselves physically from England itself and immigrated to Leyden, Holland in 1608. Wishing to further distinguish their faith from that of other Puritans who wanted to remain within the Church of England and work for biblical reform from within – they chose to call themselves Pilgrims. In 1620, seeking a new start in the New World, they boarded the Mayflower and set sail, arriving at Cape Cod in November of that year.

Arriving far north of their intended landing, the Pilgrims and the non-religious members of the crew determined that if they were to succeed as a new community in a new land, they would have to put aside their differences and work together as a community. On November 11th, 1620 they entered into the Mayflower Compact, to live according to the Rule of Law and equality. The Mayflower Compact became known as the “anchor” and the inspiration and template for the U.S. Constitution 160 years later.

The signers of the Compact declared, “…do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”

So how do my Shurtleff ancestors factor into these historic events?

The first Shurtleff to come to America was my 8th Great Grandfather William. He was born in 1624 in Ecclesfield Hall in Hallamshire, West Riding, Yorkshire, England. He was the first to spell our name S-H-U-R-T-L-E-F-F when he came to America. His father was William Shiercliffe, son of Nicholas, son of Nicolas, son of Alexander, son of Thomas, who we know lived in that part of Yorkshire since before 1500.

Ecclesfield was just twenty miles north of Scooby where the Pilgrims had lived for many years before leaving for Amsterdam. Many stayed behind but followed with great enthusiasm the travels of their brethren and began following them to Plymouth Colony throughout the 1920s and 30s.

As stated in a history book written in the early nineteenth century, “therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that he [William Shurtleff], living so near the nestling place of the Leyden Pilgrims and being of an enthusiastic age and ardent temperament, became fired by the spirit of adventure or inspired with the holy zeal of the Puritans, and thus became one of the first settlers of the town of Plymouth and one of the forefathers of New England.”

At the young age of ten, William became an indentured servant to Thomas Clarke for the term of eleven years commencing on May 16, 1634, as is made apparent by the following entry preserved on page 70, vol. 1, of the Plymouth Court Orders: "September 1 William Shetle [sp] hath put himselfe an aprentise to Thomas Clarke for the terme of eleuen yeares from the 16 of May last and at the end of the sayd terme the sayd Thomas is to cloth him with two sutes fit for such a seruant and also eyght Bushells of Indian Corne."

Indentured servants contracted to work for their master for a term of years and at completion were granted their own land. Apparently our cunning great grandfather negotiated an extra bargain of two suits and eight bushels of corn (to seed what would become his lands in the New World when he turned 21.)

William was obviously not at the First Thanksgiving, but likely participated in many November feasts of thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony. His master, Thomas Clarke was a carpenter [and some say was the same pilot of the Mayflower] and one of the first Pilgrims to be buried on the Old Burial Hill just across the road from the current Plymouth Rock, Pilgrim Monument and the rebuilt Mayflower . William’s son, Captain William Shurtleff, would later be buried in that same small graveyard where his gravestone can still be seen today. He associated in life with the likes of William Bradford, Miles Standish, Perigrine White (first child born in America aboard the Mayflower just prior to the first landing.) His name appears with these and others on the Plymouth Founders Memorial [pictured here] as "William Shurtle[ff] and his wife Elizabeth."
William did his mandatory military service for Plymouth Colony during the last two years of his indenture. He was apparently a feisty young man being “fyned” for “breaking the peace vpon John Smyth" on June 5, 1644; and on Oct. 2, 1650, the authorities "present James Cole of the towne of Plymouth for making of a batterie vppon William Shirtley[sp]” [sp]ofthaforesaid towne."

In 1646 Grandpa William appeared in a list of names comprising the townsmen of Plymouth and at the General Court of the Colony held at Plymouth. On October 18, 1655 he married nineteen year old Elizabeth Lettice, who had been born in Plymouth in 1636 and on an unrecorded date in 1657 (300 years before my birth in 1957) Grandma Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, William.

On June 3, 1656 Grandpa William entered public life, being chosen one of "the Surveyors for the highwaies" for the town of Plymouth. In recording this event his name is written "William Shirtley"; and again he is found serving as juryman on Oct. 6, 1657, in a controversy between two residents of Plymouth. On June 7, 1659, "William Shurtley" was chosen constable for Plymouth and on the same day, as "William Shirtley," he was first on a list of names of "such as stand propounded to take vp their freedom." That year Elizabeth gave birth to twins Martha and Thomas.

The following entry is made in the Colonial Court Orders under date of the first of May 1660; probably it is the last during his connection with Plymouth, of which he was then Constable: "William Shurtlife -) were admitted freemen… att this Court." Freemen were those adult male citizens with full rights to participate in all public and political aspects of life in the community.

He probably removed north to Marshfield about this time, as his name cannot be found any later in any of the records of the town of Plymouth. From an instrument recorded with the Old Colony deeds, it is ascertained that he sold meadow land in Plymouth to Gabriel Fallowell on Mar. 27, 1660, at which time he was called "of Marshfield."

While in Plymouth he resided on his estate at Strawberry Hill near the Reed Pond and not far from the present bounds of Kingston, after which he dwelt in the easterly part of Marshfield in the neighborhood of White's Ferry, near the mouth of the North River, where his dwelling house was destroyed by fire in the early part of the year 1666; and on this account he was sojourning at the house of his near neighbor, John Phillips, at the time of the occurrence of the lightning which caused his death.

You have likely heard the family lore of our ancestor killed by lightning which came down the chimney of a home. The following are the historical accounts of his death that made a significant impact on Plymouth colony.

While Grandpa and Grandma William and Elizabeth and their children were “partaking of the hospitality of Mr. Phillips, it appears that one of those dreadful droughts occurred which were so very distressing to our early planters and which threatened to destroy all the fruits of their spring labor. On this account the good people of several neighboring congregations observed a day of fasting and prayer as they were wont to do in those days when suffering under afflictive dispensations. Soon after this, on June 23, 1666, happened the terrific thunderstorm which is so graphically described in a letter of Rev. Mr. Arnold. At the time of this storm there were fourteen people in the common sitting-room of the house of Mr. Phillips [including]; William Shurtleff, wife Elizabeth and their two sons, William and Thomas; and finally Timothy Rogers, the individual who related the circumstances to Mr. Arnold, the writer of the letter which has been the means of preserving many of the particulars of this sad event. They were mostly seated around the room. Mr. Shurtleff was sitting beside his wife, holding her hand in his and having one of their children in his arms, the other being between him and a table, under which was a dog. The storm of rain came on with great violence and Mrs. Phillips requested to have the door closed. Whereupon a stroke of lightning passed down the chimney, which it rent to pieces, smote down most of the people if not all, instantly killing Mr. Shurtleff, Mrs. Phillips and Jeremiah Phillips, and then passed out through the door, splitting it into fragments. This occurred on Saturday and they were buried on the following day, being the twenty-fourth, according to an entry made in the Marshfield town records.”

The account is related in a letter from Rev. Samuel Arnold of Marshfield to Rev. Mather of Boston, 1638, as follows: “There were, at the house of John Phillips, fourteen persons. Instantly a terrible clap of thunder fell upon the house and rent the chimmey, and split the door in many places, and struck most of the persons, if not all. There were mortally struck with God's arrows, that they never breath more. They were the wife of John Phillips, and his son, aged about 10 years, and one Wm Shertley (Shurtleff). Who had a little child in his arms, which was wonderfully preserved. This Shertley had just before been burnt out of his own house, and with his family, was at this time; a present sojourner at said Phillips."

Another survivor wrote of the tragedy: "The woman of the house calling earnestly to shut the door which was done, instantly a terrible clap of thunder fell upon the house & rent the chimney & split the door in many places & struck most of the persons if not all. Timothy Rogers told me that when he came to himself he saw the house full of smoke & there was a terrible smell of brimstone.”

Grandpa Shurtleff was buried in a Cemetery in Marshfield called the Old Winslow Burying Ground. Unfortunately his grave marker has long been lost. We do know that the great Daniel Webster shares the same burial ground.

A final interesting fact tied Elizabeth and children to the signers of the Mayflower Compact. Three years after the tragic death of Grandpa William, Grandma Elizabeth the mother of four children (having given birth to another son, Abiel, a few months after William’s death) remarried a Jacob Cooke. She joined her four children to his seven and together they raised thirteen children. Jacob was the son of Francis Cooke who was on the Mayflower and was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. So beginning at age twelve, our 7th great grandfather was raised by his stepfather and step grandfather who signed the Great Anchor Document. Young William would grow up to become “Captain William Shurtleff” one of the prominent citizens of the growing Plymouth Colony.

This interesting additional detail of the fatal lightening strike is included in the book Signers of the Mayflower Compact, page 50:

In 1865 Jacob Cooke married Elizabeth Lettice Shurtleff, “the widow of William Shurtleff who was killed by a stroke of lightening at Marshfield ‘while sitting while sitting with a child in his lap and holding his wife’s hand to encourage her, but he alone of his family was hurt.’ Goodwin tersely tells that ‘this storm immediately followed on a fast on account of drought and ended in a hurricane – prayer was too efficacious.’ "

William grew up and moved back to Plymouth and in 1683 married Susannah and became a very prominent member of the now “county” of Plymouth. He served as a selectman and was a representative to the State Assembly, and active in other offices of honor and trust. He was especially prominent as a military man among the pilgrims, rising to the rank of Captain of the local Militia. His remains were interred on Cole's Hill, the first burying lot of the Plymouth pilgrims, and his headstone bears this inscription: "Here lyes ye body of Capt. William Shurtleff who Decd Febry The 4th, 1729-30, in The 72d year of his age."

I have a transcription of his Last Will and Testament including his bequests to each of his children and also of his estate inventory if any are interested.

Captain William and Susannah had thirteen children, including 6th Great Grandfather Ichabod, who was born in Plymouth on Nov. 8, 1697. The direct lineage to me is as follows:

Jonathon Shurtleff, (1736 Plymouth, MA)

Elisha Shurtleff, (1774 CT)

Vincent Shurtleff, (1814 MA)

Harrison Tuttle Shurtleff, (1841 MA, and was a member of state legislature, Utah Constitutional Convention, and an original signer of the Utah Constitution)

Harrison Smith Shurtleff, (1867 UT)

James Henry Shurtleff, (1900 UT)

James Leonard Shurtleff (1930)

Mark Leonard Shurtleff (1957)

I am very thankful for my wonderful heritage and all of my family who continue centuries of family love and unity, patriotism and service to God and Country.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

5 Keys to Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

Media accounts of the Attorney General's immigration ideas have thus far been incomplete. Immigration reform must be comprehensive and multi-faceted to be real, successful and sustainable.

1. Secure the Borders
We must continue to insist that the federal government to its job of securing the border. Until that is done, an Arizona style "round 'em up" law will only take state and local police officers away from their job of enforcing state law and keeping us safe, and those rounded up and deported will be right back.

2. Security
Any solution must increase, not decrease the security of U.S. citizens. Making the police force the immigration force overburdens law enforcement while robbing them of the tools needed to protect our citizens. For example, my office has a Criminal Alien "SECURE" Strike Force that works with federal and local officers to aggressively go after the violent felons who are in our state illegally for one purpose: violate Utah laws by dealing drugs, gang-banging, murdering, stealing identities and running fake ID mills. We rely on otherwise law-abiding undocumented aliens to cooperate with police in going after the "worst of the worst" who put us all at risk. In less than a year the strike force has arrested more than sixty of these dangerous criminal aliens.

3. Immigration
Recognizing that the job line is separate from the immigration line is a critical step toward providing a real and sustainable solution. Placing someone at the bottom of the job AND immigration lines, for crossing the border illegally or committing crime while he or she is here, creates an economic incentive to do the right thing.

4. Economics
The root of the illegal immigration problem is economic. People come to this country and remain illegally in order to feed their families. In doing so they work hard and do jobs that are essential to our own economy. Any sustainable solution needs to address the needs of industry. Public policy that ignores the economics is not sustainable. Creating economic incentives for industry and immigrants to do the right and legal thing is a sustainable public policy. Requiring E-verify must be paired with a legal guest worker program. I suggest a pilot program between Utah and a Mexican state to use the current law to make legal, documented temporary immigrant workers available for those jobs that companies can prove cannot be filled with U.S. citizens.

5. International Cooperation
Working cooperatively with Mexico and other nations whose citizens are coming to the U.S. is essential to a sustainable solution. It is in our best interest for these nations to prosper economically and politically so that their citizens will stay home. Actions perceived as anti-Mexican or anti-Latino drive a wedge between nations. We want to cooperate with our neighbors to the South so they will secure their side of the border and provide incentives to their citizens to use the legal process already in place and encourage legal immigration and legal guest worker activity. Anti-Mexican rhetoric ignores the fact that the Mexican government is in a war against the drug cartels that has left over 20,000 dead. These drug cartels exist largely to support America's insatiable drug habit, and U.S. weapons are being used by drug traffickers and other criminals to murder police and government officials. Joint efforts to win that war and help Mexico prosper are essential.

    Monday, May 31, 2010



    Utah Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff

     In the solemn oath, “I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United Sates against all enemies foreign and domestic”- LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the proud “Off we go into the wild, blue yonder;” “Anchors away my boys;” “Over hill, over dale;” and “From the Halls of Montezuma;” and in every “Oo-rah” “Hu-ah” “Atta-boy” and “Semper Fi”- LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the wail and warble of the sirens of emergency responders rushing to protect and to serve; (and the heavy breathing of firefighters and police officers running up hundreds of stairs on Sept 11 as everyone else was running down) - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the halls of justice with the rap of the gavel and with every “objection,” “if it please the court,” and “we find the defendant….” - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the “voice of the people” rolling off of Capitol Hill with every “will the representative yield?” “point of order,” and “all in favor say AYE, opposed, NAY”- LET FREEDOM RING!

     With every “Dear editor, I am appalled!;” “Thanks for taking my call;” and “In my opinion;” and in every phone call, email and letter to an elected official - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In classrooms across this nation with the squeak of chalk on the board, the swish of pages turned in lesson books, and children proudly declaring, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In every “play ball!’ Crack of the bat, and “Take me out to the Ball Game!” Every “Da-da-da-da-ta-da, CHARGE!” and “Boooooozerrrr!” Every “GOOOOOALLLL!” Every “Let’s get ready to rrrrrrumbllllllle!” Every “Touchdown [pick your team]!”- LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the most quiet and solemn place of all, the voting booth – Let Freedom Ring.

     In the buzzing of the bedside alarm that roles us out of bed and sends us to work every day to create, innovate, improve and provide products and services that enhance the quality of life - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the roar of the combines and harvesting machines, the zip, zip, zoom of the Interstate, the hum of the turbines, the cacophony of the assembly line, the ring of the bell followed by the din of the stock exchange, and the lonely echo of the night train delivering goods from sea to shining sea - LET FREEDOM RING!
     Through whispering pines in the woods and templed hills; the sssshhh of amber waving grain; from the babbling of small brooks to the roar of mighty rivers; in the call of the wild, the nocturnal hoot of an owl and screetch of a bald eagle - LET FREEDOM RING!

     As the sun settles out over the Great Salt Lake, and families gather around the dinner table, with the saying of “Grace,” and in every clink of glass, “please pass the salt,” smack of the lips, and every story and joke and tease - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In every newborn baby’s cry – LET FREEDOM RING!

     Every time someone mentors an at-risk youth or young single mother, coaches a little league team, or serves on a soup line - LET FREEDOM RING!

     With every “rip” as a charitable donation is torn from the checkbook, and in every “plink” of a coin dropped in the Salvation Army bucket in unison with the clapper of the bell - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In each “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to help other people at all times - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the scent of fresh baked bread or cookies as they are offered in welcome to new neighbors, a hand extended in friendship - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In every smile, hug, hand-up; with all arms extended in fellowship and brotherhood, and every shoulder made wet from tears of the comforted - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In the sizzle from the backyard BBQ, the splash in the pool, the metallic tunes from the circling ice-cream truck, and the crackle of fireworks, all intermingled with the laughter of children - LET FREEDOM RING!

     And as music swells the breeze from the sweet string of the twilight concert in the park; the proud cymbal, fife and drum of the marching band; by every voice raised in harmony, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims pride, From every mountainside - LET FREEDOM RING!”

     As mortal tongues awake in conversation, and with every “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I love you!” - LET FREEDOM RING!

     From each pew, pulpit and sanctuary in every church, temple, mosque and synagogue across this blessed land - LET FREEDOM RING!

     In solitary, humble prayer on bended knee, with bowed head in gratitude and supplication to that great Author of Liberty - LET FREEDOM RING!

     And last - though foremost on this Memorial Day - in the muffled hooves of the horse-drawn caisson baring the body of one who paid the ultimate sacrifice; the proud and powerful report of 21 guns; the grateful piping of “Amazing Grace;” and the mournful hum of taps -

    Monday, April 12, 2010


    Nineteen states have now joined (with more joining on every day) Utah  in suing the federal government on the grounds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. (Click here for a .pdf copy of the complaint.)

    Never before in the history of our nation has the federal government required every U.S. citizen to buy a product or service or pay a stiff penalty! The federal government only has such power over our lives that is expressly granted in the Constitution. Otherwise all power and authority is left to the states. An individuals decisions as to what health care procedure to undergo, who will perform it and how they will pay for it IS NOT interstate commerce "at its core," and therefore the Obama administration cannot mandate those choices under an expansion of the Commerce Clause Power.

    Our nation is based on the Rule of Law and the process of how government effects our lives matters. It matters not how laudable the goal or how bad Congress and the President want to do something. They have to do it lawfully and constitutionally.

    Federal District Court Judge Vinson has set our case for a scheduling conference on April 14th in Tallahassee Florida. We urge all citizens to ask their state attorneys general to join with us in protecting the legal rights of their states and citizens against this unprecedented federal power grab and radical usurpation of individual and states rights.

    Read a great Wall Street Journal editorial editorial "ObamaCare and the Constitution, If Congress can force you to buy insurance, Article I limits on federal power are a dead letter" at

    It concludes, "the AGs should not be deterred, because the truth is that ObamaCare breaks new constitutional ground. Neither the House nor Senate Judiciary Committees held hearings on the law's constitutionality, and we are not aware of any Justice Department opinion on the matter. Judges have an obligation not to be so cavalier in dismissing claims on behalf of political liberty. Under the Constitution, American courts don't give advisory opinions. They rule on specific cases, and the states have a good one to make.

    Democrats may have been able to trample the rules of the Senate to pass their unpopular bill on a narrow partisan vote, but they shouldn't be able to trample the Constitution as well."

    Friday, March 26, 2010


    Q. “What is the difference between the Salt Lake City Weekly and your run-of-the-mill Supermarket Tabloid?”

    A. “You have to pay for the Supermarket Tabloid.”

    Writer Ed Grabianowski stated, “In a highly regarded newspaper like the New York Times or Washington Post, the facts in a news story are meticulously checked and confirmed with multiple sources (when everything goes as it should). Editors and writers conform to journalistic standards and work hard to maintain an overall sense of objectivity. Tabloids don't seem to follow any of these rules.”

    For years, Utah’s “Alternative” weekly, has masqueraded as a “newspaper.” In fact, its stories are nothing more than “yellow journalism” of the common supermarket variety. Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Luther Mott could have been speaking of the City Weekly when he defined “yellow journalism” as using misleading headlines in huge print, lavish use of imaginary drawings and dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

    Tabloids also use their ink to falsely attack those who call them what they are. Ever since I asked the above question on a televised debate on KUED with my former opponent for AG, City Weekly founder and senior editor, John Saltas, and his tabloid have been on a vendetta using every opportunity to defame and slander me with the yellowest of journalism. A few cases in point:

    The cover of last week’s edition of the City Weekly, pictured here, is for a story entitled “2010 Legislative Wrap-up” and prominently features me presumably as a Nazi. (Apparently Saltas and editor Jerre Wroble don’t know the difference between Nazism and Communism.) The cover is from a famous Socialist worker poster. But why include me on the cover at all? I am not a lawmaker and nothing in the “wrap-up” criticizes my involvement in the session. What I am is the Weakly’s favorite whipping boy in that I dare call them what they are, enforce the rule of law and stand for everything good and decent about our community to which they proudly proclaim they are the “alternative.”

    The City Weekly has run a series of stories alleging ethical concerns about me and the Attorney General’s Office. The weekly tabloid should dust off a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and take a look at its own practices before throwing stones. Two of the main standards in the SPJ Code are “Seek truth and report it” and “Be Accountable.” Their March 16 story “The Company You Keep” by Eric Peterson fails on both counts. In that story Peterson insinuates that I have meddled in the way administrative citations were handled against Mentoring of America. What the story did not include was this information given to Peterson on March 9, 2009: “The decision on how to resolve proceedings against Mentoring of America was made by the Division of Consumer Protection, not the Attorney General’s Office.” This information was provided to Peterson by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and confirmed to him by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. It was also included in City Weekly’s latest records request. No new evidence is provided that I interfered in any decision regarding Mentoring of America because it simply did not happen. But that fact would leave Peterson without his salacious story.

    The story then suggests that attorneys within my office were “questioning” my acceptance of campaign donations. Assistant Attorney General Blaine Ferguson brought the issue up in an e-mail because City Weekly continued to question the donations. Blaine Ferguson knows personally that I have never put any pressure on anyone to give favors to a donor. In fact my record shows that this office has sued and convicted donors, fellow party members, friends and relatives.

    The second e-mail in question was from Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen about vetting potential campaign contributors. Torgensen mistakenly assumed that no vetting took place on a potential donor because of Peterson’s reporting. However, the e-mail does not reflect that Torgensen learned later that the vetting was done. This information was shared with Editor Jerre Wroble but was not included in the story.

    City Weekly also reported that Tim Lawson worked for my campaign even though the newspaper was told Lawson was not a campaign staff member. Lawson was mistakenly listed as staff on an inauguration guest list because the list was needed in one day. I corrected my mistake. City Weekly did not.

    Finally, most of the records obtained by City Weekly were not posted on the newspaper website but they include an e-mail to City Weekly’s publisher containing a long list of errors and outright falsehoods in Eric Peterson’s previous stories. Click
    here to read a copy of that email. A longer list of blunders could be made based on Peterson’s subsequent story. However, City Weekly has never published any corrections to any of Peterson’s fairy tales.

    The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states that journalists should “Admit mistakes and correct them properly.” Scandalmonger Eric Peterson and The City Weekly tabloid continually show a complete disregard for truth, fairness or accountability.

    Salt Lake City Enquirer Weekly stories remind me of a question Abraham Lincoln once asked a fibber like Eric Peterson,

    "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

    “Five,” replied the ink slinger confidently.

    “Four,” explained Lincoln. “Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."