On a hot day in July 1895, Thomas Fitzgerald of Pennsylvania, alighted the train at the Price, Utah depot. If the small building could be called a depot. After years of prospecting and business ownership, Thomas determined to apply his entreprenueurial skills to Price's developing community.
What he didn't realize as he stood in the dirt walkway, was that his forty-five year old life would change forever. A year later, after what must have been a whirlwind courtship, Thomas would marry twenty-five year old, Lorimine Christine Neilsen.
Nearly sixty years later, in 1955, their love story would be artfully told by their son John Dennis, in the best selling book, Papa Married a Mormon. This page is dedicated to the legacy of the Price, Utah Fitzgeralds who inspired the book.
Lovingly known as Mamma to her children, Lorimine Christine Neilsen, asked her son to promise to "write a story about the little people who built the West." Write it "as Papa knew them, as I know them, as you know them." The promise languished for fourteen years after her death. One day though, John received an envelope of notes he had taken as he and his siblings cleared out the family house following her funeral.
In the evening he typed the notes for his nieces and nephews with the full intent of creating a written family history. His wife, however, saw promise in the manuscript. At her urging he crafted a book length saga invoking poetic license with the details, allowing him to write "the story of the people who made Utah history and not history per se."
Readers gobbled up the book. It's success spawned three additional books in the family saga. Originally setting readers up with a four book series. However the market changed and only three books were published. The fourth, The Great Brain, languished in the stacks of the publishing house.
The Great Brain book refused to be forgotten. Though it spent nearly a decade being moved from publisher to publisher, it never fully became lost. One day Phyllis Fogelman saw potential in the former old west story. She reached out to John, with barely a nudge the story was resurrected. However, the audience would be youth and young adults.
Much like John's initial book, The Great Brain was slated as a stand alone, but its market success inspired a fresh series. In total, eight books would be published about the brilliant young con-artist, T.D. Fitzgerald aka The Great Brain.
In the end, Mamma's promise inspired eleven books and thousands of readers worldwide.