Welcome to Finding Fitzgerald
In November of 1955, John Dennis Fitzgerald’s first novel Papa Married a Mormon fulfilled the promise to his mother. He had been writing his family’s pioneer history for personal pleasure when his wife suggested it might make a great book. She was right. The story became an instant success. Publishers and readers wanted more; Fitzgerald happily obliged. By the end of his life, he had authored three adult books and eight children’s books,all based on the little people his family knew who built the Utah west.
As an author Fitzgerald has been compared to Mark Twain or the male equivalent of Laura Ingalls Wilder. His literary gift for re-creating the western town life he knew is delightful.
Over the years die hard fans have sought to learn more about Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, no websites exist about his work. And only a few book reviews can be found at the library. Devoted fans want more tangible answers. For many the best solution has been to travel to John Dennis Fitzgerald’s hometown of Price, Utah. Unfortunately the sought for answers are not obvious. This at times has discouraged fans. Fortunately, the city library has a corner of collected items about his books, which does help, but much of the backstory remains untold. It is this backstory that most fans want to experience. Were Papa and Mamma truly in love? Did Papa run the newspaper? And most of all, what happened to the Great Brain?
Nine years ago, I began the research that told the story behind the stories. From the work I came to appreciate Fitzgerald and “the little people who built the West” even more. In the process I came to know the key characters more intimately as well as meeting left out characters who helped shape the stories. Best of all I met the Fitzgerald family, those from Utah and from Pennsylvania. Over these nine years I have looked for ways to share my findings with other readers, genealogists, and historians. This site is my answer thus far. I hope you enjoy it.
“John D.,’ Momma said…,
‘Promise me that some day you will write a story about the little people who built the West’.”
Papa Married a Mormon is the tender love story of an Irish Catholic man and a young Danish Mormon woman. Fitzgerald describes their first meeting, “Tom saw only a girl standing on a stepladder behind the counter placing goods on a shelf.
Thomas Fitzgerald’s brother William became a book character by default. To tell the story of the west that Papa and Mamma knew a characture needed to be created. Along came saloon owner William Fitzgerald.
The Great Brain Book was scheduled to be the last in the adult series. It was written as a single book which was tied to the earlier books about Fitzgerald family life. However, the market interest in western family memoirs books had died.