David Eccles family papers, 1934-1991

Overview of the Collection

Eccles family
David Eccles family papers
1934-1991 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet
Collection Number
MS 0187
The David Eccles family papers (1934-1991) contains no material contemporary with David Eccles himself, all items were in use at varying times subsequent to his death in 1912. The papers can be broken down into two distinctly separate sections, materials relating to the David Eccles family and the David Eccles Company.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT

Telephone: 8015818863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

David Eccles (1849-1912) was born 12 May 1849 at Paisley, Renfrew, Scotland, the son of William and Sarah Hutchinson Eccles. William Eccles was born on 6 April 1825 at Kilpatrick, Dumbarton, Scotland, and died on 4 December 1903 in Ogden, Utah. Sarah Hutchinson Eccles was born on 17 March 1820 at Donegal, Ireland and died on 11 June 1907 at Salt Lake City, Utah. William and Sarah were married on 3 May 1843 at High Church in Paisley. David was the second son.

William Eccles was a wood turner by trade, but was nearly blind which made support of the family difficult. David, along with his brothers and sisters, recieved a common school education. William became a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and through the aid of the Church Immigration Fund was able to come to America. The family departed Glascow on 3 May 1863 and arrived in New York on 1 June 1963. After the transcontinental journey, the Eccles family arrived in Salt Lake City on 5 October 1863.

In the spring of 1864 following a difficult winter the family moved to Ogden Valley and staked out a homestead at Eden. In these days the family lived in near poverty. Their chief source of income was from wooden kitchen utensils that William would carve. With ropes tied around their waists, David and his brother would haul their father about town on a sledge to sell his creations.

In 1867 the family moved to Oregon returning to Eden in 1869. While in Oregon, David was the cheif support of the family. He entered the lumber industry as a laborer earning $3.00 a cord for chopped wood. In 1871 he went to Almy, Wyoming, where he worked in the Union Pacific Railroad's coal mine. After a further return to Eden, David began work for Bishop Daivd James, who owned a saw mill at Bear Lake Divide. David carefully saved from his income in hopes of going into business for himself. After saving $1500 David entered into a partnership with H. E. Gibson and W. T. Vannoy in 1873 to purchase a portable saw mill. The contract between these three was dissolved in 1877. David and Gibson retained the lumber yard at Ogden following the contract dissolution until 1881. At the time David set up a mill at Gray's Gultch, Idaho, four miles west of Hailey. By 1883 he owned three sawmills in the Scofield district and a retail lumber yard in Scofield. In the early days of his saw mill operation, David had difficulty attracting labor, largely on account of his youth. However, through hard work and a developing reputation for hard work and skill, in subsequent years there was no labor shortage.

By 1887 he was elected a director in the First National Bank at Ogden and mayor of the city of Ogden. After his election as mayor at the suggestion of friends David grew a substantial beard in order to provide a more "dignified" perspective to his youthful appearance. A portrait of David painted at this time still hangs in Ogden. In spite of his youth, David's importance as a Utah industrialist was growing rapidly. In these years, he either organized or held a substantial interest in a number of other firms in the region. In 1889 he organized the Oregon Lumber Company and became its president and general manager.

During the 1890s and the first decade of the twentieth century, David greatly expanded his position and has been referred to as a "frontier capitalist." Unquestionably, David Eccles is one of the most important industrial giants in Utah economic history. His fortune was based in the lumber industry but grew into banking, finance, sugar beets, mining, and transportation.

David Eccles, following a practice at that time propounded by his church, entered into plural marriage. His first wife was Bertha Maria Jensen who was born 30 January 1857 in Aarhus, Denmark. They were married on 27 December 1875. Berth and her twelve children formed David's "Ogden" family. David's second family in Logan, was the result of his marriage to Ellen Stoddard. Together they had nine children. While the Ogden family developed as an important force in Ogden society, the Logan family often lived in fear, particularly in its early years, for plural marriage was contrary to the territorial laws, even if Church sanctioned. In fact, that David Eccles had a second family did not become well known until much later. There may have been a third family with one child; this fact was not recognized by David in his life time.

David Eccles died on the evening of 5 December 1912 in Salt Lake City following a day of usual business in the city. At the time of his death his wealth was estimated to have been as high as $25 million, he was recognized by most as the richest man in Utah. David Eccles was buried in Ogden.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The David Eccles family papers (1934-1991) contains no material contemporary with David Eccles himself, all items were in use at varying times subsequent to his death in 1912. The papers can be broken down into two distinctly separate sections, materials relating to the David Eccles family and the David Eccles Company. The center piece of the David Eccles family papers is an unique family genealogical survey of the descendents of William Eccles who immigrated to Utah from Scotland in 1963. Apparently compiled about 1974, this is the work of Mr. Stewart B. Eccles who was at the time head of the Eccles Family Organization. Other items in this section include a description of pioneer life by Mrs. Vertha Maria Jensen Eccles, first wife of David Eccles, and several assorted news articles on family gifts to Utah colleges in 1978 including the University of Utah. The second section of the David Eccles papers is composed of ledgers, accounts, and check books of the David Eccles Company. These journals cover the period 1915 through 1934. The accountants who compiled these books left behind few clues as to their specific use within the greater David Eccles Company and it is difficult to speculate on their intended purposes. Some books are more explanatory than others though. These books are obviously only a small portion of the Eccles Company but may be representatvie of accounting procedures in the early Twentieth Century.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Boxes 1-3 (2 linear feet) were donated in 1973 and 1975.

Box 4 (0.5 linear feet) was donated in 1991.

Processing Note

Processed by Perry A. Sloan in 1979.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

I:  FamilyReturn to Top

This section contains biographical information of Eccles; correspondence concerning his Senate confirmation as a governor and later as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; his correspondence with biographers; and some miscellaneous personal items.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Volume
1 1
Eccles Family Organization
A genealogical survey of the Eccles family descended from William and Sarah Hutchinson Eccles. This unique family compilation is probably the work of Mr. Stewart B. Eccles and includes many photographs and much information on family members and their relatives. There is also extensive information on th emiscellaneous activities and achievements of family members. It includes the news report of the death of David Eccles as it appeared in the Deseret News on the evening of 6 December 1912.
1 1
Mrs. David Eccles, Story of Pioneer Days
This brief narrative by Mrs. Eccles (Bertha Maria Jensen) of her immigration to America and subsequent journey to Utah as recounted in 1934. It includes a number of interesting stories of what it is like to be a small girl traveling in the 19th century.
1 2
Alumni News, University of Utah Review
1 3
University of Utah Review
1 4
1 5
Albert Eccles Obituary

II:  David Eccles CompaniesReturn to Top

This part of the collection contains materials from Eccles' service in Washington, D. C., 1934-1951. It is divided into two sections: White House

Documents located in boxes 3A-3D relate to Eccles's activities before, during, and after his tenure as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Topics include the Federal Reserve reorganization, activities, and banking and monetary policy.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Volume
2 1
Accounts Ledger
Accounts book detailing 40 assorted accounts of the David Eccles Company in the period July through December 1932. Volume is loose-leaf.
2 2
Assorted Account Sumaries
This book contains an assortment of accounts and categories of accounts. They include: (1) stock purchase and sale indes for the period 1915-1932; (2) business expense detail including information on expenses such as telephone/telegraph, stationery, office supplies, salaries, postage, etc. User would need access to portfolio numbers in order to achieve maximum from this secion; (3) mortgage payments, 1930-1931; (4) Reserve for depreciation, covering David Eccles Building, Armony Building, and office furniture and fixtures in the period 1921-1931; (5) bonds payable and bonds interest 1922-1928; (6) payments to estate receipients including Bertha M. eccles, Royla Eccles, Joseph Eccles, Vida Eccles Savage, Bertha Eccles Wright in the period 1922-1928; (7) assorted and unidentifiable entries.
2 1-8
Miscellaneous Business Notes and Records
3A 1
General Journal
This journal lists entries chronologically although the purpose of the journal is obscure.
3A 2
General Journal
3B 3
Cash Book
Chronological cash book of daily financial details. This may be a detail for a mining division. It includes column titles such as legal expenses, mine development-labor, mine development-material, tax, traveling, interest, sundries.
3C 4
David Eccles Company Cash Book
Detials primarily an account with the First National Bank but also includes sections on other banks as detailed in the statement. Appears to be comprehensive detail of account activity including dividends and stocks receivable, etc., stockholders general expenses, payable receipts and payments. Standard payment line includes date, payee, item description, portfolio, check number, amount, etc.
3D 5
David Eccles Company Untitled Book
Probably a continuation of David Eccles Company Cash Book. Includes bank summaries on Ogden's First National Bank, National Bank of Commerce merged into Commercial Security Bank, Salt Lake City's Utah State Bank, Salt Lake City's Walker Brothers Bank, and San Francisco's American Trust Bank.
University of Utah Development

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Personal Names

  • Eccles, Bertha Maria Jensen, 1857-1935 (contributor)
  • Eccles, David, 1849 or 50-1912

Corporate Names

  • David Eccles Company

Family Names

  • Eccles family