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David Eccles Papers

Identifier: MS-076


The David Eccles Papers contain diverse documentation recording the life of David Eccles. Among the types of documents are correspondence, miscellaneous business records, account books, day books, biographical and genealogical materials, newspaper clippings and a trial transcript of the Eccles-Geddes trial. The time frame runs from 1861 with a census of Scotland, until approximately 1929 when David Eccles son, Royal began to obtain both written and oral memoirs from friends and colleagues of his father, although there are some newspaper clippings which date to as late as the 1970s. The papers document almost all phases of Eccles' life. For example, correspondence with LDS Church officials depicts his relationship with the Mormon Church. His personal correspondence shows relationships with his wives and Margaret Geddes who sued the Eccles estate upon his death, claiming to be a third polygamous wife. A certificate of Mayor of Ogden is included in the papers illustrating Eccles civic ventures. Business records show the varied industries Eccles was involved in from lumber to hydro-electric power and handwritten day books show his business appointments and travel from 1874 to 1912. Eccles professional career is also noted by the resolutions of respect declared by various companies and organizations upon David Eccles death.


  • Creation: 1885 - 1972

Biographical / Historical

David Eccles was born May 12, 1849 at Paisely, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the third child of William Eccles and Sarah Hutchinson Eccles, both converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day-Saints. He immigrated to the United States and later traveled to the Utah Territory with his family in 1863, through the support of the LDS Church's Immigration Fund. Soon after their arrival to Utah, the family moved to the Ogden Valley. William Eccles, who was blind, was a wood turner and managed to support the family by making wooden utensils. David learned woodcutting at a very young age and began to contribute to the family's income by selling wood or working for neighbors. In 1871 David took his first contract to cut and log in Ogden canyon, but was set back when his oxen were killed in an accident. This forced him to move to Almy, Wyoming where he worked in the coal mine of the Union Pacific Railroad. When he returned to Northern Utah he was able to secure another contract for lumber and save enough money to enter an equal partnership with H.E. Gibson and W.T. Van Noy. They purchased a portable saw mill and David began his industrial career. In 1875, David married Bertha Marie Jensen of Huntsville. David's career flourished and he expanded into Idaho and Oregon, and later his industrial pursuits took him all over the West. In 1885, David married Ellen Stoddard of Wellsville and also began serving as Councilman of Ogden City. He was later elected as Mayor of Ogden. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began to have financial trouble, David successfully sold a one million dollar bond, putting up the first $100,000 himself. Over the years, David became involved in insurance, the railroads, sugar, banking, construction, public utility water systems, coal mining, real estate, cattle and hydro-electric power. He never took a salary from the companies with which he was involved, except a small stipend from Amalgamated Sugar Company due to a court order from 1908 to 1912. When he died, he did not hold stock control of any company and was not interested in majority holdings. David Eccles died on December 5, 1912 while running to catch a train in Salt Lake City.


11 Boxes

Language of Materials



Box 1-2 Business Correspondence

Box 3 Miscellaneous, LDS Correspondence

Box 4 Scrapbook

Box 5 Business Information

Box 6 Day Books

Box 7 Biographical Correspondence

Box 8 Biographical Materials

Box 9 Biographical Sketches and Inheritance Materials

Box 10 Eccles-Geddes Trial

Box 11 Miscellaneous, Newspaper Clippings

Custodial History

Royal Eccles’ 40 year research collection of papers and interviews of his father, David Eccles were donated to the Stewart Library Special Collections by the Royal Eccles family and presented by Justin R. Eccles. Richard W. Sadler, Dean of the College of Social Sciences at Weber State University assisted in transferring the papers which had been used by Leonard Arrington. Dr. Arrington had used these papers as a primary resource for his biography of David Eccles; Pioneer Western Industrialist. In preparation for his biography, Arrington had clipped documents together, such as correspondence and receipts. In these instances the papers were kept together, depicting the thought process of Arrington. Also left in original order were notes that Arrington or Royal Eccles, a son of David Eccles had made while researching the papers. There are four series in the papers: (1)Correspondence, divided into three categories: business, personal and LDS Church. In some ways these three categories overlap, but distinction is based on the letterhead. Business letterhead is in the business section while church letterhead is in the LDS church section. If there was no letterhead or hotel stationery was used, the correspondence was considered personal. The letters are in alphabetical order from the sender, or in the case of business letters, by the company letterhead. Letters or copies of letters from David Eccles are in alphabetical order as well under D. Eccles. (2)Business materials, filed in alphabetical order by the name of the company cited in the document. Account books and day books are at the end of this series in chronological order. (3)Biographical materials, primarily obtained after the death of David Eccles. Resolutions of respect from companies and organizations are the first section, in alphabetical order, as well as telegrams and letters of condolence to the family upon his death also in alphabetical order by the surname of the sender. Personal memoirs by Eccles friends and colleagues obtained by Royal Eccles comprise the second section. Last, are miscellaneous biographical documents, including some genealogical information. (4)Miscellaneous information. The most important part of this series is the trial transcript of the Eccles-Geddes trial, in which Margaret Geddes sued the Eccles estate claiming to be the third polygamous wife of David Eccles. Also included are newspaper clipping, certificates and inheritance materials all depicting different aspects of David Eccles life and the Eccles family.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the WSU Stewart Library Special Collections Repository

3921 Central Campus Drive Dept 2901
Ogden UT 84408