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David Eccles (businessman)

David Eccles
Born May 12, 1849
Paisley, Scotland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Died December 6, 1912
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Known for Utah Construction Company,
Amalgamated Sugar Company
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Spouse(s) Bertha Marie Jensen,
Ellen Stoddard
Children Marriner Stoddard Eccles,
George S. Eccles

David Eccles (May 12, 1849 – December 6, 1912) was an American businessman and industrialist who founded many businesses throughout the western United States and became Utah's first multimillionaire.


  • Biography 1
  • Descendants 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Eccles was born in Paisley, Scotland to William and Sarah Hutchinson Eccles. In 1863 his family moved from Glasgow to the United States of America, eventually settling in Ogden Valley located in eastern Weber County, Utah. The move was made because of their joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their desire to be near the body of the church. He lived in both Eden and Liberty, Utah.

After struggling to make a living, the family moved to Oregon City, Oregon. There they worked in a new mill. He worked for the mill for a year, then for a lumber corporation, and the Oregon and California Railroad. The family moved back to Ogden, Utah in 1869 after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad hoping it would bring them work.

In the Ogden area, he worked cutting wood and building homes. He worked as a freighter and for the Union Pacific coal mines. He also worked at a sawmill at Monte Cristo east of Ogden.

In 1874, he attended Louis F. Moench's school in Ogden. It was there he met Bertha Marie Jensen and married her in 1875. They had 12 children from this marriage.

While he had been working, he saved up a considerable amount of money and put it to other uses. He started the Eccles Lumber Company and several other enterprises. Through supplying ties for railroads, he knew the local circumstances of where the railroads were building and the opportunities available. He opened lumber mills, shingle mills, planing mills, an electric plant, and other entities. He followed the railroads and opened mills in other locations in Oregon and Washington states. He and his associates built the Sumpter Valley and Mount Hood railroads. It was through these and other railroads that Eccles shipped the lumber and other goods to Utah.

Eccles met Ellen Stoddard, the daughter of his partner, John Stoddard. Under the practice of polygamy at the time, David married Ellen, and they made their home in Logan, Utah where he built a lavish yellow brick mansion for his new bride using lumber imported from his corporation in Oregon. (The home is on West Center Street.) Marriner Stoddard Eccles is a son of this marriage.

Eccles was a hard worker. He reported himself to have traveled over 44,000 miles (71,000 km) in 1904. While friends encouraged him to slow down, he preferred to "die in the harness." One of his hallmarks was integrity and self-reliance. His companies prospered on his no debt plan, and view of achieving success rather than money.

David always put his children to work early in life. They worked along with the crews on the railroads, mills, and lumber yards. They were taught as many aspects of the businesses as they were willing to learn. Several went and served missions for the LDS Church. One son graduated from University of Michigan Law School, another from Columbia University, others from Brigham Young College, Utah State University, and the University of Utah.

With the estimated 4-7 million dollars he made, mostly from his Oregon enterprises, he invested heavily in Utah. He purchased stock in banks, canneries, insurance companies, railroads, factories, mills, mines, and various other companies. The Utah Construction Company built over 700 miles (1,100 km) of track for the Western Pacific Railroad and led the Six Companies in constructing the Hoover Dam. David Eccles served as the second president of Utah Construction Company after the death of long-term associate Thomas Dee. He also served as founder of a number of companies, one of which was the Amalgamated Sugar Company.

Eccles served on the Ogden City Council and as their mayor from 1888-1890. He was known for his aid to the LDS Church for lending large amounts of money to the church at no interest. At the time of his death, he was the president of 16 industrial corporations and 7 banks. He also was serving as a director in 24 other banks and industries. He is Utah's first multimillionaire.[1]

While running to catch the evening train from Salt Lake City to Ogden, Utah, he died of a heart attack in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 6, 1912 at the age of 63.

There are a host of organizations named after Eccles and his descendants. The David Eccles School of Business is at the University of Utah. The David Eccles Conference Center is in downtown Ogden, Utah.



  1. ^ Leonard J. Arrington. "David Eccles". Utah History Encyclopedia. 

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