Charles W. Nibley was born February 5, 1849 near Edinburgh, Scotland the son of James and Jean Wilson Nibley. When Nibley was five years old, his family sailed to the United States and lived with relatives in Rhode Island for five years. In 1860 the Nibley family purchased oxen and a wagon and traveled to the Utah Territory to live with fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Nibley family had converted to Mormonism in 1844). Upon arriving in the Utah Territory they settled in present day Wellsville where Nibley began working as a clerk in the village store. In 1866 Nibley moved to Brigham City where he worked transporting salt to mines in southern Idaho and co-owned a general store and hotel with Morris Rosenbaum. In 1869 he married his first wife, Rebecca Neibaur.
In 1877 Nibley was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in England, where he preached for two years. After completing his missionary work Nibley returned to Logan, Utah and became the manager of the United Order Lumber Company (a church owned company). Ten months after his return from England Nibley married his second wife, Ellen Ricks. Nibley provided separated houses on Logan’s Center Street for each wife.
In 1882 Nibley was elected to the office of Logan City Alderman. Ten days after his election the Edmunds Act passed (this Act made the practice of polygamy illegal and punishable by law), which prompted Nibley to resign from office and go into hiding. In the spring of 1885 Nibley moved Ellen and their son to remote Paris, Idaho to avoid federal marshals who had been hunting for polygamists in the Cache Valley area. That summer in Paris Nibley met and married his third wife Julia Budge, the daughter of Nibley’s former mission president.
On November 13, 1885 Nibley was arrested by federal marshals outside of Paris and was transported to Salt Lake City to await trial. In Salt Lake City Nibley escaped from his captors and fled back to Paris, Idaho. For the next three years Nibley evaded federal marshals. In 1888 Nibley arranged (through a friend Fred Turner) to have himself arrested in Logan, tried for unlawful cohabitation before Judge Goodwin, and then acquitted. Prior to the trial, Nibley’s friend secretly paid Judge Goodwin $150 to render a judgment in favor of Nibley. Nibley was tried and acquitted.
In 1889 Nibley moved to Oregon to work with David Eccles and George Stoddard in the lumber and railroading business. As a result of this job and other business ventures Nibley became increasingly wealthy.
In 1907 Nibley was called by the LDS Church to serve as the Presiding Bishop (an office that oversaw the financial workings of the entire church), a position he held for the next eighteen years. During his time the church did away with tithing scrip and he placed the church on a strict cash payment basis. He also was influential in getting the church to build the Hotel Utah in downtown Salt Lake City. In 1925 Nibley was called to serve as the second councilor to Heber J. Grant, President of the LDS Church.
Charles W. Nibley died December 11, 1931 and was buried in the Logan Cemetery.
Source: Christensen, Michael E., “Charles W. Nibley: A Case Study of Polygamy,” Journal of Mormon History, 1980.
Ellen Jane Ricks Nibley was born March 30, 1856 in Farmington, Utah Territory the daughter of Joel and Sarah B.F Ricks. Three years later Ellen’s family moved north and settled in present day Logan. In 1874 Ellen received a graduation certificate after studying telegraphy. Later that year she found work in Mendon at the telegraph office, where she stayed until 1880. (Ellen also taught school during this time period.) In 1875 Ellen was called by Brigham Young to serve as president of the newly formed Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association.
During the spring of 1880 she met Charles W. Nibley, who she married March 30, 1880 in the Salt Lake City Temple. She became Charles’ second of three wives and she resided in Logan. They had five children that lived to adulthood; Joel (1881), Preston (1889), Edna (1890), Florence (1894), and Nathan (1899).
In 1885 Charles took Ellen to remote Paris, Idaho in order to evade federal marshals who where hunting for polygamists. During this period Ellen was often alone because Charles’ business ventures took him elsewhere and he had to hide from federal marshals when he was home. In 1895 Ellen moved back to Logan. From 1902 until her death, Ellen served as a temple worker in both the Logan and Salt Lake City Temples. Ellen died in Logan on February 1, 1935.
Source: Sorenson, Gerri Waters, “The Bishop’s Second Wife: The Life and Diary of Ellen Ricks Nibley,” USU MA Thesis, 2001 (call # 920 N512-So).
Charles W. Nibley, Jr. was born April 7, 1872 in Brigham City, Utah Territory to Charles W. and Rebecca Neibaur Nibley. In 1895 Nibley was called by the LDS Church to serve as a missionary in the eastern United States, where he served for two years. On September 28, 1898 he married Marie Ollie Thatcher in the Logan Temple. They later had five children that lived to adulthood. Nibley died October 19, 1959 in Los Angeles, California.
The materials in this collection were donated to USU Special Collections by various members, descendants, and friends of the Charles W. Nibley family during the period of 1997 to 2005.
Scope & Content Note:
This collection contains the papers of Charles W. Nibley and his family. This collection contains Nibley’s correspondence (1878-1931), financial and personal papers as well as speeches by and about Nibley. The Nibley family papers consist of an Ellen Ricks Nibley diary (1903-1934), four Charles W. Nibley, Jr.’s missionary diaries (1895-1897), family correspondence, family history and genealogy papers, oral history interviews conducted by Ken Godfrey with the Nibley family during 1997 and 1999, a family heirloom, and Nibley family books.
Collection at a glance:
Box 1: Charles W. Nibley correspondence and papers, 1878-1931.
Box 2: Charles W. Nibley speeches and biographical papers.
Boxes 3-5: Nibley family papers, 1851-1934.
Boxes 6-7: Charles Nibley, Jr.’s missionary diaries and family papers.
Boxes 8-10: Family papers and oral history interviews.
USU Special Collections contains additional materials that are connected to the CW Nibley family businesses, and these items are housed as part of COLL MSS 238. These items include; Bd Ms 11: Sumpter Valley Railroad Company Stock Register (1891-1910), Bd Ms 25-26: Oregon Lumber Company Stock Registers (1904-1933), and Bd Ms 30-31 & 94: Eccles Lumber Company papers (1889-1921).
Box 1: Outgoing correspondence of C. W. Nibley, business and legal documents, and poetry.
Fd 1: Letters sent to Julia Budge, 1879-1880.
Fd 2: Letters sent to Julia Budge Nibley, 1894-1896.
Fd 3: Letters sent to Julia Budge Nibley, 1897-1900.
Fd 4: Letters sent to Julia Budge Nibley, 1901-1924.
Fd 5: Letters sent to Julia Budge Nibley, 1925.
Fd 6: Letters sent to Julia Budge Nibley, 1929-1931.
Fd 7: Letter sent to CW Nibley, Jr., 1879.
Fd 8: Letters sent to Heber J. Grant, 1921.
Fd 9: Letters sent to Luther Howell, 1920-1930.
Fd 10: Letter sent to Margaret Meldrum, 1921.
Fd 11: Letters sent to Anna Nibley (Bullen), 1925-1928.
Fd 12: Letter sent to Barbara Nibley, 1927.
Fd 13: Letters sent to Charles Nibley Bullen, 1930-1931.
Fd 14: Letters sent to Ellen Ricks Nibley, 1925-1931.
Fd 15: Letter sent to Hugh Nibley, 1924.
Fd 16: Letters sent to Julia Nibley (Howell), 1897-1931.
Fd 17: Letter sent to eight Nibley daughters, 1925.
Fd 18: Letter received from James Farley, 1938.
Fd 19: Letter received from Joseph F. Smith, 1895.
Fd 20: Letter received from eight Nibley daughters, 1925.
Fd 21: Letter to Julia Budge Nibley from R. Nibley, 1898.
Fd 22: Letter to Julia Budge Nibley from Joseph F. Smith, 1910.
Fd 23: Letter to Preston Nibley from Melvin J. Ballard, 1935.
Fd 24: Unidentified letters written in 1883.
Fd 25: Receipt for $15,000 from C. W. Nibley to Brigham Young College for Nibley Hall, 1908 (two items).
Fd 26: Legal documents concerning the Amalgamated Sugar Company (4 items).
Fd 27: Warranty deeds to Rebecca N. Nibley and Julia Budge Nibley (2 items).